RECORD: Gray, Asa. 1882.04.23. Letter to Francis Darwin. CUL-DAR215.10h. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2021. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

"Gray, Asa, 1810-88. American botanist. Intimate friend and correspondent of CD. CD discussed evolution with before Origin. Biography: Jane Loring Gray (wife), 2 vols., 1894. Letters are at Gray Herbarium, Harvard. 1838 First Prof. of Botany and Zoology, University of Michigan. 1842-73 Fisher Prof. Natural History Harvard. G donated his collection of books and plant specimens to Harvard; it formed the basis of the Gray Herbarium. 1855 or before CD met at Kew. 1857 CD outlined his evolutionary views in a sketch for G. The sketch was included in the 1858 Linnean Society publication of CD and Wallace's views. CD's draft of the sketch is in DAR6.51, transcribed in Darwin Online. 1859 CD sent 1st edn Origin. G arranged publication of American edition with Appleton. 1860 "Natural selection not inconsistent with natural theology", Atlantic Monthly, Jul., Aug., Oct. 1861 Oct. Produced in London as a pamphlet at CD's expense. Letters on its distribution; CD presented thirty-two copies. CCD9. 1862 Hooker to CD "A. Gray knows no more of the philosophy of the 'struggle for life' than the Bishop of Oxford does". L. Huxley, Life and letters of Hooker, II, p. 41, 1918. The remark refers to the American civil war. 1868 Oct. 24-30 G and wife dined at Down House and stayed. Dr & Mrs Hooker were guests at the same time. In 1869 Aug. 28, ED wrote in her diary "Asa Grays came", they might have enjoyed games of croquet at Bromley Commons. 1876 Darwiniana, New York. 1873 Foreign Member Royal Society. 1877 CD's Forms of flowers is dedicated to G. 1881 Aug. 15 an entry "Grays went". Grays visited ED in 1887 Jun. 18, with Hookers and Sedgwick. In 1893 Nov. 16, Mrs Gray visited ED." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)


[FD:] answered


April 23, 82.

My dear Mr. Francis Darwin

It was a sad morning to us, the 21st when the telegraph announced that your good Father had gone, and the loss is felt over here very widely.

Recent letters had given me some anxiety, but it came as a sudden blow to Mrs


Gray and to me

You know we had kept up, in an intermittent way, a correspondence for full a quarter of a century – a most delightful correspondence to me it has always been. Still more are the comparatively few occasions when we have seen him, especially at Down.

I am so glad that you have been at work with him of late years and that you will continue and extend some of his lines of investigation. The scientific world will miss him greatly. But his surviving friends of many years, who have not only followed his whole scientific career, but have enjoyed


the charm of personal intercourse and have been drawn to him with reverent affection cannot but be very sorrowful, when even so long and well-rounded a life comes to a close of its work in this world.

Mrs Gray would join me in wishing to express our profound sympathy to Mrs Darwin. But she will take the liberty to add a note

Believe me to be

Sincerely yours

Asa Gray

This document has been accessed 549 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 7 December, 2022