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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Samuel Butler   3 January 1880

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan 3. 1880

My dear Sir,

Dr Krause soon after the appearance of his article in Kosmos told me that he intended to publish it separately and to alter it considerably and the altered M.S. was sent to Mr Dallas for translation.1 This is so common a practice that it never occurred to me to state that the article had been modified; but now I much regret that I did not do so. The original will soon appear in German, and I believe will be a much larger book than the English one; for with Dr Krause’s consent many long extracts from Miss Seward were omitted (as well as much other matter) from being in my opinion superfluous for the English reader. I believe that the omitted parts will appear as notes in the German edition.2 Should there be a reprint of the English life I will state that the original as it appeared in Kosmos was modified by Dr Krause before it was translated.3 I may add that I had obtained Dr Krause consent for a translation and had arranged with Mr Dallas, before your book was announced, I remember this because Mr Dallas wrote to tell me of the advertisement.4

I remain, | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


A revised version of Ernst Krause’s article on Erasmus Darwin, originally published in Kosmos (Krause 1879a), was translated from the German by William Sweetland Dallas for Erasmus Darwin (see letter from Samuel Butler, 2 January 1880 and n. 1).
CD decided to cut parts of Krause’s manuscript, including biographical details taken from Anne Seward’s Memoirs of the life of Erasmus Darwin (Seward 1804; see Correspondence vol. 27, letter to Ernst Krause, 13 August 1879). Krause placed most of this material in lengthy notes to the German edition (Krause 1880, pp. 183ff.).
The following note was added to Erasmus Darwin 2d ed., p. v: ‘Mr. Darwin accidentally omitted to mention that Dr. Krause revised, and made certain additions to, his Essay before it was translated. Among these additions is an allusion to Mr. Butler’s book, “Evolution, Old and New.”’
CD asked for permission to translate the article in his letter to Ernst Krause, 9 March 1879 (Correspondence vol. 27); Dallas mentioned Butler’s book in his letter of 9 May 1879 (ibid).


Erasmus Darwin 2d ed.: The life of Erasmus Darwin. By Charles Darwin. Being an introduction to an essay on his scientific works. By Ernst Krause. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1887.

Krause, Ernst. 1879a. Erasmus Darwin, der Großvater und Vorkämpfer Charles Darwin’s: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie. Kosmos 4 (1878–9): 397–424.

Krause, Ernst. 1880. Erasmus Darwin und seine Stellung in der Geschichte der Descendenz-Theorie von Ernst Krause. Mit seinem Lebens- und Charakterbilde von Charles Darwin. Leipzig: Ernst Günther.

Seward, Anna. 1804. Memoirs of the life of Dr. Darwin. London: J. Johnson.


Krause altered the MS [of his essay on Erasmus Darwin] considerably before sending it to be translated. This is a common practice, but CD now regrets he did not state in his preface that the article had been modified. The translation had been arranged before SB’s book [Evolution, old and new] was announced.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Samuel Butler
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 34486 D ff. 84–5)
Physical description
LS 4pp & ADraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12396,” accessed on 7 June 2023,