Thursday, August 4, 2011

Twitter Ye Not - Charles Darwin

Twitter Ye Not - Charles Darwin

A regular piece for the Daily Mail Weekend magazine about how figures in history might have twittered or tweeted or whatever, had they the chance, inclination and technology.

On 20 July 1858, in a joint submission with Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Here, we imagine how the Twitter community reacted.

On the right-hand side I have shown Charles Darwin as he looked in the late 1850s, a copy of 'On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life' (phew!) under his arm. At his feet stands a Beagle, a reference to the ship on which Darwin first began to formulate the idea more than twenty years before. The bone at the dog's feet is, of course, also a nod to the fossil evidence for the theorem found on that famous voyage!

Across from him stands Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, who famously opposed the publication, and in a debate with Thomas Huxley (known as 'Darwin's Bulldog') asked Huxley whether he was descended from monkeys on his mother's or father's side (and got soundly and eloquently rebuked!). He was known as 'Soapy Sam' after a comment made by statesman Benjamin Disraeli, who referred to the cleric as 'unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous' (ie slippery, evasive and soapy).

Darwin was grandson of both the royal physician Erasmus Darwin and the potter Josiah Wedgwood (and thereby also related to cousins Tony Benn and Margaret Rutherford!). I've given CD a monkey's tail as many satirical cartoons at the time did.

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