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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   15 March [1862]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

March 15th

My dear Gray

Thanks for the newspapers (though they did contain digs at England) & for your note of Feb. 18th2 It is really almost a pleasure to receive stabs from so smooth, polished & sharp a dagger as your pen.— I heartily wish I could sympathise more fully with you, instead of merely hating the South. We cannot enter into your feelings; if Scotland were to rebel, I presume we should be very wrath, but I do not think we should care a penny what other nations thought. The Millenium must come before nations love each other; but try & do not hate me. Think of me, if you will, as a poor blinded fool. I fear the dreadful state of affairs must dull your interest in Science.—

Two days ago, I heard from Trübner, who says of the 250 copies of your Pamphet, he has only 38 in hand; so that he will, I suppose, soon transmit to you a few pounds, enough to cover all your expences.3 I believe that your pamphlet has done my book great good; & I thank you from my heart for myself; & believing that the views are in large part true, I must think that you have done natural science a good turn. Natural Selection seems to be making a little progress in England & on the Continent; a new German Edition is called for & a French one has just appeared.4 There has even been a Dutch Edition!5 One of the best men, though at present unknown, who has taken up these views, is Mr Bates;6 pray read his Travels in Amazonia, when they appear;7 they will be very good, judging from M.S. of two first chapters.8

I wrote some little time ago about Rhexia:9 since then I have been carefully watching & experimenting on another genus, Monochætum; & I find, that the pistil is first bent rectangularly, (as in the sketch sent)10 & then in a few days becomes straight; the stamens also move. If there be not two forms of Rhexia, will you compare the position of the part in young & old flowers. I have suspicion (perhaps will be proved wrong when seed-capsules are ripe) that one set of anthers are adapted to pistil in early state, & the other set for it in its later state.— If Bees visit the Rhexia, for Heavens sake watch exactly how the anthers & stigma strike them, both in old & young flowers … & give me a sketch.—

I have got lots of seeds planted for experiment this summer, including Amsinckia spectabilis!11

Again I say, do not hate me.

Ever yours most truly | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from Asa Gray, 18 February 1862.
CD refers to Gray’s pamphlet on natural selection and natural theology (A. Gray 1861); CD and Gray had shared the cost of having the pamphlet printed (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Asa Gray, 11 December [1860], and Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Asa Gray, 17 February [1861]). Nicholas Trübner was head of the publishing firm, Trübner and Co., which acted as the London agent for distribution of the pamphlet in Britain. See also Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix III.
CD refers to Bronn trans. 1863 (see letter from H. G. Bronn, [before 11 March 1862]). Clémence Auguste Royer’s French translation of Origin was not in fact published until 31 May 1862 (Journal Générale de l’Imprimerie et de la Librairie 2d ser. 6 (pt 3): 341. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [March 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 10–20 June [1862].
Winkler trans. 1860. Tiberius Cornelius Winkler sent CD a copy of his Dutch translation of Origin in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter from T. C. Winkler, 7 July 1861).
Henry Walter Bates argued that mimicry in Amazonian butterflies offered ‘a most beautiful proof of the truth of the theory’ of natural selection (Bates 1862a, p. 513).
CD probably refers to the diagram enclosed with the letter to Asa Gray, 16 February [1862]. He had begun crossing experiments with Monochaetum ensiferum on 7 February 1862, and continued to work on the species until May 1863. See the dated experimental and observational notes in DAR 205.8: 22–43.
In ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, p. 95, CD mentioned that his study of dried specimens sent him by Gray indicated that Amsinckia spectabilis was probably heterostyled (see also Collected papers 2: 62). However, in Forms of flowers, p. 110, he reported: ‘on raising many plants from seed, I soon became convinced that the whole case was one of mere variability.’


Bates, Henry Walter. 1862. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Coleoptera: Longicornes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 9: 117–24, 396–405, 446–58.

Bates, Henry Walter. 1863. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

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.


Gives some observations on changes in pistil position with age in Monochaetum. Asks whether AG can observe Rhexia for similar movements.

"One of the best men, though at present unknown", H. W. Bates, has taken up natural selection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (64)
Physical description
ALS 5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3473,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10