“During these two years I finished my Journal, read several papers before the Geological Society, began preparing the manuscript for my 'Geological Observations,' and arranged for the publication of the Zoology of the Voyage of the "Beagle."
“In July I opened my first note-book for facts in relation to the Origin of Species, about which I had long reflected, and never ceased working for the next twenty years.”
“In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement 'Malthus on Population,' and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species. Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work; but I was so anxious to avoid prejudice, that I determined not for some time to write even the briefest sketch of it.”
Thomas Robert Malthus
Born 13 February 1766 in Surrey, England
Died 23 December 1834 in Bath, England, at age of 68.
Born into a prosperous family; second son in family of 2 sons, 6 daughters
Educated at Oxford; degree in mathematics; became an Anglican clergyman.
Had a cleft lip and cleft palate and did not allow a portrait to be drawn until he was 67, shortly before his death.
An Essay on the Principle of Population
Malthus’ most famous work was first published in 1798 and underwent many revisions through 1826.
The essay was a reaction to what Malthus considered the over-optimism of his father and his father’s friends, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Malthus agreed with the belief that the human race would always have poverty.
“The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”
– Malthus, Essay on Population
Malthus suggested excessive growth of population could be checked by natural causes (such as accidents and old age), misery (war, pestilence, plague, and famine), vice (infanticide, murder, contraception, and homosexuality), and moral restraint (marrying late or not at all, sexual abstinence outside of marriage).
As someone with a degree in mathematics, Malthus liked to use mathematical examples. As an example, he discussed how unchecked, population might increase exponentially while food and other resources increased arithmetically.
Applying Malthus’ ideas to the natural world, Darwin formulated the theory of natural selection, and began to gather evidence to back it up. He gathered this evidence and thought up as many criticisms as he could so he could marshal facts to answer them.
Darwin wrote down the theory in essays in 1842 and 1844, but did not begin a work on the subject until the mid-1850s, and did not publish it until 1858 and did not publish his major work on it, On the Origin of Species, until 1859 – 21 years after reading Malthus.
As of 1838, Darwin had been thinking of marriage for quite a few years.
In April 1838 Darwin used the back of a note from Leonard Horner to make lists of the advantages and disadvantages of getting married, presumably deciding the former outweighed the latter.
Over the next few months he began reading a long list of philosophical books. On September 28, 1838, it was Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population, which provided for Darwin the key to the evolutionary process.
On Sunday, November 11, he proposed marriage to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood – and was promptly accepted.
Emma Wedgwood Darwin
Darwin’s first cousin (daughter of his Uncle Josiah Wedgwood)
Born 2 May 1808
Died 7 October 1896
Emma with son Lenny
After her engagement to Charles Darwin, Emma Wedgwood wrote about him to her Aunt Jessie:
“I must now tell you what I think of him … He is the most open, transparent man I ever saw, and every word expresses his real thoughts. He is particularly affectionate and very nice to his father and sisters, and perfectly sweet tempered, and possesses some minor qualities that add particularly to one’s happiness, such as not being fastidious, and being humane to animals. … The real crook in my lot I have withheld from you, but I must own it to you sooner or later. It is that he has a great dislike to going to the play, so that I am afraid we shall have some domestic dissensions on that head unless I can get [Harriet] Martineau to take me sometimes. On the other hand he stands concerts very well.”
(1802 – 1876)
Writer, philosopher, political commentator, feminist, abolitionist, radical, liberal….
Deaf – used an ear trumpet.
Friend of every important Victorian: John Stuart Mill, Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Charlotte Brontë, Florence Nightingale, and Erasmus Darwin (who considered marrying her).
Harriet Martineau and Charles Darwin
In 1834 (while he was on the Beagle) Darwin’s sisters urged him to read Martineau’s pamplets, calling her “a great Lion in London.”
When Darwin met her in 1836, he found her “very agreeable, and she managed to talk on a most wonderful number of subjects, considering the limited time.” Martineau wrote that she found Darwin “simple, childlike, painstaking, effective” – a good four-word description of him.
Harriet Martineau and Darwin’s Book
When On the Origin of Species was published 23 years later, in 1859, Erasmus Darwin sent Martineau a copy, and she thanked him, saying she was aware of “the quality & conduct of your brother's mind, but it is an unspeakable satisfaction to see here the full manifestation of its earnestness & simplicity, its sagacity, its industry, & the patient power by which it has collected such a mass of facts, to transmute them by such sagacious treatment into such portentous knowledge.”
To a fellow atheist she wrote, “What a book it is! – overthrowing (if true) revealed Religion on the one hand, & Natural (as far as Final Causes & Design are concerned) on the other. The range & mass of knowledge take away one's breath.”
January 1 – Darwin moved to 12 Upper Gower Street, London, next to University College.
January 24 – Darwin, not quite 30 years old, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which consisted of only 800 notable scientists. This made him eligible to add “F.R.S.” after his name.
January 29 – Darwin married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood (1808 – 1896), with whom he had ten children, in the small church at Maer. They were married by the incumbent vicar, John Allen Wedgwood, first cousin to both Charles and Emma. They live at Number 12, Upper Gower Street, in London, where next to University College.
12 Upper Gower Street, London
Charles and Emma Darwin made this their home from their marriage in January 1839 until September, 1842.
Darwin described a typical day in his life in a letter to his older sister Caroline (grandmother of Ralph Vaughan Williams) in 1839:
“Get up punctually at seven leaving Emma dreadful sleepy & comfortable, set to work after the first torpid feeling is over, and write about Coral formations till ten; go up stairs & find that Emma has been down stairs about half an hour, eat our breakfast, sit in our arm-chairs – and I watch the clock as the hand travels sadly too fast to half past eleven – Then to my study & work till 2 o’clock luncheon time: Emma generally comes & does a little [needle]work in my room & sits as quiet as a mouse.– After Luncheon I generally have some job in some part of the town & Emma walks with me part of the way – dinner at six - & very good dinners we have – sit in an apoplectic state, with slight snatches of reading till half past seven – tea, lesson of German, occasionally a little music & a little reading & then bedtime makes a charming close to the day.”
Darwin was constantly writing to correspondents with questions. In early 1839, to reduce his work, he printed up an 8-page questionnaire about the breeding of animals to mail to animal breeders.
