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Darwin, Huxley and the Natural Sciences: Units 1-5


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Darwin, Huxley & the Natural Sciences

Introduction: Darwin, Huxley and the Natural Sciences

 

A Note on the Series

 

Primary Source Media, an imprint of Gale, a part of CengageLearning is proud to present Darwin,Huxley and the Natural Sciences, a major research microfilm collection ofthe manuscripts, letters and diaries of Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley.This single collection brings together materials from the Darwin Archive,Cambridge University Library and the Imperial College of Science, Technologyand Medicine, London, to document the life and works of these two pivotalfigures in the history of human thought, and to provide valuable insights intothe social, political and religious controversy associated with Darwinstheories about evolution and natural selection.

 

The first two units of Darwin,Huxley and the Natural Sciences focus on the scientific papers andcorrespondence of Thomas Henry Huxley. Although Huxley is most readilyrecognized for being Darwins most ardent defender, he was an equally importantand prolific scientist in his own right. His correspondence and papers form anextensive body of material for the study of science during the Victorian era,providing interesting detail about the personalities of his contemporaries andthe affairs of the many learned societies in which he participated, includingthe Royal Society. His correspondents include important contemporaries such asTyndall, Hooker, Spencer, Lyell and of course, Darwin.

 

Unit One containsthirty volumes of scientific and general correspondence in addition to personalpapers; there is also a substantial section of subject papers concerninganthropology, ethnology, botany, ethics and religion. Notebooks, diaries,caricatures and cartoons are also featured. Unit Two presents all the material from Huxleys voyage on the H.M.S. Rattlesnake and details hisrelationship with General Booth and his criticisms of the Salvation Army. Threeseries of scientific notebooks, correspondence and printed proofs are followedby Huxleys correspondence with Henrietta Heathorn (his future wife) and his Scientific Memoirs, Collected Essaysand Lectures.

 

Units Three to Fivefocus entirely on Charles Darwin, containing the complete Darwin Archive fromthe University of Cambridge Library. Although chiefly known for the scandal surroundingevolution theory and the consequent demoralisation of Victorian science, Darwinmade contributions to all areas of biological science. He began his scientificcareer as general naturalist, studying geology, marine biology, and zoology,culminating with publication of On the Origin of Species. After thefurore caused by the publication of The Descent of Man, Darwin spentmuch of his remaining scientific career as a recluse botanist.

 

Unit Threeincludes Manuscript numbers 1-119 from the Darwin Archive. This unit containsmanuscripts on Plant Movement, as well as The Descent of Man and InsectivorousPlants. On the Origin of Species is well represented, with originaldraftings. Notes and diaries relating to the HMS Beagle voyage and additional correspondence to and from keycontemporaries such as John Tyndall, J.D. Hooker, and Francis Galton are alsofeatured in this unit.

 

Unit Fourcontinues the Darwin Archive Manuscripts with manuscripts 120-186.Correspondence forms a large part of this unit. There are also articles writtenby Darwin or which are of particular interest to his research. Darwinsnotebooks on evolution theory from 1837 to 1839 are also included in Unit 4.

 

Unit Five, thefinal unit in the series, contains manuscripts 187-226 from the Darwin Archive.Featured here are a large number of letters and notes as well as proofs ofDarwins works, scrapbooks and miscellany.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Primary Source Media is grateful to Dr. Adrian Desmond andMr. Peter Gautry for their insightful introductions on Charles Darwin. PrimeSource Media also wishes to express its gratitude for the kind assistance ofthe following individuals:

 

Mr. Gerry Bye, Head of the Photographic Department atUniversity Library, Cambridge
Mr. George Pember Darwin
Mr. Adam Perkins, Archivist for the Royal Greenwich Observatory
Dr. Angela Raspin, Librarian, London School of Political and Economic Science
Ms. Daphne Robinson, Filmer, University Library, Cambridge
The Royal College of Surgeons
Dr. Patrick Zutshi, Keeper of Manuscripts for the Cambridge University Archives

 

Introduction to UnitsOne and Two: Scientific Papers and Correspondence of Thomas Henry Huxley, c.1843-1895, from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine,London

He bequeathed the word agnostic.He left an even more disquieting image of a stooping prognathous biped, partape. For some of his contemporaries these were tantalizing images, for othersterrifying. Victorian culture was rocked into an existential crisis, theaftershocks of which ripple out around the world today. Indeed we owe to T.H.Huxley that most enduring and disputed of all military metaphors, the guerrillawar of science against theology.

 

A century after his death we remember him as DarwinsRottweiler. While the gentle Down naturalist hesitantly proffered his theory ofevolution, apologetically, desperate not to offend, Huxley gave it serratedteeth and made it draw blood. He harrassed, he harranged, he applied it to manand mind, even worse he took it to the masses.

 

In the Victorian high noon science was Professor Huxley. He was its greatest proselytizer; he made itadventurous and dangerous. Nobody held an audience as he did. He tweaked poshlecture-goers with his stiletto stabs at the clergy; he roused plebeian ones withhis sea slang and profusion of paddyisms. He popularized fossils and moralsand the meaning of evolution. He became the high priest of a new secular faith.Two thousand were turned away from St. Martins Hall in London, where heinaugurated a series of Sunday Evenings for the People with a brilliant hymnto material salvation, only to have an outraged Lords Day Observance Societyshut the venue down. He thrived on nothing less; smiting the Amalekitesbecame his clarion call, and Biblical phraseology his stock-in-trade. His wasthe most sectarian of all religious sects, and he was the most scintillatingscientific missionary ever to stand on a soap-box.

 

He introduced a stridency unknown in mainstream Britishscience since the French Revolution. And he was mainstream by the 1860s. TheYoung Turks had turned grey: that clique of earthy middle-class materialistsand positivists and outsiders swept into the scientific citadel aftermid-century. Huxley rode the wave, articulating the aims of the industrial,urban middle classes, making his new-breed scientists a noisy pressure group.It was his men who brought Darwinian evolution to its nineteenth centuryzenith.

