Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Matthew re-quoting Loudon via Steuart

[See here for all my 13 or so posts on Pattrick Matthew and plagiarism claims made on his behalf.]

The big beef that people who suspect plagiarism behind Darwin's and Wallace's 'discovery' of natural selection is with the following passage from Matthew (1831, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, p. 307f):
"The use of the infinite seedling varieties in the families of plants, even in those in a state of nature, differing in luxuriance of growth and local adaptation, seems to be to give one individual (the strongest best circumstance-suited) superiority over others of its kind around, that it may, by overtopping and smothering them, procure room for full extension, and thus afford, at the same time, a continual selection of the strongest, best circumstance-suited, for reproduction. Man's interference, by preventing this natural process of selection among plants, independent of the wider range of circumstances to which he introduces them, has increased the difference in varieties, particularly in the more domesticated kinds; and even in man himself, the greater uniformity, and more general vigour among savage tribes, is referrible to nearly similar selecting law—the weaker individual sinking under the ill treatment of the stronger, or under the common hardship."
John Claudius Loudon (public domain)
As shown here, the context of this passage is that Matthew criticised a long quote of Loudon (1806, p. 502-505), which he says to have taken from Steuart (1828, p. 400-403). Let's analyse this peculiar re-quote beginning with the original, Loudon (1806, A treatise on forming, improving, and managing country residences, vol. 2, p. 502-505):
+"Though a great deal more might be added from known facts which have come under my own observation, or which I have collected from several parts of the country, I shall only offer, in connexion with the above, a few remarks on the effects of pruning on trees. The general effects I have already stated to be of a corresponding nature with culture; that is, to increase the quantity of timber produce. The particular manner in which it does this, is by directing the greater part of the sap, which generally spreads itself in side branches, into the principal stem. This must consequently enlarge that stem in a more than ordinary degree, by increasing the annual circles of wood. Now if the tree be in a worse soil and climate than those which are natural to it, this will be of some advantage, as the extra increase of timber will still be of a quality not inferior to what would take place in its natural state; or in other words it will correspond with that degree of quality and quantity of timber which the nature of the species of tree admits of being produced. If the tree be in its natural state, the annual increase of timber occasioned by pruning must necessarily injure its quality, in a degree corresponding with the increased quantity. If the tree be in a better climate and soil than that which is natural to it, and at the same time the annual increase of wood be promoted by pruning, it is evident that such wood must be of a very different quality from that produced in its natural state.
Now though it might be shewn in some degree from vegetable anatomy, and analogy from what takes place in herbaceous vegetables, I prefer deducing from the facts already stated this proposition: that whatever tends to increase the wood in a greater degree than what is natural to the species when in its natural state, must injure the quality of timber. Pruning tends to increase this in a considerable degree; and therefore it must be a pernicious practice in so far as it is used, in these cases *.
6. Mr. Knight# has shewn in a very striking manner, that timber is produced, or rather that the alburnum or sap-wood is rendered ligneous, by the motion of the tree during the descent of the true sap. It is also sufficiently known to all who have attended to the physiology of vegetables, and greatly confirmed by some experiments recently read to the Royal Society , that
* In this Section I never consider pruning in regard to eradicating diseases, preventing injuries, or increasing the natural character and tendency of trees. For these purposes it is of great advantage.
# See Phil. Trans, for 1803—4. Mirbell's Anatomie et Physiologie Végétalés. Tom. I. art 6.
▼ These experiments were also made by Mr. Knight. I hope they have convinced that ingenious philosopher of an erroneous supposition in his Remarks on fruit Trees, published some years ago; which is, that the tree produced by a graft taken from one in a state of decay will live no longer than the parent plant. If in these last experiments Mr. K. could reason by analogy from potatoe plants to fir trees, certainly reasoning of the same nature from the propagation of decaying carnations, rockets, wallflowers, &c. by layers and cuttings, to the propagation of decaying fruit trees by grafts, is equally fair. We are certain that the former Jive long after the parent plants, why not also the latter ?
