Nova (1974–…): Season 37, Episode 1 - Darwin's Darkest Hour - full transcript

Charles Darwin is taken aback when he receives a manuscript from a colleague, Alfred Wallace, which contains many of the same conclusions as he on evolution and the development of various species. Darwin's theory was developed ove...

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Narrator: Tonight, a special
two-hour dramatic presentation.

His was the fist mind
of the age,

The father of modern biology,

Author of the most
influential theory

In the history of science.

Nature's selection--
natural selection.

Have you the proofs of this?

Yes.

Narrator:
But in the summer of 1858,

Charles darwin faced
his darkest hour.

Charles? What is it?



Twenty years of
work and I've...

I've been beaten to the post.

It's from a man
called wallace.

His theory and my own
are identical.

He even employs phrases that
I myself have used in my book--

"the struggle for
existence," for example.

Narrator: For 20 years, he has
suppressed his greatest work,

Wary of public reaction,
of scientific scrutiny,

Of religious differences
with his wife, emma.

I think I may have found
the answer

To the mystery of mysteries.

And if I'm right,

Then the god that lyell
believes in so profoundly

Is dead.



And what of the god
that I believe in?

Narrator: Now, in the midst
of personal tragedy...

It is scarlet fever.

I'm so desperately worried,

What with etty so sick
and now the baby.

I think it may prove too much
for charles.

Narrator: On the verge
of professional triumph...

Millions of small changes,
of the same kind,

Over millions of years.

The danger in what you say

Is that it undermines the truth
of scripture.

It's an axe to the
root of the faith

By which men
lead their lives

And which sustains
our whole society.

Narrator: Darwin must
make a critical decision,

And the world's most
controversial scientific theory

Hangs in the balance.

I think you must publish.

You'd be sorry to see me
an object of hatred.

We must think very carefully.

Narrator:
"darwin's darkest hour"--

Right now on this va/
national geographic

Special movie presentation.

Malthus...

Malthus...

The human popu...

The human population should
have overwhelmed the...

Overwhelmed the planet
by now.

That's what malthus said.

Should have overwhelmed
the planet by now,

But nothing of the sort
has happened.

Why not? Why not?

Malthus...

External pressures...
Pressures.

Natural disasters.

Malthus...

That's what malthus says.

What if the same laws apply
to animal populations?

External pressures,
natural disasters.

Great heaven,
what if that's true?

It could be the answer.

The answer...

The answer to the greatest
question any scientist--

Any thinking man-- could ask.

Any thinking man could ask...

(humming)

(barking)

How you doing today, joe?

Come along here.

(children chatting playfully)

Postman's here!

Mo morning, mr. Parslow.

Thank you kindly.

Thank you, parslow.

Ma'am.

Frank:
Can I be postman?

My turn!

It's my turn!

I think it's frankie's turn.

Frank?

Better hurry up, frankie,
it's half past nine.

Etty: Come on, boys,
let's go play outside.

Emma:
Thank you, etty.

Come on, horace,
hurry up.

Postman!

Darwin:
Come in.

Thank you, frankie.

Post's early today.

What is it, papa?

Oh, it's a model
of a beehive cell.

Can we do bees today?

Hmm, yes,
I should think so.

(wincing)

(groaning)

Morning, jane.

Morning, parslow.

Morning, master charlie!

How's my lovely boy?

Darwin:
Parslow.

Take him, please.

(darwin retching)

Charles? What is it?

I've been beaten
to the post.

(sighs)

Twenty years of work
and I've...

I've been beaten
to the post.

He wants me to
forward it to lyell.

What can I do?

I can't suppress it,
I must do as he asks.

I'm honor-bound to do so.

Charles,
step by step.

Method in all
things, yes?

Yes.

It's from a man
called wallace.

(sighs)

Alfred russel wallace.

He's in the east,
the moluccas, I think.

He encloses an essay

"on the tendency
of varieties..."

"...To depart indefinitely
from the original type."

Yes, I see.

What does it mean?

What does it mean?
It means I'm trumped!

Gammoned!

His theory and my own
are identical.

He even employs phrases that
I myself have used in my book--

"the struggle for existence,"
for example.

I don't know what's
to be done, emma.

I don't know
which way to turn.

What's to be done is for
you to sit down quietly

And tell me exactly
who this man is.

I don't know what
you'd call him.

A traveler? Explorer?
Naturalist?

He was in the amazon basin
and he wrote a book about it.

It was quite readable,

If rather light from a
scientific point of view.

You've met him?

Mmm, once.

Wallace: There are two books
that have together alter

The other is your
own voyage of hms beagle.

Humboldt?

Now, the first time
I tried to read him,

I couldn't get
through it.

But the second time,
when I was at cambridge,

I devoured it.

Nothing like it to stimulate a
young man's appetite for travel.

Well, you ventured into wilder
places than I ever did.

I never visited amazonia.

Is that not sir charles lyell?

Yes, yes, it is.

There's another book
that has changed

My whole way of thinking.

His principles of geology...
Wonderful.

Yes, indeed.

Might I beg
an introduction?

Certainly.

Forgive my
slight tardiness,

My dear charles.

Oh, think
nothing of it.

Might I introduce
mr. Alfred russel wallace?

Ah, the amazonian adventurer.

(laughs):
Mr. Wallace.

A very great honor
to meet you, sir charles.

Yes, we really should
be getting along.

I won't detain you any longer.

A great honor to meet you, sir.

And you, sir.

Bit of a rough diamond.

How so?

I believe his father was some
sort of west country attorney.

Couldn't afford to give
his son a decent education.

Well, he seems to have acquired
one by his own efforts.

Hmm.

Wallace went abroad again
soon after, to the east.

We corresponded.

About your theory?

No... Well, not at first.

I wanted specimens of poultry

That had been bred over many
generations in remote regions.

He sent me those ducks
from bali, do you remember?

So many people sent you
so many things.

Yes, well, wallace was
one of them.

He makes his living that way,

Collecting and selling
specimens.

Then I read an article
he'd written.

I made some notes on it;
I must have them here somewhere.

It was entitled

"the law which has regulated the
introduction of new species."

I wasn't greatly impressed;

There was nothing
very new in it, but...

Where on earth
are those notes?

Charles, don't bother
about it now.

I wrote to wallace
kindly about it.

I said we were thinking along
the same lines.

Lyell warned me.

You behold
in me a member

Of the borough club
of pigeon fanciers.

I thought it was
the philoperisteron.

Oh, I attend the
philo, of course,

But your true featherman
prefers the borough.

We meet in all sorts of
queer little grog shops

And beer halls.

How very disagreeable.

(chuckling):
Oh, I rather enjoy it.

(pigeons cooing)

Now, consider the number
of varieties the feathermen

Have produced from the
pigeon's wild forbears.

How do they do it?

By minute variations.

Yet the changes brought about
by these methods are vast.

I have 15 varieties here

And I can count the equivalents

Of three good genera
and 15 good species.

That's astonishing.

But this is leading
somewhere else.

