doing justice


Senior Member
In a letter by Charles Darwin to his friend, Charles Lyell, he tells him that he dedicated for him the second edition of his Journal of Researches, as an acknowledgement of his worth in Geology and how much he owed him. Darwin says in the letter:

I have long wished, not so much for your sake, as for my own feelings of honesty, to acknowledge more plainly than by mere reference, how much I geologically owe you. . Those authors, however, who like you, educate people's minds as well as teach them special facts, can never, I should think, have full justice done them except by posterity, for the mind thus insensibly improved can hardly perceive its own upward ascent.

I understand the first sentence, I just put it for reference. However, the second sentence seems so ambiguous to me. I hope someone could help me understand it.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    This is another way to say that these authors probably won't get sufficient praise and recognition for their work until sometime in the future. The readers whose minds are improved by the authors' books won't be sufficiently grateful for what they have learned because they won't be able to perceive the gradual improvement in their own thinking that came from those books. Later generations, in Darwin's opinion, will be better able to judge the value of the authors' work.

    If posterity "does justice" to these writers, posterity recognizes the value of their work.


    Senior Member
    People like you are only recognised by the future generations because present-day people are not aware of how much you have done to elevate them...

    I had almost finished this when conscientious Mr Owl posted his answer :)
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