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Letter 1999

Darwin, C. R. to Gray, Asa

24 Nov [1856]

    Summary Add

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    Variability of naturalised plants.

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    Distribution of Arctic/alpine plant species.

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    Limits to the northern range of plants.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 24th

My dear Dr Gray

Although I have nothing particular to say, yet I cannot resist thanking you warmly for your letter of Nov. 4th Your facts on northern range have indeed astonished me; they will be preeminently useful for my especial purpose.

I forwarded your enclosures the same day of their receipt.—

I am delighted to hear that you intend to attack the naturalised plants, with especial care.— I have ordered (indeed I ordered it many months ago) your new Edit. & hope soon to get it.—

The last sentence in your letter at first surprised me & troubled me to a degree which would have made you laugh, had you seen me, viz “that a considerable part of our Alpine plants are not known in our Arctic continental regions”. I did not perceive that you had added but are connected with Scandinavia through Labrador &c.— And this made me happy again. But looking at the Globe is it not rather a forced expression to exclude Labrador from your “Arctic continental regions”?— Pray think of this, or you may confound some one else as you did me.

When you say that the only method to make you work is “to show you the way”—it convinces me of one thing alone,—that, as the very best workman sees blemishes in his work which other & poorer workmen cannot even perceive, so you cannot appreciate your own work in the generalising line.— Good Heavens if I had written a paper half as good as yours, how conceited I should have been!

With my hearty thanks for all your kindness,—& I have just been looking over some of your old letters— Believe me | Your's most truly | C. Darwin

I cannot get over my surprise at your naturalised & agragrian plants not being variable (I do not mean by this presenting marked races)— Pray keep this point in mind.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1999.f1
    Dated by the reference to the letter from Asa Gray, 4 November 1856.
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    f2 1999.f2
    Letter from Asa Gray, 4 November 1856.
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    f3 1999.f3
    See letter to Asa Gray, 12 October [1856] and n. 5.
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    f4 1999.f4
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 18 November [1856].
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    f5 1999.f5
    A. Gray 1856a. There is a copy in the Darwin Library–CUL.
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    f6 1999.f6
    CD refers to the first part of A. Gray 1856–7. See letter to Asa Gray, 12 October [1856].
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    f7 1999.f7
    See letter from Asa Gray, 23 September 1856.
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