 

How had a rank outsider infiltrated the Englishestablishment and captured the presidency of the republic of science? True,society was swinging his way. Urban/factory culture was breaking out of thestrictures of the old Anglican order. It was an age of progress, steam,imperial expansion, liberal ideals, laissez faire, merit. The old Oxbridge patronagesystem was sidetracked by the muddy booted men. A 'New Reformation' was aroundthe corner, Huxley believed. The Roundhead who had shed his faith recruited aNew Model Army of agnostics, positivists and radical Christians, men whoseallegience was no longer to the landed aristocracy and its ministers, but tothe captains of industry and the upwardly-mobile classes.

 

That canvas is very broad. The fine texture - the personalstory of Huxleys rise - can be seen in this microfilm cornucopia of lettersand lecture drafts, private notebooks and press clippings. It takes us behindthe facade; we see Huxley racked, reading Carlyle, walking the dockland slumsthat made Dickens shudder, desperate for security, pushing himself to thelimit, and occasionally beyond - clawing his way to the top of his profession,indeed making the profession. AllVictorian hope and despair is here.

 

Darwins gentrified opulence was never his. In fact theirlives could not have contrasted more. Darwin was born with a silver spoon inhis mouth; Huxley first saw light above a butchers shop in West London. Oddunsettling images of his background seep out through the early letters: hisfailed schoolmaster father, scandal-rocked and opium-hazed medicalbrothers-in-law, cloying sisters, neer-do-wells, one and all. Only hestruggled to make his mark, bitter, a chip on his shoulder. This debt-riddenbackground provided the momentum that drove him to the highest point inscience. And then he helped to take his science out of the dilettantes handsand turn it into a proper profession. In Darwin we see an older ideal, thewealthy, self-financed, unhurried gent whose home was his laboratory - and inHuxley twentieth century scientific bureaucracy in the making.

 

Where Darwin had a privileged education at Shrewsbury Schooland Cambridge, Huxley had to scrimp and scrape. He borrowed to put himselfthrough one of Londons cut-price anatomy schools (hot beds of Dissent,Democracy, and Continental science in the hungry 1840s). A free scholarship toCharing Cross Hospital, intended for the sons of distressed doctors andteachers, took him further. He left with no degree after three years to earnhis pay as a seven-and-sixpenny subaltern in the Navy. Where Darwin hadtravelled in the Beagle as a gentlemandining-companion to the captain, Tom Huxley in 1846 sailed to Australia inH.M.S. Rattlesnake as an assistantsurgeon. None of Darwins privileges for him; he worked in the sick bay andmessed in the gun room with the mischievous midshipmen. Nor was he a compleatnaturalist, with Darwins freedom and flair. He was something different: aninvertabrate specialist, breaking new ground in the study of jelly fishes, seaanemones, tunicates and molluscs. (His Rattlesnakenotebooks are included in the collection.)

 

True to form, the outsider found love in Sydney, his newhome base. The 290 letters between Huxley and his fiancee Henrietta Heathornare a most revealing component of this collection. They were presented toImperial College in 1961 and are still a gold mine untapped by scholars. Theyshow Henrietta as a lively, well-educated, poetry-loving ex-pat who fell forHuxleys flashing black eyes. She spoke German, as he did, but his arcane talkof fossils and fishes, chemical change and cosmic structure, came as arevelation and led her to an exotic new world. Their 127 letters, writtenwhile he was surveying the Barrier Reef and New Guinea coast, add substantiallyto Huxleys fragmented diary account of the voyage (published in 1935). We readof his successes with jelly fish, descent into Dantes Hell on the reef, hisfears about supporting a wife and worries about making a life in science. Hemet savages, rescued marooned white women, almost joined an ill-fated overlandexpedition, and held the dying captain in his arms. The letters reveal anextraordinary mix of highs and lows. But always he returned to his cripplingfinances. By the time the weary crew reached the northern tip of Queensland,Huxley was laid even lower by a letter from his bank manager. Still £140 indebt, he reckoned the sooner I desert and go to California the better.

 

These fears chased him home. He left Nettie in Sydney in1850, determined to carve a career out of science. In London he was fted. Hefound the papers he had posted back published and praised, and in 1852 he tookthe Royal Societys prestigious Royal Medal, one of the youngest recipientsever. He was pugnacious - and bold (what other surgeons mate could instructthe Sea Lords to put him on half pay with no duties so that he could finish hisresearches?). For four years, he survived on three shillings a day, writingtechnical treatises on medusae and molluscs. He forged alliances with otheryoung Turks and joined the literary radicals clustered around the reinvigoratedWestminster Review.

 

But he struggled to make ends meet. The later Heathornletters show it in heartrending detail: the despair as his parents died, hisreviewing and translating and failure to find an alternative job, his fightwith the Admirals (who were so fed up after four years that they struck himoff). The main collection, the Huxley Papers (listed in the Dawsoncatalogue), throws new light on this critical period, as the angry young menmanoeuvred into positions of power. The collection includes substantial runs ofletters beginning in the 1850s to and from the botanist J.D. Hooker (432),physicist John Tyndall (253), physiologist W.B. Carpenter (24), and philosopherHerbert Spencer (88) - men looking for a new legitimating philosophy, of competition,progress, and a reformed science in secular hands.

 

Huxley now began his meteoric rise. No sooner was he thrownout of the Navy than he became a lecturer at the Government School of Mines(1854). The security allowed him to marry at last. Nettie stepped off the boatin 1855 and saw her fiance for the first time in five years.

 

He collected posts like a curate picking up livings. Headded the Fullerian chair at the Royal Institution (1855), a lectureship at St.Thomass Hospital (1855), and an Examinership at London University (1856). Andwe know what he was teaching. Much of his course material is included in thethird component of this collection - the Huxley Manuscripts. Again, theseseventeen volumes of papers and eighty notebooks were only transferred to theHuxley Archives in the 1960s. The drafts of his courses at the School of Mines,College of Surgeons, London Institution, and Royal Institution permit areappraisal of his early teachings. We see, for example, that as early as 1858he was telling his Royal Institution listeners that, anatomically speaking,humans were no more distant from gorillas than the apes were from baboons.

