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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Asa Gray   9 August 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | (Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.)

Augt. 9th/76

My dear Gray

I have just received “Darwiniana” & am much obliged for it.1 I am uncommonly glad that you have been urged to take this step, not only on my own account, but for the public good; for every one of your articles seemed to me excellent. I will soon read the whole, but I shall not be able to resist reading the two new articles first.2

I see by Table of contents that you discuss one subject, viz the meaning of sex on which I have entered in a new book now gone to Press—“The effects of cross & self-fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom”.3 This will complete all that I shall ever do on this subject. I am, however, preparing a new Edit. of my Orchid book, & this has led me to reread several of your short notices on this subject.4 But there has been so much published, that I have been able only to give the briefest abstract with references of what has been done. As it is I have had to cut up the book immensely. Of course both these books will be sent you when they are published.5 I suppose that you are working away as hard as ever. I think the older one gets the more there is to do.

Pray give our kindest remembrances to Mrs Gray.6 | Ever yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Did you have time to glance at my son’s Frank’s paper on Stipa: he makes out nicely that the twisting depends on the twisting of each separate cell.7 He has now made a fine discovery, but it is too long a story.8


Gray’s book Darwiniana (A. Gray 1876a) was a collection of his essays and reviews relating to CD’s theory and publications. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 347).
CD evidently refers to the last two articles in A. Gray 1876a, although the first part of the essay ‘Duration and origination of race and species.—Import of sexual reproduction’ was, in fact, a reprint of an 1875 article, ‘Do varieties wear out, or tend to wear out?’ (A. Gray 1875); the second part of that essay and the last essay, ‘Evolutionary teleology’, were new (see A. Gray 1876a, pp. 338–90).
See A. Gray 1876a, pp. 347–55; CD added a reference to Gray’s essay in Cross and self fertilisation, p. 440. The book was published in November 1876 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Orchids 2d ed. was published in January 1877 (Publishers’ circular, 1 February 1877, p. 93). Gray had written two reviews of Orchids when it first appeared and a further paper on the structure and fertilisation of orchids (A. Gray 1862a, 1862b, and 1863); CD frequently cited these works in Orchids 2d ed.
Gray’s name was on CD’s presentation lists for Cross and self fertilisation and Orchids 2d ed. (see Appendix III and Correspondence vol. 25, Appendix III).
Jane Loring Gray.
Francis Darwin’s paper ‘On the hygroscopic mechanism by which certain seeds are enabled to bury themselves in the ground’ was published in the Transactions of the Linnean Society in June 1876 (F. Darwin 1876c); see especially pp. 158–9 on torsion in individual cells.
Francis had discovered protoplasmic filaments in glands lining the cups of Dipsacus sylvestris (a synonym of D. fullonum, common teasel; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 June [1876] and n. 7).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

Gray, Asa. 1875. Do varieties wear out, or tend to wear out? American Journal of Science and Arts 3d ser. 9: 109–14.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

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

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


AG’s Darwiniana [1876].

Cross and self-fertilisation has now gone to press.

Is preparing new edition of Orchids.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Asa Gray
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (112)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10575,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

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