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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   7 June [1849]

The Lodge Malvern

June 7th

My dear Sir

I wrote in such a hurry about the unfortunate error in the Manual,1 in order to catch the Post, that I do not know whether I expressed myself intelligibly.— If you knew what pains I took to make the Instructions as good as I could, you would sympathise in my vexation at seeing the most important part converted into sheer nonsense.

I trust to your kindness in not letting a single copy go forth without the correction being made legibly & conspicuously.2 I do not know what the law may be, but I think in justice Mss Clowes & & Co3 ought to reprint the two sheets; if the work was mine own, I would on no account whatever let a copy go forth in such a state.—

Will you be so very kind as to send me one line to say what you think of the affair, & what you intend doing. It is obvious that the Reader coud doing. It is obvious that the Reader could not have looked over the sheet when set up from the slips.

I am truly sorry to give you this much trouble.

Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

Pray tell me have many copies been distributed?


In the Admiralty manual (Herschel ed. 1849), almost two pages of the text of CD’s section on geology were transposed (see Freeman 1977, pp. 64–5).
According to Freeman 1977 (pp. 64–5), some copies may have been distributed without correction. Others were issued with a cancel for CD’s entire chapter inserted in a pocket inside the back cover. CD’s copy, in the Cambridge University Library, has such a 20-page cancel (pp. 171–90) in the back pocket. Most copies were corrected by resetting the text.
Printers for John Murray, publisher of the Admiralty manual.


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


CD’s vexation at the serious printer’s error in his "Geology" [Collected papers 1: 227–50].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.14–15)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1244,” accessed on 8 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4