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Other Works


All Matthew’s works are linked in serving some higher socio-political goal. The motivation of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture was to sustain Britain’s Merchant and Royal Navies, and thus Britain’s role as ruler of the waves and civilizer of the world. Likewise, in Note B of the Appendix of that book, his law of natural selection is used as a motivation for condemning human laws of entail (the inheritance of property through first-born sons, regardless of their ability).

The last paragraphs of the Appendix for On Naval Timber underline Matthew’s higher allegiance to politics than to agriculture or science, as stirred by the events of the July Revolution in France and the Belgian Revolution in August:

Since this volume went to press, there has been some changes of scenery on the political European stage, even rivalling what has ever been accomplished of sylvan metamorphosis on the face of nature by Sir Henry Steuart. The intense interest excited by these efforts towards the regeneration of man, has completely thrown into shade our humbler subject – the regeneration of trees. We have even forgot it ourselves in the hands of the printer, while yet unborn. These sudden transformations altering the political and moral relations of man, also render a number of our observations not quite apposite, and our speculations, some of them, rather “prophetic of the past”. They, by obliterating national distinctions, and diminishing the occasions for going to war, will, it is hoped, bring the European family closer into amity. At any rate, they have completely thrown out the calculations of our politicians regarding the balance of power and international connection as natural allies and foes, and bind the French and the British together by ties on the surest principle of friendly sympathy, “idem velle atque nolle” which no Machiavellian policy of cabinets, nor waywardness of political head, will be able to sunder.

We had intended to bring out Naval Timber and Arboriculture as a portion of a work embracing Rural Economy in general, but this is not a time to think of rural affairs.


Following these political leanings, Matthew became for a while an active member of the Chartist movement, and most of his later writings are even more overtly political in outlook than On Naval Timber. His other published works (outside of letters and articles) are:

Emigration Fields (1839). A review of foreign territories advocated by Matthew as ripe for colonization via mass emigration from Britain.

Two addresses to the men of Perthshire and Fifeshire (1839). A short pamphlet explaining his Chartist views.

Prospectus of the Scots New Zealand Land Company (1839). A short pamphlet explaining the purpose of his Scots New Zealand Land Company, set up to encourage Scottish workers to improve their lot by emigrating to New Zealand.

Schleswig-Holstein (1864). A collection of letters defending the Prussian-Austrian occupation of Schleswig-Holstein (the Second Schleswig War).

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