In February 1839 Emma wrote Charles a letter that he considered a “beautiful letter” and carefully preserved. The subject was his religious doubts, which he had communicated to her and which bothered her somewhat.
“The state of mind that I wish to preserve with respect to you, is to feel that while you are acting conscientiously & sincerely wishing, & trying to learn the truth, you cannot be wrong; but there are some reasons that force themselves upon me & prevent my being always able to give myself this comfort. I dare say you have often thought of them before, but I will write down what has been in my head, knowing that my own dearest will indulge me. Your mind & time are full of the most interesting subjects & thoughts of the most absorbing kind, viz following up yr own discoveries—but which make it very difficult for you to avoid casting out as interruptions other sorts of thoughts which have no relation to what you are pursuing or to be able to give your whole attention to both sides of the question. …
“May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way, & which if true are likely to be above our comprehension. I should say also that there is a danger in giving up revelation which does not exist on the other side, that is the fear of ingratitude in casting off what has been done for your benefit as well as for that of all the world & which ought to make you still more careful, perhaps even fearful lest you should not have taken all the pains you could to judge truly. I do not know whether this is arguing as if one side were true & the other false, which I meant to avoid, but I think not. I do not quite agree with you in what you once said—that luckily there were no doubts as to how one ought to act. I think prayer is an instance to the contrary, in one case it is a positive duty & perhaps not in the other. But I dare say you meant in actions which concern others & then I agree with you almost if not quite. …
“I do not wish for any answer to all this—it is a satisfaction to me to write it & when I talk to you about it I cannot say exactly what I wish to say, & I know you will have patience, with your own dear wife. Don't think that it is not my affair & that it does not much signify to me. Every thing that concerns you concerns me & I should be most unhappy if I thought we did not belong to each other forever.
“I am rather afraid my own dear Nigger will think I have forgotten my promise not to bother him, but I am sure he loves me & I cannot tell him how happy he makes me & how dearly I love him & thank him for all his affection which makes the happiness of my life more & more every day.”
Augustin De Candolle
(1778 – 1841)
Swiss botanist of French ancestry, born in Italy.
Acquaintance of Cuvier and Lamarck.
Published many volumes about plants using a natural (non-Linnean) classification.
Spoke of “Nature’s War” and the “Warring of Species” competing with each other.
De Candolle visited Britain in 1839 and Darwin – who quotes him many times – had him over for dinner.
1839, August – Darwin publishes his first book, and first best-seller: A Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle under the Command of Captain FitzRoy, R.N. from 1832 to 1836 is published. (Later editions simplify the title to Voyage of the Beagle.)
This book was quickly regarded as one a very great travel book, and has gained the reputation of being one of the greatest travel books ever written. Edward O. Wilson calls it “intellectually the most important travel book of all time.”
It was actually the third volume of three volumes about the voyage of the HMS Beagle, the first two written by FitzRoy, but became the most popular one (to FitzRoy’s annoyance).
Title page to first edition (1839) of Voyage of the Beagle. Note the original long title, later shortened.
From the Preface to the 1845 edition of The Voyage of the Beagle
“As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed of studying the Natural History of the different countries we visited, have been wholly due to Captain Fitz Roy, I hope I may here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him; and to add that, during the five years we were together, I received from him the most cordial friendship and steady assistance. Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Officers of the Beagle I shall ever feel most thankful for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long voyage.”
Excerpt from The Voyage of the Beagle:
“I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching the habits of an Octopus, or cuttle-fish. Although common in the pools of water left by the retiring tide, these animals were not easily caught. By means of their long arms and suckers, they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices; and when thus fixed, it required great force to remove them. At other times they darted tail first, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink. These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their colour. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water, their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one of a yellowish green. …
Excerpt continued …
“The colour, examined more carefully, was a French grey, with numerous minute spots of bright yellow: the former of these varied in intensity; the latter entirely disappeared and appeared again by turns. These changes were effected in such a manner, that clouds, varying in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown, were continually passing over the body. Any part, being subjected to a slight shock of galvanism, became almost black: a similar effect, but in a less degree, was produced by scratching the skin with a needle. These clouds, or blushes as they may be called, are said to be produced by the alternate expansion and contraction of minute vesicles containing variously coloured fluids.”
Excerpt from The Voyage of the Beagle:
“This cuttle-fish displayed its chameleon-like power both during the act of swimming and whilst remaining stationary at the bottom. I was much amused by the various arts to escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully aware that I was watching it. Remaining for a time motionless, it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a cat after a mouse; sometimes changing its colour: it thus proceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted away, leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole into which it had crawled.”
Excerpt concluded …
“While looking for marine animals, with my head about two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than once saluted by a jet of water, accompanied by a slight grating noise. At first I could not think what it was, but afterwards I found out that it was this cuttle-fish, which, though concealed in a hole, thus often led me to its discovery. That it possesses the power of ejecting water there is no doubt, and it appeared to me that it could certainly take good aim by directing the tube or siphon on the under side of its body. From the difficulty which these animals have in carrying their heads, they cannot crawl with ease when placed on the ground. I observed that one which I kept in the cabin was slightly phosphorescent in the dark.”
1839, December 27 William Erasmus Darwin (1839 – 1914)
1841, March 2 Anne “Annie” Elizabeth (1841 – 1851)
1842, September 23 Mary Eleanor; died on October 16.
1843, September 25 Henrietta “Etty” Emma (1843 – 1930)
1845, July 9 George Howard (1845 – 1912)
1847, July 8 Elizabeth (1847 – 1926)
1848, August 16 Francis (1848 – 1925)
1850, January 15 Leonard (1850 – 1943)
1851, May 13 Horace (1852 – 1928)
1856, December 6 Charles Waring (1856 – 1858)
Emma’s age at the births of her ten children were 31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 44, and 48.
Children of Charles and Emma Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin (1839 – 1914)
Photo of Charles Darwin and his first child, his son William, in the early 1840s.
William went to Christ’s College, Cambridge and became a banker in Southampton.
He married Sara Ashburner from New York; they had no children. He was very nice and maybe the best-liked in the family.
Anne “Annie” Elizabeth Darwin (1841 – 1851)
The Darwin’s second child and first daughter. She quickly became Darwin’s favorite. When she died (perhaps of tuberculosis) in 1851, Darwin was moved a week later to write a memoir about her, probably the most emotional words he ever wrote.
