About Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin (1758–1778) was the oldest son of Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) and Mary Howard (1740–1770), and was the uncle of the famous naturalist Charles Robert Darwin. He was educated in Paris by a private tutor, and at Lichfield School. He spent one year at Christ Church college, University of Oxford, but disliked the curriculum and transferred to the medical school at the University of Edinburgh, where he lived in the house of Professor Andrew Duncan and wrote a prize-winning thesis on the distinction between mucus and pus. His dissertation Experiments establishing a criterion between mucaginous and purulent matter. And an account of the retrograde motion from the absorbent vessels of animal bodies in some diseases. discussed effects of congestive heart failure on the lymphatics. A version published in 1780 contains an appendix describing the use of digitalis (foxglove). This was five years prior to William Withering's description of digitalis, "An account of the foxglove and some of its medical uses" but either Charles or Erasmus may have been aware of Withering's work. The published version was edited and added to by Erasmus. A later unpublished manuscript "What are the established varieties of the pulse, their causes & uses in medicine." was found in the Medical Society of London.
Tragically, this very talented medical student died, apparently from a cut sustained while performing an autopsy.
"About the end of April, Mr. Darwin had employed the greatest part of a day in accurately dissecting the brain of a child which had died of hydrocephalus, and which he had attended during its life. That very evening he was seized with severe head-ach. This, however, did not prevent him from being present in the Medical Society, where he mentioned to Dr. Duncan the dissection he had made, and promised the next day to furnish him with an account of all the circumstances in writing. But the next day, to his headach there supervened other febrile symptoms. And, in a short time, from the hemorrhagies, petechial eruption, and foetid loose stools which occurred,his disease manifested a very putrescent tendency.
Charles Darwin was buried in the Duncan family vault in the Chapel of Ease of St Cuthbert's Church at the west end of Princes Street in Edinburgh.
A memoir by his father, Erasmus, appended to the dissertation previously noted, describes Charles Darwin's precocious interest in science.
He had frequent opportunities in his early years of observing the various fossile productions in their native beds; and descended the mines of Derbyshire, and of some other counties, with uncommon pleasure and observation. He collected with care the products of these countries; and examined them by such experiments, as he had been taught,or had discovered: