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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   10 October 1866

Cambridge Mass.

Oct. 10. 66

My Dear Darwin

Thanks for very interesting letter of Sept. 101 I am much pressed now, or would write a long gossiping letter.

The “bound copy’ of Origin is just received from Murray—2 Many thanks. I will send Appleton the sheets—tho’ I don’t think he will use them to the extent he ought.3

Ticknor & Fields, timid souls, after all fear to touch the new book either.4 Perhaps Appleton will reprint it. But, I would advise you to ask Murray to throw in to the American Market—which he can now do—a stock of Origin, & of the new book too—and let us rely on that.

I meant to have written an early review of new ed. of Origin. But I doubt now if I can possibly get time to do it.

Had you asked a little earlier I could have sent you a stock of seeds of Rhamnus lanceolatus—from our single bush here.5 I send the few I could find on the ground. I think Acorus really fruits here—where it is seemingly native— But I am not sure.

I believe I have seen a pod or two of Horseradish—but rare.6 Your germinations show curious resemblance of dimorphic-crosses with hybrid-crosses as shown by Naudin—7 Very interesting & capital point for you.

Ever Yours | A. Gray


CD had asked his publisher, John Murray, to send a bound copy of the fourth edition of Origin to Gray (see letter to Asa Gray, 4 August [1866]). When Gray mentioned in his letter of 27 August 1866 that he was about to read proof-sheets, CD responded that he ought to have been sent a bound copy by Murray (see letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and n. 6).
CD’s American publisher, D. Appleton & Co., was reluctant to bring out a new edition because of the cost of typesetting the substantial number of revisions and additional material (see letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and n. 7).
Gray had spoken to the Boston publishing firm, Ticknor & Fields, about producing an American edition of Variation as well as the new edition of Origin and had hoped to get better terms for CD (see letter from Asa Gray, 27 August 1866 and n. 2).
Gray had sent CD specimens of the dimorphic flowers of Rhamnus lanceolatus (a synonym of Endotropis lanceolata subsp. lanceolata, lanceleaf buckthorn) with his letter of 7 August 1866. CD had reported that he was unable to detect differences in the size of the pollen-grains of the different forms and asked whether it would be possible to obtain plants of Rhamnus from a nursery (see letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and n. 9).
CD had asked Gray for information on plants in America that never flowered or seeded, and mentioned Acorus and horseradish (Cochlearia armoracia, a synonym of Armoracia rusticana) as two European examples (see letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and n. 11). Acorus calamus is native to North America (Mabberley 1997).
CD had reported to Gray the early results of his experiments on the relative growth and vigour of seedlings raised from cross-fertilised and self-fertilised plants; these indicated that the crossed seedlings were significantly larger than the seedlings from self-fertilised plants (see letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and nn. 13 and 14). In a short article on two studies of hybrid crosses, Gray had referred to Charles Victor Naudin’s experimental results from crossing two species of thorn apple, noting that the hybrids were at least twice the size of their parents (A. Gray 1865, p. 108). CD’s annotated copy of the two-page article is in DAR 205.7: 5. For more on Naudin’s work with hybrids, see Correspondence vol. 13.


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

Mabberley, David J. 1997. The plant-book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University 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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Does not think he can persuade American publishers to reprint [4th English ed. of] Origin in U. S. Suggests Murray supply copies of it and the new book [Variation] to the American market.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge, Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 155
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5237,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

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