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The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I

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('Philosophical Magazine,' 1842.) This excursion interested me greatly,
and it was the last time I was ever strong enough to climb mountains or to
take long walks such as are necessary for geological work.

During the early part of our life in London, I was strong enough to go into
general society, and saw a good deal of several scientific men, and other
more or less distinguished men. I will give my impressions with respect to
some of them, though I have little to say worth saying.

I saw more of Lyell than of any other man, both before and after my
marriage. His mind was characterised, as it appeared to me, by clearness,
caution, sound judgment, and a good deal of originality. When I made any
remark to him on Geology, he never rested until he saw the whole case
clearly, and often made me see it more clearly than I had done before. He
would advance all possible objections to my suggestion, and even after
these were exhausted would long remain dubious. A second characteristic
was his hearty sympathy with the work of other scientific men. (The slight
repetition here observable is accounted for by the notes on Lyell, etc.,
having been added in April, 1881, a few years after the rest of the
'Recollections' were written.)

On my return from the voyage of the "Beagle", I explained to him my views
on coral-reefs, which differed from his, and I was greatly surprised and
encouraged by the vivid interest which he showed. His delight in science
was ardent, and he felt the keenest interest in the future progress of
mankind. He was very kind-hearted, and thoroughly liberal in his religious
beliefs, or rather disbeliefs; but he was a strong theist. His candour was
highly remarkable. He exhibited this by becoming a convert to the Descent
theory, though he had gained much fame by opposing Lamarck's views, and
this after he had grown old. He reminded me that I had many years before
said to him, when discussing the opposition of the old school of geologists
to his new views, "What a good thing it would be if every scientific man
was to die when sixty years old, as afterwards he would be sure to oppose
all new doctrines." But he hoped that now he might be allowed to live.

The science of Geology is enormously indebted to Lyell--more so, as I
believe, than to any other man who ever lived. When [I was] starting on
the voyage of the "Beagle", the sagacious Henslow, who, like all other
geologists, believed at that time in successive cataclysms, advised me to
get and study the first volume of the 'Principles,' which had then just
been published, but on no account to accept the views therein advocated.
How differently would any one now speak of the 'Principles'! I am proud to
remember that the first place, namely, St. Jago, in the Cape de Verde
archipelago, in which I geologised, convinced me of the infinite
superiority of Lyell's views over those advocated in any other work known
to me.

The powerful effects of Lyell's works could formerly be plainly seen in the
different progress of the science in France and England. The present total
oblivion of Elie de Beaumont's wild hypotheses, such as his 'Craters of
Elevation' and 'Lines of Elevation' (which latter hypothesis I heard
Sedgwick at the Geological Society lauding to the skies), may be largely
attributed to Lyell.

I saw a good deal of Robert Brown, "facile Princeps Botanicorum," as he was
called by Humboldt. He seemed to me to be chiefly remarkable for the
minuteness of his observations, and their perfect accuracy. His knowledge
was extraordinarily great, and much died with him, owing to his excessive
fear of ever making a mistake. He poured out his knowledge to me in the
most unreserved manner, yet was strangely jealous on some points. I called
on him two or three times before the voyage of the "Beagle", and on one
occasion he asked me to look through a microscope and describe what I saw.
This I did, and believe now that it was the marvellous currents of
protoplasm in some vegetable cell. I then asked him what I had seen; but
he answered me, "That is my little secret."

He was capable of the most generous actions. When old, much out of health,
and quite unfit for any exertion, he daily visited (as Hooker told me) an
old man-servant, who lived at a distance (and whom he supported), and read
aloud to him. This is enough to make up for any degree of scientific
penuriousness or jealousy.

I may here mention a few other eminent men, whom I have occasionally seen,
but I have little to say about them worth saying. I felt a high reverence
for Sir J. Herschel, and was delighted to dine with him at his charming
house at the Cape of Good Hope, and afterwards at his London house. I saw
him, also, on a few other occasions. He never talked much, but every word
which he uttered was worth listening to.

I once met at breakfast at Sir R. Murchison's house the illustrious
Humboldt, who honoured me by expressing a wish to see me. I was a little
disappointed with the great man, but my anticipations probably were too
high. I can remember nothing distinctly about our interview, except that
Humboldt was very cheerful and talked much.

-- reminds me of Buckle whom I once met at Hensleigh Wedgwood's. I was
very glad to learn from him his system of collecting facts. He told me
that he bought all the books which he read, and made a full index, to each,
of the facts which he thought might prove serviceable to him, and that he
could always remember in what book he had read anything, for his memory was
wonderful. I asked him how at first he could judge what facts would be
serviceable, and he answered that he did not know, but that a sort of
instinct guided him. From this habit of making indices, he was enabled to
give the astonishing number of references on all sorts of subjects, which
may be found in his 'History of Civilisation.' This book I thought most
interesting, and read it twice, but I doubt whether his generalisations are
worth anything. Buckle was a great talker, and I listened to him saying
hardly a word, nor indeed could I have done so for he left no gaps. When
Mrs. Farrer began to sing, I jumped up and said that I must listen to her;
after I had moved away he turned around to a friend and said (as was
overheard by my brother), "Well, Mr. Darwin's books are much better than
his conversation."

Of other great literary men, I once met Sydney Smith at Dean Milman's
house. There was something inexplicably amusing in every word which he
uttered. Perhaps this was partly due to the expectation of being amused.
He was talking about Lady Cork, who was then extremely old. This was the
lady who, as he said, was once so much affected by one of his charity
sermons, that she BORROWED a guinea from a friend to put in the plate. He
now said "It is generally believed that my dear old friend Lady Cork has
been overlooked," and he said this in such a manner that no one could for a
moment doubt that he meant that his dear old friend had been overlooked by
the devil. How he managed to express this I know not.

I likewise once met Macaulay at Lord Stanhope's (the historian's) house,
and as there was only one other man at dinner, I had a grand opportunity of
hearing him converse, and he was very agreeable. He did not talk at all
too much; nor indeed could such a man talk too much, as long as he allowed
others to turn the stream of his conversation, and this he did allow.

Lord Stanhope once gave me a curious little proof of the accuracy and
fulness of Macaulay's memory: many historians used often to meet at Lord
Stanhope's house, and in discussing various subjects they would sometimes
differ from Macaulay, and formerly they often referred to some book to see
who was right; but latterly, as Lord Stanhope noticed, no historian ever
took this trouble, and whatever Macaulay said was final.

On another occasion I met at Lord Stanhope's house, one of his parties of
historians and other literary men, and amongst them were Motley and Grote.
After luncheon I walked about Chevening Park for nearly an hour with Grote,
and was much interested by his conversation and pleased by the simplicity
and absence of all pretension in his manners.

Long ago I dined occasionally with the old Earl, the father of the
historian; he was a strange man, but what little I knew of him I liked
much. He was frank, genial, and pleasant. He had strongly marked
features, with a brown complexion, and his clothes, when I saw him, were
all brown. He seemed to believe in everything which was to others utterly
incredible. He said one day to me, "Why don't you give up your fiddle-
faddle of geology and zoology, and turn to the occult sciences!" The
historian, then Lord Mahon, seemed shocked at such a speech to me, and his
charming wife much amused.

The last man whom I will mention is Carlyle, seen by me several times at my
brother's house, and two or three times at my own house. His talk was very
racy and interesting, just like his writings, but he sometimes went on too
long on the same subject. I remember a funny dinner at my brother's,
where, amongst a few others, were Babbage and Lyell, both of whom liked to
talk. Carlyle, however, silenced every one by haranguing during the whole
dinner on the advantages of silence. After dinner Babbage, in his grimmest
manner, thanked Carlyle for his very interesting lecture on silence.

Carlyle sneered at almost every one: one day in my house he called Grote's
'History' "a fetid quagmire, with nothing spiritual about it." I always
thought, until his 'Reminiscences' appeared, that his sneers were partly
jokes, but this now seems rather doubtful. His expression was that of a
depressed, almost despondent yet benevolent man; and it is notorious how
heartily he laughed. I believe that his benevolence was real, though
stained by not a little jealousy. No one can doubt about his extraordinary
power of drawing pictures of things and men--far more vivid, as it appears
to me, than any drawn by Macaulay. Whether his pictures of men were true
ones is another question.

He has been all-powerful in impressing some grand moral truths on the minds
of men. On the other hand, his views about slavery were revolting. In his
eyes might was right. His mind seemed to me a very narrow one; even if all
branches of science, which he despised, are excluded. It is astonishing to
me that Kingsley should have spoken of him as a man well fitted to advance
science. He laughed to scorn the idea that a mathematician, such as
Whewell, could judge, as I maintained he could, of Goethe's views on light.
He thought it a most ridiculous thing that any one should care whether a
glacier moved a little quicker or a little slower, or moved at all. As far
as I could judge, I never met a man with a mind so ill adapted for
scientific research.

Whilst living in London, I attended as regularly as I could the meetings of
several scientific societies, and acted as secretary to the Geological
Society. But such attendance, and ordinary society, suited my health so
badly that we resolved to live in the country, which we both preferred and
have never repented of.


After several fruitless searches in Surrey and elsewhere, we found this
house and purchased it. I was pleased with the diversified appearance of
vegetation proper to a chalk district, and so unlike what I had been
accustomed to in the Midland counties; and still more pleased with the
extreme quietness and rusticity of the place. It is not, however, quite so
retired a place as a writer in a German periodical makes it, who says that
my house can be approached only by a mule-track! Our fixing ourselves here
has answered admirably in one way, which we did not anticipate, namely, by
being very convenient for frequent visits from our children.

Few persons can have lived a more retired life than we have done. Besides
short visits to the houses of relations, and occasionally to the seaside or
elsewhere, we have gone nowhere. During the first part of our residence we
went a little into society, and received a few friends here; but my health
almost always suffered from the excitement, violent shivering and vomiting
attacks being thus brought on. I have therefore been compelled for many
years to give up all dinner-parties; and this has been somewhat of a
deprivation to me, as such parties always put me into high spirits. From
the same cause I have been able to invite here very few scientific

My chief enjoyment and sole employment throughout life has been scientific
work; and the excitement from such work makes me for the time forget, or
drives quite away, my daily discomfort. I have therefore nothing to record
during the rest of my life, except the publication of my several books.
Perhaps a few details how they arose may be worth giving.


In the early part of 1844, my observations on the volcanic islands visited
during the voyage of the "Beagle" were published. In 1845, I took much
pains in correcting a new edition of my 'Journal of Researches,' which was
originally published in 1839 as part of Fitz-Roy's work. The success of
this, my first literary child, always tickles my vanity more than that of
any of my other books. Even to this day it sells steadily in England and
the United States, and has been translated for the second time into German,
and into French and other languages. This success of a book of travels,
especially of a scientific one, so many years after its first publication,
is surprising. Ten thousand copies have been sold in England of the second
edition. In 1846 my 'Geological Observations on South America' were
published. I record in a little diary, which I have always kept, that my
three geological books ('Coral Reefs' included) consumed four and a half
years' steady work; "and now it is ten years since my return to England.
How much time have I lost by illness?" I have nothing to say about these
three books except that to my surprise new editions have lately been called
for. ('Geological Observations,' 2nd Edit.1876. 'Coral Reefs,' 2nd Edit.

