Erasmus Darwin (December 12, 1731 - April 18, 1802) trained as a physician and wrote extensively on medicine and botany, as well as poetry. Living in Birmingham and Lichfield, England. He was one of the founder members of the Lunar Society.
He was born near Nottingham, and studied at Cambridge and Edingurgh. He practised medicine in Lichfield in Staffordshire for twenty years; George III invited him to be royal physician but he declined.
His book Zoonomia (1794-6) is widely considered to foreshadow the pre-Darwinian theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and maybe even the theory of evolution formulated by his grandson Charles Darwin. Another of his grandsons was Francis Galton. His experiments in galvanism inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.
His poetry was admired by Coleridge and Wordsworth; and often made reference to his interests in science, for example botany and steam engines. His most famous work of poetry was The Botanic Garden.
He was in inventor of several devices, though did not patent any of them. One was a horizontal windmill, which he design for Josiah Wedgwood (who would be Charles Darwin's other grandfather).
He is remebered by the Moonstones in Birmingham.
Inventions He was in inventor of several devices, though did not patent any of them. He believed this would damage his reputation as a doctor, and encouraged his friends to patent their own modifications of his designs. One was a horizontal windmill, which he designed for Josiah Wedgwood (who would be Charles Darwin's other grandfather). A carriage that would not tip over was designed in 1766. In 1771 he invented a speaking machine; A canal lift for barges; A minute artificial bird. In 1778 he came up with a copying machine; He also produced a variety of weather monitoring machines. In 1783 he invented an artesian well. He conducted research into the formation of clouds, the latter of which he published in 1788.
Quotations Organic life beneath the shoreless waves Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves; First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass, Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass; These, as successive generations bloom, New powers acquire and larger limbs assume; Whence countless groups of vegetation spring, And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.
The Temple of Nature 1802 For if we may compare infinities, it would seem to require a greater infinity of power to cause the causes of effects, than to cause the effects themselves. This idea is analogous to the improving excellence observable in every part of the creation; such as in the progressive increase of the solid or habitable parts of the earth from water; and in the progressive increase of the wisdom and happiness of its inhabitants; and is consonant to the idea of our present situation being a state of probation, which by our exertion we may improve, and are consequently responsible for our actions.