Charles Darwin

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Charles Darwin—Naturalist

February 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, England, 3:00 AM (Source: according to LMR, given in Dell, April, 1949); 6:00 AM, LMT. (Source: According to Marc Penfield, the time is speculative, and possibly from American Astrology Magazine, 1949); Rogers speculates Virgo ASC in Astrological Quarterly, Summerr/64) Died, April 19, 1882, Kent, England.          

(Speculative Ascendants, Sagittarius, Capricorn or Virgo;  with Moon in Capricorn or perhaps Aquarius; Sun and Mercury in Aquarius; Venus in Aries; Mars in Libra; Jupiter and Pluto in Pisces; Saturn and Neptune in Sagittarius; Uranus in Scorpio).

Charles Darwin is best known for his book “The Origin of the Species” in which he promotes his theory of evolution known as “natural selection”. Great controversy followed the publication of this book, and grew even more intense after the publication of “The Descent of Man” Darwin’s writings were responsible for a revolution in the field of biological science. The field of orthodox religion was especially challenged with his thought that man was not a special creation but had evolved from the “apes”—or some original ancestor related to the lemurs. 

It is probably not possible to establish the accuracy of the Ascendant nor of the Moon which would change to Aquarius if the Virgo Ascendant were correct. We can realize, however, the combination of the forward looking, scientific and potentially revolutionary Aquarius, in combination with the fifth ray—very probably Darwin’s soul ray. He was responsible for a revolution in the field of biological science and a drastic alteration of humanity’s philosophical world-view (a development which fits well with the Capricorn rising chart which places revolutionary Uranus in H9—the house of perspective and broad understanding.)      


A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
(Capricorn Moon)

A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, - a mere heart of stone.
(Capricorn Moon. Venus in Aries.)

Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.

I am turned into a sort of machine for observing facts and grinding out conclusions.
(Mercury conjunct Pluto in Pisces, trine Uranus conjunct Ascendant.)

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

In the survival of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurring struggle for existence, we see a powerful and ever-acting form of selection.

It has been a bitter mortification for me to digest the conclusion that the 'race is for the strong' and that I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in science.

We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

A hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits.

Referring to the ancestry of humankind, according to Darwin’s theory. “For my own part,” Darwin wrote, “I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey ... or that old baboon ... as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.”

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

Man is more courageous, pugnacious, and energetic than woman, and has a more inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger, but whether or not proportionally to his larger body, has not, I believe, been fully ascertained. In woman the face is rounder; the jaws and the base of skull smaller; the outlines of the body rounder, in parts more prominent; and her pelvis is broader than in man; but this latter character may perhaps be considered rather as a primary than a secondary sexual character. She comes to maturity at an earlier age than man.

From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system—with all these exalted powers—man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

There can be no doubt that the difference between the mind of the lowest man and that of the highest animal is immense. An anthropomorphous ape, if he could take a dispassionate view of his own case, would admit that though he could form an artful plan to plunder a garden—though he could use stones for fighting or for breaking open nuts, yet that the thought of fashioning a stone into a tool was quite beyond his scope. Still less, as he would admit, could he follow out a train of metaphysical reasoning, or solve a mathematical problem, or reflect on God, or admire a grand natural scene. Some apes, however, would probably declare that they could and did admire the beauty of the coloured skin and fur of their partners in marriage. They would admit, that though they could make other apes understand by cries some of their perceptions and simpler wants, the notion of expressing definite ideas by definite sounds had never crossed their minds. They might insist that they were ready to aid their fellow-apes of the same troop in many ways, to risk their lives for them, and to take charge of their orphans; but they would be forced to acknowledge that disinterested love for all living creatures, the most noble attribute of man, was quite beyond their comprehension. Nevertheless, the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, is one of degree and not of kind.

The expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.

Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.

As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.

I love fools’ experiments. I am always making them.

Physiological experiment on animals is justifiable for real investigation, but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity.

We will now discuss in a little more detail the Struggle for Existence.

I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection.

Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God.

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree.

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

A man's friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.

Mathematics seems to endow one with something like a new sense.

An American Monkey after getting drunk on Brandy would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

From the first dawn of life, all organic beings are found to resemble each other in descending degrees, so that they can be classed in groups under groups. This classification is evidently not arbitrary like the grouping of stars in constellations.

About to start the Origin of Species in 1856: What a book a Devil's Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low & horridly cruel works of nature!

Every new body of discovery is mathematical in form, because there is no other guidance we can have.

We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention and curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals.

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would have thus been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly plowed, and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
(Uranus conjunct Ascendant)

The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason.

It has been a bitter mortification for me to digest the conclusion that the 'race is for the strong' and that I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in science. is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.

Without speculation there is no good and original observation.

The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labor for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be overestimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages.

I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it.

"[T]he lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies, kittens, lambs, &c., when playing together, like our own children. Even insects play together, as has been described by that excellent observer, P. Huber, who saw ants chasing and pretending to bite each other, like so many puppies."

“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic”

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

“How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children”
(Venus in 5th house)

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed”

“A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives - of approving of some and disapproving of others”

“In the survival of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurring struggle for existence, we see a powerful and ever-acting form of selection.”

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”

“I was a young man with uninformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.”

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world”

“I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.”

“It is a cursed evil to any man to become as absorbed in any subject as I am in mine”
Charles Darwin quote

“Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his means of subsistence”

“Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress”

“I fully subscribe to the judgement of those writers who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower animal, the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important....It is the most noble of all the attributes of man.”

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than woman can attain - whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses”

“Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such fine graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.”

“The most powerful natural species are those that adapt to environmental change without losing their fundamental identity which gives them their competitive advantage.”

“I am not the least afraid to die.”

“It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the 'plan of creation,' 'unity of design,' etc..”

“I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science. It is a mere rag of an hypothesis with as many flaws and holes as sound parts.”

“The explanation of types of structure in classes - as resulting from the will of the Deity, to create animals on certain plans - is no explanation. It has not the character of a physical law and is therefore utterly useless. It foretells nothing because we know nothing of the will of the Deity, how it acts and whether constant or inconstant like that of man.”

“[The wedge document calls the proposition that human beings are created in the image of God] one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization is built. ... not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry and environment.”

“"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down".

“For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I arrived.”

“It occurred to me, in 1837, that something might perhaps be made of this question (the origin of the species) by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it”

“I must begin with a good body of facts and not from a principle (in which I always suspect some fallacy) and then as much deduction as you please.”

“The belief in God has often been advanced as not only the greatest but the most complete of all the distinctions between man and the lower animals. It is, however, impossible to maintain that this belief is instinctive in man. The idea of a universal and beneficent creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man until he has been elevated by long, continued culture.”


ICharles Darwin in 1854, 5 years before he published The Origin of Species.
Born 12 February 1809
Mount House, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England
Died 19 April 1882
Down House, Kent, England

Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by producing considerable evidence that species originated through evolutionary change, at the same time proposing the scientific theory that natural selection is the mechanism by which such change occurs. This theory is now considered a cornerstone of biology.

Darwin developed an interest in natural history while studying first medicine, then theology, at university. Darwin's observations on his five-year voyage on the Beagle brought him eminence as a geologist and fame as a popular author. His biological finds led him to study the transmutation of species and in 1838 he conceived his theory of natural selection. Fully aware that others had been severely punished for such "heretical" ideas, he confided only in his closest friends and continued his research to meet anticipated objections. However, in 1858 the information that Alfred Russel Wallace had developed a similar theory forced an early joint publication of the theory.

