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From John Scott   6 January 1863


Sends Primula scotica and P. farinosa.

So far cannot fertilise Gongora atropurpurea although it is similar to Acropera luteola.

Experimenting on intergeneric hybrids to test CD’s view that sterility is not a special endowment.

Scott’s personal history.

Acropera capsule grows.

Plans for experiments CD has suggested on Primula, peloric Antirrhinum, and Verbascum.

Asks about Gärtner’s experiments on maize.

Aware of Anderson-Henry’s failures.

Through kindness of J. H. Balfour and James McNab, enjoys facilities for research. JS is in charge of the propagating department. Balfour almost engaged him to be superintendent of the Madras Horticultural Garden.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  6 Jan 1863
Classmark:  DAR 177: 81, 83
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3904

To John Scott   8 January [1863]


CD’s respect for JS’s indomitable work and interesting experiments increases steadily.

His gratitude for the primulas and the astonishing Gongora specimen.

Asks JS’s opinion about crossing a primrose with the pollen of a wild cowslip and of a cultivated polyanthus.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  8 Jan [1863]
Classmark:  Transactions of the Hawick Archæological Society (1908): 67
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3908F

From John Scott   16 January 1863


Experiments to cut Laelia stigma from rostellum and then to fertilise rostellum are baffled by "a latent instinctive power". Somehow the pollen-tubes find their way to the style.

Suggests CD study variation in ferns.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  16 Jan 1863
Classmark:  DAR 177: 82
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3921

To John Scott   21 January [1863]



Urges JS to publish on orchid pollen-tubes.

Suggests comparing stigmatic tissue of sterile hybrids and fertile parent; he would expect hybrid plant’s cell contents not to be coagulated after 24 hours in spirits of wine.

Suggests JS coat orchid stigmas with plaster of Paris for his work on rostellar germination.

Asks for list of "bud-variation" cases; CD has devoted a chapter to the subject.

Inquiries about I. Anderson-Henry’s observational competence.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  21 Jan [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B56–7, B75–6
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3934

To John Scott   16 February [1863]



Tells JS Acropera capsule should be left to grow.

JS was correct on "bud-variation" in fern frond.

Does not believe Primula structure necessarily related to dioecism, but the difference in fertility of the two forms forced him to admit the possibility.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  16 Feb [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B55, B81–2
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3991

From John Scott   18 February [1863]


Sends Acropera capsule for CD to dissect.

Will try to raise Acropera from seed (never done before in Britain) to examine its sexual forms.

Studying primroses, parthenogenesis, and reproduction of some cryptogams.

Received maize varieties from CD.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  18 Feb [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 84
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-3997

To John Scott   20 [February 1863]



Thanks JS for the very large Acropera capsule. CD has perhaps made a blunder about the sex of Acropera.

JS was right that successive homomorphic generations of Primula breed true.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  20 [Feb 1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B20–1
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4003

From John Scott   3 March 1863



JS criticises natural selection as based on an innate "continuously watchful selective principle".

Seeks seed of wild Rocky Mountain maize.

What is CD’s view on origin of maize?

Seeks information on self-sterility of Passiflora and Lobelia.

Weeping habit of trees.

Intended to say bisexual plants presented more established varieties than unisexual, not that they are more variable.

Explains his opinion that homomorphically fertilised Primula will produce only their own form. Is trying homomorphic crosses with different coloured Primula varieties.

Asks to read Asa Gray’s 2d review of Orchids.

Has finally successfully fertilised Gongora, but it was done by unnatural means.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  3 Mar 1863
Classmark:  DAR 108: 179
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4021

To John Scott   6 March 1863



Answers JS’s criticism of natural selection, which he doubts JS understands. CD does not believe in an "innate selective principle".

To understand "utility" JS should read CD on correlation.

Origin of maize: no longer thinks husked form was wild because of Asa Gray’s evidence on its variability.

Has information from Thomas Rivers on weeping habit in trees.

JS’s experiments on coloured primroses.

