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1864l Mould/Race/Evol


Matthew, P. The vegetable mould. Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette (28 May 1864), pp.514-5

(Article dated April 25)
Matthew reprises his defence of his views on the importance of the vegetable mould. This article is also reproduced in Dempster (1996).

There is a brief mention of theories of the peopling of Scotland and England by the Frieslanders and Angles:
“This system was once practised in Scotland, introduced by the North Frieslanders, when the greater part of their own country being submerged, they colonised the lowlands of Scotland, bringing with them their language and customs, about the same time that the old Germans of Anglen, now Schleswig-Holstein, colonised and gave their language and name to England”

At the end, Matthew speculates on the method of reproduction in rye. Based on his observations in his son’s rye fields, he concludes that rye and rye-grass (in contrast to other cereals) must be “gregarious plants” – dependent on cross-pollination for reproduction. He speculates that this system might have arisen through natural selection acting in the long period of time since the cultivation of rye by man. This argument also appears in Matthew’s letter to Darwin of 12 March 1871:
“These facts led me to conclude that Rye, and also Rye-grass, are gregarious plants; that the pollen of a particular ear goes to fecundate other ears and not itself; that Rye cannot exist like other cereals in solitude; that the pollen clouds are necessary to fecundation. Rye is perhaps the cereal that has been longest cultivated in fields by man, and this fact goes so far to prove the adaptation power of organic life to circumstance”

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