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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Smith, Elder & Co.   [17 May 1842]1

[12 Upper Gower Street, London.]


Dear Sir

In case my message was not intelligible, I write to say that my last note expressed exactly what I wanted.—2 Will you, therefore, send copies to the Athenaeum, Edinburgh Review, Jameson Phil. Journ. & Taylor’s Phil. Journ.—3 You can write from the author on the first page if you please. I did not give the names of those, to whom I have sent the other copies, because I thought it did not signify, they are either people who had materially aided me or foreigners, who I thought by noticing the work, would aid its sale. The four copies sent from private friendship you say you have charged to my private account, which is all right. So 21 copies (instead of 20 as originally proposed, the change caused by the addition of Silliman) have been sent gratuitously,—and this is exactly as I always intended, & as was allowed for in the estimate.4

I am sorry you have had all this trouble.— I hope you will distribute the copies soon.— I took two copies for Societies in Paris to Bailliere & he seemed inclined to send some on his own account:—possibly this might be worth looking to.—5 I leave Town tomorrow morning—6

Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

The copy for Dr Allan of Forres in Scotland might be sent to Edinburgh & then forwarded (if there be any difficulty on this head) by coach, he paying the carriage.7


The date is inferred from the discussion of the distribution of one of CD’s works. The reference to ‘Dr. Allan of Forres’ indicates that this was Coral reefs (see n. 5, below). Coral reefs was published in May 1842. CD left London (see n. 6, below) on 18 May. Parts of this letter were published in Correspondence vol. 7, Supplement; the complete text has been reconstructed from a mixture of transcriptions and facsimiles from the website of Gerard A. J. Stodolski, Inc. (dealer) and the Christie’s catalogue, 7 December 1988, p. 122. The footnotes that appeared in vol. 7 supplement have been altered.
This note has not been found.
The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal was edited by Robert Jameson and David Brewster. The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine was edited by Richard Taylor. According to CD’s list of presentation copies for Coral reefs (DAR 69: A108), in addition to the four journals listed in the letter, the Scotsman was also to receive a review copy.
According to CD’s list of presentation copies, dated ‘May 10/1842/’ (DAR 69: A108), ten copies were sent to friends and geologists, five to ‘Public Libraries’ (that is, to university libraries and the British Museum), three to scientific societies, and six to journals, and one was for himself, bringing the total to ‘25 copies some of which to my account’. ‘Sillimans Journal’ is included in the list (a reference to the American Journal of Science and Arts, edited by Benjamin Silliman Sr), but no review of Coral reefs was published there. CD’s copy of Coral reefs is in the Rare Books Department, University Library, Cambridge.
Hippolyte Baillière was a bookseller and publisher in London who specialised in French medical and scientific works; the only French society mentioned on the presentation list for Coral reefs was the Geological Society of Paris (DAR 69: A108).
CD left London on 18 May 1842, and did not return until 18 July (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II).
CD had received information from James Brands Allan on coral formations in the Indian Ocean via John Grant Malcolmson (see Correspondence vol. 2, letters from J. G. Malcolmson, 7 October 1839 and 30 November 1839). CD cited Allan’s account in Coral reefs, pp. 185–6.


Gives instructions for sending out copies of Coral reefs to various journals. Discusses the complimentary copies which have already been sent out.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Smith, Elder & Co
Sent from
Source of text
Christie’s (dealers) (7 December 1988); Gerard A. J. Stodolski (dealer) (April 2014)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 629A,” accessed on 28 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement) and 24 (Supplement)