“Our poor child, Annie, was born in Gower St on March 2d. 1841 & expired at Malvern at Midday on the 23d of April 1851.—
I write these few pages, as I think in after years, if we live, the impressions now put down will recall more vividly her chief characteristics. From whatever point I look back at her, the main feature in her disposition which at once rises before me is her buoyant joyousness tempered by two other characteristics, namely her sensitiveness, which might easily have been overlooked by a stranger & her strong affection. Her joyousness and animal spirits radiated from her whole countenance & rendered every movement elastic & full of life & vigour. It was delightful & cheerful to behold her. Her dear face now rises before me, as she used sometimes to come running down stairs with a stolen pinch of snuff for me, her whole form radiant with the pleasure of giving pleasure. …
“Even when playing with her cousins when her joyousness almost passed into boisterousness, a single glance of my eye, not of displeasure (for I thank God I hardly ever cast one on her,) but of want of sympathy would for some minutes alter her whole countenance. This sensitiveness to the least blame, made her most easy to manage & very good: she hardly ever required to be found fault with, & was never punished in any way whatever. Her sensitiveness appeared extremely early in life, & showed itself in crying bitterly over any story at all melancholy; or on parting with Emma even for the shortest interval. Once when she was very young she exclaimed ‘Oh Mamma, what should we do, if you were to die.’— ‘Mamma: what shall we do when you are dead?’ …
“The other point in her character, which made her joyousness & spirits so delightful, was her strong affection, which was of a most clinging, fondling nature. When quite a Baby, this showed itself in never being easy without touching Emma, when in bed with her, & quite lately she would when poorly fondle for any length of time one of Emma's arms. When very unwell, Emma lying down beside her, seemed to soothe her in a manner quite different from what it would have done to any of our other children. So again, she would at almost anytime spend half-an-hour in arranging my hair, ‘making it’ as she called it ‘beautiful,’ or in smoothing, the poor dear darling, my collar or cuffs, in short in fondling me. She liked being kissed; indeed every expression in her countenance beamed with affection & kindness, & all her habits were influenced by her loving disposition. …
“Besides her joyousness thus tempered, she was in her manners remarkably cordial, frank, open, straightforward natural and without any shade of reserve. Her whole mind was pure & transparent. One felt one knew her thoroughly & could trust her: I always thought, that come what might, we should have had in our old age, at least one loving soul, which nothing could have changed. She was generous, handsome & unsuspicious in all her conduct; free from envy & jealousy; goodtempered & never passionate. Hence she was very popular in the whole household, and strangers liked her & soon appreciated her. The very manner in which she shook hands with acquaintances showed her cordiality. Her figure & appearance were clearly influenced by her character: her eyes sparkled brightly; she often smiled; her step was elastic & firm; she held herself upright, & often threw her head a little backwards, as if she defied the world in her joyousness. …
“For her age she was very tall, not thin & strong. Her hair was a nice brown & long; her complexion slightly brown; eyes, dark grey; her teeth large & white. The Daguerreotype is very like her, but fails entirely in expression: having been made two years since, her face had become lengthened & better looking. All her movements were vigorous, active & usually graceful: when going round the sand-walk with me, although I walked fast, yet she often used to go before pirouetting in the most elegant way, her dear face bright all the time, with the sweetest smiles. …
“Occasionally she had a pretty coquettish manner towards me; the memory of which is charming: she often used exaggerated language, & when I quizzed her by exaggerating what she had said, how clearly can I now see the little toss of the head & exclamation of ‘Oh Papa what a shame of you.’— She had a truly feminine interest in dress, & was always neat: such undisguised satisfaction, escaping somehow all tinge of conceit & vanity, beamed from her face, when she had got hold of some ribbon or gay handkerchief of her Mamma's.— One day she dressed herself up in a silk gown, cap, shawl & gloves of Emma, appearing in figure like a little old woman, but with her heightened colour, sparkling eyes & bridled smiles, she looked, as I thought, quite charming. She cordially admired the younger children; how often have I heard her emphatically declare, ‘what a little duck, Betty is, is not she?’ …
“She was very handy, doing everything neatly with her hands: she learnt music readily, & I am sure from watching her countenance, when listening to others playing, that she had a strong taste for it. She had some turn for drawing, & could copy faces very nicely. She danced well, & was extremely fond of it. She liked reading, but evinced no particular line of taste. She had one singular habit, which, I presume would ultimately have turned into some pursuit; namely a strong pleasure in looking out words or names in dictionaries, directories, gazeteers, & in this latter case finding out the places in the Map: so also she would take a strange interest in comparing word by word two editions of the same book; and again she would spend hours in comparing the colours of any objects with a book of mine, in which all colours are arranged & named. …
“Her health failed in a slight degree for about nine months before her last illness; but it only occasionally gave her a day of discomfort: at such times, she was never in the least degree cross, peevish or impatient; & it was wonderful to see, as the discomfort passed, how quickly her elastic spirits brought back her joyousness & happiness. In the last short illness, her conduct in simple truth was angelic; she never once complained; never became fretful; was ever considerate of others; & was thankful in the most gentle, pathetic manner for everything done for her. When so exhausted that she could hardly speak, she praised everything that was given her, & said some tea ‘was beautifully good.’ When I gave her some water, she said ‘I quite thank you’; & these, I believe were the last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips to me. …
“But looking back, always the spirit of joyousness rises before me as her emblem and characteristic: she seemed formed to live a life of happiness: her spirits were always held in check by her sensitiveness lest she should displease those she loved, & her tender love was never weary of displaying itself by fondling & all the other little acts of affection.— We have lost the joy of the Household, and the solace of our old age:— she must have known how we loved her; oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still & shall ever love her dear joyous face. Blessings on her.— April 30. 1851.”
Annie Darwin’s tombstone at Malvern Priory.
“A dear and good child”
Annie’s death caused Darwin to lose the last vestige of his belief in Christianity.
Henrietta Emma Darwin ("Etty") (1843 – 1930)
Henrietta married Richard Buckley Litchfield in August of 1871; they had no children.
Henrietta acted as editor for much of her father’s writing. She also edited the personal letters of her mother Emma Darwin and had them published in 1904. The value of this editing work of hers has probably not been fully recognized by posterity.
