skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   26 October 1872

Down, Beckenham, Kent,

October 26, 1872.

My Dear Sir,—

I thank you very sincerely for your letter of September 25th, which is excellent, and, to use a homely phrase, is as full of information as an egg is of meat.1 It will be of much value to me, and you answer all my queries much more fully than I thought possible. I have written to Dr Hooker for Dr King’s address, to enquire whether he has any notes; but I doubt whether he can tell me more than you have done.2 In the latter part of your letter you describe some gigantic castings, and state that they are so many inches in circumference, and then state that after heavy rain, they extended to many inches down the slope. I will assume, if I do not hear to the contrary, that they were nearly circular when you first measured them before the rain.

I thank you for telling me a little about your present position. It seems like a piece of jobbery that a medical man should always have the place of superintendent.3 I am glad to hear that you have been doing some anatomical work, and Dr Hooker alluded to some most elaborate drawings which you had sent home.4 I hope you will be cautious and not be tempted to work too hard. In about a week’s time I hope to send you my little book on expression.5

With hearty thanks for your kindness, believe me, | Yours sincerely, | Charles Darwin.

P.S.—Perhaps you are not aware that owing to the climate, and to your writing on thin paper, the ink on one side often renders the words on the other side quite illegible, though your handwriting is very distinct. None of us could decipher some very important words in your letter. I am sure that you will excuse my mentioning this to you, as your letters are so very valuable.


See letter to J. D. Hooker, 24 October [1872], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 October 1872. George King, the superintendent of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, was in England on medical leave.
No letter from Hooker referring to Scott’s drawings has been found, but Hooker may have mentioned the subject during his visit to CD from 7 to 11 September 1872 (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Expression was published on 26 November 1872 (Freeman 1977), but CD’s publisher had already received 100 copies of the book (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 26 October 1872). Scott’s name appears on the presentation list for it (Appendix V).


Acknowledges JS’s excellent letter of 25 September. May CD assume that the gigantic worm-casts were nearly circular when measured before the rain?

That a medical man should always have the place of superintendent seems a piece of jobbery.

Mentions [George] King.

JS’s thin paper renders some words on other side almost illegible.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
Transactions of the Hawick Archæological Society (1908): 69

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8578F,” accessed on 19 February 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20