To Asa Gray [after 11 October 1861]1
run on to you in a most unreasonable way.— I am so glad that you will look to some of your Rubiaceæ, & I hope that may find time to make a few experiments.— Thanks for notes about your Hollies, & I hope you will look a little to them.2 There is to me incomparably more interest in observing than in writing; but I feel quite guilty in trespassing on these subjects, & not sticking to varieties of the confounded cocks, Hens & Ducks.—3 I hear that Lyell is savage at me.— I shall never resist Linum next summer.—4
What you say about our keeping in our intrenchments & firing long shots about Design has made me laugh.—5 I suspect I am more cowardly than you, as I ought to be, as I do not feel sure of my ground.— Here is my answering long shot about the cream-jug-nose:6 I should believe it to have been designed (as I did formerly each part of each animal) until I saw a way of its being formed without design, & at the same time saw in its whole structure (as in homologies, embryology, rudimentary organs, distribution &c) evidence, of its having been produced in a quite distinct manner, ie by descent from another cream-jug whose nose subserved, perhaps, some quite distinct use. When I think of my beloved orchids, with rudiments of five anthers, with one pistil converted into a rostellum, with all the cohesion of parts, it really seems to me incredibly monstrous to look at an orchid as created as we now see it. Every part reveals modification on modification.7 But enough & more than enough.—
Farewell, my dear Gray, with cordial thanks for your never ending kindness.— Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin
Of course I will send you my Orchid opusculus.—
Thanks AG for notes on hollies.
Replies to an argument for design. Feels it monstrous to consider orchids created as they are now seen, since every part reveals modification on modification.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3283,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3283