He was particularly charming when "chaffing" any one, and in high spirits over it. His manner at such times was light-hearted and boyish, and his refinement of nature came out most strongly. So, when he was talking to a lady who pleased and amused him, the combination of raillery and deference in his manner was delightful to see.

When my father had several guests he managed them well, getting a talk with each, or bringing two or three together round his chair. In these conversations there was always a good deal of fun, and, speaking generally, there was either a humorous turn in his talk, or a sunny geniality which served instead. Perhaps my recollection of a pervading element of humour is the more vivid, because the best talks were with Mr. Huxley, in whom there is the aptness which is akin to humour, even when humour itself is not there. My father enjoyed Mr. Huxley's humour exceedingly, and would often say, "What splendid fun Huxley is!" I think he probably had more scientific argument (of the nature of a fight) with Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker.

He used to say that it grieved him to find that for the friends of his later life he had not the warm affection of his youth. Certainly in his early letters from Cambridge he gives proofs of very strong friendship for Herbert and Fox; but no one except himself would have said that his affection for his friends was not, throughout life, of the warmest possible kind. In serving a friend he would not spare himself, and precious time and strength were willingly given. He undoubtedly had, to an unusual degree, the power of attaching his friends to him. He had many warm friendships, but to Sir Joseph Hooker he was bound by ties of affection stronger than we often see among men. He wrote in his 'Recollections,' "I have known hardly any man more lovable than Hooker."

His relationship to the village people was a pleasant one; he treated them, one and all, with courtesy, when he came in contact with them, and took an interest in all relating to their welfare. Some time after he came to live at Down he helped to found a Friendly Club, and served as treasurer for thirty years. He took much trouble about the club, keeping its accounts with minute and scrupulous exactness, and taking pleasure in its prosperous condition. Every Whit-Monday the club used to march round with band and banner, and paraded on the lawn in front of the house. There he met them, and explained to them their financial position in a little speech seasoned with a few well worn jokes. He was often unwell enough to make even this little ceremony an exertion, but I think he never failed to meet them.

He was also treasurer of the Coal Club, which gave him some work, and he acted for some years as a County Magistrate.

With regard to my father's interest in the affairs of the village, Mr. Brodie Innes has been so good as to give me his recollections:--

"On my becoming Vicar of Down in 1846, we became friends, and so continued till his death. His conduct towards me and my family was one of unvarying kindness, and we repaid it by warm affection.

"In all parish matters he was an active assistant; in matters connected with the schools, charities, and other business, his liberal contribution was ever ready, and in the differences which at times occurred in that, as in other parishes, I was always sure of his support. He held that where there was really no important objection, his assistance should be given to the clergyman, who ought to know the circumstances best, and was chiefly responsible."

His intercourse with strangers was marked with scrupulous and rather formal politeness, but in fact he had few opportunities of meeting strangers.

Dr. Lane has described (Lecture by Dr. B.W. Richardson, in St. George's Hall, October 22, 1882.) how, on the rare occasion of my father attending a lecture (Dr. Sanderson's) at the Royal Institution, "the whole assembly...rose to their feet to welcome him," while he seemed "scarcely conscious that such an outburst of applause could possibly be intended for himself." The quiet life he led at Down made him feel confused in a large society; for instance, at the Royal Society's soirees he felt oppressed by the numbers.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I Page 61

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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