What if nature acts
in the same way?

What if nature is
capable of forcing

And then preserving
those variations,

Which by slow accumulation
provide immense change?

By what mechanism?

By geographical isolation,
climatic change.

These variations may
or may not be beneficial.

Just in the same way as
the domestic breeder removes

Those variations that fail,
so does nature.

Nature's selection--
natural selection.

Have you the proofs of this?

Yes.

I see you don't much
like the idea.

You must give me
time to reflect.

You mentioned
geographical isolation.

That man wallace writes
of the same thing.

Well, we have much in common
in our way of thinking.

No, no, no,
you should be careful.

I don't see wallace
as any great threat,

But there may be others,
men of real standing,

Working along
the same lines.

You should publish something.

Ah, I'm not ready.

Some small fragment
of your data then--

The pigeons,
for instance.

Come out with your theory,
give it a date,

Let it be cited
and understood.

It would be tragic if,
after all these years of work,

You were preempted.

Why didn't you publish?

An extract?

An essay?

I was determined
to finish the book.

The big book?

Yes.

I decided that the
question of priority...

Was less important.

Was that the only reason?

There was a look in lyell's eye
when I told him about my theory.

It was fear.

Sir charles lyell, the foremost
geologist of his generation--

The man who proved the earth
to be millions of years old

Rather than a few thousand
as so many churchmen claim--

This indomitable man
of science was afraid.

And with good reason.

Emma, I think I may have found
the answer

To the mystery of mysteries.

And if I'm right,

Then the god that lyell believes
in so profoundly is dead.

And what of the god
that I believe in?

(singing)

Does that
hurt there?

No.

Perhaps we'll get dr. Engleheart
to call tomorrow,

See what he thinks.

Why don't you
rest upstairs?

Yes, mama.

(coughing)

What's the matter
with etty?

Her throat's very sore.

Should we send for the doctor?

Tomorrow, perhaps,
if she's not feeling better.

Don't worry, charles.

How can I be
restrained

From worrying about the health
of my children?

With the exception of william,
they all seem to have inherited

My wretched health.
Nonsense.

Well, frank and george
are both prone

To palpitations
of the heart.

They have been--
they've grown out of it.

Lenny and horace
are delicate.

They don't look
so very delicate to me.

One cannot escape the fact that
you and I are first cousins.

It's not a fact from which
I think there's any reason

To escape.

Really, charles, you mustn't
let your scientific notions

Run riot.

Our children aren't pigeons.

True.

But one cannot forget...

Our dearest annie.

Ffs)

Quick, papa!

Quick, papa!

Quick!

(sneezes)

(laughing)

No, of course, never forget.

Look what we
found, papa.

Ah.
Ooh.

What have we here?

Geotrupes stercorarius.

Oh, here we are.

Oh, what a handsome fellow.

Off you go.

You can eat him, joe.

When I was at cambridge
I had a mania

For collecting beetles.

I remember one day I came
across two of the rarest,

And I picked one up in my left
hand and the other in my right

And that's when I saw
the rarest of them all--

Panagaeus cruxmajor.

What to do?

I didn't want to lose the ones
I had in my hand,

But to miss out on panagaeus,
that was out of the question.

So I put the one in my right
hand in my mouth.

(gagging)

And do you know what the
inconsiderate little beast did?

It squirted a sort of acid
down my throat.

(disgusted groans)

Really, charles!

It must have been
a bombardier.

Anyway, I spat it out, dropped
the others and lost all three.

Ah, there's a
lesson in that.

Are we going to do
bees today, papa?

Not today, frankie.

Tomorrow, perhaps.

Catch me!

(barking)

Delicate?

Have you decided what
to do about wallace?

Well, I'll do
as he requests.

I'll forward his
paper to lyell.

"my dear lyell, your words have
come true with a vengeance,

"that I should be forestalled.

"I never saw a more
striking coincidence.

"if wallace had my sketch
written out in 1842

"he could not have made
a better abstract.

"so all my originality,
whatever it may amount to,

Will be smashed."

You'd better look over this
before I send it.

"please return
the manuscript,

"which he does not say he wishes
me to publish;

"but I shall, of course, at once
write off and offer to send it

To any journal."

Do you really think
that's necessary?

I must act honorably.

But as you
yourself point out,

Wallace hasn't actually asked
for your help in publishing.

It's surely implied.

Is it?

In any case, if I make no effort
on his behalf,

I could be accused--
justly accused--

Of seeking to suppress
a rival's work.

Never let that be said of me.

It's just so unfair.

You've been working on this
theory for how many years?

Ever since your voyage
in the beagle.

Such ideas were in my
head even before then.

When I was a medical student
in edinburgh.

Darwin: One of my
teachers was dr. Robert grant,

A man of highly advanced--
indeed, revolutionary-- ideas.

His passion was primitive
marine life,

Especially sponges.

"would it be too
bold to imagine

"that in the great
length of time

"since the earth began to exist,
all warm-blooded animals

Have arisen from one living
filament?"

Do you recognize the quotation?

Mmm. It's from zoonomia.

Exactly, from zoonomia, by
the great dr. Erasmus darwin.

"nurs'd by warm sunbeams
in primal caves,

"organic life began
beneath the waves,

"hence without parent,
by spontaneous birth,

Rise the first specks
of animated earth."

Hmm.

You may be able to quote him,

But from what I've been able
to judge of your own ideas,

You haven'learned from him.

Grant:
You know lamarck's work...

A very great thinker.

I met him when
I was in paris.

He utterly demolishes the notion

That species have been
separately and divinely created.

He declares,
and I declare with him,

That the origins and
progression of species

Are due to physical
and chemical forces

Obeying natural laws.

(laughing):
Why do you look so startled?

These cannot be new ideas
to erasmus darwin's grandson.

Poor lamarck.

He has all the
forces of political

And scientific reaction
arraigned against him,

Their spears tipped with venom,

Their shields armored
with ignorance,

Astride their intellectually
spavined hobbyhorses.

Oh!

He was fascinated by
the microscopic world.

He made some
wonderful drawings.

He gave me this.

It's a species of sea-mat
called flustra.

It's primitive, moss-like,

Comprising a colony of
tentacle-waving polyps.

(imitating grant): "you'll
hardly believe me when I tell you

"that certain gentlemen
masquerading as naturalists

Still consider flustra
to be a plant!"

Is that how he talked?

More or less.

"this in spite of the fact

"that I have shown beyond
the faintest shadow of a doubt

"that it's an animal,

"and an animal, moreover,
I am convinced hol clues

To the common foundation
of all life."

He said I should
direct my studies

Towards the
microscopic world.

"look for the answers
to the greatest questions

In the smallest things."

I took
to beachcombing myself.

I observed waving,
hair-like cilia

On the larvae of a species
of flustra previously unknown.

Grant wrote an
article about it

But he failed to mention
my contribution.

Ah.

Yes.

It was an early lesson
I seem to have forgotten.

I suppose his religious views
were as radical

As his scientific ones.

Perhaps you didn't discuss them.