 

And that, of course, was to have an explosive impact thefollowing year, when Darwin published the Origin of Species. Huxleysrelationship with the reclusive Darwin is a leit motif of the filmedcollection. Not only does it contain 180 Huxley-Darwin letters, as well asmanuscripts and drafts on all matters Darwinian - but so much else on fossilhistory, fossil humans, genesis and geology. (It also includes 77 lettersexchanged with Darwins geological mentor Charles Lyell, many on mankindsorigins and antiquity.)

 

Huxley was the first academic to come out openly andproclaim humanitys ape-like ancestry. This is what caused his festeringdispute with the great comparative anatomist at the British Museum, RichardOwen. Huxley was a good hater and his razor-sharp intellect left Owen badlyscarred, while the unlikely topic of chimpanzee brains became the talk of town.The similarity of people to apes was the cornerstone of Mans Place inNature (1863), the slim tome that shot Huxley to fame. To understand howHuxley approached apes, brains, and the first fossil humans we can turn to hisextensive notes included among the Huxley Manuscripts.

 

He unsheathed his claws in Darwins defense and did his bestwork in propagandizing. He pushed evolution into inflammatory areas. His talksto working men on our gorilla cousins caused a storm. His promotion of animalpedigrees among West End audiences left Owen shaking. Huxley revelled in hissoubriquet as Darwins Bulldog. Yet his quieter and more enduring scientificwork was now largely on fossils. He tackled the origins of dinosaurs, thetransmutation of crocodiles, and made the first stab at an evolutionary treefor the birds. Here too the manuscripts provide clues to his new phylogeneticway of thinking.

 

Privately he became a driving force inside the influentialginger group, the X Club, which went on to steer the Royal Society. Publicly hereached ever larger audiences, popularizing as never before. He became a minorpublishing industry in his own right. He founded the first Darwinian houseorgan. The Natural History Review, and had a helping hand in Nature.Swathes of letters throw open a window on this Victorian periodical world. Heworked with the great editors, particularly James Knowles of TheContemporary Review and The Nineteenth Century (139 letters), butalso with Norman Lockyer of The Reader and Nature (64), and JohnMorley of The Fortnightly Review (58). Huxleys popular pieces werelapped up. His flamboyant papers sold magazines and made news. His PhysicalBasis of Life, on that marvellous stuff protoplasm, sent the Fortnightlyin 1869 through seven editions and gave New Yorks tabloid The World itsscreaming headline New theory of Life.

 

But behind it all there was hard public service. Heorganized a gruelling round of Royal Commissions - on everything from theScottish herring industry to contagious diseases. He even enveigled Darwin toappear before the vivisection committee. Then there were new hustings and hiselection to the first London School Board in 1870, to oversee elementaryeducation.

 

Through it all he trod more and more scientific boards. Hewas a new breed of star performer, like John Tyndall, exciting, daring. So muchso that his election as President of the Parliament of Science, the BritishAssociation for the Advancement of Science, in 1870 caused a furore inside theAssociation and out. Of course, when he did deliver a sober address onspontaneous generation, it was rated by the Manchester Guardian as notnaughty enough. He was lecturing at so many institutes, sitting on so manycommittees, and publishing on so many subjects, from Bishop Berkeley toabiogenesis, that with his meteoric £2000 income came a complete physicalcollapse. At 45 he was driving himself into the ground.

 

By now he had become the darling of American progressives.The corpulent cosmic theist John Fiske, erstwhile Harvard philosopher, hadheard that Huxley consumed babies for breakfast. Fiske turned up in London tosee the ogre for himself. he found Huxley charming and lovely and as tenderas a woman. I never saw such magnificent eyes in my life. His eyes are black,and his face expresses an eager burning intensity. And, by Jove, what apleasure it is to meet such a clean-cut mind! It is like Saladins sword whichcut through the cushion.

 

And so 1876 saw Huxley off on a triumphalist tour of theUnited States. Huxley Eikonklastes, as New Yorks Daily Graphic dubbedhim, met a rapturous response. He travelled the East Coast meetingcorrespondents: to Yale to study O.C. Marshs fossil horses, Harvard to talkbotany with Asa Gray and cosmic philosophy with Fiske, to Buffalo for theAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science. He whistled south toNashville for an emotional reunion with his favourite sister Lizzie, whom hehad not seen for 30 years; back via Baltimore, where he delivered an address oneducation at the new Johns Hopkins University. And he rounded off in New Yorkwith a series of lectures on horses, Archaeopteryx and evolution thatjustified the Daily Graphics iconclastic cartoon (included here amongthe caricatures).

 

He never deserted science, constantly elaboratingcurriculums and placing proteges in posts. One has only to look at his 211letters to the physiologist Michael Foster, or the 60 to his bellicosescientific son Ray Lankester. And he opened up still more importantly on theorigin of mammals.

 

Yet by the 1880s he was casting his net wider--fromanthropology to Hebrew exegetics, from reptiles to religious polemic. Like anold General he was lost without a campaign. To the end he remained acontroversialist. He continued to prise apart science and theology, in linewith his professionalizing strategy, putting ore power into the scientistshands and more pay into his pocket. Hackles were inevitably raised by hisepiscophagy (bishop-eating - one of his unhappier neologisms), but fewcontemporaries sensed the strategic reason for his savagery. Henrietta, in herreminiscences here, reports an archbishops wifes surprize that he wasnt asort of scientific Jack the Ripper, and yet I hear that he is a devotedhusband and an affectionate father!

