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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   [31 May 1845]

Down near Bromley Kent


Dear Sir

I had intended writing to you to say that I wd send the M.S. for the first number to you by our weekly carrier on Thursday morning. I have much condensed, added to, & improved the scientific part: As nearly as I can possibly calculate; there will be 168 pages of your volume.

I have well considered & consulted others on title-page: I think from honesty & policy (as the work has been much quoted) we must keep to nearly the same title: I hope you will approve of the enclosed, which is strictly accurate & does not give the idea of exclusive science, as the ‘Journal’ is so prominent. I do not know how far you value Mr Lyells’ judgment, but he approves of it.1

Should you [not] object to the enclosed short Dedication, it wd much gratify me to insert it?—2

I enclose the map, of which I have the copper-plate. To my own taste & that of every person, whom I ever heard speak of the subject, a map in a volume of Travels is very agreeable: please inform me of your decision before Wednesday night, that I may send it or not with the M.S.3

Please return the Map and Title & Dedication: of the latter I beg you not say a word to Mr. Lyell..

I have borrowed a few woodcuts from my Geological volumes: & I have had one made at 12s. as I thought it very desirable to illustrate a description of a curious Bird:4 I will direct Mr Lee to take it & the account to you, if you approve, if not I will pay it myself.—

Will the Table of Contents ie Chapters belonging to the First Number be published in the First Number, or the whole Contents in the 3d number?—

The condensing the scientific parts & additions have cost me infinitely more time than I anticipated, otherwise I shd. have sent the M.S. sooner.

Finally—I take the liberty of calling your attention to the fact, that when you offered me 100£, it was for the two numbers. I did not choose to throw any obstacle in our arrangements; nor of course will I now do so; but for the copyright of my Journal in three numbers, I think 100£ is ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠5 sum. Do you think you could afford to allow me an additional fifty? I assure you I have taken the utmost pains with this new Edition

Believe me dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin To | J. Murray Eqre.


The title eventually decided upon was Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world. The main change from the first edition title was the reverse order of ‘geology’ and ‘natural history’.
The dedication read: To Charles Lyell, Esq., F.R.S., this second edition is dedicated with grateful pleasure, as an acknowledgment that the chief part of whatever scientific merit this journal and the other works of the author may possess, has been derived from studying the well-known and admirable Principles of Geology.
No map was included in the volume (see letter to John Murray, [4 June 1845]).
The scissor-beak, Rhynchops nigra (a synonym of Rynchops niger, the black skimmer), is illustrated on p. 137. See also Birds, pp. 143–4.
A word was torn out when the seal was broken.


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.


Will send MS of first part [of Journal of researches] on Thursday morning, enclosing suggested title and dedication. Urges inclusion of map. Requests another £50 for copyright, as offer of £100 was made when only two parts were planned.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.24–25)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 872,” accessed on 6 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3