Charles, don't do anything.

Precipitate about
this wallace business.

Think carefully.

A game? Or shall
I play for you?

(sighs)

Play for me.

I need soothing.

(playing a chopin prelude)

(joe barking)

It's not scarlet fever.

Why, did you think
it might be?

Ah, you haven't heard.

There's scarlet fever
in the village.

What?
We've heard nothing.

I'm almost certain it's a
form of quinsy, an acute form.

It's recently been given a name,
diphtheria.

I hate the thought
of your life's work

Being preempted
by some latecomer.

You must defend yourself.

Priority is everything.

We should establish
a chronology,

A step-by-step account
of the exact stages

By which you've arrived
at your theory.

My theory.

My abominable theory!

It's all your fault.

My fault?

Well, your family's.

Your father's
in particular.

You know perfectly well that
if it hadn't been for him,

I'd never have set foot on the
deck of the good ship beagle.

My own father was dead set
against I well, charles, we'd

I've considered
the matter carefully

And I cannot
give my consent

To this wild scheme of yours.

You're going into the church.

This voyage, or expedition,
or whatever it is,

Would do irreparable damage to
your reputation as a clergyman.

Some of our best and most
respected naturalists

Are men of the cloth, father.

Yes, and they confine
their beetle hunting

And butterfly-pinning within
the sphere of their parishes.

They don't go gadding off halfway
across the world on a boat.

Besides which, your primary
task now at cambridge

Is to prepare for the bishop's
ordination examination.

Natural history is,
or it is supposed to be,

For your leisure hours.

It's more than that.

Much, much more than that.

Would you say you have a great
reputation as a naturalist?

Well, no.

The reverend professor
henslow has recommended me.

And mr. Peacock.

Peacock?

I'm not familiar with the name.

He's a fellow
of trinity,

And a friend of captain fitzroy,
who's to command the beagle.

My strongest objection
is that if you did go

That you would never settle
to a profession afterwards.

I don't see how
you can say that.

I can say that because
I can cite history.

You were to be a doctor,
I sent you to edinburgh.

It came to nothing.

I couldn't stand those
operating theaters.

The dirt, the screams of the
wretched patients, the blood.

(sighs)
it was revolting.

Nextt was to be
the church.

I sent you to
cambridge.

And now that, in turn,
is to be abandoned

For some harum-scarum
nautical adventure.

No, no, no.

There must be an end to all this
chopping and changing.

You will be a clergyman.

With your permission, I need
to change my clothes.

I'm riding over to maer
this afternoon.

Charles...

If you can find any man
of common sense

Who advises you to go,
I would reconsider.

Thank you, father.

(piano music begins)

(music ends)

Don't stop, please.

Charles!
Here you are.

Uncle jos.

From my father.

How well you're
looking, charles.

Isn't he, emma?

Welcome back
to maer, charles.

Thank you.

That was beautiful.

Elizabeth: Nobody
plays chopin better.

He always said
I massacred his music.

Elizabeth:
Nonsense!

Your father prescribes
turpentine pills

For my ailment,
charles.

(chuckles)

What else does he say?

Oh, a great deal on the subject

He refers to as your voyage
of discovery.

He calls it folly.

It isn't folly,
uncle jos.

It's a heaven-sent opportunity.

To see south america, australia,
the pacific isles, the world.

It's what I've dreamed of.

Then you must go,
charles.

Of course he must.

The admiralty won't pay
for my expenses.

Without my father's support...

Your father does add that
if I thought differently

He would wish you
to follow my advice.

Then advise him
to go, papa.

Yes, papa!

Uncle jos:
That's all very well,

But I know my
brother-in-law.

The arguments will have to be
dashed good ones.

Darwin: It's what
I was born to do.

I feel it, I...

I know it.

I don't understand him.

I remember once when
I was a boy

He flew into a rage.

He said all I cared about
was shooting, dogs,

And rat catching,

Said I was a disgrace to myself
and my family.

Now that I've found something
I'm passionate about,

He opposes it.

It's always what he wants me
to do, never what I want to do.

A sea voyage is always a
dangerous undertaking, charles.

Very dangerous. Perhaps he's
afraid of losing you.

You're a most
beloved son to him.

He's not a man to wear
his heart on his sleeve,

But the heart is there.

Well, I must do something.

We're doing it--

Presenting a rational
counterargument

To each of his objections.

So, as to its being
"a wild scheme,"

I think we might point out
that on the contrary,

You uld have definite objects
on which to employ yourself

And might acquire the habits
of application.

I can apply myself.

I do apply myself,
when the subject interests me.

At the present my studies
bore me to death,

And always will,

Whereas natural history
absolutely fascinates me.

And, one might add,

That your pursuit of knowledge
in natural history

Is in the same track as you
would have to follow

In the expedition.

Would that do?

Yes. It's the truth.

Emma:
So, you went.

Darwin:
Ah, that voyage.

Emma:
Nearly five years.

Darwin: To the uttermost
ends of the earth and back.

Emma: We used to
long for your letters.

Darwin: I tried to convey
something of the wonder of it all.

It was like...

Emma: ...Being admitted
into nature's library?

Darwin:
Did I write that?

Emma:
You did.

Darwin: I must have been referring
to the brazilian rainforest.

The glossy green
of the foliage,

The sheer luxuriance
of the vegetation.

I had lyell's
principles of geology with me.

It was just out.

What a book!

I lived and ate and dreamed it.

At punta alta, in argentina,
I made my first discovery.

Over days and weeks,
we exposed the remains

Of what turned out to be
a megatherium,

A huge ground-living relative
of the sloth.

By now, I was thinking,
questioning.

How had the remains
arrived there?

How were the gravels in which
they were embedded formed?

What forces had been at work?

It was only when
I returned to England

That I saw there was
a greater mystery.

These remains were
giant versions

Of familiar, living creatures,

So similar that there must be
some link between them.

But what?

There were puzzles everywhere,

Some set by spectacular finds
like the megatherium,

Others by the smallest,

Apparently almost
humdrum objects.

It's a fossilized
horse's tooth.

I found it when I was with
the gauchos in argentina.

Where's the puzzle?

Well, it's known that
the horse was introduced

Into south america by
the spanish conquistadors

In the 15th century.

Yet there, in my hand,
out on the pampas,

Was proof that at some time
in the distant past

Horses had roamed there.

What had happened to them?

How had they been made extinct?

Darwin: You know how
throughout the voyage

I never found my sea legs
and suffered agonies

Of seasickness.

Emma: How ever did
you put up with it?

Darwin:
I was younger then.

Emma:
Ah.

Darwin: The point is
that when I was in the andes,

I was astonished,
and not a little dismayed,

To find myself subject
to the same symptoms.

(retching)

What I found up there--
fossilized seashells.

Seashells so excited
my thoughts

As to prove a miraculous cure
to my ailment.

They were a little less
pleasing to my friend,

Captain fitzroy,
master of the beagle.

Ask yourself,

How is it possible to find
the remains of seashells

At the top of a mountain range

Unless at some time
in the distant past,

Those same mountaintops
were at sea level?

