Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution [NOOK Book]

Overview

In a chest of drawers bequeathed by his grandmother, author Randal Keynes discovered the writing case of Charles and Emma Darwin’s beloved daughter Annie Darwin, who died at the age of ten. He also found the notes Darwin kept throughout Annie's illness, the eulogy he delivered at her funeral—and provocative new insights into Darwin’s views on nature, evolution, and the human condition. In Darwin, His Daughter&Human Evolution, Keynes shows that Darwin was not "a cold intellect with no place for love in his ...
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Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution

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Overview

In a chest of drawers bequeathed by his grandmother, author Randal Keynes discovered the writing case of Charles and Emma Darwin’s beloved daughter Annie Darwin, who died at the age of ten. He also found the notes Darwin kept throughout Annie's illness, the eulogy he delivered at her funeral—and provocative new insights into Darwin’s views on nature, evolution, and the human condition. In Darwin, His Daughter&Human Evolution, Keynes shows that Darwin was not "a cold intellect with no place for love in his famous 'struggle for existence,' [but]...a man of uncommon warmth" (Scientific American).

Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin is now a major motion picture and the movie tie-in paperback is also available from Riverhead Books.
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Editorial Reviews

Scientific American
Randal Keynes...has crafted a superb intellectual and social history about Darwin's quiet years at his country estate...
Publishers Weekly
In this intimate portrait of the great naturalist as devoted family man, Keynes describes how Charles Darwin's "life and his science were all of a piece." The great-great-grandson of the scientist, Keynes uses published documents as well as family papers and artifacts to show how Darwin's thinking on evolution was influenced by his deep attachment to his wife and children. In particular, his anguish over his 10-year-old daughter Annie's death sharpened his conviction that the operation of natural laws had nothing to do with divine intervention or morality. Keynes, also a descendant of economist John Maynard Keynes, shows that much of Darwin's intellectual struggle in writing On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man arose from his efforts to understand the role of suffering and death in the natural order of the world. Early in his career, Darwin saw the indifference of natural law as an answer to the era's religious doubts about how a benevolent god could permit human misery; cruelty and pain, he argued, should not be seen as moral issues, but as inevitable outcomes of nature. After Annie's death, however, Darwin's views darkened, and in a private letter he railed against the "clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!" Though Keynes doesn't break new ground about Darwin's life and work, he produces a moving tribute to a thinker who, despite intimate acquaintance with the pain inflicted by the "war of nature," could still marvel that, from this ruthless struggle, "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Forecast: General readers attracted by the book's warm, sentimental cover won't be disappointed by Keynes's equally accessible prose. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this intimate portrait of the great naturalist as devoted family man, Keynes describes how Charles Darwin's "life and his science were all of a piece." The great-great-grandson of the scientist, Keynes uses published documents as well as family papers and artifacts to show how Darwin's thinking on evolution was influenced by his deep attachment to his wife and children. In particular, his anguish over his 10-year-old daughter Annie's death sharpened his conviction that the operation of natural laws had nothing to do with divine intervention or morality. Keynes, also a descendant of economist John Maynard Keynes, shows that much of Darwin's intellectual struggle in writing On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man arose from his efforts to understand the role of suffering and death in the natural order of the world. Early in his career, Darwin saw the indifference of natural law as an answer to the era's religious doubts about how a benevolent god could permit human misery; cruelty and pain, he argued, should not be seen as moral issues, but as inevitable outcomes of nature. After Annie's death, however, Darwin's views darkened, and in a private letter he railed against the "clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!" Though Keynes doesn't break new ground about Darwin's life and work, he produces a moving tribute to a thinker who, despite intimate acquaintance with the pain inflicted by the "war of nature," could still marvel that, from this ruthless struggle, "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Forecast: General readers attracted by the book's warm, sentimental cover won't be disappointed by Keynes's equally accessible prose. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin inherited the writing case of Darwin's daughter Annie, who died at age ten, he discovered notes from his famous forbear that he used to reinvestigate the entire family. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The evolution of Darwin's theories played out against the evolution of his family life-in a graceful and insightful biography by the naturalist's great-great-grandson.
From the Publisher
“Remarkable…revolutionary.” —Matt Ridley, author of Genome

“Skillfully tells the inspiring story of a man whose heart and mind were equally prodigious.”—The Washington Post

“Keynes shows elegantly and convincingly how Darwin’s mature theory grew out of his intensely personal pain…A poignant reminder of the shaping presence of personal recollection, memory, and loss in the intellectual as well as emotional life of a figure even of Darwin’s stature.”—The Sunday Times (London)

“A brilliant accomplished history—itself a work of genius.”—Publishing News (UK)

“Both moving and superbly documented…According to Keynes, Darwin was at a loss to understand why most naturalists at the time thought they saw evidence of ubiquitous, benevolent design in a world so full of pain, death and disease. ‘There seems to me,’ he wrote, ‘too much misery in the world’ for a loving deity to have designed it that way…With the slow death of Annie, the misery became personal. Some contemporary critics painted Darwin as a cold intellect with no place for love in his famous ‘struggle for existence.’ Keynes shows he was actually a man of uncommon warmth.”—Scientific American

“One of the most remarkable, moving biographies of recent years.” —The Scotsman

“An engrossing book, a biography with a difference. Keynes gives an excellent overview of Victorian writings on medicine, religion and science as they bore on the question of disease and death, especially the deaths of children, which raised with particular sharpness the question of God’s intention and benevolence. Above all, Keynes sets Darwin’s lonely progress in his researches on species directly in the context of family love and loss.”—Sunday Telegraph (London)

“In this intimate portrait…the great-great-grandson of the scientist, Keynes uses published documents as well as family papers and artifacts to show how Darwin’s thinking on evolution was influenced by his deep attachment to his wife and children. In particular, his anguish over his 10-year-old daughter Annie’s death sharpened his conviction that the operation of natural laws had nothing to do with divine intervention or morality. Keynes shows that much of Darwin’s intellectual struggle in writing On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man arose from his efforts to understand the role of suffering and death in the natural order of the world…a moving tribute to a thinker who, despite intimate acquaintance with the pain inflicted by the ‘war of nature’ could still marvel that, from this ruthless struggle, ‘endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’”—Publishers Weekly

“Though there have been innumerable biographies of Darwin, there cannot have been any warmer portrayals of his humanity and his desire to discover meaning in human existence.”—The Irish Times

“Above all this is a love story: the love of Charles and Emma...and the love of both for their children.” —The Times (London)

“Fascinating...This is a wonderful portrait of a Victorian family in all its aspects…so extraordinary and so revealing.”—Birmingham Post

  “It is a rare biography that reveals the key emotional moment in its subject’s personal and intellectual life so clearly as Randal Keynes does for Charles Darwin in Darwin, His Daughter & Human Evolution. What makes this book so moving and illuminating is the way Keynes tracks his subject’s emotional development and, more generally, shows how much his scientific thinking was influenced by his wife Emma and their 10 children. besides its contribution to the intellectual history of Darwinism, Darwin, His Daughter & Human Evolution is a delightful portrayal of mid-19th century family life.” —Financial Times (London)

“[An] intriguing family portrait. Darwin’s desperate search for signs of his dying daughter’s recovery make excrutiatingly poignant reading. Publication for this reason alone would be justified, if only to remind us of our debt to 20th century medicine. But there is much more to this story than the outlining of the vicissitudes of Victorian family life.”—Manchester Guardian Weekly

“Shows with impact how little science knew of t

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101215715
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/5/2002
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,180,934
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


Randal Keynes is a British conservationist and a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. He is also a descendant of the economist John Maynard Keynes.
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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

A child's writing case. The pale yellow ribbon curled inside is stitched with small glass beads. The goose-feather quills have dried ink on their tips, and the sealing wax has been melted over a candle flame. On the ribbon and the quills lies a fold of paper with a thick lock of fine brown hair. On the paper is written "April 23rd 1851." And on a leaf torn from a pocketbook is a map of a churchyard: "Annie Darwin's grave at Malvern."