In October, 1846, I began to work on 'Cirripedia.' When on the coast of
Chile, I found a most curious form, which burrowed into the shells of
Concholepas, and which differed so much from all other Cirripedes that I
had to form a new sub-order for its sole reception. Lately an allied
burrowing genus has been found on the shores of Portugal. To understand
the structure of my new Cirripede I had to examine and dissect many of the
common forms; and this gradually led me on to take up the whole group. I
worked steadily on this subject for the next eight years, and ultimately
published two thick volumes (Published by the Ray Society.), describing all
the known living species, and two thin quartos on the extinct species. I
do not doubt that Sir E. Lytton Bulwer had me in his mind when he
introduced in one of his novels a Professor Long, who had written two huge
volumes on limpets.

Although I was employed during eight years on this work, yet I record in my
diary that about two years out of this time was lost by illness. On this
account I went in 1848 for some months to Malvern for hydropathic
treatment, which did me much good, so that on my return home I was able to
resume work. So much was I out of health that when my dear father died on
November 13th, 1848, I was unable to attend his funeral or to act as one of
his executors.

My work on the Cirripedia possesses, I think, considerable value, as
besides describing several new and remarkable forms, I made out the
homologies of the various parts--I discovered the cementing apparatus,
though I blundered dreadfully about the cement glands--and lastly I proved
the existence in certain genera of minute males complemental to and
parasitic on the hermaphrodites. This latter discovery has at last been
fully confirmed; though at one time a German writer was pleased to
attribute the whole account to my fertile imagination. The Cirripedes form
a highly varying and difficult group of species to class; and my work was
of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the 'Origin of Species'
the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless, I doubt whether
the work was worth the consumption of so much time.

>From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arranging my huge pile of
notes, to observing, and to experimenting in relation to the transmutation
of species. During the voyage of the "Beagle" I had been deeply impressed
by discovering in the Pampean formation great fossil animals covered with
armour like that on the existing armadillos; secondly, by the manner in
which closely allied animals replace one another in proceeding southwards
over the Continent; and thirdly, by the South American character of most of
the productions of the Galapagos archipelago, and more especially by the
manner in which they differ slightly on each island of the group; none of
the islands appearing to be very ancient in a geological sense.

It was evident that such facts as these, as well as many others, could only
be explained on the supposition that species gradually become modified; and
the subject haunted me. But it was equally evident that neither the action
of the surrounding conditions, nor the will of the organisms (especially in
the case of plants) could account for the innumerable cases in which
organisms of every kind are beautifully adapted to their habits of life--
for instance, a woodpecker or a tree-frog to climb trees, or a seed for
dispersal by hooks or plumes. I had always been much struck by such
adaptations, and until these could be explained it seemed to me almost
useless to endeavour to prove by indirect evidence that species have been

After my return to England it appeared to me that by following the example
of Lyell in Geology, and by collecting all facts which bore in any way on
the variation of animals and plants under domestication and nature, some
light might perhaps be thrown on the whole subject. My first note-book was
opened in July 1837. I worked on true Baconian principles, and without any
theory collected facts on a wholesale scale, more especially with respect
to domesticated productions, by printed enquiries, by conversation with
skilful breeders and gardeners, and by extensive reading. When I see the
list of books of all kinds which I read and abstracted, including whole
series of Journals and Transactions, I am surprised at my industry. I soon
perceived that selection was the keystone of man's success in making useful
races of animals and plants. But how selection could be applied to
organisms living in a state of nature remained for some time a mystery to

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic
enquiry, I happened to read for amusement 'Malthus on Population,' and
being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which
everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals
and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable
variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be
destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species. Here
then I had at last got a theory by which to work; but I was so anxious to
avoid prejudice, that I determined not for some time to write even the
briefest sketch of it. In June 1842 I first allowed myself the
satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of my theory in pencil in 35
pages; and this was enlarged during the summer of 1844 into one of 230
pages, which I had fairly copied out and still possess.

But at that time I overlooked one problem of great importance; and it is
astonishing to me, except on the principle of Columbus and his egg, how I
could have overlooked it and its solution. This problem is the tendency in
organic beings descended from the same stock to diverge in character as
they become modified. That they have diverged greatly is obvious from the
manner in which species of all kinds can be classed under genera, genera
under families, families under sub-orders and so forth; and I can remember
the very spot in the road, whilst in my carriage, when to my joy the
solution occurred to me; and this was long after I had come to Down. The
solution, as I believe, is that the modified offspring of all dominant and
increasing forms tend to become adapted to many and highly diversified
places in the economy of nature.

Early in 1856 Lyell advised me to write out my views pretty fully, and I
began at once to do so on a scale three or four times as extensive as that
which was afterwards followed in my 'Origin of Species;' yet it was only an
abstract of the materials which I had collected, and I got through about
half the work on this scale. But my plans were overthrown, for early in
the summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was then in the Malay archipelago, sent
me an essay "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the
Original Type;" and this essay contained exactly the same theory as mine.
Mr. Wallace expressed the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I
should sent it to Lyell for perusal.

The circumstances under which I consented at the request of Lyell and
Hooker to allow of an abstract from my MS., together with a letter to Asa
Gray, dated September 5, 1857, to be published at the same time with
Wallace's Essay, are given in the 'Journal of the Proceedings of the
Linnean Society,' 1858, page 45. I was at first very unwilling to consent,
as I thought Mr. Wallace might consider my doing so unjustifiable, for I
did not then know how generous and noble was his disposition. The extract
from my MS. and the letter to Asa Gray had neither been intended for
publication, and were badly written. Mr. Wallace's essay, on the other
hand, was admirably expressed and quite clear. Nevertheless, our joint
productions excited very little attention, and the only published notice of
them which I can remember was by Professor Haughton of Dublin, whose
verdict was that all that was new in them was false, and what was true was
old. This shows how necessary it is that any new view should be explained
at considerable length in order to arouse public attention.

In September 1858 I set to work by the strong advice of Lyell and Hooker to
prepare a volume on the transmutation of species, but was often interrupted
by ill-health, and short visits to Dr. Lane's delightful hydropathic
establishment at Moor Park. I abstracted the MS. begun on a much larger
scale in 1856, and completed the volume on the same reduced scale. It cost
me thirteen months and ten days' hard labour. It was published under the
title of the 'Origin of Species,' in November 1859. Though considerably
added to and corrected in the later editions, it has remained substantially
the same book.

It is no doubt the chief work of my life. It was from the first highly
successful. The first small edition of 1250 copies was sold on the day of
publication, and a second edition of 3000 copies soon afterwards. Sixteen
thousand copies have now (1876) been sold in England; and considering how
stiff a book it is, this is a large sale. It has been translated into
almost every European tongue, even into such languages as Spanish,
Bohemian, Polish, and Russian. It has also, according to Miss Bird, been
translated into Japanese (Miss Bird is mistaken, as I learn from Prof.
Mitsukuri.--F.D.), and is there much studied. Even an essay in Hebrew has
appeared on it, showing that the theory is contained in the Old Testament!
The reviews were very numerous; for some time I collected all that appeared
on the 'Origin' and on my related books, and these amount (excluding
newspaper reviews) to 265; but after a time I gave up the attempt in
despair. Many separate essays and books on the subject have appeared; and
in Germany a catalogue or bibliography on "Darwinismus" has appeared every
year or two.

The success of the 'Origin' may, I think, be attributed in large part to my
having long before written two condensed sketches, and to my having finally
abstracted a much larger manuscript, which was itself an abstract. By this
means I was enabled to select the more striking facts and conclusions. I
had, also, during many years followed a golden rule, namely, that whenever
a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was
opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and
at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were
far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones. Owing to this
habit, very few objections were raised against my views which I had not at
least noticed and attempted to answer.

It has sometimes been said that the success of the 'Origin' proved "that
the subject was in the air," or "that men's minds were prepared for it." I
do not think that this is strictly true, for I occasionally sounded not a
few naturalists, and never happened to come across a single one who seemed
to doubt about the permanence of species. Even Lyell and Hooker, though
they would listen with interest to me, never seemed to agree. I tried once
or twice to explain to able men what I meant by Natural Selection, but
signally failed. What I believe was strictly true is that innumerable
well-observed facts were stored in the minds of naturalists ready to take
their proper places as soon as any theory which would receive them was
sufficiently explained. Another element in the success of the book was its
moderate size; and this I owe to the appearance of Mr. Wallace's essay; had
I published on the scale in which I began to write in 1856, the book would
have been four or five times as large as the 'Origin,' and very few would
have had the patience to read it.

I gained much by my delay in publishing from about 1839, when the theory
was clearly conceived, to 1859; and I lost nothing by it, for I cared very
little whether men attributed most originality to me or Wallace; and his
essay no doubt aided in the reception of the theory. I was forestalled in
only one important point, which my vanity has always made me regret,
namely, the explanation by means of the Glacial period of the presence of
the same species of plants and of some few animals on distant mountain
summits and in the arctic regions. This view pleased me so much that I
wrote it out in extenso, and I believe that it was read by Hooker some
years before E. Forbes published his celebrated memoir ('Geolog. Survey
Mem.,' 1846.) on the subject. In the very few points in which we differed,
I still think that I was in the right. I have never, of course, alluded in
print to my having independently worked out this view.

Hardly any point gave me so much satisfaction when I was at work on the
'Origin,' as the explanation of the wide difference in many classes between
the embryo and the adult animal, and of the close resemblance of the
embryos within the same class. No notice of this point was taken, as far
as I remember, in the early reviews of the 'Origin,' and I recollect
expressing my surprise on this head in a letter to Asa Gray. Within late
years several reviewers have given the whole credit to Fritz Muller and
Hackel, who undoubtedly have worked it out much more fully, and in some
respects more correctly than I did. I had materials for a whole chapter on
the subject, and I ought to have made the discussion longer; for it is
clear that I failed to impress my readers; and he who succeeds in doing so
deserves, in my opinion, all the credit.

This leads me to remark that I have almost always been treated honestly by
my reviewers, passing over those without scientific knowledge as not worthy
of notice. My views have often been grossly misrepresented, bitterly
opposed and ridiculed, but this has been generally done, as I believe, in
good faith. On the whole I do not doubt that my works have been over and
over again greatly overpraised. I rejoice that I have avoided
controversies, and this I owe to Lyell, who many years ago, in reference to
my geological works, strongly advised me never to get entangled in a
controversy, as it rarely did any good and caused a miserable loss of time
and temper.

Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, or that my work has been
imperfect, and when I have been contemptuously criticised, and even when I
have been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my
greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to myself that "I have worked as
hard and as well as I could, and no man can do more than this." I remember
when in Good Success Bay, in Tierra del Fuego, thinking (and, I believe,
that I wrote home to the effect) that I could not employ my life better
than in adding a little to Natural Science. This I have done to the best
of my abilities, and critics may say what they like, but they cannot
destroy this conviction.

During the two last months of 1859 I was fully occupied in preparing a
second edition of the 'Origin,' and by an enormous correspondence. On
January 1st, 1860, I began arranging my notes for my work on the 'Variation
of Animals and Plants under Domestication;' but it was not published until
the beginning of 1868; the delay having been caused partly by frequent
illnesses, one of which lasted seven months, and partly by being tempted to
publish on other subjects which at the time interested me more.

