The year 1836 has been on my mind lately. As you will know from Lines from a Floating Life, I recently found that my great-grandfather was born right here in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills (or Strawberry Hills) in that year, though in September. And, talk of extreme weather, in June of that year it snowed in Sydney. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald recalls another event from Sydney in 1836: the visit of Charles Darwin.
IT IS an anniversary that will not be celebrated by those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
On January 12, 1836, a young English naturalist sailed into Sydney Harbour while on a global journey that led to a theory that shook the world. Charles Darwin (1809-82) was not looking to start a revolution. The first thing he wrote in his diary from the young colony was that he wanted to cry because there were no letters from his mother. However, 23 years after arriving on the Beagle he published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, which contradicted the Bible’s account that God created the Earth and all its plants and animals in six days. Darwin argued that life had evolved over a vast length of time and it was his observations on the five-year voyage of the Beagle that were crucial to his case.