Monday, 15 September 2014

Sutton's Matthewisms dismantled

Part of chapter 4 of Nullius in Verba (Sutton 2014) is concerned with the question "Who were the first authors that were apparently first to be second in publishing unique natural selection phrases from NTA?"

NTA is Sutton's acronym for On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (Matthew 1831). The idea behind this inquiry is that Matthew (1831) has published certain phrases that convey the idea of natural selection and are unique to him, that is, nobody has ever used them before. The conclusion would be that anybody using any of these phrases after Matthew (1831) had probably read that book, but anyway transported the idea of natural selection by using that phrase.

And now brace yourself for the phrases we are supposed to take as "unique natural selection phrases" and Matthewisms that have been used by others before 1858:
[start quote:]
  • 1832 — Mudie: "rectangular branching"
  • 1833 — Ellerby: "plants so far asunder"
  • 1835 — Main: "luxuriant growing trees"
  • 1834 — Conrad: "admixture of species"
  • 1834 — Roget: "living aggregates"
  • 1834 — Low: "long continued selection"
  • 1836 — Rafinesque: "evinced in the genus"
  • 1837 —Wilson: "threatened ascendency"
  • 1837 — Anonymous: "nature's own rearing"
  • 1837 — Dovaston: "sport in infinite varieties"
  • 1838 — Anonymous translator: "portion of the surface of our planet"
  • 1840 — Buel: "infirm progeny"
  • 1840 — Swackhamer: "beat off intruders"
  • 1841 — Johnson: "adapted to prosper"
  • 1841 — Hill: "deeper richer soil"
  • 1842 — Selby: "greater power of occupancy"
  • 1844 — Low: "overpowering the less"
  • 1846 — Emmons: "habits of varieties"
  • 1846 — Alabama Supreme Court: "Infirmity of their condition"
  • 1848 — Charnock: "stiffest and most obdurate"
  • 1849 — Emmons: "deteriorated by culture"
  • 1852 — Wilkin: "figure is best accommodated"
  • 1853 — Andrews: "impressions and habits acquired"
  • 1854 — Mure: "dogmatical classification"
  • 1855 — Fishbourne: "power to permeate"
  • 1855 — Laycock: "mental or instinctive powers"
  • 1856 — Gazlay: "adaptation to condition"
  • 1858 — Powell: "restricted adaptation"
  • 1858 — Floy: "law manifest in nature"
  • 1858 — Leidy: "impressions in insects" [end of quote from Sutton 2014, chap. 4]
William Paley
Admittedly, "adaptation to condition" seems to be a good candidate for a phrase signifying natural selection at first glance. However, adaptation of traits to environmental conditions was a concept of Natural Theology (Paley 1802). There is, for example, the second Bridgewater Treatise on the Power Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifest in the Creation by John Kidd (1833. "On the adaptation of external nature to the physical condition of man"). If the title does not suffice to show that adaptation was also a creationist concept of natural theology, having cause and effect up-side down, various passages in that book refer to external nature's "adaptation to the physical condition of man." Are we supposed to believe that the difference of including or not including the two words "the physical" transforms a unique natural-selection-phrase into a creationist concept or vice verse?

So there goes the best candidate for a unique natural-selection-phrase of the above quoted list of ostensible Matthewisms. What about "deeper rich soil?" Are we supposed to believe that no farmers or land owners have ever used that trivial combination of words in discussing their properties before 1831, because it cannot be found in the database of before Matthew (1831)?

What about "infirm progeny?" I translated it into the German "schwache Nachkommen" and did find that phrase in various sources from before 1831. This one is a natural theology from 1773 and is a translation from a French original. A French equivalent of "infirm progeny" must therefore have existed even earlier than 1773. Are we supposed to believe that translating either the French or German equivalent into English magically transmogrified it into a unique natural-selection-phrase and Matthewism?

Enough already. Have fun dismantling the other "Matthewisms" for yourself. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

The first juxtaposition of 'natural selection'—an adjective and noun that have nothing to do with evolution

Mike Sutton (2014, Nullius in Verba) writes in his preface:
"On March 5, 2013, I set the fatal ID method [that's sophisticated googling] on Dawkins' hero Charles Darwin. The outcome was shocking. Contrary to what I and apparently everyone else believed, Darwin never coined the term "natural selection," and he never discovered the process; although many scholarly books claim he did both. In actual fact, the term was used by William Preston six years before Darwin was born. And the scientific breakthrough of natural selection theory—the entire detailed description of its evolutionary biological process, the hypothesis for it and the key examples used to explain it—are all unquestionably Patrick Matthew's unique discovery and creation."
Said work of William Preston (1803, "The Argonautics, translated into English verse with notes critical, historical, and explanatory, and dissertations. Vol III.") is an essay On the Poetical Character of Appolonius Rhodius (p. 127ff). In it, William Preston praises the style of the poetry of Appolonius Rhodius using the adjective 'natural,' in order to convey that his style has no mannerism whatsoever. Preston uses the noun 'selection,' in order to convey that his choice of words, allegories, metaphors etc. is natural in this sense. That is, the scene described by Rhodius emerges before the reader's inner retina all by itself, without any effort to imagine it needed by the reader. Here is the full passage:
"The graphical and picturesque talent, of our poet, appears, in the same kind of excellence, which has been ever admired in the author of The Seasons, and is also observable in the writings of Sterne. He catches the exhibition of the moment. He views the scene, or the transaction, which he means to introduce, with an accurate and circumstantial internal vision, clearly and distinctly laid out, in the true colours, if I may so say, on the retina of the mind's eye, as if they had been grouped and depicted by a skilful painter of portraits, history, or landscape. He gives us an accurate and natural selection, and accumulates, and groupes together, more than are commonly found united, though they are presented to us, in the face of nature, and daily occur to the observer in real existence, of local circumstances." (Preston 1803, p. 140, my emphasis)
Isn't it ironic, to see how many household terms of evolutionary theory are used in the sentence containing the juxtaposition of natural and selection? The 'face of nature,' 'local circumstances,' 'existence.' Inattentive and eclectic readers may completely miss the fact that this is a piece of art criticism that has nothing to do with evolutionary theory, especially, if Google guides them straight to the sentence in question. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

BS about Darwin

This is out of memory. I'm sure you can contribute further myths, whose utter ridiculousness shows by mere juxtaposition with other myths.

