Matthew, P. Some account of the fruits grown in Gourdiehill orchard, Carse of Gowrie, with remarks. Memoirs of the Caledonian Horticultural Society Vol 4 (1829), pp.467-477
(Letter dated 3 Dec 1827)
Matthew describes various varieties of apples and pears, most of them grown on his estate, with notes on their qualities for eating and production. The full text is given below.
The article is also of more theoretical interest, because Matthew describes a phenomenon of intermediate phenotype resulting from the common horticultural practice of grafting the fruit-bearing plant onto the rootstock of a different variety or species. On the third page of his article (p.469), and in more detail at the end (pp.476-7), Matthew describes how fruit-bearing shoots arising from very close to the join between the graft and the rootstock display features intermediate between those of the two plants. The likely explanation of this involves the transfer of plant growth substances between the two plants (as Matthew hypothesises), but a controversy continues to this day over the alternative possibility of true genetic “graft hybridization” (see Roberts 1949 and Goldschmidt 2014).
This phenomenon would have been of interest to Darwin. We know that Darwin was interested in grafting for what it might reveal about the nature of heritability, the plasticity of species and the generation of new individuals. The pages of his “Books to be Read and Books to Read” notebooks contain many references to horticultural journals and works. Furthermore, his earlier “Zoonomia, or Transmutation B” notebook of 1837-8 (famous for it’s incipient musings on evolution) opens on page 1 with a note on the “two kinds of generation” – grafting (“for instance fruit-trees”) which has no developmental cycle, and the more usual developmental kind involving growth from a zygote (sexual) or spore (asexual).
Mike Sutton presents some evidence that Darwin may indeed have read Matthew’s article some time between 1838 and 1851, although the evidence is equivocal. This is because Darwin kept a notebook of “Books to be Read and Books to Read” during this period, and on page 6-verso of the “Books to be Read” section he wrote “French or Caledonian Horticultural Transactions”, and then again on page 7-verso he wrote “Transactions of the Caledonian Horticultural Society”. These most likely refer to the “Memoirs of the Caledonian Horticultural Society”, which ran to four volumes from 1814-1829 (the editorial footnotes in the Darwin Notebook pages note a range from 1814-32, but to my knowledge no volume after Volume 4 was ever produced). Matthew’s article is in Volume 4. However, in a later notebook for 1852, in the “Books Read” section, Darwin notes on page 2 “Memoirs Caledonian Hort. Soc. Vol I. 1814 nothing (Royal Soc.)”, suggesting he found nothing of interest in that volume. Furthermore, the previous entries in his 1838-51 notebook were not crossed out or marked “read”, nor do they appear in his “Books Read” section for that notebook, which were his three usual ways of indicating that he had indeed consulted the works listed. One interpretation of the above evidence, therefore, is that he finally got round to consulting the Memoirs in 1852 (presumably at the Royal Society), that he got as far as looking at Volume 1, decided there was nothing of interest there, and did not pursue his enquiry to later volumes.
Mike Sutton also notes another reference to fruit trees, this time specifically to “Golden Pippens” [sic] on page 63 of the same “Zoonomia” notebook: “They die, without they change; like Golden Pippens it is a generation of species like generation of individuals”. Sutton also notes that the “Scarlet Golden Pippin” is a variety singled out in Matthew (1829, p.475) as being “the most valuable and the handsomest fruit”. Sutton therefore suggests that Darwin may have been influenced by having previously read Matthew (1829) (this reading would have to have been on a separate, earlier occasion to the entry in the “Books to be Read and Books Read”, since that entry is dated after the “Zoonomia” notebook was written). It is indeed interesting to speculate why Darwin inserted the example of Golden Pippins into a section of his notebook where he is musing on the related concepts of individuals dying if they are unable to change in response to changing circumstances, and species dying out if they are unable to evolve. I would speculate that Golden Pippins are one of the oldest English apple varieties, and one of the most well-known, and therefore might represent to Darwin an example of the breeding by man of a well-known variety from a well-known ancestral species (the crab apple).
