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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   18 August 1870

Down.| Beckenham | Kent. S.E. [Bassett, Southampton]

Aug 18 1870

My dear Sir

I have just sent the MS. of my new book to the printers, & corrected proofs will be ready in about a month’s time.1 I have thought it best to inform you of this, but under present circumstances your publisher will of course have given up all idea of bringing out a German translation.2 Nevertheless I may inform you that the book will consist of two volumes of the size & type of my Origin of Species, each containing a little over 400 pages.3

What a dreadful misfortune for science is the present war! but I cannot express too strongly how I rejoice at the wonderful success of Germany, & I have not hitherto met a single person who has not entirely participated in this feeling.4

My dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

The title of my book is “The Descent of Man & Selection in relation to sex”—


The Franco-Prussian war had begun on 19 July 1870 (Wawro 2003, p. 65). The publishing firm E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagshandlung, headed by Eduard Koch, published the German translation of Descent in 1871 (Carus trans. 1871). See also letter to J. J. Moulinié, 18 August 1870.
French troops had crossed the border into Prussia on 31 July 1870. Despite suffering heavy casualties, the Prussian armies outnumbered the French sufficiently to win decisive victories at Wissembourg on 4 August, and at Spicheren and Froeschwiller on 6 August (Wawro 2003). News of the Prussian victory at Mars-la-Tour on 16 August did not reach the British press until 19 August (The Times, 19 August 1870, p. 10).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Wawro, Geoffrey. 2003. The Franco-Prussian war: the German conquest of France in 1870–1871. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Has just sent MS of Descent to printers. Recognises that [because of Franco-Prussian War] the publisher will have given up idea of a German translation.

Though the war is a misfortune for science, CD rejoices at the wonderful success of Germany; has met no one who does not share this feeling.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Julius Victor Carus
Sent from
Bassett Down letterhead
Source of text
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Slg. Darmstaedter Lc 1859: Darwin, Charles, Bl. 60–61)
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7305,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18