The writing case was Annie's, and is filled with her things. She was Charles and Emma Darwin's first daughter. She died when she was ten. Charles wrote a "memorial" of her, and Emma kept the case to remember her by. It was passed down to my father, one of their great-grandsons.

I came across the case one day when I was looking through a box of family odds and ends. I was struck by a note in Charles's untidy scrawl. He had headed it "Anne" and wrote how she felt every day and night during her last months. She was often well but he noted when she was distressed. "Late evening tired and cry." "Early morning cry." "Poorly in morning." It was haunting to sense how he had been watching her day after day, night after restless night.

I found other traces of Annie's life in Charles and Emma's notebooks and letters. In the pages that follow I piece together a jigsaw of her childhood, and tease out some of Charles and Emma's feelings and ideas through the years after her death. I draw links with Charles's thinking about human nature, both before and after her short life. He learnt from his feelings for her about the lasting strength of the affections, the paradox of pain, the value of memory and the limits of human understanding.

There is one idea at the heart of my account. Charles's life and his science were all of a piece. Working at home on things he could study there, spending every day with his wife, children and servants, living at a time when science meant knowledge and understanding in the broadest view, and dwelling on issues that bear directly on the deepest questions about what it is to be human, he could not keep his thinking about the natural world apart from feelings and ideas that were important to him in the rest of his life.

This book explores Darwin's life with his family and his thinking about human nature in the interweavings around Annie and her memory.

CHAPTER ONE

MACAW COTTAGE

Marriage-First home in London-First child-

Annie's birth-Infancy

When at twenty-nine Charles Darwin thought about marrying, he took a piece of paper and wrote: "This is the question." Under "Not Marry" he jotted down: "Freedom to go where one liked-choice of society and little of it. Conversation of clever men at clubs. Not forced to visit relatives and to bend in every trifle-to have the expense and anxiety of children-perhaps quarrelling-loss of time...How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife. Eheu! I never should know French, or see the Continent, or go to America, or go up in a Balloon." Under "Marry" he noted: "Children (if it please God), constant companion (and friend in old age) who will feel interested in one." He weighed all the points for and against, and made up his mind. "My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one's whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all. No, no, won't do. Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London house. Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, and books and music perhaps...Marry-Marry-Marry. Q.E.D."

A few days later, in July 1838, he visited his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood II, at his home, Maer Hall, near the Wedgwood factory in Staffordshire. Josiah's daughter Emma was there. She was a year older than Charles and had been a companion to him since childhood. She was lively and attractive and had been courted by many young men, but she was now looking after her elderly mother who had lost her mind, and faced the prospect of remaining single. Charles had met her in London earlier in the month, and they now had a long talk together by the fire in the library. He decided that he wanted her to be his wife. She was very happy in his company, and felt tentatively that if he saw more of her, he might really like her. When he proposed three months later, she accepted him eagerly. She went straight to her Sunday school for the village children after the "important interview," but "found I was turning into an idiot, and so came away." She wrote to her Aunt Jessie Sismondi: "He is the most open transparent man I ever saw and every word expresses his real thoughts." He was "the most affectionate person possible." Like many of the Wedgwood family, she often found it difficult to show her feelings. She felt it was a great advantage to have the power of expressing affection, and was sure that he would "make his children very fond of him."

Charles and Emma lost no time in planning for the future. They agreed to live in London while Charles was tied there by his scientific work, and the next month he was back at his lodgings in Great Marlborough Street, house-hunting anxiously. Emma wrote to him from Maer: "It is very well I am coming to look after you, my poor old man, for it is quite evident that you are on the verge of insanity and we should have had to advertise you-'Lost in the vicinity of Bloomsbury, a tall thin gentleman &c. &c., quite harmless. Whoever will bring him back shall be handsomely rewarded.'"

After the five years from 1831 that he had spent on HMS Beagle, sailing round the world as ship's naturalist, and his two years back in London since then working on his collections and findings from the voyage, Charles was looking forward to this change in his life. A few days before their wedding he wrote to Emma: "I was thinking this morning how on earth it came that I, who am fond of talking and am scarcely ever out of spirits, should so entirely rest my notions of happiness on quietness and a good deal of solitude; but I believe the explanation is very simple, and I mention it, because it will give you hopes that I shall gradually grow less of a brute." During the voyage, "the whole of my pleasure was derived from what passed in my mind, whilst admiring views by myself, travelling across the wild deserts or glorious forests, or pacing the deck of the poor little Beagle at night. Excuse this much egotism. I give it to you, because I think you will humanise me, and soon teach me there is greater happiness, than building theories and accumulating facts in silence and solitude." Charles had been thinking about matters of great importance to him. The theories he had been building were parts of the idea he was forming about the origin of species. He was having to work "in silence and solitude" because he recognised how fiercely his ideas would be attacked as soon as he revealed them to anyone, and he could not risk an argument until he was sure of his ground. His hope that Emma would humanise him was a deep wish that she could draw him out of his lonely work into the company and care of a close family circle.

But he could joke about the difficulties she would have. After spending a morning with his friend, the geologist Charles Lyell, he wrote to her: "I was quite ashamed of myself today; for we talked for half an hour unsophisticated geology, with poor Mrs Lyell sitting by, a monument of patience. I want practice in ill-treating the female sex. I did not observe Lyell had any compunction. I hope to harden my conscience in time: few husbands seem to find it difficult to effect this."

He found a house for them in Upper Gower Street, a long terrace on what was then the northern edge of London. The street led to the recently founded University College with its teaching hospital across the road, and a school whose pupils played in the grounds in front of the main building. University College was known as "the Godless College." Under the guidance of the Whig politician Lord Brougham and other progressive reformers, it gave literary and scientific education to students of all backgrounds and denominations. The main building with its grand ten-column portico was modelled on a temple in Athens. Together with the monumental Euston Arch (now sadly destroyed), St. Pancras New Church, the Royal College of Surgeons and the great colonnade of the British Museum, University College gave the neighbourhood the distinctive high-minded tone of the "Greek" revival. The imposing new buildings stood for progressive enterprise, free inquiry and the life of the mind. The people who commissioned them felt they were constructing a "brave new world." In his "Ode to Liberty," Shelley had written of Athens with its "crest of columns" set on the will of man "as on a mount of diamond."

Many of the hospital's patients were poor people from the crowded slums immediately behind the smart terraces and public buildings of the neighbourhood. Charles Dickens said at a fund-raising dinner that the hospital represented "the largest liberality of opinion. It excludes no one patient, student, doctor, surgeon or nurse because of religious creed. It represents the complete relinquishment of claims to coerce the judgement or the conscience of any human being." Like his namesake, Charles Darwin made regular donations.

The Darwins' neighbours in the terrace were well-to-do professionals-surgeons, lawyers, artists, a publisher and a famous Shakespearean clown. Emma's brother Hensleigh Wedgwood lived a few doors away with his wife Fanny, daughter of Sir James Mackintosh, who was one of the governors of University College and known as the "Whig Cicero." The mews at the back of the long narrow gardens were tenanted by coachmen, stable keepers and their families.