His 1859 book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (usually abbreviated to The Origin of Species) established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, continued his research, and wrote a series of books on plants and animals, including humankind, notably The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

In recognition of Darwin's preeminence, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.

The seven-year-old Charles Darwin in 1816, one year before the sudden loss of his mother.Main article: Charles Darwin's education
Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on 12 February 1809 at his family home, the Mount House.[1] He was the fifth of six children of wealthy society doctor Robert Darwin and Susannah Darwin (née Wedgwood). He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin on his father's side, and of Josiah Wedgwood on his mother's side, both from the Darwin — Wedgwood family, a prominent English family which supported the Unitarian church. His mother died when he was only eight. He went to the nearby Shrewsbury School the next year as a boarder.

In 1825, after spending the summer as an apprentice doctor, helping his father with treating the poor of Shropshire, Darwin went to the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. However, his revulsion at the brutality of surgery led him to neglect his medical studies. He learned taxidermy from John Edmonstone, a freed black slave who told him exciting tales of the South American rainforest.[2] In Darwin's second year he became active in student societies for naturalists. He became an avid pupil of Robert Edmund Grant, who pioneered development of the theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and of Charles' grandfather Erasmus concerning evolution by acquired characteristics. Darwin took part in Grant's investigations of the life cycle of marine animals on the shores of the Firth of Forth which found evidence for homology, the radical theory that all animals have similar organs and differ only in complexity. In March 1827, Darwin made a presentation to the Plinian society of his own discovery that the black spores often found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech. He also sat in on Robert Jameson's natural history course, learning about stratigraphic geology, receiving training in how to classify plants, and assisting with work on the extensive collections of the Museum of Edinburgh University, one of the largest museums in Europe at the time.

In 1827, his father, unhappy that his younger son had no interest in becoming a physician, shrewdly enrolled him in a Bachelor of Arts course at Christ's College, University of Cambridge to qualify as a clergyman. This was a sensible career move at a time when many Anglican parsons were provided with a comfortable income, and when most naturalists in England were clergymen who saw it as part of their duties to explore the wonders of God's creation. At Cambridge, Darwin preferred riding and shooting to studying. Along with his cousin William Darwin Fox, he became engrossed in the craze at the time for the competitive collecting of beetles, and Fox introduced him to the Reverend John Stevens Henslow, professor of botany, for expert advice on beetles. Darwin subsequently joined Henslow's natural history course, became his favourite pupil and came to be known as "the man who walks with Henslow". When exams began to loom, Darwin focused more on his studies and received private instruction from Henslow. Darwin became particularly enthused by the writings of William Paley, including the argument of divine design in nature. In his finals in January 1831, he performed well in theology and, having scraped through in classics, mathematics and physics, came tenth out of a pass list of 178.

Residential requirements kept Darwin at Cambridge until June. In keeping with Henslow's example and advice, he was in no rush to take holy orders. Inspired by Alexander von Humboldt's Personal Narrative, he planned to visit the Madeira Islands to study natural history in the tropics with some classmates after graduation. To prepare himself for this project, Darwin joined the geology course of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick, a strong proponent of divine design, then in the summer went with him to assist in mapping strata in Wales. Darwin was surveying strata on his own when his plans to visit Madeira were dashed by a message that his intended companion had died, but on his return home he received another letter. Henslow had recommended Darwin for the unpaid position of gentleman's companion to Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle, on a two-year expedition to chart the coastline of South America which would give Darwin valuable opportunities to develop his career as a naturalist. His father objected to the voyage, regarding it as a waste of time, but was persuaded by his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood, to agree to his son's participation. This voyage became a five-year expedition that would lead to dramatic changes in many fields of science.

Journey on the Beagle
As HMS Beagle surveyed the coasts of South America, Darwin began to theorise about the wonders of nature around him.The Beagle survey took five years, two-thirds of which Darwin spent exploring on land. He studied a rich variety of geological features, fossils and living organisms, and met a wide range of people, both native and colonial. He methodically collected an enormous number of specimens, many of them new to science. This established his reputation as a naturalist and made him one of the precursors of the field of ecology, particularly the notion of biocoenosis. His extensive detailed notes showed his gift for theorising and formed the basis for his later work, as well as providing social, political and anthropological insights into the areas he visited.

On the voyage, Darwin read Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, which explained geological features as the outcome of gradual processes over huge periods of time, and wrote home that he was seeing landforms "as though he had the eyes of Lyell": he saw stepped plains of shingle and seashells in Patagonia as raised beaches; in Chile, he experienced an earthquake and noted mussel-beds stranded above high tide showing that the land had been raised; and even high in the Andes, he was able to collect seashells. He theorised that coral atolls form on sinking volcanic mountains, an idea he confirmed when the Beagle surveyed the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

In South America he discovered fossils of gigantic extinct mammals including megatheria and glyptodons in strata which showed no signs of catastrophe or change in climate. At the time, he thought them similar to African species, but after the voyage Richard Owen showed that the remains were of animals related to living creatures in the same area. In Argentina two species of rhea had separate but overlapping territories. On the Galápagos Islands Darwin found that mockingbirds differed from one island to another, and on returning to Britain he was shown that Galápagos tortoises and finches were also in distinct species based on the individual islands they inhabited. The Australian marsupial rat-kangaroo and platypus were such strikingly unusual animals that on 19 January 1836, in New South Wales, he recorded this in his journal:

I had been lying on a sunny bank & was reflecting on the strange character of the Animals of this country as compared with the rest of the World. An unbeliever in every thing beyond his own reason, might exclaim ‘Surely two distinct Creators must have been [at] work; their object however has been the same & certainly the end in each case is complete’.

He puzzled over all he saw, and, in the first edition of The Voyage of the Beagle, he explained species distribution in light of Charles Lyell's ideas of "centres of creation". In later editions of this Journal he foreshadowed his use of Galápagos Islands fauna as evidence for evolution: "one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends."

Three native missionaries were returned by the Beagle to Tierra del Fuego. They had become "civilised" in England over the previous two years, yet their relatives appeared to Darwin to be "miserable, degraded savages". Within a year, the missionaries had reverted to their harsh previous way of life, yet they preferred this and did not want to return to England. This experience, his detestation of the slavery he saw elsewhere in South America, and other problems he found about such as the effect of European settlement on aborigines in New Zealand and Australia, persuaded him that there was no moral justification for the mistreating of others based on the concept of race. He now thought that humanity was not as far removed from animals as his clerical friends believed.

While on board the ship, Darwin suffered from seasickness. In October 1833 he caught a fever in Argentina, and in July 1834, while returning from the Andes down to Valparaíso, he fell ill and spent a month in bed. From 1837 onwards Darwin was repeatedly incapacitated with episodes of stomach pains, vomiting, severe boils, palpitations, trembling and other symptoms. These symptoms particularly affected him at times of stress, such as when attending meetings or dealing with controversy over his theory. The cause of Darwin's illness was unknown during his lifetime, and attempts at treatment had little success. Recent speculation has suggested he caught Chagas disease from insect bites in South America, leading to the later problems. Other possible causes include psychobiological problems and Ménière's disease.