If all the myths I heard about Charles Darwin were true, and I surely did not hear all of them, then he would have been:

1. a plagiarist who stole ideas from Patrick Matthew and Alfred Wallace;
2. a victim of blackmail by Wallace extorting money from him for not blowing the whistle on his plagiarism;
3. an atheist muslim, who reverted to Christianity on his deathbed.
4. ... what else can you share?
this picture is from: here

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mike Sutton's own Supermyth

Dr. Mike Sutton is a criminologist and self-acclaimed supermyth buster. Nevertheless, he now weaves his own supermyth about Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace having plagiarised Patrick Matthew (for more posts on this issue click on the rider at the top of this blog called 'Matthew 1831.'

As pointed out in this post, he had the nerve to refer to googling as a method of big data analysis, simply because of the slight sophistication in setting Google's options other than to default. These were to search, to limit the search to specific periods of time and to search for exact phrases by using quotation marks as in searching for the exact phrase "natural selection." He did not hesitate to call that ostensibly new method Internet Date-detection and had the effrontery to abbreviate it ID.

What are we to expect behind the pompous phrase computer assisted plagiarism analysis of such a scholar? In fact, his Comparative Analysis of Phrase, Prose and Concept relied on computer assisted gut feelings:
"In the quest to discover whether Darwin's and Wallace's versions of natural selection are essentially not Matthew's, I set about looking for key Matthewian concepts, examples and phraseology in the published and unpublished works that comprise Darwin's and Wallace's papers. [...]
In determining further evidence of guilt or innocence, the premises of the analysis that informs this chapter are that if on more than one occasion Darwin's and Wallace's key concepts and prose appear too similar to Matthew's to have possibly occurred by chance, then that additional new evidence, combined with evidence from Chapter Four, is sufficient to judge that it is beyond all reasonable doubt that both Darwin and Wallace deliberately and dishonestly plagiarized Matthew's hypothesis. In which case, there can be no rational alternative left other than to conclude that both of these great icons committed the greatest science fraud ever known.
A fully systematic, expert, comparative textual analysis is beyond my current abilities and resources. Indeed, I do not know how one might best systematically research this exact question, although I suppose that running NTA and something like my Mega Darwin File through commercially available academic plagiarism checking software, such as Turn-it-in, might be one way to begin. It would be possible for me to try that, especially since my Mega Matthew File includes Matthew's entire hypothesis, and I have another containing the first edition of the Origin, along with Darwin's unpublished essays and other notes. However, I never did conduct such an analysis during the research for this book. Hopefully, in the near future, I or others will explore that particular approach and publish the findings.
In the meantime, this chapter presents the results of my more preliminary research on the topic, which made extensive use of Microsoft Word's finder tool within my Mega Darwin File. All apparently relevant findings were triangulated with ID in order to determine the apparent originality of particular key phrases used by Matthew and Darwin. This checking process was vital to avoid the pitfalls of etymological fallacies that might arise by way of my erroneously believing key phrases and words were rare or unique to Matthew." (Sutton 2014, chap. 5, my emphasis) 
While using technology, 
if you find yourself in ...
In anticipating the next generation of schnooks, that mindlessly apply some plagiarism checking software to Darwin, Matthew and Wallace, may I say that it will be as useless as Sutton's analysis, if it ain't assisted by intelligence. 

An apt analogy will save you a lot of headaches over the above quoted explanation of what Sutton has actually done. Suppose three sources contain a statements to the effect that "it is hot!" Sutton will discover these similar statements by letting Word search his sources (actually Darwin, Matthew and Wallace) and he will also use Google, in order to make sure that no other potential sourced (e.g., Wells, Blyth, Chambers) contain that statement. But his analysis will consider no other text before or after these statements that could add any context for interpretation. That way, he will completely miss the fact that the former source referred to the weather and the latter to the spiciness of food.

Here's an example that everybody can access without having to spend money on his abysmal book. In the comments section of the coverage of The Telegraph, Sutton compared Wallace's Sarawak paper with Matthew (1831):
"And there are many more audacious replications to be seen before we are done with Wallace. In the following presentation of them, I believe no further commentary is required. Wallace’s plagiarism unfolds clearly once followed by Matthew’s original text."
And, leaving various passages that hardly show any similarity in wording aside, he continues to marshall as evidence of plagiarism the following two passages and concludes:

"Wallace (1855):
‘As his hypothesis is one which claims acceptance solely as explaining and connecting facts which exist in nature, he expects facts alone to be brought to disprove it; not à-priori arguments against its probability.’
 Matthew, (1831):
'As our author's premises thus appear neither self-evident nor supported by facts it might seem unfair at least it would be superfluous to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries.'
From this simple preliminary comparison of extracts from the Sarawak paper with NTA [Sutton's acronym for Matthew (1831)], it is patently obvious that, three years before he sent his Ternate paper to Darwin, Wallace had plagiarised Matthew’s hypotheses. The similarities in wording, concepts and ideas are too great and too numerous for Wallace to have possibly come up with them independently the Originator." (Sutton in the comments section of the Telegraphs coverage and in 2014, chap. 5) 

Even if some reader sees the striking similarity, which I do not, the problem is the context.

Wallace (1855) actually says that he will not accept a priory criticism as could have come from theologians or philosophers, but that he will only accept evidence. For example, closely allied species that are not associated geographically or geologically would serve as evidence contrary to his law. That one can glean from the very paragraphs adjoining the quoted passage.

Matthew (1831, p. 308), however, criticized a long passage from John Loudon, which he had found quoted in Sir Henry Steuart's book on arboriculture and re-quoted himself on pp. 295-298. Matthew criticised this long quote "in limine," that is, he criticises Loudon's assumptions (pp. 298-307). In attacking the particular assumption that pruning up a tree can do any good for it, Matthew (1831, pp. 307-8) works himself up one of the rare rubies in the rubbish of his book, explaining how pruning can only mar the adaptedness of a tree and gushing out with an insight informed by his idea of natural selection: 
"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.
   As our author's premises thus appear neither self-evident nor supported by facts it might seem unfair at least it would be superfluous to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries." (Matthew 1831, p. 307-308)
As is clear from this context, the last paragraph beginning with "As our author's premises..." ends a rant against Loudon (or Steuart) and says that Matthew will not even bother to review and criticise the conclusions of this author (Loudon or Steuart), because he found his premises wanting. Admittedly, it is a bit harder to get this context and meaning, because one needs to look 10 pages astern, in order to get it.

