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Letter 2871

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

19 [July 1860]

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    Summary Add

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    Asa Gray's anonymous review.

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    "Intensely interested" in orchid homologies; like a "game of chess".


at Miss Wedgwoods | Hartfield | Tonbridge Wells

Thursday 19th

My dear Hooker

I am very sorry to hear about your Baby & that Mrs Hooker is prevented going as yet to sea-side; for it would have done her good. Milk disagreed with one of our Babs; but it ultimately got strong.—

Many thanks for Review: it is by Asa Gray: I have sent for copy to America.: it was intended to be strictly anonymous; but publisher let name escape to A. Gray's vexation. Hence he wrote in the no-care-devil style; but it is very clever & pleasant. What a first-rate man he is.—

It is a real good joke my discussing homologies of Orchids with you, after examining only 3 or 4 genera: & this very fact makes me feel positive I am right!! I do not quite understand some of your terms; but sometime I must get to explain the homologies; for I am intensely interested on subject, just as at a game of chess.— I must look to your description of the viscid fluid.— Practically it may be said then pollen-masses are never retained on the rostellum except by accident.

I have been comparing parts of fructification again of the Habenaria chlorantha & bifolia: I do not know whether you compared minutely; but there is vast difference in stalk of pollen-mass—in the important junction (cause of movement) of footstalk & sticky surface—in size of pollen-grains, & shape of stigmatic surface. By Jove if all this is variation it is wonderful case: the difference is fully as great as between Bee & Fly Ophrys.—

I have seen Temple's sermon & like first part very much; in latter part there are, I think, some terrific assumptions & illogical remarks.—

Ever yours affect.— | C. Darwin

I could write on lots more subjects & shd. enjoy it, but refrain out of simple virtue to save your time.—

I am very glad that you have ordered Lechenaultia to be fertilised.—

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2871.f1
    The endorsement is confirmed by CD's visit to Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood in Hartfield and by the reference to [Gray] 1860b.
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    f2 2871.f2
    CD refers to the first part of Asa Gray's unsigned review of Origin, published in three parts in the July, August, and October 1860 issues of the Atlantic Monthly ([Gray] 1860b). Annotated copies of all three parts are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. CD noted in pencil on the first part: `Nothing in the 1st Article'.
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    f3 2871.f3
    CD discussed the homologies of orchids in Orchids, pp. 286--307. Hooker's advice about how to trace the homologies of the spiral vessels was mentioned by CD several times in Orchids, pp. 290--301.
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    f4 2871.f4
    CD repeated these remarks in Orchids, p. 89, explaining that the structural differences between the two species of Habenaria were greater than those usually found among members of the same genus.
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    f5 2871.f5
    Possibly Temple 1860, a sermon on the relation between science and religion. Frederick Temple was headmaster of Rugby School.
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    f6 2871.f6
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 July [1860].
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