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Letter 2100

Darwin, C. R. to Sharpey, William

2 June [1857]

    Summary Add

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    Supports nomination of John Lindley for award of Royal Medal of the Royal Society.


Down Bromley Kent

June 2d

Dear Sharpey

I have heard from Hooker that he has proposed Lindley for the Royal medal; & as I expressed my opinion to you on Hancock & Prestwich, I hope you will forgive me troubling you with a few lines. You may with truth think it absurd in a man not a Botanist, expressing an opinion on a Botanist, but my work for several years has led me to read a good deal on Botany, especially in foreign Journals &c., & it has been of consequence to me to form the best opinion I could, how much to trust the remarks & generalisations of various authors. This being so, I may state that I have been led to form a very high opinion of Lindley's work, so that in my opinion neither Hancock or Prestwich could for a minute be placed in competition with him for one of the R. medals. His claim under many points of view seems to me very strong. To make a first rate monograph on any one small department seems not to be very difficult,—still less so to gain a wide but superficial knowledge; but to have so profound a knowledge as to discuss on sound principles the classification of the whole vegetable kingdom, as Lindley has done, shows extraordinary talents & knowledge: I have observed frequently that foreign authors on whatever class or family they are treating, seem to consider Lindley's opinions as deserving serious consideration. If I were on the Council, I shd give without doubt & with the highest satisfaction, my vote for Lindley.

Permit me to say one other word: Hooker tells me that my letter to you was read to the Council: I had thought that you had asked merely for my private opinion,—all that I said in that letter expressed my deliberate conviction, whatever that may be worth, but I am rather alarmed that I expressed myself dogmatically under the impression that I was writing to a private friend & not to a Body like the Council of the Royal Soc.y— I most sincerely hope that this may not have been, as I fear it was.—

Believe me dear Sharpey | Your's sincerely | Ch. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2100.f1
    Dated by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1857].
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    f2 2100.f2
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1857]. CD's previous note to Sharpey supporting Joseph Prestwich and Albany Hancock has not been found.
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    f3 2100.f3
    John Lindley was the author of The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system (Lindley 1846; 2d ed., 1853).
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    f4 2100.f4
    Lindley was awarded a Royal Medal in 1857. Hancock received one of the two Royal Medals in 1858, and Joseph Prestwich was a recipient in 1865.
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    f5 2100.f5
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1857].
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