Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A third passage on natural selection in the Appendix to (Matthew 1831)

On 13 April 1860, Darwin wrote to Hooker about Matthew:
"The case in G. Chronicle seems a little stronger than in Mr. Matthews book, for the passages are therein scattered in 3 places." (Darwin Correspondence Project, entry 2758)
Only two of the three passages that Matthew gave in the Gardener's Chronicle were from the appendix of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (Matthew 1831): one from Note B (pp. 364-5) and the other from the afterthought following on Note F (pp. 381-8). The other passage given by Matthew was from the main text of his book (pp. 106-8). Nevertheless, Darwin later wrote in his Historical Sketch of 1861:
"Unfortunately the view was given by Mr. Matthew very briefly in scattered passages in an Appendix to a work on a different subject, so that it remained unnoticed until Mr. Matthew himself drew attention to it in the 'Gardener's Chronicle,' on April 7th, 1860." (see Darwin Online)
One may, therefore, conclude that Darwin mixed up things and later that all the three passages given by Matthew in the Gardener's Chronicle were from the appendix. Arguably, however, Matthew's appendix does contain a third passage that is about natural selection. It's from Note C, a piece that includes an idea about how migration could affect natural selection:
"Notwithstanding that change of place, simply, may have impression to improve the species, yet it is more to circumstances connected with this change, to which the chief part of the improvement must be referred. In the agitation which accompanies emigration, the ablest in mind and body—the most powerful varieties of the race will be thrown into their natural position as leaders, impressing the stamp of their character on the people at large, and constituting the more reproductive part; while the feebler or more improvident varieties will generally sink under the incidental hardships." (Matthew 1831, p. 373)

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