RECORD: Anon. 1882. [Obituary of Darwin]. Daily News (21 April): 6. CUL-DAR216.3a. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed (single key) by AEL Data 11.2011. RN1

NOTE: Text is incomplete. It says "over" on right hand bottom, there is no second page on the microfilm. (text completed from other sources)

[page] 6

DARWIN.—On April 19th, at Down, Charles Robert Darwin, aged 73.

The death is announced of Mr. Charles Darwin, the eminent naturalist, at his residence, Down House Down, Kent, in the 74th year of his age. Mr. Darwin, who had been in a few days was believed to be recovering, when he suffered a relapse, from which he never rallied. The chief incidents of his long and distinguished career are noticed elsewhere.


We regret to announce that Mr. Charles Darwin died on, Wednesday afternoon, at his, residence, Down House, Down, near Farnborough, Kent, at the age of seventy-three. He had been suffering for some time past from weakness of the heart. He was taken seriously ill on the night of Tuesday, when he was seized with pains in the chest, accompanied by faintness and nausea. The latter lasted with more or less intermission during Wednesday, and culminated in his death, which took place at about 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. He remained fully conscious till within a quarter of an hour of his death, at which his wife and several of his children were present. During his illness he had been attended by Dr. Norman Moore, Dr. Andrew Clark, Dr. Moxon, and Dr. Alfrey, of St. Mary Cray. The deceased leaves besides his widow a family of five sons and two daughters. It has not yet been decided when his remains will be interred, but the place of burial will be the quiet churchyard of the village of Down, near which place Mr. Darwin has spent the latter days of his life. Quite recently, on the 16th March last, he read two papers before the Linnæan Society on special botanical subjects.

He was born on February 12th, 1809, at Shrewsbury. His father was Dr. R. W. Darwin, F.R.S., his grandfather Dr. Erasmus Darwin, F.R.S., author of "The Botanic Garden," "Zoonomia," and other works. Shrewsbury Grammar School may fairly be proud of the circumstance that the most eminent naturalist of the nineteenth century was trained under her care. In 1825 Darwin left Shrewsbury for Edinburgh, where he attended the University lectures for a period of two years, at the end of which he entered at Christ College, Cambridge. He took his degree in 1831. In this year he learned that Captain Fitzroy had offered to share his cabin with any competent naturalist who would accompany him in H.M.S. Beagle, which was about to sail on a voyage of circumnavigation. Darwin tendered his services, and doubtless the world owes to this circumstance, more than to any other, the wideness of Darwin's views as a naturalist and the noble generalisation with which his name will in all future time be associated. The Voyage in the Beagle has been scribed by himself in one of the most delightful works in the English language. The charm of foreign travel to a mind imbued as Darwin's was with a sense of the significance of all Nature's teachings is graphically presented in the "Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries visited during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World." We see the master searching thoughtfully into Nature's secrets, attempting, in particular, to pierce the veil which hangs over the great mystery which it was to be his work partially (at least) to solve, but leaving unexamined no subject of inquiry which suggested itself to his consideration. It would be impossible even to mention in these columns all the matters treated of in this charming work. At one page we find the great naturalist dealing with the habits of sea-slugs and cuttlefish, while at another he is inquiring into the manners and customs of spiders; frogs and phosphorescent insects; conferva and infusoria; butterflies and birds; wild horses, cattle, and rabbits; every order in fine of living creature attracts the thoughtful consideration of the future discoverer of the great law of the origin of species. But not living creatures only occupy his attention. Botany had a special charm for Darwin. He considered indeed that no traveller could thoroughly appreciate the scenery of foreign lands who was not a botanist. "A traveller," he said, "should be a botanist, for in all views plants form the chief embellishment. Group masses of naked rock even in the wildest forms, and they may, for a time, afford a sublime spectacle, but they will some day grow monotonous. Paint them with bright and varied colours, as in Northern Chili, they will become fantastic; clothe them with vegetation they must form a decent if not a beautiful picture." With such tastes we cannot be surprised that the wonderful botanical forms which exist in tropical countries had an irresistible charm for Darwin. In speaking of his travels he dwells (as Humboldt does) on the impressive character of the tropical flora. "Among the scenes which are not deeply impressed upon my mind," he wrote in after years, "none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests unde aced by the hand of man; whether those Brazil, where the powers of life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where death and decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of; the God of Nature, and no one can stand in these solitudes without feeling that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body." But, besides botany and logy, Darwin made geology a subject of special study. Dwelling thoughtfully on the wonderful lessons to be learned from the qualities of the earth's crust, he was led to recognize how closely the aspect of the various regions of the earth is associated with the nature of the flora and the fauna which inhabit them. Other branches of physical research also occupied his mind. We find him studying the laws of electric phenomena, the motions of clouds, and a variety of others subjects which many naturalists would regard as little associated with their special work. Yet it is always easy to trace the associations which in Darwin's mind brought such inquiries into correlation with the great question of natural history her subsequently made his own. With all the wideness of view characterising the man who is to be the interpreter of Nature we yet find that power of concentrating the thoughts and labours of a lifetime on one chief object of research, without which the student of Nature cannot hope to detect the presence of great and general laws.

