Most of the piece is identical with an earlier article by Patrick Matthew (28 July 1831. On Pruning. Quarterly Journal of Agriculture 3(14): 300-308.* This article by Patrick Matthew contains a section called Directions for Training Plank Timber. It starts at page 303, ends at page 307, and Matthew introduces it by saying: "I find I cannot better illustrate the uses of the lower branches, and my views of pruning in general, than by quoting a few passages from my work on "Naval Timber and Arboriculture," published a few months previously to Mr. Gavin Cree's article." (see p. 303 within the article On Pruning). This original sections in Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture can be found at pp. 8-14 and 300-302.
* [Hattip to Julian Derry for pointing out the identity between the Quarterly J. Agric. and Chambers's Edinburgh J. Unfortunately, he has never found the time to put this interesting evidence online.]
Furthermore, none of the other pieces at page 63 of the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, vol. 1(8), is original. For example, the first two (of three) columns are excerpts from a longer article on fox hunting first published by Nimrod (1832. Remarks on the condition of hunters, the choice of horses, and their management; in a series of familiar letters. The Quarterly Review 47: 216-243). The Chamers's copy-paste job starts at page 222 of that article with "Melton Mowbray generally contains from two to three hundred ..." becoming "Melton Mowbray, a small town in Lestercershire, generally contains from two to three hundred ..." The remaining two short pieces On Preserving Corn in Sheaves and On Thickening Hedges and are both taken from The Agricultural Journal.
The piece On the Training of Plank Timber is signed: ".—Matthew on Naval Timber," so that it might even have been collated by Patrick Matthew himself from his own book. In fact, the whole journal seems to be designed as some kind of readers' digest format selecting and reprinting miscellania from all over all places. The pieces that were originally by Robert Chambers remained unsigned, because Chambers was skeptical, initially, about the merit and political effect of such a journal. That means that all pieces that are signed in any way are NOT by Robert Chambers. They were either picked by him or his brother William from elsewhere for reprinting, or they were contributed by third persons.
The table following below provides a sentence-by-sentence comparison of the pieces on pruning in the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture (QJA) and the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal (CEJ) with a colour code. The black passages are (almost) indentical between the piece in the QJA and the CEJ suggesting either a copy-paste job from QJA to CEJ or a direct copying from Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (ONTA). The blue passages are not in the QJA, so they are copied directly from ONTA, unless some not yet discovered third article published by Matthew in some not yet digitized third journal could have served the Chambers bros as a source for these passages. Either way, nothing of the piece in the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal is original and nothing is a review of the book. It all just amounts to copying and pasting a recipe for pruning.
This evidence can be interpreted in various ways, but not as Robert Chambers having reviewed Matthew's book, having received Matthew's ideas on species transformation and natural selection, leave alone having transmitted them to Charles Darwin somehow. Either Robert Chambers has collated this recipe for pruning from already published material or he only edited what Matthew himself collated from his own publications. At best, Robert Chambers held the book of Matthew in his own hands at some point in his life; at worst, he did not even do that.
His further publications also yield no evidence that he was in the know of Matthew's ideas. For example, in the brothers's later publication called Chambers's Information for the People the essay on Arboriculture (1842, vol. 2, no. 76, pp. 401-416) did not mention Matthew (1831) even once. And in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844), Robert Chambers did not even adumbrate the idea of natural selection in any form, despite the fact that this book argued for species transformation and against species fixity.
|Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, 28 July 1831, Vol. 3, no. 14, pp. 300-308.||Chambers‘ Edinburgh Journal, 24 March 1832, Vol. 1, no. 8, p. 63.|
|Legend: Added a dash before each sentence. [My comments are in square brackets.] Red passages are from Matthew’s book but only occur in the Q. J. Agriculture.||Legend: Added a dash before each sentence. [My comments are in square brackets.] Blue passages are from Matthew’s book but only occur in Chambers’ Edinburgh J.|
|Title: On Pruning |
Section: Directions for Training Plank Timber
|On the Training if Plank Timber|
|- Divide all branches into leaders and feeders; leaders, the main or superior shoots which tend to become stems; feeders, the inferior branches.||- 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 for the plank, shorten all but the straightest 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.||- 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.|
|- Should any feeder below the required height become enlarged beyond its compeers, reduce it by cropping to equality.|
|- Cut off, close by the trunk, all shoots which rise at a very acute angle with the main stem; also lop off all branches which, by taking an irregular direction, incline to rub upon the more regular, and remove all splintered, twisted, and diseased branches *. |
*(Footnote: These extracts are taken from a copy of "Naval Timber and Arboriculture," in which I had inserted several additional explanatory remarks.)
|- 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 up these prematurely, you destroy the fine balance of nature, and throw too much vigour for a time into the top, which, in consequence, puts forth a number of leaders.
|- 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.
|- You, in a very great degree, lessen the proportional increase of the fundamental and foraging part the roots, much less proper sap or organized deposite matter being furnished by high branches than by those near the ground for the extension of the roots. |
- You diminish the growth of the stem by the loss of healthy feeders; the timber increasing in proportion to the quantity of healthy branches and foliage, (the foliage being the stomach and lungs of the plant).
- You also, by diminishing the number of feeders, increase the comparative size of those remaining, which throws the upper part of the stem into large knots, improper for plank, and renders their future excision dangerous; as large feeders, when circumstances or decay require their removal, or when they are rifted off by winds or snow, leave wounds which often carry corruption into the core of the tree.
