Darwin on Darwin

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin

Today, Charles Darwin would be 200 years old. And so everybody’s blogging the man. When he was 50 years old, he published The Origin of Species. So this is a bicentennial and a…whateveryacallitennial.

I’ve been rereading The Autobiography of Charles Darwin on the Kindle. I marked a few passages that I thought you might enjoy.

I will give a proof of my zeal: one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles, and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas! it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out …

Speaking of Fitzroy, captain of The Beagle:

…We had several quarrels; for instance, early in the voyage at Bahia, in Brazil, he defended and praised slavery, which I abominated, and told me that he had just visited a great slave-owner, who had called up many of his slaves and asked them whether they were happy… [you know the rest of this old story]

About Dad:

…on first seeing me after the voyage, [my father] turned round to my sisters, and exclaimed, “Why, the shape of his head is quite altered.”

On Lyell:

I saw more of Lyell than of any other man, both before and after my marriage. His mind was characterized, as it appeared to me, by clearness, caution, sound judgment, and a good deal of originality…. On my return from the voyage of the “Beagle”, I explained to him my views on coral-reefs, which differed from his, and I was greatly surprised and encouraged by the vivid interest which he showed.

Happy birthday, Charles.

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One Response to “Darwin on Darwin”

  1. February 12th, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Mike Haubrich says:

    As for the bookaversary, they call it the “Sesquicentennial.”

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