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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   6 November [1866]1


Nov. 6.

Dear Darwin

Thanks for yours of 19th Oct.2

You can say to Murray that as Ticknor & Fields sell only their own publications, they cannot avail themselves of his offer of copies of Origin for Amer. sales at 12 price.3

But I could wish that offer made—say to Messrs. Scribner & Co. New York—whose agent in London is Mr. Welford 4—who must be known at Murray’s, & in all the Row 5

I want you to know that Mr. Agassiz—having sent to me, thro, a mutual friend—a handsome apology for some very bad conduct to me— —a mere outbreak of spoiled temper, 112 years ago, we are now on amicable terms—6 Till then, I was obliged to ignore him.

Ever Yours | A. Gray


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Murray, 18 October [1866] (see n. 3, below).
The letter to Gray of 19 October has not been found.
John Murray, CD’s publisher, had offered to supply the Boston firm Ticknor & Fields with 250 copies of the fourth edition of Origin at half price (see letter from John Murray, 18 October [1866]).
The reference is to Charles Scribner and Company, Brick Church Chapel, Park Row, New York. Charles Welford, Charles Scribner’s partner in the book-importing firm Scribner & Welford, had moved to London in 1864 to oversee the European side of the business (New York Times, 20 May 1885, p. 5).
Gray refers to Paternoster Row, Cheapside, London, where several publishers and booksellers had premises.
Gray’s falling out with his Harvard colleague Louis Agassiz was precipitated by a disagreement over the election in 1864 of Spencer Fullerton Baird, assistant secretary and curator at the Smithsonian Institution, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (see Lurie 1960, pp. 340–4). The ‘mutual friend’ who conveyed Agassiz’s apology was Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian (see letter from Joseph Henry to Asa Gray, 31 October 1866, Historic Letters file, Gray Herbarium Archives, Harvard University).


Lurie, Edward. 1960. Louis Agassiz: a life in science. Chicago: University of Chicago 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.


Arranges for distribution of new [4th] English edition of Origin in the U. S.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 156
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5268,” accessed on 30 September 2023,

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