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Letter 7329

Murray, John (b) to Darwin, C. R.

28 Sept [1870]


Various arrangements concerning the publication of Descent. “It will cause men to prick up [their] ears – & to elevate their eyebrows.” JM thinks he will venture to print 2500 copies.

Suggests CD tone down as possibly indelicate a passage on proportion of advances made by the two sexes in animals.


50, Albemarle St. | W.

Sept 28—

Dear Mr Darwin

I will cause 4 sets of fair sheets of your new book to be sentto you when printed offf2

Clowes has orders to attend to your directions about clichés fromthe woodcuts.f3 If I understand you aright you have promised Appletonfair sheets & clichés of cuts—(not stereotypes of the text ofthe book)f4   In this I see no great harm

I return Cassells Bill, witha cheque for the amount £10″10″9.f5 I have written to Dallas aboutIndexf6

You have produced a book wch will caused men to prick up what littlehas been left them of ears—& to elevate their eye brows  However it may be eventually judged it cannot fail, I think to be muchread—& I think I may venture on an Edition of 2500—copies—

It is with a view to remove any impediments to its general perusal that Iwd call your attention to the passage respecting the proportion of advancesmade by the two Sex in Animals.f7 I wd suggest that it might be toneddown—as well as any other sentences liable to the imputation of indelicacyif there be any. I cannot help thinking that in the passages above referred toyou scarcely do justice to the females witness the advances of the she cat &mare. I know not whether further on in the book you refer to Parrots & thepower not only of speaking, but of applying words to circumstances—showingthat they understand the meaning of words—f8 I have a Parrot of myacquaintance whose accomplishments wd amuse if they did not astonish you

I remain My Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | John Murray

Ch. Darwin Esqr.

DAR 171: 378



The year is established by the relationship between this letter andthe letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870.
See letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870 and nn. 1 and 2.
The reference is to William Clowes & Sons. See letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870.
The reference is to D. Appleton & Co. See letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870 and n. 6.
Murray refers to the publishing firm Cassell, Petter & Galpin. Seeletter to John Murray, 26 September 1870 and nn. 3 and 7.
Murray refers to William Sweetland Dallas. See letter to JohnMurray, 26 September 1870.
Murray may refer to the discussion, ‘On preference or choice inpairing, as shewn by either sex of quadrupeds’ in Descent 2:268–73. See the letter from John Murray, 10 October [1870] and n. 3.
CD briefly remarked on the imitative power of parrots (Descent 1:44, 236); but he maintained that only humans had a large power of‘connecting definite sounds with definite ideas’ (ibid., p. 54).
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