Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin's 200th Birthday

Thanks to Bookishgal, I have just discovered that there is a huge blog swarm going on from today until Sunday celebrating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. Bookishgal has written a great post on The Origin of Species -- have you read it? I haven't, although I feel familiar with Darwin's concepts. To read hundreds, nay, thousands of posts about multifarious aspects of Darwin, check Blog for Darwin.

Since I haven't read any of his big works, and I don't work directly in a field in which Darwin plays a big role, I thought I would just share a little bit of writing from his journals which has always amused me. Here he is deliberating on the pros and cons of marriage (and for the record he did eventually decide it was worth it and marry his cousin Emma):

This is the question

Children — (if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, — object to be beloved & played with. — —better than a dog anyhow. — Home, & someone to take care of house — Charms of music & female chit-chat. — These things good for one's health. — Forced to visit & receive relations but terrible loss of time. —
W My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. — No, no won't do. — Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. — Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps — Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St.

Not Mary

No children, (no second life), no one to care for one in old age.— What is the use of working 'in' without sympathy from near & dear friends—who are near & dear friends to the old, except relatives
Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs — Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. — to have the expense & anxiety of children — perhaps quarelling — Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings — fatness & idleness — Anxiety & responsibility — less money for books &c — if many children forced to gain one's bread. — (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)
Perhaps my wife wont like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool —

My favourite part: "better than a dog anyhow" ;)


  1. My favourite: "less money for books &c" :P

  2. Oh thank you for mentioning my post! And I'm so glad I could be of service, letting you know about all those great posts about Darwin.

    Thanks so much for talking about his journals, and that list he made of pros and cons about marrying. When I went to that exhibition at the ROM, they had those lists posted, and that was one of the things that completely reoriented my whole view of Darwin. Those lists seem to combine his scientific and human sides into one.

    I agree, though -- my favourite is "less money for books." heehee!


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