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Darwin Correspondence Project

From C.-F. Reinwald   14 May 1873

15, Rue des Saints-Pères | Paris

le Mai 14th. 1873.

To Charles Darwin, Esq. Down, Beckenham, Kent.

Dear Sir

We duely received your kind letter of March the 5th. for which we feel much obliged.1 We are happy to know that you confide in our care to get good french translations of your different publications. No doubt the sale of the Descent of Man would have been larger with a more literary translation as that of M. Moulinie,2 but it is likewise to be considered that it is rather difficult to decide a french scientific man, or a member of our Institute, to translate a book of a foreign celebrity. You know that not only in France but in every country a great many of Naturalists prefer to write books on Darwinisme, signed with their proper name, rather as to give a plain translation of the celebrated original.

The subject of the present letter is to inform you that our translation of the “Emotions” is advancing slowly, rather too slowly for our interest. M. Pozzi promised to finish his labour of translation before the end of Mai and enable us by this to get the book ready in June or July.3

We already informed you that we have the translation of the “Descent of man” revised by M. E. Barbier, translator of Lubbock’s Early history.4 There is however no haste to get this new edition ready as we have still a tolerable number of the first edition left, which sells now rather slowly, and will perhaps do so during next summer, as every body in France seems to be frightened for the few months to come. Although I dont partake in these fears, our business is nevertheless exposed to the consequences of it and will no doubt continue for some months more to be flat.5

We come however to make a new proposal, which is to get your “Relation of your journey on board of the Beagle” translated into french and to publish it in addition and as a complementary volume of your different works already translated. We think that it will not be a very advantageous operation, but it seems to suit our views as well as yours and to be a profitable one for the french public.

Before beginning the labor of translation for which we are about to conclude with the said M. E. Barbier, we feel it our duty to get your special consentment, and to be informed if there are not some additions or alterations to be introduced in the text of the english edition of 1870, which we have in hands.6 In the same time we are ready to assure you a percentage in the sale of this french translation of your Journey as soon as the sale of it will have reached 750 copies. We think this percentage might be of £20.—

We shall be happy to be soon favored with a kind reply to this letter, and remain in this hope | dear Sir | Your’s most obediently | C Reinwald & Co


CD’s letter to Reinwald has not been found, but see the letter from C.-F. Reinwald, 4 March 1873.
Jean Jacques Moulinié had translated Descent into French (Moulinié trans. 1872). On the quality of the translation, see also Correspondence vol. 20, letter from Frédéric Baudry, 4 December 1872.
Samuel Jean Pozzi had recruited Justin-Miranda René Benoît as a co-translator of Expression in order to finish the work in June 1873 (see letter from S. J. Pozzi, 11 May 1873).
See the letter from C.-F. Reinwald, 4 March 1873 and n. 6. Edmond Barbier translated John Lubbock’s Prehistoric times (Lubbock 1865) into French (Barbier trans. 1873). Barbier’s revision of Moulinié’s translation of Descent is Moulinié trans. 1873–4.
Reinwald may refer to the occupation of France by Prussian troops, which continued until the French finished paying a war indemnity of five billion francs. The final payment was made in September 1873. See Badsey 2003, pp. 83, 86.
Barbier translated Journal of researches (1870) under the title Voyage d’un naturaliste autour du monde (Barbier trans. 1875). Journal of researches (1870), a reprint of Journal of researches (1860), was the last British edition during CD’s lifetime (see Freeman 1977, p. 36).


Badsey, Stephen. 2003. The Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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 of researches (1860): Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle around the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. By Charles Darwin. Reprint edition. London: John Murray. 1860.

Journal of researches (1870): 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. By Charles Darwin. New edition. London: John Murray. 1870.


Samuel Pozzi’s translation of Expression progressing slowly.

J. J. Moulinié’s translation of Descent is stylistically poor, which may account for low sales.

Difficult to find European naturalists to translate CD’s works. They would rather write books on "Darwinisme" under their own names.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles-Ferdinand Reinwald
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 100
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8911,” accessed on 29 March 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21