RECORD: Anon. 1882. Obituary: Charles Darwin, M. A., F. R. S. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography 4 (5) (May) 314.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by John van Wyhe, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data. RN1

[page] 314


Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S.—In common with the other chief scientific societies of the metropolis, we have to mourn, this month, the loss of one of our most illustrious members—Charles Darwin, who died at his country residence, henceforward to become classic ground, in the little Kentish village of Down, on the 19th of April. Mr. Darwin joined our ranks, as a life member, in 1838, not long after his return from his memorable voyage in the Beagle. We cannot of course claim him as a geographer, in the usual acceptation of the term, but as a scientific and observant traveller, taking in the whole range of the sciences, accurate in everything he recorded and fruitful in his reasoning, he was a typical geographer in the wider sense. In this respect his 'Journal of a Naturalist' may be regarded as a model, and it is a matter for surprise that it has not led to the formation of a more numerous school of travellers of the same class, in this country, than it has done. The volume teems, moreover, with observations and generalisations in physical geography, and his method of dealing with such subjects is one which must be adopted, should this department of knowledge ever attain, what as yet it is far from approaching, the dignity of an inductive science.—Although Mr. Darwin took considerable interest in our Society, and was a diligent reader of its publications, as shown by the frequent citations of the 'Journal' in some of his works, he appears never to have contributed a paper himself, except a short communication published in the ninth volume of the 'Journal' on the subject of "a rock seen on an iceberg in 61° south latitude."

Mr. Darwin was born at Shrewsbury on the 12th of February, 1809; he was therefore in his 74th year when he died. It was soon after taking his degree at Cambridge in 1831 that he offered his gratuitous services as geologist to the surveying expedition in the Beagle under Captain FitzRoy. With this expedition he remained throughout the five years it lasted, from 1832 to 1836. His bodily health, as it is well known, received during this voyage irreparable damage, necessitating great care and the husbanding of his strength for the remainder of his life. Happily for science and humanity, he lived long enough to work out the grand ideas on the origin of species and co-related phenomena of life, which he had conceived during those years. He was buried, as was fitting, near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton, in Westminster Abbey; on the 26th of April.

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