Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/350

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important factor in the formation and preservation of his extraordinary individuality and faith in his own powers. Darwin's followers may therefore bless even the obtuseness and unwisdom of his preceptors who left him unspoiled by their restraining influence.

When, in 1825, Doctor Robert Darwin concluded that his son Charles was lacking in natural aptitude for scholarship, he sent him to Edinburgh University, intending that he should follow in the footsteps of his father and of his grandfather by becoming a physician. But here, again, the young man found himself unable to receive what was offered him on the strength of ancient authority. The instruction dispensed in that hoary institution was, to him, perfunctory and uninspiring and he was once more driven to seek the real enlargement of his knowledge by self-directed methods. In this way he appears to have obtained, at Edinburgh, some sort of acquaintance with the fundamental principles of scientific research, but, as the learning thus acquired was not in the line of his intended profession, it was not appreciated by his family and friends. Accordingly, after two sessions spent at that university, it was concluded that his regular studies had been entirely misdirected and he was therefore withdrawn and sent to Cambridge. There he was still worse misguided in the endeavor to educate him in theology. Again was repeated the old story of an uncongenial curriculum ostensibly conformed to but in reality shirked and avoided in favor of natural history privately followed by side paths. The unwilling student wished to be obedient to his father's direction, but native bent proved stronger than conventional rule—the call of destiny louder than the voice of filial duty.

His father, in most things a wise man, saw in his son's insect-and bird-hunting proclivity a tendency to the life of "an idle sporting man" and was sorely grieved and disappointed when he was obliged to concede the failure of his plan to connect the house of Darwin with the Church of England. Fortunately, however, the youthful Darwin came under the influence, at Cambridge, of a teacher endowed with more than ordinary discernment and, in this particular matter, with somewhat unusual independence and courage, and he took the budding naturalist and his lawless pursuits under his patronage and protection. To the faith and friendship of Professor J. S. Henslow Darwin was indebted for his appointment to the Beagle expedition, and to Professor Henslow, who robbed the church to enrich science, the world owes an incalculable debt of gratitude for the discovery, if not for the development, of one of its loftiest geniuses.

Others besides Henslow, however, had contributed to the fixation of Darwin's inborn talents and abilities, but Darwin never admitted that he received, either at Edinburgh or at Cambridge, anything like systematic mental training. He was, from the beginning of his school