The house Charles found had a kitchen and a room for the manservant in the basement, the dining room and a study for Charles on the ground floor, the main drawing room on the first floor and a small back room with a bay window looking out over the garden. The family bedrooms were on the second floor, and the cook and maids slept in the attic rooms. Charles planned to move in before the wedding, and jotted in his notebook: "Remnants of carpets; mat for hall...white curtains washed; two easy chairs; blinds in red rooms washed." The yellow curtains in the drawing room clashed with the blue paintwork and the furniture, and there was a dead dog in the garden. Charles kept the yellow curtains but had the dog removed, and looked forward to walking in the garden. He was grateful for the plants and the open air, but the atmosphere was poisoned by the smoke of the city. A physician who lived nearby wrote that the trees and bushes in the squares and gardens were stunted and often died. "If you pluck a branch from one of them, your fingers are smeared with soot...By the time a person has been in the streets two or three hours, the glory of the laundress and the clear-starcher is laid, not in the dust, but in smoke, which forms itself into myriads of flocculi, designated 'blacks,' and the blacks are by no means capricious, for they stick most assiduously to ladies' and gentlemen's dresses, if the weather be more than ordinarily dense."

Charles looked forward to Emma's arrival. "Is it not our house?" he wrote to her. "What is there, from me the geologist to the black sparrows in the garden, which is not your own property?" Thinking back in later years, he often laughed over the house's ugliness. Remembering splendours in the tropical forests of South America, he called it "Macaw Cottage" because the furniture in the drawing room combined all the macaw's colours "in hideous discord."

Charles moved in on the last day of December. His servant Syms Covington, who had been his assistant on HMS Beagle, helped him load two large vans with his "specimens of natural history." A few dozen drawers of shells were carried by hand. He wrote to Emma that one of the front attics was quite filled, and was to be called the Museum. "I wish I could make the drawing room look as comfortable as my own studio; but I dare say a fire and a little disorder will temporarily make things better."

Charles and Emma were married at Maer in January 1839. Emma wrote that on their first Thursday together in London they "went slopping through the melted snow to Broadwood's," where they tried a pianoforte and asked if it could be delivered to their home. On Saturday they walked out again and as they came back met "a pianoforte van in Gower Street, to which Charles shouted to know whether it was coming to No. 12, and learnt to our great satisfaction that it was. Besides its own merits, it makes the room look so much more comfortable...I have given Charles a large dose of music every evening."

When the schoolchildren were not playing in the college grounds, the neighbourhood was quiet. There were no shops or pubs on the street, and the road between University College and the hospital was a private right-of-way with gates that were often closed at night. Charles and Emma heard a strange "wailing whistle" from time to time, a sound of the new railway age from Euston Station. Locomotives approaching on the London & Birmingham Railway did not run down the last falling mile to the terminus because they could not manage the steep return climb. The carriages were uncoupled and rolled down on their own. They were hauled back up on a continuous chain drawn by two stationary steam engines at the top of the long incline, and staff at the station would signal that they were on their way by blasts on a great organ pipe operated by compressed air.

Charles might also have heard, or thought he heard, or sensed, cries from the operating theatre in the hospital across the road. The surgeon, Robert Liston, had been a well-known figure at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh when Charles studied medicine there twelve years before. Charles had given up his medical studies, partly because he was distressed by patients' suffering during operations without anaesthetic. At University College Hospital, Liston continued to improve the methods that had gained him his reputation at Edinburgh. His great skill was speed, essential for any major surgery because of the trauma of pain and loss of blood. He could amputate a leg in under thirty seconds. A casebook for his operations, with doodles of cut-throat razors on the cover, is still kept in the medical school. In January 1840, a country girl aged nineteen was admitted with a tumour of the right lower jaw. "The patient being seated in a chair, Mr Liston extracted the lateral incisor tooth...The jaw was then partly sawn through and its division completed with the cutting pliers...The operation lasted eight or nine minutes and was borne with the most heroic fortitude by the patient." Six years later, effective anaesthetics came into use. In 1846, Liston performed the first operation under ether in London, and a newspaper proclaimed: "We have conquered pain!"

But the wailing whistle and patients' cries were some way away. Charles found the stillness in his new study a welcome contrast to the many noises he had had to put up with in Great Marlborough Street. He wrote to his cousin and close friend William Darwin Fox, a clergyman in Cheshire: "If one is quiet in London, there is nothing like its quietness-there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull distant sounds of cabs and coaches." Emma, though, remembered "how the passage of a rattling cab seemed in the night a matter of eternity."

Two days after Charles and Emma's wedding, his elder sister Caroline lost her six-week-old baby. Emma's sister Elizabeth wrote: "She does her utmost not to yield, but she is very unwell, and I never felt greater pity for anyone in my life." Caroline's husband Josiah Wedgwood III was now running the factory for his father with some reluctance. Elizabeth wrote bitterly that the loss of their child would make him "not so unwilling to go as usual to his employment, but what poor Caroline will find to do I cannot think; for the last so many months the thoughts of this precious child and the preparations for it have occupied her in an intense way that I never saw in anyone else."

In April, Emma found that she was pregnant. In August she noted in her diary: "Half way now, I think, from symptoms." She and Charles were living a full life, visiting and receiving many friends including their cousin Dr. Henry Holland and his wife, the Lyells, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, the mathematician Charles Babbage (known in the family as Baggage), Professor Richard Owen of the Royal College of Surgeons and Harriet Martineau the writer. Charles and Emma went together to the Zoological Gardens, to Handel's Messiah and Bellini's La Sonnambula. They sampled sermons at a number of churches, and attended the Unitarian Chapel in Little Portland Street, another new "Greek" building, where Hensleigh and Fanny Wedgwood worshipped. The minister, James Tagart, preached the future triumph of Unitarian Christianity, rejecting the doctrine of the depravity of human nature and emphasising social concord, domestic piety and fraternal union.

When Emma was due to give birth, her sister Elizabeth came to be with her, and Charles engaged a doctor to attend. There were different views at the time about childbirth and the pain of delivery. Some considered "the endurance of pain during delivery essential to the fulfilment of the primaeval curse, consequent upon the temptation and fall of our first mother, Eve." But one obstetrician wrote that childbirth was a natural process and suggested that "no sentiment is more pregnant with mischief than the opinion which almost universally prevails, that this process is inevitably one of difficulty and danger."

Another obstetrician suggested how the doctor should cope with the shyness of a young lady having her first child. "In the case of a woman who has been long married, and has borne children before, there is no difficulty or delay on the score of delicacy. The nurse brings you towels and hog's lard at once...But a newly-married woman dislikes and dreads the examination; and, therefore, you sit down by the bedside, and talk to her about other things. Presently the nurse asks how the baby is lying; and this makes the lady anxious about it. A pain comes on, and you relieve it by putting your hand on the sacrum. When the next pain comes on, introduce one or two fingers of the other hand into the vagina; ascertain that the passages are all right; and the arch of the pubis, and the outlet of the pelvis, natural. Then feel for the os uteri..." After the delivery, the doctor should tie the umbilical cord, place a cap on the baby's head and hand it to the companion who would have a flannel or woollen shawl to wrap the child in. "Do not stay to nurse your patient...for it alarms her, and you get bothered."

Charles and Emma's first child was born on 29 December. It was a boy, and he was christened William Erasmus, both Darwin family names. They called him Doddy first, then Willy as he grew into childhood. Charles wrote to his cousin Fox: "What an awful affair a confinement is; it knocked me up, almost as much as it did Emma herself." He mentioned in another letter that he had become a father. "The event occurred last Friday week: it is a little prince." On 10 February, Emma wrote in her diary: "Baby smiled for the first time." And the next day, as she thought of spring flowers in the dirt and cold of the London winter, "Baby made little noises. Got the hyacinths." Charles wrote to Robert FitzRoy, his captain on HMS Beagle, about "my little animalcule of a son." This word was a naturalist's term for living organisms so small that they could not be seen by the naked eye; FitzRoy might have thought of the creatures that Charles had fished eagerly from the sea onto the deck of HMS Beagle, and studied so intently with his microscope in the poop cabin.

