To Asa Gray 17 February 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
I received your note of Feb 5th this morning.2 I am most sincerely sorry to hear of your accident to your thumb, which I cannot but fear will be a very serious loss.3 I will send your note soon to Hooker that he may hear about it.— I am glad to hear of the 250 copies now I presume at Trübners;4 I wrote to him today about a few advertisements &c &c & to send me copies for distribution. I hope for my sake, as well as yours, that Murray & Lyell will not prove entirely true, that it is impossible to circulate a pamphlet in England.—5
I fear that the state of the U. States must stop all interest in everything not political.—6 I will in few days enquire at my Bankers how I can repay you the £7. s10: I truly wish you would let me pay the whole £15. Will you not?7 I have asked Trübner to forward C. Wright’s article to proper quarter.8 The Printers have been very slow with my new Edit. of Origin so that I have been able to insert notice of your Pamphlet with title in full, which I am especially glad of.—9 The other day a very clever Lady was staying here & read your Reviews; & remarked “how extraordinary if such a writer has written only on science” I need not say that she was not a scientific Lady.—10
With respect to Pumilio, you are quite right11 I knew nothing whatever on subject, but I looked at the seeds to amuse myself, & asked Hooker who told me a little about Sencio & he thought Lindley would like an account for G. Chronicle.12 It was foolish of Lindley to put it so conspicuous: in my note to him I said that he might like to use it sometime just to fill up space.— It strikes me, however, as pretty case of adaptation for the ignorant, like myself.—
When I last wrote, after receiving your letter of Dec. 15th, I was in much distress about my daughter: the attack though very severe lasted only 4 days & she has now got up to state as before.—13
I have just reread your letter, which like all yours, interests me. You ask about Drosera: if you like to try anything, put the minutest atom (under a lens) on point of fine needle on any one single extreme marginal gland of a leaf, which has all the hairs equally expanded & watch it or look again in 10 minutes.— Or put fragment of Hair of your head & look in a hour’s time. I intend trying many more experiments this summer & then publishing: I am doubtful on many points.14 But the worst is that my health is failing much. I literally cannot listen to a novel for hour without fatigue. My good dear wife declares, I must go with our whole family (if my girl can be moved) for two months to Water Cure; & I fear I must, but it will be ruin to all my experiments.— I remember formerly having read your extremely curious observations on Tendrils, but I thank you for telling me of them.—15
With respect to Design &c you say that you suppose that I have “not brought forward my real objections against your views.—” I have no real objection, nor any real foundation, nor any clear view.— As I before said I flounder hopelessly in the mud.—
You have amused me much by your account of Agassiz’s denying the community of descent of allied languages, & of Bowen denying heredity.16 I cannot believe that Bowen is a strong man. What an odd & foolish fancy he must think it that all breeders of Race-Horses, Cattle & pigs &c should keep pedigrees, & would certainly prefer breeding from a poor animal of a good pedigree than from the finest of bad pedigree.— These men in fact work on my (I wish I dared say our) side.
Farewell. Do not forget to have look at rostellum of your Spiranthes.—17
Farewell.— I most truly hope that your Thumb will not cause you much inconvenience.
Most cordially & gratefully yours | Charles Darwin
If you want a book for light reading, the 1st. vol of Leslie’s Life (the American Painter) is very nice.—18
Distribution of AG’s pamphlet.
Informs AG of his [CD’s] notice on Pumilio in Gardeners’ Chronicle [5 Jan 1861; Collected papers 2: 36–8].