To John Scott 3 December 1
Down Bromley Kent
What a capital observer you are! & how well you have worked the Primulas. All your facts are new to me.2 It is likely that I overrate the interest of the subject; but it seems to me that you ought to publish a paper on the subject.—3 It would, however, greatly add to value, if you were to cover up any of the forms having pistil & anthers of same height, & prove that they were fully self-fertile. The occurrence of dimorphic & non-dimorphic species in same genus is quite the same as I find in Linum.—4 Have any of the forms of Primula, which are non-dimorphic been propagated for some little time by seed in garden?— I suppose not: I ask because I find in P. Sinensis, a third, rather fluctuating form, apparently due to culture, with stigma & anthers of same height.—5 I have been working successive generations homorphically of this Primula & think I am getting curious results: I shall probably publish next autumn;6 & if you do not (but I hope you will) publish yourself previously, I shd. be glad to quote in abstract some of your facts.— But I repeat that I hope you will yourself publish——
Hottonia is dimorphic, with pollen of very different sizes in the two forms.—7
I think you are mistaken about Siphocampylus; but I feel rather doubtful in saying this to so good an observer:8 In Lobelia the closed pistil grows rapidly & pushes out the pollen, & then the stigma expands; & the flower in function is monoicous;9 from appearance I believe this is case with your plant.— I hope it is so; for this plant can hardly require a cross, being in function monoicous; so that dimorphism in such a case would be a heavy blow to understanding its nature or good, in all other cases.—
I see few periodicals; where have you published on Clivia?10 I suppose that you did not actually count the seeds in the hybrids in comparison with those of the parent-forms; but this is almost necessary after Gärtner’s observations—11
I very much hope you will make a good series of comparative trials on the same plant of Tacsonia.—12
I have raised 700–800 seedlings from cowslips, artificially fertilised with care; & they presented not a hairs-bredth approach to Oxlips.—13 I have now seed in pots from Cowslip fertilised by pollen of Primrose, & I hope they will grow;14 I have also got fine seedlings from seed of wild Oxlips; so I hope to make out this case.—15
You speak of difficulties on Natural Selection;16 there are indeed plenty; if ever you have spare time (which is not likely, as I am sure you must be a hard worker) I shd. be very glad to hear difficulties from one who has observed so much as you have.— The majority of criticisms on the “Origin” are in my opinion not worth the paper they are printed on. Sir C. Lyell is coming out with what, I expect, will prove really good remarks.—17 Pray do not think me intrusive; but if you would like to have any Book I have published, such as my Journal of Researches or the Origin, I shd. esteem it a compliment to be allowed to send it.—
Will you permit me to suggest one experiment, which I shd. much like to see tried, & which I now wish the more from an extraordinary observation by Asa Gray (in number just out of Sillimans N. American Journal) on Gymnenadia tridentata.—18 Namely to split the labellum of a Cattleya, or of some allied orchis,—remove caudicle from pollen-mass (so that no lose grains are about) & put it carefully into the large tongue-like Rostellum, & see if pollen-tubes will penetrate, or better, see if capsule will swell— Similar pollen-mass ought to be put on true stigmas of 2 or 3 other flowers of same plant for comparison.— It is to discover whether Rostellum yet retains some of its primordial function of being penetrated by pollen-tubes.—
You will be sorry you ever entered into correspondence with me.— But do not answer till at leisure, & as briefly as you like.— My hand-writing, I know, is dreadfully bad—
Excuse this scribbling paper, as I can write faster on it, & I have a rather large correspondence to keep up.—
with sincere thanks for all your very interesting information— I remain | Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin
Many thanks about capsule of Orchis for comparison with that of Acropera—19
JS’s facts on Primula are new to CD.
In Linum CD has also found dimorphic and non-dimorphic species.
Plans to publish next autumn on successive homomorphic generations in Primula.
"Fluctuating forms" due to culture.
Urges JS to publish.
Lobelia functionally monoecious.
Where did JS publish on Clivia hybrids? Did he count parent and cross seeds, as Gärtner shows is necessary?
CD has done large experiments on artificially fertilised cowslips. They never resemble oxlips.
Would welcome detailed criticism of natural selection by a careful observer like JS. Most criticism worthless. Expects a great deal from Lyell’s reaction.
Suggests JS do orchid experiment to see if rostellum can be penetrated by pollen.
- experiment, scientific observation
- fertilisation and generation
- information, data, scientific description
- negative attitude/assessment
- number, increase and decrease
- plant physiology
- positive attitude/assessment
- queries / requests
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3844,” accessed on 23 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3844