 

With the pay and prestige had come the respectability. Noscandal touched the elite Darwinians. Their family lives oozed rectitude,proving that evolutionary heterdoxy did not equal moral delinquency. And as ifto prove the point, Huxley arranged to have Darwin himself buried inWestminster Abbey in 1882. Huxley was not secure enough to turn down aMastership at Oxford and $10,000 a year to teach at Harvard. He was still tooprincipled to accept a baronetcy or peerage from Lord Salisbury, but proud enoughto sit on the Woolsack in the Upper House of Science, taking the finalaccolade, the Presidency of the Royal Society, in 1882.

 

By the 1880s his correspondence as enormous (the survivingHuxley letters are weighted towards this end of his life). Here we find theother eminent Victorians, Leslie Stephen, Matthew Arnold, Benjamin Jowett. Heretoo the votaries of Science, church, and state - and a few who werent,radicals such as Annie Besant, Moncure Conway, and George Holyoake. By 1885Huxley had been out-flanked. There was now a new journal, The Agnostic,and a new breed of militant carrying the message to the working classes.

 

In 1885, at the age of 60, he resigned his professorship, atwhat was then called the Normal School of Science. It bought him more time as apolemical essayist. He gored Gladstone on Genesis, the two Olympians battlingwith literary wizardry in The Nineteenth Century. Nor was the Duke ofArgyll spared for his pseudo-scientific realism. In 1889 Huxley retired toEastbourne, on Englands south coast. But he remained an inveterate letterwriter. Missives went off to The Times on Irish Home Rule, or to the TradeUnionist on bus strikes. He sparked political debates on capital andlabour, on Darwinian struggle in society, on evolution and ethics. He wasteasing and provocative on miracles, Christianity and the Salvation Army. Theelderly bulldog had kept his canines.

 

As the sun set in gentrified Eastbourne he oversaw thepublication of nine volumes of Collected Essays, which still sparkle withgems and remain an enduring testimony to Englands foremost scientificlitterateur. But he never had time to finish his projected 34-chapter Historyof Christianity, the parts of which can be read here.

 

He died on 29 June 1895, hailed as the apostle Paul of thenew teaching.

 

Without understanding his agnostic zeal or evolutionarypolemics, The Times wrote, no one could attempt to estimate the forceswhich have been at work to mould the intellectual, moral, and social life ofthe century". He was praised as the most clear-headed scientist andquick-witted proselytiser of his time - and the word scientist was nowparticularly appropriate. He had started out a General with no troops and hadrecruited a squad of scientific sappers. After him, science was to be ranked asa profession alongside the law, medicine, and church.

 

And of course he typically died defending his corner, midwaythrough an agnostic riposte in The Nineteenth Century. He always sawknowledge as clearly circumscribed; no sin of faith for him, no steppingbeyond. And yet, an uncharacteristically sober Punch said, when he magically transported readers to a strangedinosaurian world, or conjured up pithecoid people:

 

The great Agnostic, clear, brave, true,
Taught more things, maybe, than he deemed he knew.

Dr. Adrian Desmond

 

Brief OutlineChronology:

Thomas Henry Huxley

 

1825 - 1842
--Born; 1825. Very little formal education: two years at his fathersschool in Ealing. Although extremelypoor, he works his way up through the medical ranks. He is apprenticed to anEast End G.P., takes classes at a cheap London anatomy school, and finally winsa free scholarship to Charing Cross Hospital Medical School.

 

1842 - 1846
--Taught by Thomas Wharton Jones at Charing Cross, winning first prize inhis anatomy and physiology class. Takes the gold medal in the first part of theLondon University MB examination.
--Publishes his first paper on the human hair sheath in 1845, at the age of 20.

 

1846 - 1850
--Too young to qualify for a College of Surgeons licence, he joins theRoyal Navy. Sir John Richardson at Haslar Hospital recognises his abilities andrecommends him as Assistant Surgeon to H.M.S.Rattlesnake on its four-year surveyof the Australian Great Barrier Reef and Torres Straits.
--Huxley meets Henrietta Heathorn in Sydney and becomes engaged. He carries outseminal studies of marine molluscs and jelly fish.

1851
--Elected F.R.S. for his papers.

1852
--Receives the Royal Societys Royal Medal, age 27. Unable to find work, heremains on naval half pay, while abortively pressuring the Sea Lords to financethe publication of his book of the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake.
--Refusing to return to his ship, he is struck off the Navy List in 1854.

1854 - 1859
--Finally appointed Lecturer in the Government School of Mines, andNaturalist to the Geological Survey. His Fiance comes from Sydney and theymarry (1855).
--By 1855 he has published 30 technical papers, mostly on invertebrates.
--Becomes close confident of Joseph Hooker, John Tyndall and other futuremembers of the X-Club. In 1856, Darwin invites him to Downe.
--Huxley takes on a massive lecturing load, becoming in addition FullerianProfessor at the Royal Institution, and Lecturer at St. Thomas Hospital.
--Finally publishes Oceanic Hydrozoa in 1858. He now begins to workextensively on fossils.

1859
--Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

1860-1867
--Huxley is vigorous in Darwins defence. He clashes with BishopWilberforce at the 1860 Oxford meeting of the British Association for theAdvancement of Science. He also challenges Richard Owen over human evolution,and publishes Mans Place in Nature (`1863).

1860 - 1867
--Works on ape and human anatomy, and fossil human remains. Turns his NaturalHistory Review into a Darwinian showcase. Gives peoples lectures on apesand evolution.
--He continues his fossil work, suggesting that birds are descended fromdinosaurs.

1867 - 1876
--Moves into ethnology; becomes president of the Ethnological Society(1868), the Geological Society (1869) and British Association for theAdvancement of Science (1870). Active on five Royal Commissions (including oneon vivisection) and takes on a vast amount of administrative work.
--Serves on the London School Board and lectures on education.
--Coins the word agnostic (1869), andpublishes Lay Sermons (1870).

1876 - 1882
--Visits America and gives inaugural address at Johns Hopkins University.Turns down a professorship at Harvard. Learns Greek in order to study ancienttexts. Publishes Science and Culture.

1882
--Darwin dies. Huxley arranges his burial in Westminster Abbey.

1883
--President of the Royal Society.

