Page images

devotion which prompted all this constant and tender care. But it is, I repeat, a principal feature of his life, that for nearly forty years he never knew one day of the health of ordinary men, and that thus his life was one long struggle against the weariness and strain of sickness. And this cannot be told without speaking of the one condition which enabled him to bear the strain and fight out the struggle to the end.


The earliest letters to which I have access are those written by my father when an undergraduate at Cambridge.

The history of his life, as told in his correspondence, must therefore begin with this period.



(My father's Cambridge life comprises the time between the Lent Term, 1828, when he came up as a Freshman, and the end of the May Term, 1831, when he took his degree and left the University.

It appears from the College books, that my father“ admissus est pensionarius minor sub Magistro Shaw" on Oct. 15, 1827. He did not come into residence till the Lent Term, 1828, so that, although he passed his examination in due season, he was unable to take his degree at the usual time,-the beginning of the Lent Term, 1831. In such a case a man usually took his degree before Ash-Wednesday, when he was called “Baccalaureus ad Diem Cinerum,” and ranked with the B. A.'s of the year. My father's name, however, occurs in the list of Bachelors “ ad Baptistam," or those admitted between Ash-Wednesday and St. John Baptist's Day (June 24th);* he therefore took rank among the Bachelors of 1832.

He “kept” for a term or two in lodgings, over Bacon the tobacconist's; not, however, over the shop in the Market Place, now so well known to Cambridge men, but in Sidney Street. For the rest of his time he had pleasant rooms on the south side of the first court of Christ's.

"On Tuesday last Charles Darwin, of Christ's College, was admitted B.A.”—Cambridge Chronicle, Friday, April 29, 1831.

+ The rooms are on the frst floor, on the west side of the middle staircase. A medallion (given by my brother) has recently been let into the wall of the sitting-room.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

What determined the choice of this college for his brother Erasmus and himself I have no means of knowing. Erasmus the elder, their grandfather, had been at St. John's, and this college might have been reasonably selected for them, being connected with Shrewsbury School. But the life of an undergraduate at St. John's seems, in those days, to have been a troubled one, if I may judge from the fact that a relative of mine migrated thence to Christ's to escape the harassing discipline of the place. A story told by Mr. Herbert * illustrates the same state of things :

“In the beginning of the October Term of 1830, an incident occurred which was attended with somewhat disagreeable, though ludicrous consequences to myself. Darwin asked me to take a long walk with him in the Fens, to search for some natural objects he was desirous of having. After a very long, fatiguing day's work, we dined together, late in the evening, at his rooms in Christ's College; and as soon as our dinner was over we threw ourselves into easy chairs and fell sound asleep. I was the first to awake, about three in the morning, when, having looked at my watch, and knowing the strict rule of St. John's, which required men in statu pupillari to come into college before midnight, I rushed homeward at the utmost speed, in fear of the consequences, but hoping that the Dean would accept the excuse as sufficient when I told him the real facts. He, however, was inexorable, and refused to receive my explanations, or any evidence I could bring; and although during my undergraduateship I had never been reported for coming late into College, now, when I was a hard-working B. A., and had five or six pupils, he sentenced me to confinement to the College walls for the rest of the term. Darwin's indignation knew no bounds, and the stupid injustice and tyranny of the Dean raised not only a perfect ferment among my friends, but was the subject of expostulation from some of the leading members of the University."

My father seems to have found no difficulty in living at

[merged small][ocr errors]


P. 42.

« PreviousContinue »