His reverence for him boundless, and most touching. He would wished to judge everything else in the world dispassionately, but anything his father said received with almost implicit faith. His daughter, Mrs. Litchfield, remembers him saying that he hoped none of his sons would ever believe anything because he said it, unless they themselves convinced of its trutha feeling in striking contrast with his own manner of faith.
A visit which Charles Darwin made to Shrewsbury in 1869 left on the mind of the daughter who accompanied him a strong impression of his love for his old home. The tenant of the Mount at the time, showed them over the house, and with mistaken hospitality remained with the party during the whole visit. As they leaving, Charles Darwin said, with a pathetic look of regret, If I could left alone in that greenhouse for five minutes, I know I should able to see my father in his wheelchair as vividly as if he there before me."
Perhaps this incident shows what I think the truth, that the memory of his father he loved the best, that of him as an old man. Mrs. Litchfield noted down a few words which illustrate well his feeling towards his father. She describes him as saying with the most tender respect, I think my father a little unjust to me when I young; but afterwards, I am thankful to think I became a prime favourite with him." She a vivid recollection of the expression of happy reverie that accompanied these words, as if he reviewing the whole relation, and the remembrance left a deep sense of peace and gratitude.
The elder son, Erasmus, born in 1804, and died unmarried at the age of seventy-seven-. His name, not known to the general public, may be remembered from a few words of description occurring in Carlyle's Reminiscences (vol. ii. p. 208). A truer and more sympathetic sketch of his character, by his cousin. Miss Julia Wedgwood, published in the Spectator, September 3, 1881.
There something pathetic in Charles Darwin's affection for his brother Erasmus, as if he always recollected his solitary life, and the touching patience and sweetness of his nature. He often spoke of him as Poor old Ras," or Poor dear old Philos." I imagine Philos (Philosopher) a relic of the days when they worked at chemistry in the tool-house at Shrewsburya time of which he always preserved a pleasant memory. Erasmus rather more than four years older than Charles Darwin, so that they not long together at Cambridge, but previously at Edinburgh they shared the same lodgings, and after the Voyage they lived for a time together in Erasmus' house in Great Marlborough Street. In later years Erasmus Darwin came to Down occasionally, or joined his brother's family in a summer holiday. But gradually it came about that he could not, through ill health, make up his mind to leave London, and thus they only saw each other when Charles Darwin went for a week at a time to his brother's house in Queen Anne Street.
This brief sketch of the family to which Charles Darwin belonged may perhaps suffice to introduce the reader to the autobiographical chapter which follows.
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