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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   9 January [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan. 9th

My dear Sir

Mr. Dallas’ delay in making the Index is intolerable.2 He ought not, in my opinion to have undertaken the work.— It is no use my writing to him. A week ago or more he said he shd the next day send the first half to the Printers.3 Will you be so kind as to enquire, & then settle at once what had better be done. I am prepared to throw the Index overboard & publish at once without one, though it would be a great loss to the Book.— I finished last Revises of last pages on Nov. 15th—now nearly 2 months ago.— Will you be so kind as to write to Mr Dallas after enquiring at Printers?—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I have been reading portions of Brehms great work on the Life of Animals, & it is excellent; I never read so amusing & interesting an account of the habits of Baboons in any other work whatever.— The woodcuts also are admirable.— I advise you to reconsider the question of publication & Translation.4 It might come out in Parts—& if well advertised, I shd be astonished if it did not sell largely.


The year is established by the reference to the index of Variation (see n. 2, below).
William Sweetland Dallas had been working on the index for Variation. On the delay to Variation caused by the preparation of the index, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 January [1868] and n. 11, and the letter from W. S. Dallas, 8 January 1868 and n. 3.
See Correspondence vol. 15, letter from W. S. Dallas, 26 December 1867. The printing firm was William Clowes & Sons.
CD’s annotated copy of the first four volumes of Illustriertes Thierleben by Alfred Edmund Brehm (Brehm et al. 1864–9) is in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 69–71). It is cited extensively in Descent and Expression. On CD’s use of information from Brehm on the behaviour of baboons, see Descent 1: 51, 53, 78. CD had first encouraged Murray to publish a translation in his letter of 4 August [1867] (Correspondence vol. 15).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD exasperated by Dallas’ delay in finishing index [for Variation]. "I am prepared to throw the Index overboard."

Thinks JM should reconsider publishing a translation of Brehm’s Thierleben. It is excellent and would "sell largely".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff. 178–179)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5781,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16