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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. J. Moulinié   23 September 1872

To M. le Colonel Moulinié1

My dear Sir,

Permit me to state the circumstances under which I have requested you to do me the favour to translate the fifth edition of my Origin of Species into French.2

When Mademoiselle Clémence Royer published the second French edition, I looked over the proof-sheets and gave her all the corrections and additions which it was then in my power to contribute. Therefore I never doubted she would have informed me if at any time a new French edition was required. But a third edition appeared some time ago, and this is imperfect as it contains very few of the additions by which the fourth English edition was increased to the extent of fifty four pages.3 A fifth thoroughly revised English edition was published in the spring of 1869, and now a sixth edition has appeared, by which you will be able to correct the latter half of your translation.4

As the current French edition is imperfect, owing to no fault on my part, I feel fully justified in authorizing your present translation; and I naturally desire that my work should circulate in France in as perfect a condition as I can make it. In order that my motives in supporting your new edition may not be misunderstood, permit me to add that I have declined to receive the remuneration which was kindly offered to me by your publisher for the right of translation. Nor am I bound in honour, by having received any remuneration from the publisher of Mlle Royer’s translation, to refrain from giving you all the support in my power.

Pray believe me, my dear Sir, with high consideration | Your’s very faithfully | Charles Darwin.

Down. Beckenham, Kent, | September 23d 1872.


‘M. le Colonel’ is taken from an incomplete draft of this letter in DAR 69: A27–8. It is inserted in place of ‘Mr. the Colonel’, which appears in the published version of the letter in Moulinié trans. 1873, pp. ix–x.
CD had written a similar letter to Moulinié on 31 January 1872, which was intended ‘to be translated & prefixed’ to Moulinié’s French translation of Origin (see enclosure to letter to J. J. Moulinié, 1 February 1872 and n. 1).
On Clémence Auguste Royer’s translations of Origin (Royer trans. 1862, 1866, and 1870), see Correspondence vols. 10 and 17.
Moulinié trans. 1873 was based on both the fifth and sixth editions of Origin (see letter from J. J. Moulinié, 1 January 1872).


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

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.


States his reasons for authorising JJM to translate the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Jean Jacques Moulinié
Sent from
Source of text
Moulinié trans. 1873, pp. ix–x
Physical description
inc 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8502,” accessed on 21 March 2023,

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