Encloses bibliographical note on Passiflora.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  6 Mar 1863
Classmark:  DAR 93: B66–8, B71
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4031

From John Scott   21 March [1863]


Thanks for CD’s answers on Passiflora

and Asa Gray review.

Has observed gradation of sterility in Oncidium species.

Has observed rostellar germination and fertilisation in Laelia. The latter was prevented in Bletia by covering the stigma with plaster of Paris.

Gongora atropurpurea capsules are swelling.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  21 Mar [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 85
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4055

To John Scott   24 March [1863]



Enthusiastic about JS’s work on Passiflora self-incompatibility.

CD quotes JS on rostellar pollen germination [in "Fertilisation of orchids", Collected papers 2: 77–8]. H. Crüger attributes it to ants’ carrying stigmatic secretion to pollen.

Homomorphic cowslip seedlings are, sadly, showing variation.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  24 Mar [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B72–4
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4060

From John Scott   [1–11] April [1863]


Studying self-sterility, particularly in Oncidium, where abortion occurs consistently but stigma functions normally. His hybrid orchid crosses show sterility occurs capriciously. Thus it is not a "special endowment".

Disputes Asa Gray’s and Hermann Crüger’s view of rostellar germination.

Doubts absolute sterility of Catasetum.

Disappointed by results with homomorphic cowslips.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [1–11] Apr [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 108: 183, DAR 177: 86 (fragile)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4073

To John Scott   12 April [1863]



Encourages JS to publish on sterility of orchids and to experiment on Passiflora.

Doubted Hooker’s poppy case.

Describes case of primrose with three pistils: when pulled apart allowed pollen to be placed directly on ovules. This supports JS’s explanation of H. Crüger’s case.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  12 Apr [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B59, B77–8
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4084

From John Scott   [after 12] April [1863]


Thanks for CD’s Linum paper [Collected papers 2: 93–105].

Has not published much because he would be ignored as a gardener; hence he is looking for a foreign appointment.

Has prepared orchid sterility paper at CD’s suggestion [Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh 7 (1863): 543–50].

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [after 12] Apr [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 87
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4087

To John Scott   20 [June 1863]



Glad to hear of JS’s orchid paper [Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh 7 (1863): 543–50].

Suggests experiments on peloria.

Wants to count seed of the self-fertile red cowslip with equal stamens and styles.

Can send account of Hottonia.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  20 [June 1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B53–4
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4114

To John Scott   2 May [1863]



Impressed by JS’s attempts to fertilise Gongora.

CD has large collection of notes on orchids, but does not know when he will publish on them again.

Asks for JS’s papers on sterility of individual orchids and on Drosera.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  2 May [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B25–6
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4137

From John Scott   21 May [1863]


Supports, in his orchid paper, CD’s view that sterility occurs at random [Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh 7 (1863): 543–50].

Cannot get his Drosera paper published [abstract in Edinburgh New Philos. J. 2d ser. 17 (1863): 317–18].

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  21 May [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 108: 181, DAR 177: 88
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4174

From John Scott   [26 July – 2 August 1863]


His orchid paper limited because he does not give illustrations from distinct genera.

Discusses the self- and cross-fertility of coloured primrose varieties. Thanks CD for tables of unpublished Primula work.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [26 July – 2 Aug 1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 89
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4175

From John Scott   22 May 1863


J. H. Balfour has arranged a position for him at a Cinchona nursery. Reluctant to take this position in part because of his experiments for CD.

Asks CD’s advice and solicits his aid in finding a better colonial position. James McNab mistreats him.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  22 May 1863
Classmark:  DAR 177: 90
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4177

To John Scott   23 May [1863]



Has written to Hooker for his advice about the Darjeeling position. JS should not refuse the position on account of his experiments.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Scott
Date:  23 May [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 93: B15–16
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4183
Document type
letter (34)
01 (4)
02 (3)
03 (4)
04 (3)
05 (8)
06 (5)
07 (4)
08 (1)
09 (1)
11 (1)
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