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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   31 May 1872

Botanic Garden, | Cambridge, Mass.

May 31, 1872

My Dear Mr. Darwin

By the hands of an old correspondent of yours, and cousin of ours, Mr. Brace, I send you a little book, which may amuse you, in seeing your own science adapted to juvenile minds.1 In some of those hours in which you can do no better than read, or hear read, “trashy novels”, you might try this, instead.2 It will hardly rival “the Jumping Frog”, and the like specimens of American literature, which you first made known to us.3

Pray enable me to add a page or two at the end, by publishing your observations on Dionæa & Drosera.4

Ever, Dear Mr. Darwin | Yours sincerely | Asa Gray

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Dr Packard | Brace’ blue crayon


Charles Loring and Letitia Brace visited Down on 11 July 1872 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). CD and C. L. Brace had corresponded in 1863 and 1867 (see Correspondence vols. 11 and 15). Gray sent a copy of part 2 of his Botany for young people (How plants behave; Gray 1872a); there is a lightly annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 347). The first part of Botany for young people, How plants grow, was published in 1858 (Gray 1858b).
CD had once written to Gray, ‘I have given up hearing the newspaper read aloud as Books are more amusing & less tiring. Good Heavens the lot of trashy novels, which I have heard is astounding.—’ (Correspondence vol. 12, letter to Asa Gray, 25 February [1864]).
Gray refers to Mark Twain’s ‘The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County’ (in Twain 1867).
CD published his observations on Drosera and Dionaea in 1875 in Insectivorous plants. He had been working on them since about 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8). See also letter from Asa Gray, 2 February 1872.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Twain, Mark. 1867. The celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County, and other sketches. New York: C. H. Webb.


Sends, via C. L. Brace, his book [Botany for young people, pt 2 How plants behave (1872)], "your own science adapted to juvenile minds".

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.
Source of text
DAR 165: 180
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8363,” accessed on 16 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20