Sir George Howard Darwin (1845 – 1912)
A mathematician and astronomer; the most distinguished of Darwin’s children
Known for his work on tidal forces
Won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892
Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (like his brothers Francis and Horace)
His four children were the artist Gwen Raverat, the physicist Charles Galton Darwin, Margaret Elizabeth (who married Sir Geoffrey Keynes, younger brother of John Maynard Keynes), and William Robert Darwin
Mary Eleanor Darwin was born September 23, 1842 and died a few weeks later on October 16.
Elizabeth Darwin (1847 – 1926) was never married and had no children.
Charles Waring Darwin, the last child of Charles and Emma Darwin, was born on December 6, 1856 (when Emma Darwin was 48) and died on June 28, 1858, just three days before the presentation by Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker of the papers on natural selection by Darwin and Wallace on July 1, 1858. He lacked his full share of intelligence, according to his sister Etty, and was almost certainly retarded – maybe a Down syndrome child.
Sir Francis Darwin (1848 – 1925)
A botanist specializing in plant physiology; helped his father with experiments on plants and was co-author of his father’s The Power of Movement in Plants (1880).
Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1879) like his brothers George and Horace.
Professor of Botany at Cambridge University from 1884 to 1904
Edited and published his father’s expurgated Autobiography in 1887, removing some passages at the request of his mother. (His niece Nora Barlow published the unexpurgated version in 1959.)
Edited and published much of his father’s correspondence in 1887 and 1905.
Became a soldier in the Royal Engineers in 1871 and major from 1890 on. Teacher (at School of Military Engineering at Chatham; liberal-unionist M.P., economist, eugenicist
Married twice but had no children.
Mentor and sponsor of the noted statistician/geneticist R. A. Fisher, an important figure in the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1940s and 1950s (Visiting Professor at ISU in 1936)
Upon his death in 1943, R. A. Fisher said, “My very dear friend Leonard Darwin was surely the kindest and wisest man I ever knew.”
Emma Darwin and her son Lenny (born in 1850)
Sir Horace Darwin (1851 – 1928)
Founder in 1881 of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (“Horace’s Shop”)
Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society like his brothers Francis and George.
Knighted in 1918
His daughter Emma Nora Darwin Barlow edited the unabridged Autobiography of Charles Darwin published in 1959 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
Apes on Exhibit
The Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park exhibited some great apes beginning in 1835. The first was a chimpanzee named Tommy who died of tuberculosis a few months later. He was dressed in a sailor’s suit; Mrs. Lyell saw him and said he had a “painfully humanlike expression.”
From 1837 to 1839 there was an orang-utan from southeast Asia, named Jenny, who was followed by a second orang-utan, also named Jenny, in 1841, who survived until 1844. After that, apes were rare in Britain for decades.
Orang-utan Jenny Number 1
Charles Darwin visited Jenny in the spring of 1838 and was captivated. He returned twice in the next few months to study her some more. She seemed pleased by three items that he brought her – a mouth organ, some fresh peppermint, and a spring of verbena. Showing Jenny her reflection in a mirror, she seemed astonished.
In one of the notebooks he was keeping, he wrote, in his usual abbreviated style, “Let man visit Ouranoutang in domestication ... see its intelligence ... and then let him boast of his proud preeminence ... Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy the interposition of a deity. More humble and I believe true to consider him created from animals.”
“Man [is] an ape who chatters to himself of kinship with the arch-angels while filthily he digs for groundnuts!”
– from James Branch Cabell’s Chivalry
“Tell the rabble my name is cabble.”
Orang-utan Jenny Number 2
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the Zoological Gardens in 1842 to see the second orang-utan named Jenny. It made a great impression on the queen, as it did on everyone who saw her.
In her diary Queen Victoria wrote that Jenny was “too wonderful,” and prepared and drank tea, “doing everything by word of command.”
The Queen also said Jenny was “frightful, and painfully and disagreeably human.”
1842 – Darwin finished his book on coral reefs, giving for the first time the correct explanation of their formation, having convinced Lyell that the latter’s explanation was not correct. “This book, though a small one, cost me twenty months of hard work, as I had to read every work on the islands of the Pacific and to consult many charts. It was thought highly-of by scientific men, and the theory therein given is, I think, now well established.”
September 17, 1842 – Darwin moved to Down House, Downe, Kent, about 15-16 miles from the center of London, which he had purchased since he and Emma decided they preferred to live in the country. Emma had moved there three days earlier, on September 14, 1842. This was their home the rest of their lives, and today the home is a museum.
“In June 1842 I first allowed myself the satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of my theory in pencil in 35 pages; and this was enlarged during the summer of 1844 into one of 230 pages, which I had fairly copied out and still possess.”
The 1842 sketch was written in May and June, and Darwin was using the term “natural selection” in his theory. The sketch itself was secret, not shown to Emma or any of his colleagues.
In late 1843 he resumed work on the sketch, writing it out much more carefully and methodically; he finished it in July 1844 and had it copied neatly. It was written to be persuasive, with evidence for all his ideas, but he was not ready to publish it.
Darwin next wrote an extraordinary letter to Emma about the sketch and what should be done with it if he died.
“My dear Emma,
I have just finished my sketch of my species theory. If, as I believe that my theory is true & if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will be a considerable step in science.
I therefore write this, in case of my sudden death, as my most solemn & last request, which I am sure you will consider the same as if legally entered into my will, that you will devote £400 to its publication & further will yourself, or through Hensleigh [Wedgwood, Darwin’s brother-in-law], take trouble in promoting it. – I wish that my sketch be given to some competent person with this sum to induce him to take trouble in its improvement, & enlargement.”
The letter went on at great length. Darwin suggested as possible editors Charles Lyell, Edward Forbes, William Lonsdale, John Stevens Henslow, Joseph Hooker (the only person Darwin told about the essay until 1856), Hugh Strickland, and Robert Owen.
This letter suggests that Darwin knew:
That publication of his theory would be an affront to all religious persons, including his wife Emma, and that a storm of controversy – which he absolutely did not want to be subjected to, would ensue.
That a very large amount of work remained to give the theory the proper documentation that it needed.
That someone else needed to present the theory to the scientific establishment and to the public, and that it needed to be someone with a strong, persuasive personality. That person had already been born, but he was at the time still a teenager, unknown to either Darwin or the world of science.
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
1844 – Published by a noted London medical publisher (John Churchill).
Author was anonymous and unknown to the publisher and the printer, who received the manuscript, in an unrecognized female hand, from Alexander Ireland in Manchester.
