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Darwin Letter Friday

The collector bug strikes early.

At the age of twelve, in addition to being stinky, Charles Darwin reminds himself that if he is going to be a great naturalist, he’ll need a place for his stash.

That’s right, he’s building a fort.

In Summer, 1823, he says, the work must start!

January 12th, 1822–

remember next summer to make two cave one for warlike instruments, the othe<r> for relicks. Note spoon, old spear knife squirt if it can be found, and the name cut on the ash tree over the seat in the bank by the nut tree I beliefe that is all ove[r] the ief a plan of a machine

Read carefully to see Darwin's letter notation. When you see the red flag, come to Charles!

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Darwin Letter Friday

Darwin on the Isle of Wight

This week in Darwin’s correspondence: June 18, 1858, 150 years ago — Darwin writes to Charles Lyell from the Isle of Wight, a little island 3 miles from the South coast of England. This letter comes from Cambridge University’s Darwin Correspondence Project.

We’ve moved! Read the letter at our new site:

Click here to go straight to the article >>

Congrats to Our Blog Editor, Jon!

He did it! Jonathan and his fiance, Becky, were wed in their hometown of Pittsburgh, PA this past Sunday. We wish Jonathan and Becky the best as they travel across the pond to England and Scotland for their honeymoon. Bring us back something Scottish!

-Laura, the Temp Editor

Noblesse Oblige

The idea of chivalry has always been a fraud…

James Winn, author – The Poetry of War

…a system of polite and honorable ideals masking shameful and violent acts. Medieval poets played a crucial part in creating the myth of chivalry, and poets from many later periods were responsible for sustaining it. The persistence of chivalric myth is a sobering instance of poetry’s capacity to make fantasy seem real, and thus to efface the bloody truths of war.

Among the ideas sustained by chivalric poetry was noblesse oblige, the belief that the upper classes had a special obligation to lead the way in warfare. That sense of obligation applied to kings as late as 1743, when George II led his troops into battle at Dettingen, though he was the last English monarch to do so. It continued to apply to titled aristocrats for two more centuries.

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Please Excuse the Slowdown

I’m getting married, as I alluded earlier, and will be away for a couple weeks.

Your comments will be moderated by my colleague Laura, and there will be some posting, but much more sporadic than usual.

Please bear with us! When I return, I’ll wow everyone with breathtaking photos of the Scottish Highlands, and maybe a picture of Cambridge or two. We’ve got a fresh batch of books coming soon, along with some very cool authors. I’m looking forward to it!


Nick Smith Talks Philosophy

Philosophy Talk out of Berkeley, CA took some time last week to chat with Nick Smith about his theories of apology. I hope he finds the time to finish his wood floors, but I’m enjoying his interviews.

Listen here!