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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Scott   26 May [1863]1

Botanic Gardens [Edinburgh]

May 26th.


I have just received your letter.2 I am sorry that I troubled you at all about the Darjeeling situation, as strangely enough, though the Professor asked me to consult you upon it, he has not allowed me time to hear from you before requiring a decisive reply.3 The day following that on which I wrote you, he told me that Dr. Anderson expected to hear from him by this mail,4 and desired me to state whether or not I would enter into any engagement: as he had another person in view if I failed to do so. I stated, that I certainly wished he could have given me a little more time; it being otherwise however, I could only repeat as before—that I would not at present enter into an engagement. He has therefore offered it to another who has accepted it.5

I may have erred in losing this opportunity of going abroad—as Prof. Balfour seems to think—in respect to my future; nevertheless, it is now at least consolatory, and will I doubt not be also retrospectively, to know that I have thus been afforded an opportunity to work out a series of interesting & instructive experiments.6

I thank you most sincerely for the kind and active interest you have manifested: and I beg you to excuse me for the unnecessary trouble I have put you to in respect to the above situation; for I certainly did not think that an answer would have been required of me till I had heard from you.

I will be glad to hear from you when convenient, about any of the more interesting questions of mine of the 21st.7 I have written an abstract of paper on Sterility of Orchid for Edinburgh Evening Courant, which always notices the meetings of the Bot. Soc. I will send you a copy.8

In the meantime | I remain | Yours respectfully & obliged | J. Scott.

Thanks for mentioning me to Dr Hooker, though as you remark there would have been more hopes of his recommending me had I been at Kew.9 J. S.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from John Scott, 22 May 1863, and the letter to John Scott, 23 May [1863].
Letter to John Scott, 23 May [1863].
John Hutton Balfour, professor of botany at Edinburgh University and keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, had offered Scott a position with a proposed Cinchona nursery in Darjeeling, India (see letter from John Scott, 22 May 1863).
Thomas Anderson was superintendent of the Calcutta botanic gardens (R. Desmond 1994).
The reference may be to Mr Ryan, who, though not a trained gardener, was engaged to oversee the work of the native labourers in the Cinchona plantation at Darjeeling (Report on Cinchona cultivation at Darjeeling, p. 646).
Letter from John Scott, 21 May [1863].
Scott read a paper entitled ‘Experiments on the fertilisation of orchids in the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh’ before the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on 14 May 1863; a summary of the paper was printed in the Edinburgh Evening Courant, 28 May 1863, p. 8. The paper was subsequently published in the Transactions of the Botanical Society [of Edinburgh] (Scott 1863a). There is an annotated copy of Scott 1863a in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Joseph Dalton Hooker was assistant director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 May [1863], and letter to John Scott, 23 May [1863].


Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

Report on Cinchona cultivation at Darjeeling: Report on Cinchona cultivation at Darjeeling from 1st April 1863 to 15th July 1864. By Thomas Anderson. [British parliamentary papers, Session 1866, 53: 643–7.]


Discusses Darjeeling position. Thanks CD for advice.

Will send orchid paper [see 4087].

Letter details

Letter no.
John Scott
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Source of text
DAR 177: 91
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4187,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

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