On May 15th, 1862, my little book on the 'Fertilisation of Orchids,' which
cost me ten months' work, was published: most of the facts had been slowly
accumulated during several previous years. During the summer of 1839, and,
I believe, during the previous summer, I was led to attend to the cross-
fertilisation of flowers by the aid of insects, from having come to the
conclusion in my speculations on the origin of species, that crossing
played an important part in keeping specific forms constant. I attended to
the subject more or less during every subsequent summer; and my interest in
it was greatly enhanced by having procured and read in November 1841,
through the advice of Robert Brown, a copy of C.K. Sprengel's wonderful
book, 'Das entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur.' For some years before 1862 I
had specially attended to the fertilisation of our British orchids; and it
seemed to me the best plan to prepare as complete a treatise on this group
of plants as well as I could, rather than to utilise the great mass of
matter which I had slowly collected with respect to other plants.

My resolve proved a wise one; for since the appearance of my book, a
surprising number of papers and separate works on the fertilisation of all
kinds of flowers have appeared: and these are far better done than I could
possibly have effected. The merits of poor old Sprengel, so long
overlooked, are now fully recognised many years after his death.

During the same year I published in the 'Journal of the Linnean Society' a
paper "On the Two Forms, or Dimorphic Condition of Primula," and during the
next five years, five other papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants. I
do not think anything in my scientific life has given me so much
satisfaction as making out the meaning of the structure of these plants. I
had noticed in 1838 or 1839 the dimorphism of Linum flavum, and had at
first thought that it was merely a case of unmeaning variability. But on
examining the common species of Primula I found that the two forms were
much too regular and constant to be thus viewed. I therefore became almost
convinced that the common cowslip and primrose were on the high road to
become dioecious;--that the short pistil in the one form, and the short
stamens in the other form were tending towards abortion. The plants were
therefore subjected under this point of view to trial; but as soon as the
flowers with short pistils fertilised with pollen from the short stamens,
were found to yield more seeds than any other of the four possible unions,
the abortion-theory was knocked on the head. After some additional
experiment, it became evident that the two forms, though both were perfect
hermaphrodites, bore almost the same relation to one another as do the two
sexes of an ordinary animal. With Lythrum we have the still more wonderful
case of three forms standing in a similar relation to one another. I
afterwards found that the offspring from the union of two plants belonging
to the same forms presented a close and curious analogy with hybrids from
the union of two distinct species.

In the autumn of 1864 I finished a long paper on 'Climbing Plants,' and
sent it to the Linnean Society. The writing of this paper cost me four
months; but I was so unwell when I received the proof-sheets that I was
forced to leave them very badly and often obscurely expressed. The paper
was little noticed, but when in 1875 it was corrected and published as a
separate book it sold well. I was led to take up this subject by reading a
short paper by Asa Gray, published in 1858. He sent me seeds, and on
raising some plants I was so much fascinated and perplexed by the revolving
movements of the tendrils and stems, which movements are really very
simple, though appearing at first sight very complex, that I procured
various other kinds of climbing plants, and studied the whole subject. I
was all the more attracted to it, from not being at all satisfied with the
explanation which Henslow gave us in his lectures, about twining plants,
namely, that they had a natural tendency to grow up in a spire. This
explanation proved quite erroneous. Some of the adaptations displayed by
Climbing Plants are as beautiful as those of Orchids for ensuring cross-

My 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication' was begun, as
already stated, in the beginning of 1860, but was not published until the
beginning of 1868. It was a big book, and cost me four years and two
months' hard labour. It gives all my observations and an immense number of
facts collected from various sources, about our domestic productions. In
the second volume the causes and laws of variation, inheritance, etc., are
discussed as far as our present state of knowledge permits. Towards the
end of the work I give my well-abused hypothesis of Pangenesis. An
unverified hypothesis is of little or no value; but if any one should
hereafter be led to make observations by which some such hypothesis could
be established, I shall have done good service, as an astonishing number of
isolated facts can be thus connected together and rendered intelligible.
In 1875 a second and largely corrected edition, which cost me a good deal
of labour, was brought out.

My 'Descent of Man' was published in February, 1871. As soon as I had
become, in the year 1837 or 1838, convinced that species were mutable
productions, I could not avoid the belief that man must come under the same
law. Accordingly I collected notes on the subject for my own satisfaction,
and not for a long time with any intention of publishing. Although in the
'Origin of Species' the derivation of any particular species is never
discussed, yet I thought it best, in order that no honourable man should
accuse me of concealing my views, to add that by the work "light would be
thrown on the origin of man and his history." It would have been useless
and injurious to the success of the book to have paraded, without giving
any evidence, my conviction with respect to his origin.

But when I found that many naturalists fully accepted the doctrine of the
evolution of species, it seemed to me advisable to work up such notes as I
possessed, and to publish a special treatise on the origin of man. I was
the more glad to do so, as it gave me an opportunity of fully discussing
sexual selection--a subject which had always greatly interested me. This
subject, and that of the variation of our domestic productions, together
with the causes and laws of variation, inheritance, and the intercrossing
of plants, are the sole subjects which I have been able to write about in
full, so as to use all the materials which I have collected. The 'Descent
of Man' took me three years to write, but then as usual some of this time
was lost by ill health, and some was consumed by preparing new editions and
other minor works. A second and largely corrected edition of the 'Descent'
appeared in 1874.

My book on the 'Expression of the Emotions in Men and Animals' was
published in the autumn of 1872. I had intended to give only a chapter on
the subject in the 'Descent of Man,' but as soon as I began to put my notes
together, I saw that it would require a separate treatise.

My first child was born on December 27th, 1839, and I at once commenced to
make notes on the first dawn of the various expressions which he exhibited,
for I felt convinced, even at this early period, that the most complex and
fine shades of expression must all have had a gradual and natural origin.
During the summer of the following year, 1840, I read Sir C. Bell's
admirable work on expression, and this greatly increased the interest which
I felt in the subject, though I could not at all agree with his belief that
various muscles had been specially created for the sake of expression.
>From this time forward I occasionally attended to the subject, both with
respect to man and our domesticated animals. My book sold largely; 5267
copies having been disposed of on the day of publication.

In the summer of 1860 I was idling and resting near Hartfield, where two
species of Drosera abound; and I noticed that numerous insects had been
entrapped by the leaves. I carried home some plants, and on giving them
insects saw the movements of the tentacles, and this made me think it
probable that the insects were caught for some special purpose.
Fortunately a crucial test occurred to me, that of placing a large number
of leaves in various nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous fluids of equal
density; and as soon as I found that the former alone excited energetic
movements, it was obvious that here was a fine new field for investigation.

During subsequent years, whenever I had leisure, I pursued my experiments,
and my book on 'Insectivorous Plants' was published in July 1875--that is,
sixteen years after my first observations. The delay in this case, as with
all my other books, has been a great advantage to me; for a man after a
long interval can criticise his own work, almost as well as if it were that
of another person. The fact that a plant should secrete, when properly
excited, a fluid containing an acid and ferment, closely analogous to the
digestive fluid of an animal, was certainly a remarkable discovery.

During this autumn of 1876 I shall publish on the 'Effects of Cross and
Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom.' This book will form a
complement to that on the 'Fertilisation of Orchids,' in which I showed how
perfect were the means for cross-fertilisation, and here I shall show how
important are the results. I was led to make, during eleven years, the
numerous experiments recorded in this volume, by a mere accidental
observation; and indeed it required the accident to be repeated before my
attention was thoroughly aroused to the remarkable fact that seedlings of
self-fertilised parentage are inferior, even in the first generation, in
height and vigour to seedlings of cross-fertilised parentage. I hope also
to republish a revised edition of my book on Orchids, and hereafter my
papers on dimorphic and trimorphic plants, together with some additional
observations on allied points which I never have had time to arrange. My
strength will then probably be exhausted, and I shall be ready to exclaim
"Nunc dimittis."


'The Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilisation' was published in the autumn
of 1876; and the results there arrived at explain, as I believe, the
endless and wonderful contrivances for the transportal of pollen from one
plant to another of the same species. I now believe, however, chiefly from
the observations of Hermann Muller, that I ought to have insisted more
strongly than I did on the many adaptations for self-fertilisation; though
I was well aware of many such adaptations. A much enlarged edition of my
'Fertilisation of Orchids' was published in 1877.

In this same year 'The Different Forms of Flowers, etc.,' appeared, and in
1880 a second edition. This book consists chiefly of the several papers on
Heterostyled flowers originally published by the Linnean Society,
corrected, with much new matter added, together with observations on some
other cases in which the same plant bears two kinds of flowers. As before
remarked, no little discovery of mine ever gave me so much pleasure as the
making out the meaning of heterostyled flowers. The results of crossing
such flowers in an illegitimate manner, I believe to be very important, as
bearing on the sterility of hybrids; although these results have been
noticed by only a few persons.

In 1879, I had a translation of Dr. Ernst Krause's 'Life of Erasmus Darwin'
published, and I added a sketch of his character and habits from material
in my possession. Many persons have been much interested by this little
life, and I am surprised that only 800 or 900 copies were sold.

In 1880 I published, with [my son] Frank's assistance, our 'Power of
Movement in Plants.' This was a tough piece of work. The book bears
somewhat the same relation to my little book on 'Climbing Plants,' which
'Cross-Fertilisation' did to the 'Fertilisation of Orchids;' for in
accordance with the principle of evolution it was impossible to account for
climbing plants having been developed in so many widely different groups
unless all kinds of plants possess some slight power of movement of an
analogous kind. This I proved to be the case; and I was further led to a
rather wide generalisation, viz. that the great and important classes of
movements, excited by light, the attraction of gravity, etc., are all
modified forms of the fundamental movement of circumnutation. It has
always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of organised beings; and I
therefore felt an especial pleasure in showing how many and what admirably
well adapted movements the tip of a root possesses.

I have now (May 1, 1881) sent to the printers the MS. of a little book on
'The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms.' This is a
subject of but small importance; and I know not whether it will interest
any readers (Between November 1881 and February 1884, 8500 copies have been
sold.), but it has interested me. It is the completion of a short paper
read before the Geological Society more than forty years ago, and has
revived old geological thoughts.

I have now mentioned all the books which I have published, and these have
been the milestones in my life, so that little remains to be said. I am
not conscious of any change in my mind during the last thirty years,
excepting in one point presently to be mentioned; nor, indeed, could any
change have been expected unless one of general deterioration. But my
father lived to his eighty-third year with his mind as lively as ever it
was, and all his faculties undimmed; and I hope that I may die before my
mind fails to a sensible extent. I think that I have become a little more
skilful in guessing right explanations and in devising experimental tests;
but this may probably be the result of mere practice, and of a larger store
of knowledge. I have as much difficulty as ever in expressing myself
clearly and concisely; and this difficulty has caused me a very great loss
of time; but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think
long and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been led to see
errors in reasoning and in my own observations or those of others.

There seems to be a sort of fatality in my mind leading me to put at first
my statement or proposition in a wrong or awkward form. Formerly I used to
think about my sentences before writing them down; but for several years I
have found that it saves time to scribble in a vile hand whole pages as
quickly as I possibly can, contracting half the words; and then correct
deliberately. Sentences thus scribbled down are often better ones than I
could have written deliberately.

Having said thus much about my manner of writing, I will add that with my
large books I spend a good deal of time over the general arrangement of the
matter. I first make the rudest outline in two or three pages, and then a
larger one in several pages, a few words or one word standing for a whole
discussion or series of facts. Each one of these headings is again
enlarged and often transferred before I begin to write in extenso. As in
several of my books facts observed by others have been very extensively
used, and as I have always had several quite distinct subjects in hand at
the same time, I may mention that I keep from thirty to forty large
portfolios, in cabinets with labelled shelves, into which I can at once put
a detached reference or memorandum. I have bought many books, and at their
ends I make an index of all the facts that concern my work; or, if the book
is not my own, write out a separate abstract, and of such abstracts I have
a large drawer full. Before beginning on any subject I look to all the
short indexes and make a general and classified index, and by taking the
one or more proper portfolios I have all the information collected during
my life ready for use.

