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 19 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9480