« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
"I went to Cambridge," wrote Darwin, "early in the year 1828, and soon became acquainted, through some of my brother entomologists,' with Professor Henslow, for all who cared for any branch of natural history were equally encouraged by him. Nothing could be more simple, cordial, and unpretending than the encouragement which he afforded to all young naturalists. I soon became intimate with him, for he had a remarkable power of making the young feel completely at ease with him; though we were all awe-struck with the amount of his knowledge. Before I saw him I heard one young man sum up his attainments by simply saying that he knew everything. When I reflect how immediately we felt at perfect ease with a man older and in every way so immensely our superior, I think it was as much owing to the transparent sincerity of his character, as to his kindness of heart, and,
'This statement by Darwin disposes of Mr. Grant Allen's assertion that geology was Darwin's "first love" (p. 36). He reckoned himself an entomologist when he went to Cambridge, and certainly Mr. Ainsworth's statement shows that he was a naturalist in a wide sense while at Edinburgh. C. V. Riley, the well-known American entomologist, says (Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, U.S., vol. i., 1882, p. 70) “I have the authority of my late associate editor of The American Entomolo„gist, Benjamin Dann Walsh, who was a class-mate of Darwin's at Cambridge, that the latter's love of natural history was chiefly manifested, while there, in a fine collection of insects." Indeed, he was one of the original members of the Entomological Society of London, founded in 1833, and showed an active interest in its affairs throughout life, being elected a member of its council in 1838. As early as January 4, 1836, a memoir based on insects sent home by Darwin from Chiloe, was read before the Society by Charles Babington, now Professor of Botany at Cambridge.
perhaps, even still more to a highly remarkable absence in him of all self-consciousness. One perceived at once that he never thought of his own varied knowledge or clear intellect, but solely on the subject in hand. Another charm, which must have struck every one, was that his manner to old and distinguished persons and to the youngest student was exactly the same: to all he showed the most winning courtesy. He would receive with interest the most trifling observation in any branch of natural history, and however absurd a blunder one might make, he pointed it out so clearly and kindly, that one left him in no way disheartened, but only determined to be more accurate the next time. In short, no man could be better formed to win the entire confidence of the young, and to encourage them in their pursuits.
"His lectures on botany were universally popular, and as clear as daylight. So popular were they, that several of the older members of the university attended successive courses. Once every week he kept open house in the evening, and all who cared for natural history attended these parties, which, by thus favouring intercommunication, did the same good in Cambridge, in a very pleasant manner, as the scientific societies do in London. At these parties many of the most distinguished members of the university occasionally attended; and when only a few were present, I have listened to the great men of those days conversing on all sorts of subjects, with the most varied and brilliant powers. This was no small advantage to some of the younger men, as it stimulated their mental activity and ambition. Two or three times in each session he took excursions with
his botanical class, either a long walk to the habitat of some rare plant, or in a barge down the river to the fens, or in coaches to some more distant place, as to Gamlingay, to see the wild lily-of-the-valley, and to catch on the heath the rare natter-jack. These excursions have left a delightful impression on my mind. He was, on such occasions, in as good spirits as a boy, and laughed as heartily as a boy at the misadventures of those who chased the splendid swallow-tail butterflies across the broken and treacherous fens. He used to pause every now and then and lecture on some plant or other object; and something he could tell us on every insect, shell, or fossil collected, for he had attended to every branch of natural history. After our day's work we used to dine at some inn or house, and most jovial we then were. I believe all who joined these excursions will agree with me that they have left an enduring impression of delight on our minds.
"As time passed on at Cambridge I became very intimate with Professor Henslow, and his kindness was unbounded; he continually asked me to his house, and allowed me to accompany him in his walks. He talked on all subjects, including his deep sense of religion, and was entirely open. I owe more than I can express to this excellent man. His kindness was steady. When Captain Fitzroy offered to give up part of his own cabin to any naturalist who would join the expedition in H.M.S. Beagle, Professor Henslow recommended me as one who knew very little, but who, he thought, would work. I was strongly attached to natural history, and this attachment I owed in large part to him. During the
five years' voyage he regularly corresponded with me, and guided my efforts; he received, opened, and took care of all the specimens sent home in many large boxes; but I firmly believe that, during these five years, it never once crossed his mind that he was acting towards me with unusual and generous kindness.
"During the years when I associated so much with Professor Henslow I never once saw his temper even ruffled. He never took an ill-natured view of any one's character, though very far from blind to the foibles of others. It always struck me that his mind could not be even touched by any paltry feeling of vanity, envy, or jealousy. With all this equability of temper and remarkable benevolence, there was no insipidity of character. A man must have been blind not to have perceived that beneath this placid exterior there was a vigorous and determined will. When principle came into play no power on earth could have turned him one hair's breadth. ...
"In intellect, as far as I could judge, accurate powers of observation, sound sense, and cautious judgment seemed predominant. Nothing seemed to give him so much enjoyment as drawing conclusions from minute observations. But his admirable memoir on the geology of Anglesea shows his capacity for extended observations and broad views. Reflecting over his character with gratitude and reverence, his moral attributes rise, as they should do in the highest character, in pre-eminence over his intellect."
The young man's modesty is conspicuous in the above narrative. He does not see how his own transparent
candour, his desire to learn, his respect for those who were already masters of science, won upon the great men with whom he came in contact. It was by no means as one who knew very little" that Henslow recommended Darwin to Captain Fitzroy, but as “a young man of promising ability, extremely fond of geology, and indeed all branches of natural history." "In consequence," says Fitzroy, "an offer was made to Mr. Darwin to be my guest on board, which he accepted conditionally. Permission was obtained for his embarkation, and an order given by the Admiralty that he should be borne on the ship's books for provisions. The conditions asked by Mr. Darwin were, that he should be at liberty to leave the Beagle and retire from the expedition when he thought proper, and that he should pay a fair share of the expenses of my table."
Darwin had taken an ordinary or "poll" degree in 1831, and was admitted a Master of Arts in 1837. In the interval he had become truly a Master of Science, which at that time was adequately recognised by no university in the British dominions. The memorable voyage of the Beagle, a little barque of 242 tons, was at first delayed by heavy gales which twice drove her back; but she finally sailed from Devonport on December 27, 1831. The object of the expedition was to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, to survey the shores of Chili, Peru, and some Pacific Islands, and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements round the world.
Professor Henslow's interest in his young pupil's progress is shown by the fact that in 1835 (December 1)