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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   6 March 1877

Herbarium of Harvard University, | Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.

March 6 1877

Dear Darwin

I am very thankful for the new Orchid-Book, just received from Murray.1 But still, if it can be spared from the oversheets, I wish Murray would make up for me the title-form, which I never received, and which would complete the copy you sent me in sheets

I should have “eviscerated” this book too for Silliman’s Journal, if I had the title-page, and if I was not too crowded with my Fl. N. America work.2

You are quite wrong in saying I have taken all good out of the X Fert. book.3 On the contrary, I was reproaching myself for leaving so much untouched

But my object in writing this line, is to say that only yesterday, my good wife, in calling upon the Norton’s, was told by Madame Norton of the sad bereavement in your family last autumn.4 They supposed we knew of it. But Hooker was too much occupied in the happy rehabilitation of his own family to remember to tell me.5 My good wife—who remembers you all with undiminished affection—desires to send, with mine, sincerest sympathy.

In haste, as ever, | Yours | A. Gray


Orchids 2d ed. was published in January 1877 by John Murray (Publishers’ Circular, 1 February 1877, p. 93).
CD praised Gray’s abstract of Cross and self fertilisation in the American Journal of Science and Arts and claimed Gray had ‘quite eviscerated it’ in his letter of 18 February [1877]. Benjamin Silliman Jr was one of the proprietors and editors of the journal. Gray was working on his Synoptical flora of North America (A. Gray 1878–84).
Gray’s wife, Jane Loring Gray, had visited Charles Eliot Norton and his mother, Catherine Eliot Norton, where she found out about the death of Francis Darwin’s wife Amy in September 1876; see Correspondence vol. 24, letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 September [1876].
After the death of his first wife, Frances Harriet, in 1874, Joseph Dalton Hooker had married Hyacinth Jardine in 1876; he had heard the news of Amy Darwin’s death while on a trip to Scotland to celebrate this recent marriage (see Correspondence vol. 24, letters from J. D. Hooker, 4 July 1876 and [24 September 1876]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

Gray, Asa. 1878–84. Synoptical flora of North America. 2 vols. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co.

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


Thanks for Orchids [2d ed.].

Does not feel his abstract of Cross and self-fertilisation [Am. J. Sci. 3d ser. 13 (1877): 125–41] was thorough enough.

Has heard of their sad bereavement last autumn [death of Amy, wife of Francis Darwin].

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 165: 194
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10880,” accessed on 16 May 2022,