I was brought up to believe that
some few thousand years ago,

At the time of noah's flood,

The sea rose violently
up and drowned

The south american
continent.

When it receded,
traces were left behind.

(exasperated sigh)

You really think
that explains it?

How do you explain it?

It came about
over vast stretches of time

By processes with which you
and I are only too familiar.

Concepción...

When we sailed into the harbor,
or, rather, what was left of it.

Earthquake.

Exactly.

I found mussel beds lying
above the high tide mark.

The land had risen
by several feet.

Imagine millions of small
changes of the same kind

Over millions of years.

So the biblical account
in genesis is wrong?

What I was taught
to believe is wrong?

Be careful, philosopher.

But it was you yourself
who gave me lyell's book.

I thought you accepted
his ideas.

What I accept or don't accept,
what I believe or don't believe,

Isn't the point at issue.

The danger in what you say
is that it undermines

The truth of scripture.

It's an axe to the
root of the faith

By which men
lead their lives

And which sustains
our whole society.

William, we've gone, what,
three years without quarreling?

Let's not spoil the record now.

I'm not a literalist.

I don't believe that
a 40 days' flood

Could have raised this
to the height of the andes.

I'm just issuing a warning,
a friendly warning.

When you attack
the bible,

You cause great pain
and arouse great anger.

Well, I have business
to attend to ashore.

Darwin:
He misunderstood me.

I wasn't attacking the bible.

I was only raising the question

Of whether scripture needs to be
taken as science

Or whether it can be regarded
as dealing with

Other realms entirely.

It was a perfectly
reasonable question.

People don't
see it that way.

When they hear
the bible attacked,

They do feel great pain
and they are greatly angered.

Hmm.

Let's continue the voyage.

Looking back,

I'm t so much amazed
at the beauty and variety

Of what I saw,

As at my failure to grasp
the deeper significance

Of so much of it.

Emma:
For example?

Darwin: Well, the english
resident in charles island,

In the galapagos, told me
that the giant tortoises

Could be found on all
the islands in the group

And that it was possible to
tell by the different markings

On an individual's carapace

From which particular island
it originated.

I noted this, of course, but...

Its true meaning escaped me
at the time.

(howling)

Emma: You loved the
galapagos islands, didn't you?

Darwin:
Oh, they were astonishing...

A cornucopia of nature's
richest treasures.

With what frantic endeavor
did I collect specimens,

With what incessant speed did
my pen fly across the pages

Of my notebooks.

Of course I sensed that here
were pieces of the puzzle,

Answers to the questions
swirling in my mind,

But how dimly it seems
to me now, how feebly.

I made a considerable
collection of birds.

From the varieties of the
shapes and sizes of their beaks

I took them to be
an assortment of wrens,

Grosbeaks, orioles and finches.

But in my hurry
I failed to record

From which particular island
each one had been taken.

I started this in July of '37,

Ten months after my return
to England.

I gave it the title zoonomia,

After my grandfather.

I put in it
all my thoughts

About varieties of nature
and how they had arisen.

Ah, here's a turning point--

The birds of
the galapagos.

You've heard me talk of gould--

John gould--

Superintendent of stuffed birds
at the zoological society?

Ah, yes.

Oh, what I owe that man.

You'll recall that at the
January meeting of the society,

I reported that part
of your galapagos collection,

Which you'd thought to be a
mixture of different birds,

Is, in fact,
a series of finches;

A new group, containing
no less than 12 species.

Well, I've found a 13th.

What you thought to be
a wren is another finch.

But I've made
another discovery,

A most singular
discovery.

The mockingbirds.

You labeled each specimen
with its island of origin.

You took it--
I took it myself at first--

That they were varieties.

They're not.

They are separate species.

Separate?

Yes! There's no doubt of it,
and each one inhabiting

A different island.

Darwin: It threw me
into a mental turmoil.

Separate species

Inhabiting different islands
only a few miles apart.

How could one
explain this?

Had they migrated
from the mainland

As gould seemed to suggest?

Or was there some other
mechanism at work?

Isolated on those islands,
had they begun to change?

Was this evidence
of transmutation,

Gradual change, at work?

If so, the stability of species
was completely undermined.

(sighs)

But there was still so much
that I didn't know,

So much I had to learn.

I began consulting experts
in every field.

I even consulted my father.

Have you ever wondered
how instinct is passed

From generation
to generation?

Is it some form of
inherited memory?

Dr. Darwin: I had a case once,
an elderly man whose memory

Had entirely gone

Except that he could remember
songs from his childhood.

He could sing them
perfectly, and he did so,

But in a way that was--
how can I put it--

Less than conscious.

It was more akin to what you
were referring to, to instinct.

What are you up to?

Up to?

The gardener tells me that
you have been asking him

A lot of questions about plant
cuttings and crosspollination.

(horse whinnies)

Come on, out with it.

I was looking
into the idea

Of gradual change
in species.

Transmutation?

I thought as much.

Following in your
grandfather's footsteps.

Be careful, charles,
be very careful.

These notions are
highly dangerous.

They're seen not just
as an attack on religion

But on the whole moral
and social order.

In my father's case, happily
for his reputation and mine,

They remained in the sphere
of philosophical speculation.

The world could just shrug
them off as merely eccentric.

But if anybody can find proof--
scientific proof--

Well, that person better
watch out for squalls.

Darwin:
Here's my next notebook.

"notebook c" I called it.

You see all my groping towards
answers to the questions

That assailed me.

I saw that changes to
species must be slow,

Taking pce over large
stretches of time,

Like lyell's
geological changes.

This idea grew on me in every
sphere I was investigating.

For example,
geographical isolation.

Remember the giant tortoises
of the galapagos?

The fact that extinct
and living species

Of the same general type
are found in the same areas.

I saw that only some
law of evolution

Could solve that puzzle.

You see what
I write here?

"the whole fabric totters
and falls."

The whole fabric?

The whole traditional view
of a created, fixed order,

And of man at the pinnacle
of that creation.

I saw that the laws
of transmutation,

Whatever they were, must apply
to the whole of nature,

Including man.

"but man, wonderful man,
is an exception."

It was no good.

I couldn't escape the truth.

Man is clearly a mammal,

Sharing many of the same
instincts and feelings

As animals.

"man is no exception."

(sighs)

I don't know what to say,
charles.

It's troubling.

It's deeply troubling.

(birds chirping)

Etty: Mama's been reading
us one of her stories.

Darwin:
Which one?

Etty:
Pound of sugar.

Where did you get to?

Um, bobby and lizzy have got
home to their grandfather,

But they've bought salt
instead of sugar.

Ah, here we are.

"when the tea was ready,
the old man poured the salt

"into the sugar basin

"and was much surprised
to see that it was white.

"'well, everything
is changed nowadays.

"I suppose all the brown sugar
is made white.'

"as soon as bobby had tasted
his tea, he said,

"'my tea tastes very odd,
grandfather.'

