Lot 20: Charles Darwin signed letter
11th October 2017
LS signed "Ch. Darwin," five pages on three sheets, 5 x 8 (last page slightly smaller), personal letterhead, April 4, 1866. Letter to Rudolf Suchsland, the son of German publisher Friedrich Emil Suchsland, in full: "I have not heard from Mr. Schweizerbart so cannot give a definitive answer to your father; but the more I think on the subject the more I feel that I am bound not in any way to support another edition. For this reason alone I am sorry to say that I cannot offer to send clean sheets of the new English edition of The Origin as they are printed off; and the corrections & additions are so numerous that they c'd be sent in no other way. With respect to your enquiry about my other works; in your list you give the same book twice over with different titles. My Journal of Researches &c was translated in 1844 into German by Dr. Diefenbach (Viewig & Sons Braunschweig) but the translation was made from the first English edition. The 2nd Ed. was considerably condensed & improved & was published under the above title of 'Journal of Researches' & has had so very large a sale in English (viz. 10,000 copies) that it might possibly be worth re-translating into German. The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle is a very large book with most expensive illustrations. My work on Cirripedia consists of 2 thick Vols with numerous illustrations. It is obviously out of the question to think of translating either of these works. My geological works consist of 3 thin Vols, now I believe always sold by Smith & Elder bound together in one thick Vol. These consist of 'The Structure & distribution of Coral Reefs.' This is a work of some interest, & if my name had formerly been known in Germany and have been worth translation. The other two parts consist of 'Geological observe. on Volcanic Island' & 'Geolog. Observ. on South America.' My work on the contrivances by which orchids are fertilized has been translated into German-at towards the close of last year I published in the Journal of the Linnean Soc. & separately a little book on the 'Movements & habits of Climbing Plants,' of which I send you a copy. I cannot suppose that this w'd be worth translation, although formerly 2 little books appeared in Germany on this subject, & I may add that this treatise has been highly spoken of by Botanists. If it were translated, which I repeat I do not think w'd answer, it might be worth while to add three papers by me published in the Linnean Journal on a very curious subject namely Dimorphism & Trimorphism in plants & which has been a good deal discussed in German scientific periodicals. I will write again as soon as I hear from Mr. Schweizerbart but I have hardly any doubt that he will agree to my proposals." In very good condition, with intersecting folds, scattered light foxing and toning, and a tear to the top of the last page (affecting three lines of writing). At this time Darwin was preparing his fourth English edition of Origin of Species at the request of his publisher, which was significantly revised from the original and published in November 1866. After first publishing it in 1859, Darwin's concepts and personal renown had spread worldwide throughout both the scientific and lay communities. His work was hotly debated throughout Germany, and Suchsland wrote to Darwin to suggest that he authorize a renewed translation-the last German version of Origin of Species having been published in 1863-as inaccuracies in the text led some of his theories to be widely misunderstood. This letter reveals both the diversity of scientific subjects in Darwin's corpus and his business acumen in discussing the commercial viability of his own work.
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