To Asa Gray 22 January 1
Down Bromley Kent.—
My dear Gray
Your letter interested us much; for we are all curious to see how things look to you all, & a letter is something living.—2 But first thanks for your new cases of Dimorphism: new cases are tumbling in almost daily, but I shall never have time to work a quarter of them. You will have received before this my Primula paper,3 & will know the amount of evidence.— I have been ill with influenza (indeed we all have, for there have been 15 in bed in my household) & this has lost me 3 whole weeks, & delayed my little Orchid Book.—4 I fear that you expect in this opusculus much more than you will find— I look at it as a hobby-horse, which has given me great pleasure to ride. I will with great pleasure send you the sheets if I can; for Clowes, my printer, often does not print off till the whole is set up.—5 I shall be very curious to hear what you think of it; for I have no idea whether it has been worth the trouble of getting up,—though the facts, I am sure, were worth my own while in making out—
I am heartily glad to hear a better account of Dana, whom I much respect. What a striking looking man!6 I forwarded your letter to Boott & to Hooker, from whom I had a long & capital letter this morning.7 He is working like a Horse. Here is a good joke, my book on Nat. Selection, he says, has made him an aristocrat in fact— he thinks breeding—the high breeding of the aristocracy—of the highest importance.—
Now for a few words on politics; but they shall be few, for we shall no longer agree, & alas & alas, I shall never receive another kind message from Mrs. Gray.8 I must own that the speeches & actions recently of your leading men (I regard little the newspapers), and especially the Boston Dinner have quite turned my stomach. I refer to Wilkes’ being made a Hero for boarding an unarmed vessel.—to the Judges advice to him—& to your Governor triumphing at a shot being fired, right or wrong, across the bows of a British vessel.9 It is well to make a clean breast of it at once; & I have begun to think whether it would not be well for the peace of the world, if you were split up into two or three nations. On the other hand I cannot bear the thought of the Slave-holders being triumphant; & it is really fearful to think of the difficulty of making a line of separation between the N. & the S., with armies, fortifications, & custom-houses without end with your retrograde tariff. Now I have done for myself in your eyes; & Mrs Gray will be indignant at having sent a kind message to so false a caitiff.—
Well I can’t help my change of opinion— It is all owing to that confounded Longitude.—10 Bad man, as you will think me, I shall always think of you with affection.— Here is an insult! I shall always think of you as an Englishman.
Ever yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin
P.S | I have just performed an Herculean labour in looking through the nine big volumes of Lecoq’s Bot. Geograph.—11 it is a horrid dull Book, but I have stumbled on a few good facts; & on some cases of dimorphism,—several in Borragineæ & Labiatæ— Lythrum seems a very curious case for the two or three kinds of flowers occur on the same plant.—12 I am now trying an experiment on one of the Melastomas; & I much suspect, that the two sets of anthers have different functions.—13
Hottonia is dimorphic like Primula.—14
Dimorphism: "new cases are tumbling in almost daily".
U. S. politics.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3404,” accessed on 19 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3404