John Speller's Web Pages Hail to the Bard!

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In 1784 Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) wrote a two-volume book titled Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life, which was interesting in outlining a theory of evolution, and which may in part have inspired his grandson, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) to develop his own theory of evolution. Erasmus Darwin's student, Dewhurst Bilsborrow (b. 1776) wrote the poem, "Hail to the Bard!" dated at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1 January 1794, which appeared at the beginning of both volumes of Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia. Not much is known of Dewhurst Bilsborrow, except that he had a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, lived at Dalby House, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and was a physician on the staff of the Derbyshire General Infirmary. He was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth and Robert Southey. He had an illegitimate child with Sarah Lightfoot, which resulted in him having to post a Bastardy Bond toward the maintenance of the child in St. Breock, Cornwall, in August 1809. His poem, "Hail to the Bard!" encapsulates Erasmus Darwin's ideas on evolution.

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Erasmus Darwin, MD, FRS (1731-1802)



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