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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Victor Masson1   29 September 1869

Paris, Place de l’Ecole-de-Médecine,

le 29 sept. 1869.

Monsieur

Nous ignorions absolument qu’une cinquième édition de votre Origine des Espéces eût été publiée.2

Il va de soi en effet que notre intérêt et celui de Madame Royer sont en cette affaire les mêmes que le vôtre, et que nous n’avions nulle raison pour faire quelque chose qui pût à la fois vous être désagréable, et diminuer la valeur de l’ouvrage que nous publions.3

Madame Royer qui n’avait pas depuis longtemps eu le plaisir de recevoir de vos nouvelles, a fait l’achat de votre récent ouvrage pour s’en inspirer dans son travail.4 Elle n’avait aucun motif pour ne pas acheter de même, si elle en avait su l’existence, la cinquième édition de l’origine des Espèces, et en conférer le texte avec celui de sa traduction.

Nous écrivons par ce courrier à notre correspondant de Londres de nous envoyer un exemplaire, que nous remettrons à Madame Royer à son retour d’Italie où elle est en ce moment.

S’il est dans votre nouvelle édition quelque point que vous regrettez surtout de voir omis dans l’édition française, nous n’aurions quant à nous aucune répugnance à faire les frais d’un appendice de quelques pages, et nous vous prions de nous le signaler.

N’ayant jamais eu l’honneur jusqu’à présent d’etre en relations directes avec vous, nous regrettons vivement de vous avoir, bien involontairement, contrarié de telle sorte que votre première lettre contienne des reproches bien peu en rapport avec notre caractère, nos habitudes, et nous osons le dire, notre réputation dans le public savant.

Recevez Monsieur l’assurance de nos sentiments | très distingués | Victor Masson fils

M. Charles Darwin | Down | Beckenham | Kent. (S.E.)

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix I.
The fifth edition of Origin was published in June (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 22 June 1869). CD had written to Masson to complain that a third French edition of Origin had been prepared without reference to the fifth English edition (see letter to Victor Masson, [after 29 September 1869]); however, no letter to Masson on this subject has been found.
Clémence Auguste Royer was the French translator of Origin. Two editions had been published (Royer trans. 1862 and 1866). A third edition dated 1870 evidently appeared in 1869 (see letter to J. J. Moulinié, 23 October [1869]).
Masson refers to Variation, which Royer discussed in her preface to Royer trans. 1870 (see letter to J. J. Moulinié, 23 October [1869] and n. 5).

Translation

From Victor Masson1   29 September 1869

Paris, Place de l’Ecole-de-Médecine,

29 Sept. 1869.

Dear Sir

We were absolutely unaware that a fifth edition of your Origin of Species had been published.2

It goes without saying that our interest and that of Madame Royer are the same as yours in this affair, and that we had no reason to do anything which might be disagreeable to you, while at the same time diminishing the value of the work we were publishing.3

Madame Royer, who had not had the pleasure of receiving any news from you for a long time, bought your recent work as a source of inspiration in her work.4 Had she known of its existence, she had no motive not to buy the fifth edition of the origin of Species as well, and to compare its text with that of her translation.

We are writing by this post to our London correspondent to send us a copy, which we shall give to Madame Royer on her return from Italy, where she is at present.

If there should be in your new edition any point which you would particularly regret to see omitted from the French edition, for our part we should have no objection to covering the cost of an appendix of several pages, and we beg you to indicate this to us.

Never having had the honour of being in direct communication with you until now, we deeply regret having, most unwittingly, displeased you to such an extent that your first letter contains reproaches that are most out of keeping with our character, our practices, and, we dare to claim, our reputation among the scientific public.

Please accept, Sir, the assurance of our most distinguished regards | Victor Masson junior

Mr Charles Darwin | Down | Beckenham | Kent. (S.E.)

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter in its original French, see pp. 415–16.
The fifth edition of Origin was published in June (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 22 June 1869). CD had written to Masson to complain that a third French edition of Origin had been prepared without reference to the fifth English edition (see letter to Victor Masson, [after 29 September 1869]); however, no letter to Masson on this subject has been found.
Clémence Auguste Royer was the French translator of Origin. Two editions had been published (Royer trans. 1862 and 1866). A third edition dated 1870 evidently appeared in 1869 (see letter to J. J. Moulinié, 23 October [1869]).
Masson refers to Variation, which Royer discussed in her preface to Royer trans. 1870 (see letter to J. J. Moulinié, 23 October [1869] and n. 5).

Summary

Asks CD to send 5th ed. of Origin so Mlle Royer can use it in her work. Regret they have upset CD to the extent that he would reproach them so untowardly.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6918
From
V. et fils Masson
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paris
Source of text
DAR 171: 64
Physical description
2pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6918,” accessed on 13 December 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6918

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17

letter