Friday, 20 May 2016

Did Darwin plagiarize Matthew? Part 4: Debunking claims about citing Matthew (1831)

Mike Sutton is a reader in criminology at Nottingham Trent University who has used google, in order to track down the provenience of certain quotes that are often attributed wrongly. He now thinks he has sufficient evidence to conclude that both Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace plagiarized Patrick Matthew (1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture) and stole Matthew's idea of evolution through natural selection from it.

One part of his exercise was to find sources that cited Matthew's book and collect them in a list (Sutton 2014, Nullius in Verba, ThinkerMedia, chapter 4, List 1, don't buy it, it's not worth it). This list is reproduced below. The sources mentioned in this list did indeed cite Matthew (1831). However, Sutton takes these rather trivial facts as his point of departure for a wild gallop over mere assumptions, jumping to his preferred conclusion that, beyond a reasonable doubt, Darwin and Wallace plagiarized Matthew.

Given that Matthew's book treats a miscellany of topics, the mere citation of it does not necessarily mean that the idea of natural selection transforming species has thereby been transported. This would require the following: (1.) those who cited Matthew (1831) also read him from A to Z; (2.) they also understood him from A to Z; (3.) they specifically understood his idea that natural selection could transform species; and (4.) they communicated this specific idea. Only those readers, who did not just take Matthew (1831) to be a book on the practical maters of tree planting, training, pruning, etc. and did also receive his idea concerning species transmutation through natural selection, could also have passed that idea on somehow.

It is therefore pertinent to check whether the sources that did cite Matthew (1831) fulfill these requirements. The following reproduces list 1 of Sutton (2014, chapter 4) with comments added, where these assumptions are evidently false. (Too long to read? Scroll to end.)

   List 1

     1 - Edinburgh publisher Adam Black
     2 - London publisher Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green (1831)
     3 - The Farmer's Journal — Currently unknown reviewer (1831)
     4 - The Perthshire Courier — Currently unknown reviewer (1831)
     5 - The Elgin Courier — Currently unknown reviewer (1831)

The first five items on the list are not from five different historical records but from one advertisement of Matthew's publishers in Edinburgh (Adam Black) and London (Longman and Co.). This advertisement also reprinted praise from other sources as is nowadays very common for blurbs.

1+2 - Concerning the above requirements, the publisher's probably read or had let someone read the book form A to Z. But the writer of this advertisement of the publishers had definitely not understood Matthew's idea that natural selection might transform species. On the contrary, he wrote as if Matthew's book was yet another installment of the ruling paradigm that natural selection kept the species fixed and immutable (see also here):

"In embracing the Philosophy of Plants, the interesting subject of Species and Variety is considered,—the principle of the natural location of vegetables is distinctly shewn,—the principle also which in the untouched wild "keeps unsteady nature to her law," inducing conformity in species, and preventing deterioration of the breed, is explained,—and the causes of the variation and deterioration of cultivated forest-trees pointed out."

This disconfirms list items 1 and 2 as not fulfillingg requirements (2.), (3.) and (4.). They did not understand Matthew's idea about natural selection and species transmutation and communicated the opposite idea.


3 - The snippet reprinted from the Farmer's Journal, recommended Matthew's book as a practical study to landed proprietors:

" 'In recommending this work to landed proprietors, we shall, therefore, only remark, that is displays an intelligent and cultivated mind, and an evident practical study of the subject.'—Farmer's Journal."

Mike Weale ferreted out the original to this snippet (see here) and commented:

"The reviewer is complimentary regarding Matthew’s “intelligent and cultivated mind”, and his practical knowledge, but is critical of Matthew’s view on free trade. In particular, the reviewer thinks that if the import duty on foreign timber were dropped, then domestic production of timber would not be able to compete with Norway. The reviewer notes that the Appendix contains “some singular inquiries and reflections on “Instinct or habit of breed,” and the effects of change of place and climate on the dispositions and habits of mankind”, but the reviewer does not directly refer to Matthew’s views on either natural selection or evolution."

In other words, it does not fulfill requirement (4.). List item 3 disconfirmed!


4 - The snippet of the Pertshire Courier is a completely empty phrase:

" 'We consider "Naval Timber" to be an extraordinary book, containing much amusement, much instruction, and a tolerable sprinkling of eccentricity.'—Pertshire Courier."

This piece is just useless for any conclusion concerning requirements (1.-4.) above. List item 4 disconfirmed!


