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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   8 October [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 8th

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your long & interesting letter.— I am very glad to hear about the new German Edit. of the Origin; for I am now preparing (& have finished more than half) a new English Edition.—2 I have altered the style here & there & made some few corrections & additions. There is one important change, for I have added a new Chapter called “answers to miscellaneous objections to the theory of N. Selection”; in this I give parts taken out of Chapt IV. which will not cause you much trouble; but have added a good many pages of new matter in answer to Mr Mivart’s book the Genesis of Species which has produced a great impression in England, without, as I believe, a sound foundation.3 I have found much of the matter which I added to the last edition, badly arranged & badly written. I suppose I shall begin to print rather soon, & I cd. send you clean proofs or bundles of perfect clean sheets, according or not as you wished for them very soon.

This work has proved rather heavy, & I have lost nearly 2 months by ill-health, so that I have had to lay aside my expression-essay, & I do not suppose that it will be printed till next spring or summer.4 I will let you know when it is ready & I shall be pleased for you to translate it.

With respect to the Descent of Man my publisher has never broken up the type, & consequently I have been able only to make small alterations.5 I should like thoroughly to revise the book, but there is no early prospect of this, so that the German edition may be reprinted.6 I could also improve somewhat “Variation under Domestication” but I have not strength or time.7

I cannot remember whether any right of translation of my Journal was given to Dr Dieffenbach, but I think it was translated before the law was passed.8 Could you not tell by looking to the title-page of the German ed.? If you cannot thus find out, I cd enquire for you from Mr Murray; but whether he could ascertain I do not know.9 I shall be pleased to hear that you will translate it, & I think it will answer, for some foreign editions of it have lately appeared or will soon do so, in America, Sweden & France.10

I think I have now answered all your questions about my books, perhaps at too great length.

Many thanks for your information about the ancient horses, & for yr remarks about white sea-birds. My son tells me that the coast-guard boats in England are always painted white. I hardly see what danger such birds are exposed to. Perhaps they cd catch fish easier thro’ their colour, yet there are many black fishing birds.

With many thanks for your invariable kindness I remain my dear Sir | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. My journal of travels was originally published by Colburn & Co 1839. together with Fitz Roy & King’s Voyages, & I imagine it was this volume that was translated by Dieffenbach; I subsequently greatly condensed, added to, & I hope, improved the work, as it is was published (1845) by Murray, & it still goes on selling.11 If I am right in my supposition, I should be very glad to see a new translation in Germany

I am very glad indeed to hear that your health is improved.

If you publish Translation, I daresay Murray wd supply you at only small profit to himself stereotypes of the four woodcuts in the volume.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 7 October 1871.
In chapter 7 of Origin 6th ed., CD answered the criticisms of St George Jackson Mivart in his Genesis of species (Mivart 1871a).
Expression was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
Descent was published in February 1871 and reprinted with small alterations in March, April, and December 1871 (Freeman 1977).
Carus trans. 1871 was reprinted with corrections from the later English printings and called a second edition (Carus trans. 1871–2).
See letter from J. V. Carus, 7 October 1871 and n. 8. Ernst Dieffenbach does not seem to have applied for permission to translate Journal of researches (Dieffenbach trans. 1844; see Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Henry Colburn, 4 July [1843]). On the development of reciprocal European translation agreements, see Seville 2006, pp. 51–2. Leipzig was in Saxony, one of the German states that acceded to the 1846 reciprocal copyright agreement between Prussia and Great Britain; this agreement was amended to cover translations in 1855 (L. Bently and M. Kretschmer, eds., Primary sources on copyright (1450–1900), (accessed 19 April 2010)).
No correspondence with John Murray on the subject of translation rights for Journal of researches has been found.
US editions of Journal of researches were published in 1871 by both Appleton and Harper & Brothers, but only Appleton’s was taken from the latest British edition of 1870 (Freeman 1977). A Swedish translation was published in 1872 (Lindström trans. 1872; see letter to Gustav Lindström, 16 May [1871]). A French translation of an extract from the Journal of researches appeared in 1860 (Montgolfier and Belloc trans. 1860). A full French translation was made in 1875 (Barbier trans. 1875); this translation was not planned until 1873 (see letter from C.-F. Reinwald, 14 May 1873 (Calendar no. 8911)). Carus’s own translation appeared in 1875 (Carus trans. 1875), as part of Eduard Koch’s collected edition of CD’s works.
Journal of researches was first published by Henry Colburn as Journal and remarks, the third volume of Robert FitzRoy and Phillip Parker King’s Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836 (Narrative). Murray published the second edition in 1845. See Correspondence vols. 2 and 3.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

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.

Journal and remarks: Journal and remarks. 1832–1836. By Charles Darwin. Vol. 3 of Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe. London: Henry Colburn. 1839. [Separately published as Journal of researches.]

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Seville, Catherine. 2006. The internationalisation of copyright law: books, buccaneers, and the black flag in the nineteenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Glad to hear of new German edition of Origin. He is revising the English edition, adding a new chapter of "Answers".

No new edition of Descent has appeared.

Would be glad to see a new translation of the Journal of researches, which he revised in 1845.

Comments on white colour of sea-birds.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7994,” accessed on 14 September 2023,

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