A question of merit: John Hutton Balfour, Joseph Hooker and the 'concussion' over the Edinburgh chair of botany.Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2005 Mar; 36(1):25-54.SH
In 1845, Robert Graham's death created a vacancy for the traditionally dual appointment to the University of Edinburgh's chair of botany and the Regius Keepership of the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden. John Hutton Balfour and Joseph Hooker emerged as the leading candidates. The contest quickly became embroiled in long running controversies over the nature and control of Scottish university education at a time of particular social and political tension after a recent schism in Church of Scotland. The politics of the appointment were complicated by the fact that the Edinburgh Town Council (which preferred Balfour) chose the chair while the keepership was under the patronage of the Westminster government (which preferred Hooker). Balfour eventually emerged triumphant after a bitter campaign marked on all sides by intense politicking. The struggle to replace Graham provides a case study in how Victorian men of science adapted their aspirations to the practical realities of life in industrial, reforming, imperial, multinational Britain.