Career in science, inception of theory
While still a young man, Charles Darwin joined the scientific élite.While Darwin was still on the voyage, Henslow carefully fostered his former pupil's reputation by giving selected naturalists access to the fossil specimens and printed copies of Darwin's geological writings. When the Beagle returned on 2 October 1836, Darwin was a celebrity in scientific circles. He visited his home in Shrewsbury and his father organised investments so that Darwin could become a self-funded gentleman scientist. Darwin then went to Cambridge and persuaded Henslow to work on botanical descriptions of modern plants he had collected. Afterwards Darwin went round the London institutions to find the best naturalists available to describe his other collections for timely publication. An eager Charles Lyell met Darwin on 29 October and introduced him to the up-and-coming anatomist Richard Owen. After working on Darwin's collection of fossil bones at his Royal College of Surgeons, Owen caused great surprise by revealing that some were from gigantic extinct rodents and sloths. This enhanced Darwin's reputation. With Lyell's enthusiastic backing, Darwin read his first paper to the Geological Society of London on 4 January 1837, arguing that the South American landmass was slowly rising. On the same day Darwin presented his mammal and bird specimens to the Zoological Society. The Mammalia were taken on by George R. Waterhouse. Though the birds seemed almost an afterthought, the ornithologist John Gould revealed that what Darwin had taken to be wrens, blackbirds and slightly differing finches from the Galápagos were all finches, but each was a separate species. Others on the Beagle, including FitzRoy, had also collected these birds and had been more careful with their notes, enabling Darwin to determine from which island each species had come.

In London, Darwin stayed with his freethinking brother Erasmus and at dinner parties met inspiring savants who thought that God preordained life by natural laws rather than ad hoc miraculous creations. His brother's lady friend Miss Harriet Martineau was a writer whose stories promoted Malthusian Whig Poor Law reforms. Scientific circles were buzzing with ideas of transmutation of species controversially associated with Radical unrest. Darwin preferred the respectability of his friends the Cambridge Dons, even though his ideas were pushing beyond their belief that natural history must justify religion and social order.

Darwin's first sketch of an evolutionary tree from his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837)On 17 February 1837, Lyell used his presidential address at the Geographical Society to present Owen's findings to date on Darwin's fossils, noting particularly the unexpected implication that extinct species were related to current species in the same locality. At the same meeting Darwin was elected to the Council of the Society. He had already been invited by FitzRoy to contribute a Journal based on his field notes as the natural history section of the captain's account of the Beagle's voyage. He now plunged into writing a book on South American Geology. At the same time he speculated on transmutation in his Red Notebook which he had begun on the Beagle. Another project he started was getting the expert reports on his collection published as a multivolume Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, and Henslow used his contacts to arrange a Treasury grant of £1,000 to sponsor this. Darwin finished writing his Journal around 20 June when King William IV died and the Victorian era began. In mid-July he began his secret "B" notebook on transmutation, and developed the hypothesis that where every island in the Galápagos Archipelago had its own kind of tortoise, these had originated from a single tortoise species and had adapted to life on the different islands in different ways.

Under pressure with organising Zoology and correcting proofs of his Journal, Darwin's health suffered. On 20 September 1837 he suffered "palpitations of the heart" and left for a month of recuperation in the country. He visited Maer Hall where his invalid aunt was being cared for by her spinster daughter Emma Wedgwood, and entertained his relatives with tales of his travels. His uncle Jos pointed out an area of ground where cinders had disappeared under loam and suggested that this might have been the work of earthworms. This led Darwin to the idea for a talk which he gave to the Geological Society on 1 November, on the unusually mundane subject of worm casts. This work is considered to be the first scholarly treatment of soil forming processes. He had avoided taking on official posts which would have taken up valuable time, but by March William Whewell had recruited him as Secretary of the Geological Society. Illness prompted Darwin to take a break from the pressure of work and he went "geologising" in Scotland. In glorious weather he visited Glen Roy to see the phenomenon known as "roads" which he (incorrectly) identified as raised beaches.

Charles chose to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.Fully recuperated, he returned home to Shrewsbury. Scientifically pondering his career and prospects he drew up a list with columns headed "Marry" and "Not Marry". Entries in the pro-marriage column included "constant companion and a friend in old age ... better than a dog anyhow," while listed among the cons were "less money for books" and "terrible loss of time." The pros won out. He discussed the prospect of marriage with his father then went to visit his cousin Emma on 29 July 1838. He did not get around to proposing, but against his father's advice he told her of his ideas on transmutation. While his thoughts and work continued in London over the autumn he suffered repeated bouts of illness. On 11 November he returned and proposed to Emma, once more telling her his ideas. She accepted, but later wrote beseeching him to read from the Gospel of St. John a section on love and following the Way which also states that "If a man abide not in me...they are burned". He sent a warm reply which eased her concern, but she would continue to worry that his lapses of faith could endanger her hope that they would meet in afterlife.

Darwin considered Malthus's argument that human population increases more quickly than food production, leaving people competing for food and making charity useless. He later formulated this in the terms of his biological theory as: "Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his means of subsistence; consequently he is occasionally subjected to a severe struggle for existence, and natural selection will have effected whatever lies within its scope." (Descent of Man, Ch.21) He related this to the findings about species relating to localities, his enquiries into animal breeding, and ideas of Natural "laws of harmony". Towards the end of November 1838 he compared breeders selecting traits to a Malthusian Nature selecting from variants thrown up by "chance" so that "every part of newly acquired structure is fully practised and perfected", and thought this "the most beautiful part of my theory" of how species originated. He went house-hunting and eventually found "Macaw Cottage" in Gower Street, London, then moved his "museum" in over Christmas. He was showing the stress, and Emma wrote urging him to get some rest, almost prophetically remarking "So don't be ill any more my dear Charley till I can be with you to nurse you." On 24 January 1839 he was honoured by being elected as Fellow of the Royal Society and presented his paper on the Roads of Glen Roy.

Marriage and children
Darwin in 1842 with his eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin.On 29 January 1839, Darwin married his cousin Emma Wedgwood at Maer in an Anglican ceremony arranged to also suit the Unitarians. After first living in Gower Street, London, the couple moved on 17 September 1842 to Down House in Downe. The Darwins had ten children, three of whom died early. Many of his surviving children and their grandchildren would later achieve notability themselves (see Darwin — Wedgwood family)

Several of their children suffered illness or weaknesses, and Charles Darwin's fear that this might be due to the closeness of his and Emma's lineage was expressed in his writings on the ill effects of inbreeding and advantages of crossing.

Development of theory
Main article: Development of Darwin's theory
Darwin was now an eminent geologist in the scientific élite of clerical naturalists, settled with a private income, while privately working on his theory. He had a vast amount of work to do, writing up all his findings and supervising the preparation of the multivolume Zoology, which would describe his collections. He embarked on extensive experiments with plants and consultations with animal husbanders, including pigeon and pig breeders, trying to find soundly based answers to all the arguments he anticipated when he presented his theory in public.

When FitzRoy's account was published in May 1839, Darwin's Journal and Remarks was a great success. Later that year it was published on its own, becoming the bestseller today known as The Voyage of the Beagle. In December 1839, as Emma's first pregnancy progressed, Darwin suffered more illness and accomplished little during the following year.

Darwin tried to explain his theory to close friends, but they were slow to show interest and thought that selection must need a divine selector. In 1842 the family moved to rural Down House to escape the pressures of London. Darwin formulated a short "Pencil Sketch" of his theory, and by 1844 had written a 240-page "Essay" that expanded his early ideas on natural selection. Darwin completed his third Geological book in 1846. Assisted by his friend, the young botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, he embarked on a huge study of barnacles. In 1847, Hooker read the "Essay" and sent notes that provided Darwin with the calm critical feedback that he needed.

Darwin feared putting the theory out in an incomplete form, as his ideas about evolution would be highly controversial if any attention was paid to them at all. Other ideas about evolution — especially the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck — had been soundly dismissed by the British scientific community, and were associated with political radicalism. The anonymous publication of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in 1844 created another controversy over radicalism and evolution, and was severely attacked by Darwin's friends who stressed that no reputable scientist would want to be associated with such ideas.

