From Asa Gray 22–30 March 1863
22. March ’63
My Dear Darwin
Argyle’s article on the Supernatural—to which you called my attention a long while ago,1 I never happened to see till to-day—when I have read it through. It is quite clever—not deep, but clear, and I think useful I see no occasion for finding fault with him—except in his attempts now and then to direct a little odium against you—which is unhandsome—for his main points are those I hammered out in Atlantic. &c—indeed I see signs of his having read the same.2 But it is hardly fair of him, after expressing his complete conviction that where the operation of natural causes can be clearly traced, the implication of design—upon its appropriate evidence—is not thereby rendered less certain or less convincing.—to go on to speak of derivation-doctrines in a way that implies the contrary.3
Of course we believers in real design, make the most of your frank and natural terms, ‘contrivance, purpose”, &c”—and pooh-pooh your endeavors to resolve such contrivances into necessary results of certain physical processes, and make fun of the race between long noses and long nectaries!4
Dr. Wyman5—who is a sharp fellow tells me that—on the authority of the historian Prescott,—the Incas of Peru for—no one knows how long—married their sisters—to keep the perfect purity of the blood.6 Quere. How did this strong case of close-breeding operate? Did they run out thereby? Wyman thinks there is no evidence of it.
If it is true—and the Incas stood it for a long course of generations, you must look to it—for it will bear hard against your theory of the necessity of crossing.7
If they run out, you will have a good case.
P.S. 30 March.
I hear from Hooker that you are poorly,—am very sorry to hear it.—8 hope it is something very temporary. I have been laid up two or three days with a sort of influenza and a bad throat,—now much better.
I have sent to Silliman extracts from Bates’ paper, embracing almost all about mimetic analogy,—8 or 10 pages. My only fear is Silliman will demur to printing it.9
You think Lyell too non-comittal and timid. Well Huxley makes up for it, I should think!10
Ever dear Darwin | Yours cordially | Asa Gray
Discusses the Duke of Argyll’s article on the supernatural [Edinburgh Rev. 116 (1862): 378–97].
Has heard that the Incas married their sisters; this may be worth investigating as a case of inbreeding.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4056,” accessed on 30 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4056