This forefather Darwin sow seeds of evolution much earlier; a polymath physician who declined King's offer to serve him!!!
Posted December 11th, 2014
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Erasmus Darwin (12 December 1731 – 18 April 1802) was an English physician. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave-trade abolitionist, inventor and poet. His poems included much natural history, including a statement of evolution and the relatedness of all forms of life. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family, which includes his grandsons Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. Darwin was also a founding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a discussion group of pioneering industrialists and natural philosophers. He turned down George III's invitation to be a physician to the King.
Erasmus Darwin House, his home in Lichfield, is now a museum dedicated to Erasmus Darwin and his life's work. A school in nearby Chasetown recently converted to Academy status and is now known as Erasmus Darwin Academy.
Darwin was born at Elston Hall, Nottinghamshire near Newark-on-Trent. He was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School, then later at St John's College, Cambridge. He obtained his medical education at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Whether Darwin ever obtained the formal degree of MD is not known. Darwin settled in 1756 as a physician at Nottingham, but met with little success and so moved the following year to Lichfield to try to establish a practice there.
A few weeks after his arrival, using a novel course of treatment, he restored the health of a young man whose death seemed inevitable. This ensured his success in the new locale. Darwin was a highly successful physician for more than fifty years in the Midlands. In Lichfield, Darwin wrote "didactic poetry, developed his system of evolution, and invented amongst other things, a carriage steering mechanism, a manuscript copier and a speaking machine.
Darwin formed the Lichfield Botanical Society to translate the works of the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus from Latin into English. This took seven years. The result was two publications: A System of Vegetables between 1783 and 1785, and The Families of Plants in 1787. In these volumes, Darwin coined many of the English names of plants that we use today.
Darwin's most important scientific work, Zoonomia (1794–1796), contains a system of pathology and a chapter on 'Generation'. In the latter, he anticipated some of the views of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, which foreshadowed the modern theory of evolution. Erasmus Darwin's works were read and commented on by his grandson Charles Darwin the naturalist.
Erasmus Darwin also anticipated natural selection in Zoönomia mainly when writing about the "three great objects of desire" for every organism: "lust, hunger, and security." Another remarkable foresight written in Zoönomia that relates to natural selection is Erasmus' thoughts on how a species propagated itself. Erasmus' idea that "the strongest and most active animal should propagate the species, which should thence become improved" was almost identical to the future theory of survival of the fittest.
Erasmus Darwin offered the first glimpse of his theory of evolution, obliquely, in a question at the end of a long footnote to his popular poem The Loves of the Plants (1789), which was republished throughout the 1790s in several editions as The Botanic Garden. Darwin's final long poem, The Temple of Nature was published posthumously in 1803. The poem was originally titled The Origin of Society.
It is considered his best poetic work. It centres on his own conception of evolution. The poem traces the progression of life from micro-organisms to civilised society. His poetry was admired by Wordsworth, although Coleridge was intensely critical, writing, "I absolutely nauseate Darwin's poem". It often made reference to his interests in science; for example botany and steam engines.
Darwin regretted that a good education had not been generally available to women in Britain in his time, and drew on the ideas of Locke, Rousseau, and Genlis in organising his thoughts. He contends that young women should be educated in schools, rather than privately at home, and learn appropriate subjects.
Darwin was the inventor of several devices, though he did not patent any. He believed this would damage his reputation as a doctor, and encouraged his friends to patent their own modifications of his designs.
A horizontal windmill, which he designed for Josiah Wedgwood (who would be Charles Darwin's other grandfather, see family tree below).
A carriage that would not tip over (1766).
A steering mechanism for his carriage that would be adopted by cars 130 years later (1759).
A speaking machine (at Clifton in 1799).
A canal lift for barges.
A minute artificial bird.
A copying machine (1778).
A variety of weather monitoring machines.
An artesian well (1783). "




Erasmus Darwin - at the heart of the Lichfield Enlightenment


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