Saturday, 17 February 2018

Comparing the respective transmutation mechanisms of Patrick Matthew, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace

The original article has been published at the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2018, A pre-print version is available (under the creative commons license 4.0) here.

I'd like to take the chance to be more elaborate, here, than in the published paper. After a rash rejection by the Journal of the History of Biology, Mike Weale has, for some time, engaged in a ping-pong game of him commenting on the manuscript and me sending him corrected versions back. I also invited Julian Derry to become co-author around that time, but the plan never panned out for various reasons. Nevertheless, Julian's input of ideas via e-mail discussions exceeded that of Mike Weale, and the final paper is closer to Julian's reading of Matthew than to Mike's. The information about the enigma of Matthew's university education reached me via Mike Weale, but he insisted that Anne Carroll of Perth Library be acknowledged for it rather than him. David Lloyd was a peer reviewer, who waved anonymity. He and two anonymous reviewers helped to improve the paper a lot, especially on Alfred Wallace. A rant about the second reviewer could follow, but everybody knows what "reviewer no. 2" means. I must praise the gumption of the editor in chief, John Allen, however. When I challenged the one glib and uncomprehending sentence that constituted the 2nd review, he bethought himself and revised his decision from rejection to re-write.

A comparison of the evolutionary mechanisms of Patrick Matthew, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Wallace highlights their differences. In Matthew’s scheme, catastrophes initiate periods of radiation and speciation until a fully stocked environment gets into stasis. Catastrophes first needed to exterminate competing species before the survivors could radiate into free niches and diversify into new species. In Darwin's early theory conditions of life, such as prevail under domestication, first need to increase the variability of a species, before natural selection can transform it. In Darwin's mature theory competition replaced conditions as the main drive behind evolutionary change and sympatric speciation becomes possible. Wallace’s theory differed from both Matthew’s and Darwin’s. Interspecific competition was neither a brake halting transmutation (as in Matthew’s) nor intraspecific competition a sufficient drive for it. While each theory integrated natural selection with variability, competition and changed conditions in distinct ways, each allowed for species transmutation somehow. The result was similar (transmutation), but the mechanisms yielding that result (the integration of natural selection with variability, competition, change in conditions) differed significantly.

G.C. Williams and J. Maynard Smith conceived the maintenance of sexual reproduction differently

George C. Williams
George Williams conceptualized the maintenance of sexual reproduction as a problem of selection within one species. He began by considering organisms with complex life-cycles that include both sexual and asexual modes of reproduction, for example, aphids & rotifers or strawberries & corals. He conceived the cost of sexual reproduction as the cost of meiosis, that is, the cost of reducing the relatedness with the own offspring from r = 1 to 0.5, when these organisms meet the time or conditions for switching from asexual to sexual reproduction. This kin-selection conception takes the maintenance of sexual reproduction as a problem of selection within a population. Herein, he disagreed with Maynard Smith: 

“I think that the primary disadvantage of sexual reproduction in relation to asexual is most fruitfully formulated as a paradox of kin selection—an organism devotes resources to the production and care of a more distant (r = 0:5) rather than a close (r = 1) relative. This formulation provides a number of advantages. In its focus on genes identical by descent, kin selection is genetically explicit and relates directly to evolution. Maynard Smith’s economic argument (resources wasted on males) makes it easy to overlook the fundamental distinction between (1) the evolutionary problem of sexual and asexual reproduction as alternative character states in a population, and (2) the purely ecological question of competition between a clone and a Mendelian population.” (Williams 1978, ‘Mysteries of sex and recombination. A review of The Evolution of Sex by John Maynard Smith.’ Quarterly Review of Biology 53: 287–289. Page 298)
“I believe that understanding has been hampered by failure to distinguish the ecological from the evolutionary problem of sexuality. In important ways, insights gained from conceptual or experimental comparisons of sexual populations and competing clones (the ecological problem) may mislead in relation to sexual and clonal reproduction as alternative processes in a population (the evolutionary question with which I am concerned here).” (Williams 1980, ‘Kin selection and the paradox of sexuality.’ In Sociobiology: Beyond nature/nurture? Ed. by G.W. Barlow and J. Silverberg. Boulder, CO: Westview: 371–384. Page 372)
The fact that William and Maynard Smith cut the cake differently gets obvious from the way in which Williams treated the maintenance of recombination as not the problem he was at all concerned with:
“I assume that observed chromosome numbers and crossover rates reflect the optimum compromise between maximizing whatever benefits there are in recombination, and minimizing recombinational load. Tighter linkage must reduce recombinational load, but it does nothing to alleviate o alleviate the cost of meiosis.” (Williams 1975, Sex and Evolution, Princeton Univ. Press, p. 108)
That is, reducing replication-rate by fusing gametes is not alleviated by assuming, for example, a species with a genome consisting of one homologous pair of a giant chromosome and no crossing-over between this homologous pair. That would exclude recombination through segregating heterologous chromosomes as well as through crossing over between homologous chromosomes, but it would not pay the cost of reducing r from 1 to 0.5, or the cost of males, or the cost of fusing gametes, or whatever you conceive the cost of sex to be.

John Maynard Smith
I think John Maynard Smith conceived the maintenance of recombination (not sex) as a problem of within-population selection between alleles that increase and others that decrease recombination rates. He accepted Williams's criticism of group-selection arguments for this issue (what he called the "balance argument" of Williams). He agreed that this problem requires an immediate individual-level explanation. But he also maintained that the competition between a sexual population and a genetically isolated asexual clone is a case of between-population selection. At this level, he did allow for long-term or group selection to play some (limited) role.

Anyway, his distinction begins in the preface already:
"I am under no illusion that I have solved all the problems which I raise. Indeed, on the most fundamental question - the nature of the forces responsible for the maintenance of sexual reproduction and genetic recombination - my mind is not made up. On sex, the relative importance of group and individual selection is not easy to decide. On recombination, group selection can hardly play a significant role, but it is not clear to me whether the short-term selective forces I discuss are sufficient to account for the facts, or whether models of a qualitatively different kind are needed." (Maynard Smith 1978, The Evolution of Sex, Cambridge Univ. Press, p. ix)

"It may help to classify the various theories; first, according to the time scale on which selection is supposed to act, and then according to the 'unit of selection' - population, individual, or gene." (Maynard Smith 1978, p. 1)

"I do not find it possible to give an unequivocal answer concerning the role of group selection in the maintenance of sexual reproduction. It has played some role, as evidenced by the taxonomic distribution of parthenogens; but it is not the only relevant force, as will be apparent from the review of the balance argument in Chapter 4, section E. But, whatever one may think of the role of group selection in the maintenance of sex, it cannot explain how it started, and it cannot explain the maintenance of high levels of genetic recombination within sexual populations." (Maynard Smith 1978, p. 6)

And so throughout the book. Maynard Smith consistently distinguishes the maintenance of sexual reproduction from that of recombination, the former being an issue of selection between isolated populations and clones, the latter being one of selection between alleles within one population.

Maynard Smith's support for "some role" of long-term or group selection in the maintenance of sex (not recombination) was also defending his earlier publication from 1958 (The Theory of Evolution, Penguin Books, pp. 138-139). It is often forgotten in potted histories about the paradox of sex, that Maynard Smith did already clearly state the cost of males in this early pop-science writing and also embraced the long-term group-selection explanation of the maintenance of sex.
"If the rate of increase of an animal population were limited by the number of eggs which each female could lay, which in turn depended on how much food a female could eat and transform into eggs, then a population consisting entirely of parthenogenetic females would increase twice as fast as would a population of equal numbers of males and females. From the point of view of reproduction, males are a waste of living material. (This argument does not hold for hermaphroditic organisms, or for those animals in which both parents help to feed the young.)      The compensating advantage of the sexual process is that it increases the range of potential variation in a population, and therefore, its evolutionary plasticity." (Maynard Smith 1958, p. 138)
"Thus the sexual process is a means of ensuring evolutionary plasticity at the expense of interfering with reproduction. [...] Now if the advantage of sexual reproduction is that it increases the range of potential variation in a population, then the advantage refers to the population as a whole, and not to any particular individual in it. It follows that sexual reproduction has been established as a rule, both in animals and plants, because selection has favoured some populations at the expense of others. This forms a contrast to the the examples discussed in the last chapter, in which the 'unit' selected was the individual and not the population." (Maynard Smith 1958, p. 139)

By the way, Ghiselin (1988, p. 16, same book as the Felsenstein-1988 quote above), reminisced an instance of Williams reviewing one of his papers and telling him about the twofold cost of sex and that he [Williams] had found it in a book by Maynard Smith (1966), which must have been the second edition of the above quoted Penguin book by Maynard Smith (see also Dagg 2016, On recognising the paradox of sex. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology. DOI: 10.3998/ptb.6959004.0008.003).