Sutton, however, thinks that Matthew was referring to himself as "our author" and mistakes the passage as a modest gesture at why Matthew had appended his main exposition of the idea of natural selection to the appendix.
"Having refuted Darwin’s excuses that Matthew hid his discovery solely in the appendix of NTA, and that both NTA’s title and subject matter were inappropriate to contain unique ideas on organic evolution in the first half of the 19th century, it is perhaps useful to examine why Matthew did put so much of his discovery, and his discussion of its implications, into the appendix. He may have done so for two reasons. It seems likely that he believed it was the right place for a deductively derived hypothesis, as apposed to an inductive theory inspired and supported by sufficient confirmatory empirical evidence. If so, that would explain why he wrote the following in the main body of NTA (Matthew 1831, p. 303):

‘As our author's premises thus appear neither self evident, nor supported by facts, it might seem unfair, at least it would be superfluous, to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries.’

Those further conclusions and corollaries were saved for the appendix, which may also have been used so extensively because it seemed the appropriate place for heresy." (see Sutton, A Bombshell for the History of Evolutionary Biology,
It's sad how, in trying to bust a current myth about Patrick Matthew's obscurity, Sutton creates a super-myth about Darwin's and Wallace's plagiarism. The supermyth buster has fallen into his own trap it seems.

Sutton, M. 2014. Nullius in Verba. [Don't buy, it's a waste of money!]

Another irrelavant review of Matthew (1831)

Another anonymous review from before 1858, that is falsely marshalled as evidence of the publicity of Patrick Matthew's idea of natural selection is:

Anonymous 1831. "On Naval Timber." United Serice Journal and Naval and Military Magazine 1831, Part 2, pp. 457-466, which is continued in 1831, Part 3, pp. 65-76.
Being a journal of the navy and military, it is no wonder that the reviewer has positive words for Matthew's patriotism and his appraisal of the navy as the warrant of Britain's dominion. But on Matthew's idea of natural selection he drops but one terse and devastating sentence and for the radical rants against nobility and entail, the probably noble reviewer has no sympathy whatsoever:
"In thus testifying our hearty approbation of the author, it is strictly in his capacity as 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 of the law of Nature, or on the outrages committed upon reason and justice by our burthens of hereditary nobility, entailed property, and insane enactments."  (Anon. 1831, part 2, p. 457)
This reviewer did not miss Matthew's idea of natural selection, for sure, but he disclaimed it and merely calling it "ruminations of the law of Nature" left no hint for the reader to guess what that law could be about. Again, if Darwin or Wallace had read this review, they would not have gotten the slightest hunch that Matthew said anything of relevance to their own issue. This is another irrelevant citation of Matthew (1831) that is falsely marshalled as evidence of the publicity of Matthew's idea of natural selection before 1858.

Friday, 22 August 2014

A Vintage Roasting of Matthew (1831) On Naval Timber

The discovery of citations of Matthew (1831) has lead several writers to allegations that Darwin and Wallace must have known and plagiarised Matthew's idea of natural selection. The assumption seems to be that any citation or review of Matthew (1831) increases the likelihood that Darwin and Wallace got wind of this publication as well as of the idea of natural selection in it and its relevance to their own interest.

In previous posts (here, here, here, and here) I have shown that only 1 of 7 citations marshalled by Mike Sutton actually referred to Matthew's idea of natural selection. The following is an entertaining scorcher of Matthew (1831) being published anonymously in the Edinburgh Literary Journal, Saturday, July 2, 1831, pp. 1-4 (for the whole review click on this link). It serves to show that not all citations or reviews of Matthew (1831) necessarily increased Matthew's popularity or the awareness about his idea of natural selection and its relevance to the species problem.

Ironically, luminaries such as Sutton or Wainwright cite even this devastating scrotcher as evidence for the popularity of Matthew's book. This particular anonymous review of 1831 even claims that Matthew (1831) plagiarized earlier works on planting (arboriculture) by Miller, Marshall, Pontey etc. but denied to having read them in his preface. 

Here are just some gems and an image of the first page:
"This is a publication of as great promise, and as paltry performance, as ever came under our critical inspection." (Anon. 1831, p. 1)
"Whoever is conversant with any tolerable treatise on ship-building, and with three or four of the best modern works on planting (now fashionably called Arboriculture), will find that the book furnishes a very superficial view indeed on what they have there learned, hashed up a-new for the booksellers, with a sauce piquante of "Critical Notes on recent writers;" that is, a vulgar, petulant, and outrageous abuse of the most distinguished among them; of Sir Walter Scott, of Sir Henry Steuart, of Messers Loudon, Cruickshank, Monteath, and even of Mr. Withers himself, the Norfolk attorney; which last the author has felicitously selected as the archetype of his genius, and the model of his style. With more knowledge of the subject than the attorney (for less he could not well possess), he is a ten times worse writer; while for innate self-sufficiency and conceit, he beats the attorney all to nothing." (Anon. 1831, p. 1)
"The entire tract resembles a new quack medicine..." (Anon. 1831, p. 2)
Next comes the allegation that Matthew himself plagiarised:
 "In the first part, which is very short, we find an idea given of a ship's hull and timbers, with three woodcuts; as also, by means of three more, we have directions for the training and pruning of trees, so as to fit them for the construction of vessels; all which are much better give,—the first in any elementary book on naval architecture, and the second in the original works on planting, from whence they are copied, [original emphasis] namely, those of Miller, Marshall, Pontey, &c., authors that Mr Matthew never had "the curiosity" to examine!" (Anon. 1831, p. 2)
Another allegation of plagiarising Cruickshank on the part of Matthew (1831) is given in a footnote at page 3 of this review. The place, where a reader could get a hunch that something in the book is relevant to the species problem, goes:
"In the second part, a very meagre and commonplace account is given of the oak, larch, chestnut, beech, elm, pine, and willow, the only seven trees used in ship-building. in this account, from our practical familiarity with the subject, and especially with the writers above enumerated, we can declare that we are not enabled to detect one new idea, excepting this; that those writers , as well as the most celebrated botanists and physiologists, with Linnaeus and Willdenow at their head, were all in the wrong in their manner of classifying, and generally treating these seven ship-building trees, until Mr Patrick Matthew of Gourdie hill appeared to set them right! Not only are they to be set right in these important particulars, but even the phytological divisions of genus, species, and variety, so long known and established, are all to be changed, and the more learned and felicitous ones of "breed, family, and individual," substituted in their stead" (Anon. 1831, p. 2,emphasis in original)
Any contemporary reader would probably only have concluded that Matthew was a big mouth and engaged in some trivial semantic squabble about taxonomic ranks, here.

