RECORD: Gray, Asa. [1839, 1867-8]. [Letter and recollections of Darwin]. In Gray, Jane Loring ed. 1894. Letters of Asa Gray. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, vol. 1: 117; vol. 2: 557, 565.

REVISION HISTORY: Text prepared by Kees Rookmaaker 11.2010. RN1

NOTE: Part of this recollection is reprinted in Thomas Glick, What about Darwin? Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 2010.

[page] 117

This morning [22 January 1839] we breakfasted with Richard Taylor in the city and went afterwards to the College of Surgeons, by appointment Hooker had made to see Professor [Richard] Owen and the fine museum of the College under his charge (John Hunter's originally); a magnificent collection it is, in the finest possible order, and the arrangement and plan of the rooms is far, very far better and prettier than any I have seen. I shall make some memoranda about it. We there met Mr. Darwin, the naturalist who accompanied Captain King [= Fitz-Roy] in the Beagle. I was glad to form the acquaintance of such a profound scientific scholar as Professor Owen—the best comparative anatomist living, still young, and one of the most mild, gentle, childlike men I ever saw. He gave us a great deal of interesting information, and showed us personally throughout the whole museum.

[page] 557


(Half of letter referred to above.)

Down, Bromley, Kent, August 8. [1867]

My Dear Gray, — I have been glad to see Mr. Canby's interesting letter on Dionaea, and I thank you for sending it; but unfortunately the facts are not new to me. Several years ago I observed the secretion of the "gastric juices" and the close adhesion of the two sides of the leaf when a fly was caught. I keep my notes in such an odd fashion that it would take me some time to find them. I am almost sure I ascertained the acid reaction of the secretion and its anti-septic power, but I cannot remember whether in this, or in analogous cases, I found its subsequent reabsorption. This letter fires me up to complete and publish on Drosera, Dionaea, etc., but when I shall get time I know not. I am working like a slave to complete my book.

[page] 565

Dr. Gray made his fifth journey to Europe in the fall of 1868. He landed in September, and went at once to Kew, where he remained most of thetime at work in the herbarium until November. He made a short round of visits, first to Mr. Church, who was then rector of Whatley, a village of Somersetshire, where, with Mrs. Gray, he enjoyed to the full his stay in one of the loveliest parts of rural England. They went also to Down to pay a visit to Darwin, and with them went Dr. and Mrs. Hooker, with their two eldest children, and Professor [John] Tyndall. Those were days never to be forgotten.

In England he again worked at Kew, and repeated the visits at Whatley and Down, sailing for America, November 9, 1869.

Asa Gray (1810-1888), American botanist.

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