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty
or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many
kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and
Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense
delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also
said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great
delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry:
I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull
that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or
music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have
been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for
fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it
formerly did. On the other hand, novels which are works of the
imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a
wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A
surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately
good, and if they do not end unhappily--against which a law ought to be
passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class
unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a
pretty woman all the better.

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the
odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any
scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of
subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have
become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections
of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the
brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man
with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would
not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I
would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at
least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied
would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is
a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and
more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of
our nature.

My books have sold largely in England, have been translated into many
languages, and passed through several editions in foreign countries. I
have heard it said that the success of a work abroad is the best test of
its enduring value. I doubt whether this is at all trustworthy; but judged
by this standard my name ought to last for a few years. Therefore it may
be worth while to try to analyse the mental qualities and the conditions on
which my success has depended; though I am aware that no man can do this

I have no great quickness of apprehension or wit which is so remarkable in
some clever men, for instance, Huxley. I am therefore a poor critic: a
paper or book, when first read, generally excites my admiration, and it is
only after considerable reflection that I perceive the weak points. My
power to follow a long and purely abstract train of thought is very
limited; and therefore I could never have succeeded with metaphysics or
mathematics. My memory is extensive, yet hazy: it suffices to make me
cautious by vaguely telling me that I have observed or read something
opposed to the conclusion which I am drawing, or on the other hand in
favour of it; and after a time I can generally recollect where to search
for my authority. So poor in one sense is my memory, that I have never
been able to remember for more than a few days a single date or a line of

Some of my critics have said, "Oh, he is a good observer, but he has no
power of reasoning!" I do not think that this can be true, for the 'Origin
of Species' is one long argument from the beginning to the end, and it has
convinced not a few able men. No one could have written it without having
some power of reasoning. I have a fair share of invention, and of common
sense or judgment, such as every fairly successful lawyer or doctor must
have, but not, I believe, in any higher degree.

On the favourable side of the balance, I think that I am superior to the
common run of men in noticing things which easily escape attention, and in
observing them carefully. My industry has been nearly as great as it could
have been in the observation and collection of facts. What is far more
important, my love of natural science has been steady and ardent.

This pure love has, however, been much aided by the ambition to be esteemed
by my fellow naturalists. From my early youth I have had the strongest
desire to understand or explain whatever I observed,--that is, to group all
facts under some general laws. These causes combined have given me the
patience to reflect or ponder for any number of years over any unexplained
problem. As far as I can judge, I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of
other men. I have steadily endeavoured to keep my mind free so as to give
up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on
every subject), as soon as facts are shown to be opposed to it. Indeed, I
have had no choice but to act in this manner, for with the exception of the
Coral Reefs, I cannot remember a single first-formed hypothesis which had
not after a time to be given up or greatly modified. This has naturally
led me to distrust greatly deductive reasoning in the mixed sciences. On
the other hand, I am not very sceptical,--a frame of mind which I believe
to be injurious to the progress of science. A good deal of scepticism in a
scientific man is advisable to avoid much loss of time, but I have met with
not a few men, who, I feel sure, have often thus been deterred from
experiment or observations, which would have proved directly or indirectly

In illustration, I will give the oddest case which I have known. A
gentleman (who, as I afterwards heard, is a good local botanist) wrote to
me from the Eastern counties that the seed or beans of the common field-
bean had this year everywhere grown on the wrong side of the pod. I wrote
back, asking for further information, as I did not understand what was
meant; but I did not receive any answer for a very long time. I then saw
in two newspapers, one published in Kent and the other in Yorkshire,
paragraphs stating that it was a most remarkable fact that "the beans this
year had all grown on the wrong side." So I thought there must be some
foundation for so general a statement. Accordingly, I went to my gardener,
an old Kentish man, and asked him whether he had heard anything about it,
and he answered, "Oh, no, sir, it must be a mistake, for the beans grow on
the wrong side only on leap-year, and this is not leap-year." I then asked
him how they grew in common years and how on leap-years, but soon found
that he knew absolutely nothing of how they grew at any time, but he stuck
to his belief.

After a time I heard from my first informant, who, with many apologies,
said that he should not have written to me had he not heard the statement
from several intelligent farmers; but that he had since spoken again to
every one of them, and not one knew in the least what he had himself meant.
So that here a belief--if indeed a statement with no definite idea attached
to it can be called a belief--had spread over almost the whole of England
without any vestige of evidence.

I have known in the course of my life only three intentionally falsified
statements, and one of these may have been a hoax (and there have been
several scientific hoaxes) which, however, took in an American Agricultural
Journal. It related to the formation in Holland of a new breed of oxen by
the crossing of distinct species of Bos (some of which I happen to know are
sterile together), and the author had the impudence to state that he had
corresponded with me, and that I had been deeply impressed with the
importance of his result. The article was sent to me by the editor of an
English Agricultural Journal, asking for my opinion before republishing it.

A second case was an account of several varieties, raised by the author
from several species of Primula, which had spontaneously yielded a full
complement of seed, although the parent plants had been carefully protected
from the access of insects. This account was published before I had
discovered the meaning of heterostylism, and the whole statement must have
been fraudulent, or there was neglect in excluding insects so gross as to
be scarcely credible.

The third case was more curious: Mr. Huth published in his book on
'Consanguineous Marriage' some long extracts from a Belgian author, who
stated that he had interbred rabbits in the closest manner for very many
generations, without the least injurious effects. The account was
published in a most respectable Journal, that of the Royal Society of
Belgium; but I could not avoid feeling doubts--I hardly know why, except
that there were no accidents of any kind, and my experience in breeding
animals made me think this very improbable.

So with much hesitation I wrote to Professor Van Beneden, asking him
whether the author was a trustworthy man. I soon heard in answer that the
Society had been greatly shocked by discovering that the whole account was
a fraud. (The falseness of the published statements on which Mr. Huth
relied has been pointed out by himself in a slip inserted in all the copies
of his book which then remained unsold.) The writer had been publicly
challenged in the Journal to say where he had resided and kept his large
stock of rabbits while carrying on his experiments, which must have
consumed several years, and no answer could be extracted from him.

My habits are methodical, and this has been of not a little use for my
particular line of work. Lastly, I have had ample leisure from not having
to earn my own bread. Even ill-health, though it has annihilated several
years of my life, has saved me from the distractions of society and

Therefore my success as a man of science, whatever this may have amounted
to, has been determined, as far as I can judge, by complex and diversified
mental qualities and conditions. Of these, the most important have been--
the love of science--unbounded patience in long reflecting over any
subject--industry in observing and collecting facts--and a fair share of
invention as well as of common sense. With such moderate abilities as I
possess, it is truly surprising that I should have influenced to a
considerable extent the belief of scientific men on some important points.



It is my wish in the present chapter to give some idea of my father's
everyday life. It has seemed to me that I might carry out this object in
the form of a rough sketch of a day's life at Down, interspersed with such
recollections as are called up by the record. Many of these recollections,
which have a meaning for those who knew my father, will seem colourless or
trifling to strangers. Nevertheless, I give them in the hope that they may
help to preserve that impression of his personality which remains on the
minds of those who knew and loved him--an impression at once so vivid and
so untranslatable into words.

Of his personal appearance (in these days of multiplied photographs) it is
hardly necessary to say much. He was about six feet in height, but
scarcely 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, and 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 was one of the two who were better able than the rest to struggle on in
search of it. As a boy he was active, and could jump a bar placed at the
height of the "Adam's apple" in his neck.

He walked with a swinging action, using a stick heavily shod with iron,
which he struck loudly against the ground, producing as he went round the
"Sand-walk" at Down, a rhythmical click which is with all of us a very
distinct remembrance. As he returned from the midday walk, often carrying
the waterproof or cloak which had proved too hot, one could see that the
swinging step was kept up by something of an effort. Indoors his step was
often slow and laboured, and as he went upstairs in the afternoon he might
be heard mounting the stairs with a heavy footfall, as if each step were an
effort. When interested in his work he moved about quickly and easily
enough, and often in the middle of dictating he went eagerly into the hall
to get a pinch of snuff, leaving the study door open, and calling out the
last words of his sentence as he went. Indoors he sometimes used an oak
stick like a little alpenstock, and this was a sign that he felt giddiness.

In spite of his strength and activity, I think he must always have had a
clumsiness of movement. He was naturally awkward with his hands, and was
unable to draw at all well. (The figure representing the aggregated cell-
contents in 'Insectivorous Plants' was drawn by him.) This he always
regretted much, and he frequently urged the paramount necessity of a young
naturalist making himself a good draughtsman.

He could dissect well under the simple microscope, but I think it was by
dint of his great patience and carefulness. It was characteristic of him
that he thought many little bits of skilful dissection something almost
superhuman. He used to speak with admiration of the skill with which he
saw Newport dissect a humble bee, getting out the nervous system with a few
cuts of a fine pair of scissors, held, as my father used to show, with the
elbow raised, and in an attitude which certainly would render great
steadiness necessary. He used to consider cutting sections a great feat,
and in the last year of his life, with wonderful energy, took the pains to
learn to cut sections of roots and leaves. His hand was not steady enough
to hold the object to be cut, and he employed a common microtome, in which
the pith for holding the object was clamped, and the razor slid on a glass
surface in making 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." On the other hand, he must have had accuracy of eye and power
of co-ordinating his movements, since he was a good shot with a gun as a
young man, and as a boy was skilful in throwing. He once killed a hare
sitting in the flower-garden at Shrewsbury by throwing a marble at it, and,
as a man, he once killed a cross-beak with a stone. He was so unhappy at
having uselessly killed the cross-beak that he did not mention it for
years, and then explained that he should never have thrown at it if he had
not felt sure that his old skill had gone from him.

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, as may
be seen in one of the photographs. 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 caused him some
discomfort. We used to laugh at him for making his tall drawing-room chair
still higher by putting footstools on it, and then neutralising the result
by resting his feet on another chair.

His beard was full and almost untrimmed, the hair being grey and white,
fine rather than coarse, and wavy or frizzled. His moustache was somewhat
disfigured by being cut short and square across. He became very bald,
having only a fringe of dark hair behind.

His face was ruddy in colour, and this perhaps made people think him less
of an invalid than he was. He wrote to Dr. Hooker (June 13, 1849), "Every
one tells me that I look quite blooming and beautiful; and most think I am
shamming, but you have never been one of those." And it must be remembered
that at this time he was miserably ill, far worse than in later years. His
eyes were bluish grey under deep overhanging brows, with thick bushy
projecting eyebrows. His high forehead was much wrinkled, but otherwise
his face was not much marked or lined. His expression showed no signs of
the continual discomfort he suffered.

When he was excited with pleasant talk his whole manner was wonderfully
bright and animated, and his face shared to the full in the general
animation. His laugh was a free and sounding peal, like that of a man who
gives himself sympathetically and with enjoyment to the person and the
thing which have amused him. He often used 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 anything (e.g. the fertilisation of a flower) in a way that
seemed rather an aid to himself than to the listener. He did this on
occasions when most people would illustrate their explanations by means of
a rough pencil sketch.

