To Asa Gray 23 February 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
Many thanks for your note of Jan 27th.—2 The enclosures were forwarded.3 The maize seed has proved a treasure; for besides seeing the kinds, a young man at Edinburgh will experiment on the mutual fertility of some of the varieties.—4
Pray thank, when you see, Dr. Scudder about pollinia (from whom I have since received a pamphlet):5 that was very good remark about attachment possible only to eye or proboscis; & these are only two parts where I have seen attachment.6 Thanks, also, about highness & lowness of oak-tree:7 Hooker was pleased (to whom I mentioned your remark) about the “commonwealth” of Plants.—8 When I send my Linum paper you will see about L. Lewisii.—9
If you have time to read you will be interested by parts of Lyell’s Book on Man:10 but I fear that the best part, about Glacial period, may be too geological for anyone except a regular geologist.11 He quotes you at end with gusto.12 By the way he told me the other day how pleased some had been by hearing that they could purchase your pamphlet.13 The “Parthenon” also speaks of it as the ablest contribution to the literature of the subject.14 It delights me when I see your work appreciated. The Lyells come here this day week,15 & I shall grumble at his excessive caution: I feel sure that he admits almost fully the modification of species by variation & selection; & yet, though writing at length on subject, is afraid to say so; & he will not serve as guide to anyone.16 The public may well say, if such a man dare not or will not speak out his mind, how can we who are ignorant, form even a guess on subject.— Lyell was pleased, when I told him lately that you thought that language might be used as excellent illustration of derivation of species; you will see that he has admirable chapter on this—17
I received a little while ago the correspondence between Loring & Field:18 I cannot tell you how it has interested us all: it is so real; & it so curious to see two able & honest men differing so enormously. of course I side chiefly with the Englishman; but I never so well understood your horror of Disunion. It is very natural that you shd. dread becoming split up like Germany; but to us it does not seem quite so horrible. I think both correspondents underrate the very general belief entertained for many years in England, that your Government delighted in making us eat dirt, & that we had eat dirt about Boundary Line, Right of Search, Vancouver Isd &c.19 I believe that this has greatly checked all sympathy with you; & made the whole country fire up, when, as we thought, you had passed our swallowing powers in the Trent affair.—20 after finishing the above Correspondence; I read Cairns excellent Lecture, which shows so well how your quarrell arose from Slavery.21
It made me for a time wish honestly for north; but I could never help, though I tried, all the time thinking how we shd be bullied & forced into a war by you, when you were triumphant. But I do, most truly think it dreadful that the South, with its accursed Slavery, shd. triumph, & spread the evil. I think if I had power, which thank God I have not, I would let you conquer the border states, & all west of Mississippi & then force you to acknowledge the Cotton States. For Do you not now begin to doubt whether you can conquer & hold them? I have inflicted a long tirade on you.—
The Times is getting more detestable,—but that is too weak a word,—than ever.22 My good wife wishes to give it up; but I tell her that is a pitch of heroism, to which only a woman is equal to.. To give up the “Bloody Old Times” as Cobbett used to call it, would be to give up meat drink & air.—23
Farewell my dear Gray | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
Recommends Lyell’s book [Antiquity of man (1863)].
Quotes praise of AG’s pamphlet [see 2938].
Comments on U. S. politics.
- positive attitude/assessment
- quotations / citations
- time, ‘inorganic’ (geological, historical)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4006,” accessed on 30 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4006