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Erasmus Darwin

(1731—1802) physician and natural philosopher


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(1731–1802),

embodied the botanical system of Linnaeus in his long poem The Loves of the Plants (1789). The work reappeared as Part II of The Botanic Garden (1791), of which Part I was ‘The Economy of Vegetation’. The poem is in heroic couplets, in imitation of Pope. The work contains an interesting embryonic theory of evolution, similar in many ways to that developed by the poet's grandson, C. Darwin. The poem was ridiculed by Canning and Frere in ‘The Loves of the Triangles’. In his prose Zoonomia (1794–6), Darwin further describes the laws of organic life, both plant and animal, on an evolutionary principle. His heretical views on creation brought him into some disrepute.

Subjects: Literature.


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