Monday, 13 July 2009
As I wrote in the last Cambridge post, historian of science John van Wyhe treated Richard and I to a look at the restored Darwin room at Christ’s College, although it was closed that day. Darwin used this room from 1828 to 1831, having first stayed in a room above the tobacconist’s on Sidney Street, the site now occupied by the store Boot’s the chemist (see here); and afterward the Beagle voyage in a room on Fitzwilliam Street (see here).
I shared previous photos from Christ’s College in this post, so here I will show you my shots from Darwin’s room and another statue on the college grounds:
About the original bust:
The original bronze was commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) in 1909 and was given to the AmericanMuseum of Natural History to inaugurate its Darwin Hall of Invertebrate Zoology. The original bust has since been returned to the offices of the NYAS where it resides today. A replica was cast by Couper in 1909 and given to Christ’s College,University of Cambridge, where Darwin studied. The March 1909 issue of The American Museum Journal stated that “The bust is pronounced by those who knewDarwin personally and by his sons in England… the best portrait in the round of the great naturalist ever made.”
I quoted from the poem “To be a seed” by Emily Ballou at the beginning of my conference talk (which was about Darwin’s seed dispersal experiments):
Late at night he imagined the dispersal of seeds
across seas, could imagine the distances
in the instances of finches
strewn by wind and wing
but how did those fragile seeds swim?
Were they carried in the guts of ducks
or trapped like bubbles in an ice floe
floating until slow snow melt released them?
Did they hook like barnacles to the wood of rafts?
And what of plants? And what of snake eggs
wholly floating, bobbing the waves
to new places? And once there, once born,
once cracked open,
how did one live on entirely foreign islands?
By wits? By chance? By sheer
After Christ’s College, Richard and I bid farewell (he had to get back home for he worked the next day), and I continued to explore Cambridge.
I popped back in the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences to get something for my son at their gift shop, but it was closed. So I looked around some more:
I picked up Mark Pallen’s The Rough Guide to Evolution at Heffer’s, along with a book for my son and some postcards for family.
Karen James had pointed out to me at King’s College how meticulous the grass lawns are kept in the colleges.
Fairly close to my bed and breakfast was The Granta, with an Italian restaurant I decided to have dinner at.
Then I went to bed. One more Cambridge post to come, which will actually be about my quick stop at the Natural History Museum in London while on my way to Heathrow Airport.
PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #8: Darwin’s Microscope at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science; Cambridge Trip #7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of Zoology; Cambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences; Cambridge Trip #5: Darwin Groupies Explore Cambridge; Cambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2; Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field Conference; Cambridge Trip #2: Finding My Way; Cambridge Trip #1: Traveling