To try to deal with his illness, Darwin went to a spa in Malvern in 1849, and to his surprise found that the two months of water treatment helped. In his work on barnacles he found "homologies" that supported his theory by showing that slightly changed body parts could serve different functions to meet new conditions. Then his treasured daughter Annie fell ill, reawakening his fears that his illness might be hereditary. After a long series of crises, she died and Darwin lost all faith in a beneficent God.

He met the young freethinking naturalist Thomas Huxley who was to become a close friend and ally. Darwin's work on barnacles (Cirripedia) earned him the Royal Society's Royal Medal in 1853, establishing his reputation as a biologist. He completed this study in 1854 and turned his attention to his theory of species.

Announcement and publication of theory
Darwin was forced into early publication of his theory of natural selection.Main article: Publication of Darwin's theory
Darwin found an answer to the problem of how genera forked in an analogy with industrial ideas of division of labour, with specialised varieties each finding their niche so that species could diverge. He experimented with seeds, testing their ability to survive sea-water to transfer species to isolated islands, and bred pigeons to test his ideas of natural selection being comparable to the "artificial selection" used by pigeon breeders.

In the spring of 1856, Lyell read a paper on the Introduction of species by Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist working in Borneo. Lyell urged Darwin to publish his theory to establish precedence. Despite illness, Darwin began a 3-volume book titled Natural Selection, getting specimens and information from naturalists including Wallace and Asa Gray. In December 1857 as Darwin worked on the book he received a letter from Wallace asking if it would delve into human origins. Sensitive to Lyell's fears, Darwin responded that "I think I shall avoid the whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit that it is the highest & most interesting problem for the naturalist." He encouraged Wallace's theorising, saying "without speculation there is no good & original observation." Darwin added that "I go much further than you." His manuscript reached 250,000 words, then on 18 June 1858 he received a paper in which Wallace described the evolutionary mechanism and requested him to send it on to Lyell. Darwin did so, shocked that he had been "forestalled". Though Wallace had not asked for publication, Darwin offered to send it to any journal that Wallace chose. He put matters in the hands of Lyell and Hooker. They agreed on a joint presentation at the Linnean Society on 1 July of On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. Darwin's infant son died and he was unable to attend.

The initial announcement of the theory gained little immediate attention. It was mentioned briefly in a few small reviews, but to most people it seemed much the same as other varieties of evolutionary thought. For the next thirteen months Darwin suffered from ill health and struggled to produce an abstract of his "big book on species". Receiving constant encouragement from his scientific friends, Darwin finally finished his abstract and Lyell arranged to have it published by John Murray. The title was agreed as On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, and when the book went on sale to the trade on 22 November 1859, the stock of 1,250 copies was oversubscribed. At the time "Evolutionism" implied creation without divine intervention, and Darwin avoided using the words "evolution" or "evolve", though the book ends by stating that "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." The book only briefly alluded to the idea that human beings, too, would evolve in the same way as other organisms. Darwin wrote in deliberate understatement that "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history."

A typical satire was the later caricature in Hornet magazine portraying Darwin as a non-human ape.Darwin's book set off a public controversy which he monitored closely, keeping press cuttings of thousands of reviews, articles, satires, parodies and caricatures. Reviewers were quick to pick out the unstated implications of "men from monkeys", though a Unitarian review was favourable and The Times published a glowing review by Huxley which included swipes at Richard Owen, leader of the scientific establishment Huxley was trying to overthrow. Owen initially appeared neutral, but then wrote a review condemning the book.

The Church of England scientific establishment including Darwin's old Cambridge tutors Sedgwick and Henslow reacted against the book, though it was well received by a younger generation of professional naturalists. Then Essays and Reviews by seven liberal Anglican theologians declared that miracles were irrational (and supported the Origin), distracting attention away from Darwin.

The most famous confrontation took place at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford. Professor John William Draper delivered a long lecture about Darwin and social progress, then Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, argued against Darwin. In the ensuing debate Joseph Hooker argued strongly for Darwin and Thomas Huxley established himself as "Darwin's bulldog" – the fiercest defender of evolutionary theory on the Victorian stage. The story is that on being asked by Wilberforce whether he was descended from monkeys on his grandfather's side or his grandmother's side, Huxley muttered: "The Lord has delivered him into my hands" and replied that he "would rather be descended from an ape than from a cultivated man who used his gifts of culture and eloquence in the service of prejudice and falsehood" (this is contested[3]). The story spread around the country: Huxley had said he would rather be an ape than a Bishop.

Many people felt that Darwin's view of nature destroyed the important distinction between man and beast. Darwin himself did not personally defend his theories in public, though he read eagerly about the continuing debates. He was frequently very ill, and mustered support through letters and correspondence. A core circle of scientific friends – Huxley, Hooker, Charles Lyell and Asa Gray – actively pushed his work to the fore of the scientific and public stage, defending him against his many critics in this key scientific controversy of the era, and helping to gain him the honour of the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1864. Darwin's theory also resonated with various movements at the time and became a key fixture of popular culture. The book was translated into many languages and went through numerous reprints. It became a staple scientific text accessible both to a newly curious middle class and to "working men", and was hailed as the most controversial and discussed scientific book ever written.

Further experiments, research and writing
Julia Margaret Cameron's portrait of Darwin.Despite repeated bouts of illness during the last twenty-two years of his life Darwin pressed on with his work. He had published an abstract of his theory, but more controversial aspects of his "big book" were still incomplete. These included explicit evidence of humankind's descent from earlier animals, and exploration of possible causes underlying the development of society and of human mental abilities. He had yet to explain features with no obvious utility other than decorative beauty. His experiments, research and writing continued.

When Darwin's daughter fell ill he set aside his experiments with seedlings and domestic animals to go with her to a seaside resort where he became interested in wild orchids. This developed into an innovative study of how their beautiful flowers served to control insect pollination and ensure cross fertilisation. As with the barnacles, homologous parts served different functions in different species. Back at home he lay on his sickbed in a room filled with experiments on climbing plants. He was visited by a reverent Ernst Haeckel who had spread the gospel of Darwinismus in Germany. Even at Cambridge, students now supported his ideas. Huxley gave "working-men's lectures" to widen the audience, and Wallace remained a supporter but increasingly turned to spiritualism. Variation grew to two huge volumes, forcing him to leave out humankind and sexual selection, but when printed was in huge demand.

The question of human evolution had been taken up by his supporters (and detractors) shortly after the publication of The Origin of Species, but Darwin's own contribution to the subject came more than ten years later with the two-volume The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex published in 1871. In the second volume, Darwin introduced in full his concept of sexual selection to explain the evolution of human culture, the differences between the human sexes, and the differentiation of human races, as well as the beautiful (and seemingly non-adaptive) plumage of birds. A year later Darwin published his last major work, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which focused on the evolution of human psychology and its continuity with to the behaviour of animals. He developed his ideas that the human mind and cultures were developed by natural and sexual selection, an approach which has been revived in the last two decades with the emergence of evolutionary psychology. As he concluded in Descent of Man, Darwin felt that despite all of humankind's "noble qualities" and "exalted powers":

"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."
His evolution-related experiments and investigations culminated in five books on plants, and then his last book returned to the effect worms have on soil levels.

Darwin died in Downe, Kent, England, on 19 April 1882. He had expected to be buried in St Mary's churchyard at Downe, but at the request of Darwin's colleagues, William Spottiswoode (President of the Royal Society) arranged for Darwin to be given a state funeral and buried in Westminster Abbey.

