RECORD: Darwin, Francis. [c. 1884]. [Preliminary draft of] 'Reminiscences of My Father's Everyday Life'. CUL-DAR140.3.1--159 Transcribed by Robert Brown (Darwin Online, http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited from the manuscript by Robert Brown 1996. Text scanned from a copy provided by the Correspondence, OCRed & corrected by John van Wyhe 1.2006; corrected against the manuscript by Kees Rookmaaker 4.2006; further corrections by van Wyhe 6.2007. RN3
NOTE: This text appeared in revised form as Chapter 3 of The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1887). Both the original and a fair copy were used in this transcription. The pages of the fair copy now have numbers from 160-207. They are also numbered in bold pen on the top right corner, with numbers which do not run consecutively, i.e. 1 is followed by 1A, then 2, 3, 3A etc. Below this number, there is another number in pencil in which the numbers do run consecutively from 1 onwards. Both numbers are given here. The notes are by Robert Brown.
See the original manuscripts:
CUL-DAR140.3.1--159 (partial fair copy)
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Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.
Introduction by Robert Brown.
In writing down some recollections of my father, I have made a kind of rough skeleton to group my recollections on — But I have often allowed even this rough arrangement to be interfered with because when one thing calls up another I have thought it best to put it down lest it should be not come back again — I have written down anything that I shall like to remember myself — and this makes most of what I have said useless for those who did not know my father well. For often a few words will serve to remind me of a look or a manner when to others they are empty of meaning. I have not kept clearly to even this view of my work — for often I have imagined myself writing for Ubbadubba2 & have put in explanatory words which are quite useless to me. In other places again I have gone to the opposite extreme & left things so that no one but one of us would understand.— It is in fact an utterly rough first time attempt.
Lastly I have found it much easier to get written down superficialities or little failings in my father than the great and fine features of his nature — but it is not because I forget them.
1 There exist two copies of the first 44 pages of the manuscript, one in Francis Darwin's hand and another identical version in the hand of a copyist. I have followed the copyist's version since Francis' original is much faded. The identity of the copyist is unknown, though a few logical possibilities exist: his father habitually employed the local schoolmaster Ebenezer Norman for his copying, and Francis did request Norman's help with copying his father's letters in a letter dated 26 May 1882 (CUL-DAR199). In a letter from 16 September 1882 (CUL-DAR199), Francis writes that he has now four copyists at work for him. The majority of the letters had been copied by mid-December 1882. Since there were many copyists working on the letters, the copyist of the manuscript could have been any one of many unknown persons and is most likely of no consequence.
2 'Ubbadubba' is the childhood nickname of Bernard Darwin, Francis Darwin's son born 7 September 1876. Charles Darwin had difficulty pronouncing the nickname and called him 'Abbadubba' instead. Francis Darwin explains this on page 19.
[totally faded and illegible]
My father was about 6 ft in height, but hardly looked so tall as he stooped a good deal in later days he yielded to the stoop, but I can remember seeing him long ago swinging his arms back to open out his chest & holding himself upright with a jerk. He gave one the idea that he had been active rather than strong, his shoulders were not broad for his height though certainly not narrow. As a young man he must have had much endurance, for on one of the shore excursions from the Beagle when all were suffering from want of water, he and another man were the two best able to go on to where some water thought to be seen but which turned out I think an illusion. As a boy
he was a good jumper and could jump a bar at the height of the apple in his chin.
Walking. He walked with a swinging walk using a walking stick heavily shod with iron which he struck loudly against the ground, so that we could hear him as he went round the sandwalk; this rhythmical click of his is a very distinct remembrance & seems especially connected with him. As he came back from his midday walk he often walked about keeping up his swinging walk but kept with [some]visible [effort]often carrying his waterproof or long cloak which had proved too hot. Indoors his step was often slow and laboured and as he went upstairs at 2.45 he might be heard slowly going upstairs with a heavy footfall as if each step was an effort. When interested in his work he used to walk quickly and easily enough, and often in the middle of dictating he went eagerly into
[The words in the 3rd and 4th line in brackets are added from the original by RB]
the hall to get a pinch of snuff, leaving the study door open and calling out the last words of one sentence as he went. I remember especially the pleasure with which I heard this eager step
when I had given him the ms of my review on Wiesner (in Nature 1882) and by which I knew he was coming to my room to say that he approved of an essay of mine which he read for me in MS. He came as he said to scold me for sending the expert mental part (afterwards sent to Linnean) to Nature and praised this bit enthusiastically saying it is worthy of your master Sacks.
B. I think out of doors he always had his stick and he never took an umbrella but if it looked like rain a waterproof coat & leggings. Indoors he sometimes walked with an oak stick like a little alpenstock
but & this was a sign that he felt giddy.
In spite of his strength and activity I think he must have had a clumsiness of movement for he never learned to dance as a young man — & I remember his saying how he had to stand and look like a fool — this was apropos of it being worth while to learn to dance. He was certainly awkward with his hands naturally and was quite unable to draw. This he always regretted very much and it was one of the bits of advice he gave £ 7 John1— to learn to draw well. The drawing of the aggregated masses in Insect Plants was by him.He could dissect well under the simple microscope but I think it was by the help of great patience and carefulness. It was characteristic of him that he
regards thought many little pieces of dissection as something almost superhuman excellence. He used to speak with admiration of the skill with which he saw Newport2 dissect a humble bee showing getting out the nervous system in a few cuts of a fine scissors held as my father used to show with the elbow raised and in an attitude which certainly would require great steadiness
1 Here Francis Darwin is most likely referring to John Scott, a botanist who held a post at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. He considered Darwin his mentor. Companion pp. 253-254.
2 George Newport (1803-1854), a house surgeon by trade and an insect anatomist by interest. He settled into a private practice in London as a surgeon upon leaving his post as house surgeon. He was renowned in scientific circles for his skill in dissection, and Charles Darwin likely witnessed Newport's work at one of his demonstrations of insect anatomy. 'George Newport,' DNB.
use the sciss dissect in.
He used to consider cutting sections a wonderful feat,
and with wonderful energy took great pains to learn to cut sections of roots and leaves in the last year of his life. On the other hand he must have had an accuracy of eye and power of coordinating movements since he was a good shot (23-24 snipes, frightening deer, volley at guanacos) with a gun as a young man — and as a boy he was skilled with a stone. — He once killed a hare sitting in the flower garden at Shrewsbury by throwing a marble at it, and he killed, by an odd chance, a cross-beak with a stone. & On the other hand he must have had an accuracy of eye and power of coordinating movements since he was a good shot with a gun as a young man~and as a boy he was skilled with a stone. He once killed a hare sitting in the flower garden at Shrewsbury by throwing a marble at it, and he killed, by an odd chance, a cross-beak with a stone. His hand was not steady enough to hold the object to be cut in his left hand and he used a common microtome in which the pith holding the object was clamped and the razor slid on a glass surface in the sections. He used to laugh at himself and at his own skill in section cutting, at which he would say he was speechless with admiration. cut off and placed between pp. 70 & 71. The only thing that occurs to me about his hands was the peculiar way in which he shook hands. With a guest who was being welcomed for the first time his hand used to shoot out in a way that gave one a feeling that it was hastening to meet the guests hand. With old friends his hand came down with a hearty swing back swing into the shaken other hand in a way I always took pleasure in seeing.
page] 3C = 166
When walking he had a fidgetting movement with his fingers which he has described in one of his books as the habit of an old man.— When he sat still he often took hold of one wrist with the other hand; he sat with his legs crossed and from being so thin they could be crossed very far; & in he generally managed to work
on his trouser up so that a piece of stocking was visible as shown in the Vanity Fair sketch. He had his chair in the study and in the drawing room raised so as to be much higher than ordinary chairs; this was done because sitting on a low or even an ordinary chair was caused his some discomfort. We used to laugh at him for putting a footstool on his tall drawing room chair and then neutralising the result by putting his feet on another chair. When he lay down which he did at regular times he always lay flat on his back and often with his hands under his head.
His beard was full and almost untrimmed, the hair grey and white, was rather fine than coarse and wavy or frizzled. The Rajon1 etching gives the beard too fluffy The Rajon etching is however too fluffy. The Woolner2 bust gives no idea of the beard — Oussers3 picture is good in this respect.
His moustache he cut himself square across and short & gave a rather ugly appearance, it was moreover rather stained with snuff in the middle.
His colour was His hair was had disappeared from He was very bald having only a fringe of dark hair behind which was generally rather irregular & untidy; His hair was cut by my mother. I remember the words ["]I really must get Mammy to cut my hair." — When [on] the Beagle he grew his beard which was nearly black and long enough to project well beyond his hand when he seized it in his hand. Professor Newton used to say it was a thousand pities he ever grew his beard as the expression of his mouth was so sweet. His body was very hairy and this I remember because as children we used to put our hands inside his shirt on his chest & he would growl like a bear at us.
His face was ruddy in colour, & this I think made people think him less of an invalid then he was. His eyes were blueish grey 
1 In 1875 Paul Rajon produced a copper engraving from the Ouless portrait of Charles Darwin (Companion p. 239).
2 Sculptor Thomas Woolner completed a bust of Darwin in 1869. While Darwin was sitting for the preliminary sketches, Woolner explained to him that he had noticed a curious projection of skin on the ears of certain subjects. In creating his statue of Puck, Woolner had created points on the ears to give them a faunlike appearance. Afterwards Woolner studied the ears of humans more closely and discovered an enfolded flap of skin on the ears of certain people. Darwin regarded the flap of skin as positive evidence of humanity's animal ancestory, an argument he was currently elaborating for the forthcoming Descent of Man. Woolner 1971, p. 283.
3 Walter Ouless painted an oil portrait of Charles Darwin for the family in 1875 (PNB).
brows with thick bushy projecting eyebrows. His high forehead was much wrinkled but otherwise his face was not marked or lined. His expression had shown no signs of the continual discomfort he suffered.
I should say speaking cautiously that his face did not lend itself to express transient feeling easily but this may have been from his braveness and unselfishness making him put on one side such feelings, and partly from his mouth being so much hidden. cut off and placed between pp 22 and 23 with the top of p.6
might be put under "Conversation and Guests" When excited with pleasant talk his whole manner was wonderfully bright and animated and then suddenly his face shared in the general animation. His laugh was a free and sounding peal and like a man who gives himself sympathetically
and full of with enjoyment to the man and the thing which have interested amused him. He used often some sort of gesture with his laugh lifting up his hands or bringing one down with a slap~I think, generally speaking, he was given to gesture and often used his hands in
explaining something e.g. about the fertiln of a flower in a way that seemed more of a help to him than the person he was speaking to.— He did this on the occasions when most people would have made a rough sketch to help them to explain. pinned with end of 5 and and put between 22 and 23
Clothes.He always wore dark clothes, a shooting coat & double-breasted waistcoat; the colour was nearly black but generally with a reddish brown or purple tint in them. — Of late years he gave up the tall hat even in London and wore a
soft black one in winter and a big straw hat in summer. His usual out of door dress was the short cloak in which he was photographed by Elliot & Fry leaning against the pillar of verandah.1 Two peculiarities of his indoor dress were that he almost always wore a shawl over his shoulders and that he wore great loose cloth boots lined with fur which he could slip over his indoor shoes. Like most delicate people he suffered from heat as well as from chilliness.
1 Messrs. Elliott and Fry photographed Charles Darwin in 1881. Francis Darwin used the photograph as the frontispiece to the third volume of Life and Letters.
It was as if he could not hit the balance between too hot and too cold; often a mental cause would make him too hot so that he would take off his coat if something went wrong [—] not finding some notes — or an experiment — or a difficult letter. — In his later years he was more sensitive to cold than ever and greatly enjoyed the fur coat we gave him — a gift planned because we thought it in vain to expect him to be so extravagant as to give himself one.1 — No gift was ever more delightfully received, His senses remained very good to the end, he was only slightly deaf
so that but indistinct talking and a good deal of general conversation escaped him, but I think no one found it anything approaching a effort to converse with him — and indeed it would not thus be discovered he was deaf. He only [began to wear] to spectacles in his later years and that this only for reading or any manipulation required as in his experiments. He generally wore pince-nez which he placed so low on his nose as to give a nasal tone to his voice. These pince-nez spectacles we fastened
1 Together, the children bought Darwin an expensive fur coat. On 17 of January 1880, Francis crept into the study shortly before four o'clock and left the coat where his father was sure to find it on his way out for his afternoon walk.
with a ribbon round his neck and used to get hidden away and entangled in his waistcoat, when he would pull and tear at the ribbon in an impatient manner with violent confoundings of the ribbon. The ribbon too, used to wear out till he discovered a fine plaited silk thread at Cambridge, a hank of which is now in one of the drawers. He always carried a little portmanteau and a set of sectional (?) glasses & used it continually to examine anything that he wanted [to] look at closely. His sense of smell was bad perhaps injured by taking snuff. The fact that he never had a cold in his head was I think due to snuff — it was one of his many bits of clocklike regularity that he might be heard blowing his nose with a very loud sound at 10.30 every night as he undressed in his study which he used as a dressing room. His long bright coloured dressing gown was a familiar sight as he went
slowly up to bed with his slow tired step.
I think his sense of taste was slightly perfected, or at any rate curiously sensitive in some ways. He used to be unable to eat certain dishes from
tasting too tasting salt being as he said like brine, though to others they weren't specially salt. In the same way he often sometimes thought meat uneatably tough which was not really so. It was unlucky that so many Drs forbade him sweet things, for which he [had] a strong taste boylike love. He often said that the meat of dinner was very dull & the sweets the only part worth. He was not very successful in keeping the vows which he made not to eat sweets; and never didn't considered them binding he made them aloud. He often made a vow aloud after breaking a silent vow. He was specially fond of fruit for breakfast and if he couldn't get fruit, would eat a dried fig or dates. He was quite satisfied with American apples which often served him for weeks as breakfast fruit. Bananas however were considered the best fruit and these he often had brought him by Henrietta. Hooker too used to send him beautiful ones from
Kew. — They were christened "Kew gooseberries" being supposed I think considered a return for the gooseberry feast
that for which Hooker was supposed to come every year to Down. My father used sometimes to imagine in fun questions being asked in Parliament as to where the bananas went to. One day he went into [illeg in original]and asked if they had any cherry moyas whereon an old gent in the shop asked him how he had come to knew cherry moyas, — & on my father saying (after a bit little more talk that he had been attached to the Beagle, the old gentleman said "Then I know who you are,— you're Bino the surgeon," — & when he heard father's name he exclaimed, Why God bless my soul I've read you're books. He left shop without discovering divulging his own name.
He drank very little wine, but enjoyed and was revived by the little he did drink. I have a recollection his saying "Das ist gut" after a glass of sherry. Bill Marshall1 reminded me of my father saying after a luncheon (probably after a single glass of sherry) "By Jove I'm drunk." He had a great horror of drinking and always said that anyone might be led into drinking too much. under relations to children. I remember in my innocense as a small boy asking him if he had ever been tipsy — and he answered
1 William Marshall was a solicitor and botanist of the Isle of Ely, a former administrative county in east England that is noM part of Cambridgeshire (Companion, p. 200).
that as very gravely that he was ashamed to say he had once drank too much at Cambridge. — I remember being impressed so that I know where the question was asked as it made me feel solemnly strongly how much ashamed one ought to be of being tipsy drunk; and it added to my respect for my father.
Under head of day.At one time he used to have coffee at 4.30 every day, but he was made to give this up by Andrew Clark. he never took to it again. He of late gave up having dinner and had a very simple tea (while we had dinner) with an egg or a small piece of meat. He breakfasted about 7.45 generally alone, but down about 8.00 for the end of his breakfast. He was continually forbidden by various Drs to eat bacon, but as it suited him particularly well, he never obeyed, and used to laugh at the whole race of Drs for their spite to bacon. He hated meat the least underdone and would sometimes refuse meat which he fancied had a
slight pink colour though convinced afterwards that it was not really underdone — but the first belief had given him a prejudice which wouldn't be beatten (?). Under healthHe had also a great horror of eating anything internal even such as kidneys were looked upon as uneatable — and those of us who would eat underdone meat or such thing as liver or sweetbread were
looked on as called cannibals (?)or "degenerate Darwins.["] His appetite was very punctual and if kept waiting he suffered much, and if he had to wait as for a guest he used to go in to the dining room and eat a biscuit to keep himself up. If however he knew that dinner or lunch was going to be 1/4 hr later he could manage to wait much more easily — but it was necessary he should know it some hours beforehand.
