The Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. Speaks of Darwin's life

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Charles Robert Darwin was a man of many hats. He was a friend,

colleague, son, father, husband; but above all, he was a naturalist. Through his dedication and perseverance did he manage

to, in less than a generation, establish the theory of evolution as

a fact in peoples' minds. In fact, '[t]oday it is almost impossible for us to return, even momentarily, to the pre-Darwinian

atmosphere and attitude' (West 323). Darwin formed the basis of his

theory during the voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, on which vessel he

was posted as it travelled around the globe. During that five-year

span, this young man saw foliage, creatures, cultures that he had

never known first-hand before. He was exposed to environments that

not many of his contemporaries saw and lived the life that few did.

Was his epic journey merely a series of trips to strange and exotic

lands, or was Darwin affected by his experiences in more profound


Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809; the same day

that another great man, Abraham Lincoln, was born.

He was no child

prodigy; he 'was considered by all [his] masters and by [his] Father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in

intellect' (Barlow Voyage 28). The one trait in him that stands

out in his formative years is a taste for the outdoors; he loved to


shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for collecting, which leads a man to be a systemic naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in [him] and was clearly

innate, as none of [his] sisters and brother ever had this taste. (Barlow Autobiography 23)

He grew up in Shrewsbury, and attended the local grammar-school there. After graduating, he entered Edinburgh University with the intent of studying medicine,