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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Scott   8 June 1864


June 8th. 1864


I now beg to acknowledge receipt of your note.1 I am glad to find by it that you are upon the whole pleased with the two testimonials forwarded. I could not help remarking on absence of any note as to energy in ordinary avocations from Mr. Mc.Nab’s testimonial…2 I thank you most sincerely for the admonitions & advice which you have given me on these matters; and I assure you they will not be neglected in my future.

Since I last wrote you3 I have heard from those I had been making enquiries as relative to expenses for an outfit & voyage to India.4 I am sorry, however, that neither can afford me any definite information whatever. In the one case the young men went out in vessels belonging the firm to which they were engaged. In the other they went the overland route, but he cannot remember the cost of outfit… The young man who accepted the situation which I was offered at Darjeeling5 was allowed I think somewhere about £20, for outfit; but I do not know anything as to actual cost. He also took overland route… I will be glad if you have heard anything as to expenses. Whatever these may be however I beg to assure you that as you have so kindly and unhesitatingly offered to advance this to me: I will be most careful to cause you no unnecessary outlay: and I trust by the influence you have incited in my behalf soon to gain a position in India by which I may at least have the satisfaction to be able to return the pecuniary part: still evermore indebted to you for the confidence placed in me & the opportunities of ultimately being enabled to follow out the only pursuits of life which afford me an unalloyed pleasure—viz a practical acquaintance with subjects of Natural science.

Should you have heard what an ordinary outfit would cost, I will by your kindly forwarding it to me go in to Edinburgh. I could there get Mr. Mc.Nab or failing him one of the Superintendents of the firm of the Messrs Lawsons & Sons6—who likewise no of these matters—to go with me to one of the general Indian outfitting warehouses, where I believe I could get as cheaply as anywhere else the necessaries. I will be glad indeed however, if you will suggest the best plans for me: truly sorry that ignorance in these matters should thus cause me to encroach so much upon your time likewise.

I have also to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 4th.7 I am glad to find that Dr. Hooker is likewise satisfied with the testimonials.8 The extract which you have enclosed from Dr. Hookers letter is indeed most highly gratifying9   I only wish & shall more & more make it my endeavour to personally merit such. I do feel deeply thankfull to Dr. Hooker for all that he is doing for me.10 It will be indeed a favour if you express to him my thankfulness for this as I am quite at a loss how to do so.11

In reference to P.S. in Dr Hookers letter I shall be glad indeed to go via the Cape so as to look after the case which he then proposes to send.12 In this however, as in other points, I would that you would decide as it is entirely through you that I can entertain any prospects of getting out at all.

You have kindly offered to give me a scientific testimonial.13 I need not tell you how much I would prize this. I would indeed like to have such from your pen.

I have the honour to remain | Sir, &c | John Scott

CD annotations14

4.1 I have … 4th.] del pencil
4.1 I am … at all. 5.4] enclosed in square brackets, pencil
4.2 The extract … gratifying 4.3] del pencil
4.4 such] ‘kindness’ interl pencil
4.6 if you] ‘will’ interl pencil
5.1 reference to] ‘your’ interl pencil
5.1 in Dr Hookers letter] del pencil
6.1 You … pen. 6.2] crossed pencil


CD’s letter to Scott has not been found.
Scott had forwarded testimonials from John Hutton Balfour and James McNab with his letter of 28 May [1864] (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1864] and n. 2). Scott had experienced difficulties with his superiors at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from John Scott, 22 May 1863, and this volume, letter from John Scott, 28 March 1864); he was particularly dissatisfied with the testimonial he received from McNab (see letter from John Scott, 28 May [1864]). See also enclosure to letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 April 1864.
After Scott left his position at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, CD had offered financial assistance, which Scott initially refused (see letter to John Scott, 9 April 1864, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 April [1864]). When it became clear that Scott’s best prospects for employment were in India, CD offered to pay the expenses of the journey (see letter to John Scott, 21 May [1864]). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 [May 1864].
Scott had been offered a position in India in May 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters from John Scott, 22 May 1863 and 26 May [1863], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [23–7 May 1863]).
The reference is to the nursery firm Peter Lawson and Son, 1 George IV bridge, Edinburgh (Post Office Edinburgh directory 1863–4, R. Desmond 1994).
The letter to Scott has not been found.
Scott refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1864]).
The extracts have not been found; however, see CD’s annotations to the letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1864].
Hooker had been assisting Scott to obtain a post in India (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 19 May 1864 and [4 June 1864]).
CD’s offer was evidently made in the missing letter of 4 June 1864 (see n. 7, above). For CD’s testimonial, see the letter to John Scott, 10 June 1864.
CD annotated Scott’s letter in order to extract a portion for inclusion in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 June [1864].


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

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.

Post Office Edinburgh directory: Post-Office annual directory and calendar. Post-Office Edinburgh and Leith directory. Edinburgh: Ballantyne & Hughes [and others]. 1845–1908.


Discusses cost of trip to India and CD’s offer to advance sum. Thanks Hooker for assistance. Would prize a scientific testimonial from CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Scott
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 108
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4524,” accessed on 16 April 2021,

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