To Emma Darwin 5 July 1844
July 5th —1844
My. Dear. Emma.
I have just finished my sketch of my species theory.1 If, as I believe that my theory is true & if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will be a considerable step in science.
I therefore write this, in case of my sudden death, as my most solemn & last request, which I am sure you will consider the same as if legally entered in my will, that you will devote 400£ to its publication & further will yourself, or through Hensleigh,2 take trouble in promoting it.— I wish that my sketch be given to some competent person, with this sum to induce him to take trouble in its improvement. & enlargement.— I give to him all my Books on Natural History, which are either scored or have references at end to the pages, begging him carefully to look over & consider such passages, as actually bearing or by possibility bearing on this subject.—3 I wish you to make a list of all such books, as some temptation to an Editor. I also request that you hand over him all those scraps roughly divided in eight or ten brown paper Portfolios:— The scraps with copied quotations from various works are those which may aid my Editor.—4 I also request that you (or some amanuensis) will aid in deciphering any of the scraps which the Editor may think possibly of use.— I leave to the Editor’s judgment whether to interpolate these facts in the text, or as notes, or under appendices. As the looking over the references & scraps will be a long labour, & as the correcting & enlarging & altering my sketch will also take considerable time, I leave this sum of 400£ as some remuneration & any profits from the work.— I consider that for this the Editor is bound to get the sketch published either at a Publishers or his own risk. Many of the scraps in the Portfolios contains mere rude suggestions & early views now useless, & many of the facts will probably turn out as having no bearing on my theory.
With respect to Editors.— Mr Lyell would be the best if he would undertake it: I believe he wd find the work pleasant & he wd learn some facts new to him. As the Editor must be a geologist, as well as Naturalist. The next best Editor would be Professor Forbes of London.5 The next best (& quite best in many respects) would be Professor Henslow??. Dr Hooker would perhaps correct the Botanical Part probably——he would do as Editor——6 Dr Hooker would be very good7 The next, Mr Strickland.—8 If no〈ne〉 of these would undertake it, I would request you to consult with Mr Lyell, or some other capable man, for some Editor, a geologist & naturalist.
Should one other hundred Pounds, make the difference of procuring a good Editor, I request earnestly that you will raise 500£.
My remaining collection in Natural History, may be given to anyone or any Museum, where it wd be accepted:—
My dear Wife | Yours affect | C. R. Darwin
If there shd be any difficulty in getting an editor who would go thoroughily into the subject & think of the bearing of the passages marked in the Books & copied out on scraps of Paper, then let my sketch be published as it is, stating that it was done several years ago9 & from memory, without consulting any works & with no intention of publication in its present form—
PS | Lyell, especially with the aid of Hooker (& of any good zoological aid) would be best of all
Without an Editor will pledge himself to give up time to it, it would be of no use paying such a sum.—10
Asks that in the event of his death, Emma should have the sketch of his species theory edited and published. Suggests possible editors, among them Lyell, Edward Forbes, and J. D. Hooker. [CD annotation on cover: "Hooker by far best man to edit my species volume Aug 1854".]
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 761,” accessed on 29 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-761