Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism
By Asa Gray
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date:October 2010
Original Publication Year:1876
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511693281.010
Subjects: Evolutionary Biology
Two British naturalists, Robert Brown and Charles Darwin, have, more than any others, impressed their influence upon science in this nineteenth century. Unlike as these men and their works were and are, we may most readily subserve the present purpose in what we are called upon to say of the latter by briefly comparing and contrasting the two.
Robert Brown died sixteen years ago, full of years and scientific honors, and he seems to have finished, several years earlier, all the scientific work that he had undertaken. To the other, Charles Darwin, a fair number of productive years may yet remain, and are earnestly hoped for. Both enjoyed the great advantage of being all their lives long free from exacting professional duties or cares, and so were able in the main to apply themselves to research without distraction and according to their bent. Both, at the beginning of their career, were attached to expeditions of exploration in the southern hemisphere, where they amassed rich stores of observation and materials, and probably struck out, while in the field, some of the best ideas which they subsequently developed. They worked in different fields and upon different methods; only in a single instance, so far as we know, have they handled the same topic; and in this the more penetrating insight of the younger naturalist into an interesting general problem may be appealed to in justification of a comparison which some will deem presumptuous.