the solid texture of the wood greatly depends upon the quantity of sap, which must necessarily descend, and also on the slowness of its descent. Now both these requisites are materially increased by side branches, which retain a large quantity of sap, and by their junction with the stem occasion a contraction and twisted direction of the vessels, which obstructs the progress of the juice. That this is true in fact, is well known to those accustomed to make wine from maple or birch trees; for in this business it is found that those trees which have fewest side branches bleed more freely than the others, but during a much shorter space. These hints, therefore, afford additional evidence against pruning, and particularly against pruning fir-trees, which, as Mr.Knight justly observes, have larger vessels than most others; and therefore, when in an improved soil and climate, side branches for the purposes above mentioned are essentially necessary, if solid, resinous, and durable timber be the object in view.
From the foregoing remarks, I think, the following conclusions may be drawn respecting the management of trees :
1. That trees should be planted as much as possible in soils, situations, and climates, analogous to those of their natural state: and that it is chiefly in this state or where there are some defects relative to it, that pruning and culture can be exercised with advantage.
2. That in proportion to the superiority of the soil, &c. in which trees are placed, over the natural soil of these trees; in the same proportion pruning and cultivating the soil ought to be avoided, and thinning encouraged.
3. That particular regard should be had to the soil and situation, where either larches, or any of the pine tribe, are planted to remain as the final crop: for as the roots of these chiefly run along the surface, and as in them the great current of the sap is chiefly confined to one channel, that is, the trunk, consequently that tribe of trees is peculiarly liable to change when subjected to unnatural agency.
4. That the only way in which oak timber of safe quality can be provided for the British navy is by inclosing, preserving from cattle, and properly managing, those royal forests where oak is the natural produce of the soil;—Alas! there is reason to fear, that on some future day the neglect of this advice will be regretted. Park oak is very frequently much inferior to forest oak in durability.
5. That as the practice recommended tends to render trees characteristical of their peculiar species, it must consequently be the most agreeable to ornament, or the principles of natural taste."
When Steuart (1828, end of p. 400-403 top) quoted this passage, however, he took some liberties of spelling and style. (The fact that Matthew chose not to re-quote the whole quote of Loudon by Steuart, and what he chose to not quote is treated in an extra post). For example, he consistently spelled the word increase as encrease; he capitalised words (e.g., timber, tree, and pruning became Timber, Tree, and Pruning); he turned "shewn" into "shown"; he changed "read to the Royal Society" into "laid before the Royal Society." Finally, he inserted an own statement in parentheses at the end of the first paragraph so that the end of that paragraph read: "... it is evident that such wood must be of a very different quality from that produced in its natural state (that is, very inferior)." (Steuart 1828, p. 401)

For some reason Matthew (1831, p. 295-298) only transported "shown" instead of "shewn" and the statement added by in parentheses by Steuart. Steuart's capitalisations are gone, and encrease is back to increase. Unfortunately, Matthew did not re-quote the passage about the Royal Society, so that the "read to" vs "laid before" difference between Loudon and Steuart is lost on Matthew. 

Why would Matthew not quote from Loudon directly? Did Matthew plagiarise Loudon?-) Did the long passage from Loudon (1806), quoted by Steuart, neatly pick out something that Matthew could criticise while still pretending he was ignorant of the rest of Loudon's book so that he did not need to credit Loudon's priority on other ideas lifted from Loudon's book? For example, what about Loudon's remarks on the variation of species?
"The intention of the preceding Chapter was, to shew that there is an inexhaustible fund of variety in trees and shrubs, both with regard to beauty and use" (Loudon 1806, p. 507)
"Now, as the properties of soils and situations are various, this naturally leads to a corresponding variation of the species of tree also; and this variation at once produces ornament and utility." (Loudon 1806, p. 516)

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