5 - This item is a snippet of which Sutton claims that it "specifically drew attention to Matthew's discovery of the natural process of selection on species" (see here). That is, Sutton claims that this item does not just support any of his assumptions but assumption (4.) in particular.

" 'This work contains a great variety of interesting information. We have perused, with much interest and gratification, the speculations therein contained, in reference to the moral and physical constitutions of the human race.'—Elgin Courier."

While this piece supports the assumption that the author read Matthew's book from A to Z, because there are passages in the appendixes dealing with moral or physical constitution of humans (ht, Mike Weale), it remains Suttons secret, how a hint at speculations about the moral and physical constitution of the human race is supposed to specifically draw attention to the idea that natural selection transforms species. That is, this source fulfills requirement (1.), but not (4.). List item 5 disconfirmed! 


     6 - The Country Times — Currently unknown reviewer (1831)

This is from another advert of the same publishers being placed in the advertising section of the Edinburgh Literary Journal (1831, Vol. 5, pp. 46, ht Mike Weale and his Patrick Matthew Project) saying:

"This work is evidently the production of sound practical knowledge."

Again, this is an almost empty phrase. If it hinted at anything, then at the practical side (tree pruning, sowing, trenching training, etc.) of Matthew's book. List item 6 disconfirmed!


     7 - The United Service Journal and Naval and Military Magazine (1831) — unknown reviewer

This is another of the sources for which Sutton claims that it "specifically drew attention to Matthew's discovery of the natural process of selection on species" (see here). The anonymous review of the United Service Journal and Naval and military Magazine (1831, part II, p. 457) wrote:

"In thus testifying our hearty approbation of the author, it is strictly in his capacity of a forest-ranger, where he is original, bold, and evidently experienced in all the arcana of the parentage, birth, and education of trees. But we disclaim participation in his ruminations on the law of Nature, or on the outrages committed upon reason and justice by our burthens of hereditary nobility, entailed property, and insane enactments."

This fulfills requirement (1.), that the author read Matthew's book entirely and did get to the passages dealing with natural selection and the species question. But it does not show that he also understood it (requirements (2.-3.) questionable). Even if he did, he disclaimed participation in the ruminations on the law of nature as well as in Matthew's political rants against hereditary nobility, entailed property etc. Nevertheless, even a disclaim could theoretically draw the attention to the thing being disclaimed. But "ruminations on the law of Nature" could mean anything. It remains Sutton's secret, again, how this unspecific disclaim is supposed to specifically draw the attention to the idea that natural selection could transform species. This review does not fulfill requirement (4.). List item 7 disconfirmed!


     8 - The Edinburgh Literary Journal — unknown reviewer (1831)

This is the third source (Edinburgh Literary Journal No. 138, Saturday, July 2, 1831: pp. 1-4) for which Sutton claims that it "specifically drew attention to Matthew's discovery of the natural process of selection on species." It is indeed a very entertaining review, a very well crafted grilling, which you might consider spending some time reading. One passage simply reprints the whole preface of Matthew (1831), in order to show the reader what a prick Matthew was.

"We have always considered it as a fortunate circumstance, when an author has the talent of delineating his own character, and especially in the front of his book, which saves a reviewer much trouble. We shall, therefore, give Mr Matthew's Preface entire, as it is short, and conveys a tolerable taste of his style and genius.—
      'It may be thought presumptuous in a person who has never had the curiosity to peruse the British classic authors on planting and timber,—Evelyn, Hanbury, Marshall, Miller, Pontey,—to make experiment of the public sufferance. The author does not, however think any apology necessary; as, if the public lose time unprofitably over his pages, he considers the blame attachable to them, not to him. A writer does not obtrude as a speaker does, but merely places his thoughts within reach.
      As the subject, notwithstanding its great importance, might be felt, per se, dry and insipid by the general reader, accustomed to the luxuries of modern literature, the author has not scrupled to mix with it such collateral matter as he thought might serve to correct the aridity. The very great interest of the question regarding species, variety, habit, has perhaps led him a little too wide.' [...]" (p. 1)

The highlighted sentence is not from the author, but from the preface of Matthew being reprinted. Moreover, contemporary readers could not necessarily have told, from this sentence, that the book said anything about natural selection transforming species, varieties or habits. Back then, many books dealing with natural history said something about species, varieties and habits. But if natural selection or an equivalent thereof was mentioned in connection with the species problem, then as a force keeping the species fixed and preventing their transmutation.
      Sutton thinks the contemporary readers must have understood: "the question regarding species, variety, habit," as a hint of Matthew at his idea that natural selection plays a role in transforming species, because he does understand it thus now. The ruling paradigm, however, saw natural selection and species transmutation as mutually exclusive. Therefore, contemporary readers may well have gathered the opposite from this 'hint.'
     In the remainder of the review the author attempts to summarize each part of Matthew's book, but he never gets to the last part:

