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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.


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Charles Lyell's Links to Patrick Matthew: An Etymological Detective Story

Apr. 26, 2015 11:32 am

Trumpet from the rooftopsPublic Domain

Charles Lyell, Darwin's great friend and geological mentor. He knew Robert Chambers, who had read and Cited Matthew's book before being first to be second in 1859 with Matthew's unique term 'natural process of selection'. He knew four others among the 28 who who were first to be second - pre-1858 - with unique Matthewisms.

Charles Lyell was Charles Darwin's great friend and geological mentor. It was Lyell who bought Darwin news of Alfred Wallace's 1855 work on natural selection. It was he who played a pivotal role in 1858 in having Wallace's and Darwin's papers read before the Linnean Society, without Wallace's prior consent. And it was he who pulled the strings so that Darwin's Origin of Species would be published by his own publisher John Murray.

Lyell also features heavily at the center of my investigations into who was apparently "first to be second" with terms and phrases that were apparently first coined by Matthew in his 1831 book, 'On Naval Timber and Arboriculture', which is widely acknowledged (see my Rational Wiki essay Sutton 2014) to contain the full prior published hypothesis of natural selection, which Darwinists believe Darwin and Wallace each discovered independently of this prior publication.

The First to be Second (F2b2) Hypothesis

'Those who the ID method in Google's Library reveals are apparently first to be second with apparently original words, terms or phrases more likely than not replicated them because they read them first in the apparently original source.'

List 2 of those apparently first to be second with apparent unique Matthewisms - taken from Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret.

  1. 1832 — Mudie: "rectangular branching"
  2. 1833 — Ellerby: "plants so far asunder"
  3. 1835 — Main: "luxuriant growing trees"
  4. 1834 — Conrad: "admixture of species"
  5. 1834 — Roget: "living aggregates"
  6. 1834 — Low: "long continued selection"
  7. 1836 — Rafinesque: "evinced in the genus"
  8. 1837 — Wilson: "threatened ascendency"
  9. 1837 — Anonymous: "nature's own rearing"
  10. 1837 — Dovaston: "sport in infinite varieties"
  11. 1838 — Anonymous translator: "portion of the surface of our planet"
  12. 1840 — Buel: "infirm progeny"
  13. 1840 — Swackhamer: "beat off intruders"
  14. 1841 — Johnson: "adapted to prosper"
  15. 1841 — Hill: "deeper richer soil"
  16. 1842 — Selby: "greater power of occupancy"
  17. 1844 — Low: "overpowering the less"
  18. 1846 — Emmons: "habits of varieties"
  19. 1846 — Alabama Supreme Court: "Infirmity of their condition"
  20. 1848 — Charnock: "stiffest and most obdurate"
  21. 1849 — Emmons: "deteriorated by culture"
  22. 1852 — Wilkin: "figure is best accommodated"
  23. 1853 — Andrews: "impressions and habits acquired"
  24. 1854 — Mure: "dogmatical classification"
  25. 1855 — Fishbourne: "power to permeate"
  26. 1855 — Laycock: "mental or instinctive powers"
  27. 1856 — Gazlay: "adaptation to condition"
  28. 1858 — Powell: "restricted adaptation"
  29. 1858 — Floy: "law manifest in nature"
  30. 1858 — Leidy: "impressions in insects"

Public Domain

In separate publication, Ebeneezer Emmons was apparently first to be second with two apparently unique Matthewisms 'habits of varieties' and 'deteriorated by culture'.He spent some time with Charles Lyell in the USA.

A total of 28 individuals have been identified to date as being "first to be second" with "Matthewisms" pre-1859, because in the list of 30 cases above, David Low and Ebenezer Emmons were each apparently first to be second with two apparently unique Matthewisms, in different publications, which means they provide some evidence to confirm the F2b2 hypothesis (Sutton 2014).

In addition, post 1858, Robert Chambers - who actually cited Matthew's book in 1832 - was first to be second with Matthew's unique term 'natural process of selection' in his 1859 review of Darwin's (1859) 'Origin of Species', which was before Matthew wrote to Darwin through his 1860 published letter in the Gardner's Chronicle to claim the credit for his prior published discovery, which Darwin had replicated.

