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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   16 July [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 16th

My dear Gray.

Two of my sons, George & Francis, start on the 29th instant for New York for a ten-week tour in the States. They will come to Boston & Cambridge towards latter part of visit, & I am sure that you will allow them to call on you.— But I want to beg a great favour of you. Do you chance to know any pleasant persons to whom you could give them letters of Introduction in some few of subjoined places, which they intend to stop at. They have already a good many letters of Introduction, so do not trouble yourself (& I know how busy you are) unless you happen to know well any pleasant & good natured persons.—2

I received some time ago a delightful notice of my Descent of Man, which must have been written by you.—3

Believe me | My dear Gray | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

If you can send any letters please enclose them pretty soon to address on enclosed paper.4

My wife sends & I join in very kind remembrances to Mrs. Gray.—5


The year is established by the reference to a notice of Descent, which was published in February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
The list of places has not been found. In September 1871, Emma Darwin wrote to Henrietta Emma Darwin that George Howard and Francis Darwin were on the Pacific Railway en route for California (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Darwin, [12 September 1871] (DAR 219.9: 94); another letter in November 1871 indicates that they had visited Boston while on their tour (letter from Frances Allen to Emma Darwin, 10 November [1871] (DAR 219.11: 13)). Gray also saw Francis and George in New York when they landed (J. L. Gray ed. 1893, 2: 619). A letter of introduction was also provided by Charles Valentine Riley (letter to C. V. Riley, 8 July [1871]).
The notice has not been identified. Gray had told CD he did not intend to write a review of Descent (letter from Asa Gray, 14 April 1871), and according to his biographer, he did not (Dupree 1959, p. 356).
The enclosure has not been found.
Jane Loring Gray.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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

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.


CD’s sons, George and Francis, are to visit the U. S. Can AG supply any letters of introduction?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (101)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7867,” accessed on 1 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19