After dinner he never stayed in the room, but used to apologize if anyone was dining with us, by saying he was an old woman & went off with the ladies." day
Tobacco. He took snuff
all his life from for many years of his life having learnt the habit at Edinburgh as a student. I remember how much he valued Uncle Ras snuffbox after his death and I think I remember him speaking of it as "Poor old [Philos's] snuffbox". He had a nice silver snuffbox given him by our mother's mother, which he valued much. In one of his letters to Fox he mentions a snuffbox given him by Mr. Owen of Woodhouse but I don't know what happened to this. He rarely carried his snuffbox with him, though because it tempted him to take too many pinches. He generally kept took snuff from a jar on the the hall table, as going because having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check. This clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. Sometimes when in the drawing room, he
say that he wanted to get [illeg]and when one of us offered to go see after the fire it would turn out that he also wished to go for a pinch of snuff. He was often advised to give up snuff by Drs but could not do so. I have heard my mother say he did give it up completely for (a year?) and then gradually slid back into the habit because he thought he could keep himself to a pinch a day or something of that sort. He often came into the room — [illeg]the dining room at the end of Sunday morning breakfast where we were all there,
together with his fingers in the cramped attitude that showed he was bringing in a pinch of snuff to enjoy. And I remember [illeg]him often asking someone to do something [for] him adding ["] I can't I've got a pinch of snuff." *I can't think of an example, — cutting bread occurs to me, but I don't think it was that. He had two sorts of snuff a heavy damp dark snuff which he liked much best and a light powdery "Irish black["] which he only took as being weaker. There were certain people he always offered a pinch to — old Mr. George Norman1 being one of them.
Smoking he only took to of late years — he only smoked little Turkish cigarettes — one at 3 o'clock and another (at) 6 [o'clock]. On both [occasions]
1 Darwin's neighbor in Kent, George Norman, a writer of finance, shared with Darwin an affinity for snuff (Companion, p. 216). In a letter to his sister Charlotte on 24 July 1881, George Romanes writes of a humorous miscommunication that betrayed Darwin's fondness for his friend's company as well his fondness for snuff: 'I did not write yesterday because we were spending the day with Mr. Teesdale, in his house at Down, and did not get back again till past the post hour. We went over to pay a call on Darwin. He and his wife were at home, and as kind and glad to see us as possible. The servant gave our names wrongly to them, and they thought we were a very old couple whom they know, called Norman. So old Darwin came in with a huge cannister of snuff under his arm — old Norman being very partial to this luxury — and looked quite astonished at finding us. He was as grand and good and bright as ever.' Romanes 1908, p. 134.
in his bedroom. The consequence was that the bedroom got a good strong smell of tobacco. His cigarettes were not of very good tobacco & he used to enjoy & praise in his pleasant way a few of good Turkish [cigars] which I gave him but which he only smoked on ocassions as a great treat. On his
Beagle voyage he Pampas rides he used to smoke cigarettes with the Gauchos, and I have heard him speak of the great comfort of a cup of maté and a cigarette when halting after a long ride and unable to get food for sometime. I don't think he approved much of our taking to smoking but he left it to our own discretion. I only remember his saying "Ah, you profligate boy" when he saw me with a pipe in my mouth for the first time. cut off and attached with part of p.80 to p. 16.
Diary of his daily habits. He always rose early, partly
I think chiefly because he could not lie in bed and I think he would have liked to get up earlier still. He used to envy young people their power of lying. He went a short turn out before breakfast a habit which I think began at the watercure establishment." This habit he kept up till? (his last visit to London)?
I used to like as a little boy going out with him, and I suppose I have a vague sense of the red of the winter sunrise, and a recollection of the pleasant companionship and a certain honour & glory. At one time I can remember he used to go on walks still earlier when it was quite dark and I used to be impressed, as a boy, by his telling me that he had once or twice met foxes trotting home at the dawn; he used to tell also, (though this has nothing to do with the early walks) how he came upon a fox asleep in the day, when he was creeping noiselessly along in the "Bigwoods." — It was so much astonished that it took a good stare at him before it ran. My father used to end the story expressing his surprised contempt at the Spitz dog "Snow" which showed no excitement at the fox.
After breakfast he went to work and used to consider the 1 1/2 hr between 8 & 9.30am one of the best bit
of worktime. At 9.30 he came in for his letters he used to pile up all the advertisements, circulars, etc., and carry them back to the study, having a sort of pride in filling his waste paper basket. He was always rejoiced if he had few letters, & sometimes much worried by a number.
He didn't think much more about them from in the morning. I think, as he would hear any family letters read aloud as he lay on the sofa — I remember him then saying in the semi-indignant voice "Who's it from?" — I think he was curiously slow in guessing about this sort of thing for I have often heard him ask, when it was evident who it was form. It was curious that he never seemed to know handwritings, or any rate he was not certain about them. I can imagine remember him saying "There, that's William's, I did know his hand." He often carried off his letters to the
study where he felt they were safe before he listened to the reading aloud in the drawing room. — The readings lasted till 10.30 or so, when he went back to work till 12. [or] 12.15. By this time he considered his days work over and used to say in a satisfied voice "I've done a good day's work." He then went out of doors whether it was wet or fine; Polly his white terrier went with him if it was decent weather, but in rain she refused or might be seen hesitating in the verandah with a mixed expressed of disgust and shame at her own want of courage. *Insert pp. 110-13.At this time my father went to the greenhouses and looked at any germinating seeds or experimental plants which required a casual examination. But he hardly ever did any serious observing at this time. Then he went on for his constitutional. *Bob's "Hothouse face" was connected with these visits to the hothouse; Mr. Parsons' sketch of the arch leading to the kitchen garden would do for the scene of Bob's performance
either round the sand walk which was the regulation walk or along the chalky
terrace slope above a small chalky hollow green valley. This was a very pleasant walk [rest illeg]
[NB. Original MS now almost completely faded]
a sheltered shady side; the other side seperated from the neighbouring grass field by low quickset hedge over which you could look at what there was — a quiet little valley losing
themselves itself in the upland country towards on the edge of the Westerham hill with small hazel coppice and larch wood, the remnant of what was once a big wood, stretching away to the Westerham road, still called by us the Big Woods though almost destroyed by being scrubbed uprooted or "scrubbed" and into "grub" grounds for strawberry growers.
I have heard my father say that it was the charm of this little simple valley which helped in making him take to Down.
The sand walk
being was a great place for us to play in as children and we continually saw my father as he walked round and round; and so we have; and he liked to see what we were doing and sympathized in any fun that was going on." & The sand walk was started by my father with a variety of trees, alder hazel lime hornbeam birch, and with a long line of hollys — all down the exposed side. Besides these a few low growing dogwood privet. At one
time he used to take a certain number of turns every day and used to count
up his turns them by a number of big flints, one of which he kicked out in the path each time he passed. — Of late years I think he didn't keep to any fixed number of turns but took as many as he felt strength for. It is curious to think how with regard to the sand walk, in my connection with my father, my earliest recollections coincide with my latest, with regard it shows how uniform unvarying his habits have been. He might have done more for the Dutch professor who in R.W.D.'s story was asked if he didn't find it tedious always taking his constitutional along the road in A who answered No because he on Sundays he went along walked on the B road. He did not always walk round with swinging step & the click of the ironshod walking stick which is so strongly associated with the place, for sometimes
when alone he stood still or walked quietly to see birds & beasts. It was on one of these ocassions that some young squirrels
mistook him for a part of ran up his back and legs while their mother barked at them in an agony from the tree. He always found birdsnests up to the last years of his life generally a robin's among them — so that I think as children we considered him a great genius at that [illeg] birds, but I fancy he used to conceal them from me as little boy because he observed the agony which I endured at not having seen the siskin or goldfinch or whatever it might be.
In old days, lunch used to be the children's dinner and I think dinner for everybody. — I suppose it was rather a 'hurly burly with all us children as it was described by a relative a violent [luncheon].1
from the Sandwalk the midday walk & have lunch he read the newspaper with much regularity, lying on the sofa in the drawing room. — I think the paper was the only non-scientific matter which he ever read to himself — everything else novels, travels, history were
1 In an essay called 'Recollections,' Francis Darwin refers to the incident: 'It was no doubt a pity that we were not reproved for our want of consideration for the elderly, and that, generally speaking, our manners were neglected. One of our grown-up cousins was reported to have called our midday dinner 'a violent luncheon,' and I do not doubt that she was right' Francis Darwin, 1967, pp. 54-55.
read to him. He took such a wide interest in everything
the going on, that there was much to interest him in the papers. — He always sneered at the enormous wordiness of the debates and I think only read them in abstract; remarkable any curious trial interested him particularly (I remember a sentence — the words I can't be sure of — that the Law report was about the most interesting part of the paper). He was often railed at the leading Articles especially in the Daily News for their everlasting attempts to be smart or funny in what they write trying to make light as my father said. The only other paper he read was the American Index a sort of Free thinking paper edited by Abbott. This always interested him and he used to tell us the most extraordinary facts which the English correspondent of the Index was responsible for & he was slightly indignant with us for venturing to doubt the complete accuracy of these statements.
The Index was an example of my father's forbearance
which. For many years a letter of my father's to the Editor's was printed as an advertisement for the paper; the letter which said that my father agreed from his heart with every word of some free-thinking article — was certainly never intended to be published and I do not think that leave to publish it was ever given to Abbott. Yet my father would never get it withdrawn.1
— Mrs. Cobbe's garbling. Then came his time for answering letters; he used to dictate
most a good many but latterly he took to writing more himself." One reason he gave when I offered, which I did very often was that he hadn't thought what to say and then it was more trouble to him as he could not help feeling tired hurried. When he had a good many letters or a long one to write he would dictate it, & then
1 Actually, Francis Darwin is incorrect on two accounts in regard to his father's relations with the Index. Charles Darwin did grant permission for the editor to print his letter with minor alterations, but nine years later, amid an upheaval in Parliament over the issue of atheism, Darwin asked for its withdrawal. He had his eldest son William draft the request, and William mistakenly wrote that his father had never intended for the letter to be published. Browne 2002, p. 391 ff. Francis Abbot, editor of the paper, returned all of Charles Darwin's correspondence with the Index to the family on 3 September 1882. Francis Darwin struck his erroneous statements about his father's relations with the Index from the revised version of the 'Reminiscences'.
he always made a rough copy first, these rough copies were written on the backs of MS or of
the proofsheets, and were almost illegible sometimes even to himself. He also made rough drafts of the many letters which he wrote himself and these we he spitted1 or put in a file so that all those for the last 20 years have been preserved. — He made a rule of keeping all letters that he got. This was a habit which he learnt from his father, and which he always said had been of great use to him; even useless things sometimes turning out important for an address, date, &c. When mother lost or mislaid a letter he used to laugh at her & say if a letter was left in her hands for a minute she could conjure it away and it would never be found again; then too he would say he wished she could get her to adopt his plan.
This plan of keeping letters lead to an unfortunate result, he had about 6 or 7 files, and when these were filled (one being each year) he took all the letters off and burnt them so as [to] have new files to use. It was characteristic of
him my father that it did not occur to him that his correspondence would be of any value; luckily when he came to years of discretion & found out what destruction was going on we managed to persuade him to get new files as he wanted; and George undertook the sorting & arrangement of the correspondence still remaining. We have thus the letters received in the last 20 years properly classed and indexed. Another reason why my father wrote some of his letters himself was one which I am very sorry for. He got many letters from foolish and unscrupulous people and I never could help wishing that they didn't get the delightful
1 Charles Darwin created a filing system for letters consisting of compartments, which he called spits, mounted on the wall of the study at Down. The spits can be seen in the etching of the study at Down by R. B. Lowe published in Vanity Fair.
answers he wrote them, so that I am afraid he did not feel that he could so easily dictate as write with his own hand when he
want answered such people. He used to excuse himself by saying if he did — I used often to offer to answer such people them promising to be as civil as he could wish and when he did let me he used always to say I did the civility well. I think No doubt it was in great measure the universal kindness good nature with which he answered everyone which produced the universal and widespread sense of his kindness of nature which was so evident at his death.
He was very considerate to his correspondents in other & lesser things for instance when dictating a letter to a foreigner he hardly ever failed to say to me "You'd better try and write well as it's a foreigner." His letters were generally written on the assumption that they would be carelessly read; for instance he was careful to tell me to make an important clause begin with obvious paragraph "to catch
his eye" as he often said. How much he thought of the trouble he gave others by asking questions, will be well enough shown by his letters. It is difficult to say much about the general tone of his letters
whi they will speak for themselves. — The universal unvarying courtesy of them is very striking. I had a little proof of this quality in the feeling which Mr. Hacon had for him. He had never seen my father yet had a feeling of friendship for him & spoke especially of his letters as being ones that a businessman seldom got in the way of business — "Everything I did was right and everything was profusely thanked for" of words like these were what Hacon said.
Some little points about the form of the letters occur to me. — He had definite rules. He felt distinctly what was the appropriate way of addressing people according to the grade of familiarity & made a distinction between Dear Sir and My dear Sir — another little instance of the feeling of the fitness of things in that he often said
things in P.S. not as an after thought, but because they seemed more appropriate to a P.S. With this sort of carefulness
in abt his letters it is curious that the way he addressed people changed in the course of years; thus with Bentham he wrote at one time Dear B., but afterwards Dear Mr. B. — Williamson varied in the same way and ultimately came back to Dear Sir. In writing to anybody with a title, he eg. Lady F. Dixie or Lady Dorothy Neville he used a good many "your Ladyships" — this was partly learnt from his father I think. He was sometimes troubled as how to reply to Monsieur et très honoré Confrère or Hochverehrter Herr! & was driven to "Dear & Respected Sir" occasionally. — It is curious that with his carefulness and tidiness he so generally omitted the year — in some cases of the earlier letters he even dated by the day of the week. Nor did he ever put the name of the person to whom the letter was written at the foot of the page except in business or very
He had a printed form to be used in replying to bothering people, but he hardly ever used it.— I suppose he never found an occasion that seemed exactly suitable. His rule was to thank the donors of books but not of pamphlets. He used to express some surprise that so few people thanked him for his books which he gave away pretty liberally; the letters he did get gave him much pleasure as he formed so humble an estimate of the value of all his work, & was genuinely surprised at people being interested by them.
Of course He generally thanked for a book without reading it as most people do. This led him into a mistake once — A Rev Ingo Someone sent him a religious volume called The Ingoldsby Letters, and in acknowledging it he said that his sons had often laughed over it — meaning the Ingoldsby Legends.
When letters were finished he went up to his bedroom to rest — lying on the sofa and smoking a cigarette; and listening to a novel or other book not scientific.
This often sent him off to sleep & he used to regret losing bits of novels for mother went steadily on for a bit lest the cessation of the sound might wake him. He came down at 4 o'clock to get his things on for a walk, and he was so regular that one might be quite certain it was within a few minutes of 4 when his step was heard coming down. From about 4.30 to 5.30 he worked and then came to the drawing room and was idle till it was time (about 6) to go up for another rest with novel and cigarette and this was his last one for the day. Smoking had the reverse effect
from to snuff on him. — Smoking rested him while snuff stirred him up & kept him going — so then snuff was taken during work, smoking enjoyed afterwards. After his rest he used to have his back rubbed — this had a pleasant or comforting effect on him. One of my earliest recollections was beating and or patting his back all over which we used to do in time to silent tunes.
Dinner was at 7:30, and as I said before my father had a simple tea instead. After dinner he went at once and played backgammon with my mother, two games being played every night; for years a score of the games which each won was kept and in this score he took the greatest interest: the final result was Mr. D. [blank space] Mrs. D. [blank space] ,1 so that my father won on the whole by a
good bit. He used to laugh at my mother and say that she declared that Backgammon was all luck. A score of the number of gammons was kept separately, and this score
ran was: Mr. D. [blank space] Mrs. D. [blank space] so that here my mother had the advantage. He used to get be very
animated over these games, and anyone who heard his "Confound the woman" or other such similar strong language would have thought him a violent tempered man & would have admired the calmness with
1 In the published version of the 'Reminiscences,' Francis Darwin mentions the games but does not relate the score. In a letter to Asa Gray in January 1876, Charles Darwin gloats over his lead: 'Now the tally with my wife in backgammon stands thus: she, poor creature, has won only 2,490 games, whilst I have won hurrah, hurrah — 2,795' Browne 2002, p. 494.
which my mother
received his bore with him. My fathers need for strong feelings made him often use the milder kinds of strong language such as "I wish to God," "God knows." I suppose that as children we picked up a similar tendency, for a governess once confided in Aunt Elizabeth that we used very bad language, so that she hardly liked to repeat it; on being asked if she minded writing it down she plucked up courage and said that is was "By George" that we said used. See pg.8.
