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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.
 
Posted in Science / Social Sciences / Sociology

On the Newly Discovered Story of Matthew, Chambers and Darwin

Dec. 7, 2014 8:26 am

Knowledge Contamination Timeline of Newly Discovered (Sutton 2014) Known Evidence of Matthew's (1831) Influence Upon Charles Darwin via Robert Chambers

For the past 154 years Darwin hoodwinked the world by claiming that no naturalist known to him had read Patrick Matthew's (1831) prior publication of the full hypothesis of natural selection. Big Data research proved him wrong. In fact, four naturalists known to Darwin actually cited it. Three of them played major roles at the epicenter of influence and facilitation of Darwin's and Wallace's published work on natural selection. This blog is about one of those three naturalists. Namely, the publisher, author and geologist Robert Chambers.

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.’ Charles Darwin (1860)

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 on 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.’ Charles Darwin (1861).

Nullius in verba’ (On the word of no one). Motto of the Royal Society since 1663.

  • According to his memoirs (see Layman 1990, p. 17) Robert Chambers believed that it was from the age of five years (1807) that he first became interested in the nobler conceptions of learned men who progressed further in their explanations of the natural world than the mere appearance of things.
  • Matthew (1831) uniquely named his unique discovery of the full hypothesis of natural selection: 'the natural process of selection'.
  • Chambers (1832) cited Matthew's (1831) heretical and seditious book – although he only mentioned Matthew's expertise on the subject of pruning plane trees.
  • Chambers (1840) cited Matthew’s later work, Emigration Fields (Matthew 1839) regarding Matthew's writing on the ill-effects of tobacco smoking. Emigration Fields took Matthew's ideas on evolution forward for (British) human progress at the expense of those in other lands to be occupied by the British.
  • Chambers (1844) authored and had published (anonymously) The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation - the book that 'put evolution in the air' in the mid-19th century (see Millhauser 1959).
  • In 1845, Alfred Wallace wrote to Bates to explain that seeking proof of the ideas in the Vestiges was what motivated his interest in the field of research into the problem of solving the origin of species (See Sutton 2104).
  • Chambers met Darwin in 1847 and thereafter engaged in correspondence. In 1847 Chambers gave Darwin a copy of the Vestiges, leading Darwin to write to his friend Joseph Hooker that he knew Chambers was its secret author.
  • Darwin's personal copy of the Vestiges was heavily annotated by Darwin.
  • Wallace, in 1855, had his Sarawak Paper published. Incidentally, it was published in a journal the chief editor of which was another naturalist named Selby, a man very well and closely connected to Darwin (see Sutton 2014 for all the precise details), who had 15 years earlier purchased a copy of Matthew's book in 1840 and cited it many times in his own book of 1842). So Selby both read and then cited Matthew (1831) in the literature BEFORE Darwin wrote his famous unpublished essay on natural selection of 1842! Darwin read Wallace's Sarawak Paper in 1855. Wallace's Sarawak paper appears to have far too many replications of Matthew's (1831) unique ideas, terms, words and highly unique and idiosyncratic explanatory examples to have been written independently of Matthew's prior published work (see Sutton 2014 for precise details of this complex plagiarism check).
  • In 1858, Wallace sent Darwin his Ternate Paper - which had in it evidences to support the hypothesis of natural selection. It was this paper that led Darwin and his cronies, Lyell and Hooker, to arrange - without first seeking any consent from Wallace - for a paper hastily written by Darwin to be presented together with Wallace's Ternate Paper - but read first so it would thereafter be called "Darwin's and Wallace's theory." This all happened in 1858.
  • In the Origin of Species (Darwin 1859), Darwin uniquely four-word-shuffled Matthew's unique name for Matthew's 1831 published discovery from 'natural process of selection' to 'process of natural selection.' Darwin used that shuffled phrase nine times in the Origin of Species (1859).
  • In 1859, in a book review of Darwin's Origin of Species, Chambers is the 'first to be second' in writing a published replication of Matthew's unique term 'natural process of selection.' This is unlikely to be an amazing coincidence. Because we know Chambers did read Matthew (1831) in 1832 - because he cited him!. More so, because Robert Chambers's brother, William, wrote of Robert in 1872 'And such were his extraordinary powers of memory that whatever he saw or learned he never forgot; everything which could interest the mind being treasured up, as a fund of delightful recollections ready to be of service when wanted.' In fact, Chambers's memory is described by Professor Alan Macfarlane as 'almost photographic'.
  • In 1860 Chambers convinced Huxley (Darwin's Bulldog) to stay at the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference at Oxford. Chambers remonstrated with Huxley not to desert the cause but to stay and defend Darwin's Origin of species by engaging in a debate that included Bishop Wilberforce - who attacked Darwin's work for being conjectural regarding the creation of new species.
  • In 1861, from the third edition of the Origin of Species onward, Darwin admitted the huge influence of the Vestiges in paving the way for acceptance of his own work on organic evolution..
  • In 1871, the year of Robert Chambers's death, but before the revelation that Chambers had authored the Vestiges was formally announced, Darwin wrote to Robert Chambers's daughter, Eliza, to apologize for his earlier treatment in disparaging the Vestiges: 'Several years ago I perceived that I had not done full justice to a scientific work which I believed and still believe he was intimately connected with, and few things have struck me with more admiration than the perfect temper and liberality with which he treated my conduct.'

Sources:

Chambers, W. (1872) Memoir of Robert Chambers: With autobiographic reminiscences of William Chambers. Edinburgh & London. W and R Chambers.

Layman, C. H. (1990) Man of letters: The Early Life and Love-Letters of Robert Chambers. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press.

Sutton, M. (2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. ThinkerMedia Inc.

 
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