To Asa Gray 16 April 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Gray
I have been a scandalously ungrateful, & idle dog for not having thanked you very long ago for the second article on climbing plants, which pleased me greatly. 2 But, as I have before said, now that I work a little, I seldom feel inclined to write to anyone,3 but this evening the spirit has moved me to do so, though I have little to say, & my dear amanuensis is poorly with influenza, which has likewise knocked me up for a week.—4
Hooker paid us a visit of a day about a fortnight ago & I was delighted to see him looking well & in good spirits:5 he hopes before long not to be so terribly overworked & is going soon to write a paper on the St. Helena Flora from Burchell’s collections.6 I have lately had a letter from Fritz Müller in S. Brazil, full of curious observations.7 One case, which he is going to publish in Germany, is of a Rubiaceous plant with very long tubular corolla & with stigma in the middle: when an insect or any object touches the filament of the stamens, these suddenly & violently bend & eject the pollen, which had been previously shed & collected into a ball between the anthers, against the intruding object. But the curious point is that this same movement closes the tube of the corolla, so that the insect cannot then fertilise the flower; but in about 8 hours the tube opens & then an insect dusted with the ejected pollen from a distinct flower can do the work of fertilisation.8
I was well at work on my new Book, when in beginning of March, Murray required new Edit. of Origin, & I have been correcting & adding matter of some importance ever since.9 It almost broke my heart to give up so much time, but I have been comforted by finding that it will likewise serve for a new German Edition, which is wanted.10
All this has makes me regret extremely that the American edition was stereotyped; for the book is now considerably improved from what it was in the 2d. edition, which is the one reprinted in America.— I suppose nothing can be done: the corrections are far too numerous & minute for alteration in stereotypes.11 I presume the sale has stopped; & even if it had not quite stopped, it would, I fear, be useless to ask Publishers, either the same or any others, to bring out an amended edition.— I will send you a copy whenever it is published, for the chance of your liking to have one.—12
I will just ask on bare chance, whether you have any new facts on the direct influence of pollen on the fruit borne by the mother-plant; for this subject has come to interest me greatly:13 also whether you know of any cases of bud with blended character produced at junction of stock & graft: I have been reading a paper by Caspary on this subject.14
I hope all the Fenian row in your country, will not be the cause of more trouble & hatred between our two countries.15 It seems blowing over at present; as I hope are your troubles about your President & the South.—16 I declare I can hardly yet realise the grand, magnificent fact that Slavery is at end in your country.17 Farewell my good & kind friend—
Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin
I work daily now between 2 & 3 hours! & walk 3 or 4 miles daily!! yet never escape much discomfort.—
AG’s second article on Climbing plants [Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 41 (1866): 125–30].
Fritz Müller’s observations on Rubiaceae.
New edition [4th] of Origin.