He was a poor student and liked a drink, but Darwin turned out OK

“Today (12 February), Christ’s College, Cambridge will unveil a sculpture of its most famous student, Charles Darwin. The statue resembles Darwin as he looked as a student rather than as the prematurely aged, bearded patriarch that is his usual image. Darwin would surely be astonished that his college is honouring him in this way. He was a genuinely modest and retiring man who loved the company of his family and a circle of scientific friends, and avoided publicity. The original outline of his theory of natural selection was read to the Linnean Society by someone else, and with relief he left it to Thomas Huxley and Joseph Hooker to defend On the Origin of Species against the criticism of Samuel Wilberforce at the meeting of the British Association in 1860. Darwin wrote to Hooker: ‘I would have soon as died as tried to answer the Bishop in such an assembly.’ Besides being by nature self-effacing, Darwin was a poor student. His father, Robert, was a successful and wealthy doctor in Shrewsbury; but as a younger son, Charles would have to earn his living …” (more)

[Stephen Halliday, THE, 12 February]

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