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Schleswig-Holstein (1864)

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Schleswig-Holstein (1864) is a collection of five letters defending Prussia and Austria for their military action against Denmark over Schleswig-Holstein (the Second Schleswig War). The pamphlet was reviewed in the Dundee Advertiser, prompting a further exchange between Matthew and the editors on the subject.

Matthew was not the only person to write a pamphlet on “The Danish Question”. 19 such pamphlets are available as a collection from the University of California (including Matthew’s). As another pamphlet-writer notes: “Amid the present political events, both in and out of Europe, those of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein have attracted the general attention of the press. Few subjects of recent interest have evoked such a multitude of comments” (Schleswig-Holstein: An Historical Survey, by “A Manchester Merchant”).

Matthew had close ties to Holstein – one of his sons had emigrated there and managed a large farm. Matthew was a strong believer in the racial superiority of some races over others (see Emigration Fields and Note C of the appendix to On Naval Timber). He regarded the “Teuton or German race” to be superior to the Danes, not least because of their connection to the Anglo-Saxons, and to have a superior claim to the Schleswig-Holstein region. He railed against the opposition to Prussia’s campaign from the British government and the British press.

One of the interesting aspects of the work is the attribution on the title page. Patrick Matthew is presented, among other things, as the “solver of the problem of species”. The other reference to “first proposer of steam rams, metallic cover, sloping sides, heavy gun boats, etc.” is from pp.97-99 of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (see also Matthew’s prediction of steam rams). Note that Darwin, in his letter to Hooker of 22 & 28 October 1865, appears to misquote this title page, which in turn appears to have lead to the “calling card myth“.

PATRICK MATTHEW
AUTHOR OF ‘EMIGRATION FIELDS,’ ‘NAVAL TIMBER AND ARBORICULTURE;’
SOLVER OF THE PROBLEM OF SPECIES; FIRST PROPOSER OF STEAM RAMS, METALLIC COVER, SLOPING SIDES, HEAVY GUN BOATS, ETC.

The fifth letter, “The necessity for the removal of the malign influences which repress human progress”, is interesting for the insights into Matthew’s views at that time on factors hindering human progress. These include (1) organised religion (p.55); (2) “biology”, in the sense that human conflicts can be exacerbated by natural tendencies to alienate those outside one’s group (p.57); and (3) the formation of overly large nations such as the USA (pp.57-58). The letter ends (pp.61-62) with sentiments already expressed in Emigration Fields, namely the moral right of civilized colonizers to displace uncivilized indigenous occupants (“if occupants they could be called”).

 
Page created: 28 September 2014
Last modified: 27 June 2018

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