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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Scott   1 November 1871

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

November 1st 1871

My dear Sir

Dr Hooker has forwarded to me your letter as the best & simplest plan of explaining affairs.1 I am sincerely grieved to hear of the pecuniary troubles which you have undergone, but now fortunately passed. I assure you that I have never entertained any feelings in regard to you, which you suppose.— Please to remember that I distinctly stated that I did not consider the sum which I advanced as a loan, but as a gift, & surely there is nothing discreditable to you under the circumstances in receiving a gift from a rich man as I am.2

Therefore I earnestly beg you to banish the whole subject from your mind, & begin laying up something for yourself in the future. I really cannot break my word & accept payment.— Pray do not rob me of my small share in the credit of aiding to put the right man in the right place. You have done good work & and I am sure will do more.3 So let us never mention the subject again.—

I am after many interruptions at work again on my Essay on Expression, which was written out once many months ago.— I have found your remarks the best of all which have been sent me & so I state.—4

With every good wish believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch Darwin

Has Leersia oryzoides ever produced with you perfect flowers? I have failed entirely.5

Can you send me seed of any Melastomata, either annual or biennial, which I could cultivate in Hot-House or Green house.— I wish to experiment with the pollen of the differently constructed & differently coloured anthers.6 It must be a species with not very small flowers.— An early flowering bush wd. do.—

To see if any differences in function in the 2 sets of stamens


On the money that CD had given Scott, see the enclosure to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 31 October 1871 and n. 9.
CD had encouraged Scott’s botanical researches while Scott was employed as a foreman in the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and Scott had supplied CD with extensive observations on sexual dimorphism in different flowering plants (see Correspondence vols. 10–12).
For Scott’s lengthy replies to CD’s queries about expression, see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from John Scott, 4 May 1868, and Correspondence vol. 17, letters from John Scott, 2 July 1869 and 21 December 1869. CD wrote in Expression, p. 21, that no-one had sent him such full and valuable details as Scott.
CD discussed the closed (cleistogamic) flowers of Leersia oryzoides in Forms of flowers; CD had sent seeds to Scott, who cultivated the plants in Calcutta, but they never produced ‘perfect’ (or open) flowers (see Forms of flowers, pp. 333–5, and Correspondence vol. 15, letter from John Scott, 24 September 1867).
The family Melastomaceae is now Melastomataceae. For more on CD’s interest in species with different types of pollen, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 28 November [1871] and nn. 3–6.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.


JS should not consider repaying CD; the money was a gift, not a loan.

JS’s information on expression is the best he has received.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Scott
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 111
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8045,” accessed on 11 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19