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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From John Scott   26 May [1863]


Discusses Darjeeling position. Thanks CD for advice.

Will send orchid paper [see 4087].

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  26 May [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 91
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4187

From John Scott   28 May [1863]


Sends abstract from Edinburgh Courant of his orchid sterility paper [see 4087]. Balfour altered title to obscure its theoretical nature.

Sends specimens showing curious variation.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  28 May [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 92
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4190

From John Scott   [3 June 1863]


Thanks CD for influence used with Hooker to obtain a colonial position. Has offended J. H. Balfour by refusing the Darjeeling post and James McNab has become unfriendly, although his experiments do not detract from his garden work.

Will write Primula paper for Linnean Society as CD suggests.

His Darwinism is unpalatable at Edinburgh Botanic Garden.

Describes results with non-dimorphic Primula species. Such cases do not accord with CD’s view that characters are slowly acquired.

Thanks for criticism of his writing style.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [3 June 1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 93
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4202

From John Scott   16 June [1863]


Orchid paper in press.

Asks CD to correct MS of his Primula paper [J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 8 (1865): 78–126].

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  16 June [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 94
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4213

From John Scott   23 July [1863]


Discusses heterostyly in Hottonia.

Criticises L. C. Treviranus’ statements on Primula longiflora’s having short-styled form.

Describes his results with crossing different coloured primroses. Will let CD, when he reads his paper, decide whether his finding white and red varieties perfectly sterile when crossed, yet fertile inter se, ought to be published.

Difficulty in getting his orchid paper published in Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  23 July [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 95
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4252

From John Scott   21 September [1863]


Sends Primula MS, which CD has promised to communicate to Linnean Society [see 4213].

Will soon send results on peloric Antirrhinum.

Author:  John Scott
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  21 Sept [1863]
Classmark:  DAR 177: 96
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-4301
Document type
letter (16)
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02 (1)
03 (2)
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