Darwin always maintained the same story that he first told in his published reply to Matthew's letter. Darwin wrote that neither he nor any naturalist known to him had read Matthew's ideas before Matthew drew their attention to them in 1860.

As a result of my original research, we now know that Darwin's excuse that none known to him had read Matthew's prior published theory was completely untrue (see my peer reviewed journal article Sutton 2014).

Further confirmation of the F2b2 hypothesis comes by way of the fact that Cuthbert Johnson and Robert Chambers were not only apparently first to be second with unique Matthewisms pre-1859 but that they also cited Matthew elsewhere pre-1859. In that regard, they are among 25 people known to have read and actually cited Matthew's book in the literature pre-1859; seven of whom were naturalists and three of whom played key roles at the very epicenter of Darwin's and Wallace's pre-1858 work on natural selection (see my book Nullius for all the details).

Charles Lyell and the F2b2 hypothesis

Lyell knew at least six (Roget, Conrad, Emmons, Leidy, Chambers, Powell) of the 28 individuals who we know were apparently first to be second with unique Matthewisms pre-1858.

Lyell knew the American paleontologist Timothy Conrad extremely well - indeed Conrad acted as his guide on a field trip in the USA on 27th September 1841. On that same field trip was the Geologist Ebeneezer Emmons (see Lyell's letters). Lyel and Conrad corresponded in 1845 .


Public Domain

Baden Powelll was apparently first to be second with Matthew's apparently unique term 'restricted adaptation'. He was a friend of Charles Lyell.

In June 1847. Lyell visited Oxford University where he met and dined with Baden Powell. There for a meeting of the 17th British Association for Advancement of Science meeting, at the geological session he met with Robert Chambers.

Writing from his birthplace and manor house, Kinnordy House - just 19 miles as the crow flies from Patrick Matthew's home in the same county of Forfarshire - Lyell wrote to tell his father the top-secret that Chambers was the anonymous author of the heretical book on Evolution "The Vestiges of Creation" (See pp 130-131 of The Life and Letters of Charles Lyell). And - to repeat the point already made - we know from my research that Chambers was not only apparently first to be second with an apparently unique Matthewism, arguably the most important of all Matthew''s apparently unique terms and phrases, but was also one of seven naturalists who actually cited Matthews book pre 1858. Moreover, Darwin was at that Oxford meeting with Chambers!

Lyell knew the geologist Chambers - a great influencer of both Wallace and Darwin - who had read and cited Matthew's book and was first to be second with Matthew's name for his great discovery the "natural process of selection."

Lyell knew Conrad and he knew and met Conrad's geological associate Emmons - who had twice - in different publications - been first to be second with Matthewisms!

Lyell also knew and was on very good terms with Baden Powell, who wrote the now famously missing letter that severely criticized Darwin for failing to cite his sources in the first (1859) edition of the Origin of Species.


Public Domain

Joseph Leidy - Early USA supporter of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species

Lyell also knew Joseph Leidy, wrote in his letters that he was an excellent scholar, and in 1847 famously encouraged him to take up paleontology . The following yearDarwin met Leidy.

The two corresponded in 1860 when Darwin thanked Leidy for his personal support of the theory of natural selection. A letter that Leidy wrote to Darwin is claimed to have been destroyed by fire at Darwin's home in 1860 (see Warren 1998, p. 272). An ardent supporter and correspondent of Darwin, Leidy successfully lobbied for his hero to be elected to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (see Grande 2003), and even went so far as to personally commission a bust of Darwin, which is now on display at Darwin's home, Down House, in Bromley, Kent.


Public Domain

Timothy Conrad, a good friend of Charles Lyell, was apparently first to be second with Matthew's apparently original term 'admixture of species'.

