Natural History Handiworks
Aftermath Waterton Links Links - General Book Shelf
Overtown Miscellany - Charles Waterton
 site search by freefind  
Some Influences

See also Charles Darwin - Waterton Connections.

Charles Darwin. Portrait 1840.)Charles Darwin (12th February 1809 – 19th April 1882)
Young Darwin spent two years at Edinburgh University from 1825 to 1827, studying for a medical degree. Although the young Darwin showed some aptitude for the medical profession, he found the lectures tedious; but, on top of that, he could not stand witnessing surgical operations. Hs real interest since childhood was natural history.

Edinburgh University provided the latest tutoring in the sciences, including zoology and geology. This teaching was not free, however, fortune smiled upon the teenage student, and he discovered, half way through his medical degree course, that his father would leave him enough money for him never to have to work. Darwin soon lost interest in his medical training and he focussed his attention on scientific studies. He spent time in the natural history museum and went on geological excursions. He collected marine animals from the shores of the nearby Firth of Forth.

Darwin was an admirer of Charles Waterton's Essays on Natural History. He praised 'such discussions and observations on what the world would call trifling points of Natural History which to me appear very interesting'.
From a letter to Sir Charles Lyell* in 1845, Darwin Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 343-4. Reference extracted from Charles Waterton 1782 - 1865, Traveller and Conservationist, p.3, by Julia Blackburn, The Bodley Head, 1989.
(* Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, FRS, (14th November 1797 – 22rd February 1875). A Scottish geologist and close friend of Charles Darwin, he is said to have contributed significantly to Darwin's thinking on the processes involved in evolution. ). Read more on Wikipedia.)

Whilst in Edinburgh, Darwin also learnt taxidermy from John Edmonstone who had been taught the art by Charles Waterton. Edmonstone had travelled with Waterton as he explored the wilds of Demerara (later part of British Guiana, now Guyana). John Edmonstone was formerly a slave of Charles Edmonstone, a friend (and father-in-law) of Charles Waterton. He had been freed when he travelled to Britain with Charles Edmonstone and his family when they relocated to Edinburgh in 1817. Darwin does not mention John Edmonstone by name. More about John Edmonstone here.

Ersmus Darwin.Erasmus Darwin (12th December 1731 – 18th April 1802)
In contrast to the tedious medical lectures, Young Charles Darwin engaged in scientific debates with some of the brightest and most competitive young naturalists in Europe. Amongst these naturalists was Robert Edmond Grant (see next article). He told Darwin how much this new generation of naturalists admired his paternal grandfather Erasmus Darwin who had published evolutionary ideas in the 1790s when such ideas were considered, at the time, to be extremely radical.

Sources for the above section include: Darwin Online and Erasmus Darwin on Wikipedia.

Robert Edmond Grant.Robert Edmond Grant MD, FRCPEd, FRS, FRSE, FZS, FGS. (11th November 1793 – 23rd August 1874).
Grant was a British anatomist and zoologist. He was born in was born in Argyll Square in Edinburgh
Robert Edmond Grant was an Edinburgh-trained physician, who gave up the profession to study invertebrates. He was an early advocate of evolutionary thought (a strong supporter of Lamarck and his views), and cited Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia in his medical dissertation.

Eramus's grandson, Charles, while briefly a medical student (1825 - 1827) at the University of Edinburgh, was introduced to Grant through the Plinian Society, a group of students, according to Darwin, "who met in an underground room in the university of the sake of reading papers on natural science and discussing them."

From their joint collecting trips to the shore, the older Grant introduced Darwin to the world of research and microscopic dissection. This led to the Darwin's first scientific paper, delivered at the Plinian Society in 1827.
(Edinburgh University: Charles Darwin followed in the footsteps of his brother Erasmus, father Robert, his uncle Charles, and grandfather Erasmus.)

Robert Edmond Grant, sources and further reading.
. Charles Darwin, Early Evolutionists - Robert Grant, Havard University, article.
. Robert Edmond Grant, Wikipedia, article.
. Thomas Herbert Maguire Wikipedia, portrait of Robert Edmond Grant.

John Stevens HenslowJohn Stevens Henslow (6th February 1796 – 16th May 1861)
"I fully believe a better man never walked this earth." Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker 18th May, 1861.
If anyone could lay claim to being one of the greatest Friends of Charles Darwin, it was the Reverend Professor John Stevens Henslow. Not only did this good-natured academic and clergyman teach Darwin much of his scientific technique, but he also arranged a place for his favourite pupil aboard HMS Beagle. The rest, as they say, is history.
(Extract from friendsofdarwin.com.)

More about John Stevens Henslow on Wikipedia.

Charles Darwin, aged 45 yrs.More from Darwin about Henslow:
The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, by Charles Darwin CHAPTER 1.II. — AUTOBIOGRAPHY. CAMBRIDGE 1828-1831. (Extract)
[A circumstance which influenced my whole career more than any other.]

"I have not as yet mentioned a circumstance which influenced my whole career more than any other. This was my friendship with Professor Henslow. Before coming up to Cambridge, I had heard of him from my brother as a man who knew every branch of science, and I was accordingly prepared to reverence him. He kept open house once every week when all undergraduates, and some older members of the University, who were attached to science, used to meet in the evening. I soon got, through Fox, an invitation, and went there regularly. Before long I became well acquainted with Henslow, and during the latter half of my time at Cambridge took long walks with him on most days; so that I was called by some of the dons 'the man who walks with Henslow', and in the evening I was very often asked to join his family dinner. His knowledge was great in botany, entomology, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. His strongest taste was to draw conclusions from long-continued minute observations. His judgment was excellent, and his whole mind well balanced; but I do not suppose that any one would say that he possessed much original genius. He was deeply religious, and so orthodox that he told me one day he should be grieved if a single word of the Thirty-nine Articles were altered. His moral qualities were in every way admirable. He was free from every tinge of vanity or other petty feeling; and I never saw a man who thought so little about himself or his own concerns. His temper was imperturbably good, with the most winning and courteous manners; yet, as I have seen, he could be roused by any bad action to the warmest indignation and prompt action.

Henslow's benevolence was unbounded, as he proved by his many excellent schemes for his poor parishioners, when in after years he held the living of Hitcham. My intimacy with such a man ought to have been, and I hope was, an inestimable benefit."

Read more of The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin at Darwin Online.

More websites about Charles Darwin
. Portraits of Charles Darwin - Chronological list of portraits, Wikipedi.
. mirfaces.com/charles-darwin-the-man-behind-the-evolution.

Books about Walton, Charles Waterton, Guyana, and more!
See a selection of
books about Walton,
Charles Waterton,
Guyana and more.
• click here •
(Offered for sale by

Henslow and DarwinI
Henslow and Darwin.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Mayflower Sanctuary

 Visit the Bookshelf.

OVERTOWN MISCELLANY (overtown.org.uk)  
© John S. Sargent, 1997 - 2021.  All rights reserved.  
• About this site  • Contact  
Squire Charles Waterton