The fact that John Maynard Smith never changed his mind about his hedged support for some role of group (between-population) selection in the maintenance of sex is clear from an interview of Richard Dawkins with John Maynard Smith in 1997 (deposited at the Web of Stories in 2008).  

Monday, 8 January 2018

Why Robert Chambers never reviewed Patrick Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (1831)

Mike Sutton (2014, Nullius in verba. Darwin's greatest secret, ThinkerMedia; 2015, On knowledge contamination, FAG 12: 167-205) claims that Robert Chambers read Patrick Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture from A to Z and that, therefore, Robert Chambers later transmitted Matthew's ideas on species transmutation and natural selection to Charles Darwin (and Alfred Wallace) somehow. The article on which this claim hinges is a piece called On the Training of Plank Timber in the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal (vol. 1, no. 8: p. 63, 24 March 1832). Follow the link to an online repository and see the piece in question at the upper right corner of that page. As you can see for yourself, it amounts to nothing more than a recipe for pruning trees. What's more, the piece is not an original writing of the Chambers brothers but a copy-paste job done by them with some minimal changes in wording probably for escaping charges of plagiarism.

Most of the piece is identical with an earlier article by Patrick Matthew (28 July 1831. On Pruning. Quarterly Journal of Agriculture 3(no. 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). The original sections in Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture can be found at pp. 8-14 and 300-302.

* [Hat-tip to Julian Derry for pointing out the identity between the Quart. 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 Chambers'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 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 Chambers's Edinburgh Journal seems to be designed as some kind of readers' digest format selecting and reprinting miscellanea from all places. The paradigm for this kind of literary periodical that avoided the stap duty levied upon newspapers was set much earlier, for example, by Walter Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine appearing between 1768 and 1784. Its full title explicated the secondary nature of the contents: The Weekly Magazine, or Edinburgh Amusement, containing the essence of all magazines, reviews, newspapers, etc., published in Great Britain; also Extracts from every new Work of Merit, whether political, literary, serious or comical.

The Chambers's Edinburgh Journal differed from this earlier literary digest in that it was designed to address the lower middle class of the society and in that it contained original essays of Robert Chambers as lead articles. These original pieces remained unsigned, whereas the secondary material always ended with a reference of the original source or signature of the original author. Robert was skeptical, initially, about the merit of such a low-priced journal (William Chambers, 1872, Memoir of Robert Chambers with autobiographical reminiscences of William Chambers. New York; Scribner, Armstrong and Co., p. 209). That means that all pieces which are signed in any way were probably NOT by Robert Chambers. What's more, Robert Chambers role for the journal remained that of a mere contributor until the number 14, at which point he joined his brother as co-editor:
"Until the fourteenth number of the work, Robert was only in the position of a contributor." William Chambers (1872, Memoir of Robert Chambers with autobiographical reminiscences of William Chambers. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, and Co., p. 214)
The 14th number, however, was that from Saturday, 5 May 1832, whereas the recipe for pruning occurred in number 8 of Saturday, 24 March 1832. Further down, William Chambers specified Robert's role as contributor of content to the journal (ht to Julian Derry):
 "The permanent hold on the public mind which the "Journal" fortunately obtained, was undoubtedly owing, in a very great degree, to the leading articles, consisting of essays, moral, familiar, and humorous, from the pen of my brother. My own more special duties were confined for the most part to papers having in view some kind of popular instruction, particularly as regards the young, whom it was attempted to stimulate in the way of mental improvement." William Chambers (1872, Memoir of Robert Chambers with autobiographical reminiscences of William Chambers. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, and Co., p. 216)
Here are Robert's own words describing his own contributions to the journal:
"It was in middle life that I was induced to become an essayist [my emphasis], for the benefit of a well-known periodical work established by my elder brother. During fifteen years I have labored in this field, alternately gay, grave, sentimental, philosophical, until not much fewer than four hundred separate papers have proceeded from my pen. These papers were written under some difficulties, particularly those of a provincial situation, and a life too studious and recluse to afford much opportunity for the observation of social characteristics. Yet perhaps these restraints have had some good effect on the other hand, in making the treatment of subjects less local and less liable to the accidents of fashion than it might otherwise have been. One ruling aim of the author must be taken into account: it was my design from the first to be the essayist of the middle class, — that in which I was born, and to which I continued to belong. I therefore do not treat their manners and habits as one looking de haut en bas, which is the usual style of essayists, but as one looking round among the firesides of my friends. For their use I shape and sharpen my apothegms; to their comprehension I modify any philosophical disquisitions on which I have entered. Everywhere I have sought less to attain elegance or observe refinement, than to avoid that last of literary sins — dullness. I have endeavored to be brief — direct; and I know I have been earnest. As to the sentiment and philosophy, I am not aware that any particular remark is called for. The only principles on which I have been guided are, as far as I am aware, these: whatever seems to be just, or true, or useful, or rational, or beautiful, I love and honor; wherever human woe can be lessened, or happiness increased, I would work to that end; wherever intelligence and virtue can be promoted, I would promote them. These dispositions will, I trust, be traced in my writings." Robert quoted in William Chambers (1872, Memoir of Robert Chambers with autobiographical reminiscences of William Chambers. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, and Co., p. 217)
This suggests that, if anybody had his hands in the redacting of Matthew's recipe for pruning, then it was probably William and probably NOT Robert. Neither William nor Robert penned it, because it was not an original contribution but a secondary piece. But Robert probably did not redact it either, because he was not involved in the editorial chores at the time.

The Ph.D. thesis of Sondra Miley Cooney (1971. Publishers for the people: W. & R. Chambers – the early years, 1832-1850. The Ohio State Unversity, pp. 56ff) gives a very true-to-life account of what these editorial chores actually involved. They either received articles from authors who wanted to publicize their work or they simply took articles published in other journals and subjected them to a rigorous scrutiny that would today be regarded as a rather strict publishing policy verging, sometimes, on restrictive political and religious correctness. William Chambers had insisted from the first moment on being non-partisan in political and religious issues.  
"How these principles of decorum were applied is perhaps best illustrated by the alterations made in the story of "Malhatchee," originally published in the Southern Literary Messenger and taken from an unidentified intermediate source for use in the [Chambers's Edinburgh] Journal. Of the seventeen alterations in the text, four were made because references to the nobility of savages and approval of warfare were offensive to moral sentiments. Five references to savagery—including a scalping—were deleted or rephrased. Allusions to the "Evil Spirit" and two incantation scenes were omitted as evidence of superstitious practices. The word devil in the phrases "squaw devil" and "she devil" was altered to fiend to avoid improper language. And two love scenes, innocuous though they were, were cut out." (Cooney 1971, p. 61)
How this editorial policy was not de haut en bas is beyond me. Anyway, it illustrates the secondary nature of the edited pieces. Nothing was original in the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal except for Robert's lead essays. Besides copy-pasted secondary content, Cooney (1971, 56ff) also recounts many instances of authors sending their articles to the Chambers and having them rejected for various reasons varying from containing dialect over lacking originality (hear) to being too explicit in descriptions of war, crime or love. This illustration of the editorial work leaves no doubt that the recipe for pruning by Matthew, with which this post started, was either submitted by Matthew himself or, as the story of Malhatchee, taken from erstwhile unidentified intermediate sources* and then redacted it according to their publishing policy.
*[As we now know one of these unidentified sources could have been the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, see above.]

Robert Chambers might not have had anything to do with the publication of Matthew's recipe for pruning in the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, 24 March 1832! It is possible that William Chambers picked up the pieces from elsewhere for reprinting, or he augmented the piece from the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture (QJA) by some passages taken from Matthew's book, or he stitched it together from Matthew's book all alone (which would be a strange coincidence given the overlap with the QJA). Or, possible, William only conducted Matthew himself in stitching the piece together and Matthew produced something quite similar to his earlier article in QJA.

