skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   7 November [1863]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov 7.

Dear Sir

Every day that I cd do any thing, I have read a few pages of yr paper & have now finished it & return it registered.2 It has interested me deeply, & is I am sure, an excellent memoir. It is well arranged & in most parts well written. In the proof sheets you can correct a little with advantage   I have suggested a few alterations in pencil for yr consideration, & have put in here & there a slip of paper. There will be no occasion to re-write the paper, only, if you agree with me, to alter a few pages. When finished return it me & I will with the highest satisfaction communicate it to the Linn. Soc.3 I shd be proud to be the author of the paper. I shall not have caused much delay as the 1st meeting of the Soc. was on Nov 5.

When yr primula paper is finished if you are so inclined I shd like to hear briefly about yr Verbascum & Passiflora experiments.4 I tried Verbascum & have got the pods but do not know when I shall be able to see to the results.5 This subject might make another paper for you. I may add that Acropera Luteola was fertilized by me & had produced 2 fine pods.6

I congratulate you on your excellent paper & believe me My dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

P.S. In summary to P. paper can you conjecture what is the typical or parental form i.e. equal long or short-styled7


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Scott to Emma Darwin, 25 September [1863], and by the references to Scott 1864a (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
CD refers to the manuscript of Scott 1864a, which Scott had sent to CD for his comments (see letter from John Scott, 21 September [1863]).
Scott 1864a was read before the Linnean Society on 4 February 1864.
Scott and CD had been discussing Verbascum and Passiflora since November 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10, and this volume, letters to John Scott, 6 March 1863 and 2 July [1863], and letter from John Scott, 21 March [1863]). See also Correspondence vol. 12, letter from John Scott, 19 March 1864. Scott’s observations on Passiflora were published in Scott 1864d, and those on Verbascum in Scott 1867. There is an annotated copy of Scott 1867 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
For CD’s experimental notes on Verbascum lychnitis, dated 21 June 1863, see DAR 108: 5–6. CD published his work on Verbascum in ‘Specific difference in Primula, pp. 451–4.
In Orchids, pp. 203–10, CD had concluded that Acropera was dioecious, and that the specimens he examined were male. However, Scott had successfully pollinated two flowers of A. loddigesii (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from John Scott, 11 November 1862). CD continued to puzzle over Acropera in 1863 (see, especially, letter to P. H. Gosse, 2 June [1863]); for CD’s eventual successful pollination of Acropera, see the experimental note, dated 29 August 1863, in DAR 70: 114.
See Scott 1864a, p. 126. See also letter from Emma Darwin to John Scott, 19 November [1863] and n. 4.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Scott, John. 1867. On the reproductive functional relations of several species and varieties of Verbasca. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 36 (pt 2): 145–74.

‘Specific difference in Primula’: On the specific difference between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis of Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the hybrid nature of the common oxlip. With supplementary remarks on naturally produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 19 March 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 437–54.


Has read JS’s paper [MS of "Observations on the functions and structure of the reproductive organs in the Primulaceae", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 8 (1865): 78–126] which has interested him greatly. Will communicate it to the Linnean Society if JS carries out a few corrections.

Would like to hear about his Verbascum and Passiflora experiments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 93: B5–6
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4332,” accessed on 25 June 2022,

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