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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Murray   28 September [1870]1

50, Albemarle St. | W.

Sept 28—

Dear Mr Darwin

I will cause 4 sets of fair sheets of your new book to be sent to you when printed off2

Clowes has orders to attend to your directions about clichés from the woodcuts.3 If I understand you aright you have promised Appleton fair sheets & clichés of cuts—(not stereotypes of the text of the book)4   In this I see no great harm

I return Cassells Bill, with a cheque for the amount £10"10"9.5 I have written to Dallas about Index6

You have produced a book wch will caused men to prick up what little has been left them of ears—& to elevate their eye brows   However it may be eventually judged it cannot fail, I think to be much read—& I think I may venture on an Edition of 2500—copies—

It is with a view to remove any impediments to its general perusal that I wd call your attention to the passage respecting the proportion of advances made by the two Sex in Animals.7 I wd suggest that it might be toned down—as well as any other sentences liable to the imputation of indelicacy if there be any. I cannot help thinking that in the passages above referred to you scarcely do justice to the females witness the advances of the she cat & mare. I know not whether further on in the book you refer to Parrots & the power not only of speaking, but of applying words to circumstances—showing that they understand the meaning of words—8 I have a Parrot of my acquaintance whose accomplishments wd amuse if they did not astonish you

I remain My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | John Murray

Ch. Darwin Esqr.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870.
Murray refers to the publishing firm Cassell, Petter & Galpin. See letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870 and nn. 3 and 7.
Murray may refer to the discussion, ‘On preference or choice in pairing, as shewn by either sex of quadrupeds’ in Descent 2: 268–73. See the letter from John Murray, 10 October [1870] and n. 3.
CD briefly remarked on the imitative power of parrots (Descent 1: 44, 236); but he maintained that only humans had a large power of ‘connecting definite sounds with definite ideas’ (ibid., p. 54).


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


Various arrangements concerning the publication of Descent. "It will cause men to prick up [their] ears – & to elevate their eyebrows." JM thinks he will venture to print 2500 copies.

Suggests CD tone down as possibly indelicate a passage on proportion of advances made by the two sexes in animals.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Albemarle St, 50
Source of text
DAR 171: 378
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7329,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18