We have dwelt somewhat at length on Darwin's early voyage, because we believe that it was in reality the great event of his life. Unfortunately, if it is associated in the most intimate manner with all the long series of labours by which his name has been rendered illustrious, it is also associated with that which rendered his labours so difficult, and, while enhancing their, merit, perhaps diminished their range—the ill-heath in spite of which the great naturalist was compelled subsequently to prosecute his work. It is impossible to read without pain the "retrospect" which closes the last chapter of Darwin's narrative of the voyage. Uncomplaining as is its tone, there yet runs through it a feeling of sadness, showing that the writer was not unaware of the lasting nature of the injury which the long journey had done his health. "If a person asked my advice," he writes, "before undertaking a long voyage, my answer would depend upon his possessing a decided taste for some branch of knowledge which could by this means be advanced. No doubt it is a high satisfaction to behold various countries and the many races of mankind, but the pleasures gained at the time do not counterbalance the evils. It is necessary to look forward to a harvest, however distant that may be, when some fruit will be reaped, and some good effected" We are tempted also, before passing on the record the great fruit which Darwin reaped, and (let say what they will) the great good which he effected, to quote a striking passage respecting ocean scenery from his earliest work—" What are the boasted glories of the illimitable ocean? A tedious waste—a desert of water, as the Arabians call it. No doubt there are some delightful senses. A moonlight night, with the clear heavens and the dark glittering sea, and the white sails filled by the soft air of a gently blowing trade-wind; a dead calm, with the hearing surface polished like a mirror, and all still except the occasional flapping of the canvas. It is well once to behold a squall with its rising arch end coming fury, or the heavy gale of wind and mountainous waves. I confess, however, my imagination had painted something more grand, more terrific, in the full-grown storm. Is is an incomparably finer s when beheld on shore, where the waving trees, the wild flight of the birds, the dark shadows and bright lights, the rushing of the , all proclaim the strife of the unloosed elements. At sea the albatross and little petrel if the storm were their proper sphere, the water rises and sinks, as if fulfilling its usual task, the ship alone and its inhabitants seem the objects of wrath. On a forlorn and weathers beaten coast, the scene is indeed different, but the feelings partake more of horror than of wild delight."

