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Charles Darwin: His Life in an Autobiographical Ch


Edited by His Son, FRANCIS DARWIN, F.R.S.

With a Portrait.

London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1908.

[Illustration: _Elliot & Fry, Photo._ _Walker & Cockerell, ph. sc._

Ch. Darwin]

Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles.


_13th July, 1892._


This book is associated in my mind with St. Moritz (where I worked at it), and therefore with you.

I inscribe your name on it, not only in token of my remembrance of your many acts of friendship, but also as a sign of my respect for one who lives a difficult life well.

Yours gratefully, FRANCIS DARWIN.

"For myself I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; ... as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to reconsider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture. So I thought my nature had a kind of familiarity and relationship with Truth."--BACON. (Proem to the _Interpretatio Naturae_.)



In preparing this volume, which is practically an abbreviation of the _Life and Letters_ (1887), my aim has been to retain as far as possible the personal parts of those volumes. To render this feasible, large numbers of the more purely scientific letters are omitted, or represented by the citation of a few sentences.[1] In certain periods of my father's life the scientific and the personal elements run a parallel course, rising and falling together in their degree of interest. Thus the writing of the _Origin of Species_, and its publication, appeal equally to the reader who follows my father's career from interest in the man, and to the naturalist who desires to know something of this turning point in the history of Biology. This part of the story has therefore been told with nearly the full amount of available detail.

In arranging my material I have followed a roughly chronological sequence, but the character and variety of my father's researches make a strictly chronological order an impossibility. It was his habit to work more or less simultaneously at several subjects. Experimental work was often carried on as a refreshment or variety, while books entailing reasoning and the marshalling of large bodies of facts were being written. Moreover many of his researches were dropped only to be resumed after years had elapsed. Thus a chronological record of his work would be a patchwork, from which it would be difficult to disentangle the history of any given subject. The Table of Contents will show how I have tried to avoid this result. It will be seen, for instance, that after Chapter VIII. a break occurs; the story turns back from 1854 to 1831 in order that the Evolutionary chapters which follow may tell a continuous story. In the same way the Botanical Work which occupied so much of my father's time during the latter part of his life is treated separately in Chapters XVI. and XVII.

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