Charles Darwin physical illnesses | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin physical illnesses

Charles Darwin’s impressions of New Zealand and Australia, and insights into his illness and his developing ideas on evolution

This was not Darwin’s first experience of illness. He had had what was described as a “weak stomach” as a student in Edinburgh, and symptoms of sore lips (atopic dermatitis) appeared during his Cambridge days. At times he was abnormally “knocked up”, and he had palpitations and chest pain before sailing on the Beagle. During the voyage, while in South America, he had headaches and episodes of weakness and faintness. However, in the periods when he was not ill, he was extremely fit and could outlast other members of the Beagle crew.

Darwin’s documentation of his time in New Zealand and Australia demonstrates his superb ability to observe and record, and gives us an insight into his then current ideas. His illness is frequently mentioned.

New Zealand

Darwin was not attracted to New Zealand. He wrote:

30th [December 1835] I believe we were all glad to leave New Zealand; it is not a pleasant place; amongst the natives there is absent that charming simplicity which is found at Tahiti; & of the English the greater part are the very refuse of Society. Neither is the country itself attractive. — I look back but to one bright spot & that is Waimate with its Christian inhabitants. [Waimate is documented as being NZ’s first European-style farm.]

Despite this negative impression of New Zealand, Darwin remained interested in the country. At the time of his visit, an epidemic of influenza among the Maori gave him cause to consider the then scientific mystery of contagion. Epidemics aside, Maori were decreasing in number and Darwin was concerned that this was contrary to the Malthus doctrine that populations should increase in times of plenty. In December 1843, Darwin wrote to Ernst Dieffenbach (a German physician and naturalist working in New Zealand who later translated Darwin’s account of the voyages of HMS Adventure and HMS Beagle into German, Naturwissenschaftlichen Reisen):

I have lately been much interested in reading your chapters on the slow decrease in numbers . . . of these poor people. The case appears to me very curious, especially as the decrease has commenced or continued since the introduction of the potato — the relation between the amount of population & of food is hence inverted. It would have been a case for the great Malthus to have reflected on.

Darwin also observed the decline (at that time) of Australian Aboriginals, and commented:

The varieties of man seem to act on each other in the same way as different species of animals — the stronger always extirpating the weaker.

Australia

Darwin’s impressions of Sydney (Port Jackson) were more positive, if a little parochial, than his impressions of New Zealand:

12th [January 1836] At last we anchored within Sydney Cove; we found the little basin, containing many large ships & surrounded by Warehouses []. In the evening I walked through the town & returned full of admiration at the whole scene. — It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation: here, in a less promising country, scores of years have effected many times more than centuries in South America. — My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman.

He also admired, albeit with considerable condescension, Australia’s Indigenous population and compared them favourably to the Fuegians (the indigenous inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego).

See also:



The Islands That Changed The World [HD]
TV Series Episode Video on Demand ()

Creation: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

by BurpBoohickie

In the upcoming JOHN AMIEL drama, CREATION, contemporary real life couple JENNIFER CONNELLY and PAUL BETTANY play historic real-life couple CHARLES and EMMA DARWIN. We spoke with CONNELLY recently and she talked about how the movie deals with the conflicts of Darwinism and Creationism, it doesn’t preach a particular point of view.

Going to a movie as a conscious political act?

by NewMsLoree

“Creation”, the new film about Charles Darwin, which stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, premieres on Friday, January 22, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, DC.
Says Robert Luhn, Director of Communications at the National Center for Science Education:
“If there is a strong turnout the opening weekend, the movie will stay in theaters longer, which will generate buzz, which will keep it in theaters longer. And that means more people will see Darwin (and his ideas) presented in a more positive light.”

FAQ

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Main points/events/summary of The Reluctant Mr Darwin?

A little help please what are some main points/events that go on in chapter 1

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution
by David Quammen

Origins of a Reluctant Genius
A review by Gregory M. Lamb

If scientists printed their own paper money, says David Quammen, the face of Charles Darwin would be on the bill. Darwin is that important. The ideas he espoused in The Origin of Species in 1859 were "profoundly original, and dangerous, and thrilling," Quammen writes, making Origin not only one of the most important books about science in the last several centuries, but one of the…

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