Evidence in favour of this idea, that Golden Pippins represent a standard example of a derived variety, has been provided by the blogger Joachim D, who presents passages from earlier texts which refer to Golden Pippins in this way (Blog 1, Blog 2).
Some Account of the Fruits grown in Gourdiehill Orchard, Carse of Gowrie, with Remarks.
In a Letter from PATRICK MATTHEW, Esq. to the Secretary, dated 3d December 1827.
When I saw you some weeks ago at Canonmills, I felt most grateful for your attentions. You having expressed a wish for grafts of the best Carse of Gowrie fruits, for the Experimental Garden, I thought I would repay my obligations most acceptably, and shew the respect I felt towards the establishment, by sending specimens of our best keeping apples, accompanied with short notices of their quality, &c., from which you will better be enabled to judge what sorts you would require for the garden. I have, therefore, sent a selection of our best Carse of Gowrie fruits. Grafts of any of them I shall afterwards send as you may desire *.
I have succeeded in making out the local names of most of the fruits, and their synonymes; but a portion still remains (a considerable part of which belongs exclusively to my own orchard) for which no names could be traced. I have, therefore, in such cases, been necessitated, for the convenience of reference, to make drafts on my own invention.
When I shewed this selection to my friend Mr Gorrie, he told me that your Society give honorary prizes for what they deem best, and that he thought some of these stood a chance of being reckoned so. I have, therefore, made one parcel of six sorts, “not generally known;” and another for twelve “best (estimating by value of production) orchard apples,” for competition. If you think them worth being presented for your shew on 6th December, please do me the favour to forward them to the meeting on that day **.
I have examined a considerable number of varieties of Winter Pears peculiar to this district; but they are, with a very few exceptions, of such bad quality that I did not think they merited to be more generally known, at least for being used raw, or in their natural state. I present several of the more interesting.
I also forward to you two supposed specimens of modification of apples, resulting from the mixture of juices from the stock and graft. No. 75 is a modification of No. 74, the Tower of Glammis; and No. 76 a modification of the Early Gowrie ***, which it much resembles, but is a month later in ripening. These supposed varieties are produced by springing shoots from the point of union, or near it, of the stock and graft in old trees, where time may have operated to mingle the qualities of both. This principle of forming new varieties and hybrids by the commixing of the sap, seems applicable to plants in general, possibly as much so as the known process of mixing the germs of different varieties in the flower, i. e. applying the pollen of one sort to the stigma of another sort. These two unbegotten varieties have nothing interesting but their origin, only a peculiar luxuriance of vegetation and backwardness to come to flower-buds, when continued by grafting.
After leaving you, I visited Clydesdale. The cheapness of ground, and genialness of climate there, overbalance the expence of carriage to Edinburgh ****. Clydesdale is but an infant settlement of fruit-trees compared with the Carse of Gowrie; and, from its modernness, has generally a more profitable selection, but not nearly the number of varieties. I would recommend to your notice these varieties of Clydesdale: Tam Montgomery, Early Marigold, Transparent, Golden Munday, Craigton Pippin, Bankie’s Apple, Sovereign, Hock Apple or Fletcher’s Seedling, Early Fulwood ; and of late fruit, Ayrshire Pippin, Red Cluster, Dunside, Ayrshire Carpandy.— Of Pears, Pear-Iron, Winter Bergamot, Vicar, Grey Honey.— Of the Apples, I consider the Red Cluster as the most valuable; of the Pears, the Pear-Iron. Clydesdale is a diluvial country of gravel, sand, and till, with an admixture of fragments of coal; in its general constitution much resembling some of our Highland valleys, having only in addition the coaly fragments, and more alumina. Diluvial gravel is most interesting to the geologist or miner, giving indices of every mineral within the field of its collection.