- The removal of healthy feeders is in all cases detrimental to the ultimate extension of the individual, especially in exposed or arid situations, where the plant, in consequence of lengthened bare stem, and deficiency of rooting, generally falls into excessive seeding, and becomes prematurely aged: this is exemplified in the case of the trees of narrow stripes of plantation, which generally die at an early period; whereas trees equally exposed, as in single rows, from their low branching, and consequent strong rooting, attain to great size and age.
|- After the tree has acquired a sufficient height for plank, say from 20 to 60 feet, according to circumstance of exposure, climate, &c, and also as much branching above this height as may be thought necessary to carry on advantageously the vital functions, as the superior head will now sustain small injury by being thrown out into large branches and plurality of leaders (if it be oak, it will become more valuable by affording a number of small crooks and knees),||- 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 lop clean off all the branches on the stem as far up as this required height; should these be covering the whole or a considerable portion of the stem, as will occur in the more open situations, where the lower branches have not gradually become sickly or dead, they ought to be removed by several successive prunings at intervals of at least two years, that the plant may not suffer an injurious check by losing too many branches at once.||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.|
|- From the early attention to procure very numerous feeders, and to prevent any from attaining large size, the wounds will soon be closed over, leaving no external scar, and as little as possible of internal knot or breaking off of fibre.|
|- We consider the spring as the least dangerous time (for pruning). [Last two words added by Chambers bros.]|
|- Should a number of small shoots spring out in consequence of this last pruning, they may be swept down, if good plank be desired; if not, they may remain, as their presence will not greatly injure the plank, and they occasion the stem to thicken considerably faster where they grow: they constitute " the gnarled and knotted oak,"—by the way, not so strong, though more difficult to split than the clean timber. |
- The oak and elm are more disposed to this sprouting out than other kinds, and some varieties or individuals of these much more so than others.
- When the disposition exists in a high degree it ought to be encouraged, which can easily be done by pricking and slightly bruising the bark, and the timber set apart for the construction of cabinet-work, the knotted warty timber affording a beautiful veneer.
- This system of pruning—encouraging numerous feeders, and one leader, while the tree is young, and of allowing or rather inducing the branches, after the tree has acquired sufficient height, to spread out into a horizontal top, is in harmony with and only humouring the natural disposition of trees, and is therefore both seemly and of easy practice.
|- The perfection of naval forest economy would consist in superadding (according to instructions to be given in training of ship-timbers) a top of which every branch is a valuable bend or knee, though, in consequence of the situation, the timber will be fragile, and of light, porous texture.||- The perfection of naval forest economy would consist in superadding |
a top, of which every branch is a valuable bend or knee.
|[The opposite sentences (blue) conclude the section of Matthew’s book (pp. 8-14), which is also headed: “Directions for Training Plank Timber” in that book. It also concludes the piece in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal.]||- 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. [in italics in ONTA] |
- 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 bave been teaching by art, and will perform it well.
|[The following sentences (red) are from pp. 300-302 of Matthew’s book, as also indicated by Matthew at the end of that passage. That is the section, where Matthew allegedly re-quoted Loudon from Steuart and cirticised Loudon’s alleged mad pruning-up advice, when in fact Loudon had advised moderation and care in pruning.]||- 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,
|- “We admit that a tree becomes more stemmy by being repeatedly pruned up. |
- We admit that, on removal of the lower branches, the upper part of the stem may have, for a few seasons, larger annual circles; but the annual circles will be diminished in thickness in a much greater proportion on the lower part of the stem.
- We admit, that the timber, from being deposited in a clean lengthened cylinder, becomes far more useful, there being less redundant matter than when scattered out into stemmy branches, to which disposition trees in open situation often incline, especially if not transplanted when small plants, but to which they are, nevertheless, much more disposed, under the common mode of pruning up at an early stage of their growth, than when left to themselves.
- We admit, that trees, by pruning, raised to lengthened stem, and thence performing less assimilation, partly compensate for this less assimilation, for some time, by making more stem deposite, in proportion to the other deposite, which extends the parts more immediately necessary to new formation—the roots and twigs; but the deficiency of productory parts soon reacts, to diminish the amount of all the new products.
- We admit, also, that pruning in the first place impedes formation of flower-buds, and will sometimes thus prevent exhaustion of trees by seeding, which is so prejudicial both to the quality and quantity of the new wood-deposite; but the consequent greater length of stem, greater exposure to evaporation, constriction of bark, diminished formation of rooting, and slenderer connecting tubes between leaf and roots, all tend subsequently to promote formation of flower-buds, although the removal of the lower branches may for a few seasons have served to prevent this.
- We therefore consider pruning, excepting in a very slight degree, to guide to one leader, and to remove the sickly, lower, moss-covered branches a few seasons earlier than they would have dropped off in the common course of decay, to be generally preventive of quantity of wood deposite, even of common marketable timber in a tree in any considerable number of years, although pruning to a greater degree is often necessary in hard wood, when fine clean timber is required,”—page 300 to 302.
- See further observations on pruning in “Naval Timber and Arboriculture.”
|[An editorial comment follows directly under Matthew’s article. In it the editors of Q. J. Agric. dismiss Matthew’s views and side with Cree and Pontey. They would probably have sided with Steuart and Loudon as well, had they known the original book’s criticisms.]|