Project Gutenberg's Darwin and Modern Science, by A. C. Seward and Others


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Charles Darwin born at Shrewsbury, February 12.


"At 8 1/2 years old I went to Mr Case's school." (A day-school at Shrewsbury kept by the Rev G. Case, Minister of the Unitarian Chapel.)


"I was at school at Shrewsbury under a great scholar, Dr Butler; I learnt absolutely nothing, except by amusing myself by reading and experimenting in Chemistry."


"As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely took me away at a rather earlier age than usual, and sent me (Oct. 1825) to Edinburgh University with my brother, where I stayed for two years."


Began residence at Christ's College, Cambridge.

"I went to Cambridge early in the year 1828, and soon became acquainted with Professor Henslow...Nothing could be more simple, cordial and unpretending than the encouragement which he afforded to all young naturalists."

"During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted, as far as the academical studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh and at school."

"In order to pass the B.A. Examination, it was...necessary to get up Paley's 'Evidences of Christianity,' and his 'Moral Philosophy'... The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the academical course which...was of the least use to me in the education of my mind."


Passed the examination for the B.A. degree in January and kept the following terms.

"I gained a good place among the oi polloi or crowd of men who do not go in for honours."

"I am very busy,...and see a great deal of Henslow, whom I do not know whether I love or respect most."

Dec. 27. "Sailed from England on our circumnavigation," in H.M.S. "Beagle", a barque of 235 tons carrying 6 guns, under Capt. FitzRoy.

"There is indeed a tide in the affairs of men."


Oct. 4. "Reached Shrewsbury after absence of 5 years and 2 days."

"You cannot imagine how gloriously delightful my first visit was at home; it was worth the banishment."

Dec. 13. Went to live at Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Street).

"The only evil I found in Cambridge was its being too pleasant."


"On my return home (in the 'Beagle') in the autumn of 1836 I immediately began to prepare my journal for publication, and then saw how many facts indicated the common descent of species... In July (1837) 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... Had been greatly struck from about the month of previous March on character of South American fossils, and species on Galapagos Archipelago. These facts (especially latter), origin of all my views."

"On March 7, 1837 I took lodgings in (36) Great Marlborough Street in London, and remained there for nearly two years, until I was married."


"In October, 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."


Married at Maer (Staffordshire) to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood, daughter of Josiah Wedgwood.

"I marvel at my good fortune that she, so infinitely my superior in every single moral quality, consented to be my wife. She has been my wise adviser and cheerful comforter throughout life, which without her would have been during a very long period a miserable one from ill-health. She has earned the love of every soul near her" (Autobiography).

Dec. 31. "Entered 12 Upper Gower street" (now 110 Gower street, London). "There never was so good a house for me, and I devoutly trust you (his future wife) will approve of it equally. The little garden is worth its weight in gold."

Published "Journal and Researches", being Vol. III. of the "Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.S. 'Adventure' and 'Beagle'"...

Publication of the "Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Beagle'", Part II., "Mammalia", by G.R. Waterhouse, with a "Notice of their habits and ranges", by Charles Darwin.


Contributed Geological Introduction to Part I. ("Fossil Mammalia") of the "Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Beagle'" by Richard Owen.


"In June 1842 I first allowed myself the satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of my (species) 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 (1876) possess." (The first draft of "The Origin of Species", edited by Mr Francis Darwin, will be published this year (1909) by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press.)

Sept. 14. Settled at the village of Down in Kent.

"I think I was never in a more perfectly quiet country."

Publication of "The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs"; being Part I. of the "Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle".


Publication of "Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands visited during the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Beagle'"; being Part II. of the "Geology of the Voyage of the 'Beagle'".

"I think much more highly of my book on Volcanic Islands since Mr Judd, by far the best judge on the subject in England, has, as I hear, learnt much from it." (Autobiography, 1876.)


Publication of the "Journal of Researches" as a separate book.


Publication of "Geological Observations on South America"; being Part III. of the "Geology of the Voyage of the 'Beagle'".


Publication of a "Monograph of the Fossil Lepadidae" and of a "Monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia".

"I fear the study of the Cirripedia will ever remain 'wholly unapplied,' and yet I feel that such study is better than castle-building."


Publication of Monographs of the Balanidae and Verrucidae.

"I worked steadily on this subject for...eight years, and ultimately published two thick volumes, describing all the known living species, and two thin quartos on the extinct species... My work was of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the "Origin of Species" the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless, I doubt whether the work was worth the consumption of so much time."

