Quote for the Day: Darwin(ish)/Too Good To Check Division

Citing William Cobbett, Darwin biographer Janet Browne, writes of  the gun mania that dominated Darwin’s class comrades in arms in 1825:

“talk among the landed gentry was almost entirely about shooting unless it happened to be about hunting:  between them, he [Cobbett] said, the two topics accounted for more than 90 percent of the words exchanged in the English provinces.” (Janet Browne, Charles Darwin:  Voyaging, p. 111)

Darwin was an exceptionally prolific slaughterer of birds in his Cambridge days, to the point that he felt the need to justify the pursuit to himself.  In his autobiography he wrote:

“How I did enjoy shooting, but I think that I must ahve been half consciously ashamed of my zeal, for I tried to persuade myslef that shooting was almost an intellectual employment; it required so much skill to judge where tofind most game and to hund the dogs well.”

Without being able (or really wanting) to test Cobbett’s data, I can say that I would have loved to see how swiftly Darwin and friends would have dealt with  the reckless, feckless shot who will soon be released back into full time sporting pursuits.  Contempt and disdain would sum it up, I think.  As for we who must share the time-space continuum with the offender….well, if I lived in Wyoming, I’d be afraid.  Very afraid.

Image:  Jean-Baptiste Greuze, “Young Girl Weeping For Her Dead Bird,” c. 1759.

Explore posts in the same categories: Darwin, random humor, Republican follies

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