Religious views
The 1851 death of Darwin's daughter, Annie, was the final step in pushing an already doubting Darwin away from the idea of a beneficent God.Charles Darwin came from a Nonconformist background. Though several members of his family were Freethinkers, openly lacking conventional religious beliefs, he did not initially doubt the literal truth of the Bible. He attended a Church of England school, then at Cambridge studied Anglican theology to become a clergyman and was fully convinced by William Paley's teleological argument that design in nature proved the existence of God. However, his beliefs began to shift during his time on board HMS Beagle. He questioned what he saw—wondering, for example, at beautiful deep-ocean creatures created where no one could see them, and shuddering at the sight of a wasp paralysing caterpillars as live food for its eggs; he saw the latter as contradicting Paley's vision of beneficent design. While on the Beagle Darwin was quite orthodox and would quote the Bible as an authority on morality, but had come to see the history in the Old Testament as being false and untrustworthy.

Upon his return, he investigated transmutation of species. He knew that his clerical naturalist friends thought this a bestial heresy undermining miraculous justifications for the social order and knew that such revolutionary ideas were especially unwelcome at a time when the Church of England's established position was under attack from radical Dissenters and atheists. While secretly developing his theory of natural selection, Darwin even wrote of religion as a tribal survival strategy, though he still believed that God was the ultimate lawgiver.[4] His belief continued to dwindle over the time, and with the death of his daughter Annie in 1851, Darwin finally lost all faith in Christianity. He continued to give support to the local church and help with parish work, but on Sundays would go for a walk while his family attended church. In later life, when asked about his religious views, he wrote that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally "an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind."[5]

Charles Darwin recounted in his biography of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin how false stories were circulated claiming that Erasmus had called for Jesus on his deathbed. Charles concluded by writing "Such was the state of Christian feeling in this country [in 1802].... We may at least hope that nothing of the kind now prevails." Despite this hope, very similar stories were circulated following Darwin's own death, most prominently the "Lady Hope Story", published in 1915 which claimed he had converted on his sickbed.[6] Such stories have been propagated by some Christian groups, to the extent of becoming urban legends, though the claims were refuted by Darwin's children and have been dismissed as false by historians. His daughter, Henrietta, who was at his deathbed, said that he did not convert to Christianity.[7]

Charles Darwin's contributions to evolutionary thought had an enormous effect on many fields of science.Charles Darwin's theory that evolution occurred through natural selection changed the thinking of countless fields of study from biology to anthropology. His work established that "evolution" had occurred: not necessarily that it was by natural or sexual selection (this particular recognition would not become fully standard until the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's work in the early 20th century and the creation of the modern synthesis). Others before him had outlined the idea of natural selection: in his lifetime Darwin acknowledged the earlier writings of William Charles Wells and Patrick Matthew which he (and practically all other naturalists) had been unaware of when publishing his theory. However, it is clear that Darwin was the first to develop and publish a scientific theory of natural selection, and that the alleged predecessors did not contribute to the development or success of natural selection as a theory in science.

Darwin's work was extremely controversial at the time he published it and many during his time did not take it seriously. Evolution by natural selection proved to be a significant blow to notions of divine creation and intelligent design prevalent in 19th-century science, specifically overturning the Creation biology doctrine of "created kinds". The idea that there was no line to be drawn between human beings, races, and animals would forever make Darwin a symbol of iconoclasm who removed humanity's privileged place in the universe. To some of his detractors, Darwin would be "the monkey man", often depicted as part ape. His ideas also stood in opposition to the more common beliefs at the time that the human races had developed separately or that one race was superior by virtue of biology than another.

Following Darwin's publication of the Origin his cousin Francis Galton applied the concepts to human society, producing ideas to promote "hereditary improvement" starting in 1865 and elaborated at length in 1869. In The Descent of Man Darwin agreed that Galton had demonstrated that "talent" and "genius" in humans were probably inherited, but thought that the social changes Galton proposed were too "utopian". Neither Galton nor Darwin supported government intervention and instead believed that, at most, heredity should be taken into consideration by people seeking potential mates. In 1883, after Darwin's death, Galton began calling his social philosophy Eugenics. In the twentieth century, eugenics movements gained popularity in a number of countries and became associated with reproduction control programmes such as compulsory sterilisation laws, then were stigmatised after their usage in the rhetoric of Nazi Germany in its goals of genetic "purity".

Social Darwinism
In 1944 the American historian Richard Hofstadter applied the term "Social Darwinism" to describe 19th- and 20th-century thinking developed from the ideas of Thomas Malthus and Herbert Spencer, which applied ideas of evolution and "survival of the fittest" to societies or nations competing for survival in a hostile world. These ideas became discredited by association with racism and imperialism. Though the term is anachronistic, in Darwin's day the difference between what was later called "Social Darwinism" and simple "Darwinism" was less clear. However, Darwin did not believe that his scientific theory mandated any particular theory of governance or social order. Indeed, he believed that sympathy should be extended to all races and nations.

The use of the phrase "Social Darwinism" to describe Malthus's ideas is particularly disingenuous, since Malthus died in 1834 before the inception of Darwin's theory was spurred by his reading the 6th edition of Malthus' famous Essay on a Principle of Population in 1838. Spencer's evolutionary "progressivism" and his social and political ideas were largely Malthusian, and his books on economics of 1851 and on evolution of 1855 predated Darwin's publication of the Origin in 1859.

Charles Darwin was born on Feb. 12, 1809, The Mount, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Eng. d. April 19, 1882, Down House, Downe, Kent. His full name is Charles Rbert Darwin.

Darwin was an English naturalist renowned for his documentation of evolution and for his theory of its operation, known as Darwinism. His evolutionary theories, propounded chiefly in two works--On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)--have had a profound influence on subsequent scientific thought.

Darwin was the son of Robert Waring Darwin, who had one of the largest medical practices outside of London, and the grandson of the physician Erasmus Darwin, the author of Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, and of the artisan-entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood. Darwin thus enjoyed a secure position in the professional upper middle class that provided him with considerable social and professional advantages.

Youth and Education

Darwin's mother died when he was eight years old. Otherwise he enjoyed a golden childhood, cosseted and encouraged by adoring sisters, an older brother, and the large Darwin and Wedgwood clans. He was keenly interested in specimen collecting and chemical investigations, but at the Shrewsbury school, where he was an uninspired student, the headmaster, Dr. Samuel Butler, stressed the classics and publicly rebuked Darwin for wasting his time with chemical experiments.

At age 16 he was sent to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he was repelled by surgery performed without anesthetics. During his two years in Scotland Darwin benefited from friendships with the zoologist Robert Grant, who introduced him to the study of marine animals, and the geologist Robert Jameson, who fed his growing interest in the history of the Earth.

Disappointed by Darwin's lack of enthusiasm for medicine, his father sent him to the University of Cambridge in 1827 to study divinity. At the time Darwin adhered to the conventional beliefs of the Church of England. His academic record at Christ's College was as undistinguished as it had been at Edinburgh.

He socialized considerably with hunting, shooting, riding, and sporting friends. Cambridge did not yet offer a degree in the natural sciences, but, guided by his older cousin William Darwin Fox (an entomologist who inspired in him a lifelong passion for collecting beetles), Darwin met the circle of Cambridge scientists led by the cleric-botanist John Stevens Henslow.

Soon a regular at Henslow's "open houses," Darwin accompanied him on daily walks and became known as "the man who walks with Henslow." Henslow encouraged Darwin's excitement about science and confidence in his own abilities.

