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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   25 February [1868]1

Feb, 25,

Dear D,

Yours of 9th this moment in. How could I have written “New York” meaning “Philadelphia,” as Rothrock’s address, But I am becoming stupid.2

I do not wonder at your book being taken up at once3—by the great numbers of people who read & understand it, and the 1000s who jump at any thing written by so notorious a writer as you are. The Origin will sell anything,—and I believe people will get more for their money in this book than in even that, if they care for facts—which generally they do not.4

In new ed,—correct 2, p. 227, Florida instead of “Virginia” for those pigs of Wyman’s. I think you have it Florida in Origin.

You have repeated the mistake elsewhere—later—in the volume, but have not referred to it in your wonderful Index—so I cant turn to it now.5

2, p, 30 from bottom, “in formed for “informed.”6

2, p, 135, “panicles” should be “spikes”7

Vol, 1, p, 310, foot

What of Persimmon, Hickory & Pecan nuts, Bimina (Papaw) the best sorts of strawberries,—etc,—Pumpkin—but that probably not N. of Mexico or its borders.8


Please send me a copy of the reprint.

My sheets are much soiled & marked.


The year is established by the reference to Variation (see n. 3, below).
CD’s letter to Gray has not been found. Joseph Trimble Rothrock was a former student of Gray’s who had supplied CD with answers to his queries on the expression of emotions (see Correspondence vol. 15).
The reference is to Variation, all copies of which had sold within a week of publication (see letter from John Murray, 6 February [1868]).
Gray refers to Origin. He had helped to arrange the publication of the American edition (Origin US ed., see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix IV), and had contacted a publisher regarding an American edition of Variation (see letter from Asa Gray, 24 February 1868).
The information from Jeffreys Wyman about pigs in Florida had been added to Origin 3d ed., p. 12. The same example was given in Variation 2: 227 and 336, but with ‘Virginia’ in place of Florida. Gray’s corrections would have arrived too late for incorporation in the second printing of Variation. This correction was not made to the second edition of Variation.
This mistake was corrected in the second printing of Variation.
‘Panicles’ appears in Variation 2: 105. It is not changed in the second printing, but in the second edition it is replaced by ‘heads’ (Variation 2d ed., 2: 82–3.
CD had written ‘It has often been remarked that we do not owe a single useful plant to Australia, or the Cape of Good Hope … or to New Zealand, or to America south of the Plata; and according to some authors, not to America northward of Mexico’ (Variation 1: 310). This passage was unchanged in the second printing and second edition.


AG is not surprised at popularity of CD’s Variation. Gives some corrections for next edition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 165: 162
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5928,” accessed on 25 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16