Charles Darwin: "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family"

For such an important figure in science, it's quite ironic that Charles Darwin was actually a lazy young man and a slow learner in school.

You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching

When he was 16 years old, Darwin's father Robert pulled him from school because of poor grades, telling him "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." Robert, a successful physician, decided that Darwin should be a doctor and enrolled him in medical school.

Darwin soon realized that he wasn't terribly interested in following his father's footsteps as he found school lectures to be dull and boring. Worse, he couldn't stand the sight of blood and the brutal surgery in the era of medicine before anesthesia. Two years into his medical studies, Darwin quit and returned home.

Darwin's Beetle Collection

Determined not to let Darwin live like "an idle gentleman," his father decided that he should study for the clergy (which was a very respectable profession in that era). Darwin, however, spent more time collecting beetles than studying.


Darwin's box of beetles, on display at the University of Cambridge Zoological Museum. Photo: Richard Carter/Flickr via Friends of Darwin

After graduating from college (he barely scraped by in the final exams), Darwin heard of an expedition to survey South America - the voyage would provide him with the basis for his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species. But Darwin almost didn't get to go.

Darwin's Nose

First, Darwin wasn't H.M.S. Beagle's captain Robert FitzRoy's first choice (luckily, that man turned the offer down). Then, FitzRoy wanted to reject Darwin because of the shape of his nose, which indicated a constitution too weak for a prolonged sea journey. To make matters worse, Darwin's father thought that such a trip was yet another one of Darwin's idle pursuits. Fortunately, Robert changed his mind after Darwin's uncle wrote favorably of the idea, and Darwin was set to embark on his fateful voyage.

On December 27, 1831, under clear skies and a good wind, the H.M.S. Beagle set sail. And Charles Darwin immediately became sea sick.

See also: 10 Fun Facts About Charles Darwin


Commenting is closed.




Check out Twaggies' first animated clip:

Grammar Nazi's Rock? Twaggies by twaggies

Email This Post to a Friend

"Charles Darwin: "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family""


Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window