As you can see, the evidence can be interpreted in various ways, but Robert Chambers did not necessarily ever hold the book of Patrick Matthew On Naval Timber and Arboriculture in his own hands. He might have done so, but there is no proof for that. Even if he abridged the excerpt, he never reviewed Matthew's book. Why, then, conclude that he must have received Matthew's ideas on species transformation and natural selection, leave alone having transmitted them to Charles Darwin somehow?

Robert Chambers's further publications supply no evidence that he was in the know of Matthew's ideas about natural selection and species transmutation or his arboricultural expertise. On the contrary, a few months later the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal (vol. 1(no. 49), pp. 313-314, 3 Nov. 1832) did feature an article headed "Popular Information on Science. Trees." That piece was not signed, hence, penned by Robert Chambers. In it, Robert exhorts the virtues of science for agriculture and deplores the lack of its application to the cultivation of trees. However, the only book he can make out that did mitigate this situation was Henry Steuart's Planter's Guide of 1828.

The parsimonious explanation of this situation would be to assume that Robert Chambers did not know of the existence of Matthew's book. Mike Sutton (2014), however, construes an tenacious story of how Robert Chambers did not like Patrick Matthew: (1.) because Matthew was a Chartist and criticized Henry Steuart; (2.) because Robert Chambers was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, who was a friend of Sir Henry Steuart in turn; and (3.) because of Robert Chambers's dislike of the idea of natural selection.
     Nevertheless, says Sutton, Robert Chambers did advertise Matthew's book to the readership of the Chambers's Edinburgh Journal by publishing that recipe for pruning (a clearly false interpretation of the historical facts about Robert's role in the journal at the time, see above), but then bethought himself to purposely neither cite him in the November article on trees nor in one of the following publications:

     1. The Chambers brothers later published a series called Chambers's Information for the People, in which a long essay on Arboriculture (1842, vol. 2, no. 76, pp. 401-416) did not mention Matthew (1831) even once.
     2. Robert Chambers published the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation anonymously in 1844. Again, he 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, but lacked a mechanism for it.

Despite all this, Sutton (2014) claims that Robert Chambers must have somehow transmitted the idea of natural selection from Patrick Matthew's book to Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace and that believing otherwise amounts to magical thinking.


The table at the bottom of this post 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) identical 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 it is not a review of the book. It all just amounts to copying and pasting a recipe for pruning.

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.]

Friday, 22 December 2017

The difference between communication and plagiarism

Here's a recent article published in the journal Genetics. It neither cites Mendel nor Hunt Morgan, Fisher, Muller, Wright, Watson & Crick or any other founder of that science. Yet it fluently speaks of genes, mutations and all that. Take any other article that is not concerned with the history of genetics, that is not a review with a particularly long reach backwards, and is not dealing with a topic that has been particularly reticent at being solved and understood either, and you will find the same pattern. DNA, gene, mutation, likage disequilibrium, drift, epistasis etc. etc. are simply taken for granted as the basic vocabulary which a fluent researcher knows how to use properly. Using these terms and concepts does not require references to the original historical records.

Formal communication
This is not plagiarism but simply communicating in the specialized language of a discipline. It is taking for granted that any researcher, in the currently ruling paradigm, will know these things and that they are not new coinages but belong to the heritage of the discipline. Although it is hard to imagine that the currently ruling paradigm of genetics will ever be completely overturned and superseded, let us imagine just that, in order to illustrate a difference between communication and plagiarism.

Some readers of this imagined future would deplore the poor referencing of current researchers, because they no longer know our current meaning of terms like gene or mutation. That's what makes the job of a historian so difficult. They'd have to decode our current language first, which to them is foreign. Some future readers would even jump to the conclusion that the now living geneticists were plagiarists, because they did not, according to their future standards, properly cite the original sources. But we know from our actual experience that this future judgement would not be true. Someone who uses the term double-helix, today, without giving Watson & Crick (1953) as a reference, is simply using common knowledge that does not need special reference. On the contrary, if current authors attempted to reference each and every snippet and term they used, this would make their article completely illegible.

Back from the future into the past, there must likewise have been items of common knowledge in the past, say the pre-Darwinian time, that required no special reference. If we look at literature from that period, we find that Cuvier, Buffon and many other have often not been cited, where we would wish for such a citation. Have they therefore been plagiarists?

Informal communication
Academic articles are special in that they aim to give proper references for every bit of information that cannot be taken for granted as common knowledge among the peers. Such standards of citation would shred daily communication such as a talk in a cafe or pub into an incomprehensible staccato. Even those visitors that do talk science there do not constantly interrupt their communication by parenthetical ellipses giving references to their statements. Only a small number of publications will be mentioned explicitly.

That does not hinder an idea from an unmentioned publication transpiring and inspiring a researcher. However, (s)he will not know the ultimate source of the idea. (S)he might sleuth it up in a literature recherche or not, if (s)he belives it to be originally hers/his.

The conversationalists, who contribute in such an informal manner, habitually get a general thanks for help/discussions/feedback/comments in the acknowledgements but usually not a specific thanks for a specific idea or inspiration. Again, that is not plagiarism but simply what happens when scientists communicate informally.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Horizons of Patrick Matthew (1831)

Thematic breaks and asides
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. This is clear from its miscellany contents ranging from ship building over tree botany to matters of forestry and arboriculture (see here for an illustration of the structure of the book) and from the thematic breaks that occur between these contents. The biggest part of the book is made up of reviews of earlier publications on the matter of tree planting and growing, though savage and biased criticism would better describe it (see here, here, or here, for example).
   Furthermore, the book has neither been written continuously nor been produced smoothly. Posterity can gather this straight from the horse's mouth, because Matthew introduced various passages of his book with statements like:
  • "After throwing together several of our own observations [on the structure of vessels, the utility of British forest trees for naval timber, practical matters of nursing, planting, training, pruning etc.], we bethought ourselves of examining into the ideas and experience of recent writers on the same subject." (p. 138)
  • "Since writing the above, we have looked over some experiments by Messrs Barlow, Beaufoy, Couch, and others, on the strength of timber." (p. 221, see Barlow, 1826 and citations therein)
  • "After the preceding parts of this volume had gone to press, we received a copy of Cruickshank's Practical Planter." (p. 309)
  • "In taking a retrospective glance at our pages from the press, ..." (p. 388)
  • "Since this volume went to press, there has been some changes of scenery on the political European stage, ..." (p. 390)
(See also this Wikipedia entry on valuable information about the book's structure and production.)

Horizontal lines
While the thematic breaks in the contents tell us something about the miscellany topics of the book (see first paragraph) and Matthew's asides tell us something about his discontinuous writing and thinking (see second paragraph), there is a third intriguing feature of the book—horizontal lines interrupting the main text (horizontal lines that merely underline headings or sub-titles will be ignored). These text-interrupting horizontal lines occur at the pages 135, 221, 294, 358, 381, 390:


Only two of these six horizontal lines are identical. Those at page 294 and 358:

p. 135:


p. 221:

p. 294:

p. 358:

p. 381:

p. 390:

Thematic breaks
The first thing to note about these horizontal lines is that they do not consistently mark thematic breaks, that is, some thematic breaks are accompanied by such a marker (e.g., pp. 221, 381, 390), but not all thematic breaks in the book are marked that way. For example, the complete thematic break at page 388 is not marked by a horizontal line. Here, Matthew ends his important addendum that is still relevant for the history of evolutionary ideas, today, and begins a corrigendum about his figure at page 27 (part d of that figure) and about his directions for forming larch roots into knees with the words: "In taking a retrospective glance at our pages from the press ..." However, this break is not marked by a horizontal line or another conspicuous visual element (no heading or anything either). Instead, one line is merely left blank and the text simply continues with one of Matthew's asides (see middle page in the following image):

Equally unmarked thematic breaks occur elsewhere in the book as well.
   Second, the horizontal line at page 135 does not mark a thematic break, but rather a thematic elaboration. That is, after emphasizing the importance of the marine for the superiority of the British economy at pages 130-134, a horizontal line occurs at the top of page 135 and Matthew continues to elaborate that this importance of the marine for the British economy should be reflected in a direct political representation of the marine in the British parliament. [This elaboration contains another elaboration in the form of a footnote at page 135 referring to the end-note E in the appendix. This Note E (p. 376-7), in turn, rants against ships being taxed by their length and widest breadth rather than by their tonnage leading to ill designed ships being deep and bulky rather than streamlined.] He ends this elaboration about the representation of the marine's interests by stating that, in the absence of such a direct representation in the parliament, the hopes of Britain rest with its sailor kings:
"The existence of Britain depends upon her Marine, and the king should always be bred a sailor—the heir-apparent and presumptive being always sent to sea. In the case of a female, if she did not take kindly to the sea-service, a dispensation might be allowed, on her marrying a sailor, and the foolish law prohibiting our Royal Family from marrying a Briton be put aside." (p. 137). 
Likewise, the horizontal line at page 294 marks the beginning of an elaboration of another sort. Here, Matthew switches from criticizing Steuart's Planter's Guide to criticizing an author (Loudon) that Steuart has quoted at length in one of his (Steuart's) end-notes (see here, here and here).
   Again, the horizontal lines are neither consistently associated with the asides by Matthew quoted above. While some of the horizontal lines occur atop of an aside from Matthew (e.g., at pp. 221, 390), not all of the asides are accompanied thus (e.g., pp. 309, 388).

