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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   19 March [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

March 19th.

My dear Sir

I am extremely sorry to hear of your late illness, as every fresh attack must shatter your health & weaken your strength; but I am very glad to hear that you are now pretty well again. Of course I shall be glad to hear of a collected edition of my books, but I really can form no opinion whether it is adviseable in the way of sale.2 I know, however, that some English think that collected works, printed uniformly, sell best, & this has always rather surprised me.—

The correction of the Descent of Man has been a heavy job & is not yet quite completed: it will, I am sorry to say cost you a good deal of trouble in the translation, but not so much as it has cost me, as I have had to reflect much what to alter & to add.— I have also taken much pains over style & this will not concern you.3 As soon as this is done I shall go on with my small book (the M.S. half-ready) on Drosera & Dionæa, & this will include a corrected edit. of my papers on Climbing plants.—4 My next book, (if I live & have strength to complete it) will be on the advantages of Crossing Plants, & this will include all my papers on Dimorphic & Trimorphic plants with new & related matter.5 With respect to the few short miscellaneous papers which I have published, I doubt whether they are worth republishing, except perhaps two rather long papers in Transactions of Geological Soc. On the ice-action in the S. Hemisphere & on the great earthquake in Chile.6 I do not think I have any record of such fugitive things as mere letters to papers; but I have kept copies of most things, & you can hereafter determine yourself what is worth republishing. Proofs have just begun to come in of my book on Coral Reefs.—7 I have given you the foregoing details, as I have thought they might be some sort of guide to you.—

I am much pleased to hear of the sale of my books in Germany— When you come to England, or when you leave Edinburgh, I hope that you will pay me a visit;8 but I never know long before hand, when I shall be at home, for I find that I cannot get on without frequent rests. I must have one almost immediately, as the correction of the Descent of Man has tired me much.9

I hope that I have not wearied you with this long scrawl.—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, 15 March 1874.
CD had sent the revised text of the first volume of Descent to the printers on 8 March (see letter to J. V. Carus, 8 March [1874]); he was evidently still revising the second volume. Descent 2d ed. was published as a single volume. Carus’s German translation of Descent 2d ed. (Carus trans. 1875a) appeared in two volumes in 1875, and formed volumes 5 and 6 of CD’s collected works published by E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung (Freeman 1977).
Insectivorous plants was published in 1875, as was Climbing plants 2d ed.
Cross and self fertilisation was published in 1876.
‘Distribution of the erratic boulders’ and ‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’ were published in the Transactions of the Geological Society of London in 1842 and 1840 respectively.
CD was working on Coral reefs 2d ed. (‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Carus was planning to leave Leipzig for Britain in mid-April in order to lecture at the University of Edinburgh (see letter from J. V. Carus, 15 March 1874 and n. 1).
According to his ‘Journal’ (Appendix II), CD did not take a rest until he visited Henrietta Emma Litchfield from 21 to 29 April 1874.


Climbing plants 2d ed.: The movements and habits of climbing plants. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Coral reefs 2d ed.: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. By Charles Darwin. Revised edition. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1874.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

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

‘Distribution of the erratic boulders’: On the distribution of the erratic boulders and on the contemporaneous unstratified deposits of South America. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 May 1841.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 6 (1841–2): 415–31. [Shorter publications, pp. 147–62. For read date, see Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 3 (1838–42): 425.]

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’: On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America; and on the formation of mountain chains and volcanos, as the effect of the same power by which continents are elevated. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 March 1838.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5 (1840): 601–31. [Shorter publications, pp. 97–124.]


Would be glad to hear of a collected edition of his works [in Germany], but has no opinion on how it would sell. Has been surprised to learn that in England some think uniform collected works sell best. Tells JVC his publication plans and other details to guide him on extent of a "collected works".

Descent corrections have been laborious and troublesome.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9367,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22