During the author’s lifetime, only five persons knew the identity of the author.
» Anonymous works were not uncommon in Victorian England, but they didn’t exist in science.
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
A well-written (but highly criticized) book that was an immediate success and went through many editions.
Author not revealed until 12th edition (1884).
Vestiges presented a cosmic theory of transmutation (“evolution” in modern terms): everything in the universe had developed from previous forms, including the solar system, Earth, rocks, plants and corals, fish, land plants, reptiles and birds, mammals, and even man.
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
Cited the fossil record as showing the progression of plants and animals from simple to complex forms, culminating in humans, with Caucasians the highest.
Even human mental abilities had evolved from those of animals.
God – seemingly accepted by the author – played no active role in these processes, as evidenced by flawed design.
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
“Not one species of any creature which flourished before the tertiary (Ehrenberg’s infusoria excepted) now exists; and of the mammalia which arose during that series, many forms are altogether gone, while of others we have now only kindred species. Thus to find not only frequent additions to the previous existing forms, but frequent withdrawals of forms which had apparently become inappropriate — a constant shifting as well as advance — is a fact calculated very forcibly to arrest attention. A candid consideration of all these circumstances can scarcely fail to introduce into our minds a somewhat different idea of organic creation from what has hitherto been generally entertained.”
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
“Some other idea must then come to with regard to the mode in which the Divine Author proceeded in the organic creation…
“...how can we suppose that the august Being who brought all these countless worlds into form by the simple establishment of a natural principle flowing from his mind, was to interfere personally and specially on every occasion when a new shell-fish or reptile was to be ushered into existence on one of these worlds? Surely this idea is too ridiculous to be for a moment entertained…
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
“… Thus, the scriptural objection quickly vanishes, and the prevalent ideas about the organic creation appear only as a mistaken inference from the text, formed at a time when man's ignorance prevented him from drawing therefrom a just conclusion.
“To a reasonable mind the Divine attributes must appear, not diminished or reduced in some way, by supposing a creation by law, but infinitely exalted. It is the narrowest of all views of the Deity, and characteristic of a humble class of intellects, to suppose him acting constantly in particular ways for particular occasions. It, for one thing, greatly detracts from his foresight, the most undeniable of all the attributes of Omnipotence. It lowers him towards the level of our own humble intellects.”
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
This book presented a Lamarckian evolutionary view of life, but the author rejected Lamarck’s evolutionary mechanism and even derided it, perhaps because Lamarck was not highly regarded by biologists in the mid-19th century.
However, the book convinced many readers that evolution was real, and that God had not created the universe, but created the natural laws that allowed evolution to occur.
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation …
The book was severely criticized by the clergy (many of whom considered it atheistic in intent) and by scientists, who recognized that the author was well-read in science but accepted too many odd and discredited facts and theories and made many errors.
Darwin’s geology professor Adam Sedgwick was one of the most vociferous critics, and Darwin paid close attention to his criticisms in order to be aware of criticisms that might be made of his own work once it was published. He realized that his own work could also produce a firestorm of criticism.
The Author of the Vestiges
The author of the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was not revealed until 1884 (two years after Darwin’s death). It was Robert Chambers (1801 – 1871) , a Scottish publisher and author.
Robert Chambers (1802 – 1871)
Robert Chambers and his brother William formed the famous publishing firm W. & R. Chambers. Their well-known works included the Cyclopaedia of English Literature; Chambers's Journal of Literature, Science and Arts;Chambers’s Encyclopedia; Life and Works of Robert Burns; Domestic Annals of Scotland, and other books about history and literature.
Both Chambers brothers were born with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.
A year after Robert’s death, his brother William published a biography of him which hid the fact that he had authored Vestiges. The 12th edition (1884, after William’s death) did reveal the author.
Darwin’s Most Important Supporters
Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875): geologist in London
Asa Gray (1810 – 1888): American botanist at Harvard
Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817 – 1911): botanist at Kew Gardens
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 – 1913)
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 – 1895)
Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919): German biologist
Asa Gray (1810 – 1888)
Asa Gray, professor of botany at Harvard University from 1842 to 1873, was the most prominent American botanist in the 19th century.
Darwin corresponded with him, learning many facts of use to him, and Gray became his strongest supporter in the US, despite his belief that God was directing the universe.
Noted Works by Gray
Gray’s Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States became the standard field guide on northern plants.
Gray’s essays on “Darwinism” and the rival theories of Louis Agassiz were collected in 1876 in Gray’s book, Darwiniana. Gray discussed teleology extensively in the book (he believed in final causes), and believed that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was not an atheistic theory. Today, most biologists do not believe in final causes, or in a goal to evolution.
(1807 – 1873)
Swiss naturalist (geologist and zoologist) trained in Europe (a student of both Humboldt and Cuvier) who moved to America in 1846 and became a professor at Harvard in 1847. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1873. A great glaciologist and zoologist, but …
Agassiz opposed Darwin’s ideas, believing in creation. He also regarded different races of humans as different species, differently created, and his ideas and writings are regarded today as racist.
Right: Agassiz statue at Stanford University after the 1906 earthquake.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
English botanist, son of the prominent botanist, Sir William Jackson Hooker. Father and son were both directors of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Hooker went on many expeditions all over the world during his life, including Antarctica and the Himalayas.
Hooker and Darwin
After Darwin became acquainted with Hooker, he had many discussions with him, and often wrote him letters, depending not only on his expertise in botany but also his thoughts on Darwin’s ideas. He was one of the first two scientists in whom he confided his theory of evolution through natural selection, having realized that Hooker was wondering about many of the same questions that had occurred to Darwin, and was receptive to the possibility of the transmutation of species.
Hooker played a decisive role at many important points in Darwin’s life, as we shall see.
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Lady Hooker (his second wife), Mrs. T. H. Huxley, and Ursula Darwin in 1909.
On October 1, 1846, Darwin finished correcting the page proofs to his Geological Observations on South America and immediately began working on his last Beagle specimens – a dozen or so barnacles. Originally intending to write a short paper about them, he actually worked on barnacles for eight years (1846 – 1854), gathering specimens from anyone and everyone and studying them until he understand them and their evolution perfectly; he wrote four volumes about the cirripedia (1851 – 1854), two on fossil barnacles and two on living barnacles.
