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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   28 April 1880

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

Ap. 28th 1880

My dear Sir

I shall be right well pleased if you will translate my new book, & shd. certainly have communicated with you in due time.1 I am now going over the m.s for last time, & the whole will be sent to Printers in 2 or 3 weeks.— I grieve to say that it is a big book with nearly 200 woodcuts. The type will be of 2 sizes: the larger for conclusions & the smaller with an account of the observations & experiments.2 The work is the result of much labour, that I fear will displease many of your justly renowed physiologists in Germany.3

Mr. Murray inserted the announcement in Nature without my knowledge & used a term which I have had to employ largely in the book, but which is not fitted for the Title.4 I enclose Title, as at present seems to me best. The work is an attempt to bring all the diversified movements of Plants under one general law or system. I will send Proofs when ready, but this will not be for some month or two, for I must have a few weeks rest. Of course if you & Herr Koch5 shd. think the book not worth translating you can draw back.

I hope & believe that it contains a fair amount of new matter.

Believe me my dear Sir, Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin.


The Power of Movement in Plants with woodcuts by Charles Darwin LLD. F.R.S. assisted by Francis Darwin 1880 John Murray


Carus had become CD’s German translator when he translated Origin 4th ed. (Bronn and Carus trans. 1867); he was translating all of CD’s works for a collected edition in German (Carus trans. 1875–87). Movement in plants was published on 6 November 1880 (Freeman 1977).
CD had first used print of different sizes in Variation (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to John Murray, 8 January [1867]); he also used this feature in Movement in plants. A large number of the woodcuts were diagrams of patterns of circumnutation.
CD’s son Francis Darwin had spent two summers in the laboratory of Julius Sachs at the Botanical Institute, Würzburg. CD was aware that Sachs had different views on several aspects of plant movement, notably the function of the root tip (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 27, letter to Francis Darwin, 28 June [1879]).
John Murray announced the forthcoming ‘Circumnutation of plants’ in Nature, 22 April 1880, p. 596. A similar announcement appeared in the Athenæum, 10 April 1880, p. 475.
Eduard Koch was Carus’s publisher.


Bronn, Heinrich Georg and Carus, Julius Victor, trans. 1867. Über die Entstehung der Arten durch natürliche Zuchtwahl oder die Erhaltung der begünstigten Rassen im Kampfe um’s Dasein. 3d edition. Translated by Heinrich Georg Bronn. Revised and corrected from Origin 4th ed. by Julius Victor Carus. Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagshandlung und Druckerei.

Carus, Julius Victor, trans. 1875–87. Charles Darwin’s gesammelte Werke. 16 vols. Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagshandlung (E. Koch).

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.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


MS of Movement in plants in final stage. Fears it will displease many German physiologists. It is an attempt to bring all the diversified movements of plants under one general law or system.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Julius Victor Carus
Sent from
Source of text
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Slg. Darmstaedter Lc 1859: Darwin, Charles, Bl. 176–178)
Physical description
ALS 4pp encl

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12593,” accessed on 2 October 2023,