Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/515

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CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN.
CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN.

MR. CHARLES R. DARWIN, the most eminent philosophic naturalist of the age, is now sixty-four years of age, having been born in Shrewsbury, England, in 1809. He is descended from distinguished ancestors on both sides. His father was Dr. Robert Waring Darwin, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and his paternal grandfather was Dr. Erasmus Darwin, author of the once-famous books, the "Botanic Garden" and the "Zoonomia." Mr. Darwin's grandfather on the maternal side was the celebrated Josiah Wedgwood, whose name is intimately associated with the progress of the art of pottery in England. Mr. Darwin attended the Shrewsbury School, spent two years in the University of Edinburgh, and took his degree of B.A. at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1831.

Mr. Darwin inherited from the author of "Zoonomia" that love of natural history and the allied sciences which has been the labor and the pleasure of his life. In the autumn of 1831, Captain Fitz Roy, R.N., having offered to give up part of his own cabin to any naturalist who would accompany H.M.S. Beagle in her surveying voyage and circumnavigation, Mr. Darwin volunteered his services without salary. His scientific acquirements were already so well known that the offer was at once accepted, Mr. Darwin stipulating only that he should have the absolute disposal of all his collections. The Beagle sailed from England, December 27, 1831, and returned on the 27th October, 1836.

In 1839, Mr. Darwin published a volume as a part of Captain Fitz Roy's general work, descriptive of this voyage. The interest excited by this, one of the most graphic, and at the same time most philosophic book of travels that was ever published, led to its reproduction in a modified form, in 1845, under the title of "Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries visited during the Voyage of H. M. S. Beagle round the World." This Journal shows Mr. Darwin to have been a singularly close observer of every phenomenon in natural history, and of every variety of condition, physical and mental, of the people whom they visited during this remarkable voyage, and exhibits the possession of perceptive powers of the highest order. No single phenomenon is described by Mr. Darwin until after it has been most cautiously examined, and the reader of the Journal is soon impressed with the persuasion that the facts narrated are placed beyond a doubt, and that his reasonings on those facts are ever guided by a system of most severe inductive philosophy. This is most especially exemplified in Mr. Darwin's reasonings on the origin of the coral-reefs of the Pacific.

In the beginning of 1839 Mr. Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood, and shortly after took up his residence at Down, near