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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Sharpey   28 October [1860]1

15 Marine Parade | Eastbourne

Oct. 28

My dear Dr. Sharpey

I hear that Mr. Oliver is candidate for Professorship of Botany.2 Therefore I trouble you with a few lines to be laid, if you think fit, before the Committee.

I have lately had much correspondence with Mr. Oliver on certain physiological points, which I have been investigating; & I have been quite impressed at the range of his knowledge on facts buried in all sorts of foreign publications. I have been even more impressed at the philosophical caution he has shown in sifting the evidence on certain points laid before him, & in suggesting new experiments. In my judgment, whatever that may be worth, his mind is of a high philosophical order—3 Pray excuse brevity as my daughter is most dangerously ill—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

(of Down, Bromly, Kent)


Dated by the reference to the professorship of botany at University College London (see n. 2, below).
Daniel Oliver was a candidate for the chair of botany at University College London, which had fallen vacant through John Lindley’s appointment as emeritus professor. Sharpey was professor of anatomy and physiology at University College and a member of the senate of the University of London, the governing body in charge of appointments.
Oliver’s appointment to the chair was announced in the Athenæum, 10 November 1860, p. 633.


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.


Testimonial for Daniel Oliver’s candidacy as Professor of Botany [DO was Professor of Botany, University College London, 1861–88].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Sharpey
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.10: 70 (EH)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2967,” accessed on 20 November 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8