These horizontal lines do not structure the text for the ease of the reader!
What was their function?

The significance of horizontal lines in Matthew (1831)
Given that Matthew was a re-iterative writer adding passages in proof or even while the book was already in press, the horizontal lines may have been marks for the publishers (Adam Black, Edinburgh & Longman et al., London) or the printers (Neill & Co., Edinburgh) telling them where to insert the late additions of Matthew. If this was true, then the thematic breaks would reveal something about Matthew's thinking and his asides about his discontinuous writing, but the horizontal lines would indicate the cleavage sites, where the publishers or printers inserted Matthew's late additions. Some of them were inserted singly others together as indicated by thematic breaks or asides. Testing this hypothesis about the function of the horizontal lines by reverse engineering yielded the following surprise.
   Apparently, the elaboration on Steuart's long quote of Loudon (starting after the horizontal line at the bottom of p. 294), Matthew's spliced re-quote of it (see here, here and here) and his criticism following this re-quote of Loudon (extending from pp. 295-308) got inserted along with the whole part criticizing Cruickshank's Practical Planter. That the Cruickshank part is a late addition can be gathered from the horse's mouth introducing it as follows:
"After the preceding parts of this volume had gone to press, we received a copy of Cruickshank's Practical Planter. We endeavour to give a short view of the contents." (Matthew 1831, p. 309). 
As the printer of Cruickshank's Practical Planter was the same as Matthew's (Neill & Co. Printers, Edinburgh), he may well have received the copy from them.
   The amazing thing that happens, when the identical horizontal lines in Matthew (1831, pp. 294 + 358) are taken as the joints for dissecting and splicing out the intron (the Loudon loop + the Cruickshank part) [Best use the Project Gutenberg html-version for this job.], is that the result is a rather well composed neat ending for the book:
"We begin to think, from our disposition to ramble from the Allanton system [meaning Steuart, who lived at Allanton House and had proposed a system of transplanting large trees in whole], that we tire of Sir {294} Henry; and we believe, should he follow us thus far, that he will be tired of us. On looking back on what we have written, we are almost disposed to accuse ourselves of being splenetic; but the truth is, we regard the whole art as very unimportant, if not positively pernicious, at least in the way in which it has been exemplified by Sir Henry, as a throwing away of valuable labour to no purpose, if it ought not indeed to be considered as a mere pander to luxury and caprice. We have no sympathy with the aristocratical object of the book, and as little with the aristocratical tone in which it has been bepraised by Sir Walter Scott. We should also have no greater pleasure in the discovery of a royal road to virtue than we should have to the discovery of one to science,—the four cardinal virtues being, as every body knows, writing books, building houses, and raising trees and children, but we should hope, neither by proxy, nor by the Allanton System. While, however, we thus state our opinions with freedom, we do not hesitate to add, that Sir Henry’s volume has afforded us more information, or, at least, more materials for reflection, than any other of the works which we have brought under the notice of our readers.
{text between horizontal lines at pages 294 and 358 spliced out}
    We have now brought before the reader a pretty fair picture of the Forestry of the present day. Some may wonder that the written science of arboriculture should be so imperfect and inaccurate; but the knowledge of the art, and the power of communicating that knowledge, are of so different a {359} character, it not unfrequently happens, that those write who cannot act, and those who can, are incompetent to write—sometimes unwilling; besides, correct opinions on this subject, as on most others, are only just beginning to be formed. We have endeavoured to assist in disentangling the correct from the erroneous. It is impossible for the most wary always to avoid misconception of facts, but man merits the name of rational only, when he evinces a readiness to break from those misconceptions, to which the narrow-minded, the proud, the vain, and the creature of habit and instinct, cling so obstinately. 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."
This is a crisp, apt and fluid ending of the main text of the book in place of the distinctive halting flow and discontinuity between sections (ignoring for the moment the equally discontinuous appendix with a list of end-notes followed by the evolutionary addendum, a corrigendum, a colophon and, finally, the errata). That is, where the actually published book reads like the protracted ending of a poor narrator, who does not know the difference between suspense and wavering, the spliced book reads like a good ending by an able narrator. 

External evidence from other contemporary books

Books with no text-interrupting horizontal lines
The one long argument On the Origin of Species by Darwin (1859) has not one horizontal line interrupting the main text. Only two underline the title of the book and the title of the contents page (see image below). Nor do any such lines crop up in later editions, where Darwin added or edited his earlier versions.

   In order to exclude the possibility that horizontal lines became unpopular after 1831, but cluttered all books up to that date, take a look at Volume I of Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia, first published in 1794 by J. Johnson and printed in St. Paul's Church-yard in London. The title page has two horizontal lines that separate a stanza from Virgil, which is inserted between the author and publisher information. Another pair of horizontal lines separates an entreaty, that the reader may endure a string of definitions necessary at the very beginning of the book. This is inserted between the summary and the text of that chapter (see image). No text-interrupting horizontal lines occur in the remainder.

   Another book from about 30 years before 1831 is the English translation of George Cuvier's Lectures on Comparative Anatomy (1802, vol. I). Here the translators apparently economized on pages by separating chapters through horizontal lines instead of page breaks. This book comes in parts called lectures and each lecture falls into chapters called articles. When one article ended in about the upper two third of a page, a horizontal line would separate it from the next article continuing on the same page. If, however, an article ended close to a page break, no ink or space would be wasted for a horizontal line and the next article simply start at the next page. Lectures were not separated thus, but a new lecture begins at a new page regardless of the space left empty. Again, horizontal lines do not wantonly occur in the middle of chapters/articles.
   A book cited by Matthew (1831, p. 221) in one of his asides has no text-interrupting horizontal lines either (ignoring one that separate a footnote and others that separate adverts appended after the end of the book as well as the usual underlines of titles and sub-headings). This is Peter Barlow (1826). An Essay on the Strength and Stress of Timber, founded upon experiments performed at the Royal Military Academy, third edition. Printed for J. Taylor at the Architectural Library in London.
   Finally, Matthew's own Emigration Fields (1839) has no text-interrupting horizontal lines and no aside, either, of the form: "Since this work went to press ..." This is despite the fact that the publishers forced Matthew to augment his first draft (see Matthew 1839, p. v), which was exclusively on New Zealand, by similar chapters on North America, Mexico and Australia.
   Adam Black was now joined by his brother Charles as the Edinburgh publishers, and his London publishers had exchanged Rees (in Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green) by Longmans (in Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans). The printers were, again, Neill & Co. in Edinburgh. This suggests to take the discontinuous writing style and high frequency of text-interrupting horizontal lines as a special feature of the book On Naval Timber rather than attributing it to the author, the publishers, or the printers. Matthew's publishers and printers had probably gone through a steep learning curve in dealing with him as an author the first time and simply would not move a thumb or cogwheel before the fat lady had sung the second time.

These examples just serve to show that well written books did not need such bric-a-brac, neither before nor after 1831, and that the parties involved in 19th century book production were not in the habit of wantonly sprinkling horizontal lines as decorations all over their texts.