"From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arranging my huge pile of notes, to observing, and to experimenting in relation to the transmutation of species."


"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'."


Joint paper by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection," communicated to the Linnean Society by Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker.

"I was at first very unwilling to consent (to the communication of his MS. to the Society) as I thought Mr Wallace might consider my doing so unjustifiable, for I did not then know how generous and noble was his disposition."

"July 20 to Aug. 12 at Sandown (Isle of Wight) began abstract of Species book."


Nov. 24. Publication of "The Origin of Species" (1250 copies).

"Oh, good heavens, the relief to my head and body to banish the whole subject from my mind!... But, alas, how frequent, how almost universal it is in an author to persuade himself of the truth of his own dogmas. My only hope is that I certainly see many difficulties of gigantic stature."


Publication of the second edition of the "Origin" (3000 copies).

Publication of a "Naturalist's Voyage".


Publication of the third edition of the "Origin" (2000 copies).

"I am going to write a little book... on Orchids, and to-day I hate them worse than everything."


Publication of the book "On the various contrivances by which Orchids are fertilised by Insects".


Read paper before the Linnean Society "On the Movements and Habits of Climbing plants". (Published as a book in 1875.)


Publication of the fourth edition of the "Origin" (1250 copies).


"I have sent the MS. of my big book, and horridly, disgustingly big it will be, to the printers."

Publication of the "Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication".

"About my book, I will give you (Sir Joseph Hooker) a bit of advice. Skip the whole of Vol. I, except the last chapter, (and that need only be skimmed), and skip largely in the 2nd volume; and then you will say it is a very good book."

"Towards the end of the work I give my well-abused hypothesis of Pangenesis. An unverified hypothesis is of little or no value; but if anyone should hereafter be led to make observations by which some such hypothesis could be established, I shall have done good service, as an astonishing number of isolated facts can be thus connected together and rendered intelligible."


Publication of the fifth edition of the "Origin".


Publication of "The Descent of Man".

"Although in the 'Origin of Species' the derivation of any particular species is never discussed, yet I thought it best, in order that no honourable man should accuse me of concealing my views, to add that by the work 'light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history'."


Publication of the sixth edition of the "Origin".

Publication of "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals".


Publication of the second edition of "The Descent of Man".

"The new edition of the "Descent" has turned out an awful job. It took me ten days merely to glance over letters and reviews with criticisms and new facts. It is a devil of a job."

Publication of the second edition of "The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs".


Publication of "Insectivorous Plants".

"I begin to think that every one who publishes a book is a fool."

Publication of the second edition of "Variation in Animals and Plants".

Publication of "The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants" as a separate book.


Wrote Autobiographical Sketch ("Life and Letters", Vol. I., Chap II.).

Publication of "The Effects of Cross and Self fertilisation".

"I now (1881) believe, however,...that I ought to have insisted more strongly than I did on the many adaptations for self-fertilisation."

Publication of the second edition of "Observations on Volcanic Islands".


Publication of "The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the same species".

"I do not suppose that I shall publish any more books... I cannot endure being idle, but heaven knows whether I am capable of any more good work."

Publication of the second edition of the Orchid book.


Publication of the second edition of "The Effects of Cross and Self fertilisation".


Publication of an English translation of Ernst Krause's "Erasmus Darwin", with a notice by Charles Darwin. "I am EXTREMELY glad that you approve of the little 'Life' of our Grandfather, for I have been repenting that I ever undertook it, as the work was quite beyond my tether." (To Mr Francis Galton, Nov. 14, 1879.)


Publication of "The Power of Movement in Plants".

"It has always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of organised beings."

Publication of the second edition of "The Different Forms of Flowers".


Wrote a continuation of the Autobiography.

Publication of "The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms".

"It is the completion of a short paper read before the Geological Society more than forty years ago, and has revived old geological thoughts... As far as I can judge it will be a curious little book."


Charles Darwin died at Down, April 19, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, April 26, in the north aisle of the Nave a few feet from the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.

"As for myself, I believe that I have acted rightly in steadily following and devoting my life to Science. I feel no remorse from having committed any great sin, but have often and often regretted that I have not done more direct good to my fellow creatures."

The quotations in the above Epitome are taken from the Autobiography and published Letters:—

"The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin", including an Autobiographical Chapter. Edited by his son, Francis Darwin, 3 Vols., London, 1887.

"Charles Darwin": His life told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a selected series of his published Letters. Edited by his son, Francis Darwin, London, 1902.

"More Letters of Charles Darwin". A record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished Letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward, 2 Vols., London, 1903.

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