On leaving Cambridge in the spring of 1831 Darwin, in preparation for a scientific trip to the Canary Islands, read Alexander von Humboldt's Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, a scientific travelogue of a journey to Central and the northern parts of South America. At Henslow's recommendation he accompanied Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian professor of geology at Cambridge, on a three-week tour of North Wales to learn geologic fieldwork.

In August 1831, at Henslow's recommendation to the Admiralty, Darwin was invited to sail as the unpaid naturalist on HMS Beagle. The ship was to survey the east and west coasts of South America and continue to the Pacific islands to establish a chain of chronometric stations.

Henslow suggested Darwin as both an acute observer and a companion for the aristocratic young captain, Robert FitzRoy. (The Beagle already had a naturalist-surgeon, but one whom FitzRoy found socially unsuitable.) Robert Darwin first refused permission on grounds that it was dangerous and would not advance Charles in his career. But upon the intercession of his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood II, he changed his mind.

On Dec. 27, 1831, Charles Darwin sailed from Plymouth, Eng., on the Beagle, a 10-gun brig that had been refitted as a three-masted bark. The voyage, planned for two years, lasted five, during which Darwin kept meticulous notes and sent back geologic and biologic specimens.

The Voyage of the "Beagle"

In a letter to FitzRoy accepting the post Darwin explained that he expected the voyage to be a "second birth."

There is no doubt that the years he spent exploring the South American continent and the offshore islands of the Galapagos honed his skills as a collector, observer, and theorist.

Often seasick, Darwin rested horizontally in a hammock during the worst motion and spent long periods of time ashore whenever the opportunity arose. He delighted in the exotica of the tropics.

Adventurous, he braved his way through armed political rebellions, rode with the gauchos in Argentina, and on collecting and shooting expeditions justified his earlier devotion to sport.

He joined the crew in towing the ship's boats upstream and once rescued the expedition by running to save a boat from a tidal wave. He seemed to relish danger and was sustained in the considerable discomfort by a lively curiosity.

He wrote to one of his sisters

"We have in truth the world before us. Think of the Andes; the luxuriant forest of the Guayquil, the islands of the South Sea & New South Wales. How many magnificent & characteristic views, how many and curious tribes of men we shall see. What fine opportunities for geology and studying the infinite host of living beings: Is this not a prospect to keep up the most flagging spirit?"
Darwin had brought his own books to augment the ship's extensive library. The most important scientific work was the first volume of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, which Henslow had urged him to read though not to believe.

Lyell argued that the face of the Earth had changed gradually over long periods of time through the continuing, cumulative effects of local disturbances, such as eruptions, earthquakes, erosion, and deposition.

Such disturbances had existed in the distant past and could be observed in the present. This view differed dramatically from that held by most contemporary geologists, who hewed to the belief that changes in the face of the Earth resulted from short- lived events of great violence that could raise mountains or flood the entire planet. During the first months of his journey Darwin was converted to Lyell's views by his own observations.

About 1,800 miles southwest of the Canary Islands the Beagle visited São Tiago, a volcanic island in the Cape Verde Islands. From the harbour Darwin saw a band of white rock extending horizontally at a height of about 45 feet above the base of the sea cliffs. The formation was calcareous and contained numerous shells, almost all of which could be found on the coast.

Darwin reasoned that a stream of lava from the ancient volcanoes had flowed over what had been ancient seabed, baking it to form the hard white rock. The whole island had subsequently been heaved up to make the sea cliff from the white band downward. Darwin also realized that the island's surface had been formed by a succession of volcanic events, not a single dramatic one. He discerned an initial subsidence, the settling of the surface around the original craters, its building up from new lava spills from different craters, and further subsidence and building up over a long period of time.

Later, in Chile, Darwin witnessed his first earthquake. He saw the land rise before his eyes. Then, after crossing the Andes in 1835, he wrote to his sister that he could understand "to a certain extent the description & manner of the force, which has elevated this great line of mountains."

He had found fossil shells at an elevation of 12,000 feet, and he theorized that a chain of suboceanic volcanoes had poured forth enormous quantities of lava that formed the Andes through a further process of upheaval and fracturing.

Darwin marveled at the whole South American continent, which he read as a vast testing ground for Lyell's ideas. To his cousin William Fox he wrote, "Everything in America is on such a grand scale. The same formations extend for 5 or 600 miles without the slightest change--for such geology one requires 6 league boots."

The data Darwin collected on the Beagle provided him with material for three books on South American geology.

Although his theories of continental change have been superseded by the theory of plate tectonics, his descriptions in letters to Henslow, which Henslow excerpted and read before the Cambridge Philosophical Society and the Geological Society of London, brought him celebrity in scientific circles even before his return.

While still on the voyage he challenged Lyell's view of the formation of coral reefs by volcanic action. Darwin contended that the reefs were part of a process of gradual changes in the Earth's crust resulting from the subsidence of some landmasses and corresponding elevations elsewhere. He explained that coral, which only grows in shallow waters, forms a reef by building up on the seafloor as the floor subsides.

He predicted that if a whole island sank below the ocean's surface, and the coral continued to grow, a reef would turn into an atoll around a lagoon. Lyell was convinced and supported Darwin's reinterpretation, which deep-sea borings in the 20th century have confirmed.

Darwin's geologic ponderings were important for geology and to his scientific development. Many of the rocks he examined contained fossils, and his constant exposure to the evidence of extinct species and the similarity of many of them to living species kept one problem at the fore: By what mechanism did new species replace extinct ones?

During the voyage Darwin developed confidence in his own observations as well as the ability to grasp a problem and work at it steadily. The isolation of the voyage, combined with the exposure to new phenomena, taught him to think for himself within the familiar scientific culture of his time.

He developed a rare combination of strengths: a dedication to careful fact gathering and a propensity to theorize about the facts. His geologic pondering on a continental scale encouraged him to search for universal laws. The voyage of the Beagle transformed Darwin into an independent and adventurous scientist who had the courage to embrace the heretical idea of the transmutation of species.

On the Origin of Species

When Darwin returned to England in 1836 he was welcomed by the scientific fraternity as a colleague and was promptly made a fellow of the Geological Society. The next year he was elected to its governing council.

In 1838 Darwin was elected to the Athenaeum, the exclusive club for men distinguished in literature, art, or science, and in 1839 he was elected to the Royal Society. Through his older brother, Erasmus, he met the historian Thomas Carlyle and the feminist Harriet Martineau. He was also a friend of Charles Babbage, whose computing machine was one of a host of scientific interests.

At this time, however, Darwin began to lead something of a double life. To the world he was busy preparing his Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle, which was published in 1839.

This book, modeled in part on von Humboldt's, established the lucid style enlivened by the sharp descriptions that makes all of Darwin's works both accessible and convincing.

Darwin was also preparing his geology books and superintending the analysis and publication by specialists of The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (published between 1839 and 1843 with the help of a £1,000 government grant).

Privately Darwin had begun a remarkable series of notebooks in which he initiated a set of questions and answers about "the species problem." He proceeded to collect facts about species through letters and discussions with breeders, gardeners, naturalists, and zookeepers, as well as through extensive reading.

Darwin kept this interest secret while he gathered evidence to substantiate his theory of organic evolution. He was mindful of the fate of other unorthodox scientists. He jotted in his notebook, "Mention persecution of early astronomers--then add chief good of individual scientific men, is to push their science a few years in advance only of their age."

Darwin's ideas were not only scientifically radical but also could have been interpreted as actionable under the laws governing blasphemy and sedition.

