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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   27 February and 1 March 1870

Feb. 27, 1870

Dear Darwin

You see by this that I have followed up your request, and that there is no answer at present. I only hope that A. may be well enough to take a shot at his fish next summer.1 But it is far from certain.

Now news; I am working away at what I am fittest for—study of groups of N. Amer. plants one by one,— slow work, but pleasant.2

My wife3 sends best regards—

Ever Yours | A. Gray

P.S. March. 1.

Here comes another note from Mrs. A.—evidently intended to be sent on to you. Agassiz evidently regrets having abused you in former times.4


stay in England—

Agassiz says “ask Dr. Gray to tell Darwin that I cannot answer his question for I have never succeeded in securing one of the fishes sitting upon the eggs separately from others. They never bite at the hook at that time and as their nests are generally crowded it is impossible catch a single fish with a net. I’ll try next summer by shooting at them”.

Mr Agassiz is fitter in these last few days and though his progress

CD annotations

1.1 You see … times. 6.2] crossed blue crayon
2.1 Agassiz says … generally crowded 2.4] scored blue crayon
3.1 Mr Agassiz … progress] crossed blue crayon


See letter from Asa Gray, 14 February 1870 and n. 2. Gray’s letter is written on the back of the enclosure; he refers to Louis Agassiz.
Gray had first begun work on a planned flora of North America, in collaboration with John Torrey, in 1833. A portion of the work was published between 1838 and 1843 (Torrey and Gray 1838–43), but it remained unfinished. Although Gray for many years planned to complete the work, he ultimately abandoned it, beginning to publish instead his Synoptical flora of North America (A. Gray 1878–84), which also remained unfinished (Dupree 1959, pp. 385–93).
Jane Loring Gray.
The second note from Elizabeth Agassiz has not been found. Louis Agassiz had published a negative review of Origin and in 1866 had mounted an expedition to Brazil to try to disprove CD’s theory; see Correspondence vols. 10 and 14, and Lurie 1960, pp. 297–8, 345–53.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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. 1878–84. Synoptical flora of North America. 2 vols. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co.

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.


Forwards part of a note [by Mrs L. Agassiz] asking AG to tell CD that Agassiz has never been able to secure one of the fishes sitting on eggs.

In P.S., AG adds, "Agassiz evidently regrets having abused you in former times."

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 82: B80
Physical description
1p †, encl AL 1p inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7119,” accessed on 14 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18