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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   24 February 1868

Cambridge, [Mass.]

Feb. 24, 1868.

My Dear Darwin

Have I told you, and thanked you for the last pages completing the sheets of your 2 noble volumes.1

An agricultural house in New York, in which Prof. Thurber, a good botanist—is a small partner, are considering whether they will reprint your 2 vols,—allowing you a decent copyright, if it sells to pay expenses.2 I tell them that if they pay author a per centage on the sales, you will supply electrotypes of the cuts. Will you?

They are waiting to see my copy of the sheets of vol. 2, before they decide. And I will not spare them till I have written my little announcement and notice of the work, in The Nation.—which as yet I have not the least time to do,—but must do it soon.3

The other evening here, I discoursed at our private Club, by giving them an abstract of the chapters on Inheritance and Pangenesis,—the former for Prof. Bowen’s benefit. He & Agassiz took it all very well.4— And pangenesis seemed to strike all of us as as good an hypothesis as one can now make

Ask Hooker to send you copy of The Nation in which some one, (I know not who) in reviewing Agassiz’ book on Brasil, laughs at him for his iterative refutations of Darwinism.5

On inside of leaf of Dionæa see the copious glands for secreting gastric juice.6

Yours ever | A. Gray


CD had been sending Gray sheets of Variation in advance of publication. See letter from Asa Gray, 14 January [1868] and n. 2
Gray refers to George Thurber of the publishing firm Orange Judd & Co.
Gray’s review of Variation appeared in the 19 March 1868 issue of the Nation ([A. Gray] 1868).
Gray had helped to found the Cambridge Scientific Club, a discussion group composed largely of Harvard faculty (see Dupree 1959, pp. 121–2). Francis Bowen and Louis Agassiz, both colleagues of Gray’s at Harvard, had written critically of CD’s theories (see Correspondence vols. 8 and 9). Chapter 27 of Variation, titled ‘Provisional hypothesis of pangenesis’, presented CD’s theory of heredity.
The anonymous review of Agassiz and Agassiz 1868 appeared in the 20 February 1868 issue of the Nation pp. 153–4. Gray refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Gray had previously described his experments with the carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula in a letter to J. D. Hooker that had been forwarded to CD (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Asa Gray to J. D. Hooker, [after 6 July 1867] and n. 4). For CD’s interest in carnivorous plants, see Correspondence vols. 8–10).


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

Dupree, Anderson Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray, 1810–1888. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

[Gray, Asa.] 1868. [Review of Variation.] Nation 6 (19 March 1868): 234–6.

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


AG is writing notice of American edition of Variation [Nation 6 (1868): 234–6].

Pangenesis is "as good an hypothesis as one can now make".

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Cambridge Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 161
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5921,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16