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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   12 April 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Ap 12th 1874

My dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for considering so carefully my book.1 The more I think of the subject the more inclined I am for a cheap Edition. I have compared Lyell’s Manual2 & the Origin & I see that the type & spaces between the lines are the same, excepting that the letters are thicker in the Manual, & this I think a very great advantage. Could you afford to have the spaces between the lines a little wider than in the Manual; & if so I should be perfectly contented; & so would Mrs. Darwin which is a much more serious concern! I suppose it would not do to have the pages in double column, as by this plan almost any type is legible. Pray let me hear what you ultimately advise. I imagine that it will prove impossible to have the whole in one volume

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. Do you know Routledge’s edit. of Motley’s Dutch Republic in double columns?3 The type is smaller than in the Origin, & yet all here declare that it can be read with ease. My son4 has calculated that 50 pages additional to both vols of the Descent wd require only 450 pages of Motley; so that I imagine the Descent might be printed in the same type with Lyell’s Manual & all wd go in 550 pages if printed like Motley. I can see no real objection to a scientific book being in double columns—5

Nevertheless 2 vols is in some respects an advantage, & I shd be quite contented to see my book in the same type as Lyell’s Manuals & in 2 vols; but if you cd afford a little wider space between the lines it wd be very advantageous.


For CD’s concerns about the print quality of Descent 2d ed., see the letter to R. F. Cooke, 10 April [1874].
CD refers to Charles Lyell’s Student’s elements of geology; a second edition was published by Murray in April 1874 (C. Lyell 1874; Publishers’ circular 1874, p. 276). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down.
John Lothrop Motley’s Rise of the Dutch republic: a history was first published in 1855 in three volumes (Motley 1855). The most recent edition was published in a single volume by George Routledge and Sons (Motley 1873).
CD probably refers to George Howard Darwin, who had assisted CD with the second edition of Descent (see Correspondence vol. 21).
Descent 2d ed. was published as a single volume, with the main text in single column and the footnotes in double column. In the first edition the footnotes had been in single column.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Lyell, Charles. 1874. The student’s elements of geology. 2d edition. London: John Murray.

Motley, John Lothrop. 1855. The rise of the Dutch republic. 3 vols. London: John Chapman.

Motley, John Lothrop. 1873. Rise of the Dutch republic: a history. London: George Routledge and Sons.


Discusses 2d edition of Descent. CD is inclined to a cheap edition and asks JM to consider a one-volume edition in double-column format.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms. 42152 ff. 348–9)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9404,” accessed on 28 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22