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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   9 January [1867]1

Albemarle St

Jany 9

My Dear Sir

I think you take too much to heart the amount of the bulk of your MS— I am by no means disheartened & do not contemplate at all throwing up the publication2

Your suggestion of printing technical details in smaller type is a very good one & will relieve us of part of the dilemma3

But before I return your MS to be marked with red I beg you to consent to the carrying out of an Experiment suggested by yourself viz—testing the substance of the MS by its effects on a man of Letters & good information—not a man of science & awaiting the impression made on him by it—

I send the MS. yesterday to such a person a friend of mine, in about a week I shall have his answer & will give you the result4

I remain | My Dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | John Murray

The printer will send you rough proofs of the cuts, wch you may insert with their titles in the places of the MS where they come in5—in case this is not already done.

Ch Darwin Esq


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 8 January [1867].
The reference is to Variation. See letter to John Murray, 8 January [1867] and n. 1. CD had expressed his annoyance about the length of his book to several correspondents; for his most recent comment, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867].
Murray’s reader was John Milton, an accountant (A. Fraser 1996, pp. 16, 37–8).


Fraser, Angus. 1996. A publishing house and its readers, 1841–1880: the Murrays and the Miltons. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 90: 4–47.

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


CD should not be discouraged by the bulk of Variation. CD’s suggestion to print technical details in small type is good.

Murray has sent MS to a "man of letters and good information" as an experiment to test its effect. Has no intention of throwing up publication.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St
Source of text
DAR 171: 343
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5354,” accessed on 25 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15