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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   [5 April 1845]1

Down near Bromley | Kent

Saturday 6th

Dear Sir

I am very much obliged for your note. I have always understood the agreement with Mr Colburn2 to signify, that he was not to have the power of publishing a second edition, except in conjunction with a second edition of Capts. King & FitzRoy, (which is an extremely improbable event); & I am almost certain, from several circumstances that this was the sense in which Mr Colburn really meant it to be understood. But of course I must abide by the letter of the agreement, & of this you must be a far better judge than myself.—

My only objection to the Colonial Library is the great requisite reduction; I presume you have calculated that not more than 15 must be reduced; though I am doubtful, whether when every fifth page is struck out, it will be possible to keep its present character of a mixture of science & Journal & I presume you would wish the scientific part to be chiefly sacrificed: however, I am a full believer, that it is hardly possible to reduce too much & perhaps I may find it easier than I expect.— I will consult on this, my excellent & kind friend & adviser Mr Lyell.—

I write now to ask, whether you would so far greatly oblige me, as to negotiate with Mr Colburn,3 which I particularly dislike & shd do badly.— if you have any great objection I must write myself & I wd take the liberty of showing you my letter: it occurs that, as my Journal wd be reduced, & as my volume is required by Mr Colburn to complete the sets of the three volumes of the General Work he would perhaps be willing to allow the second edition, for some not large sum of ready money from me, without purchasing those of mine unsold.— if purchased I shd. not know what to do with them.—

As I have never received one penny from Mr Colburn, I have some claim on him, & I think mere shame wd prevent him being rigid with me; though that is a weak hold on such a man.— Would you kindly let me hear from you on this latter subject pretty soon, & sincerely apologising for the trouble I give you.

I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

P.S. | In case you should be unwilling to enter into the negotiation for me with Mr Colburn, I enclose a draft of the letter, I shd then propose to send to him: I daresay it is a very impolitic one, & I trust you will be so kind, as to give me your opinion on it with entire freedom,—criticising the whole or any part.—

To | J. Murray Esqe


Dear Sir

I should be much obliged if you would inform me, how many copies of my Journal remain unsold.— My object in asking is, that in accordance with the Agreement with you in my possession, I have entered into a communication with Mr. Murray respecting a second Edition in a considerably reduced form in the Colonial Library. I wish to know for what sum of money, paid at once, you would dispose of the remaining copies to me;—or for what not large sum, you would be willing to allow me to publish soon a reduced Edition, retaining the copies you yet have in order to dispose of them, with the volumes of Captains King & FitzRoy.—

As I have not yet received any sum of money for my volume, which you have sold to a considerable extent in the separate form,—a circumstance which all authors & others to whom, I have mentioned it, have thought hard on me,—I trust you will enter on the present negotiation in a favourable spirit.

Believe me | yours faithfully | C. Darwin

H. Colburn Esqe

P.S. An early answer would oblige me.—


Although CD dated this letter ‘Saturday 6t h’, the actual date of the Saturday was 5 April.
Murray evidently agreed to do this, see letters to John Murray, [10 April 1845], 12 April [1845], and 17 [April 1845], n. 1.


Thanks for note. Believes agreement with Henry Colburn does not cover 2d ed. of Journal of researches. Regrets Murray’s Colonial Library series will require one-fifth reduction of text; will consult Lyell on how to reduce scientific part. Prefers that JM consult with Colburn, but in case he declines, encloses draft of letter he would send to Colburn. Anticipates co-operation of Colburn, as he has paid CD nothing for 1st ed. of Journal.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.3–7)
Physical description
ALS 5pp, encl 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 851,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3