To Asa Gray 13 September 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Gray
I have taken a long time to thank you for your pleasant & most friendly note of July 11th;2 I am not ungrateful, but I have less strength (though still gaining some & now at last living down stairs) than formerly & after my two hours work glad to be quite idle. I have little to say; for my soul has been absorbed with Climbing plants, now finished3 & tomorrow I begin again, after 13 months interruption on “Variation under domestication”.—4
I received lately a Review on H. Spencer with the address in your handwriting; I like much all the latter part; but surely you did not write it?5 If you did you had muddled your brains (in the first part) by reading metaphysics & all elasticity had gone out of your style.— Oh, if you did write it, shall I not have some nice little stabs with your smooth dagger! I also before received a review on Dana,6 I believe in your handwriting; & this interested me considerably & I thought it was perhaps by you.— I write now chiefly to say that I send by this paper a paper which has interested me greatly by a gardener John Scott;7 it seems to me a most remarkable production though written rather obscurely in parts, but worth the labour of studying.— I have just bethought me that for the chance of your noticing it in the Journal,8 I will point out the new & very remarkable facts.— I have paid the poor fellow passage out to India, where I hope he will succeed, as he is a most labourious & able man, with the manners, almost of a gentleman.—9
We are profoundly interested by your politics; & do not in the least know whether the “old Bloody Times” is to be trusted that there will be peace & that the middle States will join with the South on Slavery & eject the northern states.—10 In the latter case, I hope you will marry Canada, & divorce England & make a grand country, counterbalancing the devilish South—
Yours affectionately | Charles Darwin
p. 106–108. Red cowslip by variation has become non-dimorphic, & with this change of structure has become much more productive of seed than even the heteromorphic union of the common cowslip.—11
p. 91–92 similar case with Auricula— On other hand a non-dimorphic var. of P. farinosa (p. 115) is less fertile. These changes or variations in the generative system seem to me very remarkable.12
But far more remarkable is the fact that the Red Cowslip (p. 106–8) is very sterile when fertilising,, or fertilised by, the common cowslip. Here we have a new “physiological” species.—13 Analogous facts given (p. 98) on the crossing of Red & White Primroses with common Primroses.—14
It is very curious that the two forms of the same species (p. 93, 94, 95, & p. 117) hybridise with extremely different degrees of facility with distinct species.—
He shows (p. 94) that sometimes a cross with a quite distinct species yields more seed than a homomorphic union with own pollen.
He shows (p. 111) that of the two homomorphic unions possible with each dimorphic species; that the short-styled, (as I stated) is the most sterile, & that my explanation is probably true.15 There is good Summary to Paper.—16
Has finished Climbing plants;
resuming work on Variation.
Sends abstract of John Scott’s paper [see 4332].
Has received review of Herbert Spencer but cannot believe AG wrote it unless he has muddled his brains with metaphysics.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4611,” accessed on 2 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4611