skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   27 September 1877

Cambridge, Mass.

Sept. 27. 1877

My Dear Darwin

Returning from our 1012 weeks of travel—which has been every way prospered and pleasant—I find your book. I can now barely thank you for it, and for the great compliment of the dedication. I must not open it till Hooker leaves me—a week hence—the work we have to do before we part being so great and pressing   Then I shall turn to it, with enjoyment, and as soon as I can find time, I must notice or review it.1

Hooker sends his love— is very glad Cohn has taken up your son’s experiments on Dipsacus.—which reminds me to send my best thanks to him for the copy addressed to me.2 For perusal—even for a glance that too must wait till we have worked up the collections & observations we have made in our journey to the Pacific3

Let me add—being sure of your sympathy—that our poor dog, Max, peacefully breathed his last to-day, after a happy life of 12 or 13 years. We are glad he lived till we returned, & greeted us with his absorbing and touching affection. In a few days came suddenly a partial paralysis—some convulsions—and then a quiet and seemingly painless ending.

He is immortalized in your book on Expression, and will live in the memory of his attached master and mistress.4

Yours ever | Asa Gray


See letter to Asa Gray, 4 June [1877]. Gray’s name is on the presentation list for Forms of flowers (see Appendix IV). CD had dedicated it to Gray as ‘a small tribute of respect and affection’; Gray reviewed it in the American Journal of Science and Arts for January and March 1878, and, together with Orchids 2d ed., and Cross and self fertilisation, in Nation, 11 April 1878 ([Gray] 1878a and [Gray] 1878b). Joseph Dalton Hooker was visiting Gray; they had travelled together to the Rocky Mountains (see letter from Asa Gray, 10 June 1877 and n. 5).
After receiving a copy of Francis Darwin’s paper ‘On the protrusion of protoplasmic filaments from the glandular hairs on the leaves of the common teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris)’ (F. Darwin 1877b), Ferdinand Julius Cohn had successfully repeated his observations. CD published extracts from Cohn’s letter in Nature (letter from F. J. Cohn, 5 August 1877, and letter to Nature, 15 August [1877] and nn. 2–4).
For their survey of the vegetation of the Rocky Mountains region, see J. D. Hooker and Gray 1880.
Gray and his wife, Jane Loring Gray, had told CD about their dog Max’s habit of washing his face like a cat and suspected that he might have been brought up by one. See Correspondence vol. 18, letter from Asa Gray, 14 February 1870, letter from J. L. Gray, 14 February 1870, and letter to Asa Gray, 15 March [1870]. Gray probably refers to CD’s remark in Descent 1: 44 that he had heard an account of dogs behaving in this manner from ‘a perfectly trustworthy friend’; Descent and Expression were originally intended to be published together as a single volume.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

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.


Has received CD’s book [Forms of flowers]; thanks him for the compliment of the dedication.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge, Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 198
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11155,” accessed on 22 February 2020,