From Asa Gray 5 December 1864
Dec. 5th. 1864
My Dear Old Friend
Thanks for your letter of Oct. 29.1 I can’t think how a former one from me can have miscarried, nor do I remember particularly about it.2 I am glad you have the Copley Medal,—which you thoroughly deserve.3 I read the Cuckoo-matter in the Reader, so was prepared for your commission.4 I applied first to Dr. Wyman,5 and sent your letter to him. Unknown to me he had gone away (down to the front near Richmond).6 So I lost a week. He referred me to Dr. Bryant7 & to Dr. Brewer.8 The latter, our special Oölogist, has not yet replied, is perhaps away. This I write on is Bryant’s letter.9
I read with interest Huxley’s article on Kölliker & Flourens.10 The latter is an old granny. The former’s article I think was weak enough, is praised too much by Huxley— Please, for a neat hit on our old friend Bowen, look at N. Amer. Review for Oct.—at a note &c—to article on Bowen’s Logic.—by C. Wright.11 I have tried in vain to get the sheet & have it sent to you.— Just a neat hit—that’s all. I have heard of B. Walsh’s article—have not seen it.12
Well, I hope the phosphate of iron will do you a world of good. I must ask about it for my wife,13 whom it may help also. I will enquire about the “Syrup of phosphate”.14
I made abstract &c of Scott’s Primulaceæ for Sill. Journal, but it was crowded out.15
We have seen a good-deal of Goldwin Smith,—one of the very few Englishmen who take our side.16 The Reader (in last no. which has reached me, article on English change of feeling about Slavery) is right, no doubt.17 English sympathy goes with the South, and but for Slavery, would do so altogether. That being a settled case, we have ceased to care or worry about it. It makes no difference. Often, as I read the papers, I wish to send this or that to English friends; but cui bono?—18 I could talk to you, by the hour, but I can’t write on such large matters.
Our election went just as I expected, but the result was glorious.19 As I have often told you: the determination of the whole North has never wavered, and will not, however long it takes & much it costs. And the obstinacy of the South has doomed Slavery utterly. Besides making us independent of all foreign feeling, the war has otherwise done us much good. Every one says we must make rightful amende to Brazil. and not follow precedents set for us in 1812–14, & since.20
I congratulate Mrs. Darwin on indignantly discarding the Times, and wish the Daily News was abler & livelier.21
Farewell, I will write again soon. Keep your health and work moderately.
Ever Yours cordially | A. Gray
Boston Dec 2, 1864 Prof Asa Gray Dear Sir
the eggs of the American cuckoos known to me do not vary materially in their proportions from those of our other common birds— those of our two Massachusetts species which I presume are the birds referred to are rather larger in proportion to the weight of the parent than those of the Robin—
I can not state the exact period of incubation it is however not far from twelve days—
The young do not have a hollow back and do not attempt to frighten intruders by raising their feathers but on the contrary endeavor to conceal themselves.—
There is only one point in the economy of our cuckoos which would seem to approximate them even in a Darwinian light to the European bird—namely the careless and slight manner in which the nest is made so that both the eggs and the young occasionally fall out—22
I have forwarded to your care a package for Mr Charles Wright23 if he should be absent and has left for Cuba please to return it to me by Express.
Yrs very Truly | Henry Bryant
224 10th St. New York Oct. 14th 1864 Dr Asa Gray, Dear Sir,
I send you by express, what I hope & believe will be a treat in the shape of Lemna Minor, in fruit & flower, gathered on Staten Island.24
Also a bee, the only result of much watching, with the pollen of Spiranthes gracilis on his proboscis.25 The Spiranthes grew amid red-clover, and was visited by the bee episodically.
Also one or two ripe pods of Amphicarpæa.26 I have tried to merit your reference of its fertilization to my investigation, in vain, my professional duties in the city preventing my giving as much attention to it as it required. I have found it abundantly in fruit, but only sporadically, some flowers fertile and some unproductive on the same plant, and some plants with no ordinary fruit. One plant which I shook very hard to see if agitation by the wind had any effect, produced nothing the next bush to it had a number of pods. The flowers I tried to fertilize bee-fashion, I believe generally produced pods. There is wanted an invention to catch insects in the absence of the observer, especially in the night time.
Prof. Thurber27 informs me that a Dr Port, found Frangula in Durham Swamp28 some years
Congratulates CD on the Copley Medal.
Is making inquiries on the habits of American cuckoos and sends a letter from Henry Bryant on that subject.
Discusses the Civil War.
Encloses letter from W. H. Leggett containing observations on Amphicarpaea.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4699,” accessed on 30 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4699