After backgammon he read some scientific book to himself either in the drawing room — or if much talking was going on in the study. A good deal of this reading was German and he used to bring in a German dicty and
several any other books he wanted in a basket1 shown in Axel Haig's etching of the study.2 — I only mention this because we became so familiar sight with him walking coming in with a basket load and putting it down with a sound expressing satisfaction at getting rid of it.
1 The basket also appears in the etching by R. B. Lowe.
2 In a letter from Francis dated 9 July 1882, he mentions Haig's coming to Down: 'We have had a Swede called Axel Haig etching the study & he has made a most capital rendering'. (CUL-DAR199). See Haig, A. H. 1882. [Engraving of Darwin's new study at Down House]. Image
German was a great labour to him, and in reading a book after him I was often struck at seeing from the pencil marks he made where he left off each day how little he could read at a time. He used to call German the "Verdammte" pronounced as if it english. He was especially indignant with German because he was convinced that they could write simply if they chose, and used to hold up Hildebrand as writing German which was as clear as French. He sometimes gave a german sentence to a patriotic German lady & used to
enjoy laugh at her if she did not translate it fluently — and say that even Germans couldn't translate without the context. He himself learnt German simply by hammering away with a dictionary. The result was that he knew no grammar whatever, and it is a wonder to me how [he] made out the meanings well as he did. 'Semper' was this a mistake in German. He used to say that the only way was to read a sentence
a great many times over and at last the meaning occurred to him.
He once boasted When he began German long ago, he boasted of the fact (as he used to tell) to Hooker who replied "Ah, my dear fellow, that's nothing I've begun it many times." In spite of his want of grammar, he managed to get on wonderfully with German and the sentences that he failed to make out were generally really difficult ones. He never made an attempt at German words, and used to ask in a perfectly natural way what such a word meant pronouncing it like "dy-eeser" for dieser. On one celebrated occasion he is supposed to have asked (Hooker?) Where is this place Wien1 where such lots of books are published? German names he used to try and pronounce, but they were generally failures, for instance, Günther was always Gunther with a broad u.
1 A reference to Vienna, Austria.
After reading to French he read as easily as English, and & he used to pronounce rather more better than German. He certainly had a bad ear for vocal sounds; he pronounced singing sing-ging and always maintained that he had could hear no sort of difference. We used for fun to say "ging" is the same in both; do you mean to say that you don't hear any difference between "ging" and "ing"? To which he would answer that he wasn't going to argue, but that he couldn't hear the difference. The same faultiness of ear it was that made him say Abbadubbi for Ubbadubba. I think it was part of the same thing that made him find it so difficult to understand the broken English of Germans. There was one well-remembered occasion when a German was talking about a dolphin, & my father fell in with him saying "O, Yes — a tölphin." — The first time Haekel came here when he talked but little English, my mother used to say that they met in the hall & neither could do anything but laugh. Afterwards found his English go a little
better and remembered that he found he could "entertain very well."
At this time in the evening, i.e. after he had read as much as he could & before the last reading aloud, he would often lie on the sofa and listen to my mother playing the piano
or to an. The same want perhaps which gave made his ear inaccurate for vocal sound was at the root of his want of musical ear. Judge Herbert has told in his recollections of my father at Cambridge, & I have often heard my father himself tell with much fun amusement how a set of musical friends used to make him and another equally unmusical man go in for a musical examination & how they were puzzled by God save the King played slow quickly. Yet in spite of this want of ear, he had a true love of fine music and used to go every day to King's Chapel for the anthem. He used to lament that his love of music had become dimmed with age — yet in my recollection, his love of a good tune was strong. I never heard him hum more than one tune — Ar hyd a nos — which
he went through correctly — he used too, I believe, to hum a little Otaheiti song. From his want of ear he was unable to recognize a tune when he heard it again; but he remained constant to the tunes he liked and would say, "That's a fine thing (or a good tune?)." "What is it?" He liked especially bits of Beethoven's symphonies and bits of Handel. He
used to enjoyed Effie's singing extremely and was much touched by such songs as Sullivan's "Will he come." He was pathetically humble about his own taste and seemed pleased when he found others agreed with him.
He became very tired in the evenings especially of late years and
went left the drawing room about 10, and went going up to bed at 10.30; he was espe generally extremely tired. I think his nights were generally bad and he often lay awake or sat up in bed for hours suffering much discomfort. He was troubled at night by the activity of his thoughts, & would become exhausted by his working away at some problem which he would willingly have dismissed from his mind. At night too anything which had vexed or troubled
[NB. There is no page numbered 39]
Relation to family
His children only really know anything [rest of page illegible]
Relations to family. In his autobiography his impressions of her too great zeal in his education." I suppose it was like the over [illeg] of stepmother. But his father must have had a good deal to do with his bringing up as he mentions it as proof of his father's wisdom that his storytelling propensities were wisely treated at, and he left off inventing wonderful things because nobody was astonished at them. His father must have failed in discernment I think for he seems to have thought that there was danger of my father turning into a sporting idle man — according to my mother, Dr. D's children were somewhat afraid of him, and I imagine my father shared this feeling. But whether it was so or not, he had to the end of life the strongest feeling of affection and reverence for his father. It was astonishing how clearly he remembered his father's opinions. For instance, he was able to quote some maxim or hint of his father's on very many cases of sickness and questions of treatment. This no doubt due to the fact that when 16 or 17 Dr. D. set him
to doctor poor people in Shrewsbury; my father was to report to Dr. D. who would advise him what treatment to try. I have heard my father speak of his
pride protestation having made a lot of unhappy children miserable sick [illeg]tartar emetic for in treating them (for pneumonia?). — father Dr. D used also when seeing humble patients to allow my father to be present & thus he learnt something of his father's methods. As a rule my father had small faith in doctoring, but he seemed to make the exception for in the case of his own Dr. D whose opinions he had always the greatest faith in a strong belief in. Dr. D said that my father would make a good Dr but that Uncle Ras would not. It was curious that Dr. D being a free thinker that my father should have been so orthodoxly brought up. It was no doubt part of the sense of expediency which made Dr. D give it as a rule that a free thinker should most carefully conceal his opinions from his wife. It was also perhaps curious that Dr. D being such an advocate for water drinking that my father drank wine as a young man. — But I believe he never drank
till he was grown up.
It was, not only in medical things that my father believed in his father's opinions. He had the strongest faith in his judgment in all matters of the world; and especially in Dr. D's intuitive knowledge of character. He often said "My father who was the wisest man I ever knew ..." or "That was another instance of my father's wonderful power of knowing what people were like ..." We used sometimes to silently doubt this power of discernment because it seemed to us that Dr. D had not very well seen what my father was worth. It is possible however that he was late in developing. Again possibly the fact that nothing was taught at Shrewsbury school except Classics for which my father had no turn & might have made him appear more backward or stupid than he was. Judging by my father's letters to Fox, he was not very fond of home for
he in making his plans for the long vacation he says (more than once?) that his [illeg] was to be as little at home as possible.
but with his high spirits, love of society and love of sport I dare say that all manner of fun lay more from home than at Shrewsbury, and therefore getting away was merely [to] get more fun. His fondness for his home & brothers at home comes out strongly in his letters from the Beagle. [illeg] The only recollection of his mother is mentioned in the autobiography.
His affection for Uncle Ras had something pathetic in it as if he always recollected Uncle Ras's solitary life, and the touching patience & sweetness of his nature. He always spoke of him as poor old Ras or Poor dear Philos. — I imagine Philos or (Philosopher) was a relic of the days when they worked at chemistry in the tool house at Shrewsbury. My father
seemed to have had a pleasant remembrance of these old experimenting days.
[He used to say] that what he really was proud of was the money he had saved. — His anxiety to save came in great measure from his fears that his children wouldn't have health enough to earn their own living. He also took much pleasure in the money he made by his books. And I have a dim recollection of his saying "Thank God you'll have bread and cheese" so long ago I was rather inclined to take it literally. This fear that his children would not have good health comes in over and over again in his letters.
Order of the day. In my account of his day I have given the time in each day
when he at during which he rested; it was a sure sign that he was not well when he was idle at any times other than those which I have mentioned. When As for the days on which he rested — they included in the definite holidays.1
1 The work of the copyist ends here; the remainder of the manuscript exists only in Francis Darwin's hand.
[This is an interpolation about my father all written down after a talk with Mother; she thinks decidedly that Dr. D did not like him or understand him or sympathize with him as a boy. He was a fidgety man and the noise & untidiness of a boy were unpleasant to him. <words destroyed> to <words destroyed>;
so resembled him in the fidgety quality which. Everything in the household had to run in the master's way so that the inmates had not the sense of personal being free to do just what they liked. Conversation could not be split into [illeg 1 word] or tête à têtes but was all more or less directed at Dr. D. My mother quotes the way in which he asked would say "What's Emma saying?" when she said something to one of the other girls. The [result] was that they never felt at ease, and she used to be extemely glad when the Dr. went off on a long journey and sorry to see him come back again.
My mother thinks that the
attachment between affection which which Dr. D felt for my father sprang up chiefly after the return from the voyage.]
Uncle Ras being [blank space] years1 older than my father I think they were not long together at Cambridge, but previou[sly] at Edinburgh they lived in the same <lodging> and after the voyage my father lived in Uncle Ras' house in St. Marlboro St.; at this time my father speaks several times with much affection of Uncle Ras in the Fox letters using words such as "my dear good old brother"(see letter). In later years Uncle Ras came down in the summer occasionally; or joined us in a summer holiday as at Torquay, Caerdeon, and (Freshwater?). But gradually it came about that Uncle Ras could not make up his mind to leave London, andtherethey only saw each other when he went for a week at time to Uncle Ras' house at Queen Anne St.
1 Erasmus was four years Charles' senior.
Of my father's relationship to his sisters I have not much knowledge; Aunt Caroline from being his contemporary in age1 was the sister who was more of a playmate than the others. There is a little chestnut tree in the Sandwalk at Down of which the branches grow in a curious way being bent back almost parallel to themselves. He used to wonder with me what was the meaning of this way of growing, and told me that a big Chestnut tree in the garden at Shrewsbury grew up in the same way and it made delightful seats on which he and Aunt Caroline used to have special places for themselves and used often to play in. He used to ride with his sisters, but Aunt Caroline was so timid of this & she gave it up. I remember my father quoting her agonised way of saying Oh what's he going to do, look at his ears. Either with her or with the other sisters he went [for] several riding tours in N. Wales, which he looked back to with
During the time that I have knowledge of, Aunt Caroline is the only sister he saw much of, as she both came here fairly often and also went to her house Leith Hill.
1 Here Francis is inaccurate. Caroline was nine year Charles' senior.
She had certainly a great admiration and strong affection for him. — I think he had no close affection for her, but was grateful for her feelings for him and the old Shrewsbury life was a bond between them. She was made by Dr. D rather the head of the family (for he as my father said thought more of girls than boys) and this led her to perform some rather high-handed deeds which made us children boil with indignation. These my father forgave very readily,
and perhaps but he did not feel strongly about them, and wished to avoid a quarrel.
[Two paragraphs of text here are faded and cannot be deciphered.]
Of his relation to my mother I do not feel that I can or ought to say much even in this MS which I am writing as it were for myself. I have not found any reference to her in the early letters before they were married. I remember hearing that my father was unhappy because he thought my mother wouldn't marry him because he was so ugly.
In a letter to Fox about the death of Mrs. Fox, my father says "I know I would much sooner die" — that is than lose my mother." see letter This is only an expression I happen to remember which speaks of the strong love and innermost companionship that was between them. All the sympathy & tenderness of his nature came out in his
treatment of her. Rejoicing at all that gladdened her, and feeling with her in any sorrow or anxiety. These sound very like common place words but to anyone who saw the hourly continual signs of this tender love they do mean call up something. I remember quite well the tone of distress in which he spoke when he heard that she had a headache & wasn't coming down. — He always remembered with indignation the carelessness of the Southhamptom Dr. who had talked to him of all the possibilities of mother's illness making him "sick with terror" *. * I think. I think they were a model couple in the way in which the machinery of their joint life worked. My mother was always consulted about everything, but left contented by the ultimate decision of anything important really rested with my father; & my mother always seemed perfectly happy that it should be so.
On the other hand he was glad to be managed in all little things. He often said in fun that the woman was the real master in a house. He considered her a sort of conscience in small things & matters of small etiquette. Her pet name for him was Younigger (pronounced all in one word) or "My nigger."1
I suppose He generally called her Mammy or some form of that or mother. I think when he called her "Emma" he was not feeling so much at ease. For instance when fidgetted about something going wrong in her accounts which put his wrong. When ill or especially uncomfortable he depended entirely on her presence to make his discomfort bearable. And She used often to sit drumming on his head as he lay down. They used to laugh at one another in a pleasant way. He chiefly for at mother's power of mislaying things and for tendency in her accounts to get mixed up. She would laugh at his impatience, or at some odd precaution or fidgetty arrangement; or at some one of his simple or naive sayings. I cannot get a clear
1 Prompted by concern for his spiritual welfare, Emma wrote a letter to her husband shortly after their marriage in which she uses the nickname: 'I am rather afraid my own dear Nigger will think I have forgotten my promise not to bother him, but I am sure he loves me, and I cannot tell him how happy he makes me, and how dearly I love him and thank him for all his affection, which makes the happiness of my life more and more every day' Correspondence vol. 2, p. 172.
example but it was the kind of affectionate laughing at, which a boy might be treated with. She used to go and scold him for working too long, and would warn him he was talking too long with guests &c. This part was very useful to him as it gave him an easy way of leaving the room before he was tired out. He would tell her beforehand that she was to send him away early. The same boylike way, if guided by her, came out in the matter of diet and he might be heard remonstrating at such a very small help of tart.
In the matter of science she was naturally not able to take a share beyond a general interest. My father use to tell how at one of the Brit. Assoc. meetings, at a section he had said "I'm afraid this is very dull for you" and how my mother had placidly answered "no not duller than everything else." In the innumerable books which they read aloud. I think their tastes agreed fairly well except that my father was more tolerant of dullness and sometimes was willing to go on with a book which my mother found unbearable.
As father. I have heard my mother say that if my father was left alone with a baby he was in an agony the whole time, thinking that it was choking or having a fit and &c. There is a delightful letter1 about the first baby William, in which he laughs at himself for his enthusiasm about it. See letter to Fox. In another place in he says "if you are as fond of kissing babies as I am, some fathers are more cleanly in their tastes." It was very characteristic of him that (as I have heard him tell) he was very anxious to observe accurately the expression of a crying child, his sympathy with the grief spoiled his observation. The Expression Book shows how closely he watches his children; his notebook in which are recorded sayings of the family especially of Lenny
are show his pleasure in them such sayings his children. He seemed to retain a sort of regretful memory of his children which had faded away. There is passage in a letter to Leo, thinking of him as a little yellow-haired boy. His intense love for Annie the daughter who died can only be [illeg] his own words.2
1 Francis is referring to a letter from Charles Darwin to William Darwin Fox in July 1840. He incorporates a passage from the letter into LL 1:300 'He [i.e. the baby] is so charming that I cannot pretend to any modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy any one to say anything in its praise of which we are not fully conscious.... I had not the smallest conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You will perceive by this that I have a fine degree of paternal fervour'.
2 In the final version of the 'Reminiscences,' Francis Darwin includes a memoir of Annie written by his father shortly after her death.
I think we all took especial pleasure in the games he played at with us; there used to be one called Taglioni in which the child stood on one of his knees held by one hand and balanced; he used also to play at by the tickling of one, [1 word illeg] or whatever it is. His love of what belonged to childhood was shown by his indignation at the change from "papa" to "father." I remember he said he would soon be called dog. But I don't think he romped much with us, I suppose his health would stop that. He used sometimes to tell us stories which were considered specially delightful for their variety. The way he brought us up is shown by the story of Leo on the sofa which my father was fond of telling; it being forbidden to jump on the sofa for the sake of the springs, my father came in & found Leo dancing about & said "Oh Lenny Lenny [it's] against all rules" to which Leo "Then I think you'd better go out of the room." He had the custom if my mother was away for a little of making things pleasant by allowing rules to become slack. I think he used to quote "when the cats away" and I have a feeling of his being also one of the mice freed by the absense of the cat.
I don't believe he ever spoke an angry word to any of his children in his life, but I am certain that it never entered our heads to disobey him. I remember breaking the glass of the hall lamp by great carelessness, and my father speaking a little severely, and the awful feeling of depression that came over me, which I remember too he took care to disperse soon by speaking especially kindly to me. He kept up his delightful affectionate manner and greeting with us all his life, I sometimes wonder that he could with such as undemonstrative race as we are, but I hope he knew how much we delighted in his loving words and manner. How often when a man I have wished as my father passed behind my chair that he would pass his hand over my hair as he used to when I was a boy. When we were all grown up his ways with us were equally pleasant. He allowed us to laugh at and chaff him, and was generally speaking on terms of perfect equality. He was always full of interest about each ones plans or successes. — He used to consider it very condescending and kind of his sons to come to Down for Sundays when they could. In his autobiography he has expressed in characteristic words the pleasure he took in his children.
