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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   18 February [1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Feb. 18th

My dear Gray

Your abstract of my book is inimitably good.2 You have given everything,—you have quite eviscerated it. By Jove I ought to owe you a grudge! In earnest it could not in my opinion be improved.

Very many thanks, also, for the specimens, & for not hating me for bothering you so much.3 In about a week’s time I shall examine them with greatest interest. I shall send my son Frank to Kew on Wednesday to look at specimens of Leucosmia & some of the Polemoniaceæ &c.4 I long to get this old work off my hands & so shall publish too soon to profit by sowing seeds of Gilia.—5

I did despatch Title &c of Orchis book, but have now written to Murray to send you by post complete copy.6

Some of your criticisms & suggestions in your two reviews are very good.7

Ever yours gratefully | Ch. Darwin

In Cross-Fertilisation

Pray correct a dreadful erratum

p. 275, 6 lines from top

for self-fertilised plants

read crossed plants.8


The year is established by the reference to Cross and self fertilisation.
Gray’s review of Cross and self fertilisation appeared in the American Journal of Science 3d ser. 13 (1877): 125–41.
See letter from Asa Gray, 6 February 1877 and n. 1. Forms of flowers was published in July 1877 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
For CD’s interest in Leucosmia burnettiana (a synonym of Phaleria disperma), see the letter to Asa Gray, 3 January 1877 and nn. 1 and 2. Polemoniaceae is the phlox family. CD refers to Francis Darwin and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Gray was planning to write a notice of Orchids 2d ed. (see letter from Asa Gray, 6 February 1877 and n. 3). The letter to John Murray has not been found.
Gray had written a two-part review of the first edition of Orchids (A. Gray 1862; see Correspondence vol. 24, letter to Asa Gray, 9 August 1876 and n. 4).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross and self fertilisation 2d ed.: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1878.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Praises AG’s abstract of Cross and self-fertilisation [Am. J. Sci. 3d ser. 13 (1877): 125–41].

Hopes soon to finish with dimorphic plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (122)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10851,” accessed on 11 April 2021,