Moving to Down and Developing a “Profoundly Tranquil” Routine of Work, Rest, and Walks Around the Sandwalk

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

in Darwin's Illness

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032313
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039237 | DOI:
Moving to Down and Developing a “Profoundly Tranquil” Routine of Work, Rest, and Walks Around the Sandwalk

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Charles Darwin believed that possessing Down House gave him several advantages in terms of health and work. This is where he would live for the remaining forty years of his life. In addition to meeting individually with Joseph Hooker and other friends and acquaintances here, Darwin participated in a number of meetings of scientific organizations. In 1846, he had created the sandwalk, a 1.5-acre strip of land which he planted with trees and circled with a sandy path. This became his favorite walking place, although he would also sometimes walk on some of Down's many other footpaths. These walks also became a daily ritual of exercising and thinking that he forced himself to go through even when the weather was bad or when he felt weak. During his first six years at Down, he described himself as being in “a profoundly tranquil state”, and living “like clock work... in what most people would consider the dullest possible manner”. In these six years, his work was only seriously interrupted on one occasion because of a severe episode of boils.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; Down House; sandwalk; profoundly tranquil state; walks; exercising; thinking; work

Chapter.  4628 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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