Charles was surprised by his absorption in his son. He wrote to Fox in June: "He is a charming little fellow, and I had not the smallest conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You will perceive by this, that I have a fine degree of paternal fervour." "He is a prodigy of beauty and intellect. He is so charming that I cannot pretend to any modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy anyone to say anything in its praise, of which we are not fully conscious."

Emma was to have eight more children in the next twelve years. Her life was a treadmill of pregnancy, delivery, suckling, weaning and waiting for the next conception. After bearing her fifth child, she wondered if she might have "the luck to escape having another soon," but Charles does not seem to have appreciated her feelings. Shortly afterwards she wrote about the possibility of "having a respite" for another year, but her sixth child was conceived five months later.

After the experience of her first pregnancy, Emma wanted to be prepared for the next delivery. There were four signs to watch for: missing a period, which was referred to in polite conversation as "ceasing to be unwell," morning sickness, changes in the breasts, and feeling the baby move, which was known as "quickening." After one or more of the signs, the due date was calculated by "the reckoning"-counting forty weeks from three days after the last menstruation. Emma marked her periods in her diary with a special cross, and when she missed one just seven months after Willy was born, she numbered forty weeks forward from three days after the last cross.

She suffered morning sickness a month later, but by then she had Charles to care for as well as herself. He became ill while they were staying with her parents at Maer in August, and from then until November she noted his symptoms in her diary every day. This "Maer illness," as he later called it, was the first long and serious attack of the disorder which was to dog him for the rest of his life, and for Emma it eclipsed her own discomfort. Charles had been healthy and lively as a young man. He had suffered acutely from sea-sickness on HMS Beagle and was laid low by fever a few times, but otherwise was one of the hardiest and most energetic members of the ship's company. By the time he married Emma he was already showing signs of his later illness, and she wrote: "I shall scold you into health." But he could not recover by an effort of will. Among his recurring symptoms were a state of languor and discomfort in which he found he could not work, swimming of the head, dying sensations and black spots before the eyes, spasmodic stomach pains, wind and vomiting, bouts of eczema and boils.

While at Maer, Charles was unhappy to be so ill and weak, and spent many hours in the nursery with his baby son. Emma's daily notes record a rich diet for Charles's delicate digestion. "Pulse 60, oysters and artichokes...pulse 52, partridge and pudding...very good day, hare, oysters, pulse about 54." One day, she wrote: "Turtle did not agree."

In the twenty-first week of her second pregnancy, Emma felt the child move in her womb, and wrote "quicken" in her diary. A week later, as Charles was recovering from his illness, the family returned home to Macaw Cottage. The novelist Maria Edgeworth, who knew the Wedgwoods and Darwins through her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, paid a call on Emma and Charles after Christmas. She wrote to a friend: "Mrs Darwin is the youngest daughter of Jos Wedgwood, and is worthy of both father and mother, affectionate and unaffected and, young as she is, full of old times. She has her mother's radiantly cheerful countenance even now, debarred from all London gaieties, and all gaiety but that of her own mind, by close attendance on her sick husband."

When Emma was nearly eight months pregnant, a fifteen-year-old girl, Bessy Harding, came from Maer to be Willy's nursemaid. Emma was in discomfort and preoccupied, and found it difficult to look after her child. She wrote later that in the weeks before her second confinement, "I could take so little notice of the little boy that he got not to care a pin for me, and it used to make me rather dismal sometimes."

As the days passed, Emma continued to jot symptoms in her diary. "Very languid...Great lassitude..." But the words "At his work" show that once again it was Charles she was watching, not herself.

Emma's sister Elizabeth had come again to be with her for the birth. In her thirty-eighth week, Emma made a small sign of how she felt in her diary. On the first of March she drew a pencil doodle of a fancy pigeon, a "pouter" with a huge inflated crop. The next day, she wrote "confined," and Annie was born.

It seems to have been a difficult birth. Emma and Charles's cousin Dr. Holland attended. Emma was ill afterwards and a nurse, almost certainly from University College Hospital, came to help. A wet-nurse was also engaged. She was probably chosen from the daily advertisements in The Times. The day after Annie was born, a notice appeared in the "Want Places" column. "As wet-nurse, a young woman from the country, with her first child, who has a good breast of milk, and has been confined a week." Most who advertised had their own infant at the breast, but some did not. A few days later, a notice appeared: "As wet-nurse to take an infant to nurse to whom every attention will be paid, a respectable female who has just lost her own child."

There was a strong feeling at the time that it was natural and right for a mother to breastfeed her own child, and women in society who chose to avoid the bother were criticised harshly. Mothers who were unable to breastfeed may have felt the reproach in obscure ways. A doctor wrote: "It may be called a fixed law of nature that a healthy woman should suckle her offspring." Not to comply with this "arrangement of Providence" was to forgo the first reward after the pain of childbirth. "It is plainly intended to cherish and increase the love of the parent herself, and to establish in the dependent and helpless infant from the first hours of its existence those associations on which its affections and confidence afterwards will be most securely founded. The evidence of design is manifest. So long as the child is unborn, no milk is secreted in the mother's breast, but no sooner does she give it birth, than this fluid is prepared and poured forth, admirably fitted in its qualities for the rapid growth of its delicate organism." The doctor made a link with animals to drive his point home. "Animals, even those of the most ferocious character, show affection for their young; they do not forsake or neglect them, but yield them their milk and watch over them with the tenderest care. Woman, who is possessed of reason as well as instinct, must not manifest a love below that of the brute creature."

Emma had some difficulties caring for Annie during the first weeks after the birth, but after two months, she felt quite well and able to nurse her. "The baby too, which began by being a very poor little thing, is now thriving and smiling very sweetly. I believe Elizabeth thought me a very unnatural mother while she was here, and I think she did care more for it than I did, but I like its company very much now." Emma was returning to normal life, playing again on the piano and enjoying being able to "play with the little boy and walk about and do what I like, without always thinking about oneself which is very tiresome."

She jotted down in the back of her diary some piano music to buy: sonatas by Clementi and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. She had learnt the piano as a child, and when George IV's wife Mrs. Fitzherbert visited her school in the 1820s, she was chosen to play a piece as the best pupil. At one time she had lessons from Chopin. Charles now paid for her to receive lessons from Ignaz Moscheles, the Czech virtuoso who had taught Mendelssohn and was one of the foremost pianists of the day. His style was incisive and he disliked the flamboyant romanticism of Chopin and Liszt. Emma had a crisp and fine touch, and it was said that she played always with intelligence and simplicity. But "she could endure nothing sentimental, and 'slow movements' were occasionally under her treatment somewhat too 'allegro.'"

The Darwins and Wedgwoods all looked to Charles's father, Robert, a wealthy and successful physician in Shrewsbury, for medical judgements and prescriptions. Dr. Darwin gave Charles robust advice about his own ailments, and provided "receipts" for Willy and Annie. "In all inflammatory ailments of very young children, three drops of Antimonial wine repeated twice a day, is usually sufficient, but in decided fever a grain of Calomel with a little Chalk may be safely given." "A drop of Sal volatile will sometimes compose an infant to sleep, given at night." For a baby with a constant cough and soreness in the mouth, he suggested "one grain of chalk with Opium, with three drops of Antimonial wine to be dropped on brown sugar." Antimonial wine was a solution of tartar emetic and sherry wine. Calomel was mercurous chloride. Sal volatile was carbonate of ammonia. These compounds had almost no value in treating the conditions for which they were used, and some could be very harmful.

