From Asa Gray 11 July 1864
July 11th, 1864
My Dear Darwin
Though I am not quite done with my awful amount of College-work I am so nearly so that I begin to enjoy the luxury of rest,—and I have set upon the heap of letters which have accumulated. I know not why I have let yours, of May 28, remain unattended to.1 I was thinking, before it came, how much I lost by the ill health which interrupted your letters. I felt the want of an accustomed stimulus:—for there is no use in my trying to write to you, except as you draw me out. And even for that, I am now quite out of harness, having lived in a perfect turmoil of avocations this spring and summer. I hope for better times soon. But to-night I can do little more than to tell you how heartily rejoiced I am to hear from you that you are nearly as well as ever. I am most thankful to hear it! Your photograph, with the venerable beard gives the look of your having suffered, and, perhaps from the beard, of having grown older.2
I hope there is still much work in you,—but take it quietly and gently! You will be glad to hear that Mrs. Gray, with whom you sympathise so kindly, is getting to have a very reasonable stomach again, and is gaining strength apace, in spite of very sultry weather.3 She takes the greatest interest in you and in your letters, and desires to be particularly remembered, as well as to congratulate you upon your restored health.
It is too late to send messages to C. Wright in Cuba. I weekly expect him here.4 But he is to return to Cuba in the autumn. So meanwhile, just send notes to me of any thing you want him to observe. He is a fair and faithful observer in a rough way.
I wish I could get Bignonia capreolata alive: I saw it growing once in the mountains of N. Carolina & Tennessee, and think it might stand our winter.5 〈It〉 was climbing trees overhang〈ing a〉 river, in moist and shady 〈 〉—trees which sometimes were 〈covered〉 over at the base with Polyp〈odium〉 incanum. I don’t doubt that 〈the〉 trunks above were well furnish〈ed with〉 Lichens and Mosses. Of cou〈rse I〉 never noticed the peculiarity 〈of the〉 tendrils. Up there is no Tilland〈sia〉 but it grows also in the low coun〈try〉 where Tillandsia abounds. It is 〈pretty〉 to see the little disks with the capill〈ary〉 fibres imbedded!
I did not know that I had ever said anything about Voandzeiia!6 I think Torrey7 has somewhere spoken of it, but his knowledge of the plant must all have come from Bentham. See his paper in Linn. Trans, vol. 18, p. 157,—where he says Voandzeia has “sterile perfect flowers”.8 Of course he does not know that they may not be fertilized. Amphicarpica, which I used to see much of, I am confident has some of the petaliferous flowers occasionally fertile.9 I have seen legumes far above-ground. I must look to the plant this autumn, when I meet with it.
I will try to look after the Hollies, &c— None but Prinos verticillatus are quite at hand here.10
〈The art〉icle of Wallace (which he so 〈kindly〉 sent me) on Nat. Sel. as ap〈plied to〉 man is as neat a thing as 〈I hav〉e read in a long while.11 He 〈is a〉 most clear and admirable writer.
〈The〉 fund I demanded for support 〈of my〉 herbm. is nearly all raised. 〈It sh〉ould have been—and may be 〈herea〉fter larger. The building gets 〈on〉 rather slowly of late. But 〈 〉 donor, Mr Thayer, behaves 〈li〉ke a perfect trump.12 The details still cost me much time and thought. I have done nothing but attend to this, to College work &c—since last March. I fear I shall accomplish little before winter.
Be sure that, as the end, Slavery will perish, and that the cost is not too dear.13 The determination of the North is as decided as ever, and we think our progress is not small. Pray write again, and expect better response than now, from Your attached friend | Asa Gray
Discusses CD’s and Mrs Gray’s health.
Comments on some climbing plants.
Praises Wallace’s article applying natural selection to man ["The origin of human races", J. Anthropol. Soc. Lond. 2 (1864): clviii–clxxxvi].
Discusses the reported sterility of the flowers of Voandzeia and Amphicarpaea.
Feels the ending of slavery is worth the cost of the Civil War.
- constant varieties, races
- fertility and/or sterility
- flowers and buds
- positive attitude/assessment
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4558,” accessed on 27 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4558