"Mr Matthew's work is divided into five parts. The 1st is on the structure of sea vessels; the 2nd on British forest trees, suited to naval purposes; the 3rd on miscellaneous matter, connected with naval timber; and the 4th contains notices of recent authors, who treat of arboriculture. In the first part, which is very short, we find an idea given of a ship's hull and timbers [...]" (p. 2)

I could go on quoting the whole review, but it never gets to say anything on the fifth part, which happens to be the appendix containing, among other matters, the details of his idea of natural selection as a species transforming force. Given the disgust with Matthew's book, which the author of this review displays throughout, it seems unlikely that he had the stamina to read the appendix after finishing the main text. It is unlikely that he read and/or understood the passages dealing with natural selection. This source does not fulfill requirements (1.-4.). List item 8 disconfirmed!


     9 - The Metropolitan — unknown reviewer (1831)

This review in The Metropolitan (October 1831, p. 44) reads:

"This is a sensible and clever practical work. The writer seems to understand his subject, and has called the attention of the public to our woods and forests, and to the great staple from which our navy is to be supplied with the means of existence. After treating of planks and timbers, Mr. M. notices British forest-trees suited for naval purposes, and then follows miscellaneous matter relating to naval timber. We find in Part IV. a judicious notice, or rather notices, of the authors, who treat of arboriculture, who have lately appeared before the public; on these there are very just comments. We had no notion that a heavy duty was laid on all timber for ship-building that conies from abroad. The removal of this duty, and that on hemp, would give our ship-owners a superiority over all foreign vessels in the carrying trade. The Americans alone could compete with us. Yet, living as we do by the ocean, and on the ocean, so impolitic is our taxation, that the materials for building our vessels are so taxed in timber and hemp alone as to make them cost 10l. per register ton, instead of six, for which they might be had. Let Lord Althorp think of this. Every timber grower will read Mr. Matthew's work to advantage. It is earnestly and rationally written."

The author clearly missed the passages that have been inspired by the idea of natural selection. If we generously grant assumption (1.), however, and assume that the author did read the book from A to Z, then he still did not even mention the fact that Matthew also speculates about natural history, the species question, species transmutation and all that. Requirement (4.) is therefore not fulfilled. List item 9 disconfirmed!


     10 - John Claudius Loudon (1832)

This anonymous review has probably been written by Loudon (Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvements 8: 702-3). It is the fourth source which, it is claimed, "specifically drew attention to Matthew's discovery of the natural process of selection on species" (see also here). Loudon clearly shows that he did read and understand the appendix on natural selection and species transmutation.

"An appendix of 29 pages concludes the book, and receives some parenthetical evolutions of certain extraneous points which the author struck upon in prosecuting the thesis of his book. This may be truly termed, in a double sense, an extraordinary part of the book. One of the subjects discussed in this appendix is the puzzling one, of the origin of species and varieties; and if the author has hereon originated no original views (and of this we are far from certain), he has certainly exhibited his own in an original manner." 

The preceding passages of the review show that Loudon has also read and understood the other parts of the book. Hence assumptions (1.) - (3.) are supported. Whether Loudon accepted it or understood the full implications, I cannot tell. Nor whether a contemporary reader would have taken this passage as meaning that this is just another installment of the ruling paradigm that natural selection and species transmutation exclude each other or not. It may nevertheless have aroused the attention of some contemporary reader to this specific book because he was interested in this specific topic. Therefore this is the only source to which fulfills requirement (4.). The only confirmed item! I should mention, however, that Loudon never again referred to this aspect of Matthew's book in any of his later citations of Matthew, which all exclusively related to practical matters of tree planting, training, pruning, etc.