On Matthew's critical notes of other authors who have treated the subject of planting, Anonymous wrote:
"Besides, these friendly planters had happened to commend one another in their writings—an offence which the waspish spirit of Mr Matthew could by no means digest. To give any idea of the coarseness, the virulence, the malignity, and utter absurdity of the style of attack that is here opened upon them, is impossible" (Anon. 1831, p. 3, emphasis in original)
Mr Anonymous then continued throughout the rest of page 3 and three quarters of page 4 to quote long passages of vitriol and ad hominem attacks from Matthew (1831), ending the review with some vitriol and ad hominem attack against Matthew in turn.

There is not one sentence about the appendix or the idea of natural selection in the whole scorcher. Why then is it cited by Sutton or Wainwright as evidence for the ostensible publicity of Matthew's idea of natural selection?

Oh—here's why: Mr Anonymous quotes the Preface of Mr Matthew (1831) in full on his page 1. In that preface Matthew, always addressing himself in the third person, has written:
"As the subject [naval timber], notwithstanding its great importance, might, per se, be felt 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 too wide." (Matthew 1831, p. v-vi and quoted in Anon. 1831, p. 1, emphasis original)
While this only serves to show that Patrick Matthew regarded his idea of natural selection as a collateral issue himself, Sutton and Wainwright mistake it as a reference of Mr Anonymous to that idea. Mr Anonymous, however, has only cited the preface in full, because it was short and showed some of Matthew's character, in particular, his claim to be ignorant of the classic works on arboriculture by Evelyn, Hanbury, Marshall, Miller, and Pontey, but nevertheless to publish a book on the issue. Mr Anonymous wanted to quote that, of course, in order to level his charge against Matthew that he plagiarized exactly these authors (see above).

It is not at all clear whether Mr Anonymous did at all receive Matthew's idea of natural selection for having quoted the preface thus. I reckon he did not.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Rubies in the rubbish "On Naval Timber" (Matthew 1831)

The following is a graphic illustration of the structure of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture by Patrick Matthew (1831). The number line is proportional to the pages of the book. Particular pages are marked. For example, the Introduction goes from page 1 to page 5. The title page, preface etc. all come before page 1.  

The pages, where Matthew has written something of relevance to his idea of natural selection, are marked red and enumerated as rubies, because they are lost in this vast book on other topics. A reader interested in natural selection will feel, as if they were rubies in the rubbish.

As can be seen from this illustration, the biggest part of the book is Part III, which is a critique of previous works of other scholars that have treated arboriculture. This is the biggest heap of rubbish, so to speak, but it also contains one of the most significant rubies, the one containing the phrase "natural process of selection."

If the illustration seems a bit crammed with information, suppose the page numbers on the line were distances. Imagine yourself having to walk through 67 miles of wasteland before you get a refreshment, then another 40, 200 and 57 miles between refreshment points and a final 16 miles before you reach the goal.

For more information on the structure and contents of the book see this previous post.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Part 2: Bombshell discovery hoisted by its own petard

Pat Campbell explains
Mike Sutton claims to have found seven citations of Matthew (1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture) from before 1858, when Darwin and Wallace published their papers on natural selection jointly, and that these citations prove that Darwin and Wallace knew of Matthew's idea of natural selection and plagiarised it.

Three of these seven citations were from scholars he regarded as belonging to the inner social circle of Darwin and Wallace. In the previous post I have shown, however, that only one of these three actually discovered and referred to Matthew's idea of natural selection. The other merely cited practical stuff about the effects of pruning or rich soil on timber quality, except one place where Selby discussed the effect of competition between species on their natural locations.

What about the other four citations? As it turns out, none of them actually referred to the idea of natural selection either. They instead referred to Matthew on pruning, planting hedge-rows or the effect of rich soil on timber quality

Murphy, Edmund (1834) "The Irish Farmer's and Gardener's Magazine. Vol. 1" William Curry jun. and Co., London.
Although Matthew (1831) has been quite critical of pruning, Murphy highlights Ballard as condemning the practice completely.
"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 Evelyn'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, er even (page 57) the shape of any tree."" (Murphy 1834, p. 200-201)
Johnson, Cuthbert W. (1842) "Plantation." The Farmer's Magazine, vol. 5 (January to June), pp. 364-368 
After advice on collecting, preparing and planting the seeds of trees with references to many other works, Johnson ends this section with a string of references for further reading:
"See also on the introduction of certain new forest trees in Scotland (Trans. High. Soc. vol. v. p. 121); "Reports relative to Plantations" (Ibid. p. 155); by Mr. Thomson (Ibid. vol. vi. p. 287); "On Economy in Planting;" "On the Larch Plantation of the Dunkreld and Athol Estates" (Ibid. vol. iii. p. 165); "On preparing large Trees intended to be 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)" (Johnson 1842, p. 368)
Now, while this might be a reference to Matthew (1831, p. 300), it might also be to an article by Mr. Matthew in volume 3 of the Transactions of the Highland Society of Scotland. Even though Johnson probably had meant Matthew's book on naval timber, a reader might have misinterpreted this citation and searched in vain elsewhere.

