A fool you know, is a man who never tried an experiment in his life
Meet Erasmus Darwin, the acclaimed physician, poet, philosopher, inventor, botanist, and one of the founder member of the society. Patients are travelling to see him from far and wide, and has been offered to position of royal physician to George III, but tonight we're not here to talk about the good doctors profession.
Among the many inventions, invented by Erasmus Darwin included are; a copying machine used by Boulton in his offices, a lift for barges on canals. But perhaps one of the most ingenious was a speaking machine constructed from some bellows and leather lips that could be moved to generate sounds similar to the words ma and pa. Sadly the lord's prayer was beyond the scope of the machine, and so failing to win £1000 of Matthew Boulton had offered if it could. Despite the host of inventions he came up with he never patented one, fearing it would adversly affect his reputation as a physician.
Allthough Erasmus will always be over shadowed by his grandson
Charles, the first steps towards a theory of evoloution we're
actually taken by Eramus. In 1796 (a good 50 years before the
Origin of Species was published by Charles) and following 25
years of work Erasmus published Zoomomia or The Laws of
Organic Life, in which ideas of evolution broadly similar to
that of the French scientist Lamarck; whose work was to follow a
few years later, were discussed.
Briefly Lamarck believed that change's in the environment changed the need of the animal, resulting in a change in the animal over number of generations to better adapt to the change in environment, with each change being inherited by the subsequent generation. Imagine if you will, a giraffe evolving a long neck to eat the leaves at the top of the tree's. From Lamarck's theory if we started from giraffes with a short necks, a pair giraffes with naturally longer necks, all the subsequent giraffes form the apir would directly inherite longer and longer necks until the best leaves on the top on the tree's could be eaten.
Zoonomia and work done by other before was built upon by Charles Darwin into the theory of evolution we have today. Let us leave the good doctor know, and meet some other members, but let us leave on the Erasmus's own words on evoloution;
"The final course of this contest among males seems to be, that the strongest and most active animal should propogate the species which should thus be improved" E. Darwin, Zoonomia,1796
Main image of E Darwin from http://www.erasmusdarwin.org/About_Erasmus_Darwin.htm