England at the time was intensely evangelical, and the natural world was understood as one in which the spirit of God could be seen in the creation of new species of plants and animals that appeared to come into existence to replace those that became extinct. Darwin gradually became intellectually uncomfortable with this view of life as he confronted puzzling evidence.

Upon his return from the voyage Darwin had turned over his specimens to cataloging experts in Cambridge and London. In South America he had found fossils of extinct armadillos that were similar but not identical to the living animals.

Argentina he had seen species vary geographically; for example, the giant ostriches (rheas) on the pampas were replaced to the south in Patagonia by much smaller species, both of which were akin to but different from the African ostrich.

He had been disturbed by the fact that the birds and tortoises of the Galápagos Islands off the western coast of Ecuador tended to resemble species found on the nearby continent, while inhabitants of similar neighbouring islands in the Galapagos had quite different animal populations.

In London Darwin learned that the finches he had brought from the Galápagos belonged to different species, not merely different varieties, as he had originally believed. He also learned that the mockingbirds were of three distinct species and that the Galapagos tortoises represented at least two species and that, like many of the specimens from the archipelago, they were native to the islands but to neither of the American continents.

After Darwin received these reports, his doubts about the fixity of species crystallized into a belief in transmutation. In March 1837 he confided in his notebook that species changed from one place to another or from one era to the next. He continued analyzing his data, searching for a mechanism for this process.

Then in October 1838 Darwin read Thomas Malthus' An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus argued that population growth is geometric, while the food supply increases only arithmetically, and thus that population increase is always checked by a limited food supply.

Darwin recalled in his Autobiography his realization that given the struggle for existence everywhere, "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"--the principle of natural selection--"by which to work."

Darwin's originality extended beyond perceiving the savagery of the natural world. Other scientists and philosophers had noted the brutality of species against species, of the lion devouring the lamb.

Darwin saw competition between individuals of a single species. He recognized that within a local population the individual with, for example, the sharper beak, the longer horn, or the brighter feather might have a better chance to survive and reproduce than other individuals. If such advantageous traits were passed on to new generations, they would eventually be predominant in future populations.

Darwin thus shifted the focus of evolutionary analysis from between to within species. He saw natural selection as the mechanism by which advantageous variations passed on to succeeding generations and by which the traits of individuals that were less competitive gradually disappeared from populations. (Later generations of biologists came to understand variations within a species as variations in the genes of its individual members, and they explained evolution as the action of natural selection upon genes responsible for advantageous traits.)

After he had hit upon natural selection, Darwin was eager to verify it, and he stepped up his inquiries to plant and animal breeders. He hoped to learn from their experience with artificial selection how natural selection worked.

Darwin still faced the problem of divergence--that is, the evolutionary development of dissimilar characteristics in closely related species that have descended from a single organic ancestor. As he had observed during his voyage, divergent species appeared on different landmasses.

Darwin solved this puzzle of geographic distribution by assigning the dissemination of populations of ocean islands to the power of wind and water. The theory of the evolution of species thus solved many puzzles in comparative anatomy, embryology, and paleontology. (For further discussion of the details of Darwin's theory, see evolution; for details of the evolution of humans, see human evolution.)

The idea of organic evolution was not new. It had been suggested a generation earlier by Erasmus Darwin and in France by Buffon, Montesquieu, Maupertuis, Diderot, and most recently Lamarck. Lamarck had drawn the first evolutionary diagram--a ladder leading from unicellular organisms to man.

But none of these earlier evolutionists had presented either a mechanism or persuasive evidence for the process. Lamarck offered the hypothesis that spontaneous generation occurs constantly, that organisms possess an "inner feeling" toward perfection, and that the traits an animal acquires to adapt to a changing environment are passed on to its descendants.

Though lack of an apparent mechanism of inheritance eventually prompted him to accept the latter idea, Darwin's theory was rooted in direct observation and an attempt to discover universal laws. His evolutionary sketch was a branching tree, not a single ladder.

Above all, Darwin rejected the prevailing view that organisms are perfectly adapted to their environment. He viewed the natural world, instead, as caught in an incessant struggle between competing individuals that have different degrees of fitness. Others had seen struggles but always between species, never within them.

By moving the battle from interspecies struggles to intraspecies competition, Darwin introduced the concept of populations--that is, localized groups consisting of members of a given species in which each individual differs from its sibling. He recognized that it is the competition within a species leading to the survival of individuals with adaptationally advantageous traits that eventually brings about the evolution of a new species.

By 1842 Darwin was confident enough in his theory to draft a short sketch, and in 1844 he composed a longer version, which he showed to his friend, the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. Wary of presenting his theory to the public, Darwin spent the next decade concentrating on a treatise on barnacles, in which he hinted but did not actually say that species were the product of natural selection. In the meantime the intellectual atmosphere in England altered and discussions about evolution became commonplace.

Darwin still withheld publishing his thesis. When he would have determined that the time was ripe is impossible to know, but the decision was removed from him when on June 18, 1858, he received from Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist working in the Malay Archipelago, a paper that perfectly summarized the theory that Darwin had been elaborating for 20 years.

Disheartened by this apparent preemption of his life's work, Darwin was saved by his friends and confidants, Lyell, Hooker, and T.H. Huxley, who arranged for a joint paper by Darwin and Wallace to be read to the Linnean Society of London on July 1, 1858.

Darwin then began work on what he called an "abstract" of the larger manuscript that he had begun two years earlier. This abstract, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, was published on Nov. 24, 1859.

The first edition sold out immediately, and by 1872 the work had run through six editions. The theory was accepted quickly in most scientific circles. With the exception of holdouts like his old colleague Adam Sedgwick and individuals such as the biologist Richard Owen, who attacked Darwin personally, most opposition was from the clergy.

They realized that the theory of evolution was inconsistent with a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis. Orthodox Christians felt threatened by the suggestion that the natural (or living) world worked according to laws as did the physical world.

There was no place in Darwin's world for divine intervention, nor was mankind placed in a position of superiority vis-à-vis the rest of the animal world. Darwin saw man as part of a continuum with the rest of nature, not separated by divine injunction.

After the publication of the Origin, Darwin continued to write, while friends, especially Huxley, defended the theory before the public.

In June 1860 at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Huxley confronted the bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, who had been coached by Richard Owen. Wilberforce patronized Huxley, asking whether it was through his father or his mother that he was descended from an ape.

Huxley replied that he was not ashamed of having descended from an ape but would be ashamed of an ancestor who used gifts of eloquence in the service of falsehoods. Huxley and Hooker annihilated Wilberforce's position at the Oxford debate and continued spreading what was tantamount to a gospel of evolution.

Darwin completed the elucidation of his theory in his next three books, which were all continuations of the Origin. In The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868), Darwin proposed his hypothesis of pangenesis (an ill-founded attempt to account for the acquisition of hereditary characteristics, a process eventually explained in the development of cell biology and genetics).

Darwin met the issue of human evolution head-on in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), in which he elaborated on the controversial subject only alluded to in the Origin.

He expanded the scope of evolution to include moral and spiritual as well as physical traits and underscored man's psychological as well as physiological similarities to the great apes, predicting, "the time will before long come when it will be thought wonderful that naturalists, who were well acquainted with the comparative structure and development of man and other animals, should have believed that each was the work of a separate act of creation."

The second half of the book elaborated upon the theory of sexual selection. Darwin observed that in some species males battle other males for access to certain females. But in other species, such as peacocks, there is a social system in which the females select males according to such qualities as strength or beauty.