With one in five infants dying in their first year, most children were baptised within a few weeks after their birth. But Charles and Emma were in no hurry, and took Annie to Maer in late May to be christened with her cousin Sophy, daughter of Caroline and Josiah Wedgwood. As it happened, the government's new General Register Office took its first National Census while they were there. Enumerators visited every household in the country and listed every person present on the census night. There were twenty-one people in the return for Maer Hall-Emma's father Josiah and her mother Bessy, her brother Josiah, Caroline, Charles, Emma, Willy and Annie, and thirteen servants.

The house was a Jacobean mansion in a small park with a lake. Dr. Holland's wife described the Wedgwood family's life there. "They have freedom in their actions in this house as in their principles. Doors and windows stand open. You are nowhere confined. You may do what you like. You are surrounded by books that all look most tempting to read. You will always find some pleasant topic of conversation or may start one, as all things are talked of in the general family."

The parish church was in the grounds, and Emma's father had appointed his lame and eccentric nephew Allen Wedgwood as vicar. Charles privately considered Allen "half idiotic in some respects," though "with a store of accurate and even profound knowledge." Allen baptised the two children Anne Elizabeth and Ann Sophy. Annie's names were, like Willy's, "proper family names." Charles's great-great-grandmother had been Anne Waring; she had brought an estate in Nottinghamshire into the family, and her tablet in the parish church of Elston commemorated her as "daughter, wife, mother, mistress, neighbour answering Solomon's character of a good woman." The name Elizabeth was chosen for Emma's mother in her sad and slowly deepening dementia.

After the baptism, Charles went to stay with his father and sisters in Shrewsbury while Emma stayed with Annie at Maer. Bessy the nursemaid had taken Willy ahead and Charles was touched by his pleasure at seeing him. "He sat on my knee for nearly a quarter of an hour...and looked at my face and pointing, told everyone I was Pappa...When I had had him for about five minutes, I asked him where was Mama, and he repeated your name twice in so low and plaintive a tone, I declare it almost made me burst out crying. He is full of admiration at this new house and is friends with everyone and sits on Grandpapa's knees. He shows me the different things in the house. Dear old Doddy-one could write for ever about him." Charles looked forward to hearing from Emma about herself and Annie who, "as I have several times remarked to myself, is not so bad a girl, as might be expected of Doddy's rival." But Charles feared his son was a coward. "A frog jumped near him and he danced and screamed with horror at the dangerous monster, and I had a deal of kissing at his open bellowing mouth to comfort him. He threw my stick over the terrace wall, looked at it as it went, and cried 'Tatta' with the greatest sangfroid and walked away."

A few days later, Charles warned Emma: "A thunder storm is preparing to break on your head, and which has already deluged me, about Bessy not having a cap." Emma was not particular about their maid's appearance, but Charles's sisters said that she looked "like a grocer's maidservant," and his father added angrily: "The men will take liberties with her, if she is dressed differently from every other lady's maid!" Charles told Emma that he had taken half the blame on himself, and "never betrayed that I had beseeched you several times on that score. If they open on you, pray do not defend yourself, for they are very hot on the subject."

When the family was back in Macaw Cottage, Charles wrote to his cousin Fox: "We are all well here...our two babies are, I think, strong healthy ones, and it is an unspeakable comfort, this." At the end of the year, Emma was breastfeeding Annie, but she had little milk and the doctor told her it would not matter if she stopped. When Annie was nine months old, Emma felt she was "very ugly, poor body, with a broken out ear just like mine."

Charles was a doting father to Willy and Annie, and was eager for their attention. Willy, just two in January 1842, sat with his parents at table and behaved "with great decorum." But Annie was "very naughty" about her father and would not go to him. So, Emma wrote one day, "he has given her up and devoted himself to Doddy." That month, Emma became pregnant with her third child. She numbered the weeks ahead to forty-one, writing at the sixth week, "Taken ill at this stage last time," and at the tenth week, "I got better at about this time last time."

A few weeks later, William Darwin Fox's wife died giving birth to their sixth child. With Emma now expecting her third, Charles must have had the dangers of her forthcoming confinement in mind when he wrote to his cousin: "What a comfort it must be to you; that is, I think I should find it the greatest, the having children. It must make the separation appear less entire. The unspeakable tenderness of young children must soothe the heart and recall the tenderest, however mournful remembrances." He told Fox that Emma was "uncomfortable enough all day long and seldom leaves the house, this being her usual state before her babies come into the world." But, he wrote, "my two dear little children are very well and very fat."

Emma was more frank in a letter to her aunt. "My little Annie has taken to walking and talking for the last fortnight. She is thirteen months old and very healthy, fat and round, but no beauty."

—from Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes, Copyright © January 2002, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Used by permission.

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Table of Contents

Plates and Illustrations
Family and Friends
Introduction
One: Macaw Cottage
Two: Pterodactyl Pie
Three: Natural History of Babies
Four: Young Crocodiles
Five: The Galloping Tune
Six: Faith, Cricket, and Barnacles
Seven: Worlds Away from Home
Eight: The Fretfulness of a Child
Nine: The Last Weeks in Malvern
Ten: Loss and Remembering
Eleven: The Destroying Angel

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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

MACAW COTTAGE

Marriage-First home in London-First child-

Annie's birth-Infancy

When at twenty-nine Charles Darwin thought about marrying, he took a piece of paper and wrote: "This is the question." Under "Not Marry" he jotted down: "Freedom to go where one liked-choice of society and little of it. Conversation of clever men at clubs. Not forced to visit relatives and to bend in every trifle-to have the expense and anxiety of children-perhaps quarrelling-loss of time...How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife. Eheu! I never should know French, or see the Continent, or go to America, or go up in a Balloon." Under "Marry" he noted: "Children (if it please God), constant companion (and friend in old age) who will feel interested in one." He weighed all the points for and against, and made up his mind. "My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one's whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all. No, no, won't do. Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London house. Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, and books and music perhaps...Marry-Marry-Marry. Q.E.D."

A few days later, in July 1838, he visited his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood II, at his home, Maer Hall, near the Wedgwood factory in Staffordshire. Josiah's daughter Emma was there. She was a year older than Charles and had been a companion to him since childhood. She was lively and attractive and had been courted by many young men, but she was now looking after her elderly mother who had lost her mind, and faced the prospect of remaining single. Charles had met her in London earlier in the month, and they now had a long talk together by the fire in the library. He decided that he wanted her to be his wife. She was very happy in his company, and felt tentatively that if he saw more of her, he might really like her. When he proposed three months later, she accepted him eagerly. She went straight to her Sunday school for the village children after the "important interview," but "found I was turning into an idiot, and so came away." She wrote to her Aunt Jessie Sismondi: "He is the most open transparent man I ever saw and every word expresses his real thoughts." He was "the most affectionate person possible." Like many of the Wedgwood family, she often found it difficult to show her feelings. She felt it was a great advantage to have the power of expressing affection, and was sure that he would "make his children very fond of him."

Charles and Emma lost no time in planning for the future. They agreed to live in London while Charles was tied there by his scientific work, and the next month he was back at his lodgings in Great Marlborough Street, house-hunting anxiously. Emma wrote to him from Maer: "It is very well I am coming to look after you, my poor old man, for it is quite evident that you are on the verge of insanity and we should have had to advertise you-'Lost in the vicinity of Bloomsbury, a tall thin gentleman &c. &c., quite harmless. Whoever will bring him back shall be handsomely rewarded.'"

