Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/50

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46
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

The "Expression of the Emotions" came out in 1872, when Darwin was sixty-three. Here he cites from "King Henry VIII." Norfolk's account of Wolsey's "strange commotion," and from "King Henry V." the king's picture of warlike anger. The former passage is correctly given; the latter is printed with some curious omissions, which are not indicated; probably it was written down from memory. The book contains, further, quotations from "King Richard II.," "King Henry IV.," pt. i., "King Henry VI.," pt. ii., the "Merchant of Venice," "King John," "Julius Cæsar," the "Winter's Tale," "Titus Andronicus," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet." Not a bad list for a man who, four years later, was to declare that he has "tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me!" Here Shakespeare is neither dull nor intolerable, but endowed with "wonderful knowledge of the human mind." And it must be understood that the passages quoted are not taken, haphazard, from a Shakespeare concordance. I have worked through the thirty-seven plays myself, with a view to emotive psychology, and I know what the possibilities of quotation are. Darwin's passages are selected, and I have little doubt that they were remembered first and looked up afterwards. Darwin quotes, again, from Somerville's "Chase" the lines — 

And with a courtly grin, the fawning hound

Salutes thee cow'ring, his wide op'ning nose
Upward he curls, and his large sloe-black eyes
Melt in soft blandishments, and humble joy—

which may pass for poetry. He quotes the "laughter, holding both his sides" from Milton's "L'Allegro"; he quotes twice from Worsley's rhymed version of the "Odyssey"; he refers to the laughter of the gods in the first book of the "Iliad";[1] and he quotes twice from the "Æneid" of Virgil.

I hope that these illustrations of Darwin's use and knowledge of poetry are enough, if not to prove my point, at any rate to give it plausibility. It is, perhaps, not wholly superfluous to add that the absence of certain apt quotations from Darwin's pages is adequately explained by the circumstance that the poets are post-Darwinians. I have found more than once, in discussing this question, that even highly educated persons may be a trifle hazy in their dates.

When, on the other hand, we ask whether Darwin would have retained his poetic sense by weekly readings, the answer must be doubtful. If he had read with any overt intention of refreshing the intel-

  1. So I have always interpreted the rather puzzling passage at the beginning of chapter VIII. My colleague, Dr. L. L. Forman, suggests, however, that Darwin may have confused the Greek with the Norse gods. If this is the case, the reference is probably to some prose work upon Norse mythology.