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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   17 [April 1845]

Down Bromley Kent

Thursday 17th

Dear Sir

I was very much pleased to receive your letter yesterday. Mr. Colburn has behaved more liberally than I anticipated.1 I find three Nos. of the Colonial Library, each of 171 pages, will exactly hold my present vol: & index (without the appendix); now though I shd here & there like to add a sentence, some parts I am sure wd be improved by being shortened, & therefore I want to know how many pages you would prefer the three volumes together to be; & I will try as accurately as I can, to meet your wishes.2 I also wish to know (if you would let me hear soon either from yourself, or a clerk) what are your opinions & wishes with respect to woodcuts: I do not much care about them myself, but here & there, I think there is a subject which would be well illustrated by one.3

Thirdly, when you would like to publish? & how quickly the numbers follow each other? I have engagements for about 14 days, & then I wd, without any halt, complete the whole copy,4 & superintend the correcting the press (the quicker the better) whenever you like: I shall be however a rather slow worker in getting ready my few alterations in the first (or already printed) copy.

You will see, I have gone on the assumption of taking advantage of your offer of three numbers: I could not have made up my mind to have wasted so much time, as it would have cost to have shortened my work 13; & I firmly believe it wd have lessened whatever merit it possesses;—in this opinion I found Mr Lyell even stronger than myself.—

I shall gladly accept your offer of 100£ for the copyright, to be paid 3 months after date of publication, & shall be happy to sign an agreement to that effect, whenever you like to send one.5

I hope not to give you much more trouble & remain dear Sir with thanks, | Your’s very faithfully | C. Darwin

In my calculation I have allowed one of your pages to hold 451 words & mine to hold 377 words.

Would the map appear in the First number?6


Henry Colburn’s letter of agreement is in the John Murray Archive (Ms.42153 ff.6-7) and reads: Dear Sir: I hope you understand me clearly with respect to Mr Darwin’s Volume, that although according to his agreement he is not entitled to republish until all copies are sold, yet so long a period has passed since he first published and he now wishes you to publish the new edition, I will offer no impediment in the way & you can proceed immediately I am Dear Sir | Yours very truly | H. Colburn The letter is undated, but is endorsed ‘April 1845’.
In a letter to Leonard Horner dated [January 1847] (Correspondence vol. 4) CD recalled that: With respect to my Journal, I think the sketches in the second edition are pretty accurate; but in the first they are not so, for I foolishly trusted to my memory, & was much annoyed to find how hasty & inaccurate many of my remarks were, when I went over my huge pile of descriptions of each locality.—
The number of woodcut illustrations was increased in the second edition from four to fourteen.
CD worked on the second edition from 25 April to 25 August (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II). His annotated copy of the first edition is in the Cambridge University Library. Emma Darwin also read and commented on this volume.
No agreement has been found at John Murray’s.


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

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


Pleased to hear that Colburn has behaved more liberally than CD anticipated. Three numbers of the Colonial Library, each of 171 pages, will hold his Journal of researches. Accepts financial arrangements for its publication offered by JM.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.23–23A)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 857,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

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