Books with text-interrupting horizontal lines
Like Matthew's book, Cruickshank's Practical Planter(1830) has been printed by Neill & Co., though his publishers were William Blackwood (Edinburgh) and T. Cadell (London). Matthew may even have learned about it from the printers given how he added his critique of Cruickshank while the rest of the book was already in press and given his aside saying that "we received a copy" (Matthew 1831, p. 309). Cruickshank contains but one horizontal line in the main text at page 53, and it marks a paragraph that has definitely been added as an afterthought. The whole chapter before is just an enumeration of different trees with a paragraph or two of superficial observations on its habitus, timber etc. But at the end of that chapter, he bethought himself to say something about the special mode of propagation (not by seed) of some of the trees, in particular: the lime, willows, poplars by layers or cuttings respectively.

   Steuart's Planter's Guide (1828) was, again, published by William Blackwood (Edinburgh) and T. Cadell (London) with no separate printer being speciefied (Blackwood did inhouse printing, pers. comm., Julian Derry). Again, the whole book contains but one text-interrupting horizontal line at page 274, but this one is tricky.

The text following that marker reads like a direct address of the readers breaking the fourth wall. One could conclude, at first glance, that the horizontal line signals this to the reader and has no function in showing the publishers or printers, where to insert a late addition. However, on perusing the book more extensively, one soon realizes that Steuart's style is that of soliloqui. In speaking with himself (or his other self), he points to "those" trees or "those," to "those" readers or "those" and observes their different needs. He does address the readers in this way at various places (e.g., pp. 4, 230, 234), but none of these other direct addresses got marked by horizontal lines. It is therefore likely that this horizontal line at page 274 also marks a late addition by Steuart.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Spinach-iron data transformations: Boussingault (1872) to Berg (1913)

For an introduction see any other entry under the spinach-iron label of this blog

In 1872, Jean-Baptiste Boussingault ("Du fer contenu dans le sang et dans les aliments." Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Tome 74: 1353-1359) published his results on the iron contents in the blood of various animals and in food products. This publication contains a table at pp. 1355-56 listing the contents of "Fer exprimé à l'état métallique. Dans 100 grammes de matiére." This means that the values are not for iron oxide (Fe2O3), which was the usual state in which iron contents were measured but elemental. The second statement ("Dans 100 grammes de matiére.") was specified in the text above the table: "En ce qui concerne les aliments, les dosages ont éte exécutés à l'état où ils sont consommés, c'est-à-dire avec leur eau constitutionnelle." (In the case of food, the dosages were carried out in the state in which they were consumed, that is to say with their constitutional water.) Hence, Boussingault's table gives the iron content for spinach leaves ("Feuilles d'épinards") as 0.0045g per 100 gram fresh matter.

In 1897, Emil Häusermann ("Die Assimilation des Eisens. Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie 23: 555-592) published a table (pages 586-588) listing the iron contents of food products per 100g dry matter. He cited Boussingault for various items, but the values vary.

Boussingault (g per 100g fresh matter)     Häusermann (mg per 100g dry matter)
Riz: 0.0015 Reis: 1.7
Haricots blancs: 0.0074 Weisse Bohnen: 8.3
Lentilles: 0.0083 Linsen: 9.5
Pommes de terre: 0.0016 Kartoffeln: 6.4
Feuilles d'epinards: 0.0045 Spinat: 39.1

Obviously, Häusermann took values for the water contents of the food stuffs from elsewhere, in order to calculate the iron contents in the dry matter from Boussingault's values for fresh matter. Apparently, these values of the water contents of the fresh matter were 11.7% in rice, 10.8% in white beans, 12.6% in lentil, 75.0% in potatoes and 88.5% in spinach leaves. Bunge (1892. "Weitere Untersuchungen über die Aufnahme des Eisens in den Organismus des Säuglings." Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie 16:173-186) has done the same with Boussingault's data before and given König (1889. "Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungsmittel.") as his source for water contents (see footnote ****, here). As Bunge took the water content for spinach to be 88.49%, we can conclude that König has also been Häusermann's source.

In a later edition, Josef König (1904. Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel, Band 2, p. 353) cited the value of Häusermann properly, that is, he gave the range of values as 32.7-39.1mg per 100gr dry matter (the first value being from Bunge 1892 and the second from Häusermann 1897).

Ragnar Berg (1913. Die Nahrungs- und Genussmittel. p. 34-35) gave the contents of iron-oxide (Fe2O3) in 100g fresh matter as he explained in the introduction at page 6: "Damit nun jeder leicht umrechnen kann [...], habe ich in den folgenden Tabellen [...] den Gehalt von 100 g frischen Nahrungsmitteln an einzelnen Mineralbestandteilen in Grammen [...] aufgeführt."
     Berg (1913, p. 34-35) cited König (1904) with a value of 0.0596g Fe2O3 in 100g fresh spinach. (Berg indicated the sources by superscripts given above the values in the table. As he explained at page 11 of the introduction, the roman numeral I stands for König 1904.) If we assume that Berg took the average value (35.9mg/100g dry matter) of König's range (32.7-39.1mg/100g dry matter), then König's average iron (Fe) content in dry matter amounts to 60% of the iron-oxide (Fe2O3) content that Berg imputed to König for fresh matter.
    Berg can hardly have assumed that 60% of fresh spinach leaves were dry matter, when Häusermann had earlier taken its water content to amount to 88.5% (see above). Berg's transformation factor lies much closer to the 70% that is suggested as the correction factor needed to calculate the portion of the mass of Fe2O3 that is due to the iron in it according to the atomic weights (Fe: 55.8; O: 16). Nevertheless, a discrepancy of 10% remains. That is still not satisfying to see how Berg got from König's range of iron contents for dry matter to his imputation to König of iron-oxide content for fresh matter.

Anyway, Berg also performed his own analysis and that yielded 0.0437g Fe2O3 per 100g fresh matter. As it happens, this value was just about ten times higher than what Boussingault had started with (0.0045g Fe per 100g fresh matter) despite the fact that no decimal separator had been misplaced in any of the various data transformations.

Carl von Noorden & Hugo Salomon (1920. Handbuch der Ernährungslehre. Erster Band, p. 476) gave a range of 44-60mg Fe2O3 per 100g spinach and cited Berg (1913) as well as Hermann Schall & August Heisler (1917. Nahrungsmitteltabelle. 5. Auflage. Curt Kabitzsch Verlag, Würzburg) as sources.

The publication of Schall & Heisler (1917, not online) in turn has two values for spinach at page 41: 60mg and 44mg per 100g fresh matter. The latter value bears a footnote referring that value to "R. Berg" (sic), who had given 0.0437g/100g fresh mater as the result of his own analysis. As Berg also gave 0.0596g/100g fresh weight and referred that to König (1904), I presme that Schall & Heisler have simply taken that value from Berg as well, rounded it, but did not specifically cite König, because they have gotten it from a secondary source. The introduction of Schall & Heisler 81917) states that they collected data from "König, Rubner, Atwater und Byrant, Schwenkenbecher, Sautier, Strauss, Tischler, Leva, v. Noorden, Nauny, Magnus-Levy, Janney, Walker Hall, Brugsch, Bessau und Schmidt, Hesse, Offer und Rosenquist, Vogel, Berg, Albu-Neuberg, das "Deutsche Bäderbuch", die Angaben der Nahrungsmittelindustrie u. a. mehr." Sic! No sources, journals, publishers, years or anything else to ease retrival. The publication contains no reference list either to look up citations.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Thomas Andrew Knight (1820)

In his introductory remarks relative to the objects which the Horticultural Society have in view. (Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 1: 1-7, 1820), Thomas Andrew Knight formulated the state of art and also the future goal of the incipient society. Several statements of Knight are relevant to later (much later) claims that Darwin plagiarized others. For some reason Knight has never been implicated as s source being plagiarized nor has Knight (ASAIK) ever alleged such plagiraism on Darwin's part.

Thomas Andrew Knight(1820). Introductory Remarks relative to the objects which the Horticultural Society have in view: Transactions of  the Horticultural Society of London 1: 1-7.

p. 1-2:

"We, however, know that flowers and fruits are the necessary produce of improved culture; and that the offspring, in a greater or less degree, inherits the character of its parents. The austere Crab of our woods has thus been converted into the Golden Pippin; and the numerous varieties of the Plum, can boast no other parent than our Sloe."