Stephens, Henry (1851) "The Book of the Farm." William Blackwood  and Sons, Edinburgh, p. 569
In a chapter On the Planting and Rearing of Thorn-Hedges he wrote:
"Hedgerow trees are strongly recommended, by all the old writers on agriculture, as being 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" (Stephens (1851, p. 569)
However, page 359 in Matthew (1831) is the last page of his critiques of other scholars' works. It's a rather bleak conclusion about the state of the art of arboriculture ending:
"As a friend, we have stood on no ceremony with our brother arboriculturists.We have laid ourselves open to their criticism, and we hope they will shew as little ceremony with us." (Matthew 1831, 359)

Jameson, William (1853) Contributions to a history of the relation between climate and vegetation in various parts of the globe. 14.—On the physical aspects of the Punjab—its agriculture and botany. Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society of London 8:273-314.
"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." (Jameson 1853, p. 307)
Of seven citations of Matthew (1831) from before 1858 only one actually referred to his idea of natural selection (Loudon 1832, see previous post).  The other six only referred to practical matters (two even screw that referring to wrong pages or wrong works), except for Selby (1842) discussing the effect of competition between species on the natural location of tree species in one of about 27 pages where he referred to Matthew (1831). 

Sutton interprets this as evidence that Darwin and Wallace must have known of Matthew (1831) in general and of his idea of natural selection in particular.

That is, however, not the only possible interpretation of this evidence. If only one of seven scholars actually referred to Matthew's idea of natural selection in his book, this may as well be taken as evidence of the obscure writing style of Patrick Matthew and the perverse structure of a book that hid its (retrospectively) most important idea like rubies in the rubbish. Historians may mute their Whig-alarm, here, I know. For a digest of the Structure of "on Naval Timber" see here.

Disclaimer: I do not say that Sutton's conclusion is necessarily false, only that the evidence he produced is not cogent and leaves room for interpretation. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sutton's bombshell discovery—hoisted by his own petard

Mike Sutton serves up a fraud story based on letting google do the reading for him rather than reading old sources himself. He calls that a big data analysis method, where it really is no more than fiddling with the search options of google. If you do not believe that and think he really did invent a new method, see his own description of said 'method,' which he calls Internet Date-Detection and abbreviates it ID. For crying out loud, is that coincidence?

He claims to have found, through google, three scholars that belonged to the inner social circle of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace that have cited Patrick Matthew (1831). He also assumes that Matthew's book is about natural selection from A to Z, which is patent nonsense, and that citing Matthew (1831) is therefore equivalent to citing his ideas about natural selection.

The three incriminating citations are, according to Sutton:

Loudon, J.C. 1832. Matthew Patrick On Naval Timber and Arboriculture with Critical Notes on Authors who have recently treated the Subject of Planting. Gardener’s Magazine. Vol. VIII. p.703.

Chambers, Robert In: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on Saturday the 24th of March 1832. Volume 1 of that journal containing numbers 1-52 was published in 1833 by Orr and Smith, London.

Selby, P. J. 1842. A history of British forest-trees: indigenous and introduced. London. Van Voorst.

John Loudon
If you actually follow the links to the original sources, however, you will find that only Loudon actually referred to Matthew's ideas about natural selection, though he called it the puzzling subject of the origin of species and varieties:
"The author introductorily maintains that the best interest of Britain consists in the extension of her dominion on the ocean; and that, as a means to this end, naval architecture is a subject of primary importance and, by consequence, the culture and production of naval timber is also very important. [...]   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 [which it the importance of naval timber]. 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." (Loudon, 1832, pp. 702-703)
Robert Chambers
The column in the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal is a recipe on how to treat trees so that they yield plank timer. "Divide all branches into leaders and feeders..." and so on about cutting, pruning, thinning etc. I'm not even sure whether this has been written by Robert Chambers. It is signed "Matthew on Naval Timber." The very abridged form condensed into one short paragraph all that Matthew (1831) has written on treating timber trees and leaves out everything else that Matthew (1831) has so meanderingly also written about, for example, the importance of the marine, his political views, rant against the aristocracy, his racist views and national chauvinism, or natural selection. I could even imagine that it has been written by Matthew himself, possibly on the request of Chambers. Anyway, it is not a citation by Chambers of Matthew (1831) on natural selection.

John Selby
Finally, Selby cited Matthew (1831) about 30 times, but not one of these refers to his ideas about natural selection. It is all about which trees are good for what purpose, how to treat trees, soil, climate, pruning, etc. Admittedly, on page 391, Selby criticises a claim of Matthew about the "power of occupancy" or competitiveness of tree species. But there is still a huge leap from thinking about competition between species to a theory of evolution by natural selection between variants of a species.
"Matthew, however, in his able treatise on naval timber seems to think that its [the fir's] indigenous location in such districts arises, not so much from preference of soils of the nature above-mentioned, as from its having the 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 possessed by the oak and other decidous trees, an opinion which we cannot altogether acquiesce, as we see no reason why the fir, it it grows with such additional vigour in a rich soil, as Mr. Matthew asserts, should, at the same time, be unable to maintain a contest with the oak or other tree." (Selby 1942, 391)

In conclusion, just finding places, where someone cited Matthew (1831) is not enough to prove that Darwin and Wallace must have know of Matthew's idea of natural selection before having their own.

The question whether Darwin and Wallace plagiarized Matthew can be answered with in "dubio pro reo," we do not know and therefore cannot incriminate them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Structure of "On Naval Timber" (Matthew 1831)

Front image from
The book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting by Patrick Matthew (1831) is not one long argument, but a jumble of issues. The biggest surprise for a naive but persistent reader will be that, after the end of the main text and after the end of the appendix containing a list of long endnotes, the end is still not reached. Instead, a horizontal line occurs, like this:

And after that the text continues, as it does here, without a heading or anything explaining what is to be expected. The appendix has an appendix! Unlike the endnotes, however, it is not referred to anywhere in the main body of the book, except in the table of contents, where it is mentioned as "Accommodation of organized life to circumstances, by diverging ramifications,      p. 381." And this easily overlooked appendix of the appendix is where Matthew laid out his theory of natural selection in a coherent way.

Those who cannot endure the very long digest of the much longer main body of the book that follows should scroll down to the next horizontal line in this post, and they will get the appendix of the Appendix detailing Matthew's theory of natural selection.

The main body of the book
The main text and the endnotes, on the other hand, only contain asides and abridged statements of his theory of natural selection that can also be be overlooked quite easily as you can see if you don't skip to the next horizontal line and read on.

