On Naval Timber and Arboriculture was reviewed in several journals at the time of its publication. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these reviews is how few of them deal with Matthews ideas on evolution and natural selection. Indeed, only one review that we know of (in the Gardener’s Magazine) devotes space (briefly) to consider this part of Matthew’s book, and the reviewer (likely J. C. Loudon) professes himself unsure of whether there are any original ideas contained there.
I’ve also added a brief review I discovered in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette from 1860, which supports the idea that the book was obscure at that time.
There are a number of reviews that are mentioned in the later publisher’s advertisements for Matthew’s book, but which have not yet been found through modern text searches. These are listed below, along with the quotes that appear in the advertisement.
“This work is evidently the production of sound practical knowledge,” — Country Times.
“We consider Naval Timber to be an extraordinary book, containing much amusement, much instruction, and a considerable sprinkling of eccentricity.” — Perthshire Courier.
“This work contains a great variety of interesting information. We have perused with much interest and gratification the speculations therein contained, in reference to the moral and physical constitution of the human race.” — Elgin Courier.
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