Professions, Marriage, Families and Illness

Letters #64-95 (34), 15 June 1838 – 19 Mar 1855, 16 years
  • Anthony W. D. Larkum

For Charles Darwin, 1837-38 was a crucial time. Something quite extraordinary but unrecorded had happened. It must have been at this stage in his life that he embarked on a mental program that was to direct him for the rest of his life. The Darwin that emerged in these years is a quantum jump away from the Darwin we saw at Cambridge up to 1832. Quite how this transition occurred is not known. One can guess that the young Darwin had a mind-expanding experience on the Beagle, the most important aspect of which was a grasp of the possibility that species were not stable. As discussed in  Chapter 4, the young Darwin may have measured himself against Charles Lyell, who was not much older, and found that he could come off better in some aspects. One of these was coral reefs, which Darwin set about to write on at this stage (and which was, in fact, his first attempt at an evolutionary way of thinking – Ghiselin, 1969)), and the second was evidence that species were not stable. The latter, much more profound insight, was to transform the Victorian world. However, at this stage it must have been a hazy vision rather than a well-thought out thesis – and one that had been shared with a number of forerunners, notably Lamarck. It seems that Darwin did not discuss his vision with any one else.


Coral Reef Water Cure College Library Scarlet Fever Tail Feather 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony W. D. Larkum
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Sydney School of Biological SciencesSydney NSW 2006Australia

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