LIST OF SEVENTY-SEVEN SORTS OF WINTER APPLES, AND FIVE SORTS OF WINTER PEARS, CULTIVATED, WITH TWO OR THREE EXCEPTIONS, IN THE ORCHARD AT GOURDIEHILL, CARSE OF GOWRIE; THE WHOLE FROM STANDARD TREES.
- Ben Lomond, fruit of good quality; tree bears steadily, has long slender twigs, is of middle size, leaves large, and of uncommon figure; a rare variety.
- White Fulwood, fruit of most excellent quality, especially the coloured variety; keeps well, tree middle size, with a large leaf: sometimes the points of the branches die; bears steadily fair crops, but not heavy loads.
- Fair Circassian, tree a good bearer, pretty large and healthy; fruit keeps well, and of very good quality when kept; a rare variety.
- Bonnie Bride, tree a good bearer, middle size, and healthy; fruit of excellent quality; a rare variety.
- Green Virgin, tree an excellent bearer; bears when young; fruit keeps well, is of good quality, and of a fine yellow when kept. This is one of the most valuable apples in the Carse of Gowrie, but known only in Gourdiehill orchard; tree healthy, middle sized.
- Scottish Chief, tree an excellent bearer, healthy, middle sized; branches very pendent; fruit of good quality. I believe only at Gourdiehill.
- Winter Redstreak, tree a good bearer, middle size, and healthy; most excellent and valuable fruit. This is the Camb’nethan Pippin of Clydesdale, and is sometimes named Watch Apple. There are several subvarieties of this fruit.
- Green Langlast, tree a most excellent bearer; fruit of capital quality when kept; tree middle size, bears young. The Green Virgin, the Standard, and Green Langlast, may be reckoned the most profitable winter apples in this district.
- Green Fulwood, tree a good bearer; bears young; middle sized; points of twig apt to die in old trees; fruit of good quality, and will keep exposed to the air till July without a wrinkle.
- Monstrous Leadington or Green Codlin, tree a good bearer, healthy, and rather large; fruit keeps well, and is very valuable for kitchen use. Not a common variety.
- Red Wine, tree a good bearer, middle sized, becomes much knotted when old, and rather unhealthy; a very valuable market apple.
- Scotsman, tree an excellent bearer, and bears when young; fruit of good quality, keeps well; a rare variety.
- Standard, tree a most excellent bearer, and bears young; fruit much esteemed, gets a beautiful golden colour when well ripened; tree middle sized, with very black wood, woolly leaves, and extremely thick bark; a rare variety.
- Flat Anderson, tree an excellent bearer; fruit of capital quality; tree middle size and healthy; rare; only one tree at Gourdiehill.
- Baudrons, tree an excellent bearer; fruit keeps well, and is of good quality, with much acid, excellent for tarts; tree middle size, and healthy; rare, and, it is believed, only at Gourdiehill.
- Fame, not a common variety.
- Winter Courtpendu, fruit of good quality, and very handsome; tree bears well, and is of middle size.
- Red Fulwood, large, spreading, graceful tree, full of leaf and vigour, the giant of the Carse of Gowrie orchards; bears very great loads of fruit every second year; fruit beautiful.
- Wood Nymph, a very large fruit.
- Wallace Wight, quality good, keeps well; tree rare in the Carse.
- Daisy, very beautiful small sweet fruit; not common.
- Maclean, tree gets diseased when old; requires to be planted in ground new to fruit trees; fruit keeps well, of excellent quality, and weighs extremely heavy.
- Margil, tree a shy bearer, but most excellent fruit. Would need a wall. Sometimes called Small Ribston.
- Redcoat, a rare sort; very pretty.
- Black Bess or Fox-Whelp, tree a good bearer; fruit keeps very long.
- Lady Finger, sometimes called Paradise Pippin, the Egg Apple of Clydesdale; tree bears well when in high culture; fruit of good quality, very pretty, and keeps well.