The reason why geologists and paleontologists such as Leidy, Emmons, Chambers, Conrad and Lyell would be interested in Matthew's book is not just because it contained the first published bomshell theory of natural selection, but also because Matthew wrote to speculate that the Carse of Gowrie in Scotland had once been a lake with a narrow opening to the sea. Chambers wrote on the same topic area in 1848. And he went on to publish 11 learned. papers on the very same theme. Darwin and Chambers met to discuss the cause of the parallel roads of Glen Roy, a topic about which Darwin had written a dreadfully wrong paper against Agassiz's 1842 ice lake theory. At their 1847 meeting to discus this area of mutual interest, Chambers gave Darwin a copy of The Vestiges, leading Darwin to write to Hooker in 1847 to let him in on the big secret that Chambers was the heretical anonymous author of that best selling 'book, which is the book said to have "put evolution in the air" in the first half of the 19th century and to have paved the way for public acceptance of The Origin of Species.


Trumpet from the jerry built history of science rooftop of the Royal Society in LondonPublic Domain

Robert Chambers. Anonymous author of 'The Vestiges of creation'.

It seems implausible that it would be nothing more than a mere coincidence that Lyell - who played such a pivotal role in guiding and influencing Darwin - should be so closely connected with six of the mere 28 individuals in the entire world who we newly know by searching over 30 million books in - Google's mighty library - were apparently first to be second with apparently unique Matthewisms. That three of them - Leidy, Conrad and Emmons - were Americans is surely of great apparent significance and a mere coincidence only beyond the bounds of reasonable probability.

My book, Nullius in Verba, contains far more - and considerably more detailed - evidence that Matthew had read Lyell's 1830 book The Principles of Geography, and that Lyell had read Matthew's 1831 book in 1831. Nullius explains also what it was about the county of Forfrarshire that so influenced Lyell, Matthew and so many others to write on the subject of the evolutionary origin of species years before Darwin or Wallace put pen to paper on the subject. Lyell was also, in 1832, among the first to replicate Matthew's unique Artificial versus Natural Selection Analogy of Differences. See my blog post on that topic here.

I discovered in 2014, and reported in "Nullius" that Matthew had laid his first public claim against Darwin's replication of his hypothesis with the editor of the Dublin University University Review in 1860. A footnote in that magazine "trash-talked" down Matthew's discovery. The footnote was in an article by the geologist and paleontologist David Anstead (Sutton 2014):

'David Anstead (FRS)[170]—Lecturer for the East India Company, fellow graduate of Cambridge, personal correspondent of Darwin, fellow member of the Royal Society, former vice secretary of the Geological Society, having taken up office on Charles Lyell's departure—authored a paper on the subject of Paleontology, where he fully supported Darwin's Origin, and in a lengthy footnote replied on behalf of the magazine to blatantly refuse to accept that Matthew had written anything at all that was original.'


Public Domain

Professor David Anstead

Interestingly, Professor David Anstread was another associate of Lyell. Moreover, at the 21st meeting of the British association for Advancement of science in 1851, we find him attending along with Lyell and Darwin's other good friends William Hooker (father of Darwin's best friend Joseph Hooker) and Asa Gray. Most interestingly, William Jardine was among the group, What makes the fact of interest is because in 1842 Jardine purchased Matthew's (1831) book for Selby. Most tellingly, Selby then edited Wallace's famous Sarawak paper, which included his first replication of Matthew's prior-published hypothesis of natural selection!

When Matthew tried to give a paper on his discovery of natural selection at the 1867 Dundee Conference of the British Association for Advancement of Science he was platform blocked from speaking (See Nullius) . Lyell - who had been president of the association just three years earlier was present , along with Robert Chambers (who cited Matthew's book in 1832 before writing 'the Vestiges of creation' - said to have put evolution in the air in the first half of the 19th century, and Alfred Wallace (whose, Sarawak paper's editor - Selby - cited Matthew's book in the 1840's!).

Lyell was born in a grand manor house just 19 miles away from Matthew's farm in Forfarshire. His correspondence shows he returned regularly. It is said Lyell never forgot the huge role the local geology played in influencing him to understand the importance of evolution. No one mentions the role of his neighbor who was first to publish the entire theory of natural selection 27 years before Lyell's friends Wallace and Darwin replicated it.

You have read here only a small fraction of the powerful evidence that Darwin plagiarized Matthew's prior-published theory.

Using my Big Data Internet Date Detection (ID) method to examine evidence for the the First to be Second (F2b2) Hypothesis, several other important naturalists with strong influential links to Darwin have been detected.

