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ever, the boy entered Shrewsbury Grammar School, then under Samuel Butler, afterwards Bishop of Lichfield. Classics, as ever, formed the staple of the instruction there afforded, and proved but little to the future naturalist's taste. Unfortunately for the repute of English schools, Charles Darwin was little benefited by his schooling; and Euclid, then an extra subject, constituted, to his. mind, the only bit of real education Shrewsbury school. gave him. Seventy years later, the study of mother earth and her teeming productions, which Darwin made so attractive, is still but scantily represented in the in
struction afforded by our great schools.
Thus out of sympathy with the prevalent studies, the youth showed no fondness for his schoolfellows' sports. He was reserved, frequently lost in thought, and fond of long solitary rambles, according to one schoolfellow, the Rev. W. A. Leighton; another, the Rev. John Yardley, Vicar of St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, remembers him as cheerful, good-tempered, and communicative. One of the recorded incidents of his boyish days is a fall from the old Shrewsbury wall, while walking in a "brown. study." Even at this early period he was fond of collecting objects which many schoolboys delight in, such, as shells and minerals, seals, franks, and coins; and the mechanical aptitude derived from both the Darwins and. the Wedgwoods was manifested by keen interest in mechanism. One especially remembered youthful treat was when his uncle Josiah Wedgwood explained to. him the principle of the vernier. No doubt the pigeons, the exotics, the shrubs and flowers of his father's grounds. impressed themselves indelibly on the boy's mind and.
unconsciously prepared him for his future. Schooldays were for him fortunately not protracted, for in 1825, at the age of sixteen, he went to Edinburgh University, where his father and grandfather had likewise studied, with the idea of devoting himself to medicine. The youth of sixteen was well equipped with the results of long thinking and observing rather than with booklearning, and was prepared to play an independent part without noise and show, assimilating that which commended itself to his mind, and rejecting that which found no appropriate soil in him, in a manner characteristic of genuine originality.
HEN Charles Darwin went to Edinburgh, the university was not in one of its palmiest periods. The medical professors failed to attract him to their profession, and two years of Edinburgh satisfied him that medicine should not absorb him. With natural history the case was different. Its attractiveness for Darwin increased. He found congenial companionship in the Edinburgh Plinian Society, and Mr. W. F. Ainsworth relates (in The Athenæum, May 13, 1882) that Darwin and himself made frequent excursions on the shores of the Firth of Forth in pursuit of objects of natural history, sometimes visiting the coasts of Fifeshire, and sometimes the islands off the coast. On one occasion, accompanied by Dr. Greville, the botanist, they went to the Isle of May, and were both exceedingly amused at the effect produced upon the eminent author of the Scottish Cryptogamic Flora by the screeching of the kittiwakes and other water-fowl. He had actually to lie down on the greensward to enjoy his prolonged cachinnation. On another occasion the young naturalists were benighted on Inch Keith, but found refuge in the lighthouse.
Darwin was now not merely a collector and exploring
naturalist, but he observed biological facts of importance. On the 27th of March, 1827, he made a communication to the Plinian Society on the ova, or rather larvæ, of the Flustra or sea-mat, a member of the class Polyzoa, forming a continuous mat-like colony of thousands of organisms leading a joint-stock existence. He announced that he had discovered in these larvæ organs of locomotion, then so seldom, now so frequently, known to exist on such bodies. At the same time, he made known that the small black body which until that time had been mistaken for the young state of a species of seaweed, was in reality the egg of Pontobdella muricata, a sort of sea-leech. On the 3rd of April following, the discoverer exhibited specimens of the latter creature with eggs and young.
In making these researches, Darwin was no doubt stimulated and aided by the teaching of Dr. Grant, afterwards Professor of Natural History at University College, London, who was then at Edinburgh, making discoveries in the structure of sponges. Professor Jameson, too, who was then forming his splendid museum of natural history, cannot fail to have influenced Darwin somewhat; and we find that the first lecture of the concluding portion of Jameson's zoological course, dealing with "The Philosophy of Zoology," had the suggestive title of "The Origin of the Species of Animals." Thus we must acknowledge that already at Edinburgh Darwin was fairly started in the paths of zoological inquiry, and the northern university must be admitted to share with Cambridge, the distinction of being the foster-parent of this giant-child.
Medicine being distasteful, Edinburgh had no other distinctive charms to offer to young Darwin, and he was entered at Christ's College, Cambridge, early in 1828, with the idea of his becoming a clergyman of the Church of England. It might have been thought that there was scant stimulus for a biological student in the Cambridge of that period; but although the old literary and mathematical studies were still the only paths to a degree, there were men of original force and genius at work preparing the ground for a coming revolution. Sedgwick was teaching geology with the fire of a prophet, and Henslow as a botanist was showing that lessons of enthralling interest were to be learned from the humblest flower. Henslow especially attracted young Darwin, who never forgot his old teacher. In the preface to the journal of his voyage in the Beagle he returns his most sincere thanks to Professor Henslow, "who," he says, "when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, was one chief means of giving me a taste for natural history; who, during my absence, took charge of the collections I sent home, and by his correspondence directed my endeavours-and who, since my return, has constantly rendered me every assistance which the kindest friend could offer."
No better idea of Darwin's Cambridge days can be given than that which is derived from reading his account of Professor Henslow, contributed to the Rev. L. Jenyns's "Memoirs" of that accomplished man. There can be no doubt, also, that in thus pourtraying the character of another, he was at the same time, as Mr. Romanes puts it, "unconsciously giving a most accurate description of his own."