From Asa Gray 22 September 1862
Sept. 22, 1862.
My Dear Darwin.
Your pleasant epistles of Aug. 21 & Sept. 4. are to be acknowledged, with thanks.1 But I have nothing in particular to communicate, except our hearty congratulations that your boy and Mrs. Darwin are recovering so well.2
Tell Leonard that I was pleased both with his attention in writing, and with the occular proof of his convalescence in his being able so soon to use a pen.3
His requests shall be kept in view,—the 5cts stamp I send now,—dare say I shall some time pick up the 30 and 90, though I never saw the latter, nor the 12, 20 & 24 on envelopes. (the 24ct per se he must have already, as it is often used on my envelopes to you.
Bravo for Horace, whose illustration of Natural Selection as to the adders is capital.4 A chip of the old block, he evidently is.
I told you that Rothrock had gone to the war, and perhaps has already been under—probably not.5 I had intended that next spring he should do up Houstonia more perfectly, and work up this and some related matters for his thesis when he comes up for examination. But all this is broken up by his enlistment.6
I may take occasion just to allude briefly to the case in next Silliman apropos to something.7 But if you think it of the least use, dress up a note of the facts and send it to Gard. Chronicle. I should be pleased if you would.8
I have been lazy about all my writing,—working all day at dry & dull systematic Botany, which you anathematise.9 But if I get time to turn it over I will say a few words on the last chapter of your Orchid book.10 But it opens up a knotty sort of question about accident or design, which one does not care to meddle with much until one can feel his way further than I can.11
You make too much far of my casual obs. on Orchids last summer.12 Most of them should be worked over anew before I should put much confidence in them. But I am convinced there is something mighty queer about Gymnadenia tridentata.13
Just you come over here next summer—bringing all your sickly ones to this drier climate—and work up these Orchids, &c.—
Here are good quarters for you and I will have the orchids poured in upon you from all the country round.
The change of position in Spiranthes cernua is striking enough. Once seen it can never be overlooked. I cannot however, tell whether it is the labellum or the column that moves, but I suppose the latter, resting much on Goodyera, where I had no doubt.14
Well, it is very pretty, the triple forms of Lythrum Salicaria.15 Being in the Garden I will look to it next year.
I doubt if I get seeds of any N. Amer. sp. But Nesæa verticillata I expect to supply seeds—not yet ripe. Ten to one you will find triple state in it.—16
I have not seen it growing since your letters came.
So, to spite the book, the honey-bees will suck clover!17
The extract from McMillan’s Mag, which I send you in an English newspaper, herewith, is a just and fair account—will let you know how we feel & think as to the civil war.18
We find it a far tougher job than we supposed. But we have no more notion of giving it up than—the English nation would have, under a similar case. For my part, I would fight till of our property and half our men were destroyed before I would give up!—and I think that is the general opinion. Cambridge volunteered to fill up her quota under both calls long ago, and a number over.19
Ever, dear Darwin— | Yours | A. Gray
Last chapter of Orchids opens up a "knotty sort of question about accident or design".
Changes in orchid flowers as they age.
Thinks CD may find trimorphism in Nesaea verticillata.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3736,” accessed on 21 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3736