He wore dark clothes, of a loose and easy fit. 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-doors dress was the short cloak in
which Elliot and Fry's photograph represents him leaning against the pillar
of the verandah. Two peculiarities of his indoor dress were that he almost
always wore a shawl over his shoulders, and that he had great loose cloth
boots lined with fur which he could slip on over his indoor shoes. Like
most delicate people he suffered from heat as well as from chilliness; 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 anything went wrong in the course of his work.

He rose early, chiefly because he could not lie in bed, and I think he
would have liked to get up earlier than he did. He took a short turn
before breakfast, a habit which began when he went for the first time to a
water-cure establishment. This habit he kept up till almost the end of his
life. I used, as a little boy, to like going out with him, and I have a
vague sense of the red of the winter sunrise, and a recollection of the
pleasant companionship, and a certain honour and glory in it. He used to
delight me as a boy by telling me how, in still earlier walks, on dark
winter mornings, he had once or twice met foxes trotting home at the

After breakfasting alone about 7.45, he went to work at once, considering
the 1 1/2 hour between 8 and 9.30 one of his best working times. At 9.30
he came into the drawing-room for his letters--rejoicing if the post was a
light one and being sometimes much worried if it was not. He would then
hear any family letters read aloud as he lay on the sofa.

The reading aloud, which also included part of a novel, lasted till about
half-past ten, when he went back to work till twelve or a quarter past. By
this time he considered his day's work over, and would often 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 in fair
weather, but in rain she refused or might be seen hesitating in the
verandah, with a mixed expression of disgust and shame at her own want of
courage; generally, however, her conscience carried the day, and as soon as
he was evidently gone she could not bear to stay behind.

My father was always fond of dogs, and as a young man had the power of
stealing away the affections of his sister's pets; at Cambridge, he won the
love of his cousin W.D. Fox's dog, and this may perhaps have been the
little beast which used to creep down inside his bed and sleep at the foot
every night. My father had a surly dog, who was devoted to him, but
unfriendly to every one else, and when he came back from the "Beagle"
voyage, the dog remembered him, but in a curious way, which my father was
fond of telling. He went into the yard and shouted in his old manner; the
dog rushed out and set off with him on his walk, showing no more emotion or
excitement than if the same thing had happened the day before, instead of
five years ago. This story is made use of in the 'Descent of Man,' 2nd
Edition, page 74.

In my memory there were only two dogs which had much connection with my
father. One was a large black and white half-bred retriever, called Bob,
to which we, as children, were much devoted. He was the dog of whom the
story of the "hot-house face" is told in the 'Expression of the Emotions.'

But the dog most closely associated with my father was the above-mentioned
Polly, a rough, white fox-terrier. She was a sharp-witted, affectionate
dog; when her master was going away on a journey, she always discovered the
fact by the signs of packing going on in the study, and 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, and 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 (as he did often
say) that "she was famishing." My father used to make her catch biscuits
off her nose, and had an affectionate and mock-solemn way of explaining to
her before-hand that she must "be a very good girl." She had a mark on her
back where she had been burnt, and where the hair had re-grown red instead
of white, and my father used to commend her for this tuft of hair as being
in accordance with his theory of pangenesis; her father had been a red
bull-terrier, thus the red hair appearing after the burn showed the
presence of latent red gemmules. He was delightfully tender to Polly, and
never showed any impatience at the attentions she required, such as to be
let in at the door, or out at the verandah window, to bark at "naughty
people," a self-imposed duty she much enjoyed. She died, or rather had to
be killed, a few days after his death. (The basket in which she usually
lay curled up near the fire in his study is faithfully represented in Mr.
Parson's drawing, "The Study at Down.")

My father's midday walk generally began by a call at the greenhouse, where
he 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--either round the "Sand-
walk," or outside his own grounds in the immediate neighbourhood of the
house. The "Sand-walk" was a narrow strip of land 1 1/2 acres in extent,
with a gravel-walk round it. On one side of it was a broad old shaw with
fair-sized oaks in it, which made a sheltered shady walk; the other side
was separated from a neighbouring grass field by a low quickset hedge, over
which you could look at what view there was, a quiet little valley losing
itself in the upland country towards the edge of the Westerham hill, with
hazel coppice and larch wood, the remnants of what was once a large wood,
stretching away to the Westerham road. I have heard my father say that the
charm of this simple little valley helped to make him settle at Down.

The Sand-walk was planted by my father with a variety of trees, such as
hazel, alder, lime, hornbeam, birch, privet, and dogwood, and with a long
line of hollies all down the exposed side. In earlier times he took a
certain number of turns every day, and used to count them by means of a
heap of flints, one of which he kicked out on the path each time he passed.
Of late years I think he did not keep to any fixed number of turns, but
took as many as he felt strength for. The Sand-walk was our play-ground as
children, and here we continually saw my father as he walked round. He
liked to see what we were doing, and was ever ready to sympathize in any
fun that was going on. It is curious to think how, with regard to the
Sand-walk in connection with my father, my earliest recollections coincide
with my latest; it shows how unvarying his habits have been.

Sometimes when alone he stood still or walked stealthily to observe birds
or beasts. It was on one of these occasions that some young squirrels ran
up his back and legs, while their mother barked at them in an agony from
the tree. He always found birds' nests even up to the last years of his
life, and we, as children, considered that he had a special genius in this
direction. In his quiet prowls he came across the less common birds, but I
fancy he used to conceal it from me, as a little boy, because he observed
the agony of mind which I endured at not having seen the siskin or
goldfinch, or whatever it might have been. He used to tell us how, when he
was creeping noiselessly along in the "Big-Woods," he came upon a fox
asleep in the daytime, which was so much astonished that it took a good
stare at him before it ran off. A Spitz dog which accompanied him showed
no sign of excitement at the fox, and he used to end the story by wondering
how the dog could have been so faint-hearted.

Another favourite place was "Orchis Bank," above the quiet Cudham valley,
where fly- and musk-orchis grew among the junipers, and Cephalanthera and
Neottia under the beech boughs; the little wood "Hangrove," just above
this, he was also fond of, and here I remember his collecting grasses, when
he took a fancy to make out the names of all the common kinds. He was fond
of quoting the saying of one of his little boys, who, having found a grass
that his father had not seen before, had it laid by his own plate during
dinner, remarking, "I are an extraordinary grass-finder!"

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 on
the lawn; he generally sat, however, on the grass, and I remember him often
lying under one of the big lime-trees, with his head on the green mound at
its foot. In dry summer weather, when we often sat out, the big fly-wheel
of the well was commonly heard spinning round, and so the sound became
associated with those pleasant days. He used to like to watch us playing
at lawn-tennis, and often knocked up a stray ball for us with the curved
handle of his stick.

Though he took no personal share in the management of the garden, he had
great delight in the beauty of flowers--for instance, in the mass of
Azaleas which generally stood in the drawing-room. I think he sometimes
fused together his admiration of the structure of a flower and of its
intrinsic beauty; for instance, in the case of the big pendulous pink and
white flowers of Dielytra. In the same way he had an affection, half-
artistic, half-botanical, for the little blue Lobelia. In admiring
flowers, he would often laugh at the dingy high-art colours, and contrast
them with the bright tints of nature. I used to like to hear him admire
the beauty of a flower; it was a kind of gratitude to the flower itself,
and a personal love for its delicate form and colour. I seem to remember
him gently touching a flower he delighted in; it was the same simple
admiration that a child might have.

He could not help personifying natural things. This feeling came out in
abuse as well as in praise--e.g. of some seedlings--"The little beggars are
doing just what I don't want them to." He would speak in a half-provoked,
half-admiring way of the ingenuity of a Mimosa leaf in screwing itself out
of a basin of water in which he had tried to fix it. One must see the same
spirit in his way of speaking of Sundew, earth-worms, etc. (Cf. Leslie
Stephen's 'Swift,' 1882, page 200, where Swift's inspection of the manners
and customs of servants are compared to my father's observations on worms,
"The difference is," says Mr. Stephen, "that Darwin had none but kindly
feelings for worms.")

Within my memory, his only outdoor recreation, besides walking, was riding,
which he took to on the recommendation of Dr. Bence Jones, and we had the
luck to find for him the easiest and quietest cob in the world, named
"Tommy." He enjoyed these rides extremely, and devised a number of short
rounds which brought him home in time for lunch. Our country is good for
this purpose, owing to the number of small valleys which give a variety to
what in a flat country would be a dull loop of road. He was not, I think,
naturally fond of horses, nor had he a high opinion of their intelligence,
and Tommy was often laughed at for the alarm he showed at passing and
repassing the same heap of hedge-clippings as he went round the field. I
think he used to feel surprised at himself, when he remembered how bold a
rider he had been, and how utterly old age and bad health had taken away
his nerve. He would say that riding prevented him thinking much more
effectually than walking--that having to attend to the horse gave him
occupation sufficient to prevent any really hard thinking. And the change
of scene which it gave him was good for spirits and health.

Unluckily, Tommy one day fell heavily with him on Keston common. This, and
an accident with another horse, upset his nerves, and he was advised to
give up riding.

If I go beyond my own experience, and recall what I have heard him say of
his love for sport, etc., I can think of a good deal, but much of it would
be a repetition of what is contained in his 'Recollections.' At school he
was fond of bat-fives, and this was the only game at which he was skilful.
He was fond of his gun as quite a boy, and became a good shot; he used to
tell how in South America he killed twenty-three snipe in twenty-four
shots. In telling the story he was careful to add that he thought they
were not quite so wild as English snipe.

Luncheon at Down came after his midday walk; and here I may say a word or
two about his meals generally. He had a boy-like love of sweets, unluckily
for himself, since he was constantly forbidden to take them. He was not
particularly successful in keeping the "vows," as he called them, which he
made against eating sweets, and never considered them binding unless he
made them aloud.

He drank very little wine, but enjoyed, and was revived by, the little he
did drink. He had a horror of drinking, and constantly warned his boys
that any one might be led into drinking too much. I remember, in my
innocence as a small boy, asking him if he had been ever tipsy; and he
answered very gravely that he was ashamed to say he had once drunk too much
at Cambridge. I was much impressed, so that I know now the place where the
question was asked.

After his lunch, he read the newspaper, lying on the sofa in the drawing-
room. I think the paper was the only non-scientific matter which he read
to himself. Everything else, novels, travels, history, was read aloud to
him. He took so wide an interest in life, that there was much to occupy
him in newspapers, though he laughed at the wordiness of the debates;
reading them, I think, only in abstract. His interest in politics was
considerable, but his opinion on these matters was formed rather by the way
than with any serious amount of thought.

After he read his paper, came his time for writing letters. These, as well
as the MS. of his books, were written by him as he sat in a huge horse-hair
chair by the fire, his paper supported on a board resting on the arms of
the chair. When he had many or long letters to write, he would dictate
them from a rough copy; these rough copies were written on the backs of
manuscript or of proof-sheets, and were almost illegible, sometimes even to
himself. He made a rule of keeping ALL letters that he received; this was
a habit which he learnt from his father, and which he said had been of
great use to him.

He received many letters from foolish, unscrupulous people, and all of
these received replies. He used to say that if he did not answer them, he
had it on his conscience afterwards, and no doubt it was in great measure
the courtesy with which he answered every one, which produced the universal
and widespread sense of his kindness of nature, which was so evident on his

He was considerate to his correspondents in other and 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 to a foreigner." His
letters were generally written on the assumption that they would be
carelessly read; thus, when he was dictating, he was careful to tell me to
make an important clause begin with an 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 anything about the general tone of his letters, they will
speak for themselves. The unvarying courtesy of them is very striking. I
had a proof of this quality in the feeling with which Mr. Hacon, his
solicitor, regarded him. He had never seen my father, yet had a sincere
feeling of friendship for him, and spoke especially of his letters as being
such as a man seldom receives in the way of business:--"Everything I did
was right, and everything was profusely thanked for."

