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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Scott   29 July [1864]1


29th. July.


I duly received your letter of the 26th.2 I am now almost afraid that for all the time I have had to prepare for my voyage, I might yet hear from the agent ere I was quite ready to leave.3 I will now state to you how this has occurred. I have been of late led to hope that a friend of mine here would advance a sum of money on my behalf, and accordingly was trusting in such, feeling ashamed to draw more deeply on your generous offers for my immediate wants.4 I stated to him plainly my circumstances & hopes of success in India, when I would repay him all that he might advance—asking him to assist me: but I have been disappointed, as he told me from certain alterations which he was about to make, he really could not at the present time spare me any money.

I have thus deferred mentioning to you any want of money, until I have given myself I fear little to time to again receive aid from you ere hearing from the agent as to sailing. I assure you I feel deeply in so heavily taxing your generosity—even though you have so repeatedly pressed me to let you know as to my pecuniary wants.5 These indeed would have been materially lessened had I not been so long out of a situation. I sincerely hope, therefore, that you will on this account excuse me in asking you for additional assistance to clear expenses here—and further believe that I am not unnecessarily drawing on your liberality.

I would therefore be greatly obliged by your transmitting to me a cheque for the amount which you think I might require on arriving in Calcutta, and also if you would include a little for sundry items & expenses here.6 You would thus enable me to meet all which I may incur in this country, & I fear not from the recomendations which you have induced Dr. Hooker to give me that I will soon find something to do in India.7

Permit me again to assure you that I feel very sorry that I should have occasion to ask you for further pecuniary assistance here: and I will only add that whatever you are pleased to grant me now, as well as that which you have already laid out on my account will be fully & pleasently repaid so soon as I am fairly settled & succeeding in India.

With this hope, I would thus respectfully solicit your aid, and beg you to excuse my not stating any sum, And now with best thanks for your kindness to me | I have the honour to remain | Sir | Your obedt. & obliged Servt. | John Scott

P.S. I suppose a few standard works on Nat. Hist. will be all the books that I need take with me.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Scott, 2 August 1864.
CD’s letter to Scott has not been found.
Following Joseph Dalton Hooker’s advice, Scott was preparing to embark for India to seek employment (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 May 1864, letter to John Scott, 21 May [1864], and letter from John Scott, 28 May [1864]). The shipping agent was Henry Taylor (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [29 July 1864] and n. 2).
CD had given Scott £25 for his voyage (see second letter from John Scott, 10 June [1864]).
After Scott left his position at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, in March, CD offered to assist him financially (see letter to John Scott, 9 April 1864; see also letter from John Scott, 16 May [1864] and n. 11, and letter to John Scott, 21 May [1864] and n. 5). In his letter to J. D. Hooker of 22 [May 1864], CD wrote that he would pay for Scott’s voyage and initial expenses on arrival in Calcutta, if necessary.
CD sent a cheque for £10 (see letter from John Scott, 2 August 1864 and nn. 1 and 2).
Between April and June 1864, CD had corresponded at length with Hooker regarding Scott’s prospects. After some hesistation, Hooker made enquiries about a post for Scott in India, and furnished Scott with letters of introduction to Thomas Anderson and Arthur Grote (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1864]).


Asks for additional financial aid for trip to India.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Scott
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 112
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4578,” accessed on 21 April 2021,

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