Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Transcription Help: Can you read this 1 word in a John Lindley (1799-1865) letter?

As part of my work on Alfred Russel Wallace and his introduction to botanical study, I had to go to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) archives held by University College London (though currently housed at the National Archives).

There I wanted to look at the correspondence with the SDUK of the botanist and inaugural Professor of Botany at UCL, John Lindley (1799-1865),  to see if it threw up anything interesting for my research. This it certainly did.

The research has so far thrown up some interesting notes about the authorship of SDUK texts which were more often than not published anonymously. Some were wrongly attributed to Lindley and other currently unattributed to Lindley.

However, Lindley's handwriting oscillated between beautifully legible to belligerently illegible. As a result, I am currently baffled as to whether Lindley assisted or wrote the SDUKs Vegetable Substances text. The important word for ascertaining this can be found in the below scan:

As it stands, I believe that the word which overlaps the end of line 4 and start of line 5 (clearly intended to be one word) is "examining". However, the "x" appears so far from looking like an "x" I am far from certain.

This is how I have the transcription currently:

I have received reply to the sum of Ten Guineas (£10.10.0) on acct. of the Society of Useful Knowledge for [examining] the volumes of Vegetable Substances and in thanks for which I am much obliged.

What are people's views on this? Do you think it says "examining" or an alternative word? Please do comment below or contact me directly if you have any thoughts.

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