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The reader must be kind enough to remember that the following Memoir was written for the Transactions of the Shropshire Archæological and Natural History Society, or he will fail to understand why so much is made of the local references in Mr. Darwin's works. The writer lays no claim to the knowledge which is necessary in dealing with scientific enquiries. He was asked to prepare this short paper, and consented because it seemed to him that the Transactions of the Shropshire Natural History Society should certainly contain some memorial of a native of Shrewsbury who became the greatest naturalist of the age. Particulars of Mr. Darwin's early days have been kindly supplied to the writer; and, brief as it is, this record probably contains the most complete account of his life which has yet appeared. For the sketch of his scientific works many authorities have been consulted, including Mr. Darwin's own statements, and the writer believes it is accurate, although it differs in some points from the accounts published in various scientific periodicals. To prepare this Memoir has been a pleasant task, for it is writen as a tribute of profound veneration for the noble character and lofty genius of Mr. Darwin.
August 1st, 1884.
EMEMBER his constancy in every act which
was conformable to reason, and his evenness in all things, and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand things ; and how he would never let anything pass without having first most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and how he bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them in return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not to calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions he was ; and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a sophist; and how laborious and patient; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships ; and how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his opinions ; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him anything better; and how religious he was without superstition. Imitate all this, that thou mayest have as good a conscience, when thy last hour comes, as he had.--Marcus Aurelius.
NEARLY a hundred years ago, Erasmus Darwin, who was then living at Derby, brought his third son, Robert Waring, to Shrewsbury, and left him there with twenty pounds in his pocket. Another twenty pounds was afterwards sent to the young doctor by his uncle, the Rector of Elston, and with this capital he established the large and lucrative practice which for more than half a century made his portly figure and his yellow chaise familiar to the inhabitants of three or four counties, 1 It was in 1786, when he was twenty years of age, that Robert Darwin settled at Shrewsbury, His success was so rapid that he soon bought a piece of land adjoining the Holyhead road, to the north-west of the town, where he built himself a house in a charming situation high above the Severn; and to “The Mount,” in 1796, he brought his wife, Susannah, the eldest daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Etruria. There, on the 12th of February, 1809, Charles Robert Darwin was born, the descendant of two families which show a remarkable succession of talent in several generations. Mr. Francis Galton, another grandson of Erasmus Darwin's, in his work on Hereditary Genius, mentions seven of the doctor's descendants who have distinguished themselves. He does not include himself, but Charles
* I am indebted to Charles Darwin's " Preliminary Notice" to Erasmus Darwin by Ernst Krause for sereral of the facts mentioned in this paper; to the late Miss Meteyard's Life of Josiah Wedgwood ; and to the same lady's Group of Englishmen, an account of the younger Wedgwoods. Miss Meteyard was the daughter of Mr. Meteyard, surgeon to the Shropshire Militia, and spent her early days in Shrewsbury,