Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a Selected Series of His Published Letters, Volume 5

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John Murray, 1892 - Autobiography - 348 pages
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Page 49 - My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts; but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.
Page 38 - I happened to read for amusement ' Malthus on Population,' and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species. Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work...
Page 49 - I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.
Page 171 - At last gleams of light have come, and I am almost convinced (quite contrary to the opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a " tendency to progression," " adaptations from the slow willing of animals,
Page 274 - ... that I attribute the modification of species exclusively to natural selection, I may be permitted to remark that in the first edition of this work, and subsequently, I placed in a most conspicuous position — namely, at the close of the Introduction — the following words : " I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification.
Page 8 - Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butler's school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught, except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank. During my whole life I have been singularly incapable of mastering any language. Especial attention was paid to versemaking, and this I could never do well. I had many friends, and got together a good collection of old verses, which by patching together,...
Page 233 - I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can.
Page 20 - But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much eagerness or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles. It was the mere passion for collecting, for I did not dissect them, and rarely compared their external characters with published descriptions, but got them named anyhow. I will give a proof of my zeal : one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare...
Page 212 - The only objections that have occurred to me arc, 1st that you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly. . . . And 2nd, it is not clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all. However, I must read the book two or three times more before I presume to begin picking holes. I trust you will not allow...
Page 167 - It has sometimes been said that the success of the Origin proved "that the subject was in the air," or "that men's minds were prepared for it." I do not think that this is strictly true, for I occasionally sounded not a few naturalists, and never happened to come across a single one who seemed to doubt about the permanence of species.

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