He had a printed form to be used in replying to troublesome correspondents,
but he hardly ever used it; I suppose he never found an occasion that
seemed exactly suitable. I remember an occasion on which it might have
been used with advantage. He received a letter from a stranger stating
that the writer had undertaken to uphold Evolution at a debating society,
and that being a busy young man, without time for reading, he wished to
have a sketch of my father's views. Even this wonderful young man got a
civil answer, though I think he did not get much material for his speech.
His rule was to thank the donors of books, but not of pamphlets. He
sometimes expressed surprise that so few people thanked him for his books
which he gave away liberally; the letters that he did receive gave him much
pleasure, because he habitually formed so humble an estimate of the value
of all his works, that he was generally surprised at the interest which
they excited.

In money and business matters he was remarkably careful and exact. He kept
accounts with great care, classifying them, and balancing at the end of the
year like a merchant. I remember the quick way in which he would reach out
for his account-book to enter each cheque paid, as though he were in a
hurry to get it entered before he had forgotten it. His father must have
allowed him to believe that he would be poorer than he really was, for some
of the difficulty experienced in finding a house in the country must have
arisen from the modest sum he felt prepared to give. Yet he knew, of
course, that he would be in easy circumstances, for in his 'Recollections'
he mentions this as one of the reasons for his not having worked at
medicine with so much zeal as he would have done if he had been obliged to
gain his living.

He had a pet economy in paper, but it was rather a hobby than a real
economy. All the blank sheets of letters received were kept in a portfolio
to be used in making notes; it was his respect for paper that made him
write so much on the backs of his old MS., and in this way, unfortunately,
he destroyed large parts of the original MS. of his books. His feeling
about paper extended to waste paper, and he objected, half in fun, to the
careless custom of throwing a spill into the fire after it had been used
for lighting a candle.

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--making it
almost seem a virtue in me to have told him of them. In his later years he
had the kind and generous plan of dividing his surplus at the year's end
among his children.

He had a great respect for pure business capacity, and often spoke with
admiration of a relative who had doubled his fortune. And of himself would
often say in fun that what he really WAS proud of was the money he had
saved. He also felt satisfaction in the money he made by his books. His
anxiety to save came in a great measure from his fears that his children
would not have health enough to earn their own livings, a foreboding which
fairly haunted him for many years. And I have a dim recollection of his
saying, "Thank God, you'll have bread and cheese," when I was so young that
I was rather inclined to take it literally.

When letters were finished, about three in the afternoon, he rested in his
bedroom, lying on the sofa and smoking a cigarette, and listening to a
novel or other book not scientific. He only smoked when resting, whereas
snuff was a stimulant, and was taken during working hours. He took snuff
for many years of his life, having learnt the habit at Edinburgh as a
student. He had a nice silver snuff-box given him by Mrs. Wedgwood of
Maer, which he valued much--but he rarely carried it, because it tempted
him to take too many pinches. In one of his early letters he speaks of
having given up snuff for a month, and describes himself as feeling "most
lethargic, stupid, and melancholy." Our former neighbour and clergyman,
Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one time my father made a resolve not to
take snuff except away from home, "a most satisfactory arrangement for me,"
he adds, "as I kept a box in my study to which there was access from the
garden without summoning servants, and I had more frequently, than might
have been otherwise the case, the privilege of a few minutes' conversation
with my dear friend." He generally took snuff from a jar on the hall
table, because having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check;
the clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. Sometimes
when he was in the drawing-room, it would occur to him that the study fire
must be burning low, and when some of us offered to see after it, it would
turn out that he also wished to get a pinch of snuff.

Smoking he only took to permanently of late years, though on his Pampas
rides he learned to smoke with the Gauchos, and I have heard him speak of
the great comfort of a cup of mate and a cigarette when he halted after a
long ride and was unable to get food for some time.

The reading aloud often sent him to sleep, and he used to regret losing
parts of a novel, for my mother went steadily on lest the cessation of the
sound might wake him. He came down at four o'clock to dress for his walk,
and he was so regular that one might be quite certain it was within a few
minutes of four when his descending steps were heard.

>From about half-past four to half-past five he worked; then he came to the
drawing-room, and was idle till it was time (about six) to go up for
another rest with novel-reading and a cigarette.

Latterly he gave up late dinner, and had a simple tea at half-past seven
(while we had dinner), with an egg or a small piece of meat. After dinner
he never stayed in the room, and used to apologise by saying he was an old
woman, who must be allowed to leave with the ladies. This was one of the
many signs and results of his constant weakness and ill-health. Half an
hour more or less conversation would make to him the difference of a
sleepless night, and of the loss perhaps of half the next day's work.

After dinner he played backgammon with my mother, two games being played
every night; for many years a score of the games which each won was kept,
and in this score he took the greatest interest. He became extremely
animated over these games, bitterly lamenting his bad luck and exploding
with exaggerated mock-anger at my mother's good fortune.

After backgammon he read some scientific book to himself, either in the
drawing-room, or, if much talking was going on, in the study.

In the evening, that is, after he had read as much as his strength would
allow, and before the reading aloud began, he would often lie on the sofa
and listen to my mother playing the piano. He had not a good ear, yet in
spite of this he had a true love of fine music. He used to lament that his
enjoyment of music had become dulled with age, yet within my recollection,
his love of a good tune was strong. I never heard him hum more than one
tune, the Welsh song "Ar hyd y nos," which he went through correctly; he
used also, I believe, to hum a little Otaheitan song. From his want of ear
he was unable to recognize a tune when he heard it again, but he remained
constant to what he liked, and would often say, when an old favourite was
played, "That's a fine thing; what is it?" He liked especially parts of
Beethoven's symphonies, and bits of Handel. He made a little list of all
the pieces which he especially liked among those which my mother played--
giving in a few words the impression that each one made on him--but these
notes are unfortunately lost. He was sensitive to differences in style,
and enjoyed the late Mrs. Vernon Lushington's playing intensely, and in
June 1881, when Hans Richter paid a visit at Down, he was roused to strong
enthusiasm by his magnificent performance on the piano. He much enjoyed
good singing, and was moved almost to tears by grand or pathetic songs.
His niece Lady Farrer's singing of Sullivan's "Will he come" was a never-
failing enjoyment to him. He was humble in the extreme about his own
taste, and correspondingly pleased when he found that others agreed with

He became much tired in the evenings, especially of late years, when he
left the drawing-room about ten, going to bed at half-past ten. 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, and would become exhausted by his mind working at some problem
which he would willingly have dismissed. At night, too, anything which had
vexed or troubled him in the day would haunt him, and I think it was then
that he suffered if he had not answered some troublesome person's letter.

The regular readings, which I have mentioned, continued for so many years,
enabled him to get through a great deal of lighter kinds of literature. He
was extremely fond of novels, and I remember well the way in which he would
anticipate the pleasure of having a novel read to him, as he lay down, or
lighted his cigarette. He took a vivid interest both in plot and
characters, and would on no account know beforehand, how a story finished;
he considered looking at the end of a novel as a feminine vice. He could
not enjoy any story with a tragical end, for this reason he did not keenly
appreciate George Eliot, though he often spoke warmly in praise of 'Silas
Marner.' Walter Scott, Miss Austen, and Mrs. Gaskell, were read and re-
read till they could be read no more. He had two or three books in hand at
the same time--a novel and perhaps a biography and a book of travels. He
did not often read out-of-the-way or old standard books, but generally kept
to the books of the day obtained from a circulating library.

I do not think that his literary tastes and opinions were on a level with
the rest of his mind. He himself, though he was clear as to what he
thought good, considered that in matters of literary taste, he was quite
outside the pale, and often spoke of what those within it liked or
disliked, as if they formed a class to which he had no claim to belong.

In all matters of art he was inclined to laugh at professed critics, and
say that their opinions were formed by fashion. Thus in painting, he would
say how in his day every one admired masters who are now neglected. His
love of pictures as a young man is almost a proof that he must have had an
appreciation of a portrait as a work of art, not as a likeness. Yet he
often talked laughingly of the small worth of portraits, and said that 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 persuade us to give up the idea of having his portrait painted,
an operation very irksome to him.

This way of looking at himself as an ignoramus in all matters of art, was
strengthened by the absence of pretence, which was part of his character.
With regard to questions of taste, as well as to more serious things, he
always had the courage of his opinions. I remember, however, an instance
that sounds like a contradiction to this: when he was looking at the
Turners in Mr. Ruskin's bedroom, he did not confess, as he did afterwards,
that he could make out absolutely nothing of what Mr. Ruskin saw in them.
But this little pretence was not for his own sake, but for the sake of
courtesy to his host. He was pleased and amused when subsequently Mr.
Ruskin brought him some photographs of pictures (I think Vandyke
portraits), and courteously seemed to value my father's opinion about them.

Much of his scientific reading was in German, and this was a great labour
to him; in reading a book after him, I was often struck at seeing, from the
pencil-marks made each day where he left off, how little he could read at a
time. He used to call German the "Verdammte," pronounced as if in English.
He was especially indignant with Germans, because he was convinced that
they could write simply if they chose, and often praised Dr. F. Hildebrand
for writing German which was as clear as French. He sometimes gave a
German sentence to a friend, a patriotic German lady, and used to laugh at
her if she did not translate it fluently. He himself learnt German simply
by hammering away with a dictionary; he would say that his only way was to
read a sentence a great many times over, and at last the meaning occurred
to him. When he began German long ago, he boasted of the fact (as he used
to tell) to Sir J. 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 attempted to speak German correctly, but
pronounced the words as though they were English; and this made it not a
little difficult to help him, when he read out a German sentence and asked
for a translation. He certainly had a bad ear for vocal sounds, so that he
found it impossible to perceive small differences in pronunciation.

His wide interest in branches of science that were not specially his own
was remarkable. In the biological sciences his doctrines make themselves
felt so widely that there was something interesting to him in most
departments of it. He read a good deal of many quite special works, and
large parts of text books, such as Huxley's 'Invertebrate Anatomy,' or such
a book as Balfour's 'Embryology,' where the detail, at any rate, was not
specially in his own line. And in the case of elaborate books of the
monograph type, though he did not make a study of them, yet he felt the
strongest admiration for them.

In the non-biological sciences he felt keen sympathy with work of which he
could not really judge. For instance, he used to read nearly the whole of
'Nature,' though so much of it deals with mathematics and physics. I have
often heard him say that he got a kind of satisfaction in reading articles
which (according to himself) he could not understand. I wish I could
reproduce the manner in which he would laugh at 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 Mr. Judd he begs him to pay him a visit, saying that since
Lyell's death he hardly ever gets a geological talk. His observations,
made only a few years before his death, on the upright pebbles in the drift
at Southampton, and discussed in a letter to Mr. Geikie, afford another
instance. Again, in the letters to Dr. Dohrn, he shows how his interest in
barnacles remained alive. I think it was all due to the vitality and
persistence of his mind--a quality I have heard him speak of as if he felt
that he was strongly gifted in that respect. Not that he used any such
phrases as these about himself, but he would say that he had the power of
keeping a subject or question more or less before him for a great many
years. The extent to which he possessed this power appears when we
consider the number of different problems which he solved, and the early
period at which some of them began to occupy him.