We used to laugh at him and say he wouldn't believe in his sons because for instance he was a little anxious about H. going on the electrical Jury or Leo taking the Chatham Photo Chemico Lithographic appointment because they didn't know enough. On the other hand he was only too much inclined to take a favourable view of any work. It will always be a pleasure to me to remember his words of praise about one of my papers, which haven't had much from anyone else. He used to be indignant and inclined to take to confounding me when I thought he took too favourable a view. His
caution and doubts were part of the humility concerning anything of his; his favourable view of our work was due to his sympathetic nature — which made him favourable to everyone's work. He kept up his delightful manner of thanking people, with his children, and I never did a bit of dictation or read a bit aloud to him without his saying "thank you old Bakky" or "You've given me a fine long [illeg]," or some kind acknowledgement. He was fond of nicknames and called us all by some such name. I will write them down—
William — often Gulielmus
G. — Jingo
Hen — Veckus, this came from Trotty Veck
Bessy — no nickname in late years
Lenny — Leo latterly but Pouter was the original name, from his fat cheeks as a little boy
Horace — Jimmy
me — 'Bakky' or Bakkus — etymology unknown.
His love and goodness towards Bernard "Abbadubba" as he called him were great. He used often to say that he never saw such a contented child as Dubba; and often spoke of the pleasure it was to him to see his little face opposite to his at dinner; they used to talk about liking brown sugar better than white &c, the result being "We always agree don't we Abbadubba." Dubba had so many adorers that my father didn't get him to himself much; one ceremony that took place every day was showing "Baba"1 how big a bit of chocolate he had got. This was at 3 o'clock when my father was lying down upstairs — and Duba used to run from the chocolate box across to the sofa. My father bore all the noise of me thundering with Dubba about the passage with the same patience which made him put up with our running continuously round the house as children in our game of "round abouts."
1 This was Bernard Darwin's childhood nickname for his grandfather: 'My grandfather, whom I called Baba...' B. Darwin 1955, p. 27.
As a master of servants he was much loved and respected; he always spoke to them with politeness, using the expression "would you be so good" in asking for anything. And he was considerate in giving them trouble, one little thing I remember, how he used to reprove one for using a useless number of spoons because it gave so much more trouble in cleaning. I think he was hardly ever angry with his servants; it shows how seldom he was angry that once as a small boy I heard Brooks being scolded for abusing Lettingston, and my father saying angrily "Get out of the room, you ought to be ashamed of yourself", it impressed me as an appalling circumstance, and I remember running upstairs out of a general sense of awe. He did not look
much after the general gardening, this being the province of the ladies, and the consequence was that he didn't look after things like his father used to. Nor did he trouble himself about the internal working of the servant household. The only person who made him indignant was Mrs. Evans, and her carelessness or inability to [do] things methodically resulting so often as it did in food that annoyed him by bad cooking was irritating to him. The household of sevants was
at any rate a happy one as was shown by the length of time the servants stayed . As my father began life in Gower St. in such a simple way it is curious that they had a man-servant, nowadays a corresponding household wouldn't think of a man. It led to some troubles as first as they had a mad
ma servant who went about with knives in his hands. But it also led to our having Parslow who remained Butler for [blank space] years,1 and was ultimately pensioned. He served us to the best of his power, and no man ever had a truer affection for the whole family than Parslow. He was a curiously simple-minded man and if sent to buy a cow &c. would say the seller "a most
respectable man assured him it was a good cow." I am afraid that my father never quite got over the discovery of some roguery in supply of flour &c. to house which Parslow ought to have discovered — not that anyone ever dreamt of it being more than slackness on his part. Poor old Parslow aged rather soon & lived on in the village, always taking a pleasure & pride in doing anything for any of us that he could.
As a host my father had a peculiar charm, the
interest of pressure of visitors excited him and made him appear to his best advantage. I have mentioned the way he shook hands — his goodbye was chiefly characterized by his pleasant way of thanking his guests for having come to see him.
1 Joseph Parslow served the Darwin family from c. 1840-1875. After Charles Darwin's death in 1882, he received a pension of 50 pounds and the cost of the rent of his house. (Companion p. 228).
Guests. At Shrewsbury he used to say it was his father's wish that the guests should be attended to
with constantly and in one of the letters to Fox my father speaks of the impossibility of writing a letter while the house was full of company. I think my father always felt uneasy here at not seeing more after his guests, but the result was successful, & to make up for any less there was the gain that the guests felt very free to do as they liked. The commonest guests were those who came down for Saturday till Monday; those who stayed longer were generally relatives and rather more guests of my mother's affair than his. He was particularly kind to his sons' friends who came for a night — and would always make them feel happy & at home, and after they went would say a word about them "What a charming fellow Balfour1 is," "I think there's something particularly nice about Balfour Crawley." Besides their visitors there were the foreigners and others
1 Francis Balfour became good friends with Darwin's elder sons, particularly George, while at Trinity College, Cambridge. Balfour's first significant contribution to science came in the form of a monograph on the embryology of certain cartilaginous fishes. In this pioneering study he established evolutionary development for sharks, skates, and rays. He received an appointment as lecturer on animal morphology at Cambridge in 1876. From 1880 to 1881, he published an extensive two volume work on embryology, which became the definitive text in this developing field of inquiry. This work earned him the esteem of the scientific community and a special professorship at Cambridge. He met with an untimely death in 1882 as result of mountain-climbing accident. He was only 31. (PNB).
who came down for luncheon & went away in the afternoon. He used to try and stop people coming by representing to them the enormous distance of Down from London, & the labour it would be to come here which he genuinely felt to be the case judging from his own experience. If however they wouldn't be stopped he used to arrange their journeys for them telling them when to come & practically when to go. These luncheons were very successful entertainments, there was no drag or flagging about them, & my father was bright and excited throughout the whole visit. When foreigners came to lunch we used to laugh at my mother for offering them curious mixtures of things: tart and pudding mixed together, which they were too ignorant of English ways to refuse. De Cand[olle] and Cohn have described their visits. De Candolle speaks of my father's manner as resembling a savant of Oxford or Cambridge — this doesn't strike me a good simile, in his ease and naturalness there was more of the manner of some soldiers — the manner arising from being absolutely free from pretense
and being willing to appear as himself utterly un-posed. It was this absence of pose, and the natural & simple way in which he began talking to his guests so as to get them on their own lives that made him so charming a host to a stranger. He did not talk at his guests like the Myers1 whom you see looking in a mental notebook to see what would be a harmonious thing to talk about. It seemed to flow out of his sympathatic nature — a humble & vivid interest in other people's work. Some people I think he caused actual pain to by his humility, I have seen Frank Balfour — rather agonised by having knowledge ascribed to himself on a point in which my father claimed to be ignorant. When my father had several guests I think he managed among them very well getting a bit of talk with each or amalgamating 2 or 3 round his chair. In these general talks there was always a good deal of fun, and speaking generally his talk ran naturally to the humourous side of things. When he felt very strongly on any moral
1 F. W. H. Myers was a member of the Society for Psychical Research. Francis and Horace participated in some of the Society's experiments. In relating the story of the experiments, Gwen Raverat points out that such participation was rather uncharacteristic of her empiricist uncles: 'So, being what they were, it was rather wide-minded of my father and Uncle Frank to take part in some of the early psychical experiments conducted by F. W. H. Myers and Professor Henry Sidgwick. Uncle Frank and Mr. Myers were actually each holding an ankle of the medium Eusapia Palladino, when she made the movements which led to her exposure. This was unfortunate, for it shook my uncle's faith in all the subsequent investigations of the Society for Psychical Research. They had probably not much wanted to believe in these manifestations anyhow, but had thought that it would be only fair to give the experiments a trial; but I have the impression that they were rather relieved to discover that the medium was a fraud. Certainly spiritualism went against the grain with them. Once Mr. Myers touched Frank and said: "Frank, let me feel you: a man who really does not WANT immortality." And Frank answered: "Well, Myers, I don't like myself very much as I am, and I really could not bear the thought of going on for ever.' Raverat 1953, p. 189.
thing question — slavery — vivisection — politics — he was apt to feel angry, but in other things there was either a humourous turn in his feelings or a sunny geniality which did instead. Perhaps I have the feeling of humour fun pervading the talk from the best talks being with Huxley, in whom there is the aptness which is akin to humour even when humour itself is not there. Warning Huxley against quarrels. The best fun I ever saw at Down was Huxley chaffing Tyndall who replied heavily & evidently he was doing the chaffing himself. I remember my father enjoying it. My father enjoyed Huxley's fun exceedingly and often said "What splendid fun Huxley is." I think he probably had more scientific arguments (of the nature of a fight) with Lyell and Hooker. I have heard him laugh over the bodily contortions of Lyell & how he used to bunt his head into the sofa & armchairs. I have heard him say (speaking of his talks with Hooker) that he had made Hooker "sputter with rage" — and how Hooker would end an argument, with "Confound you, you would wiggle out of anything."
[As a friend apart from a host
He says in his autobiography that it grieved him to find that he did not care so much for his friends as he used to. Certainly in his early letters at Cambridge he
shows gives proofs of very strong friendship for Herbert and Fox. But no any one except himself would have said that his affection for his friends was of the warmest kind. In taking pains serving a friend he would take great pains — precious time & strength were willingly given. The money for Huxley and the pension for Wallace were examples of the trouble he was glad to take.1 He undoubtedly had to an unusual degree the power of attaching his friends to him. Of all his friendships which I have seen anything of that with Hooker has been the closest and with a stronger element of affection in it. Of quite the younger men Romanes was perhaps his chief friend. My father readily forgave some superficial faults in R, and saw
1 Overworked and amid a costly court imbroglio, Huxley was financially strapped and physically unwell. Charles Darwin asked his friends to contribute to a relief fund that resulted in the raising of over £2000. Darwin himself gave £300. He deposited the sum directly in Huxley's bank account in April 1873. Wallace had been unable to secure gainful employment and was having difficulty supporting his family. Through his connections, Charles Darwin managed to secure for Wallace a £200 per annum civil list pension beginning in 1881.
the good in him. He was always much interested by R's talk, and
felt recognized his warmness of heart, felt the genuine respect and affection with which R regarded him. Miss Buckley1 was one of the few women who could be regarded as his friend — though there were many women whose society he enjoyed very much like Mrs. Lushington, or to whom he felt affection like Laura Forster. But with Miss Buckley, he could talk about her books in which he interested himself; she belonged to the scientific world too through her connection with Lyell. It was a pleasure to my father to see her evident delight in her work, and her success was pleasant to him.
His friendship with Sir John Lubbock was rather melancholy, Sir John had been a sort of pupil of his as a boy, he constantly rode over so that we as children were familiar with the look of his waiting horse. My father had then an affection for him which somehow got out tune in late years
1 Arabella Burton Buxley was a natural historian and writer and worked as a secretary to Sir Charles Lyell. Charles Darwin enjoyed reading her book A Short History of Natural Science (Companion p. 44).65
partly from his feeling that Sir John was cold. Ithink he was much grieved at Sir John making such a remarkably good bargain out of the Sandwalk which he had sold at the highest accomodation kind of price.1 He used to compare it rather bitterly with Mr. Farner selling at agricultural price to his neighbours. I am afraid our feeling to Sir John did not tend to keep warm my father's feeling, we didn't get on very well though he certainly meant to be kind. Lady Lubbock the younger used in enthusiasm to call my father Sir John's 2nd father, and we used to parody this by calling Sir John our second brother.
I will put down some others whose names occur to me as friends; To Galton my father had warm feelings of attachment & whose society he much liked. Dyer's evident attachment & charming manner towards my father would have been enough to make my father feel warmly towards him, even
1 The Darwins had rented the sand walk property from Sir John Lubbock for many years. In 1874 Lubbock sold it to Darwin for £300, the estimate given by county property assessor Baxter Payne.
if his other qualities had not made him attractive. He has the keenest scientific sympathy of anyone I know, being always ready to take delight in other people's work.
The He seemed to take genuine pleasure he took in helping my father in everyway; his letters rather well show how much he made use of him. My father never could understand why Dyer was disliked as apparently he was.
Tyndall he did not see much of, but he came to Down for a Sunday occasionally;
he saw Tyndall's [superior]absurdities
as well as other people; but he could not judge if the qualities in Tyndall which
irritate mathematicians, & was indeed rather inclined to side against them.* — In this connection I once heard Huxley say that Tyndall was the "hardest headed man he knew". If anyone laughed at Tyndall, my father would say that he should stick up for him on
account of his devotion to Farraday. H. Spencer was in something the same relation
that my father saw even less of him than of Tyndall. H. Spencer never staid at
Down. My father had an extraordinarily high opinion of him — & would say that he
would be considered the great man of this age. Yet he
only said he hadn't learnt anything
from HS., that his books were wonderfully suggestive — that any of his chapters* would supply an inductive philosopher with work for years. There were two stories he used to tell about H.S — one was that account of H.S said he had written a tragedy — "And I know what the denoument is" said Huxley. "No said Spencer, "No — I am sure you don't — no human being has ever seen it." Huxley "Oh Yes I do — it was a deduction killed by a fact." — The other was that Hooker warned him that a certain fact in HS's book was only exceptionally true & HS said it didn't matter at all, it would do just as well as an example. I wish I could remember Dr. W. Ogle's account of a conversation between HS & my father. It was
[Note in Manuscript:] * perhaps in Biology
like this — my father after listening to an exposition by HS — "Yes but — " HS "I know what you're going to say & it doesn't apply at all &c &c. . . . CD "But I think you forget — " HS "Oh no — not at all — at a point that &c &c."
There were certain people he used to go to see in London. Burdon Sanderson, Judd, Günther, Frankland; Of his intercourse — with Burdon Sanderson he always spoke with the greatest pleasure — both from the interest of the matter of their talks & the personal charm of the man. He sometimes wrote to these people to know if he should find them in, but very often to their grief he did not write & failed to find them in. Some expression of sorrow at missing these calls of my father have given me the impression how much pleasure he gave in this way.
His intercourse with strangers was marked with scrupulous & rather formal politeness, though he had not very much opportunity of meeting strangers. He had one or two stories about talks with strangers which I cannot remember distinctly however. I remember he used to speak of a long and pleasant talk he had with Bob Lowe on a coach in N. Wales when they were both young men. He had a story of trying to get a church dignitary to talk in a railway carriage and
utterly failing until he offered him some gingerbread which caused him to unbend & they had a pleasant talk. He had rather a prejudice against young curates and bishops & enjoyed Uncle Harry's proverb "A bench of bishops is the devils flower garden." He used to tell how in starting a railway journey with a bishop in his carriage had spoken in a ferociously rude manner to the newspaper
who had relieved his feelings by means of a sympathetic grin behind the bishops back. On one occasion he met a simple minded curate who spoke his mind to him & wanted to know whether my father thought his rector would let him go to see his dying mother. My father's receipt for silencing a bore who would talk to him was to look steadily at them and say yes or no to everything they said. He did not realise that people would know him from his photograph, and I remember him at the Crystal Palace aquarium saying in uneasy voice that somebody had been looking at him & he
was afraid supposed he must have been recognised. The quiet life he led at Down made him feel bothered in a large society, and for instance at the R. Soc. soirées he felt confused & [moithered]. The feeling that he ought to know people and the difficulty he had in remembering faces in his later years also added to his discomfort on such occasions.
Money matters and business. — to go with answering letters
In this respect he was remarkably careful & exact. He kept accounts with great care, classifying them and balance at the end of the year
with like a merchant. His father must have led him to believe that he would be poorer than he really was for some of the difficulty that he had in finding a house when they settled in the country must have arisen from the modest sum he felt prepared to give. I remember the quick way he used to reach out for his account book to enter his each cheque paid,
in a hurry to get it down before he had forgotten it. Although the same Yet he knew of course that he would be comfortably off, and he gave this as one of the reasons for his not having gone in for the profession of Dr with so much zeal as he would have done if he had known that he would have to gain his living. Tho' he saved largely every year he was always alarmed at the increasing expenditure of his household; and we used to call the Christmas balancing the "work house season" from the dismal forecasts he made half in earnest.
