Sir Gavin de Beer (FRS) wrote in the Wilkins Lecture for the Royal Society (de Beer 1962 on page 333):
'..William Charles Wells and Patrick Matthew were predecessors who had actually published the principle of natural selection in obscure places where their works remained completely unnoticed until Darwin and Wallace reawakened interest in the subject.'
(Darwin 1861: xv-xvi):
'Unfortunately the view was given by Mr Matthew very briefly in scattered pages 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…'
Disconfirming evidence that proves Darwin and his Darwinists wrong:
Here is what just two naturalists in Darwin's network had to say about Matthew's original discovery.
(1) The economic botanist William Jameson of the East India Company - a correspondent of William Hooker who was the father of Darwin's best friend Joseph Hooker and nephew of Darwin's Edinburgh University professor Robert Jameson (purportedly the first person to use the word evolution in biological sense):
"This opinion regarding the value of sites where Pine trees are grown is not, we are aware, in accordance with those of many: but we here give facts as exhibited in the Himalayas. Matthew in his treatise on naval timber, states that the Pinus sylvestris, if grown on good or rich soil, attains rapidly large dimensions and its best timber properties."
Jameson (1853, p. 307).
Here is clear proof of the relevance of Matthew's book and the orignal ideas in it for economic botany. Matthew's work was highly valuable, and its information was being relied upon by naturalists employed by the East India Company, no less! It was so relied upon because it contained important intelligence for what trees might grow best where. And timber drove the industrial revolution - for building, ship building for commercial and colonial armed forces purposes, and for obtaining essential chemicals needed in the woolen industry.
Jameson was referring to a most important area of text taken from the main body of his book (Note: it is a myth that natural selection was just in the appendix of Matthew's book) contained important intelligence for what trees might grow best where. But most importantly, Matthew provided a new explanation as to why that might be (1831, p. 302):
"The natural soil and climate of a tree is often very far from being the soil and climate most suited to its growth and is only the situation where it has greater power of occupancy than any other plant whose germ is present."
In that one sentence, Matthew provides a crucial new hypothesis to guide the progress of economic botany, but his claim is heretical because its natural conclusion is that everything is not living where a worshipful and divine creator placed it to be best circumstance-suited to succeed, according to that god's design of everything being placed in its designated place.
(2) The naturalist John Loudon - a noted botanist - who was well known to both William and Joseph Hooker - reviewed Matthew's (1831) book in 1832. He then went on to be editor of the magazine that published two of Blyth's influential articles on organic evolution, which significantly influenced Darwin:
'An appendix of 29 pages concludes the book, and receives some parenthetical evolutions of certain extraneous points which the author struck upon in prosecuting the thesis of his book. This may be truly termed in a double sense, an extraordinary part of the book. One of the subjects discussed in this appendix is the puzzling one, of the origin of species and varieties; and if the author has hereon originated no original views (and of this we are far from certain), he has certainly exhibited his own in an original manner.'
(See Nullius: Kindle reference38).
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