From Asa Gray 23 November 1863
My Dear Darwin
I wish to thank Mrs. Darwin most heartily for her kind note of the 29th. ult.1
I feared you had been ill, and I think I had long ago some intimation to that effect, in some indirect way, but I hardly believed it, as just before I had received one of your usual bright letters.2 Hooker not having written since the death of his daughter,3 and Boott having been very ill,4 all my sources of intelligence were cut off.
It is sad to hear that you are obliged to suspend all your work for half a year. Pray disappoint the physicians and get all right again sooner. For there is a deal for you to do. But after all, we must be patient. It is far more important that you get well surely than speedily. And pray, somehow, continue to let me know how you are getting on.
I have no scientific news for you. I have been busy at very humdrum botanical work. I read lately, with gusto, Wallace’s exposé of the Dublin man (Haughton) on Bee-cells, &c—5
The next-best thing, of late, is the exposé of Lindsay & Geo. Saunders (the Confederates) by Historicus.6
I trust Historicus’ previous letters, in which he shows—about the same time my father-in-law’s articles on the subject reached England7—that it is the duty of a country to see that armed or war vessels are not fitted out, quite irrespective of all municipal law, have produced their proper effect.8 Something has produced a great effect, and a great change in the idea of what it was incumbent on the government to do; and nothing can be more satisfactory than the views now taken:9 and the effect here is excellent. For we are sure that when the right notions once get a lodgement, as they have, England will faithfully carry them through.
Lawyers whom I know here were confident how the law would ultimately be laid down by your courts,10—but we greatly feared it would be done only after a few more such vessels had got to sea. All will go well now.
The newspaper I occasionally send you is a fair specimen of the influential part of the press here.
Such articles as the Times likes to cite have far less effect here than you suppose in the determination of events.11
The result of the autumn elections will let you know12—what has all along been clear to me—that the North has no notion whatever of l〈e〉aving its work till it is done.
Thanks for the article in the Reader13—true enough, no doubt, sensible & dull.
The best thing I have read of late was the showing up of that consummate humbug (as for many years I have regarded him) Brougham, in the Spectator.14
The confidence that every month’s prolongation of the contest makes the destruction of slavery surer, quite reconciles to the cost, the loss of life even, and even to the blunders and shortcomings!
Agassiz reports that a letter he has from Faraday pronounces that “Darwinism” has about had its day in England.15 But when, at length, A. showed me Faraday’s note, I could not see that it said or implied anything of the sort. It is amusing to see how worried Agassiz is.
By the way, now that you are in for “reading of the very lightest sort” let some one read to you Agassiz on Glaciers in the Atlantic Mag. for November.16 It will not strain your brain, tho’ it may your diaphragm to read how the hairy elephants and the bears &c were luxuriating in a tropical climate, with their thick coats on to keep them comfortable, when, all of a sudden it changed to bitter winter,—so suddenly that they could not run away, nor even rot, but were frozen up before there was time for either!
Pray set Wallace17 upon these articles, and upon A’s book just issued, made up of an earlier series of such articles: “Method of Study” (forsooth), and which A. has sent over to European savans as an important Contribution to Science.18 It is announced, you may see in the preface, that this little book completely does away with all “Darwinism”19
Thanks for the little paper on Disa.20
These stamps—of a sort now outlawed here—being clean, may please Master Darwin, or be useful for his exchanges.21
Ever, dear Darwin— Your sincere | A. Gray
CD’s poor health.
Agassiz’s attempt to do away with Darwinism.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4346,” accessed on 30 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4346