[smaller paper size, probably an insertion — now faded]
Maybe put among "guest"1
The only thing that occurs to me was the way in which he shook hands. With a guest who was being welcomed for the first time his hand used to shoot out in a way that gave one the feeling that it was hastening to meet his guest's hand. With old friends his hand came out with a heart felt swing into the other's hand in a way I always took pleasure in seeing.
1 This paragraph does not follow logically from the preceding one. Apparently it is an insertion that Francis wanted to make in this section of the 'Reminisences' that concerns friends and guests. He mentions his father's handshake earlier in the text (see p. 4), but determines it fits better here.
[smaller paper size, probably an insertion — the last part faded and unreadable]
One of my fathers favourite economies was in paper, he tore all the shorter letters he got in half to save the clean sheet, and he had a portfolio full of such half sheets he used for making notes — it was part of
his respect for paper that made him write so much on the backs on his old MS,
unfortunately in this way he destroyed large parts of the MS of his books. — His feelings
about paper extended to waste paper and he objected, half in fun, to the careless way I had of
throwing a spill in the fire when I had lighted a candle. I have alluded to the satisfaction
he took in filling his waste paper basket with scraps. He used to scold me in the same way
for screwing up paper into tight balls, saying that the housemaids did this quite enough by
nature* — Candles were another pet saving of his, he couldn't endure seeing that a candle
should be left burning
when on a table, where no one was using it. I can remember him often
raging some such thing as "Put out some of these candles you extravagant trots". He used
sometimes to wet the red hot wick with his finger (to stop it smouldering) in such an
effective way that it would light for some time afterwards.
[Note in manuscript] *This was a special complaint of his against housemaids.
I suppose it was partly his fondness for money that made him do things that we his
children thought had better not be done when we grew up and found out about them. For
instance, he sold a gold watch given to his father by Ld Powis. The beautiful Haxman & the Barberini's cast were all sold
for at a nominal sum, part of the money (or all?) being spent on a billiard table.
— On the other hand this partly arose from a want of imagination, knowledge of the value of
these things, and a want of imagination in not seeing that we might care for them. This
was shown by the way the Haxman things were stuck in a row high up where they could
not be properly seen & got covered with dust — the same thing was shown by the way we as children were allowed to use old Wedgwood plaques as toys till they were fortunately saved by the remainder being given to Hooker. It is certainly curious that so affectionate & sympathetic a man should have had so little love of heirlooms as to give
away a little Wedgwood vase given him by his father, tho' it is in good hands with Hooker. The want of love for such things was shown by his taking no steps to buy up any of the old Shrewsbury things when all Dr R.WD's goods — plate, china &c were sold off.
My father was wonderfully liberal and generous to all his children in the matter of money, and I have special cause to remember his kindness when I think of the way in which he paid some Cambridge debts of mine — somehow making it out a virtue in me to have told him of them. In his later years he had the kind & generous plan of dividing his surplus at the years end among his children — a plan he borrowed from Mrs Norman of Bromley Common.
This reminds me of a story of his own Cambridge days. He owed his tailor £100, (I think he said he owed no one else much) and was sitting at breakfast at Shrewbury with his father and a guest an old Col (Leighton?). His father announced to him a legacy of £100, which the old Col remarked would
just do to pay his tailors bill; & with this my father agreed with to Dr. RWD's horror amazement. In his letters to Fox are some in which he buys birds &c for Fox and gives an account of his spendings, in a careful way; in another letter he sneers at Fox as keeping accounts implying that he himself did not do so — In after years he was somewhat uneasy at his son's laxness in this respect. I remember the pleasure I felt in his approval of the accounts I kept at School of the money he gave me for travelling subscriptions &c. I have a dim recollection of his being impressed by the gorgeous slanting line to carry the eye down to the line where the balance was given. He always had an
admiration great respect for pure business capacity, and often spoke with admiration of Uncle Charles' Langton's have doubled his fortune. And of himself he used often to say
that what he really was proud of was the money he had saved. His anxiety to save came in great measure from his fears that his children wouldn't have health enough to earn their own living. He took much pleasure in the money he made from his books. And I have a dim recollection of his saying Thank God you'll have bread & cheese" so long ago that I was rather inclined to take it [easy]. This fear that his children would not have good health comes in over and over again in his letters.
In my account of his day I have given the time in each day
when he at during which he rested; it was a sure sign that he was not well when he was idle at any times other than those which I have mentioned. Where As for the days on which he rested — they are included in the definite holidays
which he took, for when he was at work all days were the same to him. He worked on Sundays exactly the same hours as on other days. The only occasion which I can remember his being at Church were the christening of the baby Charles who died, and the funeral of Uncle Ras; the first occasion (the christening) I only remember because my father was there which to us children an extraordinary and abnormal occurrence. I remember his
figure look most distinctly at Uncle Ras' funeral standing wrapped in a long black funeral cloak in the scattering of snow that feel, with grave sad look of sad reverie.
He kept an accurate journal of the days he worked and those on which his ill health prevented him from working — so that it would be possible to tell how many days in the year he was idle in. In this journal — which by the way was a little
[Top of page cut off, possible text restored by the editor (Brown):]
[yellow Letts's Diary, which lay open on his mantel-piece, piled on the diaries of previous years — he also entered the day on which he started for a holiday and that of his return.]
Holidays. The most frequent holidays were visits of a week to London either to Uncle Ras' house (6 Q. Anne St) or to Henriettas (at 4 Bryanston St). These short holidays he was generally persuaded to take by my mother when it became clear from the frequency of "bad days" of from his head swimming &c that he was being over worked. He went unwillingly and tried to drive hard bargains
about cutting off a day from the stipulating that he should be allowed to come home in 5 days instead of 6. — The start was always made by the earliest possible train — or rather the earliest train that he liked to take my mother by who had not the
same taste for early starts. Even if he were going merely for a week the packing had to be begun early in the day before, and the chief part of it he would do himself. He had a favourite ole blue bag like a lawyers in which he kept his warm fur boots [3 words illeg]or and this he generally carried himself. When the time came for starting he suffered real discomfort while waiting for the carriage and he used to complain of the horrid sinking feelings such a start gave him. The discomfort of a journey to him was chiefly in the anticipation even a fairly long journey like that to Coniston tired him wonderfully little considering how much an invalid he was — and he certainly enjoyed it in an almost boyish way, and to a curious extent. On the later journeys which we took as a family we managed to persuade him to take a saloon carriage — though he considered it as a piece of
presumption and extravagance for one in his station of life. He often sang the praises of these saloon carriages, & how comfortable we were in them with a sofa for himself & another for my mother. The holidays in which we took a house for a month in the summer were considered by him as things not to be allowed every year — ; it required a good deal of determination on my mother's part to urge him to agree to them at all, and I remember the half real half pretended disgust with which he heard the plans being made. Some special account of these outings will come more properly under the different years of his life.
He We used to try and choose places where he could take walks not above his powers & where he could have a variety of scenery, & not too hilly. I think he found the country at the head of Conistons water an ideal place for his kind of walks, and often spoke enthusiastically of the pleasure its beauty had given him. When we had Caerdeon between Barworth and Dolgelly he was not well, and I remember so well the longing with which he spoke of having failed so utterly in setting anything like a walk on the Welsh hillls — which he had so many old associations with
Besides these longer holidays there were shorter visits to various relations — among the pleasantest were those to Wm at Southampton; the dry heathy & fir covered county was a pleasant contrast to Down, and there some [only] short walks which suited him. Mrs Bulwers woods being especially nice. My father took a great deal of interest in all Wms plans and improvements. In old days he went to Hartfield where the Langtons and Aunt Eliz lived, and the wild sandy "forest" suited him to perfection for wandering in. He never was quite idle even on these holidays and found things to observe — at Hartfield he watched a kind of ant which were not found at Down, at Torquay he observed some Orchid fertilisn I think Spiranthes, and made out the relations of the sexes in Thyme — at Eastbourne he watched Drosera catching insects &c. He was always rejoiced to get home after his holidays; he used to greatly
enjoy the welcome he got from his dog Polly, who would get wild with excitement, howling & squaeking & jumping up and rushing round the room, & jumping off and on the chairs; he used to stoop down & let her lick his face speaking to her with particularly tender caressing voice.
Besides the holidays which I have mentioned there were his visits to the water cure. He began in 1849 when very ill suffering from constant sickness. He was urged to try to water cure by Fox (or Sulivan) and at last agreed to try Dr. Gully's establishment.1 — His letters to Fox show how much good the treatment did him: I fancy he thought that he found a cure for his troubles,
which but like all other remedies it had only a transient effect on him. However he found it at first so good for him that he built himself a douche when he came home, & Parslow learned to be his bathman. He thought Dr. Gully a
1 James Manby Gully, M.D. (1808-1883) moved to England in 1814 from his father's coffee plantation in Kingston, Jamaica. He matriculated at the University of Edinburgh in 1825, the same year as Charles Darwin, but decided after three years in residence to continue his study of medicine at the Ecole de Médecine in Paris. Convinced in 1842 of the efficacy of hydropathy by his friend James Wilson, whom he always accredited the introduction of hydropathy into England, Gully, along with Wilson, established a spa at Malvern. Malvern became a popular resort for the dyspetic VIP s of the day. Darwin first went to Gully's spa in 1849 during his gout-plagued days at work on the taxonomy of barnacles. Darwin returned to Gully's establishment several times, but after Annie died at Malvern 1851, the place always bore grievous associations for Darwin. (PNB)
clever Dr but I do not think he liked him. He was repelled by all the homeopathy & spiritualism that Dr Gully favoured. — He so far humoured Dr G. as to allow himself to be examined by a medical clairvoyante.
who This person who localized the mischief in the stomach, in doing so he followed as my father believed some unconscious hints from Gully or his assistant." It was I think to this clairvoyante to whom my father offered a £5 note if she could tell him the number. She scornfully refused demean herself in such a way, though as she said adding that she had a maidservant at home who would do did that sort ofthing. They He visited Malvern again in 1851, and it was then that his little girl Annie died. It may have been in consequence of this that he gave up Malvern, and did not return till 1863 when however he did not take the water cure. — have heard my father say that I screamed the whole way on the journey to Malvern.
He paid many visits to Moor Park. Dr. Lane's
where water cure establishment in Surrey not far from Aldershot. These visits were pleasant ones, and he always seemed to look back with pleasure on them. Here again he had a wild heathy county which suited him; and he had a strong liking and regard for Dr. Lane and old Lady Drysdale (his mother). — He made friends at Moor Park with an Irish lady named a Miss Butler who amused him with bright anecdoty talk & and who used to be celebrated among us as having seen the ghost of her father when he didn't die. He used to tell how he made friends with Miss Butler by through the fact that she like himself put salt on the table cloth to eat with her bread.
In the autumn of 1859 when worn out by the finishing of Origin he went to the water cure place at Ilkley in Yorkshire — Ilkley, but he was either lamed with sprained ankle or miserably unwell with eczema the whole time & [some word illeg]no pleasant recollection of the place.
It is very difficult to seize on the characteristics of my father's conversation. It was always characerized by great modesty but that was an
characteristic attribute of every part of his character. He was not a goo great talker, but had one of the qualities of one for he was a very good listener. — He enjoyed the talk of scientific men extremely but it tired him very much; he used to tell how he was calling on Carpenter who flowed on till my [father] beginning to get exhausted said that he must go, to which Carpenter replied "Oh don't go I'm not at all tired." I think he has himself told the story of Buckle saying "Well Mr Darwin's book are better than powers talk" or some such words. He liked amusing talk extremely, & got into such a sympathetic condition with a man like Lowell that he laughed at almost everything he said. I remeber how much he enjoyed the excellent fun made by W. Ogle about Gall. In his talk he He had more dread than most people of repeating his stories, and continually said you must have heard me tell — or "I dare say I've told you" — One peculiarity he had which gave a curious effect when he began to say something it reminded him of some exception
or some reason against what he was going to say. And this again brought up some other point, so that the sentence would become a
mass system of parenthesis within parenthesis — and it was often impossible to understand him what he was talking until he came to the end of his sentence. He used to say of himself that he wasn't ready enough to hold an argument with anyone, and I think this was true. Unless it was a subject on which he was just then at work, he could not get the train of argument into working order quickly enough. This is shown in his letters, thus in the case of two letters to Semper about isolation. He did not bring up the series of facts he wanted until some days after the first letter had been sent off. When puzzled in talking he had a peculiar stammer on the first word of a sentence; (it was not exactly a stammer but a kind of useless repetition of the first syllable — I cannot define it). I only recall this occurring except with words beginning with w — possibly he had a special difficulty with w, for I have heard him say that as a boy he could not pronounce w
and he had sixpence offered him if he could say "white wine" which he pronounced "rite rine" Possibly he may have inherited a tendency to stammer from Eras D. who stammered. My father related a Johnsonian answer of Eras D's "Don't you find it very inconvenient
stammering Dr. D ?" "No Sir — because I have time to think before I speak and don't ask impertinent
questions. — He kept to the midland pronounciation of such words as palte not partle &c, and
used retained for the long old fashioned pronounciation cowcumber and Jarsey for Jersey. — He had too some words either peculiar to Shrewsbury town (or house?) sych as "boss" for footstool, scrattel for a fidgetty house wife. Can this be the domestic demon Skrattel in Grimm or Gammer Grettel? He was hardly ever irritated in conversation. He sometimes mixed up his metaphors in a curious way — such a thing as "holding on like life" — a mixture of "holding on for his life" & "holding on like grim death." It came from the eager way he put emphasis into what he was saying without thinking of manner. This gave a kind of air of exaggeration sometimes. But it gave too a noble air of strong and generous conviction as for instance when he gave his Vivisection evidence
and came out with his sentence "it deserves detestation and abhorence." — When he felt strongly about some public question he could hardly trust himself to speak as he then easily became angry & which he disliked excessively —;& if he said anything
when was becoming angry it seemed to his own words seemed to multiply the anger. (This doesn't express what I want, it is too strong; also I should add that such such occasions were excessively rare.)
(He knew that he had this tendency to multiply his anger & thus dreaded to scold a servant lest he should become angry. It will show how very rare his anger was if I record my earliest recollection of it. One of the gardners (Lettington) complained of another (Brooks who was his father in law) because he had used bad language. So Brooks was called into the study and the door being open, I heard from the hall what was going on. My father was
saying "You know you're a very bad tempered man." Then came a very melancholy "Yes Sir." — Then get out of this room — you ought to be ashamed of yourself. The tone of my father's voice gave me feeling of the awfulness of the situation — and I remember rushing upstairs for no reason but from a general sense of dread. Not that I should ever have dreamt of any of the anger being reflected on to me.
It was a great proof of the modesty of his style of talking that when for instance a lot of people came up from the Lubbocks for a Sunday afternoon call, he never seemed to be preaching or lecturing although he had so much of the talk to himself. He was particularly charming when "chaffing" any one and in high spirits over it.
His manner was so lighthearted & boyish, and I think his refinement of nature came out very strongly then, for "chaff" is a good test of a man's refinement. He had something of the same manner when talking to a lady who pleased & amused him — he had a delightful combination of raillery and deference in this kind of talk, which he used to call flirting.
A cousin of ours C. Darwin a young army man (and rather a young man of the period) paid his talk a high compliment — "I thought your father would be a regular sage don't you know — but he's very good company — he seems to care (or know?) about everything." Another and old man of the world impressed the same idea by saying that Mr. Darwin was a "learned party and a good fellow."
The fact that for so many years he had
books of all sorts read aloud to him reading aloud several time a day, each reading being at least 1/2 hr, enabled him to get through a great deal of lighter literature. He was extremely fond of novels. I remember the way he would anticipate the pleasure of a read of novel as he lay down — or lighted his cigarettas. He took a vivid interest both in plot & characters, and would in no account know the end of a story. He used considered looking at the end of a novel as a feminine vice. He could not enjoy any story with a tragical end & would say that there ought to be a law against such books. He especially enjoyed Mrs Gaskell's, G. Elliot he did not so much like but often spoke warmly in praise of Silas Marner. Walter Scot & Miss Austen were read or reread till they could be read no more.
He especially enjoyed a pretty heroine, and often spoke of the beauty of the heroine in the [illeg] (whose beauty is hardly mentioned.) In this he resembled Uncle Ras who was so much influenced by the heroine that he was a very untrustworthy guide in the matter of novels. He had 2 or 3 books going on at once, a novel and perhaps a biography and a book of travels. In choosing this class of book he was sometimes influenced by reviews but afterwards became cautious and used to complain of the untrustworthiness of notices in journals. He did not read out of the way or old & standard books very much — but generally went through the round of Mudie books which every one else was reading at the same time. He did not strike me as having the same sort of cultivated taste as Uncle Ras — tho' I can't say quite what I mean. I do not think his taste & opinions about
were on a level with the rest of his mind. I think he considered himself as quite outside the pale of literary taste and often spoke of what those within it liked or disliked — as if they were a class in which he had no part. This was much more evident in the case of poetry . He has himself described how his taste for poetry faded — and this he much regretted. In later years he tried some Shakespeare but said he could not understand it.
