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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   6 May [1859]


Friday May 6th

My dear Sir

As I have thought you perhaps might like to forward the enclosed note to Mr Elwyn I have written it separately.1

It is my deliberate conviction that both Lyells & Mr Elwyns suggestions, (which differ to a certain extent) are impracticable. I have done my best. Others might, I have no doubt, done the job better, if they had my materials; but that is no help.— Nothing on earth can have been kinder than both Mr Elwyn & Sir C. Lyell have been.—

I will send in middle or latter part of next week, the six first chapters; & now the succeeding chapters have been copied, & I can send exact number of words, or the M.S. itself if you like, of the whole, with the one exception of the last & very short chapter, not yet written.2 If I do not hear from you I will send the six first chapters & the number of words in the succeeding chapters. If I do hear (it must be soon) that you would like to see the whole M.S. my servant, who will bring the M.S, shall wait 2 or 3 hours & then call & bring home to the latter chapters, which I have just to run my eye once over again.

I have taken such pains with M.S. that I hope corrections will not be heavy in expence or time. I am sorry to have troubled you with such long notes; but I trust I shall give no more trouble. Forgive me for adding that if my Book does prove a failure, you will not find me of an avaricious nature.—

My dear Sir | With many thanks for your own kind note | Believe me, Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


CD’s letter to Whitwell Elwin has not been found. It was a reply to the letter from Whitwell Elwin to John Murray, 3 May 1859.
CD refers to chapter 14 of Origin, the ‘Recapitulation and conclusion’.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


CD is convinced that the suggestions [for the Origin?] of both Lyell and Whitwell Elwyn are impracticable.

Will send first six chapters of MS next week. Has taken such pains with it that he hopes corrections will not be heavy.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.57–57A)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2459,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7