To Asa Gray 8 May 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Gray
I have been a most ungrateful & ungracious man not to have written to you an immense time ago to thank you heartily for the “Nation” & for all your most kind aid in regard to the American Edit.—2 But I have been of late overwhelmed with letters, which I was forced to answer & so put off writing to you.— This morning I received the American Edit (which looks capital), with your nice Preface for which hearty thanks. I hope to Heaven that the Book will succeed well enough to prevent you repenting of your aid. This arrival has put the finishing stroke to my conscience, which will endure its wrongs no longer.— I received, also, this morning a very pleasant & friendly letter from Mr Thurber to whom I will write in a few days.— He has sent me a bundle of the Agricult. newspaper, which seems to contain an astounding miscellany of facts & notions.—3
Your article in the Nation seems to me very good & you give an excellent idea of Pangenesis,—an infant cherished by few as yet, except his tender parent, but which will live a long life. There is parental presumption for you!4 You give a good slap at my concluding metaphor: undoubtedly I ought to have brought in & contrasted natural & artificial selection; but it seemed so obvious to me that nat. selection depended on contingencies even more complex than those which must have determined the shape of each fragment at the base of my precipice.— What I wanted to show was that in reference to preordainment whatever holds good in the formation of a pouter pigeon holds good in the formation of a natural species of Pigeon. I cannot see that this is false. If the right variations occurred & no others natural selection wd be superfluous.—5
A Reviewer in an Edinburgh paper, who treats me with profound contempt, says on this subject that Prof. Asa Gray could with the greatest ease smash me into little pieces.6
Believe me, my dear Gray | Your ungrateful but sincere friend | Charles Darwin.
AG’s review of Variation [Nation 6 (1868): 234–6] very good.
CD’s fondness for Pangenesis; although an "infant cherished by few", CD expects it to have a long life.