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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   15 February [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Feb 15th.

My Dear Sir

I have fallen into a most serious blunder, which requires the omission and alteration of two pages. I do not know whether any of the German edition is printed; but kindly inform me by return of post whether page 297 vol. I. (297–299 Vol. I.) of the English edition is printed off in German. I hope it is not, but if it is, the error must be noticed in the Errata which shall be sent. My blunder entails two alterations in vol II.2 I am sorry to cause this trouble

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to an error in Descent (see n. 2, below), which was published on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
In the first printing of Descent, a note (‘postscript’) was included at the beginning of the second volume, explaining that CD had ‘fallen into a serious and unfortunate error, in relation to the sexual differences of animals’ in the first volume, pp. 297–9, and that allusions to these erroneous views appeared in the second volume, pp. 161 and 237. By the second printing, the passages had been altered.


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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Hopes German edition [of Descent] has not yet been printed because he has fallen into a most serious blunder [about sexual selection never acting on the young] on pp. 297–9 of vol. 1.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7482,” accessed on 31 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19