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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Gould   [February 1838]

[36 Great Marlborough Street]

My dear Sir

I have just seen my publisher.1 we have fixed to have fifty plates of birds, so will you at once take into consideration which are most worthy being done.—2

Will you also oblige me by the favour of seeing Bayfield,3 & see whether he will undertake the birds (which are chiefly small ones) at something less than 5d a piece, as it is rather more than our estimate calculated upon.—

If he would also undertake my quadrupeds I should be very glad.— There will be about 28 plates, chiefly small animals.—4 See if you cannot make for me some kind of agreement to take the whole at something under 5d.—

It will be rendering me a very great assistance if you can effect this

Yours most truly | Chas Darwin


Smith, Elder & Co., publishers of the Zoology and the geological volumes arising from the Beagle voyage.
Birds was begun by Gould and completed by George Robert Gray. The plates are introduced with a note (p. i): ‘The accompanying illustrations, which are fifty in number, were taken from sketches made by Mr. Gould himself, and executed in stone by Mrs. Gould’.
The plates were coloured by Bayfield, who also coloured the plates for Gould 1832–7 (see p. viii, where he is praised and thanked for his work).
The four numbers of Mammalia by George Robert Waterhouse have thirty-two unsigned coloured lithograph plates. According to Smith, Elder & Co.’s accounts these were undertaken by Dickes, possibly William Dickes (see letter to A. Y. Spearman, 22 September 1838, n. 1).


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

Gould, John. 1832–7. The birds of Europe. 5 vols. London.

Mammalia: Pt 2 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By George Robert Waterhouse. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1838–9.

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


The publishers [of Zoology] have agreed to 50 plates [for Birds]. Asks JG to decide which are most worthy of being done. Also asks him to see whether Bayfield will undertake [to colour] the birds (and quadrupeds) at something under 5d each.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Gould
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
William Patrick Watson (dealer) (catalogue 20, April 2014)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 401,” accessed on 31 January 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2