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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. F. McLennan   5 May 1874

61. Bedford Gardens. | Campden Hill. W.

5 May 74

My dear Mr. Darwin,

I have for the last few days been at work here on a Bill wanted in haste about the Sheriff Courts in Scotland so that I have only today received yours of the 2nd. which you sent to the Office.1

I shall be glad if you let me have a reading of Mr. Wake’s paper which I shall return to you at once.

Morgan’s paper I duly received—2 I thought I had acknowledged its receipt with thanks. I should like to retain it yet a while.

I called one day on Mr. Murray to ask him to undertake a reprint of “Primitive Marriage” for me.3 He was very civil but had never heard of the book & thought it more likely to be in MacMillan’s way than his own. I have never had time to do more in the matter.

I am sorry to say I am in Dr. Andrew Clark’s hands just now—for an attack of bleeding from the lungs.4 It is slight, but is a novel experience which I dont like. I trust you are well.

Yrs. very sincerely | J. F M’Lennan.


McLennan probably refers to the Evidence Law Amendment (Scotland) Bill, read for the first time on 23 June 1874 (Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 3d ser., vol. 220 (1874), cols. 343–4). Sixty-one Bedford Gardens was McLennan’s home address (Post Office London directory 1875). He was a parliamentary draughtsman for Scotland (ODNB). The letter from CD has not been found.
McLennan refers to Charles Staniland Wake’s article ‘Marriage among primitive peoples’ (Wake 1873), and Lewis Henry Morgan’s paper ‘Australian kinship’ (L. H. Morgan 1872).
John Murray was CD’s publisher. CD referred to McLennan’s Primitive marriage (McLennan 1865) extensively in Descent, and helped to arrange a US edition (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from J. F. McLennan, 21 August 1871). The first edition of McLennan 1865 was published by Adam and Charles Black of Edinburgh. No second edition was published.
Andrew Clark was also treating CD (see letter to B. J. Sulivan, 6 January [1874] and n. 6).


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.

McLennan, John Ferguson. 1865. Primitive marriage: an inquiry into the origin of the form of capture in marriage ceremonies. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black.

Morgan, Lewis Henry. 1872. Australian kinship. [Read 12 March 1872.] Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 8 (1868–73): 412–38.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Wake, Charles Staniland. 1873. Marriage among primitive peoples. [Read 2 November 1873.] Anthropologia 1 (1873–5): 197-207.


Would like to see C. S. Wake’s paper ["Marriage among primitive peoples", Anthropologia 1 (1873–5): 197–207].

Will return L. H. Morgan’s work [? Systems of consanguinity (1871)].

Murray suggests Macmillan’s are more likely to reprint JFMcL’s Primitive marriage.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Ferguson McLennan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Campden Hill
Source of text
DAR 171: 20
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9442,” accessed on 26 September 2020,

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