It was a sure sign that he was not well when he was idle at any times other
than his regular resting hours; for, as long as he remained moderately
well, there was no break in the regularity of his life. Week-days and
Sundays passed by alike, each with their stated intervals of work and rest.
It is almost impossible, except for those who watched his daily life, to
realise how essential to his well-being was the regular routine that I have
sketched: and with what pain and difficulty anything beyond it was
attempted. Any public appearance, even of the most modest kind, was an
effort to him. In 1871 he went to the little village church for the
wedding of his elder daughter, but he could hardly bear the fatigue of
being present through the short service. The same may be said of the few
other occasions on which he was present at similar ceremonies.

I remember him many years ago at a christening; a memory which has remained
with me, because to us children it seemed an extraordinary and abnormal
occurrence. I remember his look most distinctly at his brother Erasmus's
funeral, as he stood in the scattering of snow, wrapped in a long black
funeral cloak, with a grave look of sad reverie.

When, after an interval of many years, he again attended a meeting of the
Linnean Society, it was felt to be, and was in fact, a serious undertaking;
one not to be determined on without much sinking of heart, and hardly to be
carried into effect without paying a penalty of subsequent suffering. In
the same way a breakfast-party at Sir James Paget's, with some of the
distinguished visitors to the Medical Congress (1881), was to him a severe

The early morning was the only time at which he could make any effort of
the kind, with comparative impunity. Thus it came about that the visits he
paid to his scientific friends in London were by preference made as early
as ten in the morning. For the same reason he started on his journeys by
the earliest possible train, and used to arrive at the houses of relatives
in London when they were beginning their day.

He kept an accurate journal of the days on which he worked and those on
which his ill health prevented him from working, so that it would be
possible to tell how many were idle days in any given year. In this
journal--a little yellow Lett'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.

The most frequent holidays were visits of a week to London, either to his
brother's house (6 Queen Anne Street), or to his daughter's (4 Bryanston
Street). He was generally persuaded by my mother to take these short
holidays, when it became clear from the frequency of "bad days," or from
the swimming of his head, that he was being overworked. He went
unwillingly, and tried to drive hard bargains, stipulating, for instance,
that he should come home in five days instead of six. Even if he were
leaving home for no more than a week, the packing had to be begun early on
the previous day, and the chief part of it he would do himself. The
discomfort of a journey to him was, at least latterly, chiefly in the
anticipation, and in the miserable sinking feeling from which he suffered
immediately before the start; even a fairly long journey, such as 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

Although, as he has said, some of his aesthetic tastes had suffered a
gradual decay, his love of scenery remained fresh and strong. Every walk
at Coniston was a fresh delight, and he was never tired of praising the
beauty of the broken hilly country at the head of the lake.

One of the happy memories of this time [1879] is that of a delightful visit
to Grasmere: "The perfect day," my sister writes, "and my father's vivid
enjoyment and flow of spirits, form a picture in my mind that I like to
think of. He could hardly sit still in the carriage for turning round and
getting up to admire the view from each fresh point, and even in returning
he was full of the beauty of Rydal Water, though he would not allow that
Grasmere at all equalled his beloved Coniston."

Besides these longer holidays, there were shorter visits to various
relatives--to his brother-in-law's house, close to Leith Hill, and to his
son near Southampton. He always particularly enjoyed rambling over rough
open country, such as the commons near Leith Hill and Southampton, the
heath-covered wastes of Ashdown Forest, or the delightful "Rough" near the
house of his friend Sir Thomas Farrer. He never was quite idle even on
these holidays, and found things to observe. At Hartfield he watched
Drosera catching insects, etc.; at Torquay he observed the fertilisation of
an orchid (Spiranthes), and also made out the relations of the sexes in

He was always rejoiced to get home after his holidays; he used greatly to
enjoy the welcome he got from his dog Polly, who would get wild with
excitement, panting, squeaking, rushing round the room, and jumping on and
off the chairs; and he used to stoop down, pressing her face to his,
letting her lick him, and speaking to her with a peculiarly tender,
caressing voice.

My father had the power of giving to these summer holidays a charm which
was strongly felt by all his family. The pressure of his work at home kept
him at the utmost stretch of his powers of endurance, and when released
from it, he entered on a holiday with a youthfulness of enjoyment that made
his companionship delightful; we felt that we saw more of him in a week's
holiday than in a month at home.

Some of these absences from home, however, had a depressing effect on him;
when he had been previously much overworked it seemed as though the absence
of the customary strain allowed him to fall into a peculiar condition of
miserable health.

Besides the holidays which I have mentioned, there were his visits to
water-cure establishments. In 1849, when very ill, suffering from constant
sickness, he was urged by a friend to try the water-cure, and at last
agreed to go to Dr. Gully's establishment at Malvern. His letters to Mr.
Fox show how much good the treatment did him; he seems to have thought that
he had found a cure for his troubles, but, like all other remedies, it had
only a transient effect on him. However, he found it, at first, so good
for him that when he came home he built himself a douche-bath, and the
butler learnt to be his bathman.

He paid many visits to Moor Park, Dr. Lane's water-cure establishment in
Surrey, not far from Aldershot. These visits were pleasant ones, and he
always looked back to them with pleasure. Dr. Lane has given his
recollections of my father in Dr. Richardson's 'Lecture on Charles Darwin,'
October 22, 1882, from which I quote:--

"In a public institution like mine, he was surrounded, of course, by
multifarious types of character, by persons of both sexes, mostly very
different from himself--commonplace people, in short, as the majority are
everywhere, but like to him at least in this, that they were fellow-
creatures and fellow-patients. And never was any one more genial, more
considerate, more friendly, more altogether charming than he universally
was."...He "never aimed, as too often happens with good talkers, at
monopolising the conversation. It was his pleasure rather to give and
take, and he was as good a listener as a speaker. He never preached nor
prosed, but his talk, whether grave or gay (and it was each by turns), was
full of life and salt--racy, bright, and animated."

Some idea of his relation to his family and his friends may be gathered
from what has gone before; it would be impossible to attempt a complete
account of these relationships, but a slightly fuller outline may not be
out of place. Of his married life I cannot speak, save in the briefest
manner. In his relationship towards my mother, his tender and sympathetic
nature was shown in its most beautiful aspect. In her presence he found
his happiness, and through her, his life,--which might have been
overshadowed by gloom,--became one of content and quiet gladness.

The 'Expression of the Emotions' shows how closely he watched his children;
it was characteristic of him that (as I have heard him tell), although he
was so anxious to observe accurately the expression of a crying child, his
sympathy with the grief spoiled his observation. His note-book, in which
are recorded sayings of his young children, shows his pleasure in them. He
seemed to retain a sort of regretful memory of the childhoods which had
faded away, and thus he wrote in his 'Recollections':--"When you were very
young it was my delight to play with you all, and I think with a sigh that
such days can never return."

I may quote, as showing the tenderness of his nature, some sentences from
an account of his little daughter Annie, written a few days after her

"Our poor child, Annie, was born in Gower Street, on March 2, 1841, and
expired at Malvern at mid-day on the 23rd of April, 1851.

"I write these few pages, as I think in after years, if we live, the
impressions now put down will recall more vividly her chief
characteristics. From whatever point I look back at her, the main feature
in her disposition which at once rises before me, is her buoyant
joyousness, tempered by two other characteristics, namely, her
sensitiveness, which might easily have been overlooked by a stranger, and
her strong affection. Her joyousness and animal spirits radiated from her
whole countenance, and rendered every movement elastic and full of life and
vigour. It was delightful and cheerful to behold her. Her dear face now
rises before me, as she used sometimes to come running downstairs with a
stolen pinch of snuff for me her whole form radiant with the pleasure of
giving pleasure. Even when playing with her cousins, when her joyousness
almost passed into boisterousness, a single glance of my eye, not of
displeasure (for I thank God I hardly ever cast one on her), but of want of
sympathy, would for some minutes alter her whole countenance.

"The other point in her character, which made her joyousness and spirits so
delightful, was her strong affection, which was of a most clinging,
fondling nature. When quite a baby, this showed itself in never being easy
without touching her mother, when in bed with her; and quite lately she
would, when poorly, fondle for any length of time one of her mother's arms.
When very unwell, her mother lying down beside her seemed to soothe her in
a manner quite different from what it would have done to any of our other
children. So, again, she would at almost any time spend half an hour in
arranging my hair, 'making it,' as she called it, 'beautiful,' or in
smoothing, the poor dear darling, my collar or cuffs--in short, in fondling

"Beside her joyousness thus tempered, she was in her manners remarkably
cordial, frank, open, straightforward, natural, and without any shade of
reserve. Her whole mind was pure and transparent. One felt one knew her
thoroughly and could trust her. I always thought, that come what might, we
should have had in our old age at least one loving soul which nothing could
have changed. All her movements were vigorous, active, and usually
graceful. When going round the Sand-walk with me, although I walked fast,
yet she often used to go before, pirouetting in the most elegant way, her
dear face bright all the time with the sweetest smiles. Occasionally she
had a pretty coquettish manner towards me, the memory of which is charming.
She often used exaggerated language, and when I quizzed her by exaggerating
what she had said, how clearly can I now see the little toss of the head,
and exclamation of 'Oh, papa what a shame of you!' In the last short
illness her conduct in simple truth was angelic. She never once
complained; never became fretful; was ever considerate of others, and was
thankful in the most gentle, pathetic manner for everything done for her.
When so exhausted that she could hardly speak, she praised everything that
was given her, and said some tea 'was beautifully good.' When I gave her
some water she said, 'I quite thank you;' and these, I believe, were the
last precious words ever addressed by her dear lips to me.

"We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age. She
must have known how we loved her. Oh, that she could now know how deeply,
how tenderly, we do still and shall ever love her dear joyous face!
Blessings on her!

"April 30, 1851."

We his children all took especial pleasure in the games he played at with
us, but I do not think he romped much with us; I suppose his health
prevented any rough play. He used sometimes to tell us stories, which were
considered especially delightful, partly on account of their rarity.

The way he brought us up is shown by a little story about my brother
Leonard, which my father was fond of telling. He came into the drawing-
room and found Leonard dancing about on the sofa, which was forbidden, for
the sake of the springs, and said, "Oh, Lenny, Lenny, that's against all
rules," and received for answer, "Then I think you'd better go out of the
room." I do not 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 well remember one occasion when my father reproved me for a piece
of carelessness; and I can still recall the feeling of depression which
came over me, and the care which he took to disperse it by speaking to me
soon afterwards with especial kindness. He kept up his delightful,
affectionate manner towards us all his life. I sometimes wonder that he
could do so, with such an 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 when my father was behind my chair, that he would pass
his hand over my hair, as he used to do when I was a boy. He allowed his
grown-up children to laugh with and at him, and was, generally speaking, on
terms of perfect equality with us.

He was always full of interest about each one's plans or successes. We
used to laugh at him, and say he would not believe in his sons, because,
for instance, he would be a little doubtful about their taking some bit of
work for which he did not feel sure that they had knowledge enough. On the
other hand, he was only too much inclined to take a favourable view of our
work. When I thought he had set too high a value on anything that I had
done, he used to be indignant and inclined to explode in mock anger. His
doubts were part of his humility concerning what was in any way connected
with himself; his too favourable view of our work was due to his
sympathetic nature, which made him lenient to every one.