"'pooh! Nonsense, child.

"don't be dainty.'

"lizzy then drank some of hers.

"the old man then tasted
his tea and said,

"'why, there is
salt in the tea,'

"then looked at
the sugar basin.

"'why, bobby, you have brought a
pound of salt instead of sugar.

No wonder it was so cheap.'"

Bees tomorrow, papa?

We'll see, frankie.

We'll see.

I've been thinking
about your notebook c.

"c" for controversy.

"c" for calumny.

"c" for criminal.

"c" for complaints,
perhaps.

Wasn't it about the time
you finished it

That you began to be ill?

Was it?

You know perfectly well it was.

The bodily pain
I suffered

Was perfectly real,
I can assure you.

Hmm.

I remember, at maer,

Whenever I had to play
at a big house party,

Or papa invited
the neighbors round,

I would become quite ill.

I suppose it was a sort
of a stage fright.

But the symptoms were perfectly
real, I can assure you.

You're being fanciful.

In any case,
at that point,

Though I'd become convinced

About the truth
of transmutation,

I hadn't decided what yet
had caused it to happen.

But then you did.

Notebook d.

For the devil?

It was a devilish time,
I can assure you.

The autumn of '38.

We announced our engagement
in November '38, charles.

Oh, I don't mean that.

It was my work.

I was collaborating with fitzroy

On the annals
of the beagle voyage,

I was trying
to finish a geological paper,

My health was wretched,

And I was struggling
with transmutation

When I turned... To this.

Malthus.

Malthus calculated that the
human population could double

In a mere 25 years.

But it didn't. Why?

First, the combination
of famine, war and disease.

Second, what he terms
"moral restraint"--

In other words, placing
the birth of children

Within the confines
of marriage.

But, of course,
among plants and animals,

There are no such
moral restraints,

Yet the pressures
of population growth

On limited resources
remains the same.

There can be only
one result-- carnage.

Darwin: To quote my
grandfather, erasmus,

"the world is one great
slaughterhouse."

I suddenly saw nature
as she is--

Predation, competition,
excess reproduction, death;

A war of all against all; of
species, including man, emma,

Predating endlessly
upon each other

And within their own groups.

There's a force like
a hundred thousand wedges

Trying to impel every kind
of adapted structure

Into the gaps in
the economy of nature,

Or rather forming gaps by
thrusting out weaker ones.

The final result
of this must be

To sort out proper structure
and adapt it to change.

Years later I gave a name
to this process.

I called it natural selection.

Yes, I think you told me
something of it at the time.

Well, I wanted you to know
the trend of my thinking

Before we married.

Charles, nature may be terrible,
but she's also beautiful.

When I see a flower,
I don't see ugliness,

I see beauty.

Pure, overwhelming beauty.

Charles...

You told me something of your
theory before we were married,

But did you tell no one else?

It was only that, a theory.

I kept it to myself

Until I saw hooker
in kew gardens.

When was that?
It's important.

It must have been... '44.

Darwin: Joseph, I've been engaged
in a very presumptuous work.

I'm almost convinced that
species are not immutable.

Charles, that is not
the opinion you started with.

No, quite contrary
to where I began.

I think I've found
the simple way

By which species can become
exquisitely adapted

To various ends.

It's like confessing
a murder.

Like confessing a murder?

And that was in '44.

That's the same year...

(knock at door) yes,
jane, what is it?

Begging your pardon, ma'am,
but it's charlie.

I can't get him to sleep,

And I think he's feverish.

(crying)

Emma:
Oh, sweetie.

Oh, charlie,
charlie, charlie.

Ooh.

Poor thing's got a fever.

Poor little chap.

Shh...

Oh...

Emma: Perhaps we might send
for the doctor in the morning.

Darwin:
We could send now.

Emma:
Have pity on the poor man.

I'll sit with him.

You go to bed, charles.

(charlie continues crying)

All right.

Good night.

Good night, jane.

Good night, sir.

You'd better go too, jane.

Good night, ma'am.
Good night.

(clock chimes three times)

(sighs deeply)

(softly):
Charles.

I couldn't sleep.

Will you read to me?

What's that
you've got there?

You should recognize it.

You gave it to me yourself.

It's dated
the 5th of July, 1844.

The same year
you wrote to hooker.

"my dear emma, I have just
finished my sketch

"of my species theory.

"I believe

"that my theory is true

"and that if it be accepted
by even one competent judge,

"it will be
a considerable step in science.

"I therefore write this,
in case of my sudden death,

"as my most solemn
and last request,

"you will devote £400

To its publication."

This trumps wallace!

Yes, it may do.

If you knew it was true,
why didn't you publish?

Because of... Something else
that was published that year.

It was an anonymous work.

It was entitled "vestiges of the
natural history of creation."

I remember there was a quite
a fuss and to-do,

But I can't remember why.

Because it created
such a storm.

The church was in a fury.

It was denounced at various
public places.

The author did well
to remain anonymous.

If he hadn't, it would have
meant his utter ruin.

Oh, I see.

If I was to be subject

To similar attacks,

Which seemed inescapable,

My science had to be
unassailable.

That's why I shifted my
direction to other areas.

Oh, those wretched barnacles.

(chuckles)

Those wretched barnacles.

Both:
Mr. Arthrobalanus.

(laughing)

Emma: Where was it again
that you found that creature?

Darwin:
During the beagle voyage,

On chiloé, an island
off the coast of chile.

There I came across
that enigmatic genus

Of the family of balanidae.

It was not until the '40s
that I took a good look at him.

That very first specimen,
no bigger than a pinhead,

Posed an immediate puzzle.

I realized that it represented
an unknown genus.

I named it arthrobalanus.

This started me off on a trail
of investigation that showed

Species of barnacles
progressing in stages

From hermaphroditism
to distinct males and females--

A trail that led back

To gradual change,
to transmutation.

Or evolution.

(birds singing)

Darwin: It's your first
time, skimp, isn't it?

Well, we are going
to play a little trick

On our friends today.

Here's a place, papa.

Good.

Can I?

Go on.

Well, I've noticed that bees

Often interrupt their journeys

And stop and buzz
at certain places,

And they always seem to stop
at the same place.

Now, is this just coincidence--
pure chance--

Or is there something else
going on?

One way to find out

Is to put flour
all over a plant

And see if it deters them.

Do you understand, skimp?

Doesn't matter.

All you have to do is
when you see a bee,

You shout, "here's a bee!"

And if you see it stop
and buzz, you shove a stake in.

All right, these "x"s
mark the spot.

Lead on, lenny.

(bee buzzing)

Lenny:
I'm going over here.

Horace:
I'll look over there.

Lenny:
Oh, I think I see one.

Here's a bee!

Darwin:
Horace, horace come back!

Horace!

Don't be silly.

Darwin:
Come back.

It's only a bee.

Here's a bee!

Darwin:
Well done, lenny.

Horace!

Horace: I see
one. Right-o.

Another bee. Good.

Frank:
Only one more place left, papa.

Oh, there's a bee!

Ah, yes.

