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Authors: Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma

BOOK: Charles and Emma
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Charles
and
Emma

The Darwins' Leap of Faith

 

 

D
EBORAH
H
EILIGMAN

 

Henry Holt and Company

New York

 

 

To my constant Companion

 

 

Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Publishers since 1866
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10010
www.HenryHoltKids.com

Henry Holt® is a registered trademark of Henry Holt and
Company, LLC.
Copyright © 2009 by Deborah Heiligman
All rights reserved.
Distributed in Canada by H. B. Fenn and Company Ltd.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Heiligman, Deborah.
Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith / Deborah
Heiligman.—1st ed.
p.         cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4299-3495-4 / ISBN-10: 978-0-8050-8721-4
1. Darwin, Charles, 1809—1882—Juvenile literature.   2. Darwin, Emma
Wedgwood, 1808—1896—Juvenile literature.   3. Naturalists—
England—Biography—Juvenile literature.   I. Title
QH31.D2H42 2008   576.8'2092—dc22     2008026091

First Edition—2009 / Designed by Elynn Cohen
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper. ∞

1   3   5   7   9   10   8   6   4   2

 

Contents

 

Foreword

Chapter 1            Better Than a Dog

 

Chapter 2            Rat Catching

 

Chapter 3            Conceal Your Doubts

 

Chapter 4            Where Doors and Windows Stand Open

 

Chapter 5            Little Miss Slip-Slop

 

Chapter 6            The Next World

 

Chapter 7            The Sensation of Fear

 

Chapter 8            A Leap

 

Chapter 9            A Busy Man

 

Chapter 10          Melancholy Thoughts

 

Chapter 11          A Whirl of Noise and Motion

 

Chapter 12          Heavy Baggage, Blazing Fires

 

Chapter 13          Definition of Happiness

 

Chapter 14          Pregnant Thoughts

 

Chapter 15          Little Animalcules

 

Chapter 16          Down in the Country

 

Chapter 17          Sudden Deaths

 

Chapter 18          Barnacles and Babies

 

Chapter 19          Doing Custards

 

Chapter 20          A Fretful Child

 

Chapter 21          God Only Knows the Issue

 

Chapter 22          A Dear and Good Child

 

Chapter 23          Against the Rules

 

Chapter 24          Terrible Suffering

 

Chapter 25          The Origins of
The Origin

 

Chapter 26          Dependent on Each Other in So Complex a Manner

 

Chapter 27          What the Lord Hath Delivered

 

Chapter 28          Feeling, Not Reasoning

 

Chapter 29          Such a Noise

 

Chapter 30          Mere Trickery

 

Chapter 31          Warmth to the End

 

Chapter 32          Happy Is the Man

 

Chapter 33          Unasked Questions

 

Epilogue              So Much to Worship

 

Acknowledgments

 

Family Tree

 

Source Notes

 

Selected Bibliography

 

Index

 

Square Fish

 

Gofish

 

Readers' Theater compiled from passages of Charles and Emma

 

Foreword

 

T
he story of Charles Darwin has never been told this way before.

Authors by the hundreds have written about Darwin's genius and the way his ideas transformed the world. Scholars by the thousands have described the adventures that made him famous: first, his voyage around the world as a young naturalist aboard the HMS
Beagle
and, second, his discovery of the vast, novel, and strange intellectual territory that he mapped in his masterpiece,
The Origin of Species.

Those two stories are among our civilization's most celebrated eureka moments. But as far as I know, this is the first book to focus on the adventure that began when Darwin, home from his voyage, took out a piece of scrap paper and made himself a quirky, funny, very candid list of the pros and cons of settling down.

Charles Darwin's search for a woman to marry led him almost immediately to a private eureka moment, when he visited his aunt and uncle at Maer Hall, in Staffordshire, and sat down by a fire in the library to have a little chat (they called it “a goose”) with his cousin Emma Wedgwood.

In that time and place, marriage between cousins was not at all unusual, and everyone thought Charles and Emma were a good match. There was only one problem, one obstacle to their happiness: Emma was religious. She cared deeply about her Christian faith. When Charles confessed to her the revolutionary ideas that he was scribbling in his secret notebooks, she felt frightened. Emma thought they would be parted by death forever, go separate ways in eternity, because she would go to heaven and Charles would go to hell.

