Talk:Patrick Matthew

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Clark's biography of C.D.[edit]

I have removed the section marked in red, which is not neutral. Notice that the sense of the passage is unaffected: Notwithstanding Darwin's insistence on ignorance of Matthew's work, it has been suggested that he may have encountered it, or a description of it, or in some other way have been influenced by it. Ronald W. Clark, a biographer of Darwin, suggested that even if Darwin had at some point encountered Matthew's work (of which there is no evidence whatsoever), it is possible that it simply did not register, but crept into his subconscious, only later serving as a forgotten basis of his ideas, which would not have been intellectual dishonesty. --Wetman 10:40, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've adjusted this further, by giving the exact words from Clark and making it clear that Clark had no basis for suggesting indirectly that C.D. had read the book. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:16, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Natural theology[edit]

Writing to Darwin, Matthew stated his belief in "a sentiment of beauty pervading Nature [that] affords evidence of intellect and benevolence in the scheme of Nature." He further maintained, "This principle of beauty is clearly from design and cannot be accounted for by natural selection." [citation needed]

The section above has been in the article a long time without source, and so has now been moved here. Since it's claimed to be from correspondence with Darwin, I expected to find it in DarwinOnline, but the search shows no trace of it, and searching the web and google books was similarly unsuccessful. The only source seems to be this page, obviously it can be restored to the article if a suitable source is found. .. dave souza, talk 22:27, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

I suspect it is a quote mined bit of text, or completely fabricated.--Filll (talk) 22:33, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I was wondering, but then found a similar summary of a letter in the Darwin Correspondence Project so I've paraphrased that. The above may be an exact quote, but that's not available online yet. .. dave souza, talk 23:00, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Regarding this passage: "There is little or no evidence that Matthew held these views as a younger man: there is no discussion of a religious nature in Arboriculture; neither is there any discussion of man in the book. It seems that he moved towards a more traditional world-view in his old age." To me it seems far more likely that he would have always thought man to have theological origins, or to at least be outside of the mechanisms he proposed, and that it was only Descent of Man that led to him to consider it and articulate a response. But either way, its speculative unless there is a reference. I will remove the last sentence. +|||||||||||||||||||||||||+ (talk) 04:22, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Quotation from Arboriculture[edit]

The main passage from which quotes are taken is Note B, the second section of the book. I am slightly troubled by the choice in the article which leaves out the two passages (from Note F, p384-6) chosen by Darlington (Darwin's place in history p90-91) to illustrate Matthew's ideas. I may stick the whole appendix into wikiquote: it's far too long to put in the present article. Macdonald-ross (talk) 18:00, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

"Darwin here, as well as later commentators, erred by attributing Matthew's discussions solely to the Appendix, as the main text of the work also presents in sufficiently recognizable detail "this natural process of selection among plants" (see pages 307 to 308)." is original research, without a secondary source. There may well be a case to be presented, but it should be noted that even Matthew didn't cite pages 307 to 308 in his letter published by the Gardeners' Chronicle. I've therefore removed that paragraph.

I've also removed anachronistic references to eugenics, and rephrased some of that paragraph with the aim of clarification, and have reorganised the paragraphs a bit to made it clear that the passages we quote were published in the Gardeners' Chronicle letter. The quote added from OtOOS includes a response by Matthew: this was highlighted by Stephen Jay Gould on pp. 345–346 of The Flamingo's Smile, according to page 49 of Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea if we want a secondary source noting that passage. Don't know it there's an online source for Matthew's complete letter. . . dave souza, talk 18:21, 4 February 2011 (UTC)


I removed content from the life section about his children that seems insignificant. I tried to keep the gist of it, and left relevant content that reflects on Matthews character and work e.g encouraging his sons to go to NZ and planting american trees in scotland. I moved the ref. to Dempster up to the paragraph preceding this latter event because a cite has been requested for that - unless its in Dempster? +|||||||||||||||||||||||||+ (talk) 04:38, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Is the account of his children's movements correct ? The British Newspaper Archive has PM publishing and advertising an emigration guide (covering US, the Cape, Oz & NZ) and promoting (in association with some of his Chartist friends (he seems to have been a delegate to the National Convention)) a 'Scottish New Zealand Land Company' in 1839 ie a good 10 years before the California gold-rush Rjccumbria (talk) 02:30, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Come to that, was his farm really prospering ? The Edinburgh Gazette in 1848 carried an announcement of a meeting of the creditors of ' Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill, corn merchant ' and his children don't seem to include a Patrick... Rjccumbria (talk) 02:42, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
After a lot of fossicking in census records (OR I know): in 1851 Patrick is still Landowner & farmer at Gourdie hill, his son Robert is a Corn Agent (a Merchant in 1861), from 1871 onwards Robert is farming Gourdie hill , which in 1881 is declared to be a farm of 50 acres; in 1881 Robert's son is a Civil Engineer. It sounds as though P did come a cropper in corn trading and the family had to draw in its horns. Rjccumbria (talk) 15:32, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Seer of Gourdiehill - did he foresee the use of cast iron piers ?[edit]