After the five years from 1831 that he had spent on HMS Beagle, sailing round the world as ship's naturalist, and his two years back in London since then working on his collections and findings from the voyage, Charles was looking forward to this change in his life. A few days before their wedding he wrote to Emma: "I was thinking this morning how on earth it came that I, who am fond of talking and am scarcely ever out of spirits, should so entirely rest my notions of happiness on quietness and a good deal of solitude; but I believe the explanation is very simple, and I mention it, because it will give you hopes that I shall gradually grow less of a brute." During the voyage, "the whole of my pleasure was derived from what passed in my mind, whilst admiring views by myself, travelling across the wild deserts or glorious forests, or pacing the deck of the poor little Beagle at night. Excuse this much egotism. I give it to you, because I think you will humanise me, and soon teach me there is greater happiness, than building theories and accumulating facts in silence and solitude." Charles had been thinking about matters of great importance to him. The theories he had been building were parts of the idea he was forming about the origin of species. He was having to work "in silence and solitude" because he recognised how fiercely his ideas would be attacked as soon as he revealed them to anyone, and he could not risk an argument until he was sure of his ground. His hope that Emma would humanise him was a deep wish that she could draw him out of his lonely work into the company and care of a close family circle.

But he could joke about the difficulties she would have. After spending a morning with his friend, the geologist Charles Lyell, he wrote to her: "I was quite ashamed of myself today; for we talked for half an hour unsophisticated geology, with poor Mrs Lyell sitting by, a monument of patience. I want practice in ill-treating the female sex. I did not observe Lyell had any compunction. I hope to harden my conscience in time: few husbands seem to find it difficult to effect this."

He found a house for them in Upper Gower Street, a long terrace on what was then the northern edge of London. The street led to the recently founded University College with its teaching hospital across the road, and a school whose pupils played in the grounds in front of the main building. University College was known as "the Godless College." Under the guidance of the Whig politician Lord Brougham and other progressive reformers, it gave literary and scientific education to students of all backgrounds and denominations. The main building with its grand ten-column portico was modelled on a temple in Athens. Together with the monumental Euston Arch (now sadly destroyed), St. Pancras New Church, the Royal College of Surgeons and the great colonnade of the British Museum, University College gave the neighbourhood the distinctive high-minded tone of the "Greek" revival. The imposing new buildings stood for progressive enterprise, free inquiry and the life of the mind. The people who commissioned them felt they were constructing a "brave new world." In his "Ode to Liberty," Shelley had written of Athens with its "crest of columns" set on the will of man "as on a mount of diamond."

Many of the hospital's patients were poor people from the crowded slums immediately behind the smart terraces and public buildings of the neighbourhood. Charles Dickens said at a fund-raising dinner that the hospital represented "the largest liberality of opinion. It excludes no one patient, student, doctor, surgeon or nurse because of religious creed. It represents the complete relinquishment of claims to coerce the judgement or the conscience of any human being." Like his namesake, Charles Darwin made regular donations.

The Darwins' neighbours in the terrace were well-to-do professionals-surgeons, lawyers, artists, a publisher and a famous Shakespearean clown. Emma's brother Hensleigh Wedgwood lived a few doors away with his wife Fanny, daughter of Sir James Mackintosh, who was one of the governors of University College and known as the "Whig Cicero." The mews at the back of the long narrow gardens were tenanted by coachmen, stable keepers and their families.

The house Charles found had a kitchen and a room for the manservant in the basement, the dining room and a study for Charles on the ground floor, the main drawing room on the first floor and a small back room with a bay window looking out over the garden. The family bedrooms were on the second floor, and the cook and maids slept in the attic rooms. Charles planned to move in before the wedding, and jotted in his notebook: "Remnants of carpets; mat for hall...white curtains washed; two easy chairs; blinds in red rooms washed." The yellow curtains in the drawing room clashed with the blue paintwork and the furniture, and there was a dead dog in the garden. Charles kept the yellow curtains but had the dog removed, and looked forward to walking in the garden. He was grateful for the plants and the open air, but the atmosphere was poisoned by the smoke of the city. A physician who lived nearby wrote that the trees and bushes in the squares and gardens were stunted and often died. "If you pluck a branch from one of them, your fingers are smeared with soot...By the time a person has been in the streets two or three hours, the glory of the laundress and the clear-starcher is laid, not in the dust, but in smoke, which forms itself into myriads of flocculi, designated 'blacks,' and the blacks are by no means capricious, for they stick most assiduously to ladies' and gentlemen's dresses, if the weather be more than ordinarily dense."

Charles looked forward to Emma's arrival. "Is it not our house?" he wrote to her. "What is there, from me the geologist to the black sparrows in the garden, which is not your own property?" Thinking back in later years, he often laughed over the house's ugliness. Remembering splendours in the tropical forests of South America, he called it "Macaw Cottage" because the furniture in the drawing room combined all the macaw's colours "in hideous discord."

Charles moved in on the last day of December. His servant Syms Covington, who had been his assistant on HMS Beagle, helped him load two large vans with his "specimens of natural history." A few dozen drawers of shells were carried by hand. He wrote to Emma that one of the front attics was quite filled, and was to be called the Museum. "I wish I could make the drawing room look as comfortable as my own studio; but I dare say a fire and a little disorder will temporarily make things better."

Charles and Emma were married at Maer in January 1839. Emma wrote that on their first Thursday together in London they "went slopping through the melted snow to Broadwood's," where they tried a pianoforte and asked if it could be delivered to their home. On Saturday they walked out again and as they came back met "a pianoforte van in Gower Street, to which Charles shouted to know whether it was coming to No. 12, and learnt to our great satisfaction that it was. Besides its own merits, it makes the room look so much more comfortable...I have given Charles a large dose of music every evening."

When the schoolchildren were not playing in the college grounds, the neighbourhood was quiet. There were no shops or pubs on the street, and the road between University College and the hospital was a private right-of-way with gates that were often closed at night. Charles and Emma heard a strange "wailing whistle" from time to time, a sound of the new railway age from Euston Station. Locomotives approaching on the London & Birmingham Railway did not run down the last falling mile to the terminus because they could not manage the steep return climb. The carriages were uncoupled and rolled down on their own. They were hauled back up on a continuous chain drawn by two stationary steam engines at the top of the long incline, and staff at the station would signal that they were on their way by blasts on a great organ pipe operated by compressed air.

Charles might also have heard, or thought he heard, or sensed, cries from the operating theatre in the hospital across the road. The surgeon, Robert Liston, had been a well-known figure at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh when Charles studied medicine there twelve years before. Charles had given up his medical studies, partly because he was distressed by patients' suffering during operations without anaesthetic. At University College Hospital, Liston continued to improve the methods that had gained him his reputation at Edinburgh. His great skill was speed, essential for any major surgery because of the trauma of pain and loss of blood. He could amputate a leg in under thirty seconds. A casebook for his operations, with doodles of cut-throat razors on the cover, is still kept in the medical school. In January 1840, a country girl aged nineteen was admitted with a tumour of the right lower jaw. "The patient being seated in a chair, Mr Liston extracted the lateral incisor tooth...The jaw was then partly sawn through and its division completed with the cutting pliers...The operation lasted eight or nine minutes and was borne with the most heroic fortitude by the patient." Six years later, effective anaesthetics came into use. In 1846, Liston performed the first operation under ether in London, and a newspaper proclaimed: "We have conquered pain!"

But the wailing whistle and patients' cries were some way away. Charles found the stillness in his new study a welcome contrast to the many noises he had had to put up with in Great Marlborough Street. He wrote to his cousin and close friend William Darwin Fox, a clergyman in Cheshire: "If one is quiet in London, there is nothing like its quietness-there is a grandeur about its smoky fogs, and the dull distant sounds of cabs and coaches." Emma, though, remembered "how the passage of a rattling cab seemed in the night a matter of eternity."

Two days after Charles and Emma's wedding, his elder sister Caroline lost her six-week-old baby. Emma's sister Elizabeth wrote: "She does her utmost not to yield, but she is very unwell, and I never felt greater pity for anyone in my life." Caroline's husband Josiah Wedgwood III was now running the factory for his father with some reluctance. Elizabeth wrote bitterly that the loss of their child would make him "not so unwilling to go as usual to his employment, but what poor Caroline will find to do I cannot think; for the last so many months the thoughts of this precious child and the preparations for it have occupied her in an intense way that I never saw in anyone else."

