RECORD: Anon. 1885. Unveiling the statue of the late Charles Darwin in the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. The Graphic (20 June): 621-22.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed and corrected by John van Wyhe 10.2008. RN1

NOTE: The copy scanned is from the collection of van Wyhe.

[page] 621

Unveiling the statue of the late Charles Darwin in the Natural History Museum, South Kensington

[page] 622


On Tuesday week the Prince of Wales formally accepted on behalf of the Trustees of the British Museum, and for the nation, a statue of Charles Darwin, which, as the Times aptly remarked, "forms the visible representation of the recognition by the civilised people of the world of the value of the life work of this patient observer, fearless thinker, and judicious writer." The statue, which has been executed by Mr. Boehm, R.A., is of white marble, and has been placed on the top of the first flight of steps facing the Entrance Hall. A large gathering of scientific and literary men assembled to witness the unveiling, and on either side of the statue stood the Prince of Wales and Professor Huxley, President of the Royal Society—the only two speakers on the occasion. Professor Huxley spoke first, and dwelt upon the manifestation of public feeling called forth by the great scientist's death, "not only in these realms, but throughout the civilised world, which, if I mistake not, is without precedent in the modest annals of scientific biography." Proceeding to speak of the great work achieved by Darwin, whose "Origin of Species" completely changed the "fundamental conceptions and the aims of the students of living nature," he then passed on to the manner in which, after barely twenty years of controversy, the importance of Mr. Darwin's labours had not only been fully recognised, "but the world had discerned the simple, earnest, generous character of the man that shone through every page of his writings." Thus, when after his death it was proposed to raise a fund for erecting a statue, contributions flowed in from all parts of the world, and from all classes of the community. To mention one interesting case, Sweden sent in 2,296 subscriptions "from all sorts of people," as the distinguished man of science who transmitted them wrote, ''from the Bishop to the seamstress, and in sums from 5l. to 2d." The committee have thus been enabled to carry out the whole of their scheme, and not only to erect a handsome statue, but to create a Darwin fund to be held in trust by the Royal Society, to be employed in the promotion of biological research. On the statue being uncovered, Professor Huxley in another speech asked the Prince to accept the gift on behalf of the Trustees of the British Museum; and the Prince made a suitable reply, declaring that the trustees in accepting the statue had "willingly assigned this honourable place to the statue of this great Englishman, who has exercised so vast an influence upon the progress of those branches of natural knowledge which is the object of the vast collection gathered here. A memorial to which all nations and all classes of society have contributed cannot be more fitly lodged than in our museum, which, though national, is open to all the world, and the resources of which are at the disposal of every student of nature, whatever his condition or his country, who enters our doors." On the pedestal of the statue is inscribed "Charles Darwin, born February 12, 1809; died April 19, 1882." The likeness is pronounced to be exceedingly characteristic.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012