The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 175 of 188

Charles Darwin to J. Murray.

Down, June 14th [1859].

My dear Sir,

The diagram will do very well, and I will send it shortly to Mr. West to have a few trifling corrections made.

I get on very slowly with proofs. I remember writing to you that I thought there would not be much correction. I honestly wrote what I thought, but was most grievously mistaken. I find the style incredibly bad, and most difficult to make clear and smooth. I am extremely sorry to say, on account of expense, and loss of time for me, that the corrections are very heavy, as heavy as possible. But from casual glances, I still hope that later chapters are not so badly written. How I could have written so badly is quite inconceivable, but I suppose it was owing to my whole attention being fixed on the general line of argument, and not on details. All I can say is, that I am very sorry.

Yours very sincerely,
C. Darwin.

P.S. I have been looking at the corrections, and considering them. It seems to me that I shall put you to a quite unfair expense. If you please I should like to enter into some such arrangement as the following: when work completed, you to allow in the account a fairly moderately heavy charge for corrections, and all excess over that to be deducted from my profits, or paid by me individually.

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

Down, June 21st [1859].

I am working very hard, but get on slowly, for I find that my corrections are terrifically heavy, and the work most difficult to me. I have corrected 130 pages, and the volume will be about 500. I have tried my best to make it clear and striking, but very much fear that I have failed– so many discussions are and must be very perplexing. I have done my best. If you had all my materials, I am sure you would have made a splendid book. I long to finish, for I am nearly worn out.

My dear Lyell, ever yours most truly,
C. Darwin.

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, 22nd [June, 1859].

My dear Hooker,

I did not answer your pleasant note, with a good deal of news to me, of May 30th, as I have been expecting proofs from you. But now, having nothing particular to do, I will fly a note, though I have nothing particular to say or ask. Indeed, how can a man have anything to say, who spends every day in correcting accursed proofs; and such proofs! I have fairly to blacken them, and fasten slips of paper on, so miserable have I found the style. You say that you dreamt that my book was entertaining; that dream is pretty well over with me, and I begin to fear that the public will find it intolerably dry and perplexing. But I will never give up that a better man could have made a splendid book out of the materials. I was glad to hear about Prestwich’s paper. (Mr. Prestwich wrote on the occurrence of flint instruments associated with the remains of extinct animals in France.–(Proc. R. Soc., 1859.)) My doubt has been (and I see Wright has inserted the same in the ‘Athenaeum’) whether the pieces of flint are really tools; their numbers make me doubt, and when I formerly looked at Boucher de Perthe’s drawings, I came to the conclusion that they were angular fragments broken by ice action.

Did crossing the Acacia do any good? I am so hard worked, that I can make no experiments. I have got only to 150 pages in first proof.

Adios, my dear Hooker, ever yours,
Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin to J. Murray.

Down, July 25th [1859].

My dear Sir,

I write to say that five sheets are returned to the printers ready to strike off, and two more sheets require only a revise; so that I presume you will soon have to decide what number of copies to print off.

I am quite incapable of forming an opinion. I think I have got the style fairly good and clear, with infinite trouble. But whether the book will be successful to a degree to satisfy you, I really cannot conjecture. I heartily hope it may.

My dear Sir, yours very sincerely,
C. Darwin.

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