In April, Emma found that she was pregnant. In August she noted in her diary: "Half way now, I think, from symptoms." She and Charles were living a full life, visiting and receiving many friends including their cousin Dr. Henry Holland and his wife, the Lyells, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, the mathematician Charles Babbage (known in the family as Baggage), Professor Richard Owen of the Royal College of Surgeons and Harriet Martineau the writer. Charles and Emma went together to the Zoological Gardens, to Handel's Messiah and Bellini's La Sonnambula. They sampled sermons at a number of churches, and attended the Unitarian Chapel in Little Portland Street, another new "Greek" building, where Hensleigh and Fanny Wedgwood worshipped. The minister, James Tagart, preached the future triumph of Unitarian Christianity, rejecting the doctrine of the depravity of human nature and emphasising social concord, domestic piety and fraternal union.

When Emma was due to give birth, her sister Elizabeth came to be with her, and Charles engaged a doctor to attend. There were different views at the time about childbirth and the pain of delivery. Some considered "the endurance of pain during delivery essential to the fulfilment of the primaeval curse, consequent upon the temptation and fall of our first mother, Eve." But one obstetrician wrote that childbirth was a natural process and suggested that "no sentiment is more pregnant with mischief than the opinion which almost universally prevails, that this process is inevitably one of difficulty and danger."

Another obstetrician suggested how the doctor should cope with the shyness of a young lady having her first child. "In the case of a woman who has been long married, and has borne children before, there is no difficulty or delay on the score of delicacy. The nurse brings you towels and hog's lard at once...But a newly-married woman dislikes and dreads the examination; and, therefore, you sit down by the bedside, and talk to her about other things. Presently the nurse asks how the baby is lying; and this makes the lady anxious about it. A pain comes on, and you relieve it by putting your hand on the sacrum. When the next pain comes on, introduce one or two fingers of the other hand into the vagina; ascertain that the passages are all right; and the arch of the pubis, and the outlet of the pelvis, natural. Then feel for the os uteri..." After the delivery, the doctor should tie the umbilical cord, place a cap on the baby's head and hand it to the companion who would have a flannel or woollen shawl to wrap the child in. "Do not stay to nurse your patient...for it alarms her, and you get bothered."

Charles and Emma's first child was born on 29 December. It was a boy, and he was christened William Erasmus, both Darwin family names. They called him Doddy first, then Willy as he grew into childhood. Charles wrote to his cousin Fox: "What an awful affair a confinement is; it knocked me up, almost as much as it did Emma herself." He mentioned in another letter that he had become a father. "The event occurred last Friday week: it is a little prince." On 10 February, Emma wrote in her diary: "Baby smiled for the first time." And the next day, as she thought of spring flowers in the dirt and cold of the London winter, "Baby made little noises. Got the hyacinths." Charles wrote to Robert FitzRoy, his captain on HMS Beagle, about "my little animalcule of a son." This word was a naturalist's term for living organisms so small that they could not be seen by the naked eye; FitzRoy might have thought of the creatures that Charles had fished eagerly from the sea onto the deck of HMS Beagle, and studied so intently with his microscope in the poop cabin.

Charles was surprised by his absorption in his son. He wrote to Fox in June: "He is a charming little fellow, and I had not the smallest conception there was so much in a five-month baby. You will perceive by this, that I have a fine degree of paternal fervour." "He is a prodigy of beauty and intellect. He is so charming that I cannot pretend to any modesty. I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy anyone to say anything in its praise, of which we are not fully conscious."

Emma was to have eight more children in the next twelve years. Her life was a treadmill of pregnancy, delivery, suckling, weaning and waiting for the next conception. After bearing her fifth child, she wondered if she might have "the luck to escape having another soon," but Charles does not seem to have appreciated her feelings. Shortly afterwards she wrote about the possibility of "having a respite" for another year, but her sixth child was conceived five months later.

After the experience of her first pregnancy, Emma wanted to be prepared for the next delivery. There were four signs to watch for: missing a period, which was referred to in polite conversation as "ceasing to be unwell," morning sickness, changes in the breasts, and feeling the baby move, which was known as "quickening." After one or more of the signs, the due date was calculated by "the reckoning"-counting forty weeks from three days after the last menstruation. Emma marked her periods in her diary with a special cross, and when she missed one just seven months after Willy was born, she numbered forty weeks forward from three days after the last cross.

She suffered morning sickness a month later, but by then she had Charles to care for as well as herself. He became ill while they were staying with her parents at Maer in August, and from then until November she noted his symptoms in her diary every day. This "Maer illness," as he later called it, was the first long and serious attack of the disorder which was to dog him for the rest of his life, and for Emma it eclipsed her own discomfort. Charles had been healthy and lively as a young man. He had suffered acutely from sea-sickness on HMS Beagle and was laid low by fever a few times, but otherwise was one of the hardiest and most energetic members of the ship's company. By the time he married Emma he was already showing signs of his later illness, and she wrote: "I shall scold you into health." But he could not recover by an effort of will. Among his recurring symptoms were a state of languor and discomfort in which he found he could not work, swimming of the head, dying sensations and black spots before the eyes, spasmodic stomach pains, wind and vomiting, bouts of eczema and boils.

While at Maer, Charles was unhappy to be so ill and weak, and spent many hours in the nursery with his baby son. Emma's daily notes record a rich diet for Charles's delicate digestion. "Pulse 60, oysters and artichokes...pulse 52, partridge and pudding...very good day, hare, oysters, pulse about 54." One day, she wrote: "Turtle did not agree."

In the twenty-first week of her second pregnancy, Emma felt the child move in her womb, and wrote "quicken" in her diary. A week later, as Charles was recovering from his illness, the family returned home to Macaw Cottage. The novelist Maria Edgeworth, who knew the Wedgwoods and Darwins through her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, paid a call on Emma and Charles after Christmas. She wrote to a friend: "Mrs Darwin is the youngest daughter of Jos Wedgwood, and is worthy of both father and mother, affectionate and unaffected and, young as she is, full of old times. She has her mother's radiantly cheerful countenance even now, debarred from all London gaieties, and all gaiety but that of her own mind, by close attendance on her sick husband."

When Emma was nearly eight months pregnant, a fifteen-year-old girl, Bessy Harding, came from Maer to be Willy's nursemaid. Emma was in discomfort and preoccupied, and found it difficult to look after her child. She wrote later that in the weeks before her second confinement, "I could take so little notice of the little boy that he got not to care a pin for me, and it used to make me rather dismal sometimes."

As the days passed, Emma continued to jot symptoms in her diary. "Very languid...Great lassitude..." But the words "At his work" show that once again it was Charles she was watching, not herself.

Emma's sister Elizabeth had come again to be with her for the birth. In her thirty-eighth week, Emma made a small sign of how she felt in her diary. On the first of March she drew a pencil doodle of a fancy pigeon, a "pouter" with a huge inflated crop. The next day, she wrote "confined," and Annie was born.

It seems to have been a difficult birth. Emma and Charles's cousin Dr. Holland attended. Emma was ill afterwards and a nurse, almost certainly from University College Hospital, came to help. A wet-nurse was also engaged. She was probably chosen from the daily advertisements in The Times. The day after Annie was born, a notice appeared in the "Want Places" column. "As wet-nurse, a young woman from the country, with her first child, who has a good breast of milk, and has been confined a week." Most who advertised had their own infant at the breast, but some did not. A few days later, a notice appeared: "As wet-nurse to take an infant to nurse to whom every attention will be paid, a respectable female who has just lost her own child."

