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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   31 March [1855]

Down Farnborough Kent

March 31st

Dear Huxley

I have thought & enquired much about Westwood & I really think he amply deserves the Gold Medal. But should you think of some one with higher claim I am quite ready to give up. Indeed I suppose without I get some one to second it, I cannot propose him.—1

Will you be so kind as to read the enclosed, & return it to me.2 Should I send it to Bell?3 —that is without you demur & convince me. I had thought of Hancock,4 a higher class of labourer, but, as far as I can weigh, he has not, as yet, done so much as Westwood.— I may state that I read the whole “Classification”5 before I was on the Council, & even thought on subject of Medal.

I fear my remarks are rather lengthy, but to do him justice I could not well shorten them: pray tell me frankly whether the enclosed is the right sort of thing; for though I was once on Council of Royal I never attended any meetings owing to bad health.6

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

With respect to the Copley Medal, I have strong feeling, that Lyell has high-claim; but as he has had Royal Medal, I presume that it wd. be thought objectionable to propose him;7 & as I intend (you not objecting & converting me) to propose W. for the Royal, it would, of course, appear intolerably presumptuous to propose for the Copley also.—


CD, a member of the council of the Royal Society, proposed John Obadiah Westwood in 1855 as a candidate for one of the society’s two Royal Medals, which he was awarded in November. Huxley was also a member of the council.
Probably the text of the proposed citation. The final version of the citation was also prepared by CD (see ML 1: 113) and was printed in full in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 7 (1854–5): 576–7.
Thomas Bell was also a member of the council of the Royal Society. Bell seconded CD’s nomination of Westwood.
Albany Hancock.
CD had read Westwood 1839–40 in September 1854 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 10).
CD had been on the council of the Royal Society in 1849 and 1850. He was re-elected in November 1854 and continued to serve until November 1856.
Lyell had been awarded the Royal Medal in 1834. He was awarded the Copley Medal, the Royal Society’s most prestigious medal, in 1858. In 1855 it was awarded to Jean Bernard Léon Foucault for his work in experimental physics.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Westwood, John Obadiah. 1839–40. An introduction to the modern classification of insects; founded on the natural habits and corresponding organisation of the different families. 2 vols. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman.


Thinks J. O. Westwood deserves Royal Society’s Gold Medal. Asks THH’s opinion of his nomination. Lyell deserves Copley Medal, but, since he has Royal Medal, it may be objectionable to propose him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 29)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1659,” accessed on 28 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5