1885 - 1895
--Becomes increasingly absorbed in ethics, theology and politics.Contradicts Gladstones position on Genesis.Debates theology and promotes agnosticism. Publishes nine volumes of CollectedEssays.
--Dies 29 June 1895. Buried at Finchley.

Introduction to UnitsThree, Four and Five: Scientific Papers and Correspondence of Charles Darwin,c. 1830-1882 from the University Library, Cambridge

 

All I know is, sighed Charles Darwin, after his five-year H.M.S. Beagle voyage, that I must workfar harder, than [my] poor shoulders have ever been accustomed to do. He wasstaring at tons of fossils and thousands of skins, wondering how he was to makesense of his haul.

 

But sense he made of it. And that it was a lifetimes labouris shown by his monumental Darwin archive on microfilm. Darwin was a hoarder.Nothing was jettisoned, not the most covert materialist notebook, nor even hislist of marriage pros-and-cons. Everything was filed away, proofs, corrections,notes, references, lists and letters, such that today we have a thrivingDarwin Industry, reconstructing his path to that core concept oftwentieth-century biology, Natural Selection.

 

The sense Darwin made of the South American fossils andfinches was startling, given the state of society. By January 1839 he jottedprovocatively that mans ancestor was a headless hermaphrodite mollusc. Andthis at a time of street riots, when agitators were seizing on any intellectualammunition to hurl at the Anglican State. How could a respectable gent supportsuch an inflammatory notion?

 

Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 into a world ofwealthy Whiggism, cosseted and comfortable. His mother was a Unitarian, thedaughter of the pottery patriarch Josiah Wedgwood, his father a wealthyfreethinking physician. He grew up in Shrewsbury, like any member of thegentry, with a gun in his hand (his lists of birds bagged can be seen in thecollection).

 

Freethinking liberalism and a Unitarian belief in theundeviating laws of nature became part of Darwins mental equipment. Itexplains his failure to see evolution as the Cambridge clergy did: as a grossand filthy perversion imported from the profligate French.

 

He first saw evolution taught at Edinburgh. His fathershipped him off to study medicine there in 1825, following the familyfootsteps. But the sixteen year-old loathed getting up for a cold,breakfastless hour on the properties of Rhubarb. He was sickened still more bythe blood-spattered operation on a strapped, screaming child. His notebooks(filmed here) show that he breathed free only on his coastal walks, when hebecame lost in his search for sea-slugs and bryozoans. Edinburgh taught him onesharp lesson. He studied under a radical Lamarckian evolutionist, Robert Grant,and he listened to demagogues debating the materiality of mind; the censorshand, damning such materialism as subversive and blasphemous, taught himextreme caution.

 

Privileged Cambridge was his next stop (1828), cloistered,clerical, and another world - where second sons were prevented from turninginto wastrels on the family fortune. After the debacle of medicine, he was totrain for the Church, his freethinking father planning to find him a safecuracy. It was a grand, tipsy, gluttonous failure. Darwin revelled in Paley(see his notes on the Evidences of Christianity), and in his botanicalwalks with Henslow. But the Church was crowded out by beetles (his magnificentobsession).

 

It was the Beaglevoyage that gave his life direction 91831-36). He sailed as the diningcompanion to the aristocratic captain. He was the right choice: an all-roundnaturalist, as good as stratigraphy as marine zoology, no bad hand at botany ormicroscopy. (The Notes on the Preservation of the Specimens show how hetapped the taxidermists brains before sailing, adding pickling to his skills.)Darwin studied reefs in the Indian Ocean, disinterred Patagonian fossils andcollected peculiar finches on the Galapagos. (It is now known that he missedtheir significance at the time; his evolutionary insight came later in London.)He was shocked by naked savages, and the Concepcion earthquake left him awed bynatures impersonal force. The Homeric hero spent his last sea-sick monthspolishing up his catalogues: 4000 dried skins and bones, tons of rocks, phialsof worms, pin-boards of beetles, and 1500 spirit-preserved fishes and insects -lists are here on film, along with his unpublished notebooks on geology (1383pages) and zoology (368 pages).

 

The London he found on his homecoming was in ferment. Notonly politically, with the depression setting in and the worst riots of thecentury in store. Intellectually too: radicals and Unitarians were recasting Godas a Divine Legislator, creating by means of laws, not autocratically bymiracles. Darwin set up publicly as a gentleman geologist, churning out bookson the rise of the Andes and the drowning of coral reefs. Privately he livedanother life.

 

The specialist reports on his fossils and finches set himthinking about the way God created - about that mystery of mysteries, thechange of species through time. His Cambridge mentors slated evolution asfalse, foul, atheistic and immoral, fearing it would herald the end ofpatrician Anglican society. Darwin marked his notebooks secret - and all thewhile he carried on his own metal rioting.

 

Central to the microfilm collection are theseTransmutation notebooks and the simultaneous M and N notebooks on mindand expression. They show Darwin passing through a radical phase in 1837-38(love of the deity effect of organization, oh you Materialist!, he upbraidedhimself). He peered into a future in which the unreformed Creationist citadeltotters and falls. He knew the reaction he could expect; he suffered fears ofpersecution. He even had a nightmare about his own execution. Nothing wouldinduce him to publish, yet.

 

Marriage to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood brought morepottery money into the family. Not that Darwin needed it; his father wouldsupport him for life. His home circle was now composed of MalthusianNonconformists, foremost among them the Whigs workhouse propagandist HarrietMartineau, who almost married his brother Erasmus. All were supporters of theNew Poor Law with its weak-to-the-wall emphasis. In 1838 - in a decisive shift- Darwin devised the more socially-harmonious Malthusian theory of NaturalSelection. (Based on Malthuss anti-radical theory of population struggle;overpopulation forces a fight for resources, which only the best survive,carrying the species to new heights.) Darwin had brought creation into linewith Victorian Poor Law culture.

