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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   10 June 1877

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

June 10th 1877

My Dear Mr. Darwin

Except when you are to be aided in your work I decline to give letters of introduction to you, knowing how you are occupied and how infirm your health at any time may be. So please take this note to mean just this. The happy couple who bear it would be delighted to call some day, if you say so, and pay their respects to you, and I will tell you why I am disposed to promote their wishes.

Mr. Burgess1 was a favorite pupil of mine, and is a young naturalist of much promise.—not in my department, however, but in entomology. He takes particularly to the anatomy of insects, draws capitally, and shows talent for research, which we trust will bring forth good fruit. I cannot blame him if his modesty and caution have kept him back from publication as yet, but he has time before him, and even a sight of you will be a stimulus to his ambition as well as something to remember in after years. I need not say that he takes to Evolution; all young naturalists of any good do. He has just married the daughter of my dear old friend, the late Mr. Sullivant, who did for Muscology in this country more than one man is likely ever to do again.2 The young lady is very dear to your good friend Mrs. Gray3 and to me; and, as you have more than once made a remark complimentary to American ladies, and as you are such an excellent judge, I must even give you the opportunity of extending your range of instances.4

But, please, do not give our young friends the opportunity of calling upon you, unless it quite suits you.

By the time this reaches you, Dr. Hooker will be on the way to us, we expect, and we are looking to have a great run together over the Rocky Mountains, and perhaps across the continent.5 Wherever we may be, you may believe me | Always Yours cordially | Asa Gray

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘11o.15 | 2o.50′’6 ink


Edward Burgess.
Caroline Louisa Burgess was the daughter of the bryologist William Starling Sullivant.
Jane Loring Gray.
After a visit from the family of Charles Norton, who were friends of the Grays from Boston, Massachusetts, CD wrote: ‘I then verified a grand generalisation, which I once propounded to you, that all persons from the U. States are perfectly charming’ (Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Asa Gray, 1 June [1869]).
Joseph Dalton Hooker departed for New York on 28 June 1877, and toured America with Gray, reaching the Rocky Mountains in late July (see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 205–17).
The annotations are probably train times for the visit to Down made by the Burgesses on 10 July 1877 (Caroline Louisa Burgess’s diary (private collection)).


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


Has two young friends who wish to call on CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 165: 197
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10994,” accessed on 29 July 2021,