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United Service J (1831)


Anonymous. “On Naval Timber”. United Service Journal (1831, Part 2), No. 33 Aug, pp.457-466
Anonymous. “On Naval Timber (continued)”. United Service Journal (1831, Part 3), No. 34 Sept, pp.65-76
This is a long and very favourable review of Matthew’s book. However, even this reviewer thinks that Matthew lays into Sir Walter Scott too much – see Part 1 of review.

On the first page, the reviewer demurs at considering Matthew’s ideas on evolution and natural selection:
“In thus testifying our hearty approbation of the author, it is strictly in his capacity of a forest-ranger, where he is original, bold, and evidently experienced in all the arcana of the parentage, birth, and education of trees. But we disclaim participation in his ruminations on the law of Nature, or on the outrages committed upon reason and justice by our burthens of hereditary nobility, entailed property, and insane enactments.”

The second part has a section observing how Matthew can wax lyrical in places. The following is quoted verbatim from Matthew’s book:
“We have little belonging to earth more sublime, or which bears home to man a deeper sense of his bodily insignificance and puny transient being, than an ancient majestic forest, whose luxuriant foliage on high, seems of itself almost a firmament of verdure, supported on lofty moss-covered columns, and unnumbered branched arches,– a scene equally sublime, whether we view it under the coloured and flickering lights and shadows of the summer eve and morning, resounding to the song of the wild life which harbours there,– or under the scattered beams streaming downward at high noontide, when all is still,– or in winter storms, when the wild jarring commotion, the frightful rending and lashing of the straining branches, like the arms of primeval giants contending in their might, bear accompaniment to the loud roar and bellow of the tempest, forming a drone and chaunter to which demons might dance.”

The reviewer can equally wax lyrical – this is how the review ends:
“Who will not here perceive, that what the one author rakes indirectly, is battered by the broadside of the other? For ourselves, we rejoice in seeing such an additional proof of the versatile ability of the great “Athenian;” and we only hope he will extend his lion-paw amongst political, as well as rusticating triflers, there being a foul nest of viles animae for a satirist to rout out. Then shall Ennius, Horace, Juvenal, and Persius hide their diminished heads; and when she of the trumpet shall be asked by posterity, what was the bitterest sarcasm of the present era, the reply will unquestionably be,– the rhapsody upon the “Allanton system of planting.” ”

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