 

But even a Whig workhouse model of evolution, based on thesurvival of the fittest, was too shocking to admit. In summer 1842, withtroops marching past his London home to put down the riots, Darwin escaped. Hefled with Emma and two young children to Down in rural Kent, to live quietly inan old rectory. Before leaving he had sketched his theory; again in 1844 hefleshed it out into a 189-page essay (both are included here). But still it wasunsafe to publish (he even left Emma a secret letter, requesting that fourhundred pounds be used from his estate to publish after his death).

 

Here, in his rural idyll, he suppressed the inner conflictfor twenty years. He threw himself into barnacles, pigeon breeds, seedtransport and island colonization. He became a landowner and a magistrate, andmade a killing on railway shares. But through it all he was desperately ill,shivering, hallucinating and vomiting, spending weeks at spas, only to sinkagain on his return. Between his fathers passing in 1848 and daughter Anniestraumatic death in 1851, he was crushed and barely able to function.

 

However, in the 1850s society was changing; the Chartisttroubles had passed, the Great Exhibition marked a new beginning. Young Turkscientists led by T.H. Huxley were moving into key positions. They werematerialists and positivists and sceptics, scorning the Oxbridge mentality. Andthey were seeking intellectual legitimation for their meritocratic, competitiveattack on the old order. The world was becoming safer for the Down naturalist.

 

At last, in 1856, Darwin grasped the nettle and began a hugebook, Natural Section. Never published in his lifetime, the manuscriptis here on film. He was a quarter-of-a-million-words along when Alfred RusselWallaces letter arrived from the East Indies, setting out a similar theory.Darwin began a desperate eighteen months, boiling down his big book into areadable abstract - shorn of notes, stripped of its profusion of examples.Wallace had forced his hand after twenty years. Living in Hell, Darwin saidhe was. He dragged himself off to a remote Yorkshire spa to it out the storm asJohn Murray published On the Origin of Species in November 1859.

 

The secularists loved it; so did the young bloods takingover London science. Huxley steered the debate onto the inflammatory issue ofhuman-ape relations (ignored in the Origin), making the gorilla ahousehold word in the 1860s. Darwin had revised the Origin five times(his notes are included here) before he too discussed the Descent of Manin 1871. Again, his research materials - from observations of monkeys at LondonZoo to the reams of letters on sexual selection - are on film. As indeed arethe book manuscripts themselves, sometimes a confusing cornucopia - forexample, the manuscripts are part of The Expression of the Emotions of Manand Animals is actually written on the back of old folios of The Descentof Man.

 

The Descent coincided with the Paris Commune and itsdisintegrating speculations were damned as demoralising. Darwin kept out ofthe fray, preferring now to potter in his greenhouse - drawing back from anymore evolutionary theorising. The plethora of manuscripts on orchids, climbingplants and pollination shows where his heart lay - and not only manuscripts,but plans, calculations, seed counts, even pressed flowers and peacocksfeathers have survived. Here and there too his sheets of daily observationsshow up. It was nothing to find the old dyspeptic plying his insectivorousplants with roast beef and boiled egg, followed by tea and nicotine, trying tofathom their digestive reactions (looking, of course, for a link to theanimals).

 

More than anything Darwin was a planner: books to be readwere listed, then lists of books read were compiled! Like some Dickensian clerkhe salted away abstracts of volumes. He gleaned from every source, sniffing outfacts on fantails or hairy faces or polymorphic flowers in anything from the MadrasJournal of Literature to the Jamaican Monthly Magazine. We canfollow him through this arcane literature, for his entire reprint collection isincluded here. It is extensive: 2239 offprints, including the reviews of hisbooks. The tear-outs were themselves occasionally torn-up and annotated - withcomments ranging from the sublime to the exasperated (rubbish he scrawled onBishop Wilberforces review of Origin).

 

Here then is the most superb Darwin research collection:manuscripts of his papers; hundreds of conceptually sorted letters, allclustered with his notes for one seminal book or another. To the end hehoarded: publishers accounts, cuttings, Times letters - they are allhere.

 

And of course he worked to the finish. He died on 19 April1882 as he would have wished, studying the bloom on leaves and fruit. (hisnotes are among the many unpublished fragments).

 

The scientific priesthood, as cousin Francis Galton calledthem, arranged to have him buried in hallowed ground: we owe it to posterityto place his remains in Westminster Abbey, among the illustrious dead, saidthe Standard. Darwin had carried liberal convictions to the very core ofscience. It had become Darwins century. Darwinism, said the Pall MallGazette, reappears under the hundred disguises in works on law andhistory, in political speeches and religious discoursesIf we try to thinkourselves away from it we must think ourselves entirely away from our age. Theobituaries in the collection show how Victorian values had become consecratedin Natural Selection. The body had to be appropriated for the greater good ofthe nation. The Abbey needed it more than it needed the Abbey, thundered the Times.

 

And so the man who had dubbed himself the Devils Chaplainwas laid to rest in the national shrine. The retiring son of the minorShropshire gentry had become Englands most famous scientist. To the twentiethcentury he bequeathed what, for many, is a living moral issue; for others hehas fundamentally changed mans relationship to nature - but to all he remainsa source of intense historical interest. Even more than Marx and Freud, he hastransformed our world.

 

Dr. Adrian Desmond

 

 

Introduction: A BriefHistory of the Collections of Darwiniana at the University Library, Cambridge

 

The history of the collections of manuscript Darwiniana inthe Library began in September, 1942 with a letter addressed to the Librarian,Mr. A.F. Scholfield, from Sir Alan Barlow, husband of Nora, Lady Barlow,granddaughter of Charles Darwin. He wrote:

 

The Pilgrim Trust have decided to buy certain manuscriptsof Charles Darwin, with the intention that the main part should be given to theUniversity Library, Cambridge, and the rest to Down House. I am writing to askwhether the Library would be willing to accept this gift?the greater numberbelong to Bernard Darwin and Mrs. Cornford, and the rest to Sir Charles Darwin.(I am co-executor with Bernard Darwin of the late Sir Francis Darwin, his andMrs. Cornfords father, and am writing on behalf of all three).