He kept up towards his children his delightful manner of expressing his
thanks; and I never wrote a letter, or read a page aloud to him, without
receiving a few kind words of recognition. His love and goodness towards
his little grandson Bernard were great; and he often spoke of the pleasure
it was to him to see "his little face opposite to him" at luncheon. He and
Bernard used to compare their tastes; e.g., in liking brown sugar better
than white, etc.; the result being, "We always agree, don't we?"

My sister writes:--

"My first remembrances of my father are of the delights of his playing with
us. He was passionately attached to his own children, although he was not
an indiscriminate child-lover. To all of us he was the most delightful
play-fellow, and the most perfect sympathiser. Indeed it is impossible
adequately to describe how delightful a relation his was to his family,
whether as children or in their later life.

"It is a proof of the terms on which we were, and also of how much he was
valued as a play-fellow, that one of his sons when about four years old
tried to bribe him with sixpence to come and play in working hours. We all
knew the sacredness of working-time, but that any one should resist
sixpence seemed an impossibility.

"He must have been the most patient and delightful of nurses. I remember
the haven of peace and comfort it seemed to me when I was unwell, to be
tucked up on the study sofa, idly considering the old geological map hung
on the wall. This must have been in his working hours, for I always
picture him sitting in the horsehair arm-chair by the corner of the fire.

"Another mark of his unbounded patience was the way in which we were
suffered to make raids into the study when we had an absolute need of
sticking-plaster, string, pins, scissors, stamps, foot-rule, or hammer.
These and other such necessaries were always to be found in the study, and
it was the only place where this was a certainty. We used to feel it wrong
to go in during work-time; still, when the necessity was great we did so.
I remember his patient look when he said once, 'Don't you think you could
not come in again, I have been interrupted very often.' We used to dread
going in for sticking-plaster, because he disliked to see that we had cut
ourselves, both for our sakes and on account of his acute sensitiveness to
the sight of blood. I well remember lurking about the passage till he was
safe away, and then stealing in for the plaster.

"Life seems to me, as I look back upon it, to have been very regular in
those early days, and except relations (and a few intimate friends), I do
not think any one came to the house. After lessons, we were always free to
go where we would, and that was chiefly in the drawing-room and about the
garden, so that we were very much with both my father and mother. We used
to think it most delightful when he told us any stories about the 'Beagle',
or about early Shrewsbury days--little bits about school-life and his
boyish tastes. Sometimes too he read aloud to his children such books as
Scott's novels, and I remember a few little lectures on the steam-engine.

"I was more or less ill during the five years between my thirteenth and
eighteenth years, and for a long time (years it seems to me) he used to
play a couple of games of backgammon with me every afternoon. He played
them with the greatest spirit, and I remember we used at one time to keep
account of the games, and as this record came out in favour of him, we kept
a list of the doublets thrown by each, as I was convinced that he threw
better than myself.

"His patience and sympathy were boundless during this weary illness, and
sometimes when most miserable I felt his sympathy to be almost too keen.
When at my worst, we went to my aunt's house at Hartfield, in Sussex, and
as soon as we had made the move safely he went on to Moor Park for a
fortnight's water-cure. I can recall now how on his return I could hardly
bear to have him in the room, the expression of tender sympathy and emotion
in his face was too agitating, coming fresh upon me after his little

"He cared for all our pursuits and interests, and lived our lives with us
in a way that very few fathers do. But I am certain that none of us felt
that this intimacy interfered the least with our respect or obedience.
Whatever he said was absolute truth and law to us. He always put his whole
mind into answering any of our questions. One trifling instance makes me
feel how he cared for what we cared for. He had no special taste for cats,
though he admired the pretty ways of a kitten. But yet he knew and
remembered the individualities of my many cats, and would talk about the
habits and characters of the more remarkable ones years after they had

"Another characteristic of his treatment of his children was his respect
for their liberty, and for their personality. Even as quite a girl, I
remember rejoicing in this sense of freedom. Our father and mother would
not even wish to know what we were doing or thinking unless we wished to
tell. He always made us feel that we were each of us creatures whose
opinions and thoughts were valuable to him, so that whatever there was best
in us came out in the sunshine of his presence.

"I do not think his exaggerated sense of our good qualities, intellectual
or moral, made us conceited, as might perhaps have been expected, but
rather more humble and grateful to him. The reason being no doubt that the
influence of his character, of his sincerity and greatness of nature, had a
much deeper and more lasting effect than any small exaltation which his
praises or admiration may have caused to our vanity."

As head of a household he was much loved and respected; he always spoke to
servants with politeness, using the expression, "would you be so good," in
asking for anything. He was hardly ever angry with his servants; it shows
how seldom this occurred, that when, as a small boy, I overheard a servant
being scolded, and my father speaking angrily, it impressed me as an
appalling circumstance, and I remember running up stairs out of a general
sense of awe. He did not trouble himself about the management of the
garden, cows, etc. He considered the horses so little his concern, that he
used to ask doubtfully whether he might have a horse and cart to send to
Keston for Drosera, or to the Westerham nurseries for plants, or the like.

As a host my father had a peculiar charm: the presence of visitors excited
him, and made him appear to his best advantage. At Shrewsbury, he used to
say, it was his father's wish that the guests should be attended to
constantly, and in one of the letters to Fox he speaks of the impossibility
of writing a letter while the house was full of company. I think he always
felt uneasy at not doing more for the entertainment of his guests, but the
result was successful; and, to make up for any loss, there was the gain
that the guests felt perfectly free to do as they liked. The most usual
visitors were those who stayed from Saturday till Monday; those who
remained longer were generally relatives, and were considered to be rather
more my mother's affair than his.

Besides these visitors, there were foreigners and other strangers, who came
down for luncheon and went away in the afternoon. He used conscientiously
to represent to them the enormous distance of Down from London, and the
labour it would be to come there, unconsciously taking for granted that
they would find the journey as toilsome as he did himself. If, however,
they were not deterred, he used to arrange their journeys for them, telling
them when to come, and practically when to go. It was pleasant to see 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 the guest's hands. With old friends his hand
came down with a hearty swing into the other hand in a way I always had
satisfaction in seeing. His good-bye was chiefly characterised by the
pleasant way in which he thanked his guests, as he stood at the door, for
having come to see him.

These luncheons were very successful entertainments, there was no drag or
flagging about them, my father was bright and excited throughout the whole
visit. Professor De Candolle has described a visit to Down, in his
admirable and sympathetic sketch of my father. ('Darwin considere au point
de vue des causes de son succes.'--Geneva, 1882.) He speaks of his manner
as resembling that of a "savant" of Oxford or Cambridge. This does not
strike me as quite a good comparison; in his ease and naturalness there was
more of the manner of some soldiers; a manner arising from total absence of
pretence or affectation. It was this absence of pose, and the natural and
simple way in which he began talking to his guests, so as to get them on
their own lines, which made him so charming a host to a stranger. His
happy choice of matter for talk seemed to flow out of his sympathetic
nature, and humble, vivid interest in other people's work.

To some, I think, he caused actual pain by his modesty; I have seen the
late Francis Balfour quite discomposed by having knowledge ascribed to
himself on a point about which my father claimed to be utterly ignorant.

It is difficult to seize on the characteristics of my father's

He had more dread than have 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 to his
conversation. The first few words of a sentence would often remind him of
some exception to, 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
system of parenthesis within parenthesis, and it was often impossible to
understand the drift of what he was saying until he came to the end of his
sentence. He used to say of himself that he was not quick enough to hold
an argument with any one, 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 even in his
letters; thus, in the case of two letters to Prof. Semper about the effect
of isolation, he did not recall 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. I only recall this occurring with words beginning with w;
possibly he had a special difficulty with this letter, for I have heard him
say that as a boy he could not pronounce w, and that sixpence was offered
him if he could say "white wine," which he pronounced "rite rine."
Possibly he may have inherited this tendency from Erasmus Darwin, who
stammered. (My father related a Johnsonian answer of Erasmus Darwin's:
"Don't you find it very inconvenient stammering, Dr. Darwin?" "No, sir,
because I have time to think before I speak, and don't ask impertinent

He sometimes combined his metaphors in a curious way, using such a phrase
as "holding on like life,"--a mixture of "holding on for his life," and
"holding on like grim death." It came from his eager way of putting
emphasis into what he was saying. This sometimes gave an air of
exaggeration where it was not intended; but it gave, too, a noble air of
strong and generous conviction; as, for instance, when he gave his evidence
before the Royal Commission on vivisection and came out with his words
about cruelty, "It deserves detestation and abhorrence." When he felt
strongly about any similar question, he could hardly trust himself to
speak, as he then easily became angry, a thing which he disliked
excessively. He was conscious that his anger had a tendency to multiply
itself in the utterance, and for this reason dreaded (for example) having
to scold a servant.

It was a great proof of the modesty of his style of talking, that, when,
for instance, a number of visitors came over from Sir John Lubbock's 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
at such times was light-hearted and boyish, and his refinement of nature
came out most strongly. So, when he was talking to a lady who pleased and
amused him, the combination of raillery and deference in his manner was
delightful to see.

When my father had several guests he managed them well, getting a talk with
each, or bringing two or three together round his chair. In these
conversations there was always a good deal of fun, and, speaking generally,
there was either a humorous turn in his talk, or a sunny geniality which
served instead. Perhaps my recollection of a pervading element of humour
is the more vivid, because the best talks were with Mr. Huxley, in whom
there is the aptness which is akin to humour, even when humour itself is
not there. My father enjoyed Mr. Huxley's humour exceedingly, and would
often say, "What splendid fun Huxley is!" I think he probably had more
scientific argument (of the nature of a fight) with Lyell and Sir Joseph

He used to say that it grieved him to find that for the friends of his
later life he had not the warm affection of his youth. Certainly in his
early letters from Cambridge he gives proofs of very strong friendship for
Herbert and Fox; but no one except himself would have said that his
affection for his friends was not, throughout life, of the warmest possible
kind. In serving a friend he would not spare himself, and precious time
and strength were willingly given. He undoubtedly had, to an unusual
degree, the power of attaching his friends to him. He had many warm
friendships, but to Sir Joseph Hooker he was bound by ties of affection
stronger than we often see among men. He wrote in his 'Recollections,' "I
have known hardly any man more lovable than Hooker."

His relationship to the village people was a pleasant one; he treated them,
one and all, with courtesy, when he came in contact with them, and took an
interest in all relating to their welfare. Some time after he came to live
at Down he helped to found a Friendly Club, and served as treasurer for
thirty years. He took much trouble about the club, keeping its accounts
with minute and scrupulous exactness, and taking pleasure in its prosperous
condition. Every Whit-Monday the club used to march round with band and
banner, and paraded on the lawn in front of the house. There he met them,
and explained to them their financial position in a little speech seasoned
with a few well worn jokes. He was often unwell enough to make even this
little ceremony an exertion, but I think he never failed to meet them.

He was also treasurer of the Coal Club, which gave him some work, and he
acted for some years as a County Magistrate.

With regard to my father's interest in the affairs of the village, Mr.
Brodie Innes has been so good as to give me his recollections:--

"On my becoming Vicar of Down in 1846, we became friends, and so continued
till his death. His conduct towards me and my family was one of unvarying
kindness, and we repaid it by warm affection.

"In all parish matters he was an active assistant; in matters connected
with the schools, charities, and other business, his liberal contribution
was ever ready, and in the differences which at times occurred in that, as
in other parishes, I was always sure of his support. He held that where
there was really no important objection, his assistance should be given to
the clergyman, who ought to know the circumstances best, and was chiefly

His intercourse with strangers was marked with scrupulous and rather formal

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