So assiduously did he work on his specimens that his younger children thought this must be what all fathers do. Once his son George, while visiting at the home of a playmate, asked, “Where does your father do his barnacles?”
One reason Darwin worked so long and hard on barnacles was a chance remark Joseph Hooker had made to him about 1845, that one should not take seriously the opinions of a naturalist who had not carefully studied real species. This comment was not directed at Darwin, but Darwin realized it applied to him – he had done long careful work on geological topics but not biological topics. He wrote to Hooker:
“How painfully (to me) true is your remark that no one has hardly a right to examine the question of species who has not minutely described many.”
Darwin’s work on barnacles earned him a reputation as a biologist (before, he was regarded as a geologist) and won him the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in1853.
1851: Charles Darwin meets Thomas Henry Huxley, then only 26 (Darwin is 42), soon after his return from his voyage on the HMS Rattlesnake.
Darwin finds Huxley rather scary because he is so brilliant, so witty, so well read, so sharp in his criticisms, and obviously ambitious.
Darwin decides he wants to make a friend of Huxley and he wants his scientific work to impress Huxley. In 1853 Darwin first approaches Huxley about reviewing some of Darwin’s books in the press – and Huxley does so, always praising them highly.
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
Born 4 May 1825, Ealing, Middlesex
Died 29 June 1895, Eastbourne, Sussex
Huxley at 21 in 1846 Huxley at 55 in 1880
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
Self-taught; his formal schooling was two years of elementary school between the ages of 8 and 10.
A very friendly man – except to his scientific adversaries – loyal to his friends, devoted to his wife and family.
Became known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defense of Darwin and his work. Biographer Adrian Desmond refers to him as “Darwin’s Rottweiler” and as “the devil’s disciple” (the devil being Darwin).
The best anatomist of his age and a staunch advocate for education. Champion of the idea that birds descended from dinosaurs, in particular therapods – the commonly-accepted view today, after many arguments and studies and the dominance of other theories for much of the twentieth century.
Types of naturalists
Field naturalists – they observe the natural world, describe it, draw or photograph it, etc. Most naturalists before the 19th century were field naturalists.
Laboratory naturalists – study and dissect specimens and fossils in the laboratory. Huxley was the best of the lab naturalists, beginning as a teenager and flowering during his voyage on the HMS Rattlesnake.
Experimental naturalists – carry out experiments with animals or plants, as Darwin often did.
A man of immense intellectual abilities and an indefatigable worker; his colleagues all stood in awe of him. Wallace felt inferior to Huxley, but not to Darwin or Lyell. Darwin and Hooker also felt inferior to Huxley.
“An intelligence so luminous that it shed light all around him on any topic which came within his range.” – Justin McCarthy (1899)
“Probably the most trenchant intellect of the time.” – John Skelton (1895)
“Huxley had more talents than two lifetimes could have developed. He could think, draw, speak, write, inspire, lead, negotiate, and wage multifarious war against earth and heaven with the cool professional ease of an acrobat supporting nine people on his shoulders at once.” – William Irvine (Apes, Angels and Victorians, 1955)
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY …
An agnostic (to use a word that he coined to describe himself and Darwin), yet extremely familiar with the Bible and able to quote it extensively. “And yet,” a bishop’s wife once exclaimed in wonderment, “I hear that he is a devoted husband and an affectionate father.”
The first professional “scientist” (a word that became common in the 1870s).
Given a job teaching at London’s three-year-old Royal School of Mines, he remained there 31 years and turned it into a premier institution of higher education, a forerunner of the Imperial College. He turned down many offers from other prominent institutions, including Oxford and Harvard, in part because he wanted to remain in London.
Huxley was the 7th of the 8 children of George Huxley and Rachel Withers. When he was born in 1825 the family lived above a butcher’s shop in Ealing, a small Middlesex village noted for what was reputedly the finest private school in England – Great Ealing School.
Great Ealing School had many famous pupils, including William S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan), John Henry Cardinal Newman, the author Frederick Marryat, and Thomas Henry Huxley.
George Huxley was a mathematics teacher at Ealing, but apparently a mediocre teacher, and he was let go (fired?) in 1835, when Thomas Huxley was 10.
Huxley didn’t resemble his father George Huxley much, other than inheriting an ability to draw and an interest in reading. George Huxley appears not to have been noted for his intellect.
He appears to have taken after his restless, talkative, hard-working mother, whom he described as “a slender brunette, of an emotional and energetic temperament, and possessed of the most piercing black eyes. She had an excellent mental capacity. Her most distinguishing characteristic,, however, was rapidity of thought… If my time were to come over again, there is nothing I would less willingly part with than my inheritance of mother-wit.”
As a teenager, after leaving Ealing School at the age of 10, Huxley appears to have read widely, mainly from his father’s books, keeping for a while a little journal he entitled Thoughts and Doings.
“My great desire was to be a mechanical engineer, but the fates were against this, and while very young I commenced the study of medicine under a medical brother-in-law [Dr. John Cooke].”
Two of Huxley’s older sisters had married physicians.
When 13 or 14 Huxley attended a post-mortem examination which took several hours, and though it fascinated him it was a mental shock and left him ill (hypochondria?) for some time.
In January 1841, not yet 16, he was apprenticed to Thomas Chandler, a practitioner in the East End.
“I saw strange things … people who came to me for medical aid and who were really suffering from nothing but slow starvation. I have not forgotten – and am not likely to forget so long as memory holds … Alleys nine or ten feet wide, I suppose, with tall houses full of squalid drunken men and women … All this within hearing of the traffic of the Strand, within easy reach of the wealth and plenty of the city.”
In May 1842, just after turning 17, Huxley saw an announcement about a public competition sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Society. Huxley decided to enter the competition and studied day and night for two months to prepare himself for the examination.
Huxley came in second, winning the Silver Medal of the Pharmaceutical Society, receiving a free scholarship to Charing Cross Hospital, where he studied for two years. He was a student of the eminent ophthalmologist and physiologist Thomas Wharton Jones (1808 – 1891).
In his younger days Jones had been an assistant to Robert Knox at the University of Edinburgh and bought for him some cadavers from Burke and Hare, who turned out to be body-snatchers; Burke was hanged, Hare imprisoned, Knox was apparently unaware of the source of the cadavers but his career was ruined.
Burke the butcher, Hare the thief, Knox the boy who buys the beef.
