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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Smith, Elder and Company1   3 March 1863

[65 Cornhill, London]

March 3rd. 1863

We beg to hand you acc sales of your works showing a balance due to you of £11 13 1 which we hope you will find correct.2 In reference to your suggestion that we may make you an offer to purchase the remaining stock in hand of your Geology of S. America (76 Copies) & Volcanic Islands (99 Copies) we beg to say that the complete work comprising the whole 3 parts has been selling only at 10/6, or an average of 3/6 each part which price after all trade deductions leaves only about 2/– as the nett receipt for each volume sold— & the binding of each volume would cost 6d 3

Considering therefore the uncertainty of our selling the whole of the stock of the works referred to,4 in the ordinary course of trade, we are sorry we do not feel warranted in making you such an offer as we could have wished to make. If however you would like to dispose of the stock of both works for £5, we are willing to take them on our hands at that price— We delay remitting you a cheque for the balance due on the enclosed a/cts until we are favored with your reply


The text of the letter is taken from a contemporary copy made by the company. A note on the copy records that the letter was assigned to ‘Mr. Wooldridge’; this individual has not been further identified.
See letter to Smith, Elder and Company, 14 January [1863]. The balance represented CD’s share from sales of Coral reefs, Volcanic islands, and South America (all published by Smith, Elder and Company). The exact nature of CD’s agreement with the publisher is unclear, but see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Smith, Elder and Company, [16 February 1849].
See letter to Smith, Elder and Company, 14 January [1863]. In 1851, Smith, Elder and Company reissued CD’s three works bound as a single volume, with a new general title in place of the original title and half-title pages, and costing 10s. 6d. (Geology of the ‘Beagle’); this reissue was evidently produced from the remaining copies of the original publications (see Freeman 1977). See also Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Smith, Elder and Company, 30 March [1846] and n. 2.
Smith, Elder and Company published a new edition of Coral reefs in 1874 (Coral reefs 2d ed.), and a combined edition of Volcanic islands and South America in 1876 (Geological observations 2d ed.).


Sum due to CD is £11 13s 1d. Offer £5 for remaining stock of South America and Volcanic islands.

Letter details

Letter no.
Smith, Elder & Co
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (MS 23181:1)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4020,” accessed on 19 September 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11