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Published excerpts (1831-32)


Extracts from On Naval Timber and Arboriculture were printed in various British newspapers at the time of its publication (1831-2). These were all on the subject of planting trees or preparing timber – none (at least, none so far found) replicated any sections of the books dealing with Matthew’s views on natural selection and evolution.

After 1832, no newspaper articles have yet been found with extracts of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture until after the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859. After that date, the book received some renewed attention. In particular, a section of the book predicting the rise of iron-clad “steam rams” (warships) was reproduced in The Times in 1862, and was widely re-printed in other newspapers. See my forthcoming PMP section on newspaper articles relating to Matthew.

I list below the excerpts published in 1831-2 found so far. Except for Excerpt #4, all were found via text searches on the British Newspaper Archive carried out in March-April 2015. All images of original newspaper pages are the copyright of The British Library Board (all rights reserved), and are reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

Please note that, in addition to the excerpts listed below, some of the reviews of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture also feature excerpts from the book.


Excerpt #1. “Planting”. Hull Packet, Tuesday 18 January 1831, p.4 col.1 (pdf image)
The newspaper article is headed “HORTICULTURE. From a volume just published on “Naval Timber and Arboriculture: by Patrick Matthew.” There follows a verbatim extract (minus footnotes) from pp.114-117 of On Naval Timber, regarding the planting of trees.


Excerpt #2. “Observations on Pruning”. Leamington Spa Courier, Saturday 29 January 1831, p.4 col.3 (pdf image)
The newspaper article is headed “OBSERVATIONS ON PRUNING” and ends with “.— Matthew on Timber.” The article contains a verbatim extract from pp.117-121 of On Naval Timber, regarding the pruning of trees.


Excerpt #3. “On Cutting Timber”. Westmorland Gazette, Saturday 05 February 1831, p.1 col.3-4 (pdf image)
The newspaper article is headed “ON CUTTING TIMBER” and ends with “.— Matthew, on Timber.” The article contains a verbatim extract from pp.127-129 of On Naval Timber, regarding the cutting of timber. The excerpt ends with a memorable long sentence from Matthew regarding man’s relationship to forests: “We have little belonging to earth more sublime, or which bears home to a man a deeper sense of bodily insignificance, and puny transient being, than an ancient majestic forest …”.


Excerpt #4. “On the training of plank timber”. Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal, (1832) Vol. 1, No. 8, March 24, p.63
The article is headed “ON THE TRAINING OF PLANK TIMBER” and ends with “.— Matthew on Naval Timber.” The article contains an abridged extract from pp.8-14 of On Naval Timber. This excerpt is noteworthy because: (1) it was published more than a year after Matthew’s book, indicating a continued interest in the book; (2) it was an abridged version of a section from Matthew’s book, indicating that some editorial care had been expended in presenting it; (3) although anonymous, the fact that it appears in Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal makes it plausible (although not certain), in my opinion, that the abridger could have been Robert Chambers, who would go on to write Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, a highly influential book on evolution (although one that at no point proposes natural selection as a mechanism). For these reasons, this excerpt is also discussed as “Citation #1” in the section on important Citations of On Naval Timber and Arboriculture.

Page created: 12 May 2015
Last modified: 4 August 2017

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