Look, papa!

Yes, but will it go
to the plant?

Frank: It didn't
land on the plant.

Lenny:
Look out, joe!

(sniffing)

(darwin and the boys laugh)

Well, the flour had no effect.

Didn't deter them at all.

You see, the bees followed

The same pattern exactly,
despite our little trick.

There's obviously some sort of
memory or instinct at work here.

Information is passed on

From one generation
of bee to the next.

Hmm.

Well, I think that's
a good day's work.

Thank you, boys.

Come, joe.

Come on, joe.

(joe barks)

Sounding and looking
much better, my dear.

Well, etty's much better,
I'm happy to say.

Good.

Well on the road
to recovery.

The baby, it is scarlet fever.

But of the milder sort,
not half so severe

As some of the cases I've been
dealing with in the village.

The little fellow has
a strong constitution.

I can't believe
he's in any real danger.

With careful nursing,

I'm confident he'll pull
through, bless him.

Will you call again
tomorrow, doctor?

Of course!

And if you detect any change,

Don't hesitate to send for me
at any hour.

Thank you.

(sighs)

Charles...

Don't tell me
not to worry.

The doctor's perfectly right.

Charlie's strong.

So, the essay
that you gave me in '44

Proves that you had your theory
long before this man wallace.

Now, did anybody else see it?

Yes.

I sent a copy to hooker.

Well, there you are.

He can corroborate it.

There's gray, too.

I... I sent him a letter
less than a year ago

Giving him a summary.

(sighs)

What does any of this matter?

All that matters is that etty
should get well again

And we shouldn't lose
charlie like we lost...

Besides that, the question of
priority between me and wallace

Is completely trivial.

Is gray that man
at that british museum

Who used to send you
all those barnacles?

No, no, that's...

That's john gray,
keeper of barnacles.

I meant asa gray,
the harvard botanist.

There was some trouble,
wasn't there?

I wouldn't call it trouble.

No?

You went up to london
expressly to see him.

You were quite in a flither.

Darwin:
Mr. Gray!

I'm glad I caught you.

Could you spare me
a moment?

My dear mr. Darwin,

It's always
a pleasure to see you,

Not least because
it's such a rare one.

Yes, quite.

Um, the fact is, a rumor
has come to my attention.

It may be only that,
of course, a rumor,

That at a recent meeting
of the zoological society...

A great forum of gossip.

Quite.

At the meeting,
I'm told,

You announced
an intention

To publish a monograph
of barnacles.

I see.

Nobody could be better
qualified, of course,

But it inevitably anticipates
my own project.

As you know better
than anyone else,

I have been laboring on it
for more than two years.

Fallaces sunt rerum species.

There's clearly been
a misunderstanding.

I thought that might
be the case.

What I said at the meeting

Of publishing
my own arrangement

Of the genera and species

According to my
manuscript catalogue.

A synonima,
no more than a synonima.

Ah.

My intention was to facilitate
rather than anticipate

Your own work.

I see.

Of course, if you have
any objections,

I will withdraw the papers.

They've not yet
been sent to the press.

No, no, no.

Well, I hope
you didn't mind

My mentioning the matter.

Certainly not.

Humanum est errare.

Quite so, quite so.

But you wrote to him,
didn't you?

I thought it best
to have it in writing.

In case he went back on his word
and stole your thunder?

So priority does matter toou.

That wasn't the only reason.

Some years before,
I'd had a letter from hooker.

We were corresponding
about a french botanist,

Frédéric gérard.

Hooker had no great
opinion of him.

Ah, here it is.

"I am not inclined," he said,
"to take much for granted

"from anyone who treats
the subject in this way

"and does not know what it is

To be a specific naturalist
himself."

(sighs)

That struck home.

Oh, he meant nothing
against you.

It was painful to me.

It reminded me that although
perhaps I had established

My credentials in geology
and systematic biology...

Perhaps?

I could be accused
of being an amateur.

Oh, my dear charles!

It struck me that I
hardly had the right

To examine the question
of species

Without having minutely examined
many of them.

Hmm, barnacles again.

I remember taking georgie
to play at the hammonds

And the first thing he asked
young will was,

"where does your papa
keep his barnacles?"

(chuckling)

It seemed that you were
at them for an age.

Oh, eight years.

I came to hate them as no man
ever did before,

Not even a sailor
on a slow-sailing ship.

But you published
your barnacle book,

And you received
the royal medal for it

And still you wouldn't make
your theory public?

There was still too much
I didn't understand,

Too many areas unexplored.

Or were you procrastinating?

Hmm.

How can I defend myself
against that charge?

Here, take this.

I've been working on a model
of a beehive cell.

Now, according to certain
mathematicians,

Hive bees construct
their cells

In order to hold the greatest
possible amount of honey

While producing the least
possible amount of wax.

I've discovered that various
species construct their cells

To varying degrees
of excellence.

What does this mean?

That they are at various stages
of evolution.

Darwin:
Let us ask,

How could a long succession

Of modified architectural
instincts

Have profited the progenitors
of the hive bee?

Bees consume from 12
to 15 pounds of sugar

To create
a single pound of wax.

In addition, it takes a great
deal of time to make the wax.

Hence the wax has
a great value to bees,

And anything
that saves them some

Increases their
chances of survival

And their ability to multiply.

The advanced cell-making
instincts

Of modern hive bees
can be explained

By natural selection having
taken advantage

Of numerous, successive,

Slight modifications
of simple instincts.

Phew!

In fact it fails, unless it can
be shown to apply

In every aspect of nature from
great issues, such as instinct,

To lesser matters,
such as seed dispersal.

Oh, lord.

Frankie's dead bird! Ugh.

(both chuckle)

Is it a drink, papa?

He's making
seawater, lenny.

I'm trying to find out how long
plants and seeds can survive

In seawater.

I've already found out
that asparagus can float

For 23 days, if fresh and green,
and 85 if you dry it out first.

And the seeds, they are still
alive and they germinate.

Cabbage seeds,
on the other hand...

I hate cabbage.

But you'll be pleased
to know

That they quickly get rotten
and sink.

Good!

Now, of course seeds can travel
in many other ways.

Can anyone think of any ways?

Etty:
Fly!

Like dandelions.

Quite right, etty.

Any other ways?

Well, they can stick
to birds' feet.

They can be picked up
in one place

And washed off in another.

And then of course the birds
eat the seeds

And don't necessarily digest
them all and, uh...

(children giggling)

That's another way
they can travel.

Frank:
Papa?

Yes?

Dead birds float.

What if there were seeds
inside a dead bird

And it was in the sea
and it floated?

Excellent, frankie.

I hadn't thought of that.

All right,

Let us put our seeds
in our containers.

Would you pass me
the seeds, etty?

Horace, that's for you.

Grab your beaker and, um,
put some salt in it.

No, these ones;
asparagus, thank you.

Salt.

Well done.

Now shake it up and down.

How's this, papa? Shake
it up a little more.

Etty: Make sure you
shake it up really well.