This chap's views on Bouch's Tay Bridge seem to be somewhat selectively reported here. He was generally agin it and hence came up with no end of reasons why the bridge would fail. The Tay Bridge, Its History and Construction by Albert Groethe (Dundee 1878) [1] has the following

MR PATRICK MATHEWS PREDICTIONS. ... During the six years the scheme of Mr Bouch had been under discussion the Seer of Gourdie Hill had been so absorbed in his incantations to the powers of Nature that he failed to comprehend the change which public opinion had undergone regarding it, or to mark the progress which had been made towards its realisation. But when the resolution to proceed caught his eye the fairy curtain which obscured the face of his magic mirror is drawn up like the mist from the brow of a mountain, and he beheld the Bridge completed. It is a high, slender, rainbow-like structure, having a barrier of strong palisades on either side to protect it from the fury of the waves and the destroying breath proceeding from the "storm throat" of the Tay. The piers of the Bridge and its protecting palisades have the effect of increasing the velocity of the currents, and these in their turn are scooping out deep channels which threaten to destroy the foundations, while the mud and sand disturbed in the process are forming enormous banks, which will eventually obstruct the entrance to the Harbour, and perhaps endanger the fairway at the mouth of the river itself. But there is still another danger. He sees a ship which has slipped its anchors during a storm. It is drifting up the river, manned by a drunken crew, who, regardless of the consequences, allow it to run against a pier, and, strange to say, the ship is uninjured by the shock, while the Bridge is toppled over like a child's house of cards. Yet a little while and a train filled with happy people is swiftly proceeding along the tortuous structure. Its weight and velocity acts with such a centrifugal force upon the curve that the workmanship is unable to bear the strain, and he sees the Bridge open up, and the train, with its human freight, precipitated into the river a hundred feet below. An islet is now seen in the firth where no islet existed before, and its component parts are loose stones, fragments of iron and of wood, together with mangled human bodies, and the eels are gliding out and in between the interstices of the horrible scene. The Bridge itself is a wreck, and never more will be used as a medium of communication between the counties of Fife and Forfar. And yet once more. A giant, restless in his sleep, is seen struggling under the district of Comrie. At every turn the monster makes the earth is shaken as if subjected to an attack of palsy, and the radius within which these shakings and tremblings are felt includes the Carse of Gowrie and — Dundee ! A shake which scarcely moves the tallest and most slender chimney in the smoke-begrimed town has ample power to throw the rainbow bridge into the Tay, and all the powers which man can exercise can hardly set it up again. Thus the Seer predicted the fate of the great undertaking in a series of eight letters written to the Dundee Advertiser, beginning, on the 7th of December 1869 and ending on the 11th of March 1870. Through whatever medium the Bridge might be viewed, Mr Mathew saw nothing but disaster, and it is a question had he lived to witness the heavy ballast trains which have daily crossed the Tay by its iron roadway whether he would not have found some other agent as a substitute for that centrifugal force which has so treacherously failed to aid him in the fulfilment of his predictions.

Whilst Grothe doubtless ended up regretting some of that mockery, from the dates given, those predictions were made when contracts had yet to be let, and the bridge piers were to be brick; perhaps some elucidation could be given of which castings the Seer was predicting to be defective.Rjccumbria (talk) 20:37, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Claims of plagiarism by Darwin and/or Wallace[edit]

I have edited the first paragraph to remove two sentences that claim that both Darwin and Wallace were “aware of Matthew’s work” and that they “might have been responsible for 'the greatest known science fraud in history by plagiarising Matthew's complete hypothesis of natural selection, his terminology, observations and creative explanations'”. These claims have been made by Mike Sutton, and are detailed in his blog ( Sutton’s evidence is: (1) via a search of digitized book libraries, Sutton has found several new examples of citations of Matthew’s book, including some by people known to Darwin and Wallace (he therefore claims that Matthew’s ideas would have been known to Darwin and Wallace). (2) Sutton has employed a plagiarism text comparison tool to propose that certain passages of Darwin and Wallace are similar in style to Matthew. Sutton’s views have not been widely accepted, since his evidence can be alternatively interpreted as showing that: (1) people read Matthew’s book (this is not in doubt), but did not grasp his views on evolution; (2) similarities in 19-century writing style could confuse a text comparison software. The situation with regards to possible plagiarism by Darwin and Wallace therefore remains as described in the section “later opinions” of this article – a possibility but one without any firm evidence. Mikeweale (talk) 20:03, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Sutton [1] claims that Matthew was given the run-around in 1867 when the BA held its annual meeting in Dundee in what Sutton describes as "one of the most shameful examples of scholarly platform blocking in the history of modern science".

