Has had news from Asa Gray about Civil War.
Belatedly thanks CD for Orchids, which shows CD to be the successor to Gilbert White.
24 Gower St.
My Dear Darwin
I have just rec
I have never thanked you for your work on the Orchidiæ—which I read with wonder & admiration. It confirms my faith that White of Selborne bequeathes his mantle to you—
I do not know whether Dear Henslow saw your sagacious interpretation, but I am quite sure that it adds to the joys which he & White & Linneus have in Heaven, for I cannot believe such pure spirits have ceased to exist,
I hope you are well | Yrs sincerely | F. Boott
C. Darwin Esq
- f1 3873.f1The year is established by the relationship to the letter from Francis Boott, 26 December 1862.
- f2 3873.f2Asa Gray's letter has not been found; it was probably returned to Boott.
- f3 3873.f3Boott, was the son of a wealthy New England merchant and had inherited `a competency' (DAB s.v. Boott, Kirk; DNB). In order to avert the financial crisis precipitated by the American Civil War, the Union government abandoned the gold standard at the end of 1861, and issued large numbers of Treasury notes (`greenbacks') in the course of 1862, prompting fears of ruinous inflation (MacPherson 1988, pp. 442--50). Following the abandonment of the gold standard, to which the other major trading nations continued to subscribe, the price of foreign exchange became a function of the price of gold as measure in `greenbacks' (Kessel and Alchian 1967, p. 15). Boott quotes a figure of $146
in `greenbacks' for $100 in gold, representing 46% inflation since the introduction of `greenbacks'. 1 2
- f4 3873.f4Boott's name appears on CD's presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
- f5 3873.f5Boott refers to Gilbert White, the author of The natural history and antiquities of Selborne (White 1789), who was renowned for his careful observation of detail. For CD's reading of this work, see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *119: 6v and 119: 13a. CD's annotated copies of White 1825 and 1843 are in the Darwin Library--CUL (see Marginalia 1: 868--70).
- f6 3873.f6Boott refers to John Stevens Henslow, CD's former mentor and professor of botany at Cambridge University, who died on 16 May 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9), and to the originator of the Linnean system of classification, Carolus Linnaeus.