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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   [4 December 1837]

My dear Jenyns

You will receive two letters together from me, as one was sent to Henslow to take to you, before I received yours this morning.— I really am sincerely grieved to hear the fish give so much trouble.— I beg of you to remember, that I should be very sorry that you should give up time to them, which could better otherwise be spent.— Whatever you may choose to do I shall look at it as clear gain, for otherwise all the specimens would in all probability have been entirely useless & my trouble in collecting them quite lost.— With respect to time, you need not be in any hurry; for all the fossil Mammalia, (& perhaps fossil shells) living Mammalia,—birds, & reptiles have to be completed before the turn for the fish come. Moreover (if funds last out) there will be volume for invertebrate,1 & the first numbers of this might alternate, with the one or two, or three numbers of fish, just as you choose.— I feel certain before your part is wanted, you will have completed as much as probably would ever be worth your trouble to complete.— For the credit of English zoologists, do not despair and give up; for if you do, then will it be said there was not a person in Great Britain with knowledge sufficient to describe any specimens which may be brought there.— I honestly confess, that without you will do it for this motive, I fear there is none other which will repay you for the stupid task, you have undertaken chiefly out of kindness, I believe, for me.— I am sure I am very much obliged to you,—but I repeat, you must not for a moment hesitate about throwing it up, if your health or want of time prevents your taking any satisfaction in the employment.— You ask me how many species of fish would be published in each number; there would probably be from 12 to 16.— The numbers come out on alternate months, but as I have said, invertebrate animals might alternate with the fish if more than one number is produced.—

I expect to see Eyton in London tomorrow,—when I will give him your fish and a book.—

Believe me, | Most truly yours | Chas. Darwin


The projected sequence was altered. The Fish numbers began to appear before Fossil Mammalia and Birds were completed, and Reptiles appeared last of all (see Freeman 1977, pp. 28–31, for the complete series). Fossil shells were described in Volcanic islands and South America. In the preface of South America, p. iii, CD states: ‘As the sum of one thousand pounds, most liberally granted by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, together with a further sum advanced by Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. and myself, has been expended in the united publication of the Zoology and Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle, no other systematic volumes will appear.’


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

Fish: Pt IV of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By Leonard Jenyns. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London. 1840–2. [Vols. 2,3,4,9]

Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.

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.

Reptiles: Reptiles. Pt 5 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By Thomas Bell. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1843.

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1844.


Is sorry the fish [for Zoology] give LJ so much trouble. Urges him not to give up. Describes publication plan of Zoology.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 392,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2