Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Evelyn (1664, p. 5) on seed (s)election

The following is from John Evelyn (1664. Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesties Dominions. Chap. 1 Of the Seed, p. 5):

Sylva has been one of the most influential books on forestry ever published. After being presented to the Royal Society at 15th October 1662 and being first published in 1664, it got reprinted in many editions throughout the 17th and 18th century up to the early 1800s (1664: 1st ed.; 1670: 2nd; 1679: 3rd; 1706: 4th; 1707: first posthumous ed.; 1729; 1786; 1801; 1812; 1825).  

Compare the above passage from Sylva with the following from Matthew (1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, p. 108):
"We say that the rural economist should pay as much regard to the breed or particular variety of his forest trees, as he does to that of his live stock of horses, cows, and sheep. That nurserymen should attest the variety of their timber plants, sowing no seeds but those gathered from the largest, most healthy, and luxuriant growing trees, abstaining from the seed of the prematurely productive, and also from that of the very aged and over-mature; as they, from animal analogy, may be expected to give an infirm progeny, subject to premature decay." 
Despite the similarity, Matthew (1831, p. v) denies having read Sylva in his first sentence of the preface:
"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."