Obituary   Charles Robert Darwin was the fifth child and second son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood, and was born on the 12th February, , at Shrewsbury, where his father was a physician in large practice.
Robert Darwin died when her son Charles was only eight years old, and he hardly remembered her. A daughter of the famous Josiah Wedgwood, who created a new branch of the potter's art, and established the great works of Etruria, could hardly fail to transmit important mental and moral qualities to her children; and there is a solitary record of her direct influence in the story told by a schoolfellow, who remembers Charles Darwin "bringing a flower to school, and  saying that his mother had taught him how, by looking at the inside of the blossom, the name of the plant could be discovered.
Darwin, indeed, though a man of marked individuality of character, a quick and acute observer, with much practical sagacity, is said not to have had a scientific mind. But when his son adds that his father "formed a theory for almost everything that occurred" I. Darwin, again, was the third son of Erasmus Darwin, also a physician of great repute, who shared the intimacy of Watt and Priestley, and was widely known as the author of "Zoonomia," and other voluminous poetical and prose works which had a great vogue in the latter half of the eighteenth century.
The celebrity which they enjoyed was in part due to the attractive style at least according to the taste of that day in which the author's extensive, though not very profound,  acquaintance with natural phenomena was set forth; but in a still greater degree, probably, to the boldness of the speculative views, always ingenious and sometimes fantastic, in which he indulged. The conception of evolution set afoot by De Maillet and others, in the early part of the century, not only found a vigorous champion in Erasmus Darwin, but he propounded an hypothesis as to the manner in which the species of animals and plants have acquired their characters, which is identical in principle with that subsequently rendered famous by Lamarck.
That Charles Darwin's chief intellectual inheritance came to him from the paternal side, then, is hardly doubtful. But there is nothing to show that he was, to any sensible extent, directly influenced by his grandfather's biological work. He tells us that a perusal of the "Zoonomia" in early life produced no effect upon him, although he greatly admired it; and that, on reading it again, ten or fifteen years afterwards, he was much disappointed, "the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given.
Erasmus Darwin was in fact an anticipator of Lamarck, and not of Charles Darwin; there is no trace in his works of the  conceptions by the addition of which his grandson metamorphosed the theory of evolution as applied to living things and gave it a new foundation. Charles Darwin's childhood and youth afforded no intimation that he would be, or do, anything out of the common run.
In fact, the prognostications of the educational authorities into whose hands he first fell were most distinctly unfavourable; and they counted the only boy of original genius who is known to have come under their hands as no better than a dunce. The history of the educational experiments to which Darwin was subjected is curious, and not without a moral for the present generation. There were four of them, and three were failures.
Yet it cannot be said that the materials on which the pedagogic powers operated were other than good. In his boyhood Darwin was strong, well-grown, and active, taking the keen delight in field sports and in every description of hard physical exercise which is natural to an English country-bred lad; and, in respect of things of the mind, he was neither apathetic, nor idle, nor one-sided.
The "Autobiography" tells us that he "had much zeal for whatever interested" him, and he was interested in many and very diverse topics. He could work hard, and liked a complex subject better than an easy one. The "clear geometrical proofs" of Euclid delighted him. His interest in practical chemistry, carried out in  an extemporised laboratory, in which he was permitted to assist by his elder brother, kept him late at work, and earned him the nickname of "gas" among his schoolfellows.
And there could have been no insensibility to literature in one who, as a boy, could sit for hours reading Shakespeare, Milton, Scott, and Byron; who greatly admired some of the Odes of Horace; and who, in later years, on board the "Beagle," when only one book could be carried on an expedition, chose a volume of Milton for his companion.
Industry, intellectual interests, the capacity for taking pleasure in deductive reasoning, in observation, in experiment, no less than in the highest works of imagination; where these qualities are present any rational system of education should surely be able to make something of them. Unfortunately for Darwin, the Shrewsbury Grammar School, though good of its kind, was an institution of a type universally prevalent in this country half a century ago, and by no means extinct at the present day.
The education given was "strictly classical," "especial attention" being "paid to verse-making," while all other subjects, except a little ancient geography and history, were ignored. Whether, as in some famous English schools at that date and much later, elementary arithmetic was also left out of sight does not appear; but the instruction in Euclid which gave Charles Darwin so much satisfaction was certainly supplied by a  private tutor. That a boy, even in his leisure hours, should permit himself to be interested in any but book-learning seems to have been regarded as little better than an outrage by the head master, who thought it his duty to administer a public rebuke to young Darwin for wasting his time on such a contemptible subject as chemistry.
English composition and literature, modern languages, modern history, modern geography, appear to have been considered to be as despicable as chemistry. For seven long years Darwin got through his appointed tasks; construed without cribs, learned by rote whatever was demanded, and concocted his verses in approved schoolboy fashion. And the result, as it appeared to his mature judgment, was simply negative. On the other hand, the extraneous chemical exercises, which the head master treated so contumeliously, are gratefully spoken of as the "best part" of his education while at school.