- Sweet Pintstoup, tree a good bearer, but not common.
- Jack Cade, fruit very acid, would do for cider, or for giving pungency to tarts.
- Red Aisle, a rare kind; inferior bearer, but pretty.
- My Joe Janet, tree a good bearer; fruit of fine quality.
- White Bogmiln, a rare sort; large, fair quality.
- Serjeant, tree beautiful, upright growing, and large, not common.
- Rose Apple, tree a good bearer; a valuable variety.
- Friar Grey, a rare sort.
- White Wine, tree a good bearer.
- Sweet Russet, not usual.
- Ribston, tree a shy bearer, and unhealthy; fruit excellent. Would need a wall here, or espalier training.
- King Robert, tree a good bearer, but not common.
- Grey Leadington, tree a fair bearer; fruit of excellent quality.
- Scarlet Golden Pippin, fruit of very best quality; tree bears moderately well.
- Red Langlast, tree a great bearer, middle sized; good quality of fruit.
- Tulip, tree a good bearer; only one tree known in the Carse.
- Rosalind, only one tree known, and it is very old.
- Clouded Scarlet, a rare sort, very beautiful; tree bears well.
- Golden Rennet or Courtpendu, tree a moderate bearer.
- Paradise Apple or Lemon Pippin, an excellent fruit, keeps well; tree is productive only in a moist rich soil.
- Gourdiehill Scarlet, tree bears moderately; a rare sort.
- Pow Captain, tree a good bearer; fruit of good quality; sometimes named La Fameuse.
- Winter Scarlet, tree a good bearer; fruit keeps well; not common.
- Bogmiln Favourite, fruit of excellent quality; not common.
- Rival, excellent quality, keeps well; good bearer.
- Miss Baillie, a very sweet apple.
- Shagreen, tree an excellent bearer; fruit keeps well.
- Winter Ruby, tree bears well; not common.
- Hebe, tree a good bearer.
- Maiden, tree an excellent bearer; fruit very acid, but one of the best kitchen apples that grows; does not keep well. A seedling raised by Mr Brown of Perth.
- Scarlet Leadington.
- Twin Wine, tree a good bearer; fruit very beautiful, and sometimes twined together.
- Maggy Duncan, tree an excellent bearer; a valuable orchard apple, though not commonly cultivated; fruit very sweet.
- St Patrick, tree a good bearer; not common.
- Mermaid, fruit keeps well, and of good quality; not common.
- Bauldy Beard, tree a good bearer; not common.
- Macbeth, tree a good bearer; rare.
- Green Erin, fruit keeps well, and of excellent quality.
- Carse Red Streak, tree a moderate bearer; fruit very beautiful.
- Bonner, tree an excellent bearer; a fine autumn apple.
- Monk, tree a good bearer; rare.
- Bogmiln Beauty.
- Seaside Leadington.
- Stone Pippin, tree an excellent bearer; fruit, keeps well; beautiful small tree.
- Thickset, an uncommonly great bearer; quality good.
- Tulip Wine, inferior in quality to the Green Wine.
- Green Wine, fruit of excellent quality; tree bears well, but sickly when old.
- Tower of Glammis, tree a good bearer when in high culture; fruit of good quality, and excellently suited for baking; in Clydesdale called the Gowrie.
- Modified Tower of Glammis.
- Modified Early Gowrie.
- Gogar Pippin, tree a good bearer; fruit of good quality, and keeps well; small upright tree.
Many other good late sorts exist in Gourdiehill Orchard. Of these, some have not fruited this season, others are unnamed, or have not their names ascertained, or their qualities fully determined. There are also many varieties of earlier fruits, which of course are at present omitted.
- Seaside Bergamot, small and close growing tree; fruit large, late, and of good quality.
