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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   8 March [1871]1

Down. | Kent. S.E.

March 8th

My dear Mr Murray

Mr Gerald Massey proposes to exchange some book with me for the Descent of Man, but as I do not know him, I think this sounds cool & I have civilly declined.—2 He says you know him; will you therefore be so good as either to keep the vol: till he calls for it, or return it to him.

Please let me hear some 2 or 3 days before vols. of the Reprint are ready.— I find I must give away a few more.3 Also I shd like to hear, when you have accounts made up, what my 23 profit on the reprint will be, when 12 the Reprint is sold.— Do you keep to the 1500 copies?4 Capital Review in Saturday R.—good notice in Pall Mall—& contemptuous as usual in Athenæum, but how dull & ignorant a man the writer of the last article must be.—5

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Descent (see n. 3, below).
The book was probably Massey’s Concerning spiritualism (Massey [1871]). No letter from Massey has been found.
The first printing of Descent had been sold within a week of publication (see letter from John Murray, 27 February [1871], and letter to Francis Darwin, [28 February 1871]). CD’s presentation list for Descent has six names written on the verso of the sheet that were evidently added later (see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix IV).
CD’s copy of the first part of the anonymous review of Descent in the Saturday Review, 4 March 1871, pp. 276–7, is in DAR 226.2: 102–4. His copy of John R. Leifchild’s anonymous review in the Athenæum ([Leifchild] 1871) is in DAR 226.2: 69–70. A brief notice of Descent appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, 2 March 1871, p. 4. For a list of reviews of Descent, see Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix V.


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

[Leifchild, John R.] 1871. Review of Descent. Athenæum 4 March 1871, pp. 275–7.

Massey, Gerald. [1871.] Concerning spiritualism. London: J. Burns.


Asks what his profits on the reprints of Descent will be when half have been sold.

Good reviews in Saturday Review and Pall Mall Gazette;

contemptuous one as usual in Athenæum.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 222–3)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7555,” accessed on 19 April 2021,

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