From John Scott 7 January 1
Botanic Gardens [Edinburgh]
I have at last finished—and sent off by todays mail—, in so far as I am able my paper on Primulas.2 It has proved much too heavy a subject for my pen; and I feel deeply that, after all my endeavours together with the assistance of your excellent suggestions,3 I should still be so miserably short of even satisfying myself. I should have sent it up to you sometime ago, but I have always been trying to improve it and so give you less trouble, for I feel quite ashamed to draw so much upon your kindness, knowing well how fully your time is engaged with your own works. Pray excuse me.
When you time to look it over you will find that in re-writing it I have been greatly benefited by your criticisms. On page 52. you will observe that I have excluded discussion on relations of Primroses & Cowslips.4 A few private remarks are attached. Perhaps you will favour me by writing and appending the absent foot-note. 5
I mentioned to you in a previous letter that the non-dimorphic Cowslips had lately produced an umbel in which the different flowers presented a curious series of differences in the relative lengths of stamens and pistils.6 I have added descriptions of these, along with three rude sketches of the more marked.7 I am sorry that I had not the measurements of the pollen-grains also; but unfortunately I have had no practice in the use of the micrometer; and Dr. Dickson who promised to do them for me was so long in coming that the flowers were nearly all past.8 The one figured with stamens & pistils of an equal length—both shorter than corolla-tube—was the only one of which he would venture to give me the exact measurement. These varied from the 4–6/4000 of an inch but those under seemed badly developed. I am sorry that I had not the exact measurements of all, and more particularly of the long-styled flower, which plainly—from comparison—approximated to those characteristic of the normal long-styled.9
I have also made few crude remarks on the bearings of this variable umbel on the question of the original sexual characteristics of the Primulas.10 It especially, together with the summary will I fear prove troublesome to you, as I have not at all wrought it out as I ought to do.11 Nor indeed can I.
From an apparent scarcity of papers for the last Bot. Meet. here, I was asked to contribute something. I gave them a paper on the occurrence of the Monoicous spikes of Maize; concluding it with a few remarks on their theoretical bearings.12 I enclose the brief notice of it from the Courant.13 I will be glad to hear, whether I did rightly in openly expressing my convictions on these teachings. Prof. Balfour stated that he did not agree with me in my deductions.14
I sincerely trust that your health—long ere this—is sufficiently strong to permit of your resuming study.
I remain | Sir | Yours most respectfully | J. Scott.
I have entirely withdrawn discussion of relations of Primroses & Cowslips. Thanks to your caution, I had no evidence as to self-fertility of Oxlips; and after careful enquiry, I cannot hear of any person having raised them from seed.15 I was misled with the fertility of some of those less marked forms which one so frequently finds connecting Primroses with Oxlips & the latter with Cowslips. On your view, however, we can partly understand this by regarding them as the offspring of the hybrid of respective parents.16 I intended as you will observe to insert a foot-note on page 25. & noticing as you suggested the bearing of the high fertility of certain unions of the Primroses & Cowslips on the frequent production of natural hybrids or Common Oxlips, as affording an analogy with the Verbascums:17 in doing so however, it would be necessary to adduce facts in support of this view—as I doubt not, it will be keenly disputed. As I have no evidence of my own to adduce; I could only use that which you had communicated; not feeling at liberty to do this, I beg to leave it entirely in your hands, and I will be glad indeed if you insert a note as communicated by you.18 The only difficulty that occurs to me is that we frequently find many intermediate forms less or more closely allied to Primroses & Cowslips, without what would be regarded as a true Oxlip. If these are not then natural variations of their respective species—an opinion to which I can scarcely subscribe, from the general constancy of offspring when either species is growing in distinct localities—we certainly ought to have the Oxlip to explain the occurrence of these.
III. Remarks on the Sexual Change in the Inflorescence of Zea Mays. By Mr John Scott.
After noticing the unisexual characteristics of the inflorescence of the maize, the author, by a series of specimens, illustrated several changes from the normal sexual characteristics of the florets. The male panicles, for example, were shown to produce, along with their own kind of florets, perfect female florets, imperfect and intermediate male and female florets, as well as structurally hermaphrodite florets. Similar changes were also illustrated in the female spikes. A few speculations were offered on the probable cause of these changes, in which the author, in accordance with that principle of reversion to type so much insisted upon by the opponents of Mr Darwin’s hypothesis, considered himself justified in regarding such changes as indicative of the successively graduated modifications of the now unisexual Zea Mays from a hermaphrodite progenitor.
Has finished correcting Primula paper [see 4332].
Has presented paper on monoecious spikes of maize [Edinburgh New Philos. J. 2d ser. 19 (1864): 213–20].
- Letter no.
- Scott, John
- Darwin, C. R.
- Sent from
- Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
- Source of text
- DAR 177: 98, 99 f.3; Edinburgh Courant, 19 December 1863, p. 8.
- Physical description
- 4pp enc
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4382,” accessed on 26 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4382