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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   2 April [1859]1

Down Bromley Kent

April 2d

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note, & accept with pleasure your offer. But I feel bound for your sake (& my own) to say in clearest terms, that if after looking over part of M.S. you do not think it likely to have a remunerative sale, I completely & explicitly free you from your offer. But you will see that it would be a stigma on my work for from your offer. But you will see that it would be a stigma on my work for you to advertise it, & then not publish it. My volume cannot be mere light reading, & some parts must be dry & some rather abstruse; yet as far I can judge perhaps very falsely, it will be interesting to all (& they are many) who care for the curious problem of the origin of all animate forms.—

I am glad to say that my copyists have been diligent & I find I shall be able to send you by Post in 3 or 4 days, the Title (with some remarks for your consideration) the short Introduction,—Ch. I. & Ch II (short but dryest in volume) & Ch. III. In about 8 or 9 days from now I shall be able to send Ch. IV & Ch X & XI. (& ultimately you can see all if you like) & these 6 chapters will give fair, but certainly not too favourable, notion of interest of whole work. Rely on it, that I shall work like a slave to complete all.

With my thanks & hearty wishes that you may not be disappointed in work, if published by you, pray believe me, My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

P.S I may as well mention that I shall require one diagram, engraved on copper on sheet to fold out;, but it consists only of lines, & letters & figures, & cannot be at all expensive to engrave.—2

P.S. I would add that it is impossible for you or anyone to judge of real merit of my Book, without reading the whole, as the whole is one long argument3


Dated by the reference to publishing Origin.
The diagram, lithographed by William West, was inserted between pp. 116 and 117; it illustrates the principle of divergence.
The expression ‘one long argument’ was used by CD in opening his final chapter of Origin, p. 459. He used it again in Autobiography, p. 140.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Accepts JM’s terms for publication of Origin. If, on reading the MS, JM thinks it will not sell, CD frees him from the offer. Will send chapters soon so he can judge. Though some parts are dry and abstruse, CD thinks it will be interesting to "those who care for the curious problem of the origin of all animate forms".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.18–19)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2445,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7