To J. D. Hooker 2 June 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I will write about science &c another day, but I must just say how very very kind you always are in helping me.—
Now about medals:2 I thought that you had quite fixed not to propose Lindley except for Copley:3 for a Royal I shd. never dream of putting Hancock & Prestwich in opposition to Lindley.4 I will write to Sharpey,5 for I really have no opening to write to Sabine;6 & indeed it puts me in an awkward position to express any opinion whatever on Lindley, as I am not a Botanist, but I will do my best, & will make some, I fear it must be egotistical apology.
I will, however, (subject to my manifest ignorance) express strongly my opinion: the letter shall go in day or two.— I am rather taken aback by hearing that my letter to Sharpey was read aloud, as I meant it only for him & fear I expressed myself dogmatically: I am rather annoyed at this, for I cannot remember exactly what I said.—7
I am exceedingly glad to hear that Lyell has chance of Copley sometime.—8
Now for your remarks on some of the other men: I must think that you underrate Hancock. Do pray talk with Huxley. I think he will be surprised at your speaking of him as a “local cork” sic.— (No No I see it is local work!!!)9 I shd. say he was second as comparative anatomist only to Owen in this country. His work on the circulation of the Mollusca I have always looked at as grand.10 His papers I believe on the Brachiopoda & Bryozoa are first rate:11 good anatomical & physiological work, in Zoology ranks, in my opinion, far far above descriptions of species.— His paper on the boring powers of Sponges & Mollusca is admirable:12 do pray talk with Huxley, for I have for so many years respected Hancock, that I am astounded at your manner of speaking of him.— How difficult it is to judge of Scientific claims! Private If I were put on my oath, though I shd. say that Huxley was a far cleverer man than Pretwich, I shd. say that the latter had done far more for Science than Huxley!13 So how we differ, & God knows which is right.— With respect to older names, I had not thought about those you mention, in chief part from thinking that the Royal medals, from restriction of date, were especially intended for younger men. But I rather think that we take distinct views on medals; I would try to disregard general reputation, which no doubt the elder men mentioned by you have, & would ask what especial points in physical science Ross,14 Beaufort15 &c have done.— I am far from wishing to hint that they have not done good work, but in the Natural Sciences, which we have to consider, I do not know what.— Although we are very apt, I have observed, at the first approach of a subject, to take different views we generally come to a near approach after a talk, & I daresay we shd. in this case; but anyhow my opinion does not signify as I am not on Council.
My only fear is that Lindley might not think the Medal any honour after ourselves have had it, before him.—
I am heartily sorry you will not be at Club.16 I had quite calculated on meeting you there.
My wife & Etty have just started for Moor Park: she will stay a fortnight, & then I shall relieve guard for another fortnight.—17 It is most provoking that a cold on leaving Moor Park suddenly turned into my old vomiting, & I have been almost as bad since my return home as before, notwithstanding the really surprising state of health I was in there. I fear that my head will stand no thought, but I would sooner be the wretched contemptible invalid, which I am, than live the life of an idle squire.
Yours affecty | C. Darwin
Have you got settled your Household troubles?
P.S. | In rereading your letter I see I have misunderstood one part, viz that Prestwich was in a quite inferior class to Huxley— I see you do not think so.—
I have written my letter to Sharpey,18 and as I could not remember any previous expressions of yours, I have given my independent impression, which I have picked up in general reading.— I sincerely hope that you may succeed.— I am glad that Richardson is the last preceder to Lindley, as no one cd. dislike following him—19
I hope that my letter to Sharpey will satisfy you, but reflect how absurd it must strike anyone in my expressing an opinion.
Qualifications of John Lindley, Huxley, Albany Hancock, Joseph Prestwich, J. C. Ross, and Francis Beaufort for Royal Medal.