Why do I quote this? Because Mike Sutton claims that Darwin has, by writing about the Golden Pippin, incriminated himself of plagiarizing Matthew (1831. On naval Timber and Arboriculture), when the crab apple and the Golden Pippin were standard items of research.

p. 3:

"Experience and observation appear to have sufficiently proved, that all plants have a natural tendency to adapt their habits to every climate in which art or accident places them: and thus the Pear-tree, which appears to be a native of the southern part of Europe, or the adjoining parts of Asia, has completely naturalized itself in Britain, and has acquired, in a great number of instances, the power to ripen its fruit in the early part even of an unfavourable summer: the Crab tree has in the same manner adapted its habits to the frozen regions of Siberia. But when we impart either of these fruits, in their cultivated state, from happier climates, they are often found incapable of acquiring a perfect state of maturity even when trained to a south wall."

p. 4:

"Almost every plant, the existence of which is not confined to a single summer, admits of two modes of propagation; by division of its parts, and by seed. By the first of these methods we are enabled to multiply an individual into many; each of which, in its leaves, its flowers, and fruit, permanently retains, in every respects, the character of the parent stock. No new life is here generated;and the graft, the layer, and cutting, appear to possess the youth and vigour, or the age and debility, of the plant, of which they once formed part.* No permanent improvement has therefore ever been derived, or can be expected, from the art of the grafter, or the choice of stocks of different species, or varieties: for, to use the phrase of LORD BACON, the graft in all cases overruleth the stock, from which it receives ailment, but no motion. Seedling plants, on the contrary, of every cultivated species, sport in endless variety. By selection from these, therefore, we can only hope for success in our pursuit of new and improved varieties of each species of plant or fruit; and to promote experiments of this kind...

* The diseased state of the young grafted trees of the Golden Pippin, and the debasement of the flavour of that fruit, afford one, amongst the thousand instances, which have been long propagated by grafting, &c."

Why do I quote this? Because it amounts to yet another premonition of natural selection as a force leading to change within species.

p. 6:

"... but trees, being formed for periods of longer duration, are frequently much injured by the injudicious and excessive use of manure."

Why do I quote this? Because it shows that Matthew's ideas about manure are not original either. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Walther May, 1912. "Darwin und Patrick Matthew." Zoologische Annalen 4: 280-311.

Here's a German review of Patrick Matthew's book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture from 1912.

For those not fluent in German, my translation follows. Highlights are my additions. [Square brackets contain my own comments.] They are not part of May's review:
Darwin and Patrick Matthew.


Prof. Dr. Walther May, Karlsruhe i. B. 

(With a Portrait.) [omitted] 

"It probably belongs to the essence of each discovery," says Rádl in his history of biological theories, "that it struggles for recognition; it forces its wearer to inform you, to fight for them and not infrequently also to suffer. Thousands of ideas struggle for recognition; but most founder in the souls of the absent-minded listening world. The historian must not close his eyes to this fact; he must seek the truth not only to the throne of public recognition, but wherever people think. Through a game of coincidences, an idea is off and on promoted or suppressed; the historian should not be bribed by this, because his goal is to recognize ideas and not to describe the glory of the world. Even if a discovery sank without a trace in the hassles of opinions, it does not therefore cease to form the subject of historiography."
     These words encourage me to renew the memory of a man, whose idea did not go down without a trace, but was disregarded for almost thirty years, before it was awakened by another, larger, to actual life.
     On April 10, 1860 Darwin wrote to Lyell:

"In last Saturday Gardeners’ Chronicle, a Mr Patrick Matthews publishes long extract from his work on “Naval Timber & Arboriculture” published in 1831, in which he briefly but completely anticipates the theory of Nat. Selection.—12 I have ordered the Book, as some few passages are rather obscure but it, is certainly, I think, a complete but not developed anticipation! Erasmus always said that surely this would be shown to be the case someday. Anyhow one may be excused in not having discovered the fact in a work on “Naval Timber”."
     And three days later he wrote to Hooker:
"Questions of priority so often lead to odious quarrels, that I shd. esteem it a great favour if you would read enclosed. If you think it proper that I shd. send it (& of this there can hardly be question) & if you think it full & ample enough, please alter date to day on which you post it & let that be soon.— The case in G. Chronicle seems a little stronger than in Mr. Matthews book, for the passages are therein scattered in 3 places. But it would be mere hair-splitting to notice that.— If you object to my letter please return it; but I do not expect that you will, but I thought that you would not object to run your eye over it."
     On April 21, 1860 "Gardeners Chronicle" brought the following letter Darwin:
"I have been much interested by Mr. Patrick Matthew’s communication in the Number of your Paper, dated April 7th. I freely acknowledge that Mr. Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species, under the name of natural selection. I think that no one will feel surprised that neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr. Matthew’s views, considering how briefly they are given, and that they appeared in the appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture. I can do no more than offer my apologies to Mr. Matthew for my entire ignorance of his publication. If another edition of my work is called for, I will insert a notice to the foregoing effect."

[Interestingly, May translated the word "naturalist" used by Darwin above as "Naturforscher" into German. Naturforscher, however, means natural scientist or researcher or explorer. Thus May explicated a connotation of the term naturalist in Darwin's use above, that is easily lost in English.]

     According to Francis Darwin, Matthew was not satisfied by this explanation and complained in November 1860, that an article in the "Saturday Analyst and Leader" was hardly fair in calling Darwin the father of the theory of natural selection, because he himself had published all that Darwin tried to prove more than 29 years ago.
     Darwin also recognized Matthew's claims unreservedly in a letter to Quatrefages of 25 April 1861. "I have," he writes there, "lately read M. Naudin’s paper; but it does not seem to me to anticipate me, as he does not shew how Selection could be applied under nature; but an obscure writer on Forest Trees, in 1830, in Scotland, most expressly & clearly anticipated my views—though he put the case so briefly, that no single person ever noticed the scattered passages in his book."
     Later Darwin found that even Matthew had a predecessor still. "Talking about the Origin," he wrote to Hooker in October 1865, "a Yankee has called my attention to a paper attached to Dr Well’s famous Essay on Dew, which was read in 1813 to Royal Soc. but not printed, in which he applies most distinctly the principle of N. Selection to the races of man.—So poor old Patrick Matthew, is not the first, & he cannot or ought not any longer put on his Title pages “Discoverer of the principle of Natural Selection”!" 
     In the historical sketch, that Darwin prefixed to the later editions of his "Origin of Species," he appreciates the Matthew's merits as follows:
     "In 1831 Mr. Patrick Matthew published his work on 'Naval Timber and Arboriculture,' in which he gives precisely the same view on the origin of species as that (presently to be alluded to) propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself in the 'Linnean Journal,' and as that enlarged in the present volume. Unfortunately the view was given by Mr. Matthew very briefly in scattered passages in an appendix to a work on a different subject, so that it remained unnoticed until Mr. Matthew himself drew attention to it in the 'Gardener's Chronicle,' on April 7th, 1860. The differences of Mr. Matthew's view from mine are not much importance: he seems to consider that the world was nearly depopulated at successive periods, and then re-stocked; and he gives as an alternative, that new forms may be generated "without the presence of any mould or germ of former aggregates." I am not sure that I understand some passages; but it seems that he attributes much influence to the direct action of the conditions of life. He clearly saw, however, the full force of the principle of natural selection."
      In the same historical sketch Darwin says about Owen's priority claims:
     "As far as the mere enunciation of the principle of natural selection is concerned, it is quite immaterial whether or not professor Owen preceded me, for both of us, as shown in this historical sketch, were long ago preceded by Dr Wells and Mr. Matthews."
     Besides these judgments by Darwin of Matthew, I only know of two further in the Darwinian literature. Regarding Darwin's remarks on Matthew in the historical sketch, Samuel Butler wrote, in his book "Evolution, Old & New," in 1879:
      "Nothing could well be more misleading. If Mr. Matthew's view of the origin of species is "precisely the same as that" propounded by Mr. Darwin, it is hard to see how Mr. Darwin can call those of Lamarck and Dr. Erasmus Darwin "erroneous"; for Mr. Matthew's is nothing but an excellent and well-digested summary of the conclusions arrived at by these two writers and by Buffon. If, again, Mr. Darwin is correct in saying that Mr. Matthew "clearly saw the full force of the principle of natural selection," he condemns the view he has himself taken of it in his 'Origin of Species,' for Mr. Darwin has assigned a far more important and very different effect to the fact that the fittest commonly survive in the struggle for existence, than Mr. Matthew has done. Mr. Matthew sees a cause underlying all variations; he takes the most teleological or purposive view of organism that has been taken by any writer (not a theologian) except myself, while Mr. Darwin's view, if not the least teleological, is certainly nearly so, and his confession of inability to detect any general cause underlying variations, leaves, as will appear presently, less than common room for ambiguity."
     Contrary to Butler and agreeing with Darwin, Grant Allen called Patrick Matthew the unconscious discoverer of the principle of natural selection in his Darwin Biography (1888), who applied the selection idea, in his book on naval timber, to the whole of nature, sometimes with the same words as Darwin."
     I was led to concern myself with Matthew and his work through an external circumstance. Prof. Dr. P. Unna in Hamburg sent me, on the occasion of the Darwin anniversary in 1909, a letter of the Hamburg pastor, Dr. H. F. Beneke, whose uncle Alexander Matthew (died on 18 January 1911 at the age of 90) was the son of Patrick Matthews. This letter alluded to the priority of Matthew. I then asked the Pastor Beneke for the book and for some biographical notes about his great uncle and received both in amiable manner. Here are the biographical data:
     "Patrick Matthew, born October 20, 1790, died June 8, 1874, married his cousin Christian Nicol (born December 21, 1791, died October 28, 1857). Both their mothers were sisters, born Duncan. From the Duncans he inherited the Gourdie Hill property, actually with the condition to take the name Duncan, what he did not. (The land is now no longer in the family). We also know the names of his parents John Matthew and Agnes Duncan and his grandparents Patrick Matthew in the Rome property on Tay and Helen Millar Broambrae from Fife, but do not have dates for them.
      He must have married about 1819, as the eldest son Robert was born in 1820 and my uncle in 1821. He first managed both Rome and Gourdie Hill, later the latter alone. His picture, as an old man, shows beautiful, noble and pleasant features.
     According to family tradition, the Matthews are from a sister of Robert Bruce, and they are proud to have very square chin, as R. Bruce used to have; but that will of course be treated more jokingly."
      The work on which Patrick Matthew based his priority claims against Darwin, bears the title: "On naval timber and arboriculture:; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting.' It is published by Adam Black, Edinburg; Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, London, and published in 1831. The content includes XVI and 391 big octavo pages and is organized as follows:

[list of contents omitted] 

     Matthews book is imbued with the patriotic spirit of the Englishman, who desires world domination of his nation. The means to this is for him the seafaring. In the introduction, he noted that the seafaring was of the greatest importance for the improvement of the species, naval superiority almost synonymous with universal dominion, the mainland only the footstool of the mistress of the seas. The periodic recurrence of war seems to him indispensable for the heroic, chivalrous character and the love of freedom. Conflict and fighting should rub the rust from the customs and institutions of his people, the ennobling appeal of danger should arouse the noble passions and the youth be led to emulate the Romans in patriotic thirst for fame, the Spartans in devotion, their own ancestor in bold bravery. Without seeking war, but in preparation to face an enemy, in perhaps not so distant a time, England should maintain its military virtues without malignant sentimentality, especially that which must make up the field of his fame, his navy and their building materials, naval timber.
      Here, it is already indicated that the struggle among nations serves their refinement, but without pronouncing the principle of selection.

[May skipped the second part, probably because it is about ship-building and contains no passage relevant to natural selection.]

     In the third part of the book artificial selection is an issue and natural selection is also hinted at. Since the luxuriance and size of timber is highly dependent on the peculiar variety of species, on the treatment of the seed prior to sowing, and on the treatment of the young plant, and since this fundamental issue is neither much appreciated nor widely understood, Matthew wants to discuss it from scratch. He speaks of the consequences of our lamentable ignorance of the most undeniable facts of natural history: that both the plants and the animals are subjected to an almost unlimited variability in general, due to the climate, the soil, the food and new blending of already formed varieties. In such species, with which man is very familiar, he had become acquainted with these facts, that is, in man himself, the dog, horse, cattle, sheep, poultry, apple, pear, plum, gooseberry, potato and pea, that feature endless varieties, by differing considerably in size, color, taste, firmness of texture, growing season and any recognizable property. In all these species, man seeks to avoid deterioration by careful selection of the biggest and most valuable for further growth, but with timber trees, the inverse procedure was followed. The tall-growing varieties were often cut off prematurely, because of their late seed production, small-growing and weak varieties, in which seed production takes place early and abundantly, on the other hand, had constantly been selected to reproduce because of the ease and convenience with which seeds can be obtained. "May we, then, wonder," asks Matthew, "that our plantations are occupied by a sickly short-lived puny race, incapable of supporting existence in situations where t heir own kind had formerly flourished—particularly evinced 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?"
     This last sentence clearly stated that a selection takes place in nature, leading to the perfection of the race, but the emergence of new species by natural selection is not alleged here. 
     Matthew demands that the farmer gives as much attention to the breeding of his forest trees as to that of his horses, cows and sheep, that he only sows seeds collected from the largest, healthiest and most lavishly growing trees and desists from sowing seeds of precocious or even of the very old and overripe trees, because, by analogy with animals, a weak and early decaying progeny is to be expected from them.
     In the fourth part of his book Matthew says that the benefit of endless seed varieties in the families of plants, even those under nature, probably lies in the fact that one individual (the strongest and best circumstances suited) gains the superiority over others, surpassing and suppressing them, creating space for its full extension and thus at the same time accomplishing a consistent selection of the strongest, best adapted to reproduce. The intervention of man has increased the diversity of varieties, regardless of the new conditions to which he introduced them, by preventing the natural process of selection among the plants, particularly in the more domesticated species, and even in man himself the greater equality and larger strength of the wild tribes can be ascribed to a similar law of selection, in which the weaker individual perishes under the poor treatment on the part of the stronger or from general depression.
     Again, natural selection is considered only as a means of racial improvement and not as a cause of the emergence of new species. 
     Matthew clearly expressed the principle of natural selection as an adapting and perfecting principle in Note B of the Appendix ,"There is," he says here, "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 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 his 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 possess not the requisite strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without reproducing—either 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."
     Matthew continues this discourse with an argument against hereditary nobility and the law of entail, which appears to him as a mockery of the law of selection, that nature will not let unavenged. He referred to the role of hereditary nobility played in France, the Iberian and Italian peninsula and the Italian islands, and calls on the apologists of the hereditary nobility, primogeniture and the law of entail to say what these countries could have been without the corrupting influence of these unnatural morals. He sees intermittent mixing of the nobility with the people as the only way to protect those against degeneration. In some countries, this mixing would not be necessary as often as as in others, and Britain could be considered as the ground on which the nobility can remain unspoiled the longest. Approaching the equator, however, the renewal would often be necessary, except in high altitudes, in many places every third generation. The repeal of the law of inheritance and primogeniture would increase not only the happiness of the owner in the present state of civilization, increase mortality and give the social order greater strength, but also give the hard work and progress a general incentive whereby the living conditions of the working class would be improved.     
     Even Darwin has called primogeniture a means that was contrary to the action of natural selection. "Our aristocracy," he once wrote to Wallace, "is handsomer (more hideous according to a Chinese or Negro) than middle classes from pick of women; but oh what a scheme is primogeniture for destroying N. Selection.And in the fifth chapter of the "Descent of Man" he discussed the deleterious effects of this system in greater detail, but without neglecting the balancing factors.
     In note C of the Appendix, Matthew examines the causes which have brought about the superiority of a part of the Caucasian race. He finds them mainly in repeated change of place under favorable circumstances. "There are few countries," he says, "where the old breed has not again and again sunk before the vigour of new immigration; we even see the worn out breed, chased from their homes to new location, return, after a time, superior to their former vanquishers, or gradually work their way back in peace, by superior subsisting power: this is visible in France, where the aboriginal sallow Kelt, distinguished by high satyr-like feature, deep-placed sparkling brown or grey eye, narrowed lower part of the face, short erect vertebral column, great mental acuteness, and restless vivacity, has emerged from the holes of the earth, the recesses of the forests and wastes, into which it had been swept before the more powerful blue-eyed Caucasian; and being a smaller, more easily subsisting animal, has, by starving and eating out, been gradually undermining the breed of its former conquerors."
     But even more than the change of location the related circumstances have their share in the perfection of the species. In the unrest that accompanied the emigration, the varieties strongest in mind and body take over the leader role, impressing their character onto the people at large and constituting the reproductive part, while the weaker varieties generally perish at the occasional hardships. When a cohort emigrates from a community, it will generally consist of the bolder and brisked spirits, who will use the right of the conquerors to connect with the best of the natives that they overwhelm; their choice among these will be determined by personal characteristics and not by the accidental circumstances of wealth or high birth—a consideration which leads to the degradation of the race and one of the reasons, why the nobility of Europe is so inferior in comparison with the Asian. 
     Again, selection is only recognized as a means of racial improvement.
     In note D Matthew repeats the thought, already indicated in the introduction, that national power and size is impossible without the operation of the egotistical drives. Our milder manners, our benevolence our tranquility, kindness and sense of refinement our sweet dreams of peace and joy, he calls a negative weight in the scales of national strength. The stronger excitation of hatred, ambition, pride, patriotism and more selfish passions, he deems necessary for the full and strong development of national energy. That Britain had impressed its ability and morality to a considerable extent onto the world, is due to the fact that it first ravaged these countries with fire and sword. 
     These words remind us of the consequences that have drawn some modern racial theorists and many anti-darwinian ethicists from Darwinism.