     11 - Robert Chambers (1832)

This is from the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal (Saturday, March 24, 1883, p 63). It occurred in that journal's 'Column for Country Gentlemen' and was not actually a review of the book, but rather an excerpt from the books pages 8-14, as Mike Weale pointed out a the Patrick Matthew Project. It's a recipe for training plank timber:

"ON THE TRAINING OF PLANK TIMBER.
Divide all branches into leaders and feeders—leaders, being the main or superior shoots which tend to become stems—feeders the inferior branches. Should more than one leader appear from the time of planting the tree till it attain the required height of the plank, shorten all but the most promising one down to the condition of feeders, making the section immediately above a twig, preferring one which takes a lateral or horizontal direction. Cut off, close by the trunk, all shoots which rise at a very acute angle with the main stem. These nearly perpendicular branches generally originate from improper pruning, springing out where a large branch has been cut away. Reserve all splintered, twisted, or diseased branches. Do not cut away any of the lower branches (feeders) till they become sickly or dead. By pruning these prematurely, you destroy the fine balance of nature, and throw too much vigour into the top, which, in consequence, puts forth a number of leaders. After the tree has acquired a sufficient height of bole for plank, say from 20 to 60 feet, it will then be proper, in order to have timber as clean as possible, and regularly flexible, to top off all the branches on the stem as far as the required height. We consider the spring as the least dangerous time for pruning. The perfection of naval forest economy would consist in superadding a top, of which every branch is a valuable bend or knee. In pruning and educating for plank timber, the whole art consists in training the tree as much as possible, and with as little loss of branch as possible, to one leader and numerous feeders, and to the regular cone figure which the pine tribe naturally assumes. This can be best and most easily performed by timely attention, checking every over-luxuriant, overshadowing branch and wayward shoot on its first appearance ; so that none of the feeders which spring forth at first may be smothered till they in turn become lowermost; and by the influence of rather close plantation, which of itself will perform in a natural manner all that we have been teaching by art, and will perform it well. This closeness must, however, be very guardedly employed, and timeously prevented from proceeding too far, otherwise the complete ruin of the forest by premature decay or winds, may ensue, especially when it consists of pines. Of course all kinds of pines require no other attention than this (well-timed thinning), and to have their sickly moss-covered under-branches swept clean down.—Matthew on Naval Timber,"


Sutton makes a lot of this excerpt claiming that it must have been written by Robert Chambers, who later published the book The Vestiges of Natural History of Creation. Stating that this book influenced both Darwin and Wallace, he jumps to the conclusion that R. Chambers must have known about Matthew's idea on natural selection and species transmutation and, therefore, must have communicated it to Darwin:

"My original discovery that Robert Chambers, a great influence on Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, read Patrick Matthew's prior-published hypothesis of natural selection (because he cited it in 1832) represents just one of many bombshell's in the history of biology that explode prior Darwinist myths." (See here)


On the contrary, if the above recipe for pruning had been written by Robert Chambers rather than his brother, it would only have shown that he had read the pages 8-14 of Matthew's book, which were exclusively about the best method of pruning. Combine this with the fact that the later published Vestiges of Creation does not mention or hint at the idea of natural selection even once, and these facts are good evidence for the opposite conclusion. That is, Robert Chambers either did not read or he did not understand or he did not accept the idea that natural selection could lead to species transformation. That makes it very unlikely that he received this idea from Matthew (1831) even if he did read that book. Anyway, the source itself as quoted above does not fulfill requirements (1.-4.). List item 11 disconfirmed!


     12 - John Murray II (1833)
     13 - John Murray III (1833) personally or by association, via the same publishing house as John 
          Murray II

A journal of the John Murray publishing house, The Quarterly Review (1833, vol. 49: pp. 125-135), published an article on three books that somehow had a common theme of navy concerns:

"1. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; with Critical Notes. By Patrick Matthew. 8vo. London. 1830.
2. Practical Remarks on Building and Equipping Ships of War. By A. W. Schomberg, Esq., Rear Admiral of the Blue. 8vo. London. 1832.
3. Calculations relating to the Equipment of Ships. By John Edye. 4to. London. 1833."


It was not a review and all it gave to Matthew was short shrift concerning what he had written on dry rot:

