To William Sharpey 2 June 1
Down Bromley Kent
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.2 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:3 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.4
Permit me to say one other word: Hooker tells me that my letter to you was read to the Council:5 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
Supports nomination of John Lindley for award of Royal Medal of the Royal Society.