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Major Leonard Darwin


WITH the death of Leonard Darwin on March 26, in the ninety-fourth year of his age, has passed the last of the five sons born to Charles Darwin. Taking the five sons in the order of their birth, William, the eldest, showed no aptitude for science ; the second, George, the third, Francis, and the fifth, Horace, were gifted with creative faculties of a high order, all three becoming fellows of the Royal Society. Leonard, who came fourth in the series (he was born at Down House on January 15, 1850), although he did much to' further the cause of science, manifested none of those creative gifts which had been so liberally bestowed on his father and three brothers. Yet, in physical appearance, especially in later years when he grew a beard, in his attitude to life, and in the disposition of his mind, he bore a closer resemblance to his father than did any of his brothers. He had his father's honesty of expression, openness of mind, charitable disposition, subjugation of self,an excess of candour (“d--d candour” his father named it on a certain occasion when irritated by unfair criticism) and also his father's happy sense of humour. He was completely devoid of personal ambition. There were not a few, however, who were ambitious on his behalf and felt that his services to science should have been recognized by election to the Royal Society. The University of Cambridge rightly bestowed on him an honorary doctorate of science.


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KEITH, A. Major Leonard Darwin. Nature 151, 442 (1943).

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