skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   9 April 1864

Down, Bromley, Kent, S.E.,

April 9th, 1864.

My Dear Sir,—

I have been thinking a good deal lately about your plans. For the sake of science, in which alone I can judge, I regret extremely that you have left the botanic gardens.1 I hope you will let me hear as soon as you have decided at all what to do. I think it best to tell you, though I do so with sincere regret, that I have lately had some correspondence with Dr Hooker, and I can plainly see, though he wishes you well, that he will not be able to get you any foreign appointment.2 I can see that one great difficulty is, that as you have not worked under him he cannot personally say anything about you, and then he has men of his own to recommend. I fear it would be prudent in you not to trust at all to him, though if by any extraordinary chance he could aid you, he would do so.3 If my health had been better I would have proposed to you to have come here and have worked for a couple of years on scientific subjects, but at present, and probably for ever, this is impossible.4 And I doubt very much, even if you were inclined, whether this plan would have answered for you, as you would have got out of the usual routine.5 Permit me to say that if you require at present any pecuniary assistance I shall be happy to assist you, and you need have no scruple in accepting it, as I make this small offer on the grounds of science.

With every good wish for your future success in life, I remain, Dear Sir, | Yours faithfully, | Charles Darwin.

P.S.—I sent a spare copy of the “Reader” to you, as I thought you might like to see it.6 It need not be returned.


In his letter of 10 March 1864, Scott informed CD of his departure from his position as foreman of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, where he had also conducted numerous experiments (see also letter to J. D. Hooker, [1 April 1864] and nn. 3–5).
In a postscript to his letter of 28 March 1864, Scott told CD that he had no definite plans, but asked whether Joseph Dalton Hooker might remember him if a position became available. CD and Hooker corresponded several times regarding Scott’s future (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [2 April 1864] and [4 April 1864], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 5 April [1864] and 7 April [1864]. Hooker’s letter of 6 April 1864 included a note, requested by Hooker, from Scott’s supervisor in Edinburgh, John Hutton Balfour.
In his most recent letter to CD, Hooker mentioned that he would continue to think of Scott if anything turned up, but he was pessimistic about Scott’s fitness for any gardening job (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 8 April 1864).
CD may have sent Scott the 26 March 1864 issue of the Reader, which contained the article ‘Fertilization of the orchid Pogonia ophioglossoides’, pp. 397–8.


Regrets that JS has left the [Edinburgh] Botanic Garden and that [J. D.] Hooker is not in a position to secure a foreign appointment for him. Offers financial assistance on the grounds of science.

Has sent JS a copy of the Reader.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
Transactions of the Hawick Archæological Society (1908): 67

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4458F,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12