To John Scott 8 January 1
What an indomitable worker you are and what a number of interesting experiments you are trying! I thank you for telling me about yourself; I felt respect for you before, and now this is sincerely increased.2
With your tastes, the fall in your circumstances must have been severely felt; but you have acted like a real man in making the best of things, and most truly do I wish you success in all your endeavours. I daresay a foreign appointment will be best in every way, and will be sure to offer a field for new observations; but I cannot avoid being sorry for it. Only imagine how grand it would be to see an insect at work at a Gongora, &c.3
Very sincere thanks for all your great trouble taken about the primulas, which I received this morning.4 I have put them in my green-house, which is warmed at night; whether this is wise I know not. Your remarks on Gongora have interested me much, and I never saw a fresh specimen before. The labellum beats that of acropera. Do the tips of the basal inturned horns secrete any fluid? In one specimen, to the mouth of the stigmatis5 cavity there adhered a large protuberant drop of very slightly viscid fluid, evidently in excess, but it supports your idea about acropera.6 I have put specimens in spirits, (for I am too busy now) and some day will look at ovates. I am quite confused about their genera.7 Can the plants be kept too dry and so cause stigma not to secrete enough? I can keep pod of acropera till whatever time I get one of other germs for comparison.8 I shall be quite nervous when I first look at seeds. I must write briefly.
[…] Never trouble yourself to answer my letters unless inclined to do so, and pray believe me with every good wish,—Dear Sir, | Yours sincerely, | Charles Darwin.
Have you not been put to some little expense about primulas? If so, I beg you to have kindness to inform me.
What say you to cross a primrose (heteromorphic) with pollen of wild cowslip and of a highly cultivated polyanthus, and see which in, say, ten pods of each, yielded most seed.9
I am going immediately to build small hothouse, but whether my two rather ignorant men will succeed with the plants I know not.10
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.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3908F,” accessed on 22 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3908F