Six newly discovered ledgers reveal that Charles Darwin led a pampered life as a university student. He made up for whatever hardships he didn’t experience on the grueling five-year journey that transformed scientific thinking.
According to news sources, academics have uncovered buried deep within the university’s prodigious archives, six leather-bound ledgers that indicate that while in attendance at Cambridge, Darwin was treated like the son of royal patron. The ledgers indicate that he had someone on hand to daily polish his shoes, make his bed and stoke the fires in his rooms, which were the most expensive available to a student of his rank from 1828 to 1831.
In addition to the above, Darwin hired a staff to help him with other daily chores. There was a scullion (dishwasher) a laundress, a tailor, hatter, barber and chimney sweep. The ledgers also reveal that he paid five and a half pence extra each day to have vegetables with the basic ration of meat and beer at Christ's College.
The find is quite interesting as before the discovery little was known about the great scientist’s student life. Darwin scholar, Dr John van Wyhe, of the University of Cambridge, said:
“It is just wonderful to have a previously unknown insight into what Darwin was up to in this part of his life. These are really intimate details... Cambridge was full of well-to-do gentlemen living a pretty good life.”
Darwin’s wealthy father paid all the bills presented in the ledger. With so much financial aid, and scholastics limited to two hours of mathematics and lectures each morning, Darwin had much time to pursue other interests, such as shooting, collecting beetles, scientific hobbies or socializing with other students.
His sheltered life soon came to an end, as after leaving Cambridge he set sail for his famous voyage aboard The Beagle, bound for South America and glories unimagined. There he developed his theories of evolution, which were later published as The Origin of The Species.
And the rest, my friends, is, well…the rest.