Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/270

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MR. DARWIN died at his home, Down House, near Orpington, England, April 19th. He had been suffering for some time from weakness of the heart, but continued to work till the last. He was taken ill, after having enjoyed an apparent improvement, on the day before his death, with pains in the chest, faintness, and nausea, from which he never recovered.

Mr. Darwin inherited his scientific tastes from two successive generations of ancestors, and has transmitted them to some of his children. His grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, was a distinguished botanist, and was the author of a poem "The Botanic Garden," the merits of which are decidedly more botanical than poetical, but which has a place in English literature; and of the "Zoönomia, or the Laws of Organic Life," a work in which the theory of development was plainly foreshadowed. His father, Dr. Robert Waring Darwin, was a Fellow of the Royal Society. His grandfather on the mother's side was the celebrated Josiah Wedgwood, whose name is intimately associated with the Wedgwood earthenware.

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, February 12, 1809, and received a preparatory education at the grammar-school of that place, under the head-mastership of Dr. Samuel Butler, author of one of the old standard text-books on geography, and afterward Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry. He entered the University of Edinburgh when sixteen years old, and two years later, in 1827, went to Christ's College, Cambridge, whence he was graduated Bachelor of Arts four years afterward. The most that is known definitely of his special pursuits at these institutions is that at Edinburgh he gave some attention to marine zoölogy, and read his first scientific paper, "On the Movement of the Ova of Frustra" before the Plinian Society, and that at Cambridge he was especially interested in botany.

His Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle had returned in 1830 from a four years' survey of the coasts of Patagonia and Terra del Fuego. Captain Fitzroy, of the Beagle, had gained so much credit by his efficiency as an officer and the value of the observations he recorded, that, he easily obtained a commission to return to the South American waters on another and more extensive exploring expedition. Before going he made a public offer to give up a part of his own cabin to any competent naturalist who would accompany him. Darwin saw the notice, and at once offered his services without salary, on the condition that he should be given the disposition of his collections. He was accepted, and thus obtained, when twenty-two years old, "what would be considered a prize by any naturalist of double his age." The expedition, with Darwin as one of its members, sailed on the 27th of Novem-