Darwin's Use of Snuff and Alcohol

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:
Darwin's Use of Snuff and Alcohol

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Two substances that Charles Darwin took for most of his life were snuff and alcohol. He first formed the habit of inhaling snuff when he was a teenaged student at Edinburgh and was given snuffboxes—which he valued greatly—by a friend, Squire Owen, and his aunt, Mrs. Wedgwood. In May 1857, he abstained from snuff as part of Dr. Edward Wickstead Lane's hydropathy treatment. At some unknown time he resumed taking snuff, without serious interruptions, for the rest of his life. In addition to snuff, he sometimes took other preparations of tobacco. His drinking of alcohol, and his attitudes toward drinking, had a long history. Darwin's “horror” of drunkenness had several origins: perhaps he feared his tendency to be stimulated by small drinks. A paternal great-grandfather and grandmother had both died from alcoholism, and he may have thought that alcoholism was inherited.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; snuff; alcohol; tobacco; alcoholism

Chapter.  1438 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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