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Erasmus Darwin
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Scientist
    (December 12, 1731-April 18, 1802)
    Born in Elston, England, United Kingdom
    Natural philosopher, physician and poet
    Wrote 'The Botanic Garden,' 'Zoonomia' and 'The Temple of Nature'
    Grandfather of Charles Darwin and Francis Galton
    He weighed well over 300 pounds.
    When making house calls, he would have his driver, an equally large man, walk ahead to make sure the floors would support him.
    He turned down an offer from George III to serve as Physician to the King.
    After his first wife died, he had an affair with his son's governess and fathered two daughters out of wedlock.
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, 'I absolutely nauseate Darwin's poem.'
    When an acquaintance asked if he found his stammer inconvenient, he replied, 'No, for it gives me time for reflection, and saves me from asking impertinent questions.'
    Three of his children died in infancy.
    Charles Darwin wrote, 'He was much in advance of his age in his ideas as to sanitary arrangements — such as supplying towns with pure water, having holes made into crowded sitting and bed-rooms for the constant admission of fresh air, and not allowing chimneys to be closed during summer.'
    He was an advocate for women's education, ending property restrictions on voting, and abolishing the slave trade.
    His 'The Botanic Garden,' which translated the works of Carl Linnaeus into verse, was a best seller and one of the first popular science books.
    He indirectly inspired 'Frankenstein,' with Mary Shelley writing in the introduction, 'They [Percy Shelley and Lord Byron] talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin... who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion.'
    Some of his musings on evolution influenced his grandson's theory of natural selection.

Credit: C. Fishel


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