"THE author of the first of these works introduces one of the most important branches of his subject in these terms:—
     'We greatly wonder that something efficacious has not been done by our Navy Board in regard to Dry Rot; and consider that a rot-prevention-officer or wood-physician should be appointed to each vessel of war, from the time her first timber is laid down, to be made accountable if rot to any extent should ever occur; and that this officer should be regularly bred to his profession. Perhaps it might be as well to endow several professors' chairs at the universities, to follow out and lecture on this science.'
     We do not know of what wood Mr. Matthew would recommend these chairs to be formed ; but although a Mercury may be made ex quovis ligno, we do not think any skill will ever convert him
either into a Rot-prevention officer or a Wood-physician. His
discovery, in short, is neither more nor less than the old prescription, to rub naval timbers with lime: and after a variety of long sentences and solemn calculations, he is himself obliged to close the chapter with a simple statement, which at one touch decomposes his whole doctrine, as effectually as ever a rot-doctor's prepared plank was converted into the semblance of wet leather by a three months’ sojourn in the 'fungus pit' at Woolwich :—
     'It is necessary,’ he candidly says, 'to mention, that though lime, when timber is so dry as to be liable to corruption by insects or dry rot, is, by destroying life and increasing the dryness, preventive of this corruption—yet lime, in contact with timber for a considerable time in moist air, from its great attraction for water, draws so much moisture from the air as to become wet mortar or pulp, which, moistening the timber, promotes its decay by the moist rot.’—p. 162.
     Mr. Matthew is, we do not doubt, a skilful planter; and, though his ‘Critical Notes’ are pert nonsense, his book, on the whole, is not a bad one;—but it will be evident, before we conclude this
paper, that he has never had even a glimpse of the rationale of what is called dry rot in timber. In the mean time let it be observed, that, in point of fact, all rot, whether in animal or vegetable substances, in whatever dust or snuff it may end, does and must begin with moisture."


That's it. None of the other topics dealt with by Matthew was even mentioned. The author then drifts off to publications he deems better and abler, for example, by a Mr. Knowles, a Mr. Kyan, or in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. That is, this source fulfills not one of the requirements (1. - 4.). List items 12 and 13 disconfirmed!

Nevertheless, Sutton tries to charge this source with particular importance by asserting that it means that none other than the publishers John Murray II and III, Darwin's publishers, were in the know of Matthew's idea concerning natural selection: "even Darwin's publisher was fully aware of Matthew's distinctive phrase and hypothesis of the natural process of selection" (Sutton 2014, chapter 4). Apart from the pseudo-replication trying to make two sources out of one, this is pert nonsense. The author is most likely Sir Walter Scott, who is known to have been a contributor to The Quarterly Review. If the Murrays read their journal, they will have gotten no whiff of natural selection from it.


     14 - Edmund Murphy (1834)

Edmund Murphy reviewed a book in The Irish Farmer's and Gardeners Magazine (1834, vol. 1, no. 4, pp: 201-204). Alas, it was not the book by Patrick Matthew but one by Stephen Ballard: 'A Treatise on the Nature of Trees, and the Pruning of Timber Trees, shewing the impossibility of encreasing [sic] the quantity, or improving the quality of timber by pruning.' In this review of Ballard's treatise against pruning, Murphy mentions Matthew but once in passing:

"Even amongst those whose treatment of timber trees appears to have been the most judicious, including, of course, persons of high scientific acquirements, a certain application of the pruning knife has ever been deemed of advantage, and has been recommended in every treatise on the management of timber from Evelin's "Discourse of Forest Trees," to Matthew's Book on " Naval Timber and Arboriculture." It remained to Mr. Ballard to broach the principle that "it is utterly impossible by pruning to increase the quantity or improve the quality, or even (page 57) the shape of any tree."

Again, this source fulfills none of the requirements (1.) to (4.). List item 14 disconfirmed!
 

     15 - Gavin Cree (1841)

This refers to a reprint (Cree, G. 1841. On Pruning Forest Trees. The Gardeners Magazine, Vol 3. pp. 440-444) of this article (Cree, G. 1832. On Pruning Forest Trees. The Quarterly Journal of Agriculture 3: pp. 477-481). This is a response to an earlier article by Matthew attacking Gavin Cree's published advice concerning tree pruning. It is entirely an 'academic' cat fight about the pros and cons of pruning trees and has nothing to do with other ideas of Matthew. It is not even worth quoting from it. List item 15 disconfirmed!


     16 - John William Carleton[26] (1841)

In the end-note [26] Sutton wrote:

"Cited NTA [Sutton's acronym for Matthew (1831)] within a review as part of quoted text by Selby (1842). Carleton probably never read the book, but we cannot be sure."

Alas, it is not even a review of Selby (see here). Carleton begins his article by explaining why he is, in principle, unwilling to review a part of a work that comes in several parts. Therefore, he does not review it. In order to give his readers an idea of the literary quality of Selby's book, however, he reprints an excerpt. This excerpt happens to contain a passage wherein Selby cited Matthew:

The Wych Elm we consider, from its habit and growth, to be less calculated for mixed plantations than almost any other tree with which we are acquainted, not even excepting the ash, particularly where the oak, a tree that cannot bear close interference, is intended to form the principal or ultimate crop, for, in addition to the rapid growth we have noticed during its early years, although upon soil in which it may never ultimately arrive at any respectable size, it has what Matthew, in his treatise upon naval timber, calls 'a peculiar, fan-like, sloping-to-one-side spread of branch,' giving it at all ages a wide-spreading head, which, rising above its slower growing neighbours, not only lashes them with severity, but deprives them of their due share of light and air, and soon suffocates or reduces them to a weak, unhealthy state, from which, extermination of their enemy by the free use of the axe is the only chance of recovering them."

