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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   27 October 1862

Cambridge. [Massachusetts]

27 Oct. 1862.

My Dear Darwin

This heavy mail for you is merely for the purpose of carrying a 30 cents stamp for Leonard, so you must distribute the contents to oblige him.1 Do not prepay the continental letters, unless required, as I think is not the case.

Enclosed is a cent stamp, the like of which is new to me, & perhaps to the young gentleman. Tell him, also, that I have to-day bought stamps on envelopes, of 12, 20 & 24 cts. which I shall make do duty—like the present 30 ct in carrying my letters, and then they will go into his collection.— These make up all his desiderata, except the 90cts—which I never saw, but I will invest in this, whenever I have something heavy to send.

I enclose seeds of Nesæa—near Lythrum, likely to be in the dimorphous or trimorphous way.2

I wait for Capt. Anderson, of Cunard Steamer, that I may send you 3 Cypripedia & Mitchella.3

A second notice of your Orchid book, in Sill. Jour. is mostly made up of obs. on our Ophrydeæ, and Cypripedium.4 I hope to send you the sheets soon.

No scientific news— no letter of yours to answer. I am bound to write to you, to utilize the three envelopes before me.—

Presidents Emancipation proclamation is working well on the whole.5 Our Courage does not fail, and I think will not.

Ever Yours cordially | Asa Gray

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘Duke of Argyl | is Fragaria virginiana much larger than F. vesca— Do you know the wild Pine Strawberry or Carolina or Surinam Strawberry | [’Maize to plant | Bonafous‘ del] | Bates Paper | Macmillan— Horace formerly spec. change | Bates paper—My [illeg] & Literary I’6 ink


The enclosures have not been identified. Leonard Darwin had written at Gray’s suggestion to tell him which American postage stamps he wanted for his collection (see letter from Asa Gray, 22 September 1862 and n. 3).
CD had requested seeds of Nesaea verticillata (a synonym of Decodon verticillatus, swamp loosestrife) in his letter to Gray of 9 August [1862].
James Anderson was captain of the Cunard line’s trans-Atlantic steamer Africa (Men of the time). See also letter from Asa Gray, 5 September 1862 and nn. 4 and 5.
Gray refers to the follow-up article to his review of Orchids (A. Gray 1862b), which was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts (commonly known as ‘Silliman’s journal’ after its founder, Benjamin Silliman). See also letter from Asa Gray, 4 and 13 October 1862 and n. 4.
On 22 September 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation, serving notice that from 1 January 1863 all slaves in those states still in rebellion would be freed (McPherson 1988, p. 557).


McPherson, James M. 1988. Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Sends Nesaea seeds for CD

and stamps for Leonard Darwin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 121
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3785,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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