From J. D. Hooker 2 November 1871
Royal Gardens Kew
A few words of answer, just to say that Sir H. Holland appears to be taking a most active & kind, as well as judicious course in this matter. He has both written to & seen Gladstone, who has taken the appointment of the Board of Visitors into consideration.1 Of course as to that matter I keep wholly in the background. This expediency of such a Board should be decided wholly without reference to the present exceptional state of affairs—though these may make —it expedient to hurry the appointment. Gladstone has stated to Sir H. H. as objection the possible interference it may create between the “First Commr’ of works & the Treasury, & between me & the First Commr— but I do not see how that could be, if the Visitors duty was simply to report annually, & to consider questions referred to him by the First Commr or Treasury.2
The Lady I alluded to was my wife! who has lately, & only quite lately, taken it into her head that I am badly treated in a general way as a public servant by the Govt. & that my services should be recognized by K.C.B. &, (unusually with her), the feelings have got the better of the judgement, & she went & consulted Lady Lyell about it— saying that it might serve me a good turn in this affair with Ayrton, that I should be recommended for this distinction.3 I took the less objection to this course because of it being a favorable flank movement; & because it was clearly impossible that Gladstone should think of me under the present circumstances; & I see that the vacancy is filled up, & so it is all well— Neither my wife nor I wish for knighthood— on the contrary I look forward to it, with dismay; as entirely a lot of engagements, & social calls that I hate— On the other hand, it is perhaps a duty I owe to my family, who have kindly pride in me. & to my Botanical friends, who wish to see Botany honored; & to my position here, which it will no doubt materially strengthen. I will let you know when I hear anything further— What is your address at Leith Hill?4
Ever yours affect | J D Hooker
Henry Holland is taking an active part in helping JDH in the Ayrton affair.