Twentieth-century biologists have expanded this theory to the selection by females of males who can contribute toward the survival of their offspring; i.e., female selection secures traits that make the next generation more competitive.

Although Darwin's description of female choice was roundly rejected by most scientists at the time, he adamantly defended this insight until the end of his life. While not universally accepted today, the theory of female choice has many adherents among evolutionary biologists.

The last of Darwin's sequels to the Origin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), was an attempt to erase the last barrier presumed to exist between human and nonhuman animals--the idea that the expression of such feelings as suffering, anxiety, grief, despair, joy, love, devotion, hatred, and anger is unique to human beings.

Darwin connected studies of facial muscles and the emission of sounds with the corresponding emotional states in man and then argued that the same facial movements and sounds in nonhuman animals express similar emotional states. This book laid the groundwork for the study of ethology, neurobiology, and communication theory in psychology.

Later Works

Throughout his career Darwin wrote two kinds of books--those with a broad canvas, such as the evolution quartet, and those with a narrow focus, such as the treatise on barnacles. His interests shifted over the years from geology to zoology to botany.

In these later works, however, he included theoretical interpretation, whereas his earlier works had contained mostly data. In On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects (1862) he demonstrated that plants exhibit complicated characteristics that are adaptive and that increase the survival of a species.

One such characteristic, for example, is cross-pollination (the mechanism by which pollen is transferred from one flower to another).

In explaining the interdependence of bees and orchids, Darwin noted that flowers that are pollinated by the wind have little colour, while those that need to attract insects have brightly coloured petals and sweet-smelling nectaries.

In The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species (1877) he observed that flowers in some species differ in the lengths of their anthers and styles, which is another adaptation for cross-pollination.

Darwin experimented in his garden at Down House in Kent where he raised two large beds of Linaria vulgaris, one from cross-pollinated and the other from self-pollinated seeds, both of which he obtained from the same parent plant. He observed, "To my surprise, the crossed plants when fully grown were plainly taller and more vigorous than the self-fertilized ones."

He continued horticultural experiments for another 12 years on 57 species and described his results in The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom (1876).

Here he developed the theme that there are hereditary advantages in having two sexes in both the plant and animal kingdoms--to ensure cross-fertilization, which, as he knew from experiments, produced healthier, more vigorous offspring.

In On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants(1875) Darwin advanced an adaptive explanation for the tendency of the stems of certain plants to spiral toward heat and light, bending either clockwise or counterclockwise.
Through experimentation he had discovered that a twining plant would not twine around an object larger than six inches in diameter. This characteristic Darwin interpreted as preventing a vine from climbing up a large tree where the shade from the upper branches would deprive it of sunlight.

Still interested in the mechanism that enables some plants to climb and bend, Darwin continued experimenting and pinpointed "some matter in the upper part which is acted upon by light, and which transmits its effects to the lower part." He reported these researches in The Power of Movement in Plants (1880).

A chance observation of flies caught on the leaf of the common sundew initiated Darwin's investigation of carnivorous plants. He was especially impressed by the fact that the living cells of plants possess a similar capacity for irritability and response as the cells of animals.

Darwin published these findings in Insectivorous Plants (1875).

In his last botanical work, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, which appeared only six months before his death in 1881, he demonstrated the service that worms perform in digesting leaves and recirculating organic matter. It was a pioneering study in the field of quantitative ecology.

Darwin worked alone at home, leading the life of an independent scientist (a privileged existence open to a fortunate few in Victorian England).

Money from Robert Darwin made it unnecessary for Charles to seek employment.

After his return from the voyage Darwin knew he would never become a clergyman like his mentor, Henslow. Nor would he remain a bachelor like his brother, Erasmus, who was a man-about-town.

After drawing up lists of the benefits and drawbacks of marriage, he proposed to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood, whom he married on Jan. 29, 1839. She brought fortune, devotion, and considerable housewifely skills that enabled him to work in peace for the next 40 years.

Newly married, the Darwins moved into a house on Gower Street in London, but within a few years Darwin's increasingly poor health prompted them to move to the country.

In 1842 the Darwins moved into Down House in the village of Downe, Kent, only 16 miles from London but remote from easy access to the city.

Charles and Emma Darwin had 10 children: two died in infancy and a third, Anne, died at age 10. The surviving five sons went away to school. George, Francis, and Horace became distinguished scientists, and Leonard, a major in the royal army, was an engineer and eugenicist. William Erasmus was undistinguished, as were his sisters, who prepared at home to follow their mother into marriage. Henrietta married; Elizabeth remained single at Down.

Darwin was devoted to his wife and daughters but treated them as children, obliging Emma to ask him for the only key to the drawers containing all the keys to cupboards and other locked depositories.

Darwin noted in The Descent that the young of both sexes resemble the adult female in most species and reasoned that males are more evolutionarily advanced than females.

His attitude toward women colored his scientific insights. "The female is less eager than the male," he wrote, "She is coy," and when she takes part in choosing a mate, she chooses "not the male which is most attractive to her, but the one which is least distasteful."

His medical school experience had left him sympathetic to the popular antivivisectionist movement, but he admonished women for their involvement in it in a letter to The Times of London on June 23, 1876:

Women, who from the tenderness of their hearts and from their profound ignorance are the most vehement opponents of such experiments, will I hope pause when they learn that a few such experiments performed under the influence of an anaesthetic, have saved and will save through all future time thousands of women from a dreadful and lingering death.
All expressions of cruelty offended him, and he was an ardent opponent of slavery.

Comfortable in English society, Darwin treasured his place and feared alienating those who he knew would be offended by his theory. He benefited at the beginning of his career from the scientific fraternity in London, who helped him understand the specimens from the Beagle, and he appreciated his intellectual give and take with Henslow, Hooker, Lyell, and Huxley.

He was a beneficiary of this conservative English society, and his fear of ostracism was one of the forces that prevented him from publishing his theory sooner. He also dreaded the hurt he knew that his ideas would inflict on his close friend Henslow and especially on Emma, both devout Christians, for whom his theory was heresy.

The conflict between his science and his realization of what publication would imply for the society he was so much a part of manifested itself in physical pain. The once adventurous young naturalist was a semi-invalid before his 40th year.

Darwin's illness has been the subject of extensive speculation. Some of the symptoms--painful flatulence, vomiting, insomnia, palpitations--appeared in force as soon as he began his first transmutation notebook, in 1837.

Although he was exposed to insects in South America and could possibly have caught Chagas' or some other tropical disease, a careful analysis of the attacks in the context of his activities points to psychogenic origins.

Throughout the next decades Darwin's maladies waxed and waned. But during the last decade of his life, when he concentrated on botanical research and no longer speculated about evolution, he experienced the best health since his years at Cambridge.

Darwin made his home at Down into his laboratory, where he experimented in his garden and observed the local fauna. Dogs and cats were part of the Darwin household, which also was not without a child under school age between 1839 and 1856.

By no means a recluse, Darwin often attended scientific meetings in London; he was away from home for about 2,000 days between 1842 and 1881. He was a member of 57 leading foreign learned societies and was no less a prominent figure in the village of Downe, treasurer of the Friendly Club and a Justice of the Peace.

Darwin sent his children to village dances, and, even though he was a skeptical agnostic, he participated in church functions that were part of village life.

Darwin died at Down House on April 19, 1882. Within hours the news reached London, and a Parliamentary petition won him burial in Westminster Abbey.

By this time the theory of evolution through natural selection was generally accepted. His ideas were modified by later developments in genetics and molecular biology, but his work remains central to modern evolutionary theory.


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