To John Scott 6 June 1
Down Bromley Kent
I fear that you think that I have done more than I have with respect to Dr. Hooker.2 I did not feel that I had any right to ask him to remember you for a Colonial appointment: all that I have done is to speak most highly of your scientific merits.3 Of course this may hereafter fructify.— I really think you cannot go on better for educational purposes than you are now doing, observing, thinking & some reading beat, in my opinion, all systematic education. Do not despair about your style: your letters are excellently written; your scientific style is a little too ambitious. I never study style: all that I do is to try to get subject clear as I can in my own head, & express it in the commonest language which occurs to me.— But I generally have to think a good deal before simplest arrangement & words occur to me.— Even with most of our best English writers, writing is slow work: it is a great evil but there is no help for it— I am sure you have no cause to despair.—
I hope & suppose your sending a paper to Linn. Socy will not offend your Edinburgh friends;4 you might truly say that you sent the paper to me, & that (if it turns out so) I thought it worth communicating to Linn. Socy.—
I shall feel great interest in studying all your facts on Primula, when they are worked out & seed counted. Size of capsules is often very deceptive. I am astonished how you can find time to make so many experiments.
If you like to send me your paper tolerably well written, I would look it over & suggest any criticisms; but then this would cause you extra copying. Remember, however, that Ld. Brougham habitually wrote everything important three times over.—5
The cases of the Primulæ which lose by variation their dimorphic character seem to me very interesting. I find that the mid-styled (by variation) P. Sinensis is more fertile with own pollen even than a heteromorphic union!6
If you have time it will be very good to experiment on Linum Lewisii: I wrote formerly to Asa Gray begging for seed.—7 If you have time I think experiments on any peloric flowers would be useful.—8
I shall be sorry (& I am certain it is a mistake on part of the Society) if your Orchid paper is not printed in extenso.9 I am now at work compiling all such cases, & shall give a very full abstract of your observations.10 I hope to add in autumn some from you on Passiflora—11 I would suggest to you the advantage at present of being very sparing in introducing theory in your papers (I formerly erred much in geology in that way):12 let theory guide your observations, but till your reputation is well established be sparing in publishing theory. It makes persons doubt your observations.— How rarely R. Brown13 ever indulged in theory, too seldom perhaps.— Do not work too hard, & do not be discouraged because your work is not appreciated by the majority.—
Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin
CD has spoken to Hooker of JS’s scientific merit, but has not suggested him for a colonial appointment.
Advice on style of writing.
Making extensive extract of JS’s orchid paper to communicate to Linnean Society [J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 8 (1865): 162–7].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4206,” accessed on 25 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4206