 

The proposal is to give to Down House the Diary of the H.M.S. Beagle, the field note-books fromwhich it was compiled, certain smaller items relating particularly to Down, andCharles Darwins personal account books; and to give the rest to Cambridge. Theprinciple of division is to let Down House have a popular exhibit, but to keeptogether in the University Library the rest of the material, in order that itmay be available to any future student of Darwin and his work. We all feel thatthe documents should be in a public library rather than in private hands and,though sale in the U.S.A. would have produced more cash, that we would likethem to remain in this country. We should be glad that, through the munifenceof the Pilgrim Trust, they should find a home in Cambridge.

 

Needless to say this most generous of offers was accepted bythe Library. However, for reasons of safety (one must remember these were someof the darkest days of the war), not to mention petrol rationing, the finaltransfer of the material was not to take place until the autumn of 1948, fullythree years after the cessation of hostilities, and even then, I regret to sayit required numerous proddings from Bernard Darwin in whose custody the papersstill remained, as he put it in a letter to the Librarian still un-blitzed andun-burgled, so far.

 

Following the death of Bernard Darwin in 1961, more materialcame to light and passed into the hands of his son Robin, Director of the RoyalCollege of Art in London. This included a collection of several thousandletters to Darwin which at one time had been deposited in the Science Museum inLondon, and were at a later date transferred by Robin to the British Museum(Natural History), having as he explained been rescued by me from a bonfiresome years earlier. This I suspect may have been at the time of his fathersremoval from Gorringes, his house in the village of Downe, Kent, to a flat orapartment in London. In addition, there was also a black jappaned boxcontaining Darwins Journal or Diary, excised leaves from the TransmutationNotebooks, correspondence to Charles from his family and others during thevoyage of the Beagle, a number ofportfolios in which were to be found original notes on a number of subjectssuch as geographical distribution, abortion and organs, distribution ofanimals, species etc., together with a small number of letters to and fromErasmus Darwin, Charles grandfather, including one, unfortunately incompleteto Benjamin Franklin during his period of office as United States Ambassador inParis.

 

All the papers and letters just mentioned were deposited inthe Library in January 1963 together with a further collection of parcels oforiginal material dealing mainly with the Power of Movement in Plants.The year previously, 1962, had seen the Library purchasing for the sum of£4,250, the gift of an anonymous donor, the unique collection of Darwins owncopies and family copies of his works, including the first, second and thirdeditions of the On the Origin of Species which had remained for manyyears in the hands of the family.

 

And so it was through the early 40s with the resurgencejust mentioned in the 60s, that the build up of the Darwin collections in theLibrary continued. However, one must go back to 1899 in fact to discover one ofthe first benefactions to the Library from the Darwin family. In that year,eighty-five books were presented by the Executors of the late Emma Darwin,Charles Darwins wife. By various authors, some were family copies whilstothers had belonged to Charles and contained his annotations. Ten years after,in 1909, Francis Darwin donated his fathers working library of approximatelyone thousand volumes, together with five to six thousand off-prints andre-prints to the Botany Department of the University. It should be noted atthis point that the entire off-print and re-print collection is now onpermanent deposit in the Library, as indeed are all volumes containing annotationsfrom the working library. A catalogue of the latter, compiled by H.W.Rutherford was published in 1908 in order to be available in time for theCentenary (1909) celebrations held in Cambridge to mark the birth of CharlesDarwin.

 

Francis Darwin in his Introduction to the Catalogue of hisfathers working library, made mention of one or two of the more interestingvolumes. Sir Joseph Hookers Essays on the Floras of Tasmania & NewZealand which are bound together stand as a memorial of the manner in whichthe two men worked together. Thus near the end is a list in Hookershandwriting of Plants common to New Zealand and South America but notEuropean, which is covered with pencilled notes by Darwin. This is followed byDarwins abstract of the New Zealand Essay annotated by Sir Joseph. HumboltsPersonal Narrative, of which Darwin wrote The workstirred up in me a burningzeal to add even the most humble contribution to the noble structure ofNational Science. It is in the first volume of this work that one finds theinscription J.S. Henslow to his friend C. Darwin on his departure from Englandupon a voyage round the world, 21 September 1831.

 

Another companion for Darwin aboard H.M.S. Beagle was a copy of Werners Nomenclature of colours,by Patrick Syme, flower painter of Edinburgh. It contains named samples of anumber of different pigments, so that by matching a specimen with one of thepatches of colour it is possible to give a description which can be accuratelyinterpreted. It was with this book that Darwin described a cuttlefish at St.Jago as French grey with bright yellow spots, and as its colour changed, hespeaks of clouds varying in tint between hyacynth red and chestnut brownpassing over its body.

 

Finally to Malthus, which Darwin says he read for amusementin October, 1838, but which now is thought he read in September. Thomas Malthusmust surely be ranked a contributor rather than catalyst to Darwins newunderstanding of the explanatory possibilities of the struggle in nature.Unfortunately the copy of Essay on Population which one finds in theworking library is not that which he read in 1838, for it bears the inscriptionC. Darwin, 1841. It is on record that Darwin visited his wifes parents, theWedgwoods at Maer Hall in the period of his reading this work; we know alsothat Josiah Wedgwood possessed a copy in his library. Could it have been thisthat Charles picked up for amusement? Alas, I fear we may never know forcertain - the library at Maer Hall has long been dispersed.

 

In 1935, in order to further enhance the bookcases in thestudy at Down House, which by then was open to the public, a large proportionof the working library was transferred from the Botany School in Cambridge,there to remain until, in 1961, with the blessing of the then Professor ofBotany under whose jurisdiction they still remained, some nine hundredannotated volumes were transported back to Cambridge for permanent deposit inthe University Library, leaving for the benefit of the numerous visitors toDown house those volumes considered to be non-essential to the advancement ofDarwin scholarship. At a later date, Darwins not inconsiderable collection ofjournals was dealt with in like manner - those numbers bearing any form ofannotation being returned to Cambridge and deposited in the Library.

