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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   25 December 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Dec 25. 74

My dear Gray

Many thanks for your kind note of Dec 11.1 I received & read with very great interest your article on the longevity or duration of varieties. This is a subject on which I have long felt interest; tho’ I never before, as far as I can remember connected it with inter-crossing.2 I think you have put the case very well & clearly. I heard lately from Mrs Treat about Utricularia; but she does not go very deep into any subject, & I have very great difficulty in believing some of her statements.3 I have got the whole of my book in M.S, but I do not know how long it will take me to get it ready for the printers; I hope it will be out late in the spring & I will of course send you a copy.4

The death of Mrs Hooker has indeed been a terrible blow. Poor Hooker came here directly after the funeral & bore up manfully.5 I know I would much sooner die than suffer such a loss

My dear Gray | Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin


There is a lightly annotated copy of Gray’s article (A. Gray 1874e) in DAR 76: B112. In the article, Gray suggested that varieties propagated by cuttings, grafts, and other non-sexual means were theoretically likely to ‘wear out’ because they were not crossed.
See letter from Mary Treat, 2 December 1874. CD cited a later article by Treat on Utricularia (bladderwort) in Insectivorous plants, p. 408 and n.
Insectivorous plants was published on 2 July 1875 (Correspondence vol. 23, Appendix II).
Frances Harriet Hooker, Joseph Dalton Hooker’s wife, died on 13 November 1874 (Allan 1967, p. 225). According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), J. D. Hooker stayed at Down House with his daughter Harriet from 19 to 23 November.


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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


Read AG’s article [see 9753] on longevity and duration of varieties with great interest.

Death of Mrs Hooker.

Hopes Insectivorous plants will be out in the spring.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University (110)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9779,” accessed on 5 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22