In all matters of taste he was inclined to laugh at professed amateurs and say that their opinions were all fashion. Thus in painting, he used to say how in his day everyone was for Guido &c. who are now neglected. And in music he had lived through the Mendelssohn rage and applied his fashion theory here also. When at Cambridge he was fond of pictures
and especially of engravings, and went often to the Fitzwilliam. But this taste like that of poetry died out in later years from want of opportunity . His love of pictures of a young man
must show is almost a proof that he must have had an appreciation of a portrait as work of art not as a likeness. Yet he often sneered in fun at portrait painters and said a photograph was worth any number of pictures as if he were blind to the artistic quality in a painted portrait. But this was generally said in his attempts to ward off his own picture being painted which was irksome to him.
This way of looking at himself as an ignoramus in all matters of taste, was perhaps also part of his absolute absence of pretence and the unaffected courage of his opinions which he had in so high a degree.
I remember an instance that sounds like a contradiction to this. When he was looking at the Turners in Ruskins bedroom, he did not confess as he did afterwards, that he could make out absolutely nothing of what Ruskin saw in them. But this little pretence was not for his own sake but for the sake of courtesy of Ruskin. He was much amused when subsequently Ruskin brought some photos of pictures (I think Vandyke portraits) and told my father there was no man whose opinions he valued more.
(What follows ought to come after novels &c)
B. I think my father's wide interest in branches of science that were not specially his was very remarkable.
Thus In the biological sciences his doctrines make themselves felt so widely that there was something specially concerning him in most things. But even here he read a good deal of many special works — he [would]read large parts of text books such as Huxley's Invert. Anatomy; and or such a book as Balfour's Embryology tho' the general conclusions where [some]of the detail was ne not specially in his own[line.] Even And in the case of elaborate books of the monograph type, such as eg Relgius' big nerve book, tho' he could not read them yet he found the keenest sympathy with & admirn for them.
In the nonbiological sciences he felt the sympathy with work which he could not really judge of. A small
proof example of this was is that he used to read nearly the whole of Nature even so much of which is physical.
[I have often heard] him say that he got a kind of satisfaction in reading articles which
said (according to himself) he could not understand. — I wish I could reproduce the manner in which he would laugh at this own thing himself for it.
It was remarkable too how he kept up his interest in subjects at which he had formerly worked. — This was strikingly the case with geology. In one of his letters to Judd he asks him to come & call saying that after Lyell's death he hardly ever gets a geological talk. His observation on the upright pebbles in the drift as Southhampton discussed in a letter to Geikie is another instance. Again in the letter to Dohrn he shows how his love for barnacles remained alive.
I think it was all part of the extraordinary vitality and persistence of his mind — a quality I have heard him speak of as if he felt that he
were was strongly gifted in that respect. — The example that It was shown in Not that he spoke of his interests remaining alive but he used to say that he had the power of keeping a subject or question more or less before him for a great many years. When one considers the tremendous mass of different problems he solved — it makes one feel how great this power was. — His letters show to some extent the early period at which some of the later books or subjects began to occupy him.
As I have known him his only outdoor recreation besides walking was riding. — Henrietta has given a good account of his riding on his quiet old cob Tommy and how after Tommy fell with him on Keston Common he gradually gave up riding. There is a good photograph of him on Tommy. He enjoyed these rides extremely, and devised a number of short rounds which brought him back in time for lunch. Our country was very good for this owing to the numbers of small valleys which gave a variety to what wd have been in a flat country a dull loop of road. He was not I think naturally fond of horses but he had a friendly feeling for Tommy. He used to quote him as an example of the stupidity of horses; how he would ride round and round the field and every time Tommy would look in an alarmed manner at the same heap of hedge clippings. I think he used to feel surprised at himself, when he remembered how bold a rider he had been & how utterly old age and bad health had taken away his nerve.
(His walks I have already said something of in the diary of one of his days.) Another place he was fond of was fond of was Orchis Bank where fly
orchis & musk orchis among the Junipers and Cephalanthura & [Retzia] under the beach boughs, & many others & the little wood Hangrove just above this he was also fond of. I remember his collecting grasses there when he took a fancy to make out the names of all the common grasses. *(I think it was here that Lenny as a little boy found one that my father had not seen before and had it by him all dinner remarking "I are an extraordinary grass finder"). In dry summer weather when we sat out much, the big flywheel of the well was often making sound, & so the sound became associated with these pleasant days. — My father much enjoyed wandering slowly in the garden with my mother or some of his children — or making one of a party sitting out on a bench [two words crossed out] on the lawn. I think he personally sat on the grass, & I often remember him lying under the big lime trees with his head on the green mound at its foot. He used to like to watch us playing lawn tennis, but the marking made him playfully indignant, and he
maintained it was all affectation
saying marking by 15 30 40 instead of 1,2,3. He often knocked up a stray ball for us with the curved handle of his stick. He took no share in the management of the garden which was my mother's business; & he sometimes regretted that he did not — like my his own father "look after things" especially as regards the greenhouse. Nor did he see after horses or cows or any outdoor things — and thus things went on very slackly, so that a miller cheated us for years in giving short measure, and one of the gardeners (Dupuis) sold a cow without any one knowing about it. He considered the house so little his concern that he used to ask humbly whether he might have a horse & cart to send to Keston for Drosera or Westerham nursuries for plants &c. The verandah which was built onto the drawing room was his idea, and gave him much pleasure as he often sat there in his Japanese wicker chair shown in
Leos photograph.1 It was a pretty verandah with tesselated floor, and wooden posts covered with little Virginian creeper, and with white clematis trained along the rafters, and Atlumia grown from A. Grays seed springing up in a big flower box in the corner & often decorated with big plants such as Vellota in pots. He took great delight in the beauty of flowers — for instance in the mass of Azaleas which generally stood in the drawing room. I think he fused together in some cases his admiration of
some structure in of a flower with its intrinsic beauty, the as for instance in the big pendulous pink & white flowers of Dielytra (Fumariaceae). When he was admiring flowers he would often laugh at the dirty high art colours & compare them with the bright tints of flowers. Certain flowers he would never allow to be fit for decoration but would class as "vulgar". This was particularly the case with daisies which then made out for nosegays with grass & c. In the same way he had an affection half artistic half botanical for the little blue lobelia. Some of the ladies used to try & trick him
1 Leonard Darwin took this photograph of his father c. 1874 (Companion p. 97).
into admiring an arrangement of "vulgar" flowers such as perhaps white potato flowers & carrot leaves with a dash of autumn red in them." I used to like to hear him
praise admire the beauty of a flower; it was a kind of gratitude to the flower itself, and a personal love for its delicate petals form & colour. I seem to remember him gently touching a flower he delighted in. This sounds sentimental but it was the same simple admiration a child might have. It ran through all his relation to natural things — a most keen feeling of their aliveness. Sometimes it came out in abuse & not praise. E.g. of some seedlings — 'The little beggars are doing just what I don't want them to" — Or the half provoked half admiring way he spoke of the ingenuity of a Mimosa leaf in screwing itself out of a basin of water in which he tired to plunge it. One might see the same spirit in his way of speaking or working at Drosera-worms &c. This sounds s
To come back from the garden to walking, riding &c. If I go beyond my own experience & remember what I have heard him say of his love for sport &c I can think of a good deal but much of it will be in the Autobiography. — At school he was fond of bat-fives and this was the only game he could play well, as I have heard him say he was bad at Cricket; he would also never learn to swim especially well. He was the best jumper in the school and could jump up to the apple in his throat — which must have been a good jump considering that his height. I remember as a boy being surprised that he should know that one couldn't get a good take off if the run at the jump was slightly downhill. As a boy he began shooting and I have heard him tell of his agony. He was sitting on a bank with his gun out of reach and a flock of some
large seabirds flew close over his head.
He went shooting at some of the Shropshire squires before he was much of a shot, & he used to tell how the old squire told him not to shoot the house; but after a few shots he said he might do so — seeing no doubt that his shooting was harmless. He afterwards became a good shot & he used to tell how in S. America he killed 23 snipe in 24 shots. In telling the story he was careful to add that he thought they weren't quite so wild as English snipe. He had many stories about shooting; one was in reference to the record of birds he killed which he kept — he had a string hanging from his button hole and tied a knot in it for each bird killed. There is an old note book at Down with the record of each days shooting. I think it was at Woodhouse that his friends seeing his keenness entered into a conspiracy & claimed each bird he shot, saying that they fired too & appealing to the keeper who entered
the trick. He thought that they were behaving shabbily in always firing at his birds;
and they did not tell him until his days record was hopelessly spoiled. A shot from his gun once injured one of his a friend (Owen?) in the eye. This friend [word obliterated] years afterwards said this eye was the greatest advantage to him in India as he got sick leave by irritating it so that the surgeon said he was in danger of the inflammn spreading to the other eye. He has described the delights of shooting at Maer — I particularly recall remember how he used to say that he could recall the look of the dark kitchen where his cold breakfast was laid out the night before; and how he used to prepare his shooting boots with the laces all ready for putting on without the least loss of time. His stories of the fine shooting at Cambridge used to delight me as a boy. How they left the ditches with a leaping pole, & threw their guns over to each other. The pole was carried by a nondescript old man who also marked for them as well & was called Marco Polo. He was also fond of fishing tho' he did not compare it to shooting. He fished for coarse
fish in the pool at Maer,1 & remembered the place where he caught a celebrated big one. But trout fishing at Barmouth was what I have heard him speak of. In the lakes behind the village there were piles of big rocks & by getting from one to another he could get out far from the shore. It struck him (afterwards?) that he might easily have slipped & got his legs wedged in between two rocks under water & so have been drowned. In one of the letters to Ray Lankester he describes how as a boy he killed the worms used
for fishing used for bait with salt as he did not like to put them on the hook alive; tho' no doubt the dead worms were comparatively bad bait.2
I have small recollection of hunting stories; only such slight things as his bitter disappointment at his horse being lamed the first day he rode it & so his losing all the hunting with the harriers which he was looking forward to. I remember too his mentioning smashing a five bar gate to bits
1 Maer is the name of the Wedgwood estate in Staffordshire.
2 Upon publication of Earthworms, Darwin sent a copy to E. Ray Lankester, Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College London. Lankester wrote back to Darwin to thank him for the copy and to ask him if he knew of any experiments investigating the influence of seawater on earthworms. In Darwin's reply to Lankester on 13 October 1881, he recounts he experience as a young angler in Shrewsbury: 'I have been much pleased and interested by your note. I never actually tried sea-water, but I was very fond of angling when a boy, and as I could not bear to see the worms wriggling on the hook, 1 dipped them always first in salt water, and this killed them very quickly. I remember, though not very distinctly, seeing several earthworms dead on the beach close to where a little brook entered, and I assumed that they had been brought down by the brook, killed by the sea-water, and cast on shore. With your skill and great knowledge, I have no doubt that you will make out much new about the anatomy of worms, whenever you take up the subject again.' Francis Darwin included the letter in his second collection of his father's correspondence published sixteen years after the first in co-editorship with the Albert Charles Seward. More letters vol. 2
and the other men thanking him for opening the gate, as he lay on the ground. There was a story too of "larking" home with some elderly squire who was slightly tipsy & who was thrown onto his head & who had to be extracted purple with rage out of his tall hat wedged down onto his head. At Cambridge he hunted a good deal, I suppose XC1 was a riding college compared to what it is now for he said there were 4 or 5 horses at the gates on a hunting morning. In a letter to Fox he mentions a party of them riding "like friends" to a neighboring village to see a fire getting home at 2(?) in the morning. There is some chaff in these letters about his standing about the stables & "looking knowing" as if he led what would be thought rather a horsey life now.
1 XC = Christ's College, Cambridge.
He was always fond of dogs, and as a young man, used to have the power of stealing away the affections of his sister dogs, & the same thing happened at Cambridge with WD Fox's dog — whether this is the dog that he speaks of as poor little Fan in some of the Fox letters, I do not know. I remember that he had a little dog at Cambridge which used to creep down inside his bed to the bottom and sleep there every night. The earliest story that I [know] about him in this connection, is that he used to shut up a little terrier & then run round & round the garden & at last get up a tree, then the terrier was loosed, & he had the fun of watching it hunting his scent up to the foot of the tree. Perhaps this amusement was imitated from a neighbour who used to run certain swift footed cobler with blood hounds, the cobler had 1/2 hr less given him and these got up a tree.
He had a surly dog who was devoted to him but unfriendly to every one else, & when he came back from the Beagle voyage the dog remembered him but in a curious way which me father was fond of telling. He went into the yard & shouted
to the dog in his old way & the dog ran out & went a walk without any signs of pleasure, just as if he had been out with him the day before.
In my memory there were only two dogs which were anything to my father. One was a large black & white half bred retreiver [sic] & ? called Bob, to which we were much devoted as children. He used to walk with my father who was not however particularly fond of him. The story of Bob's "hothouse face" is told in the Expressions Bk. My father was interested in Bob's acute powers of scent, & would tell how he had seen Bob standing on the lawn evidently perceive my father's
across the field. There was a story of my father's of a parasol blowing about the lawn & Bob's antics, which I have forgotten.
But the dog who was associated with my father was a [rough]white fox terrier called Polly. She was originally Henrietta's dog, but after her marriage became my fathers. She was very affectionate & being a clever dog, she always discovered by the signs of packing going on in the study
when that my father was going away, & became low spirited accordingly. She began too to be excited by seeing the study prepared for his return home. She was a cunning little creature & used to tremble or put on an air of misery when my father passed while she was waiting for dinner, just as if she knew that he would say that she was famishing. My father used to make her catch biscuits off her nose, and had a particular affectionate & mock solemn way of explaining to her before hand how she must be very [good].
She had a red mark on her back where she had been burnt, and my father used to point this out as being in accordance with his theory of pangenesis — for her father had been a red bull-terrier, so that the red hair coming after the burn showed the presence of latent red gemmules.1 My father was delightfully tender to Polly & never showed any impatience at the attention she required such as scratching to be let in at the door or out at the verandah window to bark at the "naughty people." — She died or rather had to be killed a few days after his death; she became very ill with
some a swelling in her throat, and kept creeping away several times as if to die; & we had to she died a second or two after she was killed instanteously with prussic acid which I gave her & she was buried in the orchard under a little mound of turf. The basket in which she lay curled up near the fire in his study in Haig's etching. [See] B p 18
1 In Variation, Darwin forwards an explanation of heredity he terms a 'Provisional Hypothesis of Pangenesis,' which, 'until a better one be advanced, . . . will serve to bring together a multitude of facts which are at present left disconnected by any efficient cause.' His hypothesis rests on a few basic assumptions: The chief assumption is that all the units of the body, besides having the universally admitted power of growing by self-division, throw off minute gemmules which are dispersed through the system.. . . But we have further to assume that the gemmules grow, multiply, and aggregate themselves into buds and the sexual elements; their development depending on their union with other nascent cells or units. They are also believed to be capable of transmission in a dormant state, like seeds in the ground, to successive generations. On the basis of the last assumption of his hypothesis, Darwin evidently interpreted the change in Polly's fur as an instance of reversion through the expression of dormant gemmules. Variation vol. 2.
He always said of himself that it was saving the minutes that enabled him to get through his work. He
certainly had a great regard for time, & speaks in some of his letters with disgust of losing a day. I think one about being photographed. The One great characteristic in his way of working was the great respect for time, he never forgot how precious it was. This was shown in the way in
which he bargained for 5 days instead of 6 holidays; his dislike of longer holidays was
partly dislike of losing time, partly his love of home & his own way there. But his feelings
for time was shown more clearly with respect to shorter intervals periods.
— respect for other people's work 160 — ?
love of truth &[1 word illeg] of same — 156
He used to
speak of say that
saving the minutes was the way to get work done. He showed this love of saving the
in difference he
felt between 1/4 hr & 10 minutes work: he never wasted a few spare minutes from thinking that
is wasn't worth while to do such a small bit of work. I was often struck by the way in
which he would work up to the very limit of his strength — stopping suddenly in dictating &
saying "I believe I mustn't do anymore." — The same eager
feelings desire of not [wanting] to lose
time was seen in the quick way in which he moved when at work. I particulary
remember noticing this when he was doing an experiment on the roots of beans which
required some care in manipulation; fastening on the little bits of card in the roots was
done without carefully & necessary slowly but the intermediate movements were all quick — taking a
fresh bean seeing that the tip was healthy, impaling it on a pin, fixing it in a cork lid ensuring that it was vertical &c — all these
were done with
an eager movement a kind of restrained eagerness. He always gave one the impression of
working for with pleasure and not with any drag. — There were other examples of saving time
besides those due to quickness of movement — such eg as cutting off the very few 2 or 3 lines of MS
& gumming them in elsewhere which I think saved time but gave some trouble. I recall an image too of him recording the result of some experiment, looking at each root & then
writing with equal eagerness. I remember the quick movement of his head bobbing up & down as he looked
from the object to the notes.
