Natural curiosity

Charles Darwin, 1816
The father of the man,
Charles Darwin in 1816, age 7
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

William Wordsworth

One-hundred and ninety-nine years ago today, Charles Darwin was born at his parents' home, The Mount, Shrewsbury. Today, no doubt, his familiar, elderly, bearded face will grace many a news site and weblog. As a rapidly aging, beard-wielding Darwin groupie, I thoroughly approve.

But birthdays, as the name implies, are celebrations of people's births. Several decades were to pass between Darwin's birth and the sprouting of his iconic beard. In the intervening time, the young Darwin went to school, collected rocks, dabbled with chemistry, went to university, learned taxidermy, combed the sea-shore, collected beetles, ate a dead owl, took up geology, made friends, did an awful lot of reading, and embarked on the most important voyage in the history of science. All of which—with the possible exception of the owl—would ultimately contribute in one way or another to the development of his theory of evolution by means of Natural Selection.

Darwin never lost his child-like curiosity with the natural world. Indeed, his childhood years were extremely important to his personal development. So, on this day of celebration, why not remember the young Darwin? And, if you get a chance, spare a few moments to kindle the imagination of one or more children with some interesting natural curiosity.

Oh, and even if you don't get a chance to inspire some children personally, why not pop over to the Beagle Project website and make a donation so that they will one day be able to inspire whole shiploads of future scientists.

On Darwin Day, why not sew a few good seeds?

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

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