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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   1 February [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Feb. 1st

My dear Sir

I feel very thankful to you for the great care which you take in making the Translation.2 Tadorna is of course wrong.3 The reference (p. 170) to Annal. des Sc. Nat Zoolg is correct, for the reference is to a paper by Dujardin who makes statement on authority of Decaisne.4

The quoted sentence about the proportion of white in the W. Indian cattle (p. 229) is correct, though very badly expressed: when the author said that “the white are terribly tormented by the insects; & they are weak &c &c”—he meant by “they” “the cattle are weak & sluggish in proportion to the white”.5

You will have received by this time the last sheet, index & Titles. I have told the publisher to send you a clean copy;6 but I daresay it will be some little time before it reaches you.—

No doubt you will be so glad to finish so dull & laborious a work as the translation that you will get it done as soon as you can. If the Publisher causes delay in printing, it would be well to suggest to him that the only chance of a fair sale will be when the second volume is published.—7 I hope you will not forget that I said from the first that I was very doubtful whether the book was worth translating, & so I told the French & Russian publishers, so that if the book causes them a loss I am not to blame.—8

With cordial thanks for the great honour which you have conferred on me by the translation & with sincere respect, I remain | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

I am very much pleased with the appearance of the German edition, but I am much too poor a German scholar to judge of style; but I have not the least doubt that it is excellent.9


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 28 January 1868.
Carus was translating Variation into German.
The publisher of Variation was John Murray.
The German edition of Variation (Carus trans. 1868) was published by E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. The first volume was evidently published at the end of December 1867, although it carried a publication date of 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Eduard Koch, 11 December 1867). The second volume was published in July (see letter from Eduard Koch, 21 July 1868).
See Correspondence vol. 15, letter to J. V. Carus, 11 April [1867]. CD’s only extant letter in 1867 to the French publisher of Variation is incomplete (Correspondence vol. 15, letter to C.-F. Reinwald, [May 1867]). See, however, the letter from J. J. Moulinié, 3 May 1867 (ibid.). The Russian edition of Variation (V. O. Kovalevsky trans. 1868–9) was published by the firm of Nicholas Trübner. CD’s letter to Trübner has not been found; however, CD’s concerns about the success of the edition are addressed in the letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867 (ibid.).
Two author’s copies of the first volume of Carus trans. 1868 had been sent to CD in December 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Eduard Koch, 11 December 1867).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dujardin, Félix. 1845. Sur le développement des méduses et des polypes hydraires. Annales des Sciences Naturelles. Zoologie 3d ser. 4: 257–81.

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


Questions arising in German translation of Variation; its sales prospects. CD from the first has said it was very doubtful that the book was worth translating.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5834,” accessed on 30 November 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16