I think he saved a great deal of time from not having to do things twice; although he would patiently go on repeating experiments where there was any good to be gained, he could not endure having to repeat an experiment which ought to have succeeded before if complete care had been taken — & this gave him a continual anxiety that the experiment should not be wasted — it made the experiment sacred however slight a one it was . His eagerness not to lose the time given to the experiment gave him zeal to be careful over every part & thus
he always wished to learn as much as possible from an experiment, & thus did not confine himself to observing the simple point to which the exp. was directed but had a wonderful power of seeing a number of other things. I don't think he cared for preliminary or rough experiments intended to serve as a guide & to be repeated. Any experiment done was to be of some use, & in this connection I remember how strongly he always urged me to keep the notes of experiments which failed — as he always did himself.
In the literary part of his work he had same horror of losing time & the same zeal in what he was doing at the moment, which made him careful & not to have to read a second time unnecessarily. Thus he always made notes of what he read, generally pencil remarks in margin, and reference to page at the end of the book.
His natural tendency was to use simple materials and simple & few instruments. The use of the compound microscope has come in very much at the expense of the simple one. It is a curious thing to consider that he had no compound microsope when he went his Beagle voyage, this was in consequence of the advice of some one who was an authority in such things, (possibly R. Brown?). He always had a great liking for the single micro: and manitained that now a days it was too much neglected and that
peop one ought always to see as much as possible with the simple before taking to the compound. In a letter (to Spence Bate) he speaks of this & that he always suspects the work of a man who never uses the simple microscope. His compound microscope was an old Smith & Beck but in his latter years, he got a small Hartnack which he delighted in; he was never direct when he got it he said he should never use his S & B again; and he kept to this & I think he. The old S & B had its stage cut off & was often used
the character of circumnatn in plants. At first like other people he found it difficult to move the glass slips carefully enough, but he soon invented for himself the plan of wetting the stage so that the glass moved stiffly. He used to laugh at himself for having boasted (to Huxley?) of this invention & how
Huxley (if it was showing it proved to have been discovered before him. He had a very good simple micro made by Smith & Beck after his directions with a really steady stand the upright not unscrewing & so being
firmer. He had too a couple of 1 which fitted over the wooden part of the stand &
on the sloping surfaces of which he rested his elbows in dissecting. The only other thing that I know he had made specially for him were 2 pr of forceps made by Weiss with a specially weak spring. He had a few small knives and some old scissors on long handles. For needles he used the
1 In representing what he means, Francis Darwin draws a thumbnail sketch, which is not reproduced here.
glovers needles triangular in section. His dissecting table was a thick board let into a [window] of the study, it was very low, lower I think than an ordinary table — so that he could not have done anything standing at it, but this he would not have done in any case. He
also sat at his table on a curious low stool with a seat on vertical spindle and very large castors, so that he could turn easily from side to side. His ordinary tools & odds & ends were lying about in the table, but beside these a number of odds and ends were kept in a round table full of radiating drawers & turning on a vertical axis which stood close by his left side as he sat at his microscope table. The drawers were labelled Best Tools, Rough Tools &c. the former containing his sharpest knives, eye piece micrometer, compre[part of word faded]. the Rough Tool drawer — strong forceps nippers rice[part of word faded]. There were others Specimens, Preparations for
for specimens — &c. The most marked peculiarity of the contents of these drawers was the care with which little scraps & almost useless things were kept; he used to say that if you threw a thing [away] you were sure to want it directly — & so things accumulated. I think he preserved to a wonderful degree the respect one has for a new instrument. I am afraid new wears off with most people. If any one had looked at his tools &c. lying on the table they would have been struck by a general air of simpleness, makeshift, & general oddness. A second best compass with bent points only used for roughest measuring and a pair of queer curved battered brass forceps needed for sealing wax into glass tubes; pins stuck porcupine quill. — there in the days of working at Movements of Plants — a bottle of indian ink and a sharpened wooden pen holder to dip in & make marks — a tray full of little squares of sandpaper, a 6 oz. medicine bottle of shellac, encrusted with dry shellac at the mouth.
At his right hand were shelves, with a number of other odds & ends, glasses, saucers, tin biscuit boxes for germinating seeds — zinc labels, bits of wood, flower pot saucers of sand; spirits of wine glycerine acelic acid &c &c. Considering how naturally tidy & meticulous he was
be in essential things it is curious that he put up with so many makeshifts, it did not occur to him to have anything made for a special purpose, but fitted it up as well as he could, he would not have for instance a box made of the desired shape & stained black inside, but he would hunt up something like what he wanted & get it darkened inside with shoe blacking; he did not care to have glass covers for tumblers in which he germinated seeds made but used broken bits of irregular shape with perhaps a narrow angle sticking uselessly out on one side. But so much of his experimenting before the Power of Movement had been of the simplest
kind, that he had no need for any elaboration & I think the makeshift nature of his things was in great measure due to his wanting to husband his strength & not waste it on unessential things. On the top of the round table lay a pile of brown paper portfolios
on thes covered by an old red & white cloth on this again, lay the MS catalogue of books & pamphlets, and more portoflios, & generally a few sheets of paper & a board to write on his knee with. Also a big wooden tray with compartments, containing [1 word illegible] coloured wool for marking flowers &c when fertilised, horn protractor, oil silk, tin pail, a notebook. The coloured wool is what I think of in connection with this old tray. His way of marking the flowers objects must be mentioned here.
If he had a number of things to
mark distinguishing such as leaves, flowers &c he always tied different coloured thread round them. — This chiefly applies to cases when he had only two classes of objects such as cross & self-fertilized flowers, where one would be marked with black & one with white thread tied round the stem of flower. What I remember curiously well the look of two sets of capsules gathered & waiting to be weighed counted &c. with a bit of black or white thread distinguishing the trays in which they lay. He would also use double white & double black thread or white & black wool to mark certain more complex things. In the case of comparing 2 sets of seedlings (crossed & selfs) he used sowed in the same box he separated them by a partition of zinc plate & the zinc label which gave the necessary details about the pot was always stuck
the a certain side of so that it became instinctive with him to know without looking at [a] label which was crossed & which self.
His love of each particular experiment & his eager zeal not to lose the fruit of it came out in these crossing experiments markedly — in the elaborate care he took not to make any confusion in putting capsules with wrong Crags &c. &c. — I remember the look of him counting seeds under the simple microscope — with
a careful alertness, and ad not like that does (& yet with care) not generally belong to such work as counting. I think it he personified each seed with as a small demon trying to elude him by getting with the wrong heap or jumping off altogether — & this gave the excitement of a game ranger to the work. On personifying cf. L. Stephen 'Swift' 1882 p.200 Swift's directions to servants compared to CD's obsns in worms, but CD "had none but kindly feelings for worms." I remember that he had a special narrow bladed (eye?) knife which he considered specially fitted for use in counting seeds.
He [had] great faith in instruments, and I do not [think] it naturally occurred to him to doubt the accuracy of a measure &c. He was astonished when we found that one of his micrometers differed from the other. He did not require any great accuracy in most of his measurements, & had not specially good scales; he had an old 3 foot rule which was the common property of the house and was always being borrowed because it was the only one which was certain to be in its place — unless the last borrower had forgotten to put it back. For measuring the height of plants he had a 7ft deal rod graduated by the village carpenter to 1/8th or 1/4th of an inch. Latterly he took to using paper [rase]scales. — For small objects he used a pair of compasses and an ivory protractor; & his old one because so much worn into holes in places by the compass legs that
he had to get a new one. It was characteristic of him that he took scrupulous pains in making measurements with his rough scales. A trifling example of his faith in authority is that he took his inches in terms of millimeters from an old book in which it turned out to be inaccurately given. He had a chemical balance which dated from the days when he & Uncle Ras did chemistry together. It was an expensive balance in its day & was bought for them (at what sounded I remember when he told it me, etc. an unreasonable price) by (Congreve?) or some rocket man. Measurements of capacity were made with apothecary measuring glass — one
especia I remember for its rough look & bad graduation. With these too I remember the great care he took in getting water the fluid line onto the mark. I do not mean by this account that any of his experiments suffered from want of accuracy in measurement but they. I give them as examples of his simple
methods & faith in
other's authority others — at least in men like instrument makers whose whole trade was a mystery to him.
part Side of his way of working
Experiment & observation
A thing that quality in his mind which struck me much was his not the way in which he kept himself from He had a quality in his mind which seemed to me to be the quality which led him to make discoveries. It was the power of never letting exceptions pass unnoticed. many other people Everybody notices a fact as an exception when it is striking or frequent but he had a special instinct for arresting an exception. A point apparently slight and connected with what he was is at work on is passed by over by many a man almost unconciously — as an abnormality or under hurried with some half considered explanation which is no exception explanation.
It was just these things that he seized on to make a start from. I cannot think of an example but the impression on my mind is a strong one. In a certain sense there is nothing special in this power, all
new observations discovery is made by means of it. — Perhaps What I have said ought to come under his mental qualities. I bring it in now because I had been so much struck in seeing him at work by seeing what a splendid weapon quality it was in an experimentor.
Another power which was shown in his experimental work was his power of sticking to a subject; he would almost to apologise for his
going patience, saying that he couldn't bear to be beaten as if this were rather a sign of weakness on his part. He often quoted the saying "It's dogged as does it"1 — a nd I think doggedness almost expresses his way of frame of mind better than patience perseverance. Patience, Perseverance doesn't seem to express the almost fierce desire to get force the truth that he felt. He often
1 In his own collection of reminiscences (contained in CUL-DAR112), George Darwin remarks that his father borrowed this phrase from a character in one of Trollope's novels. George Darwin is accurate in his attribution. The entire quotation reads, 'It's dogged as does it. It ain't thinking about it.' It appears in chapter 61 of Anthony Trollope 1867.
said that it was important that a man should know when he had better give up an experiment. And I think that it was knowing that he had a tendency to pass this line that made him inclined to apologize for his perseverance, and gave the feeling of doggedness to his work.
He often said that no one could be a good
theorise observer unless they were an active theoriser. This brings one back to what I said about his instinct for exceptions — it was as tho' he were charged with theorising power ready to flow into any channel on the slightest disturbance — so that no fact however small could avoid releasing some of this theory — & thus becoming magnified into strong perceptibility. In this way it naturally happened that many untenable theories occurred to him — but fortunately his richness of imagination was equalled by his power of judging & condemning
the thoughts that occurred to him. But he was just to his
mind theories, and did not condemn them unheard; and so it happened that he was willing to test what would seem to most people not at all worth testing. These rather wild trials he called "fool's experiments" & enjoyed extremely. As an example of a fool's experiment he found the cotyledons of Biophytum so sensitive to a jar of vibration of the table &c. that it occurred to him that they might perceive the [1 word deleted] vibrations of sound, & therefore he got me to play my bassoon close to a plant. [This is not a good example of a discharge superabundant theorising from a small causa but only of his willingness wish to test the most improbable ideas. This wish was very strong in him and I can remember his often the way he said "I shan't be easy till I've tried it" — as if an outside force were compelling him.
He enjoyed experimenting much more than reasoning out when he was engaged in one of his books which required argument & marshalling of facts, he considered experimenting as a rest or holiday. Thus while working at Animals & Plants in 1860-61 he made out the fertilisation of Orchids & considered himself very idle for giving so much time to them. It is
curious interesting to think that so important a piece of work should have been undertaken & largely worked out as pastime in place of more serious work. Another important subject, Insectivorous Plants, began in holiday work at Hartfield & elsewhere. He speaks in one of letters of his intention of working at Drosera as a rest from the 'Descent of Man'. The letters to Hooker of this period are full of expressions God forgive me for being so idle — I am quite sillily interested in the work &c. The intense pleasure he took in Orchid understanding the adaptations for fertilisn is strongly shown in these letters. I have heard him
mention his making out heterostylism1 as having given him extreme pleasure, and especially as having been one of the most puzzling bits of work he ever carried out. — Insert elsewhere: He thought that hardly any one had seen the full importance of heterostylism, viz. showing how two mutually sterile vars. come out of one. — He said too that the Geological work in S. America gave him almost more pleasure than anything else. — It was perhaps something to do with this delight in work
that as requiring keen observation, that made him value praise of his observing powers more than appreciation of his other qualities — as he mentions in a letter to Hooker.
1 The theory of heterostylism is expounded in Forms of Flowers. Francis Darwin helped his father conduct the experiments and collect the data that formed the basis of the text. Francis provided a preface to the second edition of the work published in 1884 after his father's death. Working from the precedential classification of sexual types in flowers established by Linnaeus, Charles Darwin investigates two subdivisions of the hermaphroditic class — heterostyled and cleistogamic. Heterostyled flowers of the same species, though technically hermaphroditic, are sexually differentiated to such an extent that they act in reproduction as unisexual animals. A difference in the size of the stamen as compared to the pistil from one form to the other is a strong indication of heterostylism, but Darwin concludes that 'absolutely conclusive evidence can be derived only from experiments, and by finding that pollen must be applied from the one form to the other in order to ensure complete fertility'.
2. Books — papers — notes &c.
He had no respect for a book
except in from a book-lovers point of view, but merely considered them as [2 words deleted] things to be worked with. Thus he did not bind them — even when a paper book fell almost to pieces from use as happened to Müllers 'Befruchtung' he only put a big clip on it. In the same way he would cut a heavy book in half so as to make it more convenient to hold. This he did to the French Sachs Lehrbuch & it was not bound afterwards. He used to boast that he had made Lyell publish the 2nd edit, of his [blank space]1 in two vols, by telling him how he had been obliged to cut it in half. — The consequence was that his library was not ornamental, but was striking from being so evidently a working collection of books. For many years he trusted to his memory to find the book wanted, but as his collection
2 Here, Francis Darwin leaves a blank for the title of the book. In the published version of the 'Reminiscences,' he avoids making an error by simply writing, 'the second edition of one of his books...' The book in question is Lyell's Elements of Geology.
continually increased he found it more & more difficult, and as I could not find them without asking him, he had then catalogued in 1870 (?) —
a process which brought to light a wonderful quantity of dust &c. It was. He did not even bind the periodicals he took in, and had great bundles of Gardners Chr. in newspaper covers in his shelves & other piles done up in string. — He had a large number of pamphlets, about 2000, & these were treated even more severely than the books, for he would tear out all the pages except the one that interested him, for the sake of saving room. The pamphlets were placed side by side in the shelves like books, and were numbered consecutively. At first he merely wrote down the titles (or rather an abbreviation or translation of title) in order on sheets of paper. But at last it became such a labour hunting
for a title that we cut the lists and arranged them alphabetically. He had one shelf in which were piled up the books he had not yet read & another shelf where they went after being read & before they were catalogued. He would often groan over his unread books because there were so many which he knew he should never read. Many books had to go straight to the other heap — for this reason — either marked with a big 0/— at their end to show that there were no marked passages in it — (or perhaps with "not read" or "only skimmed"). The books accumulated in read heap until the shelves were overful & then with much lamenting
& many preliminary "We really must catalogue the books soon.". He hated this work, and for some time before it was quite necessary would say in a despairing voice "We really must do these books soon". & a day was given up to the cataloguing.
In reading a book or pamphlet &c he made pencil marks at the side of the page and often
made added remarks, (which are very hard to read being written carelessly & with no support of the hand). — At the end of the book a list of the pages scored marked was given. When the book was to be catalogued & put away, the marked pages were looked at & so a rough abstract of the book was made. This abstract would perhaps be written on under 3 or 4 different headings on different sheets, — the facts being sorted out & added on to the previously collected facts in different subjects. He had other sets of abstracts, arranged not according to subject, but according to periodical.
When collecting facts on a large scale in former years, he used to read through and make abstracts of whole series of periodicals.
