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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Leonard Jenyns   17 October [1839]

12 Upper Gower St

October 17th. Thursday

Dear Jenyns

Many thanks for your prompt answer.— I have considered what you say & agree with you the 5 fish had better be sent up here, & therefore the sooner the better when convenient to you, as our artist happens to be disengaged the beginning of next week.— Yarrell kindly says he will help me in comparing the accuracy of the pencil outlines with the fish— Will you be good enough to make a few brief remarks for the engraver to attend to.— You probably are aware, that it is one great evil in lithographic engraving, that it is difficult to make many alterations after the drawing is once printed off, in proof.— it strikes me, now whilst I write, that if you come up in the beginning of December you might see the drawings on the stone itself before being printed off, as well as immediately afterwards on paper in proof.— But I am not sure whether this is feasible on account of the drawings being injured by keeping— But this is immaterial, & I will make enquiries.

Could you not send up a few more fish besides the 5. (supposing you have quite completed their descriptions) & the artist might then have a few pencil outlines ready for you to look at by the first week in December.— I am delighted to find how forward everything is, for now we can easily have your first number out by the 1st. of January.— You will be ready for a second number I hope by first of May? four months afterwards For several reasons I should be sorry to have the price of a number less than 8s., so that if there could be six plates I should be glad of it—& at least three sheets of letter press, & even then the number will be, I suspect, dear, as the plates are uncoloured.—1 With respect to actual number of plates, I would much sooner let you choose yourself how many you thought were well desirable for science (my only object) to have engraved.— You will be best judge, now that I have told you there must be a little economy— it has been my fault, that almost any economy is requisite, for I gave too much to the Mammalia—2

After first number we shall be able to judge better, as expense of letter press & its quantity will be more certainly known.

I must sometime explain, if I have never done so, my system of publication, all profits (excepting commission for Publisher) goes to further engravings, so that it is not of vital consequence a single number being rather dear, although I would rather keep moderately uniform— the numbers hitherto have been full cheap.— I think you had better send the M.S. (if it should be quite ready) with the fish— it will save carriage expense,—& having plenty of time is a comfort, especially with the few first sheets of a work.— You can send up any quantity of M.S. you like, if quite ready, had you not better send up, as far as you guess, for 3 or 4 sheets; if not now published, it may remain in type as proof & I will have it set up at once, & will discuss size of type &c & with Printer who is very able man.—

Shall you give a short preface.— I have not a word to say—but I should think it very desirable, that the rudest outline were given of the chief localities from which fish to be described were collected,—that the locality is positively know in each case—that colours when given were compared with Pat. Syme’s nomenclature book in hand,3 (perhaps also a rude guess at number of new things & to what great groups belonging?)—in what condition of preservation they are in.— But you are best judge how far all this is desirable,—& perhaps you may have something to say yourself.— I think there ought to be 3 sheets besides such short preface if preface there is to be— Title page may be left till end.— If you knew what trouble I have had with some of the other part, you would allow me to congratulate myself on the prospect of ease, which this number in your hands promises to give me.—besides the more satisfactory prospect of the work being really good.—

Believe me | dear Jenyns | Yours | Most truly | Cha. Darwin

P.S. St Jago in the Cape de Verds. is about 360 miles from Goree, on the coast of Africa; hence any species very likely would be identical from the 2 places


Most of the earlier numbers of the Zoology had been sold at 10s., only three had been 8s., and none less than that. The first number of Fish, when published, cost 8s., with eight plates.
The total cost of the four parts of Mammalia was £194 17s. 5d.


Mammalia: Pt 2 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By George Robert Waterhouse. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1838–9.

Syme, Patrick. 1821. Werner’s nomenclature of colours, with additions, arranged so as to render it highly useful to the arts and sciences, particularly zoology, botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and morbid anatomy. Annexed to which are examples selected from well-known objects in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. 2d ed. Edinburgh.

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


Discusses details of arrangements for descriptions and engravings [for Fish].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Leonard Jenyns/Leonard Blomefield
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 539,” accessed on 17 September 2023,

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