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CHAPTER VI.

WE

E have already gathered much concerning Darwin's mental and moral fibre in our survey of his works. Let us make some further acquaintance with his personality as known to his friends. Outwardly he appeared a man of powerful physique, standing six feet high, with prominent forehead and over-arching brow, and keen, deep-set eyes in which resolute strength and piercing insight were indicated. Apart from his persistent infirmity, he was actively disposed, as indeed is evident. from the laborious journeys he undertook during his travels. Field sports, including hunting, were among the recreations of his more active years. But through all his work or recreation the imperious conditions necessitated by his infirmity of stomach had to be considered, and nothing but the most rigorous care could possibly have enabled him to achieve what he did. On many days he could not work at all, and on many others two or three hours were his limit. And what but his own system, his own orderliness and perseverance could have accomplished his task? In preparing his books he had a special set of shelves for each, standing on or near his writing-table, one shelf for each chapter. The maxim,

Early to bed, and early to rise," was his essentially, and regularity kept all balanced. Rising at six, he took a cold plunge bath, breakfasted simply, and took a first walk, beginning work often at eight. "Later in the day," I quote from Mr. Woodall's pleasant pages, "he generally walked again, often in his own grounds, but sometimes further afield, and then generally by quiet footpaths rather than frequented roads. The walks at one time were varied by rides along the lanes on a favourite black cob, but some years before his death his four-footed friend fell, and died by the roadside, and from that day the habit of riding was given up. Part of the evening was devoted to his family and his friends, who delighted to gather round him to enjoy the charm of his bright intelligence, and his unrivalled stores of knowledge. To Down, occasionally, came distinguished men from many lands; and there in later years would sometimes be found the younger generation of scientific students, looking up to the great naturalist with the reverence of disciples, who had experienced his singular modesty, his patient readiness to listen to all opinions, and the winning grace with which he informed their ignorance and corrected their mistakes. In the midst of all the delights of home and the demands of study, Darwin kept an open mind for public affairs. He united the earnest politician with the patient student: a rare combination, which supplies another proof of his largeness of heart and sympathy with his fellow men. In the village of Down he was liked by everybody, old and young, and in his own household the same servants lived year after year under his roof. One of them,

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Margaret Evans, who assisted in nursing him in his last illness, had come to Down nearly forty years before, from Shrewsbury, where her uncle and aunt were in Dr. Darwin's service."

At Down the family in time numbered nine children, two, however, not surviving childhood; one died in 1842, another in 1858. His five sons have already attained distinction or positions of influence. The eldest, William Erasmus, became a banker in Southampton; the second, George, was second Wrangler and Smith's Prizeman at Cambridge in 1868, became a Fellow of Trinity, and is now Plumian Professor of Astronomy at his university, having early gained the Fellowship of the Royal Society for his original papers bearing on the evolution of the universe and the solar system, and many other subjects of high mathematical and philosophical interest. His third son, Francis, gained first-class honours in the Cambridge Natural Science Tripos in 1870, and is likewise a Fellow of the Royal Society, in recognition of his original botanical investigations. The fourth, Leonard, an officer in the Royal Engineers, has done valuable astronomical work. The fifth, Horace, has devoted himself to mechanical science, and has largely aided in developing the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company.

The great thinker, fulfilling his duties as head of a family with singular success, charged with the burden of new thoughts and observations, slowly perfecting his life work, had neither time nor inclination for controversy. He set himself to publish facts, which by their accumulation tended to clench his arguments. Soon after the

་ Origin of Species" he had in course of publication several important botanical papers, on the two forms of flower in the Primrose genus (1862), and in the genus Linum (flax), 1863, on the forms of Loosestrife, 1864, all published in the Linnean Society's Journal.

In 1862 he brought out his first botanical book, the "Fertilisation of Orchids," more fully entitled, "On the various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects." These most singular flowers had long attracted great attention owing to their peculiar shapes and often their great beauty, while their marked deviation from typical forms of flowers perplexed botanists extremely. The celebrated Robert Brown, in a well-known paper in the Linnean Society's Transactions, 1833, expressed the belief that insects are necessary for the fructification of most orchids; and as far back as 1793, Christian Sprengel (in "The Newly Discovered Secret of Nature") gave an excellent account of the action of the several parts in the genus Orchis, having discovered that insects were necessary to remove the pollen masses. But the rationale of the process was not fully known until Darwin revealed it, and illuminated it by the light of natural selection. He had, in the "Origin of Species," given reasons for the belief that it is an almost universal law of nature that the higher organic beings require an occasional cross with another individual. He here emphasised that doctrine by a series of proofs from a peculiar and otherwise inexplicable order of plants, and showed that the arrangements by which orchids are fertilised have for their main object the fertilisation of the flowers with pollen brought by insects from a distinct plant.

In the group to which our common orchids belong, remarkable adaptations for securing that the pollen masses brought from another flower solely through the visits of insects shall reach their precise destination, were brought to light. "A poet," says Darwin, "might imagine that whilst the pollinia were borne through the air from flower to flower, adhering to an insect's body, they voluntarily and eagerly placed themselves in that exact position in which alone they could hope to gain their wish and perpetuate their race." As he had examined all the British genera, Darwin's conclusions were indubitable. He had patiently watched for hours on the grass to notice insects' visits, had counted the fertilised flowers on many spikes, the fertilised spikes on many plants, had dissected and redissected the flowers till he saw how the fertilisation must absolutely be effected; and utilising the enthusiasm of orchid growers, had excited them to do the same, till his storehouse of facts was full.

On examining the exotic forms of orchids, which are so conspicuous in our conservatories, still more striking facts presented themselves. In the great group of the Vandeæ, relative position of parts, friction, viscidity, elastic and hygrometric movements were all found to be nicely related to one end-the aid of insects in fertilisation. Without their aid not a plant in the various species of twenty-nine genera which Darwin examined would set a seed. In the majority of cases insects withdraw the pollen masses only when retreating from the flower, and, continuing their flower visits, effect a union between two flowers, generally on distinct plants. In

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