Such is the judgment of the scholar on the school; as might be expected, it has its counterpart in the judgment of the school on the scholar. The collective intelligence of the staff of Shrewsbury School could find nothing but dull mediocrity in Charles Darwin. The mind that found satisfaction in knowledge, but very little in mere learning; that could appreciate literature, but had no particular aptitude for grammatical exercises; appeared to the "strictly classical" pedagogue to be no mind at all.
As a matter of fact, Darwin's school education left him ignorant of almost all the things which it would have been well for him to know, and untrained in all the things it would have been useful for him to be able to do, in after life. Drawing, practice in English composition, and instruction in the elements of the physical sciences, would not only have been infinitely valuable to him in reference to his future career, but would have furnished the discipline suited to his faculties, whatever that career might be.
And a knowledge of French and German especially the latter, would have removed from his path obstacles which he never fully overcame. Thus, starved and stunted on the intellectual side, it is not surprising that Charles Darwin's energies were directed towards athletic amusements and sport, to such an extent, that even his kind and sagacious father could be exasperated into telling him that "he cared for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching.
It would be unfair to expect even the wisest of fathers to have foreseen that the shooting and the rat-catching, as training in the ways of quick observation and in physical endurance, would prove more valuable than the construing and verse-making to his son, whose attempt, at a later period of his life, to persuade himself "that shooting was almost an  intellectual employment: Darwin came to the very just conclusion that his son Charles would do no good by remaining at Shrewsbury School, and sent him to join his elder brother Erasmus, who was studying medicine at Edinburgh, with the intention that the younger son should also become a medical practitioner.
Both sons, however, were well aware that their inheritance would relieve them from the urgency of the struggle for existence which most professional men have to face; and they seemed to have allowed their tastes, rather than the medical curriculum, to have guided their studies. Erasmus Darwin was debarred by constant ill-health from seeking the public distinction which his high intelligence and extensive knowledge would, under ordinary circumstances, have insured.
He took no great interest in biological subjects, but his companionship must have had its influence on his brother. Still more was exerted by friends like Coldstream and Grant, both subsequently well-known zoologists and the latter an enthusiastic Lamarckian , by whom Darwin was induced to interest himself in marine zoology. A notice of the ciliated germs of Flustra, communicated to the Plinian Society in , was the first fruits of Darwin's half century of scientific work.
Occasional attendance at the Wernerian Society brought him into relation with that excellent ornithologist the elder Macgillivray, and enabled him to see and hear Audubon. Moreover, he got lessons in bird-stuffing from a negro, who had accompanied the eccentric traveller Waterton in his wanderings, before settling in Edinburgh.
No doubt Darwin picked up a great deal of valuable knowledge during his two years' residence in Scotland; but it is equally clear that next to none of it came through the regular channels of academic education. Indeed, the influence of the Edinburgh professoriate appears to have been mainly negative, and in some cases deterrent; creating in his mind, not only a very low estimate of the value of lectures, but an antipathy to the subjects which had been the occasion of the boredom inflicted upon him by their instrumentality.
With the exception of Hope, the Professor of Chemistry, Darwin found them an "intolerably dull. There is much reason to believe that the lectures in question were eminently qualified to produce the impression which they made; and there can be little doubt, that Darwin's conclusion that his time was better employed in reading than in listening to such lectures was a sound one.
But it was particularly unfortunate that the personal and professorial dulness of the Professor of Anatomy, combined with Darwin's sensitiveness to the disagreeable concomitants of anatomical work, drove him away from the dissecting room.
In after life, he justly recognised that this was an "irremediable evil" in reference to the pursuits he eventually adopted; indeed, it is marvellous that he succeeded in making up for his lack of anatomical discipline, so far as his work on the Cirripedes shows he did.
And the neglect of anatomy had the further unfortunate result that it excluded him from the best opportunity of bringing himself into direct contact with the facts of nature which the University had to offer. In those days, almost the only practical scientific work accessible to students was anatomical, and the only laboratory at their disposal the dissecting room.
We may now console ourselves with the reflection that the partial evil was the general  good. Darwin had already shown an aptitude for practical medicine I. Thus, though his horror of operations would probably have shut him off from surgery, there was nothing to prevent him any more than the same peculiarity prevented his father from passing successfully through the medical curriculum and becoming, like his father and grandfather, a successful physician, in which case "The Origin of Species" would not have been written.
Darwin has jestingly alluded to the fact that the shape of his nose to which Captain Fitzroy objected , nearly prevented his embarkation in the "Beagle"; it may be that the sensitiveness of that organ secured him for science.
At the end of two years' residence in Edinburgh it hardly needed Dr. Darwin's sagacity to conclude that a young man, who found nothing but dulness in professorial lucubrations, could not bring himself to endure a dissecting room, fled from operations, and did not need a profession as a means of livelihood, was hardly likely to distinguish himself as a student of medicine.
He therefore made a new suggestion, proposing that his son should enter an English University and qualify for the ministry of the Church. Charles Darwin found the proposal agreeable, none the less, probably, that a good deal of natural history  and a little shooting were by no means held, at that time, to be incompatible with the conscientious performance of the duties of a country clergyman.
