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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   2 December [1859]

Ilkley Wells House | Otley Yorkshire

Dec. 2.

My dear Sir

Mess rs. Clowes received a lot of sheets last Monday & now I have got all ready; so time will depend on Printers alone.— I have made some few corrections, & have inserted capital sentence from Rev. C. Kingsley in answer to anyone who may, as many will, say that my Book is irreligious.1 I have told Mess rs. Clowes they must keep paging of the two Editions uniform, even if they repeat one or two numbers on pages as I cannot make a new index.

I shall be glad to hear what number of copies you propose to print: I hope it will be a good many, as that will make, with lessened expences of several kinds, our profits larger, & because I shall not be interruped by a new Edition. My plan is, subject to your & Sir C. Lyell’s approval, is to leave the present work as it now stands, merely correcting errors; & at once but slowly, commence with my larger work. This will have hardly a page in common, & might bear a quite distinct title; & I shd like to produce that volume by volume (perhaps 3 thinnish octavos) as I have it ready.— Much of the M.S is roughly ready, but I daresay it would take me two years to prepare 1st vol.— This plan we can discuss. I fear all Reviews of my present Book, will be very unfavourable; but I now feel confident my views will ultimately prevail: it is impossible that men like Lyell, Hooker, Huxley, H. C. Watson Ramsay &c would change their minds without good cause.

So far requires no immediate answer; but will you kindly inform me soon, about French Edition. I would write to Mad. Belloc, to know whether she still wishes to translate, & I shd. especially wish to send her sheets of the new Edition. Please tell me how affairs with her stand.2

Pray believe me, My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

I return to “Down, Bromley Kent” early on the 7th

P.S. | I have omitted, what I particularly wished to say, namely to thank you sincerely for the exertions which you must have taken to sell my volume so promptly.

It will have obviously important effect in getting my notions known.—

Please inform me whether the following is worth inserting on separate Page; I am absolutely indifferent whether yes or no

“This Second Edition is merely a reprint of the first with a few verbal corrections & some omissions. The only passages of the least importance added, are (p. ) on fossil birds,3 —on (p. ) nascent organs in contradistinction with rudimentary organs,4 —and lastly (p. ) an extract on the theological bearing of the views advocated in this work.—”5


See letters to John Murray, 14 November [1859], 24 November [1859], and 4 December [1859]; and to J. L. A. de Quatrefages de Bréau, 5 December [1859].
Origin 2d ed., p. 304.
Origin 2d ed., p. 452: ‘Organs, however little developed, if of use, should not be called rudimentary; they cannot properly be said to be in an atrophied condition; they may be called nascent, and may hereafter be developed to any extent by natural selection.’ (Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 708–9).
Origin 2d ed., p. 481. See n. 1, above. Although the changes were made to CD’s text, this paragraph describing his alterations was not printed in the second edition. The third and subsequent editions included a table of ‘Additions and corrections’.


Origin 2d ed.: 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. 1860.


All sheets [of Origin, 2d ed.] are ready. Has made a few corrections

and inserted Charles Kingsley’s sentence in answer to those who may think the book is irreligious.

Insists page numbering be kept uniform with 1st edition.

Intends to start immediately on the "larger work", with a distinct title.

Fears reviews will be unfavourable but is confident his views will ultimately prevail.

Asks about plans for French edition.

Thanks JM for his exertions on behalf of sales of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.51–53)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2566,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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