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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   16 December [1875]1

2 Bryanston St

Dec. 16th

Dear Dyer

I report progress— Saw T. H. Farrer & G. B. Sowerby both strong & will attend.—2

Had a discussion of nearly an hour with Mr Butler.—3 He did not own to blackballing, but as good as confessed— said all were very sorry for R. Lankester, but felt bound to do so to show disapproval of Council—4 could give no sound reason.— I do not know how far I influenced him anyhow he knows what I think.

Saw Mrs Maskelyne & she will speak to her father Mr Dillwyne5 & others & get them to attend.

Went to Zoolog. Soc, just as Council was breaking up & had the impudence to harangue the whole party.— Sclater, Salvin, Newton, Mr Hudson & I think others will all do what they can & will attach their names to Lankester’s certificate & attend—6

Sclater will discuss matter at Philosophical Club.—7 They were all very strong against blackballers.— I go on plan, of saying I do not know or care whether Council was right or wrong, but that it was atrocious to blackball Lankester.

If my strength lasts out (for I was very tired yesterday,) will see Flower, & Bates & Ramsay & get them to attack others belonging to their set.—8 Will write to Murie & Lowne today9

Yr— —— | C. Darwin

Tell Hooker how I get on.—10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1875.
CD was canvassing Thomas Henry Farrer and George Brettingham Sowerby Jr to support the proposal that Edwin Ray Lankester be put forward again for election to the fellowship of the Linnean Society. The proposal was presented at the meeting of the society on the evening of 16 December 1875.
The council of the Linnean Society had proposed to remit Lankester’s membership fees (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1875).
Philip Lutley Sclater was secretary, Osbert Salvin was a council member, and Alfred Newton and Robert Hudson were vice-presidents of the Zoological Society of London; they were all fellows of the Linnean Society.
The Philosophical Club was established as a social club of the Royal Society of London in 1847, and was dedicated to scientific discussion. Sclater, a member from 1862, had served as treasurer between 1869 and 1872 (Bonney 1919, pp. 56, 62, and 65).
William Henry Flower, Henry Walter Bates, and possibly Andrew Crombie Ramsay, although he was not a fellow of the Linnean Society. The only Ramsay who was FLS in 1875 was Edward Pierson Ramsay, but he was curator of the Australian Museum.
CD’s letters to James Murie and Benjamin Thompson Lowne have not been found.
CD had told Joseph Dalton Hooker of his intention of drumming up support for Lankester’s second attempt to become a fellow of the Linnean Society (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [12 December 1875].


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.


Discusses blackballing of E. R. Lankester [at Linnean Society]. Reports on his attempts to persuade other Fellows to support Lankester’s election.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 2
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Thiselton-Dyer, W.T., Letters from Charles Darwin 1873–81: 50–1)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10299,” accessed on 31 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23