From Asa Gray 18 May 1862
May, 18. 62
My Dear Darwin,
Yesterday came by post the sheets—B–I of your Orchid book.1
This evening (Sunday) I have opened the parcel and read Introduction and Chapt. I. What a charming book it is.! You are right in issuing it in this form. It would be a sin not to do so.2
I fear, tho’, that no publisher would reprint it here.; though I may, on reading farther conclude to offer it to the Appleton’s—who should have the refusal.3 But it will surely be popular in England, where Orchids are popular and the species known to most intelligent and educated people.
—I hope soon to get the other sheets. I am perfectly delighted with O. pyramidalis, and must extract the whole account of its fertilization for Sill. Jour.4
But now for a request, Sill. Jour. does not really pay its cost, and so cant well pay for making wood cuts. Would it be too much bother to order for me (at my expense) electrotype or stereotype casts of the illustrations of O. pyramidalis—and perhaps of O. mascula also.5
Indeed, if I get your little book reprinted here—and I am not sure that I ought not—it would save much of the cost and risk to have casts from all your cuts. Those of O. pyramidalis, &c could be sent thro. Trübner,6 〈no〉t mounted or backed.
Indeed, if the electrotyped copper casts alone were sent, in a proper box by post, they would hardly exceed a single 1/ postage. And I could have them backed & mounted here.
Our only Orchis—i.e. O. spectabilis I brought last summer from W. New York, & planted. I shall in a week have 3 or 4 spikes coming into flower, and I will cover one and leave the others exposed. They are in a wooded part of the garden, like their natural habitat. The rest of our Ophrydeæ are Habenarias, (Platanthera)
〈I〉 must recur to your letter about Cypripedium and see what you wanted of 〈it〉 i.e. what observation.7
If there be any adaptation—be it ever so pretty—I shall never see it without your direction. What a skill & genius you have for these researches. Even for the structure of the flower of Ophyrideæ I have to-night learned more than I ever knew before.
I think I have somewhere an older letter of yours unanswered, but at this moment I find only yours of April 21.8 I have sent to Trubner for you a package of my pamphlet from Atlantic, for you to give away— Can send as many more as you like, for I find—owing to my own folly in giving it to Ticknor & Field, & not looking after 〈it〉—that it has not sold at all here.9 〈In〉deed, I had no care that it should. 〈Th〉e £8 is strictly yours: do not think of returning a penny of it.10
Hollies are 20 miles off, but I can send for them. Rhexias I hope to get young live plants of, soon.11
I shall be continuously overworked now till 10th July,
Ever yours | A. Gray.
Has received first sheets of Orchids and is very impressed. "What a skill & genius you have for these researches."
Details of U. S. orchids.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3559,” accessed on 3 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3559