In some of his early letters he speaks of filling several note books with facts for his species books; but
from an it was certainly early that he adopted his plan of portfolios. (The portfolios* were at first made of brown paper by Parslow, in late years Horace got some smarter ones made by a stationer;) Into these The plan was to have a large number of portfolios one for each subject or subdivision of a subject — and to write put in them the notes written on separate bits of paper, letters, scraps of printed matter — pamphlets &c. (I ndo not know where he put pamphlets in his ) Some of the portfolios were had permanent titles, others varied with any bit of work on which he was engaged & in which where he wished to classify material. It was My father & A de Candolle were naturally pleased to discover that they had adopted the same plan of classifying facts. De C described
place method in his Phytologie, & in his little sketch of my father mentions the satisfaction he felt in seeing it in action at Down. W. Marshall mentioned to me that the first time he came to Down he was struck had an example of the excellence of this arrangement. My father said he was sure that he remembered something connected with orchids & Marshall's name, and returning with a portfolio almost immediately found a letter from Kitchener a master at Rugby who had some years before communicated a fact observed by Marshall as a boy.
Besides the portfolios for use of which there are some full of notes, there are large bundles of MS. marked used & put away. He
certai felt the value of his notes, & had a horror of their destruction by fire. I remember when some alarm of fire had happened — his begging me to be careful
lamps & fire in my work. I remember the earnest way in which he said the rest of his life would be miserable if they were lost. He had the same vehement fear of lost time & labour in composition as in experiment — in a letter to Hooker some MS seems to have been lost, & he said (something like this) "I have a copy or the loss would have killed me." In writing a book he was vehement on the advac thought it of great importance that the whole plan of the work should be considered first with the greatest care. He would spend much time and labour in making a skeleton*, and in enlarging & subclassifying each heading (I remember seeing him do it at his table instead of at in his big chair. I assume for the sake of convenience in arranging papers &c). I think this careful arrangement
of the plan was not at all essential to the building up of his argument, but
only for for its presentment, & for the arrangement of his facts. In his first Life of Eras Darwin as it was first printed in slips, the growth of the book from a skeleton was plainly seen. The arrangement was altered afterwards, as it gave seemed too formal and & categorical & not enough seemed to treat give his character as a bundle of qualities to be described & not as a rounded picture. (bad [passage]) The slips have been preserved so that his original treatment may still be known.
It was only within the last few years that he adopted
the a plan of writing which he was convinced suited him best. Namely writing a rough copy straight off without the slightest attention to style. Before this he used
to give some labour to the style of even his first rough copy. It was characteristic of him that he felt unable to write with sufficent [sic] want of care if he used his best
MS paper and thus it was that he wrote on the backs of old proofs or old MS* — * so that the MS of his books is not in our possession. The rough copy was then re-considered and either written out or dictated. For this purpose he had F.C. paper1 ruled at wide intervals; the lines were needed to prevent himself from writing so closely that correction became difficult. The tidily written MS was then often corrected & perhaps sentences additions being generally [1 word illegible] on the back with a huge A. & B. in the text to refer the reader to them. The next process was getting the MS copied for the printer.
1 Foolscap is a size of printing paper 13 x 17 inches, so called for the shape of its watermark.
The copying was done by E. Norman, he had been village schoolmaster at Down in 1858?? and
continued began copying for my father then. He became so skilful in reading my father's difficult handwriting, that he could read even carelessly written scientific names with great accuracy. He left Down to take a clerk's place in the Lubbock's bank, & my father continued to send all his MS to him as long as he lived. My father became so used to Normans hand that he could not correct MS, even when clearly written out by one of us, until it had been recopied by Norman. The MS on returning from Norman was once more corrected & then sent off to the printers. Then came the work of reading and correcting the proofs which my father found
especially wearisome.— [3 words deleted, faded] He felt this to be the first serious consideration of style, for he always said that he could not judge of style till he saw himself in print. — When this was going on he usually had started some other piece of work as a relief, and in order that he might not have too frequent changes of work he used to beg the printers not to send him any proofs until they could send him a good bundle. The correction of slips was in fact two processes, for the corrections were first written in pencil and then reconsidered and written in ink. He was particular in having the pencil neatly rubbed out, & used to bring a pile of MS into the drawing room to be cleaned. Even then he would often say it wasn't fair to
make get it all done for him, &
and would himself set to work with ink eraser:
himself he had a special soft brush for removing the fluff [some words deleted] from the paper after the ink eraser.
When the book was passing through the "slip" stage he was glad
of the to have corrections and suggestions from others. Henrietta did a great deal & G1 some but after Hen's marriage perhaps I did most. — who before Hen. He used often to say what a good critic Hen was, & would sometimes laughingly quote her pencil notes, such as "this sentence is horrid." She has described in her notes the delightful pleasantness of the work it was — from the delightful way in which he received the suggestions and the superabundant gratitude for the help it gave him. I generally wrote out alterations of sentences & gave my reasons on the MS but [1 word illegible]other paper — so that I could do it. [very faint] Sir H. Holland trying to see MS.
1 Refers to George Darwin, three years Francis' senior.
when I was away. I think the commonest corrections which had to be made were of obscurities owing to ellipsis, that is his leaving out
a few words link words which he had evidently omitted through familiarity. I mean not that it was not a fault in the thought but that from familiarity with the thought he did not notice that the words did not reproduce the thought. He also frequently put too much into a sentence so that it had to be cut up into two. On the After the new slips had been retu The corrected slips were then printed off & again looked over & perhaps re-altered — & finally the revises made up into pages were once or twice read over. My mother read them over in this stage — chiefly for misprints and to criticise punctuation; & then my father used to dispute with her over commas especially. In spite of all this
care, some misprints & errata always remained
& were to be discovered by V. Carus in the course of translation; my father often expressed his admiration of Carus' sharp eye for errors.
On the whole I think the pains which my father took over the literary part of the work was very remarkable. — He often laughed or grumbled at himself for the difficulty which he found in writing english — saying for instance that if bad arrangement of a sentence
would be badly put was possible, he should be sure to adopt it. He once got much fun & satisfaction out of the difficulty which my mother found in writing short notice circular (traps?) & the obscurity of result. He had the pleasure of correcting & laughing at obscurities involved sentences &c. & seemed to feel a sort c frevenge for all the criticism he
had himself put up with. He used to quote with astonishment Miss Martineau's ? advice to young authors to write straight off without correction. But in some cases he acted in somewhat similar manner; when a sentence got hopelessly involved he would ask himself "now what do you want to say" & his answer written down would often disentangle the confusion. It was a consolation to him that Huxley whose style he greatly admired said he should never stop correcting if it were not that the printers must have the copy. He had a strong objection to former and latter;
and He told me how as a young man at Maer he was promised two bits of advice about writing by Sir James Mackintosh. They proved to be Never write on both sides of the sheet; & Where you erase any words make a vertical stroke at the ends of the long line (erase).
when finis has been much praised, on the other hand some like Dr. W. Ogle have remarked to me
that it is not good style. It is above all things direct & clear. It was is characteristic of himself in its simplicity bordering on
naiveness, its humility absence of pretence, (it had sometimes a curious tendency to strong
expression as he had in conversation, thus in the O of S p.440 there is a description of a
cirreped: "with six pairs of beautifully constructed natatory legs, a pair of magnificent compound eyes and extremely complex antennae" We used to laugh at him for this sentence which we compared to an advertisement. — The same tendency to give himself up to the enthusiastic turn of his thought without fear of being ludricrous comes in elsewhere. He had the strongest disbelief in the common idea that a good classic should write good english, indeed he thought the contrary was the case.
The courteous & conciliatory tone towards the reader is remarkable in his
tone style, and it
must be partly this quality which revealed his personal sweetness of character to so many
who had never seen him. I have always felt it a most curious thing that he who has altered the face of Biolog: Science, & is therefore the chief of the moderns, should have written & worked in so essentially a non-modern spirit & manner. In reading his books one is more reminded of Stephen Hales, Andrew Knight, and the old naturalists generally, than the
modern school of writers. He belonged to the
school class of Naturalist in the old sense, if as a man who works at many branches of science without being a specialist in any. Thus it is that though he founded whole new divisions of special subjects such as fertilisn of flowers insectivorous plants dimorphism — yet even in treating these very subjects he does not seem to speak to strike the reader as a specialist. The reader feels like a friend who is being talked to by a courteous gentleman, not like a pupil being lectured by a professor. — The tone of such a book as the Origin is charming & almost pathetic, it is the tone of man who though quite convinced of the truth of his own views — hardly expects to convince others; it is just the reverse of the style of a fanatic who tries to wants to force people
to believe. The reader is never scorned for any amount of doubt which he may be imagined to feel and his scepticism is treated with patient respect. The conception of a sceptical reader or perhaps even an unreasonable reader seems to have been generally present with him. — It was thus in consequence of this feeling perhaps that he took much trouble in
details points which he imagined with stroke the reader or save him trouble & so tempt him to read. Thus it was that he took much pains interest in the illustration of his books, & I think put classed rather highly on the value of illustrations. He used to complain that seeing after the illustratns was the greatest trouble about a book, and that wood engravers always made mistakes where possible. The illustratns for his earlier books were drawn by professional artists eg Sowerly [sic] drew the Barnacles. This is
also the case in A & Plants, Descent & Expression Bk — limbing Plants, Insectiv., Movements of Plants & Forms of Flowers were to a large extent illustrated by some of us chiefly George. — It was delightful drawing for him, as he was so enthusiastic in his praise over very moderate performances. I remember he used to be so delightful in his praises of Amy's1 drawings, I used to take them in to the study to show him, & he would say "Tell Amy Michael Angelo is nothing to it."
At the same time Though he praised so profusely, he always looked closely at the drawing & easily detected mistakes or carelessness. —
He had a horror of being lengthy & seems to have been really much annoyed & distressed when he found out the
length to which size which An & Plants would be. — words? I remember his cordially agreeing with Tristram Shandy's " Come Let no man say, 'Come, I will write a duodecimo.'" His advice to Hooker about the
1 Francis Darwin married Amy Richenda Ruck (1850-1876) on 23 July 1874. She was the daughter of Laurence and Mary Anne Ruck who owned two houses, Pantlludw and Esgair in Merioneth, Machynlleth in North Wales. 'My mother had been half Welsh by blood and wholly Welsh in feeling,' says Bernard Darwin in his autobiography. They lived the short period of their marriage in Brodie Innes's former home at Downe. She was only 26 when she died on August 11, 1876 of complications following childbirth. After her death, Francis Darwin kept close ties with the family, particularly Mrs. Ruck, whom both Francis and Bernard called Nain, a Welsh word for grandmother. Francis wrote to Nain regularly throughout Bernard's childhood years. Nain 'kept all his letters and when she died they were given back to him [Francis] and he made from them a little book, which was privately printed, called Story of a Childhood.' [Bernard Darwin pp. 84, 23]
same book — viz to [mise] Vol I & skim parts of Vol II (or some such thing) gives one an idea of how unreadable he thought the book.
arrangement printing of the more special matter in small type & the parts of general interest in large type was in consequence of the disgust he felt at the bulkiness of An & Pl. It shows what sort of reader he felt himself to be reading writing for one who won't read all & like to have skippings even made easy for him — * (* I think the plan is really an excellent one, but I cannot. I only imagine that my father adopted it from a very low opinion of the public's reading power. He says in one letter How few read long papers, the only use of writing them is to show that one is in earnest.) Hooker's lett.rs
His consideration for other authors was
as great as marked a characteristic as his tone toward the reader. He always speaks of other authors as persons deserving of respect. In cases where he as in Ziegler's experints on Drosera he thought the author a crook fool, he speaks of him in such a way that no one would know his feelings judgement. In other cases he treats the writings of wild & foolish persons as tho' the fault lay with himself for not appreciating or understanding.
Besides this general tone of respect he has a pleasant way of his expressing his opinion on the value of a quoted work or his obligations for a piece of private information.
Insert A in p. l54.
He res It was a great merit in his mind that in spite of having a strong & respectful feeling towards what he read he had keenest of instincts as to whether
a man was trustworthy or not. His respectful feeling was not only morally beautiful but was I think of practical use in making him ready to consider the ideas & observ[ation]s of all manner of people. — He used to almost apologize
saying & say that he was inclined to judge things too highly at first.
A. from p. 153 He seemed to form a very definite opinion to the
personal accuracy of the men whose books he read —; and made use of this judgment in his choice of facts for use in argument or as illustration. I got the impression that this power of judging of a man's trustworthiness was an enormously important quality in such work as my father's. He was fond of telling the story of Huth's Belgian rabbit experiments — the fallacy falseness of which he &c.
In Huth's book on cousin marriages, one of the most important facts on which he depends is the alleged harmfulness of interbreeding in some experiments on rabbits made by a Belgian. These experiments went so far with no failures & no mistakes that my father became suspicious, & wrote to Beneden, from whom he learned that the experiments were pure fabrications & had been exposed by the R Soc.? of Belgium. Huth behaved well & put a notice into the unsold copies of his book. The falsification of experiment made my father justly excessively indignant. He used to quote the wicked hoax played by students at Cirencester on a Professor there; I think it was an experiment showing the astonishing results of cultivn on wild cereals; the results being due to the students tampering with the seeds or seedlings. The famous case of the mummy wheat was another
instance. (Sachs suspected that the recent exp. of Pitra on pumping of water by wood was another example.)
He has a keen
sense feeling of the sense of honour that ought to reign among authors, & had a horror of any kind of laxness in quoting. He had a strong contempt for the love of honour & glory and often blames himself for the pleasure he took in the success of his books, as tho' he were departing from his ideal — a love of truth & carelessness for abt fame. Or when writing to Hooker what he calls a boasting letter, he laughs at himself for his conceit & want of modesty. I think the There is a wonderfully interesting letter which he wrote to mother bequeathing to her in case of his death the care of bringing out his MS on the Origin of Species. — This letter seems to me full of the intense desire that his theory should succeed as a
piece of knowledge, & apart from any desire for personal fame.— He certainly had the strong & healthy love
for of & desire of success which a man of such strong feelings ought to have. But in the time of the Origin it is evident that he was overwhelmingly satisfied with the adherence of such men as Hooker, Huxley, Gray, Wallace, Vych & did not dream of or desire any such wide & general fame as he attained to.
It was part of his contempt for fame in a mean sense that he had so strong a contempt for the striving after priority. The Lyell letters at the Origin time show the anger he felt with himself for not being able to repress a feeling of disappointment at what he thought was Wallace's forestalling of all his years of work. His sense of literary honour comes out of strongly in these letters. And his feeling about priority
strong is again shown in his admiratn
of Wallace's self anihilation. My father used to say that "Forbes being beforehand in publishing abt glaciers and alpine plants was the only or the greatest disappointment of this kind which he suffered. He had written out before Forbes' paper appeared but he
refused never published it, because it would have been an attempt to take away Forbes priority. — Brit. Assoc 45 46 (Geolog. Survey 46)? He might reasonably have done so published it as he differed from Forbes on some points.
His feeling about reclamations of all kind including answers to attacks & all kinds of discussions, was most strong; a feeling partly dictated by instinctive delicacy, & partly by
the a strong sense of the waste of time, energy & temper thus caused; he said he owed his determination not to get into dicussions to the advice of Lyell. He tried in vain to restrain the ferocity of Haeckel's attacks. He often regretted also the loss of time which Huxley's fighting pow fights occasioned. — He used to give an amusing account
of a talk with Huxley which began by my father saying what a pity it was to attack people severely or get into hot discussion — to which Huxley cordially agreed. My father then began bringing up against him some of his fiercest attacks, giving Huxley's answers: — Oh So and So, he did write such rubbish I had to pitch into him. Till at last Huxley discovered my father's design. Apparently my father broke his rule once in the case of Owen, but was sorry for it afterwards. I think it was on this occasion that he says he quite enjoyed Owen's sneers in answer, they were so clever. The
remonstrance note which he published in the Zoolog Soc's publications remonstrating with some one for doubting practically accusing him of falsehood is an admirable example of temperate writing under provocation; he speaks with obviously genuine feeling, of his regret that a brother naturalist should adopt such say such things. — His replies — eg to Mivart in the later edition of Origin1 hardly come under can be classed as a breaking of 2
1 In the sixth edition of Origin, Darwin added two thousand new sentences to his argument, including a chapter devoted to the refutation of Mivart's counter. A member of the creationist camp, Mivart had published Genesis of Species in which he attacked evolutionary theory. One of Mivart's arguments most threatening to Darwin's theory was the futility he saw in partially evolved organs. Why would an insect evolve wings if the organ, in developmental form, would offer no benefit to the organism and could potentially working to its disadvantage? Darwin answered the attack with a deluge of facts. He argued that some organs could switch function and maintained that some inchoate organs need not have functioned right away. Darwin, however, pulled some punches in his refutation; he qualified his assertions by allowing that spontaneous variations may explain some cases while increased usage within generations might also stimulate development. In all his years of scientific investigation, Darwin never let go of these mitigating circumstances that subsequent inquiry into the field genetics have since disproven.
2 The MS abruptly ends here.
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