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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. J. Moulinié   1 February 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Feb 1 1872

My dear Sir

You will remember that I proposed to write a letter to you, to be translated & prefixed to your edition of the Origin.1 This seems to me highly desirable, & I now enclose it; but if you or Mr Reinwald2 object to any part of it, or can suggest any improvement, please to inform & return the letter, & I will try to meet your wishes.

I have received 2 clean sheets from the printers, beyond the 3 which I sent you the other day. As I suppose you are in no hurry, I will keep the 2 until I receive more, which must be shortly as I have corrected the last proofs of the whole work.3

I shall never make any further alterations in the Origin, as I wish to reserve what little strength remains to me for new work. Consequently I have had the sheets stereotyped; but I do not suppose that M. Reinwald would think of stereotyping the type; & I should be sorry that he should do so until the first half of the volume is corrected in accordance with the 6th edition4

My dear Sir | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Down, Beckenham, Kent, England.

January 31, 1872.

Permit me to state the circumstances under which I have requested you to do me the favour of translating into French the fifth edition of my Origin of Species. When Madame Clemence Royer published the second French edition, I looked over the proof sheets and gave her all the corrections and additions which was then in my power to contribute. Hence, I never doubted that she would have informed me if at any time a new edition was required. But a third had appeared, which is imperfect, as it contained very few of the corrections by which the fourth English edition was increased to the extent of 54 pages.5 A fifth thoroughly revised English edition was published in the spring of 1869; and now a sixth edition has appeared, and you will be able to correct the latter half of your translation in accordance with it. As I naturally feel very anxious that an edition as complete as possible should circulate in France, I am particularly glad that you have undertaken the translation.

It is my highest ambition to influence the judgement of the naturalists of that country which has given birth to Buffon, Lamarck, the two Geoffroy St. Hilaires, and so many other eminent men of science.6 In order that my motives for supporting your edition may not be misunderstood, permit me to add that I have declined to receive the remuneration which has been kindly offered to me by your publisher for the right of translation. Nor am I bound in honour to refrain from giving all the support in my power to your work, by having received any remuneration from the publisher of Madame Royer’s translation […]7

Charles Darwin


No letter to Moulinié containing CD’s proposal has been found. CD refers to Moulinié’s French translation of the fifth and sixth editions of Origin (Moulinié trans. 1873). A version of CD’s enclosed letter, with a parallel French translation, was published in Moulinié trans. 1873, although it was dated 23 September 1872, and seems to have been copied not from this text but from a very similar one written in September, of which an incomplete draft survives (DAR 69: A27–8; see also letter to J. J. Moulinié, 23 September 1872).
Charles-Ferdinand Reinwald was the publisher of Moulinié trans. 1873.
CD refers to Origin 6th ed.; he finished correcting proofs on 10 January 1872 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Moulinié’s translation (Moulinié trans. 1873) was based on both the fifth and the sixth editions of Origin. See letter to J. J. Moulinié, 1 January 1872 and nn. 2 and 3.
For letters about Clémence Auguste Royer’s translations of Origin (Royer trans. 1862, 1866, and 1870), see especially Correspondence vols. 10, 13, and 17.
This sentence is omitted from the published version. CD refers to Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Jean Baptiste Lamarck, and Etienne and Isidore Geoffroy de Sainte-Hilaire.
The enclosure is known only from a transcript in a sale catalogue; probably only the valediction has been omitted.


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

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Encloses a letter to be prefixed to JJM’s translation of the Origin.

Expresses his satisfaction that JJM has undertaken the translation [of a fourth French edition] of Origin. Urges the use of the sixth English edition so as to include corrections and additions.

His interest in influencing the eminent men of science in France.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Jean Jacques Moulinié
Sent from
Source of text
Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology MSS 405 A. Gift of the Burndy Library); Paul C. Richards (dealer) (Cat. 241)
Physical description
ALS 3pp encl 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8191,” accessed on 2 April 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20