In his position paper - which is essentially a polemic that sets out to deny the importance and significance of all the new findings in my book Nullius in Verba statistical geneticist Dr Mike Weale argues that the method used to detect those who were first to be second with unique Matthewisms, and the tentative conclusions conclusions drawn from these fascinating findings, are all totally "invalid" solely on the grounds that Google might not have scanned all the important books and journals on this topic and that the software is not absolutely perfect. However, most weirdly for a man of science, Dr Weale is so incurious about this new dis-confirming data for Darwin's immaculate conception of Matthew's theory that he fails to address why it is that the method despite having zero in-built bias in that direction has detected so many naturalists known to Darwin and his mentor Charles Lyell using unique Matthewisms pre 1858.


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Nullius in Verba

For further evidence that Darwin did know of, and was hugely influenced by, Matthew's (1831) book, read Nullius in Veraba: Darwin's greatest secret to discover who Darwin knew and met with who cited and/or were first to be second with apparently unique Mathewisms, and to find out more about the social connections to Darwin's friends and associates of those who cited Matthew and/or were first to be second with his unique terms and phrases.

Visit my my website for more information about Patrick Matthew - the true biological father of natural selection.

Eiseley (1959) thought that Matthew's system must have been ignored, because by accepting the fact of geological catastrophies Matthew's ideas die not fit in with the unfounded beliefs of the uniformitarian school of Charles Lyell (Eiseley 1959, p.127):

'Matthew's system perished, not only because it had been published obscurely by an obscure man but because uniformitarian geology at the hands of Lyell was about to weaken and overthrow the catastrophist philosophy.'

We should note that Lyell's great friend Charles Darwin believed and promoted the now debunked uniformitarian model in the Origin of Species - where he slyly mocked Matthew for being a catasptophist -and before in earlier publication (see De Beer 1922, p. 324). Lyell, who was an instigator of the Linnean debacle of 1858 had a great vested interest in worrying about Matthew's book and encouraging others not to give it an airing. Today it is thought that Matthew was right and that geological and meteorological extinction events played major roles in the creation of new species by natural selection - exactly as Matthew explained (see paper of my Historic Sunday Lecture at Conway Hall)

Eiseley (1959) thought also that another reason for the overshadowing of Matthew's original discovery is probably because his 1831 version contained the now considered correct influence of catastrophic geological and meteorological extinction events. Only the year before, Darwin's friend and geological mentor Charles Lyell (1830) brought out the first volume of his influential Principles of Geography,which promoted the Uniformitarian principle that such extinction events never happened. Lyell did not believe transmutation of species occurred until many years later - when Darwin was close to publishing the Origin of Species. Darwin retained his mentor's uniformitarian ideas and mocked Matthew, from the third edition of the origin onward as a scientifically unfashionable catastrophist.

The way forward - future research. Did Lyell ever mention Matthew's book in his notes and correspondence pre-1860?

Archive research is now required. My ID research method has created many new maps where "X marks the spot" to begin digging further.

The following leads are taken from

'Many of Lyell’s letters and travel diaries were published in the Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell Bart., Katherine M. Lyell, ed., 2 vols. (London, 1881). The original copies of many of Lyell’s letters to members of his family, his scientific journals, and his notebooks are the property of Lord Lyell of Kinnordy, Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. Lyell’s letters to other scientists are scattered among libraries and MS collections, both public and private, throughout the world.

Between 1855 and 1861 Lyell filled seven notebooks with notes and references on the species question; these have been published as Sir Charles Lyell’Scientific Journals on the Species Question, Leonard G. Wilson, ed. (New Haven-London, 1972).

II. Secondary Literature. In addition to K. M. Lyell’s Life, Letters and Journals, three brief popular biographies of Lyell have been published: Sir Edward Bailey, Charles Lyell (New York, 1963); Thomas George Bonney,Charles Lyell and Modern Geology (London, 1895); and F, J, North, Sir Charles Lyell (London). Although all of these biographies are heavily dependent on the Life, Letters and Journals and on Lyell’s published writings, each was written by a professional geologist who contributed useful insights into Lyell’s work.'

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