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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   18 April [1855]

Down Farnborough Kent

Ap. 18th

My dear Huxley

I have received the enclosed from Bell,1 which please read & burn.— I think Lindley has a higher claim than Westwood; but I had fancied that it was not thought advisable to give the medal on two following years for same branch of nat. science:2 if this impression is quite erroneous, I shall say nothing about Westwood except (as you remarked in regard to Hancock) as a reminder for a future year.— I shd. moreover be considerably perplexed if I had myself to settle only between Hancock & Westwood.—3

When we meet at Council4 I shall hear what you think about Zoologist versus Botanist for this year.— I have written to Bell to above effect viz that I agree to Lindley’s superior claims, excepting on score of Zoologist having his turn.— I was delighted at your note about Lyell5

Most truly yours | C. Darwin

I quoted to Bell what you say about Hancock.—

So poor De la Beche is at last gone.6


Originally the two Royal Medals were awarded to the authors of the two best papers published in the Philosophical Transactions with a triennial cycle of subjects: either astronomy and physiology; physics and geology or mineralogy; or mathematics and chemistry. In 1850, however, the stipulation was altered, and the medals were awarded ‘for the two most important contributions to the advancement of Natural Knowledge’ (Royal Society of London 1940, pp. 116–17). It was, however, understood to be ‘desirable’ to give one award to each of the “two great divisions of Natural Knowledge”, i.e., the physical and the biological sciences (Hall 1984, p. 141). Within these two divisions, medallists alternated according to their subject area: since Joseph Dalton Hooker had received the medal in 1854, John Lindley, also a botanist, would not be eligible in 1855. John Obadiah Westwood was an entomologist.
Westwood was awarded the Royal Medal in 1855. John Lindley received it in 1857 and Albany Hancock in 1858.
CD was present at the council meetings of the Royal Society held on 21 and 23 April 1855 (Royal Society council minutes).
See letter to T. H. Huxley, 31 March [1855], in which CD suggested that Charles Lyell was a good candidate for the Royal Society’s Copley Medal.
Henry Thomas De la Beche died on 13 April 1855.


Hall, Marie Boas. 1984. All scientists now: the Royal Society in the nineteenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Thomas Bell thinks John Lindley superior for Royal Society Medal. CD agrees, but demurs at Medal going to same branch of science two years in succession.

Perplexed about Albany Hancock’s qualifications compared with J. O. Westwood’s.

Death of H. De la Beche.

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: 31)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1668,” accessed on 25 September 2020,

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