To John Scott 25 and 28 May 1
Down Bromley Kent
Now for a few words on Science.— I do not think I could be mistaken about stigma of Bolbophyllum; I had the plant alive from Kew & watched many flowers.2 That is a most remarkable observation on foreign pollen emitting tubes, but not causing orifice to close: it would have been interesting to have observed how close an alliance of form would have acted on orifice of stigma.—3 It will probably be so many years, if ever, that I work up my observations on Drosera, that I will not trouble you to send your paper;4 for I could not now find time to read it.—
If you have spare copy of your Orchid paper, please send it;5 but do not get a copy of the Journal, for I can get one, & you must often want to buy Books.— Let me know when it is published.—
I have been glad to hear about Mercurialis;6 but I will not accept your offer of seed on account of time, time, time, & weak health. For same reason I must give up Primula matter. What a wonderful indefatigable worker you are! You seem to have made a famous lot of interesting experiments. D. Beaton once wrote that no man could cross any species of Primula, you have apparently proved the contrary with a vengeance.—7 Your numerous experiments seem very well selected, & you will exhaust the subject.— Now when you have completed your work, you should draw up a paper well worth publishing & give a list of all the dimorphic & non-dimorphic forms.8 I can give you on authority of Prof. Treviranus in Bot. Zeitung case of P. longiflora non-dimorphic.—9 I am surprised at your Cowslips in this state.10 Is it a common yellow cowslip? I have seen Oxlips (which from some experiments I now look at as certainly natural hybrids) in same state.11 If you think Bot. Soc. of Edinburgh would not do justice & publish your paper; send it to me to be communicated to the Linnean Socy.— I will delay my paper on successive dimorphic generations in Primula till yours appear; so as in no way to interfere with your paper.— Possibly my results may be hardly worth publishing; but I think they will; the seedlings from two successive homomorphic generations seem excessively sterile.—12
I will keep this letter till I hear from Dr. Hooker.—
I shall be very glad if you try Passiflora.—13
Your experiments on Primula seem so well chosen that whatever the result is; they will be of value. But always remember that not one naturalist out of a dozen cares for really philosophical experiments.
May 28th | I now enclose Dr. Hooker’s answer which will console you for refusing the situation.—14 Dr. H. permits me to forward his letter, but I think you had better not mention it to Dr. Balfour or Mr. Macnab, as it might make ill-will, his offering advice to an Edinburgh man.—15
Dr. Hooker in another note remarked that he had always heard a very good character for kindness in Mr. Macnab, so permit me to suggest to you to do all you can to please him. Dr. H. truly remarks that experiments take up much time, & that he knows himself that a superintendent is bound to see that the ordinary work is fully done.—16 So pray do all you can to please & satisfy Mr. Macnab.
Dear Sir In Haste | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin
CD does not think he could be wrong about the stigma of Bolbophyllum.
Will not write up Drosera for years.
Praises JS’s experiments. Invites him to send a paper to Linnean Society.
L. C. Treviranus says all species of Primula present two forms except P. longiflora.
- experiment, scientific observation
- positive attitude/assessment
- positive self-criticism
- structural characters
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4185,” accessed on 21 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4185