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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Asa Gray   12 November 1876

Herbarium of Harvard University, | Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass.

Nov. 12 1876

New Book, p. 4. foot-note.

The reference in last line to pp. 824 & 844— appear to be wrong—

For p. 824read828
" 844"845,

if that is the one meant. But that is not a communication from you!1

Dear Darwin

Many thanks for your prompt attention to my request. The sheets, to p. 192 came duly.2 I wanted a subject for my turn at our private scientific social club (established when I came to Cambridge 34 years ago—in which I have had many a bout with Agassiz.);3 but hearing you had not got on far in printing or that I should not get the sheets in time to study them, I effected an exchange—and so shall be ready to give my colleagues another dose of Darwinism about the middle of December—by which time I hope to have all the sheets.

Consequently, my hands being full, I have as yet read only the introduction. This is far from dull. The dullness you deprecate I may find in the details of experiments and statistical matter—never lively reading for one so poor at figures as I am. Of course I shall give my best attention to the discussion which is to follow.

It is most amusing to read what you write of “licking a horrid bad style into intelligible English”.4 Over here we are accustomed to hear your style spoken and written of, as being as faultless as your temper.

I am driving away at Synoptical Flora N. America and have just finished a monograph of our species of Asclepias5

Mrs. Gray6 and I are very well and send united kind remembrances to Mrs. Darwin and yourself.

Glad you are doing the Orchid-book over. You sent me the advanced sheets of the original edition. Better do the same with the new, and I can be early out with a book-notice of it.—7 That sort of thing I can now do only in snatches.

Sincerely Yours | Asa Gray


In the proof-sheets of Cross and self fertilisation and in the published first edition, the note reads, ‘“Gardeners’ Chronicle,” ... 1858, pp. 824 and 844’. The proof-sheets are in DAR 213.6. The note was corrected to ‘“Gardeners’ Chronicle,” ... 1858, p. 828’ in the second edition. The reference was to CD’s paper ‘Fertilization of papilionaceous flowers’ (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [before 13 November 1858]). In Gardeners’ Chronicle, 20 November 1858, p. 845, there is a letter on the accidental fertilisation of papilionaceous plants, but it is not by CD.
Gray had asked CD to send proof-sheets of Cross and self fertilisation (letter from Asa Gray, 12 October 1876).
For the founding of the Cambridge Scientific Club at Harvard, see Dupree 1959, p. 121. For Gray’s debates with Louis Agassiz, an influential critic of Darwinism, see ibid., pp. 258 and 285.
The monograph on Asclepias (milkweed) was published in Gray 1878–84, 2 (pt 1): 89–98 (The synoptical flora of North America).
CD told Gray he was correcting the proof-sheets of Orchids 2d ed. in his letter of 28 October 1876. He had sent Gray proof-sheets of the first edition in 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Asa Gray, 21 April [1862]). Gray’s review of the first edition appeared in the American Journal of Science and Arts (Gray 1862a)


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

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

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

‘Fertilization of papilionaceous flowers’: On the agency of bees in the fertilization of papilionaceous flowers, and on the crossing of kidney beans. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 2 (1858): 459–65. [Shorter publications, pp. 272–7.]

Gray, Asa. 1878–84. Synoptical flora of North America. 2 vols. New York: Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.


Thanks for sheets of new book. Intends to talk about it at a scientific social club meeting.

Is amused to read CD’s criticisms of his own style, as in the U. S. it is spoken of as being as faultless as his temper. Corrects a reference.

Letter details

Letter no.
Asa Gray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herbarium of Harvard
Source of text
DAR 165: 191
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10668,” accessed on 16 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24