[May skipped the end-notes E and F of the appendix. Note E was on the improper calculation of register tonnage of trading vessels leading to ill constructions of the vessels, in order to safe charges for lights, harbours and other dues. Note F was on the geological history of the North Sea, which Matthew called the German Ocean. Next May refers to a "long epilogue." This is actually a colophon following after the end of Note F and a horizontal line indicating this. Whereas footnotes in the main text refer to the end-notes A-F of the appendix, the main text contains no reference to this colophon suggesting that it was an afterthought.

     Matthew concludes his work with a long epilogue, in which he set out his understanding of the evolution of organic life on Earth. Only here, he regarded natural selection not only as a means of racial improvement and adaptation, but also as a cause of the origin of new species and the organic development at all. He speaks, first, of a power of change under a change of circumstances, which belongs to the living substance, or rather the hodgepodge of low life, which seems to form the higher, and that one must admit, if one does not want to accept a repeated wonderful creation. The changes that have happened as a result of human intervention with the domestic animals and crops before him, and the likelihood that the living conditions were very different in the various geological periods, but consistent within each, seem to prove to him the accuracy of the assumption that, at the beginning of each new age [meaning geological eras between catastrophes], no creation took place, but some organisms surviving from the former age have, again, adapted their existence over time to the change of circumstances and to every possible kind of living conditions. "Is the inference, then, unphilosophic," he asks, in consideration of the large chemical changes of the water and the atmosphere, "that living things, which are proved to have a circumstance-suiting power—a very slight change of circumstances by inducing a corresponding change of character—may 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."
     Matthew evidently connects in his somewhat vague hypothesis the doctrine of catastrophism with the theory of evolution. He believes that the destructive liquid streams, which separated the ages and destroyed almost all living things, reducing being so much, that an unoccupied field got available for new diverging branches of life adapting itself to the new conditions and then, after completion of this adjustment, remained constant for the duration of their existence, except for the few residues that reached alive into the next following period. 
     Besides this theory of evolution and the doctrine of creation there is, according to Matthew, only one alternative explanation of organic changes, namely the assumption of an "indestructible or molecular life, gradually uniting and developing itself into new circumstance-suited living aggregates, without the presence of any mould or germ of former aggregates," which probably means the re-emergence of life by spontaneous generation, which Matthew distinguishes from new creation only by the fact that it "forms a portion of a continued scheme or system."
     Thus, Matthew has taken his position concerning the three possible hypotheses of biogenesis, on creation, on spontaneous generation and on evolution, and he opted for the theory of evolution; but it can hardly be called an advance over the earlier development theorists such as Buffon, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, when he connects it to the doctrine of catastrophism.
     Far more important than the views of Matthews on organic change in general are his ideas about the causes of these changes. Here he raises the following question: "Do they arise from admixture of species nearly allied producing intermediate species? Are they the diverging ramifications of the living principle under modification of 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?"
     Matthew cannot accept that much of the changes in the organisms is owed to the mixing of closely related species, since all change is very limited by this, and limited in the circle of what is called species. He sees the main cause of change in the self-regulating adaptability of organisms, which he ascribes, at least partially, to the immense fertility of nature.
    "Nature, who, as before stated, has, in all the varieties of her offspring," he says, "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 prematurely 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 circumstances—in 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."
     In these sentences, the principle of natural selection is expressed with full clarity and widely applied, and Darwin is certainly right when he says of Matthew "He clearly saw the full implications of the principle of natural selection." It is impossible to see how Butler can discard this interpretation of Matthew's train of thought, and claim that the Scottish writer has only represented the doctrines of Buffon and Erasmus Darwin. The principle of natural selection is there, although Matthew also added that this adaptive law does not exclude the influence of the will or feeling on the design of the body. Matthew just recognizes other factors of species transformation in addition to natural selection, exactly like Darwin did, on whose scope further research had to decide. "to investigate," he says, "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."
     That is, Matthew already advocated the most modern direction of the development theory, the experimental.
      In the further course of his argument, he stressed that the continuation of the family type is both physical and mental, and is evidenced by many of the dispositions or instincts of the different human races. He regarded these native or inherited ideas or habits, that prevail especially in insects, as an "abiding memory" and believed to solve a lot of the mystery of instinct and the foreknowledge that these animals have of what is necessary, in order to complete their round of life, by reducing the instincts to knowledge, or impressions, and habits, acquired by a long experience. So he explains, here, the instincts according to Lamarck's principle; that he also subjects them to natural selection, however, is clear from his earlier statements.
     In discussing the instincts of insects, Matthew also touches on the problem of individuality. He finds it difficult to determine the specific points, in some insects, when each individuality begins with the different stages of egg, larva, pupa, or whether much consciousness of individuality exists.
     The epilogue concludes with a reflection on the imbalance of nature introduced by humans. They have in the present age attained a mastery of the material world and a successful power of multiplication, which makes it likely that the whole surface of the earth will soon be overrun by this engrossing anomaly, to the annihilation of every wonderful and beautiful variety of animated existence, that does not administer the human needs.
     It is admirable how many problems are touched in Matthew's book. However, only the attempt of a comprehensive application of the principle of selection on the whole organic nature is fundamentally new. All the other ideas of Matthew had already been expressed by earlier thinkers. Even the principle of natural selection as such had already been pronounced by Wells and Prichard, but they applied it to the races of man only. In comparison with this very limited application, Matthew's hypothesis seems to be a new thought. We can therefore call the Scottish landowner the first, who recognized natural selection as a general principle of nature, without scruple. But he does not seem to have considered this principle to be as important for biological science, as Darwin later adjudged it, otherwise he would not have published his ideas in the appendix to a work on naval timber. But even if he had published this idea, in the existing form, in a separate document, it would have had as little influence on the science, as had the short treatises that Wallace and Darwin published in 1858 on the theory of natural selection in the Journal of the Linnaean Society. Because, as Butler rightly remarks, the same reproach must be made against Matthew's abstract of the theory of evolution as to Erasmus Darwin's view of this theory, that it was in fact too short. "It may be true," says Butler, "that brevity is the the soul of the wit, but the leaders of science will generally succeed in burking new-born wit, unless the brevity of its soul is found compatible with a body of some bulk."
     Darwin first gave the body to the soul of the theory of natural selection. The ingenious way in which he related the facts of almost all biological disciplines in terms of the selection idea into an organic whole, is his very own merit, that defies all other priority claims.   

Allen, Qraot, Charles Darwin. London, Longmans, Green, and Co. 1888.

Butter, Samuel, Evolution, old and new. London, Hardwicke and Bogue, 1879.

Darwin, Charles, Die Entstehung der Arten. Deutsch von Victor Carus. 8. Auflage. Stuttgart, E. Schweizerbart, 1899.

Darwin, Francis, Leben und Briefe von Charles Darwin. Deutsch von Victor Carus. 2. Auflage. Stuttgart, E. Schweizerbart, 1899.

Darwin, Francis and A. C. Seward, More letters of Charles Darwin. London, John Murray, 1903.

Matthew, Patrick, On naval timber and arboriculture; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting. Edinburgh, Adam Black; London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1831.

Rádl, Em., Geschichte der biologischen Theorien. II. Teil. Leipzig, Wilhelm Engelmann, 1909.