The Sideshow

Charles Darwin’s notes on marriage and children, ‘better than a dog anyhow’

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Darwin's notes on marriage have recently been made public.

Despite devoting his life to science, Charles Darwin had a long and reportedly happy marriage, fathering 10 children after proposing to his cousin Emma Wedgwood in 1838.

But the naturalist and father of modern evolutionary theory wasn't always sold on matrimony, writing out a list of pros and cons on marriage in a journal entry that was first made public on Tuesday.

The musings are part of the Darwin Correspondence Project, an online database of Darwin's writings, and noted by the site Brain Pickings.

Using the back of a letter from a friend, Darwin sketched out some of his thoughts in a journal entry dated April 7, 1838.

Amongst the pros: "constant companion," "charms of music & female chit-chat."

And some of the perceived cons: "means limited, Feel duty to work for money. London life, nothing but Society, no country, no tours, no large Zoolog. Collect. no books. … Could I live in London like a prisoner?"

In July, just four months before his proposal, Darwin returned to his list.

On the possibility of having children: "Children —(if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, — object to be beloved & played with. — —better than a dog anyhow."

But after several back and forth meditations, Darwin eventually reached the following conclusion: "Marry — Mary — Marry Q.E.D."

And, in fact, Darwin and Wedgwood stayed together for the next 44 years, until the time of his death in 1882.

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