How Charles and Emma struggled with this dilemma and made a successful marriage of science and religion is the story told in this book. Reading it helps us understand in the most vivid, intimate, and personal way how shocking Darwin's ideas were for the people of his time, including some of the people who were closest to him. It helps us see why he felt he had to keep his ideas to himself for so long, writing
secret
on the covers of the journals and notebooks in which he scribbled furiously during the months and years after the voyage of the
Beagle.
The ideas in Charles's notebooks seemed revolutionary and dangerous, not only to many of the people around him in nineteenth-century England but to the woman he loved more than anyone in the world. We can understand better why he spent twenty years refining and polishing his theory before he dared, with dread and misgivings, to publish
The Origin of Species.

So often the scientific and the religious views of life are seen as two separate worlds. As enemies. And in a sense you might say that Charles and Emma Darwin were each sleeping with the enemy. But they were not enemies. They were the best of friends, and their story is an inspiration. They had ten children. They lost three. One of those deaths was so tragic and terrible that Charles and Emma could hardly bear to talk
about it for the rest of their lives. The problem of faith and religion and the afterlife in some ways only grew larger as they confronted those tragedies and faced the chasm at the end of life. And yet together they triumphed.

Darwin's revolutionary ideas have become so established now that biologists cannot imagine life without them. But those same ideas still have the power to frighten and disturb many devout people. The ability of Charles and Emma to go beyond those differences—to love each other in spite of them—is an inspiring story for our time.

Because the love story of Charles and Emma has not been told before at full length, even old Darwin fans will find much here to enjoy. Consider the last paragraph of
The Origin of Species,
one of the most famous passages in science. There Darwin sums up his whole view of life by talking about an entangled bank. I never knew until I read this book that this was a bank that Charles and Emma often saw on their walks from Down House, their home in the country. Charles and Emma were entangled in their love and science, just as mind, heart, and spirit are entangled in each one of us.

Reading
Charles and Emma,
one feels that their love story was one of the most significant adventures and greatest masterpieces of Darwin's life.

—J
ONATHAN
W
EINER

Pulitzer prize-winning

author of
The Beak of the Finch

 

 

In her presence he found his happiness,
and through her, his life.
—F
RANCIS
D
ARWIN

 

Chapter 1

Better Than a Dog

 

Why, the shape of his head is quite altered.

—D
R
. R
OBERT
D
ARWIN, IN
1836,

AFTER
C
HARLES'S FIVE-YEAR VOYAGE

 

I
n the summer of 1838, in his rented rooms on Great Marlborough Street, London, Charles Darwin drew a line down the middle of a piece of scrap paper. He had been back in England for almost two years, after a monumental voyage around the world. He was in his late twenties. It was time to decide. Across the top of the left-hand side, he wrote
Marry.
On the right he wrote
Not Marry.
And in the middle:
This is the Question.

It was easy for Charles to think of things to write under
Not Marry.

“Freedom to go where one liked,” he began. Charles loved to travel. His voyage had lasted almost five years; he had been the naturalist on the HMS
Beagle,
a British surveying ship. He was horribly seasick while on board, but he spent as much time as he could on land, exploring on horseback and on
foot, and collecting thousands of specimens, from corals in the Cocos-Keeling Islands of the Indian Ocean to beetles in Australia to a fox in Chiloé Island, Chile. He now lived in London with his servant from the
Beagle,
Syms Covington, “Fiddler and Boy to the Poop Cabin.” Charles had taught Syms to shoot and skin birds and to help him list and catalogue the specimens. Now Charles and Syms were surrounded by neatly stacked wooden crates, casks, and barrels filled with many of their treasures from Patagonia, Brazil, Chile, and Tierra del Fuego: fossil bones, skins, shells, fish preserved in spirits of wine, mammalia in spirits of wine, insects, reptiles and birds in spirits of wine, plants, rocks, carcasses of dead animals, and beetles. What if Charles wanted to go on another adventure and collect more specimens? How could he do that if he got married?

BOOK: Charles and Emma
12.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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