1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 9:75-76.



A native of Elton, in Nottinghamshire, where he was born Dec. 12, 1731. After going with credit, through the usual school education under the Rev. Mr. Burrows, at the Grammar-school at Chesterfield, he was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge; where he continued only till 1755, when, having the degree of M.B. he went to Edinburgh, to complete his studies; which having finished, and having taken the degree of M.D. he went to Lichfield, and there commenced his career of practice. Being sent for, soon after his arrival, to Mr. Inglis, a gentleman of considerable fortune in the neighborhood, who was ill with fever, and in so dangerous a state that the attending Physician had given up the case as hopeless, the Doctor had the good fortune to restore him to health. This gave him so high a degree of reputation at Lichfield, and in the neighbouring towns and villages, that his competitor, who was before in considerable practice, finding himself neglected, and nearly deserted, left the place. Dr. Darwin soon after married the daughter of Mr. Howard, a respectable inhabitant of Lichfield, and had three sons, who lived to the age of manhood; two of them he survived; the third, Dr. Robert Waring Darwin, is now in considerable practice as a Physician at Shrewsbury. In 1781, having married a second wife, Dr. Darwin removed to Derby, where he continued to reside till his death, which happened April 18, 1802, in his 70th year. Six children by the second wife, with their mother, survived him. The Doctor was of an athletic make, much pitted with the small-pox. He stammered much in his speech. He had enjoyed an almost uninterrupted good state of health until towards the conclusion of his life, which he attributed, and reasonably, to his temperate mode of living, particularly to his moderation in the use of fermented liquors. This practice he recommended strenuously to all who consulted him. Miss Seward, from whose Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin these notices are principally taken, gives him the credit of having introduced habits of sobriety among the trading part of Lichfield, where it had been the custom to live more freely before he went to reside there. His frequent journeys into the country on professional business, contributed also in no small degree to the preservation of his health and his faculties, which latter remained unimpaired to the day of his death.