There was a strong feeling at the time that it was natural and right for a mother to breastfeed her own child, and women in society who chose to avoid the bother were criticised harshly. Mothers who were unable to breastfeed may have felt the reproach in obscure ways. A doctor wrote: "It may be called a fixed law of nature that a healthy woman should suckle her offspring." Not to comply with this "arrangement of Providence" was to forgo the first reward after the pain of childbirth. "It is plainly intended to cherish and increase the love of the parent herself, and to establish in the dependent and helpless infant from the first hours of its existence those associations on which its affections and confidence afterwards will be most securely founded. The evidence of design is manifest. So long as the child is unborn, no milk is secreted in the mother's breast, but no sooner does she give it birth, than this fluid is prepared and poured forth, admirably fitted in its qualities for the rapid growth of its delicate organism." The doctor made a link with animals to drive his point home. "Animals, even those of the most ferocious character, show affection for their young; they do not forsake or neglect them, but yield them their milk and watch over them with the tenderest care. Woman, who is possessed of reason as well as instinct, must not manifest a love below that of the brute creature."

Emma had some difficulties caring for Annie during the first weeks after the birth, but after two months, she felt quite well and able to nurse her. "The baby too, which began by being a very poor little thing, is now thriving and smiling very sweetly. I believe Elizabeth thought me a very unnatural mother while she was here, and I think she did care more for it than I did, but I like its company very much now." Emma was returning to normal life, playing again on the piano and enjoying being able to "play with the little boy and walk about and do what I like, without always thinking about oneself which is very tiresome."

She jotted down in the back of her diary some piano music to buy: sonatas by Clementi and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. She had learnt the piano as a child, and when George IV's wife Mrs. Fitzherbert visited her school in the 1820s, she was chosen to play a piece as the best pupil. At one time she had lessons from Chopin. Charles now paid for her to receive lessons from Ignaz Moscheles, the Czech virtuoso who had taught Mendelssohn and was one of the foremost pianists of the day. His style was incisive and he disliked the flamboyant romanticism of Chopin and Liszt. Emma had a crisp and fine touch, and it was said that she played always with intelligence and simplicity. But "she could endure nothing sentimental, and 'slow movements' were occasionally under her treatment somewhat too 'allegro.'"

The Darwins and Wedgwoods all looked to Charles's father, Robert, a wealthy and successful physician in Shrewsbury, for medical judgements and prescriptions. Dr. Darwin gave Charles robust advice about his own ailments, and provided "receipts" for Willy and Annie. "In all inflammatory ailments of very young children, three drops of Antimonial wine repeated twice a day, is usually sufficient, but in decided fever a grain of Calomel with a little Chalk may be safely given." "A drop of Sal volatile will sometimes compose an infant to sleep, given at night." For a baby with a constant cough and soreness in the mouth, he suggested "one grain of chalk with Opium, with three drops of Antimonial wine to be dropped on brown sugar." Antimonial wine was a solution of tartar emetic and sherry wine. Calomel was mercurous chloride. Sal volatile was carbonate of ammonia. These compounds had almost no value in treating the conditions for which they were used, and some could be very harmful.

With one in five infants dying in their first year, most children were baptised within a few weeks after their birth. But Charles and Emma were in no hurry, and took Annie to Maer in late May to be christened with her cousin Sophy, daughter of Caroline and Josiah Wedgwood. As it happened, the government's new General Register Office took its first National Census while they were there. Enumerators visited every household in the country and listed every person present on the census night. There were twenty-one people in the return for Maer Hall-Emma's father Josiah and her mother Bessy, her brother Josiah, Caroline, Charles, Emma, Willy and Annie, and thirteen servants.

The house was a Jacobean mansion in a small park with a lake. Dr. Holland's wife described the Wedgwood family's life there. "They have freedom in their actions in this house as in their principles. Doors and windows stand open. You are nowhere confined. You may do what you like. You are surrounded by books that all look most tempting to read. You will always find some pleasant topic of conversation or may start one, as all things are talked of in the general family."

The parish church was in the grounds, and Emma's father had appointed his lame and eccentric nephew Allen Wedgwood as vicar. Charles privately considered Allen "half idiotic in some respects," though "with a store of accurate and even profound knowledge." Allen baptised the two children Anne Elizabeth and Ann Sophy. Annie's names were, like Willy's, "proper family names." Charles's great-great-grandmother had been Anne Waring; she had brought an estate in Nottinghamshire into the family, and her tablet in the parish church of Elston commemorated her as "daughter, wife, mother, mistress, neighbour answering Solomon's character of a good woman." The name Elizabeth was chosen for Emma's mother in her sad and slowly deepening dementia.

After the baptism, Charles went to stay with his father and sisters in Shrewsbury while Emma stayed with Annie at Maer. Bessy the nursemaid had taken Willy ahead and Charles was touched by his pleasure at seeing him. "He sat on my knee for nearly a quarter of an hour...and looked at my face and pointing, told everyone I was Pappa...When I had had him for about five minutes, I asked him where was Mama, and he repeated your name twice in so low and plaintive a tone, I declare it almost made me burst out crying. He is full of admiration at this new house and is friends with everyone and sits on Grandpapa's knees. He shows me the different things in the house. Dear old Doddy-one could write for ever about him." Charles looked forward to hearing from Emma about herself and Annie who, "as I have several times remarked to myself, is not so bad a girl, as might be expected of Doddy's rival." But Charles feared his son was a coward. "A frog jumped near him and he danced and screamed with horror at the dangerous monster, and I had a deal of kissing at his open bellowing mouth to comfort him. He threw my stick over the terrace wall, looked at it as it went, and cried 'Tatta' with the greatest sangfroid and walked away."

A few days later, Charles warned Emma: "A thunder storm is preparing to break on your head, and which has already deluged me, about Bessy not having a cap." Emma was not particular about their maid's appearance, but Charles's sisters said that she looked "like a grocer's maidservant," and his father added angrily: "The men will take liberties with her, if she is dressed differently from every other lady's maid!" Charles told Emma that he had taken half the blame on himself, and "never betrayed that I had beseeched you several times on that score. If they open on you, pray do not defend yourself, for they are very hot on the subject."

When the family was back in Macaw Cottage, Charles wrote to his cousin Fox: "We are all well here...our two babies are, I think, strong healthy ones, and it is an unspeakable comfort, this." At the end of the year, Emma was breastfeeding Annie, but she had little milk and the doctor told her it would not matter if she stopped. When Annie was nine months old, Emma felt she was "very ugly, poor body, with a broken out ear just like mine."

Charles was a doting father to Willy and Annie, and was eager for their attention. Willy, just two in January 1842, sat with his parents at table and behaved "with great decorum." But Annie was "very naughty" about her father and would not go to him. So, Emma wrote one day, "he has given her up and devoted himself to Doddy." That month, Emma became pregnant with her third child. She numbered the weeks ahead to forty-one, writing at the sixth week, "Taken ill at this stage last time," and at the tenth week, "I got better at about this time last time."

A few weeks later, William Darwin Fox's wife died giving birth to their sixth child. With Emma now expecting her third, Charles must have had the dangers of her forthcoming confinement in mind when he wrote to his cousin: "What a comfort it must be to you; that is, I think I should find it the greatest, the having children. It must make the separation appear less entire. The unspeakable tenderness of young children must soothe the heart and recall the tenderest, however mournful remembrances." He told Fox that Emma was "uncomfortable enough all day long and seldom leaves the house, this being her usual state before her babies come into the world." But, he wrote, "my two dear little children are very well and very fat."

Emma was more frank in a letter to her aunt. "My little Annie has taken to walking and talking for the last fortnight. She is thirteen months old and very healthy, fat and round, but no beauty."

—from Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes, Copyright © January 2002, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Used by permission.

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