To Asa Gray 5 June 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Gray
I have been rather extra busy, so have been slack in answering your note of May 6th—2 I hope you have received long ago the 3d. Edit. of Origin.3 Andrew Murray is an Entomologist & Horticulturist & now Secretary to Hort. Soc. of London.— He read a long & hostile & rather weak Review of Origin at the Royal Soc. of Edinburgh.—4
I have heard nothing from Trübner of sale of your Essay;5 hence fear it has not been great: I wrote to say you could supply more.— I sent a copy to Sir J. Herschel; & in his new Edit. of his Physical Geography he has note on the origin of species, & agrees to certain limited extent; but puts in a caution on design, so much like yours that I suspect it is borrowed.—6 I have been led to think more on this subject of late, & grieve to say that I come to differ more from you. It is not that designed variation makes, as it seems to me, my Deity “Natural Selection” superfluous; but rather from studying lately domestic variations & seeing what an enormous field of undesigned variability there is ready for natural selection to appropriate for any purpose useful to each creature.—
I thank you much for sending me your Review of Phillips.—7 I remember once telling you a lot of trades which you ought to have followed;8 but now I am convinced that you are a born Reviewer.— By Jove how well & often you hit the nail on the head. You rank Phillips’ book higher than I do; or than Lyell does, who thinks it fearfully retrograde.— I amused myself by parodying Phillips arguments as applied to domestic varieties; & you might thus prove that the Duck or Pigeon has not varied because the Goose has not, though more anciently domesticated, & no good reason can be assigned why it has not produced many varieties.9 With respect to F. Water, small area, compared with sea or land, I believe comes into play; rate of change & of extinction in F. Water having been much slower, hence Ganoid fishes are all fresh-water.—10
How true what you say about Matthew;11 but I will not run on.—
I have been idling & working at Primula & think my experiments will explain their dimorphism:12 now I much want one piece of information; I know that there are many cases of dimorphic plants; but are not the two forms always borne on same plant? Are there other cases of two forms living mingled in nearly equal numbers?— I have also been working on insect fertilisation of Orchids—beautiful facts—& I want information on Cypripedium. Have you Botanic Garden? Could you cover up a plant with net & leave one uncovered; if it be one which sets seeds, & see whether protected one sets seeds, & whether the pollen of the two after interval of time are in the same state.13 Do not forget Spiranthes— look at flowers just opening: I am curious to know whether same curious structure as in our Spiranthes.—14
But I suppose you are all too overwhelmed with public affairs to care for science.—15 I never knew the newspapers so profoundly interesting. N. America does not do England justice: I have not seen or heard of a soul who is not with the North. Some few, & I am one, even wish to God, though at the loss of millions of lives, that the North would proclaim a crusade against Slavery. In the long run, a million horrid deaths would be amply repaid in the cause of humanity.—16 What wonderful times we live in.— Massachusetts seems to show noble enthusiasm.17 Great God how I shd like to see that greatest curse on Earth Slavery abolished.
Farewell. Hooker has been absorbed with poor dear revered Henslow’saffairs—18 | Farewell | Ever yours | C. Darwin
AG’s review of John Phillips’ book [Life on earth (1860), in Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 31 (1861): 444–9].
Thinks his experiments will explain Primula dimorphism.
Insect fertilisation of orchids.
Wishes that the "greatest curse on Earth", slavery, were abolished.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3176,” accessed on 3 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3176