Thomas Wharton-Jones (1808 – 1891)
One year older than Darwin, 17 years older than Huxley.
Born in Scotland, studied medicine at University of Edinburgh, was assistant (1827 – 1828) to Robert Knox and bought bodies for Knox, but was cleared in the famous Burke & Hare case.
Went afterwards to Glasgow to work with William Mackenzie, the great ophthalmologist, and himself became a noted ophthalmologist and physiologist.
From 1851 to 1881 was Professor of Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery at University College, London.
Remained a friend of Huxley all his life.
Influence of T. W. Jones on T. H. Huxley
Jones was Huxley’s anatomy professor at Charing Cross Hospital, where he
“not only captured his imagination but gave a permanent direction to Huxley’s life. This heroic individual was a pale, dry-looking little man who lectured ‘with downcast eyes, and fingering his watch chain.’ What he said was cold, lucid, logical, and severely exact, indicating a great and precise knowledge. ‘Quite to my taste,’ wrote Huxley.” – William Irvine, Apes, Angels, and Victorians.
“No doubt it was very largely my own fault, but the only instruction from which I ever obtained the proper effect of education was that which I received from Mr. Wharton Jones, who was the lecturer on physiology at the Charing Cross School of Medicine. The extent and precision of his knowledge impressed me greatly, and the severe exactness of his method of lecturing was quite to my taste. I do not know that I have ever felt so much respect for anybody as a teacher before or since. I worked hard to obtain his approbation, and he was extremely kind and helpful to the youngster who, I am afraid, took up more of his time than he had any right to do. It was he who suggested the publication of my first scientific paper—a very little one—in the Medical Gazette of 1845, and most kindly corrected the literary faults which abounded in it, short as it was; for at that time, and for many years afterwards, I detested the trouble of writing, and would take no pains over it.” – Huxley’s Autobiography
Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake (1846 – 1850)
Impoverished and in debt, at the age of 20 Huxley decided to join the Royal Navy, which would at least provide him with income.
Interviewed by Sir William Burnett, the Physician General of the Royal Navy, Huxley was accepted.
Huxley was appointed Surgeon’s Mate (an assistant surgeon) on the HMS Rattlesnake on its voyage of exploration of New Guinea and Australia, departing December 11, 1846.
Surgeons were normally also the naturalists on board ships of exploration, expected to make observations and collect samples. Huxley decided to concentrate on marine invertebrates.
The voyage was down the west coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and across the Indian Ocean to Tasmania (June 24, 1847).
The HMS Rattlesnake (1822)
Life on the HMS Rattlesnake
“I wonder if it is possible for the mind of man to conceive anything more degradingly offensive than the condition of us 150 men, shut up in this wooden box, being watered with hot water, as we are now. … The lower and main decks are completely unventilated: a sort of solution of man in steam fills them from end to end, and surrounds the lights with a lurid halo. It’s too hot to sleep, and my sole amusement consists in watching the cockroaches, which are in a state of intense excitement and happiness.” – From Huxley’s Diary.
Huxley had a cabin to himself, but he could not stand upright in it.
The captain of the HMS Rattlesnake was the young and distinguished Owen Stanley, who was kind, energetic, idealistic, and hardworking. He liked Huxley and was very helpful to him. The other officers mostly regarded Huxley as a troublesome crank, who did things they didn’t like, such as leaving specimens on the dock to dry.
Illness eventually caused Stanley to relinquish command of the ship, and both his body and his mind declined until, in March 1850, he died at Sydney, Australia.
Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake …
After a brief stop in Tasmania (where the Captain visited his brother), the ship went to Sydney, staying in the area about three months. The colonial ladies threw balls for the young officers.
At one party Huxley met Miss Henrietta Anne Heathorn and was immediately taken with her. Huxley asked her for a dance but her brother had called up the horses to leave, so Huxley made her promise to let him have the first dance the next time they met. She was wearing a red camellia which he begged to have, and kept all his life.
By their fifth meeting they were engaged, with Huxley promising to bring her to Britain when he could afford to be married.
Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake …
Huxley began writing up results from his marine studies on jellyfish and other marine invertebrates, sending them to the British naturalist Edward Forbes (1815 – 1854), active in the Geological Society of London and a professor of botany at King’s College, London. Forbes arranged for the publication of Huxley’s results, which made him famous, so that when he returned to England he was quickly named a Fellow of the Royal Society, in1850 at the age of 25. The next year he received the prestigious Royal Society Medal.
Huxley's major paper was On the anatomy and the affinities of the family of Medusae, published in 1849 in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Huxley united the Hydroid and Sertularian polyps with the Medusae to form a class to which he subsequently gave the name of Hydrozoa. The connection he made was that all the members of the class consisted of two cell layers, enclosing a central cavity or stomach.
Huxley in London …
Huxley had no job, but managed for several years to continue on the payroll of the Royal Navy, mostly writing up his results.
He became acquainted with some of the leading scientists of the day, such as the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, the physicist John Tyndall, and eventually Darwin and Lyell and others. He also began a life-long friendship with Herbert Spencer.
Refusing to return to active service – he wanted to be a scientist – Huxley was discharged from the Royal Navy. Now he had to scrounge for money, by working for publishers and lecturing and carrying out various duties for scientific societies.
Huxley in London …
He wrote to his sister:
“There is no chance of living by science. I have been loth to believe it, but it is so. There are not more than four or five offices in London which a Zoologist or Comparative Anatomist can hold and live by. Owen, who has a European reputation, second only to that of Cuvier, gets as Hunterian Professor £300 a year! which is less than the salary of many a bank clerk.”
Huxley was offered (low-paying) professorships at several institutions outside of London, but turned them down, preferring to remain in London.
Huxley in London …
In 1854, when Huxley’s mentor Edward Forbes, Professor of Natural History at the new (1850) Royal School of Mines in London, was offered a long-desired position at Edinburgh, Huxley was given his courses and eventually his professorship. Over the years Huxley held many other positions simultaneously at the Royal Institution, the Royal College of Surgeons, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, etc.
Edward Forbes (1815 – 1854)
Bad News and Good News
Unfortunately, Edward Forbes died soon after beginning his professorship at Edinburgh, at the age of 39.
Huxley was then offered the position at a tempting salary of £ 1000, but was not interested, especially as the London authorities immediately matched the offer, providing Huxley with a measure of financial stability.