(joe barks)

Darwin:
Come on, joe.

Darwin:
I propose

As a first experiment,

We leave this in
a salt bath for 30 days.

Are we agreed,
professor frankie?

Agreed, professor papa.

(laughing)

You avoided the next part.

I most certainly did.

(children groaning)

Etty:
This is absolutely disgusting.

(sniffing)

Ohh...

(retching)

Gently.

Here we go.

(birds singing)

They've germinated, papa.

Indeed they have.

I'll make a note of that.

Seeds gerominated.

Well, my heartfelt
congratulations,

Professor frankie.

Emma: Even parslow
complained about the smell of it.

Did he?

You never told me.

I never tell you half
the complaints I receive

About your stinks and stenches.

A good thing, no doubt.

Well, they're all
in a good cause.

I never thought
we were enduring them all

To have mr. Wallace run off
with the prize.

Oh, emma.

Write to lyell
and hooker about it.

See what advice they give.

They're both eminent scientists
and honorable men.

That's an excellent idea.

Excellent.

Parslow: Very good to
see you at down house

Again, miss wedgwood.

Oh, thank you, parslow.

My dear, dear sister.

Emma.

So glad you could come.

It's so good to see you.
Elizabeth.

Good to see you.

Emma:
You must be tired.

Elizabeth:
Oh, quite the journey!

(sobbing)

Oh, my dear.
My dearest dear.

(sniffling)

The children
must come to me.

All of them.

And you and charles.

It's not that.

It's... It's charles.

He stands
to lose everything.

His whole life's work.

Darwin: "my dear lyell, I am
very, very sorry to trouble you,

"busy as you are.

"but if you will give me
your deliberate opinion,

"there is nothing
in wallace's sketch

"which is not written
much fuller

"in my sketch copied in 1844

"and read by hooker
a dozen years ago.

"I should be extremely
glad now

"to publish a sketch
of my general views,

But I cannot persuade myself
that I can do so honorably."

Oh, I'm so desperately worried.

What with etty so sick
and now the baby,

I think it may prove
too much for charles.

You know how wretched
his health is.

He's thinking of annie.

Rying): He doesn't say
anything, but I know he is.

You've enough fortitude

To carry you both
through this storm.

Have I?

I'll never forget how brave
you were when annie died.

Was I brave?

Didn't I cry
all the time?

You cried, yes,
but not violently.

You tended to their needs

With all your usual
thoughtfulness.

You don't know
what a comfort it is

To have you here.

"I would far rather burn
my whole book

"than that he or any other man
should think

"that I had behaved
in a paltry spirit.

"this is a trumpery affair
to trouble you with,

"but you cannot tell how much
obliged I should be

For your advice."

On the way over, I was
so thinking of our visit

To Italy with papa.

Do you remember
when we crossed the alps

And how we were nearly
tipped out into the snow?

I remember it was so cold.

The windows were frozen
on the inside.

And rome!

I'll never forget
how roundly you condemned

The sistine chapel!

Well, it was so hideous.

You were quite furious
with michelangelo

For wasting his talents
on something so ugly.

(both laughing)

Oh, and do you remember
that awful hum of an evening

With those german women?

And that most
peculiar reception

Of the princess doria
for poor pilgrims.

Do you remember?

The queen of etruria's
daughters

And those two
ruspoli princesses

Carrying trays about
like waiters!

(laughing)

Hello.

I'd like you to look this over

Before I send it to lyell.

Yes.

(clock chiming)

Elizabeth.

Will you have some tea, charles?

Uh, no, thank you.

I was saying to emma

That unless things improve here,

You must all come to me
at hartfield.

Emma:
I'm not sure I like

Your postscript much.

It's not a "trumpery letter"

Anit's not influenced
by trumpery feelings.

There's one aspect that still
troubles me.

I never wanted to publish
just a sketch.

I always wanted

To set out my theory fully...

In the big book.

Ah, the big book.

Emma told you?

Yes.

What a thing.

Hmm.

Parslow will take it.

(charlie crying)

I can't pretend
there's any improvement.

In fact, I'm sorry to say
he's somewhat worse.

But I see no cause
for undue alarm.

(charlie continues crying)

(joe barking)

(hoofbeats)

(church bell ringing)

Lenny, hurry up.

We're already late as it is.

Emma:
I saw that.

Etty is coming along well,

But I can't say
I'm entirely sanguine

About the boy's condition.

Thank you.

"the children were very pleased
with this sight,

"and while bobby was thinking
of something else,

"he took the sixpence
out of his pocket

"and began playing with it.

"at last he put it
in his pocket again,

"but it was into the one
with the hole... Hole in it.

"and bobby thought again of
the sixpence and felt for it,

"but it was gone.

(voice breaking): He felt in the other
pocket, but with no better success."

"'oh lizzy,
the sixpence is gone!

What shall I do?'"

(crying)

I saw the doctor as we were
coming back from church.

He's hot.

Has he slept at all?

Yes, I read to him.

That seemed to do the trick.

And then he just woke up.

You go for your walk.

I'll sit with him now.

(charlie crying loudly)

Charles.

Don't torment yourself.

Shh.

(child laughing)

Annie:
Papa. Push, please.

Papa.

I'm sorry.

You were thinking.

Yes, it's a very
bad habit of mine.

What were you thinking?

I was thinking

A little girl on a swing
is a perfect example

Of newton's law of motion.

Who's newton?

Isaac newton is the father
of modern science.

Was he a good father?

Did he push it on a swing?

(laughing)

Well, yes, in a way,
that's exactly what he did.

He realized that in nature,

Objects tend towards
a state of inertia,

That is, they stay still, until
an external force is applied.

Like this!

Hang on, we're going high!

Too high, papa.

Whoa!

(annie laughing)

Darwin: We're going to
malvern, to kitty kumplings.

We're going to see dr. Gully.

He made your papa well,

And he's going
to make you well.

(coughs)

Move on.

(annie coughing)

(crying)

Darwin:
"my dearest emma,

"she went to her
final sleep most tranquilly,

"most sweetly, at 12:00 today.

"our poor, dear child had
a very short life

"but, I trust, happy,

"and god only knows

"what miseries might have been
in store for her.

"she expired without a sigh.

"how desolate it makes one

"to think of her frank,
cordial manners.

"we must be more and more
to each other, my dear wife.

"when I shall return
I cannot say.

My own poor, dear wife."

Mornin', mr. Parslow.

Mornin', mr. Barker.

Thank ye.

Darwin:
Thank you, parslow.

Parslow:
Sir.

(softly):
Emma.

Shh.

(whispering):
Sorry.

It's from lyell.

He's been in touch with hooker.

I think they've found
a solution.

There's to be a meeting
of the linnean society

On the 1st of July.

They propose
that my sketch of '44

Along with my letter to gray

Be read out in conjunction
with wallace's paper.

I think it meets the case.

It would be
an honorable outcome.

Well done.

He...

(crying)

Oh, my poor, dear darling!

Oh, my emma!

(both crying)

Darwin:
"my dear hooker.

