RECORD: [Darwin, C. R.] 1856-7. [Announcement of the award of a Royal Medal to Sir John Richardson.] Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 8: 257-8.

REVISION HISTORY: OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 2.2007. RN2


[page] 257

Your Council have awarded one of the Royal Medals to Sir John Richardson.1 His claims to that honour as a most distinguished naturalist and scientific traveller, will I am sure be generally admitted. Sir J. Richardson's earliest work on Zoology appeared about the year 1823, but his first great work was published in 1829, namely the 'Fauna Boreali-Americana,'2 in which he has described the Quadrupeds and Fishes of the Arctic Regions, and with Mr. Swainson's3 aid, the Birds; the merits of this work, in the very accurate descriptions of the species, in the great amount of information on their habits and ranges, are admitted to be of the highest order. Since that period Sir J. Richardson has published largely on various branches of zoology, physical geography, and meteorology. His Reports to the British Association, on the Fishes of New Zealand and of China, are extremely interesting under many points of view. Another Report to the same body on the General Zoology of North America, is a most valuable contribution to science. His later works, which here must be more particularly considered, are the 'Zoology of the Voyages of the Terror and of the Herald,'4 in which he has described the Fishes and Reptiles collected during those expeditions, and given an account of some of the great extinct mammifers of the Arctic countries, with very interesting observations on their ancient relations and ranges. He has also lately contributed to the Geolo-

1 John Richardson (1787-1865), arctic explorer and naturalist. Darwin, as a member of the Council, nominated Richardson for a Royal Medal and wrote this announcement of the award. See Correspondence vol. 6, p. 86.

2 Richardson 1829-37.

3 William Swainson (1789-1855), naturalist and illustrator.

4 Richardson 1844-1875 and 1852.

[page] 258

gical Journal a valuable paper, in which he has made known the presence of tertiary strata abounding with vegetable remains, in districts now rendered sterile by the extreme cold. Altogether I think there can be no doubt that the merits of Sir John Richardson, as a philosophical naturalist, are of a very high order.

It is not within our province to reward his other claims to distinction; but all will rejoice, that in the conscientious discharge of a delicate and important duty, the Council have been able to bestow a Medal on one, who has earned the applause of all who have watched his career, for his patient endurance and fortitude under incredible hardships in his first Arctic Expedition in company with Franklin, and again for his chivalrous self-devotion in the cause of friendship and science combined, at a period of life when most men resolve to rest from their labours, or at least would hesitate to encounter the fatigues and dangers of a Polar Expedition, the anticipation of which must have been more appalling to one, who had bitter experience of their painful reality.

SIR J. RICHARDSON,

Accept this Medal as a token of our respect for your scientific labours and character.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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