List item 16 disconfirmed!


     17 - Cuthbert William Johnson (1842)

This was an excerpt from Johnson's Farmer's Encyclopaedia, which was about to be competed at the time, published in the The Farmer's Magazine (1842, January to June. Vol. 5 pp. 364-368). Johnson just writes on how to plant a tree, whether to simply dig a hole and put the seedling it, whetehr to manure it, trench it, what to do on sandy soils, what to do on peat soils etc. etc. The second last paragraph is just a throw away sentence citing all sorts of authors that have said anything on the issue of tree planting:

"See also on the introduction of certain new forest trees in Scotland (Tram. High. Soc. vol. v.
p. 121); "Reports relative to Plantations" (Ibid, p. 155J ; by Mr. Thomson (Ibid. vol. vi. p. 287);
"On Economy in Planting;" "On the Larch Plantations of the Dunkreld and Athol Estates" (Ibid. vol. iil. p. 165); "On preparing large Trees intended to lie transplanted,'' by Mr. Macnab (Ibid. p. 283) ; '• On pruning Forest-trees," by Mr. Cree (Ibid. vol. iii. p. 59 and 447, and by Mr. Matthew, p. 300)."


This source does not fulfill any of the requirements (1.) - (4.). List item 17 disconfirmed!


     18 - Prideaux John Selby (Selby 1842)

Selby (1842. A history of British forest-trees) cites Matthew (1831) on about 25 pages, but only one of these citations is not about technical matters such as timber quality for human purposes, pruning, trenching, planting, treating seeds etc. This citation is at page 391 and it actually rejects Matthew's idea about greater power of occupancy:

"The soil upon which most if the Abietae prevail, is usually of a dry and cool quality; thus, the débris of granitic and other primitive rocks, and barren sandy districts, are very commonly occupied by Pine and fir forests, sometimes of enormous extent; the thick and close manner in which they grow, and the dense shade they produce, effectually preventing the vegetation of other species. Matthew, however, in his able treatise on naval timber seems to think that its indigenous location in such districts arises not so much from preference of soils of the nature above-mentioned, as from its having more power of occupancy in such soils than any other plant of the country; and this opinion he endeavours to support by stating that the Pinus sylvestris, planted in a good or rich soil, attains larger dimensions and its best timber properties, and that it is only driven from this superior soil by the greater power of occupancy, planted in a good or rich soil, attains larger dimensions and its best timber properties, and that it is only driven from this superior soil by the greater power of occupancy possessed by the oak and other deciduous trees, an opinion in which we cannot altogether acquiesce, as we see no reason why the fir, if it grows with such additional vigour in a richer soil, as Mr. Matthew asserts, should, at the same time, be unable to maintain a contest with the oak or other tree." (Selby 1842, p. 391)

Obviously, Selby did not understand the relativity of growth in a richer or poorer soil. That is if the pine does grow better in rich than in poor soil, but the oak grows still much better than the pine there, then the oak will oust the pine from the rich soil. If on the other hand, pine grows worse in poor than in rich soil, but still better than other trees, it will exclude the other trees from poor soil. In modern parlance, soil quality would be called a dimension of the ecological niche (/niːʃ/).

While it is obvious for us to see, in retrospective, that this insight about ecology (competitive exclusion) has been inspired by Matthew's thinking in terms of natural selection and competition between trees, his contemporaries did not have our retrospective vantage. Selby obviously failed to get Matthew's idea, here. If this proves anything, then that Selby did not receive (read or understand) Matthew's exposition of the idea of natural selection in the appendix. It surely shows that Selby read Matthew (1831) as a work on technical matters of tree planting, training etc., because 24 of 25 pages that cite Matthew, do so on technical matters.

That is, requirements (3.) and (4. ) are clearly not fulfilled. Even if Selby read the parts on natural selection and species transmutation, he clearly did not understand them, and he did not communicate them. List item 18 disconfirmed!

     19 - The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1838) (1842) — Anonymous article

Sutton gives this reference in the list at the end of the book: Anonymous 1838. "Economical uses of the willow." The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

Firstly, this article is not in the 1838 volume of the Penny Magazine, but in the volume of 1842. This does not get clear, however, unless one scrolls through the whole thing that google has put online. The 1838 volume ends at page 508 and the 1842 volume commences with page 1. The article in question starts at page 434 and ends on page 436, but it can be read better following this link, because the scans are better than in the link given above and no volumes are concatenated.

