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Charles Darwin Weighed the Pros and Cons of Marriage

Charles Darwin is, of course, famous for his advocacy of evolution, but rarely mentioned are his letters to friends for and against marriage in April and July 1838.

Darwin was trying to decide whether or not to marry his cousin Emma Wedgewood, reports The Guardian.

In one letter, Darwin describes his beloved Emma as an "object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow” and how he supports the "charms of music & female chit-chat."

However, Darwin also lists the things that he will miss if he gets married: “Conversation of clever men at clubs, cannot read in the evenings, less money for books, fatness and idleness and loss of time."

Darwin writes: “How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife. Eheu!! I never should know French, – or see the Continent – or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales – poor slave.”

However, Darwin concludes marriage is better than working alone in London: “It is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all. No, no won’t do – Imagine living all one’s day solitarily in smoky dirty London.”

“Cheer up. One cannot live this solitary life, with groggy old age, friendless and cold, and childless staring one in ones face, already beginning to wrinkle. Never mind, trust to chance… There is many a happy slave.”

On November 11, 1838, Darwin proposed to Emma and she accepted. They were married on January 19, 1839.


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