To John Scott 25 [July 1863]1
Down Bromley Kent
From what you say I looked again at Bot. Zeitung. Treviranus speaks of P. longiflora as short-styled, but this is evidently a slip of pen for further on, I see, he says the stigma always projects above anthers.2 Your experiments on coloured Primroses will be most valuable, if proved true: I will advise to best of my power when I see the M.S. If evidence is not good, I would recommend you, for your reputation sake, to try them again.3 It is not likely that you will be anticipated, & it is a great thing to fully establish, what in future time will be considered an important discovery (or rediscovery for no one has noticed Gärtners facts).4 I will procure coloured primroses, for next spring, but you may rely I will not publish before you.— 5
Do not work too hard to injure your health.—
I made some crosses between Primrose & Cowslip, & I send the results which you may use, if you like.6 But remember that I am not quite certain that I well castrated the short-styled Primrose; I believe any castration would be superfluous; as I find all plants sterile when insects are excluded.—
Be sure save seed of the crossed differently coloured Primroses or Cowslips which produced least seed to test the fertility of the quasi-hybrids. seedlings.—7 Gärtner found the common Primrose & Cowslip very difficult to cross, but he knew nothing on Dimorphism.—8
I am sorry about delay on your orchid paper:9 I shd. be glad of abstract of your new observations on self-sterility in orchids, as I shd. probably use the new facts.10
There will be important paper in September in Annals & Mag. of N. Hist, on ovules of orchids being formed months after application of pollen, by Dr. F. Hildebrand of Bonn.11
In Haste | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin
Are you sure that your coloured Primroses are not descendants of coloured Polyanthus; so as to be hybrids.—12
This year I raised seedlings from wild oxlips, which had probably been naturally crossed with primroses; these seedlings closely resembled pure primroses, but the flower-peduncles rose from common scapes at the very crown of the plants, & so alone showed their parentage.13
Encourages JS to continue work on coloured primrose. No one has noticed this since Gärtner. CD will send his own data for JS’s use and will read MS when ready. Advises JS to repeat experiments if evidence is weak – for his reputation’s sake and for satisfaction at fully establishing a fact.
Treviranus made a slip of pen in writing of Primula longiflora as short-styled.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4253,” accessed on 22 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4253