If the main text of the book has any common thread, then it is the importance of naval timber not a theory of natural selection. Nevertheless, Matthew's evolutionary ideas pop up here and there in the book, for example, when he hands out advice on how to manage tree nurseries or plantations or when it informs his criticism of ill advice from earlier scholars on arboriculture. For readers who are particularly interested in evolutionary biology and have no special disposition towards arboriculture, wood science, ship building or navigation, however, these passages will be rubies in the rubbish, which they can easily overlook. And so they have been, it seems, by most readers.

May the following serve others as a reading guide or navigation tool through a thick old book that seems to have confused and frustrated many a reader.

Structure of the main text of On Naval Timber
The book is divided into an Introduction followed by four different Parts and an Appendix consisting of Notes A to F that have been too long to be included as footnotes in the main text. That is, the maint text has footnotes, but some of these refer to one of the notes A to F in the aappendix. This is why I also call them endnotes at times. Parts I to IV are subdivided in various sections or chapters that sometimes also have roman numerals, so that Part I has sections I and II and Part VI has chapters I to VII.

The table of contents gives the headings and pages of parts, sections or chapters, but those statements that are indented in the table of contents actually summarize a passage or highlight its main argument. These statements cannot be found as headings in the main text. An exception is the above mention of the line "Accommodation of organized life to circumstances, by diverging ramifications," which is not indented, but does not occur as heading of the appendix's appendix either. Maybe the table of contents should be called analytical, but the jumble already begins in it. Nevertheless, the table of contents does sometimes contain additional information that is hard to be gleaned from the text. At other times, however, it obscures. For example, it refers to Note B as being "On heredity, nobility and entail," which is obscure, in retrospective, given that Note B starts with an apt formulation of the principle of natural selection and only thereafter drifts off into rants about the nobility and the law of entail making nobility hereditary.

The introduction seems to have been inspired by the patriotic song Rule Britannia. It's a strange melange of national chauvinism, rants against the law of entail, praise of war and the marine and how all that needs naval timber. This part is memorable only for a footnote on page 3 referring to Note B of the Appendix.

Part I.—Structure of Vessels
This is about planks (the skin) and timbers (the skeleton) of vessels. It details what wood is required for planks and timbers and how the trees should be treated, in order to yield the required wood. This part has nothing to say on natural selection. People not into naval timber will probably get lost as readers, here, unless they were attentive enough to follow the footnote in the introduction that refers to Note B in the Appendix.

Part II.—British Forest Trees used as Naval Timber
While Matthew stresses the variability among individuals within tree species, the main purpose of this part is to inform potential tree planters about the most suitable species or varieties for timber or plank production. That is, this part is not analogous to Darwin's chapters about Variation under Domestication and Variation under Nature being pre-requisite to introducing natural selection. Matthew is not following an inductive reasoning, here, that leads to natural selection as the most likely conclusion.
   After so many tree species and varieties, however, on the occasion of denying taxonomic distinctions of varieties of pines as artificial, the following remark is surprising—a ruby in the rubbish:
"We hope the above remarks will not be lost on those who have the management of the sowing, planting, and thinning of woods, and that they will always have selection in view. Although numerous varieties are derived form the seed of one tree, yet if that tree be of a good breed, the chances are greatly in favour of this progeny being also good." (Matthew 1831, 67)
Thereafter, Matthew descends into a plant pathological treatise about rot in larch trees and other issues. The common thread through all these curios being advice for tree planters, who want to yield timber or plank wood.

Part III.—Miscellaneous Matter connected with Naval Timber
This part begins with a chapter on Nurseries. The table of contents also summarises this chapter as follows:

"Nurseries,                                                                        P. 106
     Infinite variety existing in what is called species,        ib.
     Injurious effect from selecting seed of the
       inferior varieties for sowing,                                       107
     Injurious effect from kiln-drying cones,                        ib.
     A principle of selection existing in nature of the
       strongest varieties for reproduction,                            108 [...]" (Matthew 1831, x)

The chapter itself shows that Matthew's advice on nursing trees is informed by his theory of natural selection, but the chapter is not written in order to convince the reader of natural selection. He rather seems to take it as self-evident, once mentioned, and in no need of further advocacy.
"The consequences are now being developed of our deplorable ignorance of, or inattention to, one of the most evident traits of natural history, that vegetables as well as animals are generally liable to an almost unlimited diversification, regulated by climate, soil, nourishment, and new commixture of already formed varieties." (Matthew 1831, 106)
He then decries that tree breeders tend to select the least fit trees for reproduction and praises nature's ways.
 "The large growing being so long of coming to produce seed, that many plantations are cut down before they reach this maturity, the small growing and weakly varieties, known by early and extreme seeding, have been continually selected as reproductive stock, from the ease and convenience with which their seed could be procured; and the husks of several kinds of these invariably kiln-dried, in order that the seeds might be the more easily extracted! May we, then, wonder that our plantations are occupied by a sickly short-lived puny race, incapable of supporting existence in situations where their own kind had formerly flourished--particularly evidenced in the genus Pinus, more particularly in the species Scots fir; so much inferior to those of Nature's own rearing, where only the stronger, more hardy, soil-suited varieties can struggle forward to maturity and reproduction?" Matthew (1831, 107-108)
The rest is on how to manage nurseries so as to select seeds from the best trees. The following chapters on Planting and Pruning are purely practical advice. Likewise, the Observations on Timber and Concerning our Marine have nothing to say in respect of natural selection.The latter, in fact, trumpets the Rule Britannia theme again.

Part IV.—Notices of Authors who treat of Arboriculture
This is the longest part of the book, which also gained its own subtitle in: "On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting." In it Matthew reviews the treatises of earlier scholars on arboriculture. The works reviewed thus are:

" I.—Forester's Guide, by Mr Monteath, p. 140
 II.—Nicol's Planter's Calendar, 163
III.—Billington on Planting, 181
IV.—Forsyth on Fruit and Forest Trees, 192
  V.—Mr Withers, 198
 VI.—Steuart's Planter's Guide and Sir Walter Scott's Critique, 226
VII.—Cruickshank's Practical Planter, 309" (Matthew 1831, xi-xv)

While some of Matthew's criticism or praise of the advice of these various authors is informed by his theory of natural selection, these passages remain rubies hidden in a very big heap of rubbish indeed. According to my perusal of some of these authors, they did not have the idea of natural selection themselves, but selection was a household term in their trade of tree breeding as much as it was among other breeders. It may therefore not have been a big leap for Matthew from human to natural selection.

