From J. D. Hooker 20 April 1864
Dear old Darwin
I am afraid Scott is a man who cannot well be helped; I see from this last letter,1 which I am glad to have seen though sorry enough that it should be so, that he is quite unfitted for making his way in the world— he is one of those men whom love of knowledge makes to forget that man is not born for self alone; or rather that the only way of serving self effectually is to do it by proxy, & make yourself a useful self-supporting member of Society— The man frankly says, I am fit for nothing but what “won’t pay”—this is the world’s fault, not mine— A love of science however pure may be practically as selfish a love as any vice— Scott should have been born to 1000 a year & no ties, domestic social or territorial,—in short should not be called upon to take his part in the “struggle for life”— I have known many such,—most amongst artists,—next most amongst scientific young men. No one such ever succeeded even in science, & depend on it after 10 years Scott would be as used up as a man of Science as he is now as a man of mental energy.— Tyndall Faraday, Huxley, Graham, Lindley,2 &c all began by establishing themselves as useful self supporting members of Society, &, that accomplished, they gradually shook off the disagreeable work, as they took on science.— Scott has not established himself as a useful member of Society—knows it, owns it, & blames the world for it. Now my dear Darwin, you may depend on it, that such men are no more able to cut a figure in Science than in life—useful drudges for a time they may be & are— gradually, the feeling grows that their drudgery is other men’s fame & bread & they become “pestilent fellows”— Scotts peculiar temper, his failures, his unwitting self condemnation in acknowledging the latter, show him to be a victim of this stamp; & make his future inconceivably difficult.— he has all the elements of morbid growth, few of healthy development. What would be his position had he relations to support, or a wife & family—or ill health— as it is he must be trodden down in the stern struggle except he rises superior to his present mood & past life, & may thank God that he does not see wife & children trodden down too
My dear old friend my heart sinks sometimes, & I could cry like a child, when appeals for charity come to me from cases to which I must apply your theory in all its force, & come to the conclusion that in giving I am hastening the fall.3 It is not too late to rouse this man to better principles & practice:—to encourage him in his present ideas, would be wrong & I would not help him to them if I could. Mrs Darwin is perfectly right, better give him £100, or £500 than have him at Down—4 What would he be fit for after the 3 years with you? Are you prepared to provide for himself & perhaps his belongings in your will? The chances are 1000 to one that he would turn upon you before 6 months under the idea of injustice or some crotchet that his morbid temper would suggest. And even if not so, at the end of 3 years he would truly say, I have unfitted myself for any thing else by working for Mr Darwin, he is the gainer, I the victim of his success. His relatives are perfectly right. he could (in the present most marvellously flourishing state of Gardening) have easily got a Nobleman’s or gentleman’s place where he might have spent half his time in experimenting5—had he been the right sort of man for a gardener’s place—but this it appears he has not become—
To be practical—we have but two ways of entering Kew,— 1) as young gardener at 12/ a week, & find yourself, 2) as Foreman with wages of 25/–40/ a week.6 As a rule, when we can, we make our foremen out of our young Gardeners; & at present we have no prospect of a foreman’s place being vacant, & intend to reduce the number of them as soon as our new curator comes,7 but whether as Gardener or Foreman, a man’s whole day must be given up to his duties as such— We have far more than we can do in propagating for correspondence, & exchange, & keeping up the public value of the Garden & scientific value of the Museum as an instructional organ to the million.8 We have further to keep up its character & use, as a place for popular resort; & by so doing we encourage the Govt. to give us large grants for such science as Oliver & I cultivate by means of the Herbarium.9 Such pursuits as Scotts are properly conducted at a Horticultural Garden, & appertain to scientific horticulture—which could only be carried out here under the direction of such a man as Lindley, who combines scientific knowledge with practical horticulture— All my little attempts at it have failed, & my father is wise in not encouraging them—10 We cannot do Every-thing. I would not venture to take any charge or responsibility over a man like Scott pursuing such experiments here— I should be glad enough to see them carried out, if the Curator undertakes to direct them in such a manner as never to call for my interference:—beyond that I cannot go.
The upshot of all this is, that I would implore you to put Scotts position & its impracticabity plainly before him, & urge him to a nobler course than that to which he is rapidly tending— I see nothing but ruin before him if he persists—& do not, my friend, exaggerate the importance of his labors in relation to his duty as a man. This latter he forgets— he tells you plainly that he has lost sight of it. The impediments to his pursuits have hitherto been more of his stimulus to pursue them than he knows of; remove these & 10:1 the love of the pursuit will go— At the best to what do such pursuits lead are they sufficient Duty of man?— with him they are man’s whole Duty— In one point of view he cannot exaggerate their value, in others he may, to his ruin.
Cruger of Trinidad is dead!11 That would have been the place for Scott—had his disposition been suitable; but we could not conscientiously recommend a man, who is not conciliating in disposition & who calls gardening proper “mechanical drudgery”— As it is, Crugers neglect of the duties of his post have brought some disgrace on the establishment, & lost to Govt opportunities of bettering the Island—12
I am so glad that Jenner has done you good— I shall certainly vote for him for FRS. this year.13 Are you interested in any one else?
I will try & get Leersia for you.—but Oliver has pointed out a locality near enough London to which you may perhaps send your man.14 “on muddy margin of Mole, Close to foot-bridge—midway between East Moulsey Church & Ember Mill where it will likely soon be extirpated” H C. Watson 1860—
Abundant in Mole close by “Brockham bridge & other spots above & below this locality. A. W. Bennett.
Brewer Fl. Surrey 27215
Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker
Bennett’s of Brockham near Boxhill would direct your man to the place write to him16
Again refuses to help Scott as "unfitted" to make his way in the world. Scott is unwilling to take his part in the "struggle for life", unlike Tyndall, Faraday, Huxley, and Lindley, who established themselves. Scott’s work is not science, but "scientific horticulture".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4469,” accessed on 22 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4469