PMP

Hallier, Ernst. Die sogenannte Darwin’sche Lehre und die Botanik. (“The so-called Darwinian doctrine and Botany”) Botanische Zeitung (7 Dec 1866), pp.381-3

(Article printed in issue of Dec 7)
Ernst Hallier was a German botanist and mycologist who had previously written on Darwin’s theory and its impact on taxonomy (“Darwin’s Lehre und die Specification” 1865). In this editorial piece (written in German, but with quotes from Matthew in English), he first remarks that that evolution was originally a German idea. He then quotes from a letter sent to him by Matthew (dated 6 Oct 1863) to show how Matthew deserved priority over Darwin:

”In my work “naval timber and arboriculture”, published 1. January 1831 by Longman et Co. London and Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh I fully brought out the theory of competative [sic] natural selection. This was about 30 years before Darwin brought out the same theory, which he, in his preface to the last edition of his work on the origin of species states as having anticipated him by many years and apologizes for his unintentioned blunder. The fact is that my work appeared before its time, when bigotry and prejudice were in the ascendant.” ….

Hallier then reproduces from the same letter a passage setting out what Matthew considered to be the key difference between his view and Darwin’s, regarding the relative importance of the creation versus the selection of natural variation. Matthew refers to letters exchanged between himself and Darwin on the question of the limits of natural selection to affect change (see also Matthew (1861b)). Unfortunately, it appears the originals of these letters have been lost:

“I have since Darwin’s publication had some discussion with him by letter regarding the limits of this selection power of the strongest and best circumstance suited for reproduction which pervades the whole of organic life. He seems to ascribe all vito-natural phenomena to this — that it is a primary — creature power, while I regard it only as of a secondary directing influence. Creation must precede selection. Constructiveness is the great attribute of the Deity. There cannot be selection before there is a varied creation. The constructive power creates, the selecting scheme of nature only chooses from amongst the created. In the ancestial [sic] life backward of all existing species not a hair of a head has been touched by competative [sic] natural selection. It has only removed the less fitted to obtain room for the more fitted. The dual parentage or the more mixed contains the principle of variation. Of the higher animals and plants in the instinctive sexual attachment or attraction of each towards its own kind, we have at once the cause of variation and of the fixity of species. Here variation works round a centre — while circumstances remain unchanged — the species or family always attaining to a more fixed type, though never altogether reaching one entirely fixed. While when a destructive change of circumstances occurs and in consequence an unrestrained field of existence is opened, near connected families intermix and from the absence for a time of selection the vacuation power, subject to be acted on by circumstantial change, has full scope.”

Hallier’s piece then moves on to a consideration of the classification of plants and fungi in the context of evolution.

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