Matthew, P. Market goose! Unwholesome food and poisons. Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette (29 Feb 1868), p.219
(Article dated Feb 3)
Matthew starts by railing against unnatural methods of fattening geese for the Christmas table (note the reference once again to “wise Nature”):
“Animals so reared are only suited as food for infectious, that is, animalcular disease— the destruction of one large animal giving life to millions. Such is the economy of wise Nature in sweeping away disgusting monstrosities. No wonder, therefore, that goose, which is semi-graminivorous, and likes to wander about, being fatted as above, should be poisonous to consumers — to consumers placed indeed under nearly similar circumstances to the poor goose.”
Again, natural selection is used as an antithesis to these farming practices:
“Wholesome fresh air, exercise, natural food, are essential requisites to the production of the wholesome flesh of animals. The high price of what is termed game — wild animals living (where gamekeepers are not too abundant) subject to the great law of natural selection, proves that what I state is correct. How very inferior in quality and flavour is the beef of the present day to that of 70 years ago — now that, through our agricultural societies and premiums and stupid judges, we have attained a variety of cattle, sheep, and pigs so denaturalised as to have become mere gross lumps of semi-solidified oil, the cattle at two years of age ready for the shambles — so far degenerate as to be almost incapable of reproduction (perhaps their highest virtue). This check may, however, not be needed. When any great denaturalisation in organic life is produced by man, Nature generally provides a cure — infectious animalcular disease.”
Matthew then treats hole-dwelling animals as unwholesome, affording proof of the beneficial effects of fresh air and of direct contact with the life-force-giving Sun:
“It has been said that the tadpole will remain undeveloped, and attain considerable size, if not stimulated by sun-light. Even the foetal development of the genus homo is known to be to some extent wanting if the mother does not receive the stimulus of sun light. Will the tadpole gaining size reproduce in darkness? This deserves trial.”
The piece ends with a discussion of the use of poisons by different cultures and religions, and a somewhat exasperated note from the Editors:
“Even at the period of highest Grecian development the poison-cup was in use by the civil government as well as by the priesthood. In ancient Home, as is said, an association of patrician ladies adopted poisoning as a means of extending their power; and when discovered, had the proud unflinching audacity to drink the poison they had prepared for others in order to maintain their denial of it being poison to the last. This exemplifies the low morality and high daring, atrocity, and determined obstinacy of race of the ancient Roman conquerors.
Patrick Matthew, Gourdie Hill, Errol. Scotland, Feb. 3.
[Abridged: the plan of poisoning, in a history of religion!– into which our correspondent would have led us — not being a sufficiently agricultural subject!]”