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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hermann Müller   23 February [1868]1

Down, Bromley, Kent

Feb: 23.

My dear Sir

When your brother’s work “Für Darwin” appeared, I was anxious that it should be published in England; but I was then much out of health and knew no one fit to translate it.2 I have now found a very capable man, Mr. Dallas, who translated von Siebold and many papers for Annals & Mag. of Nat. History.3 Do you think your brother would like to see it translated? it could not now injure sale in Germany. It could only be published on what is called “on commission”,—that is, I should have to pay all expenses, translation &c, and the publisher would charge percentage on sale. I think I could get our great publisher Mr. Murray to undertake its publication on commission, and his name would be a great advantage.4 But I should not be willing myself to undertake the expense, except on following terms, viz, to have the use or loan of the woodcuts for nothing or for a very small sum, and then I would agree to pay over the whole of the profits (after all expenses have been deducted) to your brother or his publisher. Of course it is a mere chance whether there will be profits: purely scientific works do not sell well in England; but on the other hand there is much interest at present on the modification of species.—

I do not know on what terms Engelmann of Leipzig published your brother’s book;5 but if you feel nearly sure that your brother would approve of a Translation, would you have the kindness to write and negotiate with Engelmann, and let me soon hear the result. If we can come to terms, I would set Mr. Dallas (who is a busy man and cannot give up all his time) to work, and I would then write to your brother for any corrections or moderate additions, and not begin printing till we hear from him. How soon would answer come?

I hope that you will be so kind as to oblige me on this head; the publication of your brother’s book would I am sure do good for our cause in England. Many thanks for Bot. Zeitung; but the copy unfortunately was imperfect, and pages 49, 50, 51 and 52 were missing.— Is it a review of the article which you formerly sent me?6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. S. Dallas, 22 February 1868.
The reference is to F. Müller 1864. On CD’s enthusiasm for the book, see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to Fritz Müller, 10 August [1865].
See letter from W. S. Dallas, 22 February 1868. William Sweetland Dallas had translated a work by Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (Siebold 1856). The English translation appeared as On a true parthenogenesis in moths and bees (Siebold 1857).
CD refers to John Murray.
F. Müller 1864 was published by the firm of Wilhelm Engelmann.
Müller had sent CD a copy of his paper on mosses (H. Müller 1866; CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL). An abstract of this paper appeared in Botanische Zeitung 25 (1867) 374–6, 380–1 (H. Müller 1867).


Offers to undertake publication of English translation of Fritz Müller’s Für Darwin. W. S. Dallas will translate it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Heinrich Ludwig Hermann (Hermann) Müller
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 430
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5919,” accessed on 24 May 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16