In his criticism of Steuart's Planter's Guide, for example, Matthew seems to have had a particular prejudice against Sir Henry Steuart being an aristocrat. Ad hominem attacks can be found at pages 283 and 293-294. Thereafter, Matthew criticises a long quote found in Steuart and reprinted by Matthew (1831, 295-298). Though Matthew only mentions the works of the original author of this quote, not his name, only John Claudius Loudon can have been the author of the works cited, when you search for them. An easier way to find this out is to consult the table of contents, which I did too late, for it does give Loudon's name. In criticising Loudon's assumptions that pruning is beneficial and that trees grow best in soil and climate they are naturally found growing in, Matthew works himself up to another ruby:
"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." (Matthew 1831, p. 307-308, my underlining)
This passage is noteworthy, because the sentence containing the phrase natural process of selection is often quoted out of context, that is, without mentioning that this ruby was hidden in a heap of academic spat – or proxy spat where Matthew attacks an author, but would not have done so if it wasn't for Steuart quoting him. Mike Sutton, for example, hinges his fraud myth on this and other out of context phrases and their similarity to Darwin's (see last post). 

The paragraph following the above given quote ends the review of Steuart as follows: 
"As our author's premises thus appear neither self-evident nor supported by facts, it might seem unfair, at least it would be superfluous, to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries." (Matthew 1831, 308)
But did he slander Steuart or Loudon that way?

Appendix meaning the Endnotes
Note A (p. 363-364) trumpets the Rule Britannia theme again. Note B (Matthew 1831, 364-369) starts with the idea of natural selection, but Matthew quickly drifts from his insight about natural selection into a rant against the law of entail and then meanders on between rants against primogenitur and feudalism, praise of war as an agent of selection in humans, claims for political renovation and other issues. It mainly is a polemic pamphlet for a cause I do not know—probably a working or middle class cause. Here, it becomes clear that these biological, technical, cultural and political issues were all one for Matthew, but it had to appear as an utterly confused piece of writing for any reader who had enjoyed Darwin's inductive step by step explanation before. The first half of the first paragraph suffices to give you a taste of this fare:

"There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles. As Nature, in all her modifications of life, has a power of increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what falls by Time's decay, those individuals who posses not the requisite strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without reproducingeither a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on the means of subsistence. The law of entail, necessary to hereditary nobility, is an outrage on this law of nature which she will not pass unavenged—a law which has the most debasing influence upon the energies of a people, and will sooner or later lead to general subversion, more especially when the executive of a country remains for a considerable time efficient, and no effort is needed on the part of the nobility to protect their own, or not war to draw forth or preserve their powers by exertion. [...]" Matthew (1831, 364-365)
Note C (pp. 369-375) is racial nonsense about the Scandinavian rover [sic], Caucasian, Jew, Kelt etc. After having denied the existence of clear gaps in morphology between pine varieties, Matthew seems to have no problem seeing them in humans. He does however speculate about changes in races due to migration, competition etc. He nevertheless had a better eye for trees than humans.

Note D (p. 376) is a short note on psychological dispositions.

Note E (pp. 376-377) deplores the law that vessels have to pay charges for lights and harbour according to their length and breadth rather than tonnage leading to deep and broad ships, built in order to save money, that are sluggish sailers in turn.

Note F (pp. 378-381) is on the mud deposition or alluvium on the east coast of Britain and geological observations.

The appendix to the Appendix
Next up is a horizontal line similar to the one below. Lo and behold, thereafter comes an appendix to the above list of endnotes that received no heading or lettering. It has nowhere been referred to in the main text, apart from the table of contents, yet it contains the theory of natural selection of Partick Matthew in a coherent way. Some online transcripts drop this horizontal line, making it seem as though this appendix to the appendix was in fact part of Note F (e.g., here). It has nothing to do with Note F, however, which is about the deposition of mud in what Matthew calls the German Sea (North Sea). These pages forming the appendix to the Appendix (381-388) are here given in full, because it is, where Matthew has hidden his theory of natural selection.

