From Asa Gray 24 July 1865
July 24, 1865.
My Dear Darwin
I had heard, thro’ Hooker, that you had been poorly again, and I think that a letter, signifying my sorrow was written and has crossed yours just received.1 I fancy you as now getting much better again. I am glad you did not see Brace (tho’ sorry you could not): he is a great talker, or rather questioner, and would have exhausted you terribly.2
Here, at length are some seeds of Specularia perfoliata,3 from Dr. Engelmann.4 I have sown half, and send you the rest. I am reading in snatches, your admirable paper on Climbing Plants—as yet only 88 pages of it,—and am watching, with great interest, all the climbers I have at hand. What a nice piece of work you have made of it!5
I see you explain & illustrate at length the double turn of a caught tendril. Is it not enough to say that, with both ends fixed, if it shortens say by the contraction of one side it must, by mechanical necessity turn its coil different ways, from a neutral point.6
I am vexed to have no Adlumia in the garden this year7—i.e. no seedlings came up last year—from the drought, I suppose. I may meet with it, in the country—the Western part of New York—where my wife and I are going—two days hence—to rusticate for 3 weeks—8 She needs it.—tho’ I hardly do. The first thing I do will be to write, for Sill. Journal an analysis of your great paper,9 And when I return, if not too late, I mean to give 2 or 3 lectures from it to my University Class.
Ere this Mrs. Wedgwood should be back from Canada, but I have not learned that she is so.10 She was to let me know, and we would have a day on the shore where Mr. Loring lives in summer—a pretty bit of country.11 But it is now too late.
I wish she could have been here on Friday, when we welcomed back our Harvard men who had been in the war, over 500 of them—and remembered those who had died for their country. What a day we had!
Jefferson Davis richly deserves to be hung.12 We are all willing to leave the case in the hands of the Government, who must take the responsibility. If I were responsible, I would have him tried for treason—the worst of crimes in a republic— convicted, sentenced to death,—and then I think I should commute the penalty, not out of any consideration for him, but from policy, and for his more complete humiliation. The only letters I have received expressing a desire to hang him, are from rebeldom itself—from Alabama. You see slavery is dead, dead,—an absolute unanimity as to this.13 The Revolted States will behave as badly as they can, but they are so thoroughly whipped that can’t stir, hand or foot,—and we are disbanding all our armies— a corporal’s guard is enough to hold South Carolina—14
Seriously, there are difficult questions before us,—but only one result is possible— the South must be renovated, and Yankeefied.
Well— take good care of yourself, and let me know that you are again in comfortable condition
Ever Your affectionate friend | A. Gray
Is reading CD’s "Climbing plants".
The Civil War is ended; slavery is dead.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4877,” accessed on 29 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4877