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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   3 July 1866


July 3d. 66.

My Dear Darwin,

I am delighted to hear, in various ways, such good accounts of your health. Esto perpetua!1 But take capital care of yourself.

I should have earlier replied to yours of 25th May.2 But the Appleton’s do not behave well.3 I wrote them on receiving your letter, June 9. They waited till 18th. to reply, as enclosed.4 I wrote back to tell them that I had received no sheets yet—which was true (I have since received up to p. 192);5 but urged the impracticability of altering the plates, and your aversion to that, so that would be unjust to you.— Said we wanted now a neat & permanent library edition.—6

No reply to that yet. But yesterday I wrote saying I now had some sheets, and asked if I should send them, Or, if they thought it not worth while to reprint, if they would object to my offering the sheets to some other publisher.

I think it likely they will play dog in the manger 7—for which part they have advantages,—as they might reprint your additions and issue with their old stereotype pages, without regard to appearance or decency, and so spoil the venture of any other publisher. At least the fear of it might deter any other publisher   We shall soon see if I do them injustice.

So there is war on the continent;8—really a war “for Empire”—as Lord Russell said our war was.9 Now our war was a simple necessity; this continental one a crime, in which all parties participate. I wish, but no not expect, Prussia to be crushed as one result. I wish all her coast could be annexed to Denmark! However, it is no affair of ours,—being on the other side of the Atlantic. And when a nation can get strength and power by robbery, it will be likely to rob.

Ever Yours | A. Gray

[Notes by A.G. on verso of cover]10

Passiflora acerifolia is active—

Temp. 88°–92°.— tentril 512 inches long. You can plainly see the motion of revolution through the quicker part of circle readily; in one case the point moved 45° in a minute, (4 inches) but that was in straightening, after the base had been moving faster than the upper part. Full revolutions made 40 (including 7 lost by a going backwards) in 45, in 38 h, in 46, and now 12 a revolution in 15.11

A.G. July 3.


‘Esto perpetua’: let it be forever (Latin).
CD’s letter has not been found.
Gray was trying to arrange for the publication of a new American edition of Origin by the New York firm D. Appleton & Co. (see letter from Asa Gray, 7 May 1866 and nn. 3–4).
The enclosure has not been found.
Gray refers to sheets from the fourth English edition of Origin, the printing of which was nearly complete (see letter from John Murray, 25 May [1866]).
On Appleton’s use of solid plates, or stereotyping, to produce the first American edition of Origin, see the letter to Asa Gray, 16 April [1866] and n. 11. The firm did not publish a revised edition until 1870 (Freeman 1977).
Dog in the manger: ‘a person who will not let others enjoy what they themselves have no use for’ (Chambers).
Gray refers to the Austro-Prussian war, fought by Prussia against Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and other German states during June and July 1866. On events leading up to the war, see the letter from E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 10 May 1866 and n. 5.
John Russell, first Earl Russell, was the British foreign secretary from 1859 to 1865. Gray had been critical of Russell (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Asa Gray, 6 November 1865).
The notes are apparently an answer to a question CD asked in the missing letter to Gray of 25 May 1866.
Gray’s observations of Passiflora acerifolia (a synonym of Passiflora adenopoda) were summarised in Climbing plants 2d ed., p. 154 n. CD had discussed the revolution of tendrils in other Passiflora species in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 89–91.


Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

Climbing plants 2d ed.: The movements and habits of climbing plants. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

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.


Is trying to arrange a new American edition of Origin.

Gives notes on Passiflora acerifolia [on cover].

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 151
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5141,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14