"Throughout this volume, we have felt considerable inconvenience, from the adopted dogmatical classification of plants, and have all along been floundering between species and variety, which certainly under culture soften into each other. A particular conformity, each after its own kind, when in a state of nature, termed species, no doubt exists to a considerable degree. This conformity has existed during the last forty centuries. Geologists discover a like particular conformityfossil speciesthrough the deep deposition of each great epoch, but they also discover an almost complete difference to exist between the species or stamp of life, of one epoch from that of every other. We are therefore led to admit, either of a repeated miraculous creation; or of a power of change, under a change of circumstances, to belong to living organized matter, or rather to the congeries of inferior life, which appears to form superior. The derangements and changes in organized existence, induced by a change of circumstance from the interference of man, affording us [page break 381/382] proof of the plastic quality of superior life, and the likelihood that circumstances have been very different in the different epochs, though steady in each, tend strongly to heighten the probability of the latter theory. 
   When we view the immense calcareous and bituminous formations, principally from the waters and atmosphere, and consider the oxidations and depositions which have taken place, either gradually, or during some of the great convulsions, it appears at least probable, that the liquid elements containing life have varied considerably at different times in composition and in weight; that our atmosphere has contained a much greater proportion of carbonic acid or oxygen; and our waters, aided by excess of carbonic acid, and greater heat resulting from greater density of atmosphere, have contained a greater quantity of lime and other mineral solutions. Is the inference then unphilosophic, that living things which are proved to have a circumstance-suiting powera very slight change of circumstance by culture inducing a corresponding change of charactermay have gradually accommodated themselves to the variations of the elements containing them, and, without new creation, have presented the diverging changeable phenomena of past and present organized existence. 
   The destructive liquid currents, before which the hardest mountains have been swept and comminuted into gravel, sand, and mud, which intervened between and divided these epochs, probably extending over the whole surface of the globe, and destroying nearly all living [page break 382/383] things, must have reduced existence so much, that an unoccupied field would be formed for new diverging ramifications of life, which, from the connected sexual system of vegetables, and the natural instincts of animals to herd and combine with their own kind, would fall into specific groups, these remnants, in the course of time, moulding and accommodating their being anew to the change of circumstances, and to every possible means of subsistence, and the millions of ages of regularity which appear to have followed between the epochs, probably after this accommodation was completed, affording fossil deposit of regular specific character. 
   There are only two probable ways of changethe above, and the still wider deviation from present occurrence,of indestructible or molecular life (which seems to resolve itself into powers of attraction and repulsion under mathematical figure and regulation, bearing a slight systematic similitude to the great aggregations of matter), gradually uniting and developing itself into new circumstance-suited living aggregates, without the presence of any mould or germ of former aggregates, but this scarcely differs from new creation, only it forms a portion of a continued scheme or system. 
   In endeavouring to trace, in the former way, the principle of these changes of fashion which have taken place in the domiciles of life, the following questions occur: Do they arise from admixture of species nearly allied producing intermediate species? Are they the diverging ramifications of the living principle under modification of [page break 383/384] circumstance? Or have they resulted from the combined agency of both? Is there only one living principle? Does organized existence, and perhaps all material existence, consist of one Proteus principle of life capable of gradual circumstance-suited modifications and aggregations, without bound under the solvent or motion-giving principle, heat or light? There is more beauty and unity of design in this continual balancing of life to circumstance, and greater conformity to those dispositions of nature which are manifest to us, than in total destruction and new creation. It is improbable that much of this diversification is owing to commixture of species nearly allied, all change by this appears very limited, and confined within the bounds of what is called Species; the progeny of the same parents, under great difference of circumstance, might, in several generations, even become distinct species, incapable of co-reproduction. 
   The self-regulating adaptive disposition of organized life may, in part, be traced to the extreme fecundity of Nature, who, as before stated, has, in all the varieties of her offspring, a prolific power much beyond (in many cases a thousandfold) what is necessary to fill up the vacancies caused by senile decay. As the field of existence is limited and pre-occupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better suited to circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater power of occupancy than any other kind; the weaker, less circumstance-suited, being prema- [page break 384/385] turely destroyed. This principle is in constant action, it regulates the colour, the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals of each species, whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from vicissitude and inclemencies of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support; whose capacities and instincts can best regulate the physical energies to self-advantage according to circumstancesin such immense waste of primary and youthful life, those only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which Nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind by reproduction. 
   From the unremitting operation of this law acting in concert with the tendency which the progeny have to take the more particular qualities of the parents, together with the connected sexual system in vegetables, and instinctive limitation to its own kind in animals, a considerable uniformity of figure, colour, and character, is induced, constituting species; the breed gradually acquiring the very best possible adaptation of these to its condition which it is susceptible of, and when alteration of circumstance occurs, thus changing in character to suit these as far as its nature is susceptible of change. 
   This circumstance-adaptive law, operating upon the slight but continued natural disposition to sport in the progeny (seedling variety), does not preclude the supposed influence which volition or sensation may have over the configuration of the body. To examine into the disposi- [page break 385/386] tion to sport in the progeny, even when there is only one parent, as in many vegetables, and to investigate how much variation is modified by the mind or nervous sensation of the parents, or of the living thing itself during its progress to maturity; how far it depends upon external circumstance, and how far on the will, irritability and muscular exertion, is open to examination and experiment. In the first place, we ought to investigate its dependency upon the preceding links of the particular chain of life, variety being often merely types or approximations of former parentage; thence the variation of the family, as well as of the individual, must be embraced by our experiments. 
   This continuation of family type, not broken by casual particular aberration, is mental as well as corporeal, and is exemplified in many of the dispositions or instincts of particular races of men. These innate or continuous ideas or habits, seem proportionally greater in the insect tribes, those especially of shorter revolution; and forming an abiding memory, may resolve much of the enigma of instinct, and the foreknowledge which these tribes have of what is necessary to completing their round of life, reducing this to knowledge, or impressions, and habits, acquired by a long experience. This greater continuity of existence, or rather continuity of perceptions and impressions, in insects, is highly probable; it is even difficult in some to ascertain the particular stops when each individuality commences, under the different phases of egg, larva, pupa, or if much con- [page break 386/387] sciousness of individuality exists. The continuation of reproduction for several generations by the females alone in some of these tribes, tends to the probability of the greater continuity of existence, and the subdivisions of life by cuttings, at any rate must stagger the advocate of individuality. 
   Among the millions of specific varieties of living things which occupy the humid portion of the surface of our planet, as far back as can be traced, there does not appear, with the exception of man, to have been any particular engrossing race, but a pretty fair balance of powers of occupancy,or rather, most wonderful variation of circumstance parallel to the nature of every species, as if circumstance and species had grown up together. There are indeed several races which have threatened ascendency in some particular regions, but it is man alone from whom any general imminent danger to the existence of his brethren is to be dreaded. 
   As far back as history reaches, man had already had considerable influence, and had made encroachments upon his fellow denizens, probably occasioning the destruction of many species, and the production and continuation of a number of varieties or even species, which he found more suited to supply his wants, but which, from the infirmity of their conditionnot haying undergone selection by the law of nature, of which we have spoken, cannot maintain their ground without his culture and protection. It is, however, only in the present age that man has [page break 387/388] begun to reap the fruits of bis tedious education, and has proven how much "knowledge is power." He has now acquired a dominion over the material world, and a consequent power of increase, so as to render it probable that the whole surface of the earth may soon be overrun by this engrossing anomaly, to the annihilation of every wonderful and beautiful variety of animated existence, which does not administer to bis wants principally as laboratories of preparation to befit cruder elemental matter for assimilation by bis organs." (Matthew 1831, p. 381-388)

What now? Oh no, the text goes on, without a horizontal line, but after an empty line. Relax, it is only an erratum attached to the appendix of the Appendix, when Matthew saw the proofs. But after the end of this erratum—shriek—another horizontal line occurs.

What follows this line is a commentary on political and botanical changes having occurred since this volume went into press about two pages long and finally:


You've been had, haven't you? Tadaa:

Another horizontal line and another list of errata follow. But then it's only blank pagesthank goodness! Goodnight.