 

Four manuscript versions of the On the Origin of Speciesremain extant in the Darwin Archives in the University Library at Cambridge. In1842 he wrote out a thirty five page sketch of his species theory. Two yearslater he produced a draft of some 230 pages. This latter manuscript, completedby July 1844, was, in the event of his death, to be published, and he leftwritten instructions to his wife that a sum of four to five hundred poundsshould be used for this purpose. There is also a fair copy of this lattermanuscript, written out in the copperplate hand of Mr. Fletcher, schoolmasterat Downe who often, as was his successor Mr. Norman, sent work for copying ifit was thought the intended recipient might experience difficulty indeciphering Darwins hand. For copying the 1844 manuscript, Mr. Fletcherreceived the sum of two pounds. In the summer of 1854 Darwin wrote in his diaryI cannot possibly lay my hands on any reference, my notes on evolution are ofsuch bulk. So it was that on 9 September 1854 he noted began sorting notesfor my species theory, and in May 1856 he settled down to begin what he termedhis Big Book or Long Version. However, with the receipt of A.R. Wallacespaper in the early part of 1858 Darwin felt obliged to set aside his writing ofversion Three in order to publish an abstract. This, version Four was completedin eight months and published by Murray in late November 1859 as the firstedition of On the Origin of Species.

 

But what had Darwin accomplished when obliged to shelve hisBig Book, (version Three), the form in which he had planned to present histheory to the world? He had written between 125,000 and 130,000 words. He hadcompleted eleven chapters, covering approximately seventy per cent of thetopics which were treated in the published book. All but the first two chapterssurvive in the University Library together with a full table of contents, soone has a very good idea of the subject matter covered in the missing chapters.Possibly Darwin made use of the latter when writing Variation of Animals andPlants under Domestication, published in 1868; the volume dealt with thesame subject as the two missing chapters. And what if the manuscript of the Originas published in 1859? Approximately thirty sheets of this are extant in theLibrary with further leaves reposing in other libraries and in private hands.The Darwin family were apparently not above making gifts of such manuscriptsheets to friends or guests visiting Down house. For example, in the DarwinArchive in the University Library there exists the complete manuscript ofDarwins Beagle Zoological notes;complete that is with the exception of page 208, and this can be found in theNew York Academy of Science, a presentation, together with other manuscriptmaterial from Leonard Darwin at the time of Darwins centenary in 1909.

 

To sum up it might truly be said that the literature ofDarwin and Darwinism is prerequisite for the future of history; the Darwincollections at Cambridge are indispensable for the future of Darwin research.

 

Peter J. Gautrey, former Keeper of the Darwin Archive,Cambridge University Library

 

Brief OutlineChronology:
Charles Darwin

1809
Born at Shrewsbury.

1818
Entered Shrewsbury School.

1825
Matriculated in the University of Edinburgh.

1827
Admitted to Christs College, Cambridge.

1831
B.A. degree.
Received invitation to sail on the H.M.S.Beagle.
Beagle sailed from Plymouth.

1835
Heavily bitten by Triatoma infestans.
Visited Galapagos Islands.

1836
Landed at Falmouth.

1837
Lived at 36 Great Marlborough Street, London.
Opened first Notebook on Transmutation of Species.

1838
Started to read Malthus on Population.
Successfully proposed marriage to Emma Wedgwood.

1839
Moved to 12 Upper Gower Street, London.
Elected F.R.S.0
Married to Emma Wedgwood.
Journal of Researches (during the voyage of the Beagle) published.
William Erasmus Darwin born.

1841
Anne Elizabeth Darwin born.

1842
Wrote Sketch of Species Theory.
Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs published.
Moved to Down House, Down, Kent.
Mary Eleanor Darwin born (died three weeks later).

1843
Henrietta Emma Darwin born.

1844
Wrote Essay on Species.
Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands published.

1845
George Howard Darwin born.
Journal of Researches, 2nd edition published.

1846
Began work on barnacles.
Geological Observations on South America published.

1847
Elizabeth Darwin born.

1848
Francis Darwin born.

1850
Leonard Darwin born.

1851
Anne Elizabeth Darwin died.
Horace Darwin born.
Monograph of Fossil Lepadidae published.
Monograph of [recent] Lepadidae published.

1854
Monograph of [recent] Balanidae
published.
Began to sort out notes on species.
Monograph of fossil Balanidae published.

1856
Began tow rite large work on species.
Charles Waring Darwin born.

1858
Received complete statement on evolution by Natural selection from AlfredRussel Wallace.
Charles Waring Darwin died.
Joint paper with Wallace read before Linnean Society.
Began to write On the Origin of Species.
Joint paper with Wallace published.

1859
On the Origin of Species published (1,200 copies, all sold on firstday).

1860
On the Origin of Species, 2nd edition published (3,000 copies).

1861
On the Origin of Species, 3rd edition published (2,000 copies).

1862
Paper on Dimorphism in Primula published.
On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids areFertilised by Insects published.

1864
Awarded Copley Medal of the Royal Society.

1866
On the Origin of Species, 4th edition published (1,250 copies).

1868
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication published (1,500copies).
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication
, reprint published(1,500 copies).

1869
On the Origin of Species, 5th edition published (2,000 copies).

1871
Descent of Man published (2,500 copies, and reprint of 5,000).

1872
On the Origin of Species, 6th edition published (3,000 copies).
The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals published (7,000copies, and reprint of 2,000).

1874
Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, 2nd edition published.
Descent of Man, 2nd edition published.

1875
Insectivorous Plants published.
Climbing Plants published.
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2nd editionpublished.

1876
Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdompublished.

1877
Fertilisation of Orchids, 2nd edition published.
Different forms of flowers on plants of the same species published.

1879
Life of Erasmus Darwin published.

1880
Power of Movement in Plants
published

1881
Formation of Vegetable Mould through the action of Worms published.

1882
Died at Down House.
Buried at Westminster Abbey.