To Asa Gray 3 June 1
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
My dear Gray
I was rejoiced to see your hand-writing again in your note of the 4th, of which more anon.2 I was astonished to see announced about a week ago that you were going to write in Nature an article on me, & this morning I received an advance copy. It is the grandest thing ever written about me, especially as coming from a man like yourself. It has deeply pleased me, particularly some of your side remarks. It is a wonderful thing to me to live to see my name coupled in any fashion with that of Robert Brown.3 But you are a bold man, for I am sure that you will be sneered at by not a few botanists.
I have never been so honoured before, & I hope it will do me good & make me try to be as careful as possible; & good Heavens how difficult accuracy is. I feel a very proud man, but I hope this won’t last.— I received & read your articles in the Nation & G. Chronicle, & very interesting they were to me; but I could not conceive, (as I read them first in the G. Ch.) who could have written them.4 What you tell me about the trail of sweet exudation in Sarracenia beats even Orchids!5
I am now hard at work getting my book on Drosera &c. ready for Printers, but it will take some time for I am always finding out new points to observe.6 I think you will be interested by my observations on the digestive process in Drosera; the secretion contains an acid of the acetic series & some ferment closely analogous to, but not identical with pepsin; for I have been making a long series of comparative trials. No human being will believe what I shall publish about the smallness of the doses of phosphate of ammonia which act.—7 Day before Yesterday I found out that Pinguicula digests & then absorbs animal matter; I know that this holds good for albumen, gelatin & insects, but I am now in the midst of my observations.—8
I began reading the Madagascan squib quite gravely, & when I found it stated that Felis & Bos inhabited Madagascar, I thought it was a false story, & did not perceive it was a hoax till I came to the woman.—9 I had heard before of the wolf story,10 & know not what to think of these reiterated statements.
When you have any communication with Dr Rood will you thank him much for the sketch of the ears: I have been glad to see the account, but it is too late for use, as I have finished correcting the early sheets for a new Edit. of the Descent. I have been forced to say that I do not feel so confident about the “Darwinische ohr-spitze” as the German calls them, as I was before.—11
Give our kindest remembrances to Mrs. Gray. My wife & self have our game of backgammon every evening & I often think of the scene between you & Mrs. Gray.—12 My wife threatens me sometimes if I triumph too much—
My dear Gray | Yours gratefully & proudly | Ch. Darwin
CD is deeply pleased by AG’s article on him in Nature [10 (1874): 79–81].
Is preparing book on "Drosera and Co." for the printers. Reports observations on digestion in Drosera and Pinguicula.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9480,” accessed on 4 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9480