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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   20 [June 1863]1



Dear Sir

I am poorly & must be brief— I am glad to hear about your orchid paper; by all means let me have copy for Dr. Hooker.2 It would be quite worth while to show that Gregoria is dimorphic & that Cortusa has the structure of one form alone.—3 I can give you a M.S. short account of structure of pollen &c of Hottonia.—4 You will thus make a fairly complete, & anyhow sufficient, account of Primulaceæ.—5 I know nothing of the genera to which you refer.— I would make all this part brief.—

I shall be very glad if you have time to try peloric Gloxinias & Antirhinum; I have got both: I mean to try peloric on self & on common flower: & conversely with other forms; so that there will be 4 crosses.—6 I doubt whether Pelargonium worth the labour; I have tried many crosses & can get no certain result—7

Please save every capsule of the self-fertile variety of red cowslip with equal anthers & stamens; I shd. like to count the seeds in each capsule, if you do not yourself do it—8 In counting I find it safest plan to count all seeds, which are not manifestly bad; as this allows for partially unripe seed: of course it does not signify if same, as near as is possible, standard of goodness is used in all cases.—

Do not work too hard.—

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Scott, 16 June [1863].
The references are to Scott 1863a and Joseph Dalton Hooker (see letter from John Scott, 16 June [1863]).
See letter from John Scott, 16 June [1863] and nn. 14–16. The reference is to the paper Scott was preparing to write on the structure and functions of the reproductive organs in the Primulaceae (Scott 1864a).
Scott gave CD’s results in Scott 1864a, pp. 78–9. See also letter to John Scott, 2 July [1863].
CD had been interested in carrying out experiments on the fertility of peloric flowers for some time (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter to M. T. Masters, 8 July [1862]), and had ordered plants of peloric varieties of Gloxinia and Antirrhinum at the end of 1862 (see ibid., letter to John Scott, 19 December [1862]). See also letter to Isaac Anderson-Henry, 20 January [1863], letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 February [1863], and Appendix VI. CD’s experimental notes relating to peloric Antirrhinum majus, dated 26 June – 20 July 1863, are in DAR 51: B18–19. CD described his experiments with A. majus in Variation 2: 70–1 and 166–7.
CD had carried out a number of crossing experiments with the normally sterile central peloric flowers of several varieties of Pelargonium in the summer of 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Asa Gray, 1 July [1862], and the experimental notes in DAR 51: B4–9, B12–13). There is a further set of CD’s experimental notes on peloric Pelargoniums, dated 15 May – 20 July 1863, in DAR 51: B14–15. CD referred to his experiments on peloric Pelargoniums in Variation 2: 167.
See letter from John Scott, 21 May [1863]. Scott presented his results from this experiment, including a tally of the number of seeds produced, in Scott 1864a, p. 106.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Glad to hear of JS’s orchid paper [Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh 7 (1863): 543–50].

Suggests experiments on peloria.

Wants to count seed of the self-fertile red cowslip with equal stamens and styles.

Can send account of Hottonia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 93: B53–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4114,” accessed on 25 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11