Sunday, February 05, 2006

Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens are Victorian Englishmen who had in common that they married women much less intellectual than they.

Darwin spent some time calling on some women, sisters, who were intellectuals and who had every reason to believe he was going to ask one of them to wed, but in the end he did what people in his family did. He married a cousin. He married a first cousin. He married a first cousin who was utterly unintellectual and very religious.

She had been very close to her sister, who died young. It was essential to her to know that her sister continued to happily exist and that they would meet in Heaven.

When Darwin later developed his theory of evolution which led him and many others away from Christianity, this was excruciating for his wife. She felt he was going to Hell.

If he'd married one of the bookish sisters, they might well have easily understood his thinking and followed his work, and left Christianity without too much pain.

One of Charles Darwin's granddaughters, who never might him but had many opinions about him, felt that his intense and difficult to diagnose illnesses of his later years gave him and his wife something in common, something to focus on.

The reason the granddaughter had many opinions about him without having met him
is that she thought he was a bad influence on the family, her aunts and uncles and father. She thought these people took their own aches and pains way to seriously and used them as a key to relating to loved ones.

Her father was less bad this way because he had married an American woman who would tend each illness briefly and briskly and get on with life and encourage him, by example to do likewise. So presumably the granddaughter with her skepticism about the worship of illness was reflecting her mother's attitude.

Her father married someone from another country, which counters to dangers of generations of cousin marriage. And she, the granddaughter, married a Frenchman.