Returning home with shattered health, but with his mind prepared to search successfully into the secrets of Nature, Darwin was in The facts he had observed, seemed, he some light on the origin of be well if every one who desires to advance the interests of science would bear in mind how our great naturalist proceeded at this stage of his researches. "It occurred to me," he says "that something might perhaps be made out by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it." Perhaps a few months might be thought no unsuitable period within which to arrange and systematise the observations which were available for Darwin's purpose. But no. "After five years' work," he says," I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes. These I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions which seemed to me probale." But even then he regarded his labours as only beginning. He was engaged during many more years in steadily pursuing the great object of, his researches. Prevented by impaired health from working continuously for any great length of time, he returned again and again to his labours, affording, as Dr. Lankester has well remarked, "a noteworthy example of what difficulties may be overcome by untiring zeal, great perseverance, and a remarkable amiability and kindness of disposition." During the interval too, which preceded the publication of his "Open Magnum," he published many valuable contributions to scientific literature. Among these may be specially mentioned his "Monograph of the Family Cirripedia"—that is, of the class of animals to which the familiar barnacles and sea acorns belong. It is strange now to find that this work was spoken of in 1856 as that on which Darwin's future reputation would be founded. "His great work," says his biographer in that year," and that on which his reputation as a zoologist will doubtless depend, is his 'Monograph on Cirripedia.' The excellent style, the great addition made to the existing knowledge of the family to which it is directed, and the remarkable caution exercised by the author in coming to his conclusions, render this work a model of the manner in which such works should be written." This was high praise, and praise bearing in a specially interesting manner on the estimate we are to form of that great work which was all this time preparation. It is well to recognise that the chief characteristic of the man who has put forward the most daring biological theory of the present century was "remarkable caution in coming to conclusions." In the year 1858, when the labours of Darwin on his theory of the origin of species were as yet unfinished, Mr. Wallace, who was then engaged in studying the history of the Malayan Archipelago, sent him a memoir embodying the same general conclusions to which he had himself been led, and requested that he would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell. This memoir was published in the third volume of the "Journal of the Linnean Society" Sir C. Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker, both of whom knew of Darwin's work, suggested to him that it would be advisable to publish with Wallace's memoir some brief extracts from his own manuscripts. This was accordingly done, and an abstract - necessarily imperfect, Darwin said - of the new theory of the origin of species by natural selection was published on November 24, 1859. It will be in the recollection of most of our readers with what a storm of mingled ridicule and indignation the new theory was received. Wild views spread on every hand as to its nature, and even those who had the means of mastering Darwin's reasoning joined in misrepresenting and ridiculing his doctrines. A considerable time elapsed before the general public would consent to inform themselves as to the real nature of the theory which they had been all but unanimous in abusing. Yet of this self-same theory, Professor Huxley (who from the beginning was one of its most earnest, eloquent, and lalft>rious advocates) said ten years later before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, that so rapidly had it established itself in favour, that he ! began to think it would shortly require for its welfare a ; little healthful opposition. This would not be the place to discuss at length the theory of natural selection (that is, of the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for existence)." Presented briefly, it amounts to this, that during along course of descent, species, not only of animals, but of plants, are modified by the selective preservation of slightly varied forms, adapted somewhat better than their fellows to the circumstances in which they are placed. How far this doctrine of the modification of species extends, even Darwin himself has not claimed to assert with confidence; but he went very far. " I cannot doubt," he said, that the theory of descent, with modification, embraces all the members of the same class. I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number." He looked forward even farther, however. Analogy would lead me one step further," he said, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype; but this inference is chiefly grounded on analogy, and it is immaterial whether or not it be accepted. The case is different with the members of each great class, as the Vertebrata, the Articulata, dca, for here we have distinct evidence that all have descended from a single parent" Daring as these views seem even now, it is difficult to recall how much more daring they were when Darwin first propounded them. To a large proportion of the naturalists of our day Darwin's theory seems almost beyond question ; the young and rising naturalists in particular, of whom Darwin expected with confidence that they would bo able "to view both sides of the question with impartiality," have justified his confidence; but when he announced his theory, there were not twenW living men who were likely to receive it with favour. It was in an especial manner on account of its supposed bearing on religious questions that the Darwinian theory when first propounded was repugnant to the feelings of many conscientious men. Gradually, however, it was felt that the new theory, rightly understood, tended to raise instead of to degrade, as was alleged, our conceptions of the scheme of creation. To quote the noble words with which Darwin concluded his treatise : " From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving-namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one: and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved."

In the 'Origin of Species" Darwin had not actually expressed his views as to .the ancestry of man, though he had left them to be very clearly inferred. " It seemed to me sufficient to indicate that by this work ' light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history,'" for this implied that man ' piust be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth." But in the "Descent of Man" Darwin dealt at length and boldly with that subject on which he had hitherto deemed it well to be reticent He presented man as co-descendant with the catarhine, or down-nostrilled" monkeys, from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, and probably a climber of trees. Nay he traced back the chain of descent until he found, as the progenitor of all the vertebrate animals, some aquatic creature provided wWi gills, hermaphrodite, and with brain, heart, and other organs imperfectly developed. The treatise in which this view is presented falls in no respect behind Mr. Darwin's other great work in oloseuaeas of rtasoning and grasp of facts. The portion of the 'Work -4nore than one-half-bearing on sexual selection if somewhat less satisfactory and conclusive, forma. ,}'et a most important contribution to the wide subject of the genesis of species. The closing words of this treatise may fitly here be quoted. After speaking of the distaste with which many persons would probably regard his conclusions OS to the descent of man, and then touching on the hopes which the advance of the human race in past ages seems fairly to justify, he says we are not, however, concerned " with hopes or fears, but only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it I have given the evidence to the best of my ability, and we must acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble quali ties, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men, but to the humblest living creature, with his godlike intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system-with all these exalted powers-rman still boars i-a his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."

After the publication of his first great work, Darwin continued to gather evidence tending to strengthen his theory. In 1862 he published his remarkable work on the "Fertilization of Orchids;" and in 1867 his "Domesticated Animals and Cultivated Plants, or the Principles of Variation, Inheritance, Reversion, Crossing, Interbreeding, and Selection under Domestication." In 1872 Mr-Darwin published "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals;" in 1875, " Insectivorous Plants;" in 1876, " Crosi and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom;" and in 1877, "Different Forms of Flowers in Plants of the same Species." Only last year appeared his work upon earthworms, in which he traced the operations of worms in gradually covering the surface of the globe with a layer of mould.

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