"you will be most sorry for us
when you hear

"that poor baby died
yesterday evening.

"I am quite prostrated
and can do nothing,

"but I send wallace's paper and
my abstract and letter to gray.

"I dare say it is all too late.

"I hardly care about it.

"it is miserable in me to care
at all about priority.

"god bless you,
my dear, kind friend.

I can write no more."

(bell tolling)

"man that is born of woman
hath but a short time to live

"and is full of misery.

In the midst of life
we are in death."

Bennet:
Extracts from papers

By mr. Charles darwin
and mr. Alfred russel wallace.

Part one by mr. Darwin.

"on variation
under domestication"

And "on the principles
of selection."

Rector:
Of whom may we seek for succor,

But of thee o lord,

Who for our sins art justly
displeased.

"be it remembered,

"I have nothing to say
about life and mind

"and all forms descending
from one common type.

"I speak of the variation

"of the existing great divisions
of the organized kingdom.

Nature could effect, with
selection, such changes slowly."

Rector: Forasmuch as it hath pleased
almighty god of his great mercy

To take unto himself

The soul of our dear
brother here departed,

We therefore commit his body
to the ground: Earth to earth,

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Bennet: "we know the state
of the earth has changed,

"and as earthquakes and tides
go on, the state must change...

Many geologists believe
a slow, natural cooling."

Extracts from a paper
by mr. Alfred russel wallace,

"on the tendency of varieties
to depart indefinitely

From the original type"...

Anything from lyell or hooker?

Yes.

It seems my learned brethren
of the linnean society

Were entirely uninterested in
my sketch and wallace's paper.

The president was overheard as
saying it had been a dull year,

With no striking discoveries.

Are you disappointed?

Or relieved?

Well, they were only sketches.

What is it?

Out with it.

Lyell is urging me to
publish a fuller text.

You mean to do it?

Well, if... If I do,
there'd be no escaping

The full implications
of my theory.

Then watch out for squalls.

You know, I've always
found it difficult to talk

About matters religious.

I find writing so much easier.

Do you remember, soon after we
were engaged, I wrote to you?

Remember it?

I have most of it
by heart.

You were afraid
that our opinions

On the most important subject
should differ so widely.

I said that honest
and conscientious doubts

Could never be a sin.

You did.

I still think so.

But you felt that it would be
a painful void between us.

You were always completely
open with me about it

And I was grateful for that.

My father...
My father advised me

To be the very
opposite of open.

Dr. Darwin:
Emma!

Well, she'll make the best
possible wife for you.

A very pretty girl.

With a brain, too!

There's only one
drawback I can see.

Religion.

She's pious like
all the wedgwood women.

Emma's a unitarian, father.

Do you remember
how grandfather

Described unitarianism?

(dr. Darwin chuckles)

A feather bed for
falling christians!

Unitarianism may be a
wishy-washy sort of christianity

Compared with your
fire-breathing evangelicals,

But make no mistake:
Emma believes in things,

In the afterlife, hellfire and
so on, that I assume you don't.

Well, I'm less certain
than I used to be.

Well, I don't believe
in them.

Your grandfather didn't.

But to women of emma's cast
of mind,

They are matters
vital importance.

No need to look
so despondent.

The way round it is to pay
lip service, go to church

And all that sort of thing,
if possible avoid discussions

And above all, never,
under any circumstances,

Reveal your true opinions.

So you went against
your father's advice?

I'm so glad you did.

That letter I wrote,
just before we married.

I asked you to do
something for me,

To read our savior's farewell
discourse to his disciples.

You said it was
your favorite part

Of the new testament.

You said it was so full
of love to them and devotion

And every beautiful feeling.

You remembered.

Well, it was
my favorite part, too,

When I was at university.

I wanted you to read it.

I hardly know why.

But I never wanted you to
give me your opinion of it.

And do you want
to hear it now?

Not much. But I will.

Well, they are
beautiful words.

"a new commandment
I give unto you,

That ye love one another
as I have loved you."

But reason raises
grave doubts

As to whether jesus
ever said them.

By reason you mean those
horrid german scholars.

Horrid they may be,
but they are scholars,

As you know yourself.

You've read some of them.

Most uneasily.

Down the centuries,

Millions of people
have responded, as I do,

To that message of love
and hope and beauty.

I think there's beauty,
and grandeur, in a view of life

Having been originally breathed
into perhaps a single form,

And that from so simple
a beginning,

Endless forms,
most beautiful and wonderful,

Have been,
and are being, evolved.

Some of the finest,
most intellectual minds

Have acknowledged
the truth of religion.

Yes, but they would
have to say

That others with fine
intellectual minds,

Like my father,
my brother, my grandfather,

Who cannot accept the dogmas
of the christian faith,

Are to burn
in eternal hellfire.

It was after annie died

You stopped going
to church.

Was that the final blow?

(sighs)

Such a painful, cruel thing.

It makes it difficult
to believe in an all-powerful,

All-loving god,

But even before then.

I have looked deep
into the book of nature.

I have seen its endless cycles
of predation and death.

The ichneumon wasp lays its eggs
inside a living caterpillar.

When the larvae hatch,
they devour the host

From the inside.

Is this the work
of a benign creator?

At the same time,
I'm like everyone else.

I don't want to die.

It would be a comfort
to believe

That our love could
go on forever.

I do believe it.

I do believe we are never
parted from those that we love.

I sometimes think the whole
subject is too profound

For human intellect.

A dog might as well speculate
on the mind of newton.

(playing chopin nocturne)

(music concludes)

Have you come to any decision
about publishing?

Yes.

No.

I'm not sure.

It would raise such a storm.

I'm not so sure.

I've thought of little else
these last few days.

The great difficulty
I see is man,

The notion of man as having
descended

From animals
rather than made

In the image of god,
of man without a soul.

If that could be avoided.

I've never inclined to be
explicit about it.

Quite the opposite.

But of course
it's implicit

In the general thrust
of the argument.

When my sister fanny died,
I was heartbroken.

But my faith
wasn't shaken.

But when annie died,

I think I ceased to believe,

Only for a moment,

But it gave me
a greater understanding.

I think you must publish.

It's not only you,
emma.

There's the family, our friends,

To say nothing
of the public at large.

You'd be sorry to see me
an object of hatred.

We must think very carefully.

Have you thought?

About publishing?

I suppose you're going to prove
it's an animal.

Darwin: "when on board
h.M.S. Beagle, as a naturalist,

"I was much struck with certain
facts in the distribution

"of the inhabitants
of south america

"and in the geological
relations

"of the present to the past
inhabitants of that continent.

"these facts seem to me
to throw some light

On the origin of species,
that 'mystery of mysteries.'"

(snarling)

(snarling)

(cawing)

(joe barking)

Emma!

Good morning.

Mr. Darwin!

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

Boys, where's your mother?

Have a look at this. Quickly.

Emma, emma.

Is it your adomiball
volume, papa?

Abominable, lenny.

(softly):
Yes.

It's my abominable volume.

Catch me!

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