But it is characteristic of the man, that he asked time for consideration, in order that he might satisfy himself that he could sign the Thirty-nine Articles with a clear conscience. However, the study of "Pearson on the Creeds" and a few other books of divinity soon assured him that his religious opinions left nothing to be desired on the score of orthodoxy, and he acceded to his father's proposition.
The English University selected was Cambridge; but an unexpected obstacle arose from the fact that, within the two years which had elapsed, since the young man who had enjoyed seven years of the benefit of a strictly classical education had left school, he had forgotten almost everything he had learned there, "even to some few of the Greek letters.
Three months with a tutor, however, brought him back to the point of translating Homer and the Greek Testament "with moderate facility," and Charles Darwin commenced the third educational experiment of which he was the subject, and was entered on the books of Christ's College in October So far as the direct results of the academic training thus received are concerned, the English University was not more successful than the Scottish.
And yet, as before, there is ample evidence that this negative result cannot be put down to any native defect on the part of the scholar. Idle and dull young men, or even young men who being neither idle nor dull, are incapable of caring for anything but some hobby, do not devote themselves to the thorough study of Paley's "Moral Philosophy," and "Evidences of Christianity "; nor are their reminiscences of this particular portion of their studies expressed in terms such as the following: The collector's instinct, strong in Darwin from his childhood, as is usually the case in great naturalists, turned itself in the direction of Insects during his residence at Cambridge.
In childhood it had been damped by the moral scruples of a sister, as to the propriety of catching and killing insects for the mere sake of possessing them, but now it broke out afresh, and Darwin became an enthusiastic beetle collector. Oddly enough he took no scientific interest in beetles, not even troubling himself to make out their names; his delight lay in the capture of a species which turned out to be rare or new, and still more in  finding his name, as captor, recorded in print.
Evidently, this beetle-hunting hobby had little to do with science, but was mainly a new phase of the old and undiminished love of sport. In the intervals of beetle-catching, when shooting and hunting were not to be had, riding across country answered the purpose.
These tastes naturally threw the young undergraduate among a set of men who preferred hard riding to hard reading, and wasted the midnight oil upon other pursuits than that of academic distinction. A superficial observer might have had some grounds to fear that Dr.
Darwin's wrathful prognosis might yet be verified. But if the eminently social tendencies of a vigorous and genial nature sought an outlet among a set of jovial sporting friends, there were other and no less strong proclivities which brought him into relation with associates of a very different stamp. Though almost without ear and with a very defective memory for music, Darwin was so strongly and pleasurably affected by it that he became a member of a musical society; and an equal lack of natural capacity for drawing did not prevent him from studying good works of art with much care.
An acquaintance with even the rudiments of physical science was no part of the requirements for the ordinary Cambridge degree. But there were professors both of Geology and of Botany  whose lectures were accessible to those who chose to attend them. The occupants of these chairs, in Darwin's time, were eminent men and also admirable lecturers in their widely different styles. The horror of geological lectures which Darwin had acquired at Edinburgh, unfortunately prevented him from going within reach of the fervid eloquence of Sedgwick; but he attended the botanical course, and though he paid no serious attention to the subject, he took great delight in the country excursions, which Henslow so well knew how to make both pleasant and instructive.
The Botanical Professor was, in fact, a man of rare character and singularly extensive acquirements in all branches of natural history. It was his greatest pleasure to place his stores of knowledge at the disposal of the young men who gathered about him, and who found in him, not merely an encyclopedic teacher but a wise counsellor, and, in case of worthiness, a warm friend.
Darwin's acquaintance with him soon ripened into a friendship which was terminated only by Henslow's death in , when his quondam pupil gave touching expression to his sense of what he owed to one whom he calls in one of his letters his "dear old master in Natural History.
It was by Henslow's advice that Darwin was led to break the vow he had registered against making an acquaintance with geology; and it was through Henslow's good offices with Sedgwick that he  obtained the opportunity of accompanying the Geological Professor on one of his excursions in Wales. He then received a certain amount of practical instruction in Geology, the value of which he subsequently warmly acknowledged.
In another direction, Henslow did him an immense, though not altogether intentional service, by recommending him to buy and study the recently published first volume of Lyell's "Principles. But the warning fell on deaf ears, and it is hardly too much to say that Darwin's greatest work is the outcome of the unflinching application to Biology of the leading idea and the method applied in the "Principles" to geology.
During the latter part of Darwin's residence at Cambridge the prospect of entering the Church, though the plan was never formally renounced,  seems to have grown very shadowy. Humboldt's "Personal Narrative," and Herschel's "Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy," fell in his way and revealed to him his real vocation.
The impression made by the former work was very strong. The description of Teneriffe inspired Darwin with such a strong desire to visit the island, that he took some steps towards going there—inquiring about ships, and so on. But, while this project was fermenting, Henslow, who had been asked to recommend a naturalist for Captain Fitzroy's projected expedition, at once thought of his pupil.
In his letter of the 24th August, , he says: I state this—not on the supposition of your being a finished naturalist, but as amply qualified for collecting, observing, and noting anything worthy to be noted in Natural History