Matthew at the age of 77 years wanted to give a paper at the conference on his discovery of natural selection. We learn by way of his letter of complaint published in the Dundee Advertiser (Matthew, 1867)that he was thwarted. Matthew wrote of his outrage that his paper, which had been placed last on the programme, was seemingly blocked on the spurious grounds that there was insufficient time for him to read it.

It isn't clear where Sutton gets the information that Matthew's rejected paper was on 'his discovery of natural selection' as opposed to 'natural selection, which he had discovered' and even less clear why he thinks the paper crowded out was on either of those topics.Sutton's reference is to a passage in Dempster, not to the issue of the Dundee Advertiser in which Matthew's letter of complaint was published. The letter can be found in the Dundee Advertiser of 13 September

"the conduct towards me of the soi-disant British Association for the Advancement of Science has been such that I consider it right to lay the subject before the public. I gave in to their Assistant-General Secretary nine papers to be read. Of these they rejected seven and admitted two, one of the latter, on Botany, I withdrew as I thought it required the rejected to appear along with it . The other I did not withdraw, as it had an immediate importance, but which the Society managed, by delaying the reading till the last, not to read. I will match the importance of these nine papers, in a national point of view, against all that was read at the Dundee meeting, of which the public will have an opportunity to judge. With regard to one of these papers, on what is termed Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection, but which theory was published by me about thirty years before Darwin (honourably acknowledged in his last edition by Darwin), at a time when man was scarcely ready for such thoughts, I surely had the best right to be heard upon this subject. Yet others were allowed to speak upon it , and its parent denied to do so . Such is the conduct of a Society terming itself the British Association for the Advancement of Science"

The Dundee Advertiser of 11 September 1867 reports the session (10 September 1867 )at which a paper by Matthew was to have been taken. In Sectional Meeting F (Economic Science & Statistics) , Matthew was to have read a paper on "Employer and Employed - Capital and Labour" - given his past Chartist politics, it would be interesting to know what he intended to say . In the event, the first paper presented - on the funds available for education - triggered a long discussion, and two papers, one of them Matthew's, were dropped. (Matthew's letter does not complain that the lack of time was spurious, merely that it was his paper which suffered) Rjccumbria (talk) 21:07, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Prior claims to discovery of principle of natural selection[edit]

I have edited the last two sentences of the section on “Later opinions” to clarify the earlier claims for the discovery of natural selection. The key point about Matthew is that, like Darwin and Wallace, he saw natural selection as a mechanism for macroevolution, as opposed to within-species microevolution. William Charles Wells and Edward Blyth both proposed versions of natural selection as a within-species force only. The earliest proponent of this limited version of natural selection currently known is James Hutton, so I have added his name here. Mikeweale (talk) 20:39, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Recent edits by TheScienceFraudSquad (talk · contribs) got Sutton's "Big Data" claims wildly out of proportion, I've put them in the "later opinions" section after removing duplicate and dubious sources. Have any historians other than James Moore discussed these claims? . . dave souza, talk 17:18, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

3RR and Darwinist Preventionism[edit]

Sorry lower case 'dave' Souza. You may be a Scot, or live in Scotland, but you are hardly Scottish! Upholding the issue of 'Taking Out' my addition of a VERIFIABLE FACT is totally reprehensible. I was merely drawing attention to the fact that Patrick Matthew's prior coining of the phrase Natural Selection was in 1831which is 28 years before Charles Darwin and doing so in a quite reasonable way. Your DISLIKE of this and editing out really disqualifies you as an editor of Encyclopaedic information. Wikipedia is NOT a right-wing newspaper and nor is it sold on street corners, so STOP editing the pages as if it were one. If you do not want Wikipedia to be rejected globally as a source of verified data then STOP your incessant editing OUT of nouns and adjectives and even verbs thus altering the meaning of other people's carefully thought out scripts and making their intentions seem wrongful. Leave people's additions as they are and discuss with them PREVIOUS to EDITING OUT to find out where they got their information from so that you can independently verify the same if you want to of course. If you don't want to because you already know that you are wrong, then LEAVE editing to others who have a balanced view. Wikipedia will lose its place in the global setting, and already has as any University papers DO NOT ACCEPT wikipedia references now. All down to you and the likes of you. Well done, lower case 'dave'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SuueDee (talkcontribs) 08:30, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:No personal attacks and comply with talk page guidelines: focus on content, not on other editors. If you think Patrick Matthew coined the phrase Natural Selection please provide a reference and quotation. If you think this belongs in the article, what reliable third party source discusses its significance? . . dave souza, talk 08:57, 16 September 2015 (UTC)