Secondly, the anonymous author of this article does cite and quote Matthew (1831) directly, but only on a practical use of willows:
"Mr. Mathew [sic], in his 'Treatise on Naval Timber,' states, in reference to these properties of red-wood willow:—"Formerly, before the introduction of iron-hoops for cart-wheels, the external rim, or felloe, was made of willow; and when new, the cart or wain was drawn along a road covered with hard small gravel (and in preference, gravel somewhat angular); by which means the felloe shod itself with stone, and thus became capable of enduring the friction of the road for a long time, the toughness and elasticity of the willow retaining the gravel till the stone was worn away." (p. 435).

So, this source only shows that Matthew (1831) had something to say on a historical use of willow twigs for cart wheels. List item 19 disconfirmed!



     20 - Publishers Cradock and Co. (1843)[27] in "British Forest Trees"

This is a guide (a book for laypeople who want to identify trees) called British forest trees. Page 49 cites Matthew as follows:

"The Crack Willow—Salix fragilis—has the leaves oval, lanceolate, serrated, and smooth, with toothed glandular foot stalks. The leaves are wider than the last-mentioned variety but it is in many respects similar : it grows till it is a tolerably tall tree, and its distinguishing appellation, Crack, is derived from the brittleness of its small branches, which, if struck sharply, break off at the year's shoot. Like the rest of its tribe, it is a quick grower : its leaves are very long, and of a shining green on each side ; and its foliage and appearance is altogether graceful. Its wood is of a pink or salmon colour, and it is sometimes called the redwood willow. There is great difference of opinion as to the value of its timber ; some, Sir E. J. Smith among them, have said that the wood is of little or no value ; while Mr. Mathews [sic], in a treatise on Naval Timber, describes it as possessing valuable properties, asserting that it has been long used as the timber of vessels in Scotland, and adds, "by reason of its lightness, pliancy, and toughness, it is the best without exception for the formation of small fast sailing war-vessels." "

Again, a citation that has nothing to do with natural selection or even natural history, List item 20 disconfirmed!


     21 - Henry Stephens (1851)

Books.google gives you a false lead calling it volume 1 when it is volume 2.We are talking about: Henry Stephens (1851) The Book of the Farm. Vol. 2, p. 569:

"Hedgerow trees are strongly recommended, by all the old writers on agriculture, as being the best means of growing timber for the navy, and giving shelter to fields; and even a recent writer on timber seems to favour the plan of planting the oak in hedgerow, as if that tree could not be sufficiently gnarled for naval purposes, and rendered thick in the bark for tan, in other exposed situations where they could do no injury, rather than in thorn hedges.†               † Matthew On Naval Timber, p. 359."

Again, this source does not fulfill any of the above assumption. List item 21 disconfirmed!


     22 - John. P. Norton (1851) (Co-published with Stevens above)

Another pseudo-replication on Sutton's part? If the above Book of the Farm was co-published by Stephens with Norton, then it would be only one source. List item 22 disconfirmed!


     23 - Levi Woodbury (1832) (1833) (1852)

In 1852, Wodbury's writings have been collected and republished. Among them a Report to the Secretary of the Navy from 1832., which had already been reprinted in 1833. Woodbury only mentions in passing, towards the end of that report, that Mathews [sic] had suggested that the crown should give up its royal forests to private management. That's all. In combination wit the thrice reprinted misspelling of Matthew's name, Woodbury might not even have read Matthew's book at all but only heard of it's suggestion concerning the royal forests from someone. The page he gave (82) corroborates this interpretation, for Matthew says nothing about the management of the royal forests at that page. List item 23 disconfirmed!


     24 - William Jameson (1853)

Jameson (1853. Contributions to a history of the relation between climate and vegetation in various parts of the globe. Journal of the Horticultural Society of London 8: 273-314) wrote:

"This opinion regarding the value of sites where Pine trees are grown is not we are aware in accordance with those of many but we here give facts as exhibited in the Himalayahs Matthew in his treatise on naval timber states that the Pinus sylvestris if grown on good or rich soil attains rapidly large dimensions and its best timber properties." (p. 307)

Again, nothing on natural history or natural selection, just a throw away citation concerning soils and the growth of pines therein. List item 24 disconfirmed!