- Grey Achan of Bogmiln, one of the best winter pears in the Carse of Gowrie, as good as the Black Achan, and trebly more productive; know only one tree of good size in the Carse; fruit small.
- Paundie Bergamot, tree good bearer; fruit large, handsome, and good.
- Pear Duncan, tree one of the best bearers known; a few, years ago existed only at Gourdiehill, but is now cultivated in different orchards; highly saccharine, but dry, and slightly styptic.
- Yellow Youte, handsome, ordinary quality.
Additional Remarks by Mr Matthew.
Of the many varieties of apples I have cultivated, I consider the Scarlet Golden Pippin as perhaps the most valuable and the handsomest fruit. It ripens well on standards. As far as my experience reaches, the tree is healthy, gives fair and regular product, and comes soon to bearing. Probably it is a seedling from the Golden Pippin. We have only one old tree in this place.
I remember of mentioning to you a suspicion I had of modification, resulting from the admixture of stock and graft in old trees, which is visible in the shoots sprung at, or near to, the point of junction, occasioned probably by the proper juice for the new deposit of wood in the stock being assimilized by the leaves of the graft, and thence partaking something of its peculiarities, or stamp of life. Those I have examined were sprung so immediately upon the point of junction, that I could not ascertain whether they belonged to graft or stock; if to the former, the thing is beyond dispute, but if, as I rather think, to the latter, we have only probabilities from similitude to deduce from, as there are no means of ascertaining what the original stocks were. Should the modification be of the latter, it is likely the change may extend to the furthest roots. I have some collateral proof which bears up on this; e. g. among trees grafted four or five years previous (rows of each kind) upon similar crab-stocks, the roots of one kind will have struck down very deep and strong, and another be more fibrous and superficially extended. The crabs on which the Eve or Irish Pitcher had been ingrafted uniformly struck the deepest roots.
I have also observed in young fruit trees, originally grafted a few inches above ground, and worked over again with another kind about six feet up, that the shoots which arose from the second working partook slightly of the habit and gait of the first.
I am aware, when the stock is at first different from the graft, in freeness of growth, thickness of bark, or in liability to be affected by cold or injuries, that these differences will be continued to old age, at least that they will not entirely disappear, but remain marked; and that a thorny sprout will arise from the root of an old mild-growing grafted top. All this rather militates against the supposition that the stock is affected: but, from the cases which have come under my notice (five in number) all having the fruit bearing a marked similitude to those of the top of the tree, at same time evidently differing, and also the leaves bearing some resemblance, we are obliged to give it some portion of credence. If they be not affected as above supposed, it is certainly a curious coincidence. I have observed wartiness and canker, where the soil was not the disposing cause, sometimes transmitted to the graft from the stock. The several varieties of the same kind of apple, differing a little in taste, colour, figure, &c. most probably arise from something connected with this kind of modification.
There is a curious circumstance attending these new varieties, that most of them are destitute of seed. The same takes place (viz. a defect in forming seed) when the pear and apple have their juices slightly commixed by their stems being led up some distance in conjunction.— This fact, resulting from apple and pear juices commixing, is from an experiment by Mr Gorrie, Rait Garden.
* A considerable collection of grafts of the most select kinds has accordingly been received at the Experimental Garden, Inverleith P. N., Sec.
** In the year 1827, the Society’s Silver Medal having been offered for the best six sorts of Orchard Apples, not generally known in Scotland; the Medal was (7th December 1827) awarded to Mr Matthew for the six first mentioned, viz. Ben Lomond, White Fulwood, Fair Circassian, Bonnie Bride, Green Virgin, and Scottish Chief; the specimens being beautiful, and the quality proving excellent,— P. N. Sec.
*** Specimens were sent to the Society, and, from the mixed nature of the resemblance of the apples taken from the upper and lower parts of the same tree, there appeared a probability of their being modifications.— P. N. Sec.
**** This alludes to a proposed large orchard, near Edinburgh, for its supply.