Mr Darwin Welcome

Tour of Walton Park rough‘Mr Darwin Welcome. Delighted you have come to Yorkshire’ is the opening caption, spoken by Charles Waterton from the top branches of an elm tree to Darwin, then in his mid-thirties, midway between the voyage of The Beagle and the publication of The Origin of Species.

It’s a complex double-page spread but you’ve got to start somewhere so this very rough rough suggests how we can slot in the main aspects of a tour of Waterton’s sanctuary for wildlife at Walton Park. You could really extend this one tour into a twelve page comic story in its own right but that’s all the space we have for the last forty years of Waterton’s life.

I would so like to have heard a discussion between Darwin and Waterton about the Nondescript, Waterton’s enigmatic ape-man creation. Did it give Darwin the idea for his Descent of Man?!

And here’s another Darwin/Waterton which regrettably we’re unable to follow up in this brief comic strip biography. Here’s Darwin recalling his medical student days in Edinburgh;

‘I heard Audubon deliver some interesting discourses on the habits of North American birds, sneering somewhat unjustly at Waterton. By the way, a negro lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently; he gave me lessons for payments, and I used often to go sit with him for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.’

Charles Darwin, Autobiography

Charles Darwin, drawn for a student project in 1975 on the graphic design course at Leeds College of Art.
Charles Darwin, drawn for a student project in 1975 on the graphic design course at Leeds College of Art.

young darwinAlso in Darwin’s autobiography there’s a passage which echoes Charles Waterton’s childhood. Darwin recalls; ‘To my deep mortification my father once said to me “You care for nothing but, shooting, dogs and rat catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”‘

He and Waterton had so much in common!

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