     25 - Wyatt Papworth (1858)

Papworth (1858. Notes on the Assumed Use of Chestnut Timber in the Carpentry of Old Buildings. The Civil Engineer and Architects Journal 21: 293-296) wrote:

 "While Matthews, in a much commended work on Naval Timber (1831), says, "There is one circumstance connected with this timber in this country, at least in Scotland, which must prevent its general use in ship plank, and be of material injury to it for ship timbers: this is that few trees of it of size are found without the timber being shaky or split, some to such a degree that the annual rings or concentric growths have separated from each other..... From the use of the Spanish chesnut in the Spanish navy, both in planking and timbering, and from the roofing beams and ornamental work of Westminster Hall being also of this wood, we should suppose it not so liable to this defect of rents in the timber in milder climates. It is, we should think, as capable of supporting weight when stretched as a beam as the oak. Having much less proportion of sap wood, and from the matured wood containing much less sap or moisture, we should suppose it not so liable to dry rot, or that more simple means or a shorter period would suffice for seasoning it, so as to be proof againt [sic] this evil." "  

Finally, no requirement (1.) to (4.) met again. List item 25 disconfirmed!


Summary
From 25 sources that did cite Matthew (1831), Loudon (1832) is the only one standing a chance to have drawn the attention of anybody to the fact that Matthew's book also contained a new idea about the species problem.

The other parts in this series (6 parts so far) can be found under the label 'Patrick Matthew.'

2 comments:

  1. You totally miss the point all the time. It's about who we now know read Matthew who darwin knew or who his influencers knew. That established a direct route for knowledge contamination - verbally or in correspondence (and so many 180-155 year old letters are long gone). The point is Matthews ideas WERE read by other naturalists known to Darwin and Wallace. And that is a NEW discovery that disconfirms the "no naturalist/no one at all read Matthew's ideas lie that as started by Darwin in 1860 (when he knew it was untrue because Matthew informed him otherwise).Might I suggest you talk to a top psychologist - Professor Mark Griffiths who is interested in those who are actively refusing to read the facts: https://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/selective-memories-charles-darwin-obsession-and-internet-dating/

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  2. My dear Dr Joachim Dagg

    Dr Arlin Stoltzfus (a university Biologist) understands that significance of what has been newly discovered. I will let his words try to remove the cataracts from your mind regarding what he describes as "short sighted hero worshipping."

    (Stoltzfus 2016) http://patrickmathew.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Arlin%20Stoltzfus


    'OMG, this is not an "extraordinary claim"! First of all, it is not a claim about evolution, but a claim about scholarship regarding evolution. This is just one of a gazillion cases in which a particular claim with scarcely any foundation is repeated until it becomes part of orthodoxy, e.g., read Ghiselin about how evolutionary biologists endlessly repeat the false trope of a conflict between Lamarck and Darwin.

    Literally, if we stack up the evidence in the two pans of a balance, on one side *all we have* is Darwin's assertion that naturalists can all be excused for not noticing Matthew's ideas because they appeared only in the appendix of a book on naval arboriculture.

    In the other pan of the balance, we have the evidence that naturalists read Matthew's work, that the ideas about evolution were not just in the appendix, that the work was reviewed publicly, and that the ideas on evolution were noticed. This evidence shows that Darwin's statement was literally incorrect.

    Then, there is evidence on a further point: we know that Matthew informed Darwin that, in fact, naturalists had read the book, and we know that Matthew provided verifiable evidence, i.e., he pointed to a citation. If Darwin had cared to ascertain the truth that Loudin reviewed the book, he could have verified Matthew's claims. Matthew made a second, more obscure, claim about an anonymous colleague who was afraid to repeat his radical views, but there was no way for Darwin to verify this.

    In science, a statement backed by citing a source trumps a mere assertion.

    [I'm not sure if this is still true, but there was a time when ACS journals instructed reviewers that they could not contradict an author's referenced statement without providing a citation. ] When Matthew wrote his open letter to Darwin citing a source that contradicted Darwin's claim, Darwin was officially trumped. The proper response would have been to rebut Matthew's evidence, or else to retract or withdraw the claim.

    The incredible amount of heat being generated here is not an indication that this is some kind of extraordinary unicorn-in-the-garden claim. It is simply a sign that Sutton has committed lese majeste, and the defenders of scientific royalty are coming out to defend His Majesty King Darwin.

    This behavior has become a major curse on evolutionary biology. We're all going to pay a price for the generations of short-sighted hero-worshipping evolutionary biologists who built a brand identity on the reputation and status of a dead person whose views would by no means survive today.'

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