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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   8 March [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

March 8th. —

My dear Gray

I now send some more M.S. & I shd. be extremely glad if they are not too late for the Edition.2 If the long addition for p. 126 is too late, that at p. 336 cannot be inserted, as they hang together—unless indeed the M.S for p. 126 were given as a supplement.3 These additions seem to me, judging from number of letters which I have received on the subject of some little importance.—   I will for future keep to my resolution of not wasting more time on the origin. So that you need not fear my giving more trouble. Most sincerely do I thank you from my heart for all your generous kindness, & interest about my book. If there be any profit I am not so foolish as to despise it, but you are perfectly right that I care more for a good & corrected American Edition; & it is the simple truth that I shd. be infinitely pleased to share profits with you; & this would be fair in many ways. Your truly admirable Review would make a most useful prefix,4 so I hope the Publishers will agree. Believe me that I fully appreciate your motives in taking such great trouble about my Book.—

I have not yet been able to read coolly a second time all your Review; I have had to lend it to so many persons.—   I have had a long letter from Dr. Boott, full of the most noble love of truth & candour.5 He goes far with me, but cannot swallow all. No one could until he had enlarged his gullet by years ⁠⟨⁠of⁠⟩⁠ practice, as in my own case.— You ask about Zoonomia Da⁠⟨⁠rwin⁠⟩⁠    I am his Grandson.—6 How extraordinary is ⁠⟨⁠the⁠⟩⁠ state of mind of Agassiz: it is, as you say, a case of “science run mad.” Owen after much shuffling & secresy; with bitter sneers to some & modified very slight praise to others, has just spoken out that he rejects my views on the ground of the imperfection of the geological record. Now this is just the subject on which he knows nothing; for in his life he has never examined a single stratum. I can count in England 4 geological converts & 8 or 9 other Naturalists. I hear that Thwaites of Ceylon is one.— 7 Did you see Harvey in G. Chronicle versus the Origin: the article, I thought rather weak; & Hooker’s answer admirably good.8 I send Macmillan, not that it is worth sending; look at the verses at the end of following article!9

Farewell my kind friend. Believe me— Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin

If possible I shd. like out of curiosity to receive through Murray of Albemarle St a copy of the American Edition—10

P.S. Since the above was written I have received Appletons letter to you with his P.S.—11 I much fear that the additions herewith sent will be too late.

You might tell the Appletons that I mean to leave all future Editions of the “Origin” (as far as I can tell) in its present state with the additions now sent.—

Hearty thanks about the money.12 I should have thought the £50 very handsome. & a bird in Hand worth two in the Bush.—  —

With renewed thanks | Ever yours | C. D.


Dated by the reference to a revised American edition of Origin.
Gray was superintending a revised and augmented edition of Origin in the United States (see letters from Asa Gray, [10 January 1860], [17 January 1860], and 23 January 1860). CD had already sent Gray new material and alterations to be incorporated into the edition (see letters to Asa Gray, 28 January [1860], 1 February [1860], and [8 or 9 February 1860]). See also letter to Asa Gray, 2 March [1860].
The additional material for the chapter on natural selection was added to the new edition in a separately paginated section inserted between pages 116 and 117 (Origin US ed., pp. 116*–21*). See Appendix IV. The alterations to the text on p. 336 of Origin, ‘On the state of development of ancient forms’, were the same as those made to Origin 2d ed. (Origin US ed., pp. 293–4). This material was substantially revised in the third edition (see Peckham ed. 1959, pp. 547–8).
CD was strongly in favour of prefixing Gray’s review of Origin ([Gray] 1860a) to the new American edition (see letter to Asa Gray, [8 or 9 February 1860]). CD had received sheets of the review in February (see letters to Asa Gray, 18 February [1860] and 24 February [1860]).
Letter from Francis Boott, 29 February 1860. Boott was a close friend of Gray’s. He had written to Gray about his favourable reaction to CD’s theory on 5 January 1860 (Gray Herbarium, Harvard University).
CD appended a note to his discussion of Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck’s views on species change in the historical sketch for the authorised American edition of Origin that reads: ‘It is curious how completely my grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, anticipated these erroneous views in his Zoonomia (vol. i. pp. 500–510), published in 1794.’ (Origin US ed., p. vi n.). The reference is to E. Darwin 1794–6.
See letters to Charles Lyell, 18 [and 19 February 1860], and to J. D. Hooker, 26 [February 1860]. William Henry Harvey had also written a long letter to Gray on 9 February 1860 itemising his objections to CD’s theory (Gray Herbarium, Harvard University).
The December 1859 issue of Macmillan’s Magazine contained Thomas Henry Huxley’s review ‘Time and life: Mr Darwin’s Origin of species’. The verses in ‘Colloquy of the Round Table’, attributed to Thomas Hughes and David Masson (Wellesley index 1: 557), read (Macmillan’s Magazine 1 (1859–60): 157): Rumours there were and ominous whisperings | Of the great bomb-shell book from Murray’s press, | Threatening flagration in the common mind, | And scientific warring not less loud | Than that which followed the “Vestiges”— I mean | Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species | By Natural Selection;” in which words | The author indicates this principle | As principle-in-chief of all his work, | That Nature is a progress of conditions | Still tightening, tightening, tightening through the ages, | Growing more strict and difficult, and thus | Strangling the worser breeds, and letting through | The finer, subtler, stronger, who escape | Minus their clumsier parts, and modified | On and still on for ever.
CD’s copy of the revised and augmented American edition of Origin is in the Cambridge University Library.


Darwin, Erasmus. 1794–6. Zoonomia; or, the laws of organic life. 2 vols. London: J. Johnson.

Dupree, Anderson Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray, 1810–1888. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Gray, Asa. 1860b. Review of Darwin’s theory on the origin of species by means of natural selection. American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 29: 153–84.

Huxley, Thomas Henry. 1859d. Time and life: Mr Darwin’s "Origin of species." Macmillan’s Magazine 1 (1859–60): 142–8.

Origin 2d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1860.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Origin US ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. A new edition, revised and augmented by the author. By Charles Darwin. New York: D. Appleton. 1860.

Peckham, Morse, ed. 1959. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: a variorum text. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


Further additions and corrections for American Origin.

Views of Owen, G. H. K. Thwaites, and W. H. Harvey on CD’s theories.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (31)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2726,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8