Darwin Letter Friday

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Darwin Letter Friday

Man oh man, Charles had a passive aggressive girlfriend!

This letter comes from "The Beagle Letters"

This letter comes from "The Beagle Letters"

Charles had taken a liking to Fanny Owen through his Cambridge years, but as he departed on the Beagle voyage, well…

She dumped him.

Apparently he cared more about his beetle collection than about her. She wished she had given him a pin cushion for his instruments of death. She also refers to his collection as his beetle army.

I know this is a long one, but it gets better and better (or bitter?) with the kicker being the last half and final salutation.

Try as I might, I can only read the italicized text as sarcasm. They’re hers, not mine.

From Fanny Owen to Charles Darwin:

2. Northernhay Place, Exeter


My dear Charles,

I have this evening heard from Caroline that you leave home the end of this week-and that you wish to have a good bye from me before you go. I had not the least idea you were to go so soon, for they told me it was the end of October you sailed, so I hoped and fully expected I should have been at home in time to see you- I cannot tell you how disappointed & vexed I am that that cannot be. Little did I think the last time I saw you at the poor old Forest, that it would be so long before we should meet again!! This horrid Devonshire-fool that I was to come here- I shall just get home when you are gone I dare say- My dear Charles I do hope you will enjoy yourself & be the happiest of the happy, I would give any thing to see you once more before you go, for it does make me melancholy to think the time you are to be away-& Heaven knows what may have become of all of us by this time two years. at all events we must be grown old & steady- the pleasant days, and fun we have had at the Forest can never come over again- how I wish I was there this week to have one last chat with you I cannot bear to think you are really going clear away, without my saying one good bye!!

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Today is the Anniversary of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial

July 10, 1925: jury selection begins on Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan’s famous trial in Dayton, Tennessee on the teaching of evolution in schools. The story is a little more complicated that one might think. Scopes, it turns out, agreed to be arrested. And the town was seeking some publicity.

NPR‘s All Things Considered ran a great piece on this.

Listen Here >>

What’s all the hubbub about the “Dangers of Darwinism”?

Well, Darwin experienced a lot of the same struggles with his religion, and he writes about them in his letters. We post one every Friday here on this site. Tomorrow, I’ll have to find one rife with conflicted religious beliefs. Until then, I’ll leave you with another good little nugget courtesy of NPR — a song about monkeys and religion by country music legend Vernon Dalhart.

Then to Dayton came a man
with his new ideas so grand;
And he said we came from monkeys long ago;
But in teaching his beliefs Mr. Scopes found only grief;
For they would not let their old religion go.
You may find a new belief;
it will only bring you grief;
For a house that’s built on sand is sure to fall;
And wherever you may turn
there’s a lesson you will learn;
That the old religion’s better after all.