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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   3 February 1878

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

Feb. 3, 1878

My Dear Darwin

A rare and a great pleasure to hear from you—as I have this morning, by two letters.1 My notice of Cook’s Biology (save the mark!)—which a clerical friend, of much sense, urged me to expose, was to be incog.—but the Editor as good as peached.—and Norton says any page of it would have betrayed me. It was pitched “rather too mild” on purpose and with much restraint—lest the benighted portion of the religious world—who have to be rescued from a delusion—should fancy there was a bad animus. Dana said with you—“too mild”—but added—“perhaps the more judicious”—and so I think it proves.2

Oh, that one should have to waste time on such Vermin!— and yet I begin to understand some of the satisfaction which a cat takes with a mouse.

There is something about Valeriana dioica, and I hope H. Müller will make it intelligible3

I will see if I can get anything done with Epigæa.4 But here one must go 15 or 20 miles for it.

Do work at heliotropism & the like. The Germans make me mad with their pottering pretence and their names, to stand in place of explanation.5 〈    〉 〈    〉

Pale foli〈age〉 〈5 or 6 wordsglaucis m〈  〉 〈5 or 6 words〉 certainly a 〈5 or 6 words〉 dry regions 〈    〉 recal a truly 〈3 or 4 words〉 which belongs to ou〈r〉 〈    〉 wooded country.

Yes, we are pleased to see opinions backed by deeds, and proud to add an American lady to your family, particularly6

As to Thos. Meehan, he is as rattle-brained as Joseph Cook, and almost 〈as〉 much a nuisance in 〈his〉 way. I write him 〈very〉 plain truths, privately telling him that he is an ingenious (but not an ingenuous) ass,—but somehow, it does not cure him.7

If you like, I will take 〈    〉

3 or 4 words〉 do make m〈  〉 〈    〉 correct—put 〈3 or 4 words〉 to L. perenn〈e〉 〈3 or 4 words〉 who wanted 〈3 or 4 words〉 〈  〉t to see, or 〈    〉 mig〈ht〉 be two species 〈    〉 〈entre nous I no more 〈    〉 〈Meeh〉an’s facts than his theo〈ries〉 〈    〉 think he would never 〈  〉eive.

Yes, thank Heaven, I have some bodily activity yet, which work like last summer developes. Mrs. Gray is as much improved by it as is8 | Your affectionate | Asa Gray

P.S. I have done up 〈Me〉ehan for Amer. Jour. Sci. 〈Marc〉h (next) number.—9

CD annotations

6.2 country.] ‘A. G〈ray〉 | Feb. 3d 1878’ added ink
10.1 do make … 〈  〉eive. 10.3] crossed blue crayon


AG’s review of Joseph Cook ["Lectures on biology", New Englander 37: 100–13].

Encourages CD to work at heliotropism.

Thinks Thomas Meehan is as "rattle-brained" as Joseph Cook.

[A damaged fragment cut from this letter is pinned to 11051.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 160: 169, DAR 165: 199
Physical description
4pp damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11343,” accessed on 22 November 2019,