Huxley remained faithful to the London school and never left it, despite good offers in later years from many other great universities, including Oxford and Harvard.
In 1854 Henrietta Heathorn’s father brought her to London, providing the opportunity for Huxley to marry her.
Henrietta was very ill when she arrived in England and one physician gave her six months to live. Huxley decided to marry her anyway and give her a happy six months, but she eventually recovered and outlived him by 20 years, living to the age of 90. They were married in July, 1855.
Huxley’s friends referred to his family as, simply, “The Happy Family.” Huxley’s devotion to his wife and children was obvious and remarkable. The confirmed bachelor, Herbert Spencer, also was devoted to “Netty.”
Noel Huxley (1856–1860), died aged 4. Huxley was buried near his son’s grave.
Jessie Oriana Huxley (1856–1927), married architect Fred Waller in 1877.
Marian Huxley (1859–1887), married the artist John Collier in 1879, had one child, and died of pneumonia in 1887.
Leonard Huxley, (1860–1933) author and father of three notable sons (Aldous, Julian, and Andrew).
Rachel Huxley (1862–1934) married civil engineer Alfred Eckersley in 1884, he died in 1895.
Henrietta (Nettie) Huxley (1863–1940), married Harold Roller, travelled Europe as a singer.
Henry Huxley (1865–1946), became a fashionable general practitioner in London.
Ethel Huxley (1866–1941), married the artist John Collier (widower of her sister Marian) in 1889, in Norway.
First marriage to Julia Arnold (related to Matthew Arnold); their children were the biologist Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (born in 1887), a son Noel Trevene (born in 1889, committed suicide in 1914), the writer Aldous Huxley (born in 1894), and a daughter Margaret Arnold Huxley (1899 – 1981). Julia Arnold died of cancer in 1908.
Second marriage to Rosalind Bruce; they had two sons: David Bruce Huxley (born 1915) and the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Andrew Fielding Huxley (born 1917).
Leonard’s major works were the Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley (3 volumes) and Life and Letters of Joseph Dalton Hooker (2 volumes).
(1850 – 1934)
Noted Pre-Raphaelite painter, particularly notable for his many portraits of famous persons.
He was criticized for his use of small, almost unnoticeable brushstrokes.
This was John Collier’s portrait of his father-in-law, Thomas Henry Huxley.
Two portraits of Collier’s first wife, Marian Huxley.
Pencil drawing of Thomas Henry Huxley by his daughter, Marian Huxley Collier
“Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter”
Lady Godiva by John Collier, ca. 1898)
Tannhauser in the Venusberg
“The Cheat” by John Collier
“The Prodigal Daughter” by John Collier
“The Sentence of Death” by John Collier
“The Confession” by John Collier
“The Laboratory” by John Collier
Richard Owen (1804 – 1892)
A great British biologist, comparative anatomist, and paleontologist.
Started in medicine (to Edinburgh in 1824, shortly before Darwin). After becoming assistant to the curator of the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, he became an anatomist (“the British Cuvier”).
Sir Richard Owen (1804 – 1892)
1836 – Becomes Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons.
1849 – Succeeds William Clift as the conservator of the museum at the Royal College of Surgeons.
1856 – Becomes superintendent of the natural history department of the British museum.
1881 – The British Museum of Natural History (now, the Natural History Museum) is established, largely through Owen’s efforts, and is notable as a museum for the public.
1884 – Knighted by QueenVictoria
The Character of Richard Owen
Often mean, vindictive, malicious, deceitful, and often failed to give credit to others. Voted off the councils of the Zoological Society and Royal Society for not giving credit to Chaning Pearce for having discovered belemnites; this was in his paper on belemnites that earned him the Royal Medal in 1846.
Very orthodox in his religious views and very conservative politically and socially.
Opposed Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and, in particular, the idea that humans were descended from primate apes. He lost a lengthy argument with Huxley about the morphology of apes and humans.
Richard Owen (who lectured in his academic robes) with a giant moa skeleton.
The moa was a large, flightless bird from New Zealand.
Back to Charles Darwin …
(More on Huxley later)
In the 1850s Darwin continued gathering information supporting his theory, in preparation for a major book on the subject.
At the urging of Lyell, he began writing the book in 1856, a project that would have taken him quite a few years to complete, except for a major interruption in 1858.
In the 1850s, while working on the Cirripedia, Darwin continued gathering information supporting his theory, in preparation for a major book on the subject.
With the Cirripedia project finished after eight years, at the urging of Lyell, Darwin began writing his “big species book” – tentatively entitled Natural Selection – in 1856, a project that would have taken him quite a few years to complete, except for a major interruption in 1858.
“Early in 1856 Lyell advised me to write out my views pretty fully, and I began at once to do so on a scale three or four times as extensive as that which was afterwards followed in my Origin of Species; yet it was only an abstract of the materials which I had collected, and I got through about half the work on this scale. But my plans were overthrown, for early in the summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent me an essay "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type;" and this essay contained exactly the same theory as mine. Mr. Wallace expressed the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I should sent it to Lyell for perusal.” – Autobiography
Alfred Russel Wallace
Born 8 January 1823 (Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales)
Died 7 November 1913, age 90
14 years younger than Darwin, outlived him by 31 years.
Considered by evolutionary biologists as an independent co-discoverer of the Law of Natural Selection.
Regarded as the premier “Darwinist” among Darwin’s colleagues, though – to Darwin’s chagrin – he didn’t think the human mind was the result of evolution.
1848 (age 25) 1878 (age 55) 1913 (age 90).
Alfred Russel Wallace
Wallace was the author of 22 books:
2 Books on Botany:
Palm Trees of the Amazon and Their Uses (1853)
Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes (2 volumes; 1908)
2 Books on Natural History:
A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, with an Account of the Native Tribes, and Observations on the Climate, Geology, and Natural History of the Amazon Valley (1853)
The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise; a Narrative of Travel with Studies of Man and Nature (2 volumes; 1869) continued . . .
6 Books on Evolutionary Theory:
Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection: A Series of Essays (1870)
Tropical Nature, and Other Essays (1878)
Darwinism: An Exposition of the Theory of Natural Selection with Some of its Applications (1889)
Natural Selection and Tropical Nature: Essays on Descriptive and Theoretical Biology (1891)
Studies Scientific and Social (2 volumes; 1900)
The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose (1910)