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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rich man, poor man - Charles Darwin and Edward Blyth.

Sometimes history is completely twisted.  As an avid reader of poetry from my youth, I remember a wag wrote,

"Listen my children, don't bare your claws
While I tell of the ride of William Dawes."


Neither William Dawes nor Paul Revere made it to their destination, it was Samuel Prescott.   Scroll to the bottom of this post for the "rest of the story."  The point is almost everyone knows of Paul Revere's ride, they just don't know what Revere did and did NOT accomplish and know nothing of Dawes and Prescott.

DARWIN AND BLYTH - rich and poor, famed and ignored.

Charles Darwin was not necessarily a great thinker but rather a man who culled from the ideas of others and put them together to produce a hypothesis that would be latched onto by Atheists and eventually rule the scientific, academic and news media without actual evidence (sometimes called *poof*).  Edward Blyth was a very important part of this process, because Darwin was intent upon asserting that organisms evolved but he could not settle on a means by which this could be happening.  With the collection of Darwin's letters available, biographers discovered that he had considered several evolution methods to ascribe to organisms before settling upon natural selection via mutations, which is what his hypothesis in the end. 

This amazing occurrence has been dissected before and some of this information has even been posted by me before, but since the hoopla about Blyth has begun again I shall take time out from dating methods and other concerns to post on the subject of Darwin's plagiarism and some of the men from which he took his ideas.  

Darwin was quite reluctant to give credit where due, although he was coaxed into it from time to time.   Never did he give Edward Blyth the credit deserved.  But then Blyth was a commoner and Darwin was part of "society."   The class distinctions evident in 1800's England meant that Darwin could easily ignore Blyth whereas Blyth did not seem to actually care about credit himself.  

Sung to the tune of the "Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song" 

Come and listen to the story of a man named Blyth
Who cared most about his God and secondly his wife
He discovered and uncovered the selection thing
but he didn't get published and Darwin got the bling

Book sales
Sudden fame
Statues made

So Darwin made his books and the Atheists all cheered
While Paley made his point but wasn't so revered
Eventually the truth was drowned out by the noise
So now we teach a myth to all the girls and boys

Selling Poof
'Stead of truth
Lacking Proof

So the next thing you know poor Blyth has been forgot
We heard his wife had died and his health began to rot
The ironic thing is that Darwin got sick as well, so odd
He expired from the stress of thinking he killed God

Silly man
No one will
No one can

(lots of pickin' and pluckin' and fade to end)

Darwin’s illegitimate brainchild

If you thought Darwin’s Origin was original, think again!

by Russell Grigg, Australia

The concept of evolution by natural selection is sometimes referred to as Charles Darwin’s brainchild, and indeed he often referred to it in his letters to his friends as his dear ‘child’. However, this is a far cry from the facts. At best it was an adopted child; at worst an illegitimate child.

Erasmus Darwin and James Hutton—1794


James Hutton
In the last issue of Creation, we showed that Charles’s humanist grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, preempted Charles on the subject of evolution by some 65 years with his book Zoonomia (1794), and that Charles used almost every topic discussed and example given in this work in his own On the Origin of Species, published in 1859.1

Now new evidence has emerged that a Scottish geologist, Dr James Hutton (1726–1797), conceived a theory of selection as early as 1794. Hutton is best known as the man who proposed that the earth was ‘immeasurably’ old, not thousands of years, because he rejected the Flood of the Bible and so erroneously assumed that there were no major catastrophes in the earth’s early history.2

Paul Pearson, professor of paleoclimatology at Cardiff University, has recently found in the National Library of Scotland a formerly unpublished work of three volumes and 2,138 pages, written by Hutton in 1794. Entitled An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge and of Progress of Reason, from Sense to Science and Philosophy,3 it contains a full chapter on Hutton’s theory of ‘seminal variation’.4
For example, Hutton said that among dogs that relied on ‘nothing but swiftness of foot and quickness of sight’ for survival, the slower dogs would perish and the swifter would be preserved to continue the race. But if an acute sense of smell was ‘more necessary to the sustenance of the animal’, then ‘the natural tendency of the race, acting upon the same principle of seminal variation, would be to change the qualities of the animal and to produce a race of well scented hounds, instead of those who catch their prey by swiftness’. And he went on to say, ‘The same “principle of variation” must also influence “every species of plant, whether growing in a forest or a meadow”.’5



Charles Darwin

Apart from James Hutton, there were several other authors who, many years before Charles Darwin, published articles on the subject of natural selection.

William Wells (1757–1817) was a Scottish-American doctor who, in 1813 (and published posthumously in 1818), described a concept like natural selection. He said that in central Africa some inhabitants ‘would be better fitted than the others to bear the diseases of the country. This race would consequently multiply, while the others would decrease.’ He went on to say that ‘the color of this vigorous race … would be dark’ and that ‘as the darkest would be the best fitted for the climate, this would at length become the most prevalent, if not the only race, in the particular country in which it had originated’.6

Patrick Matthew (1790–1874) was a Scottish fruit-grower who, in 1831, published a book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, in the appendix of which he briefly mentioned natural selection and evolutionary change. Matthew publicly claimed that he had anticipated Charles Darwin, and even described himself on the title pages of his books as ‘Discoverer of the Principle of Natural Selection’.
Professor Pearson points out that Wells, Matthew and Charles Darwin were all educated in the university city of Edinburgh, ‘a place famous for its scientific clubs and societies’, which was also Hutton’s home town. He makes the interesting suggestion ‘that a half-forgotten concept from his [Charles’s] student days resurfaced afresh in his mind as he struggled to explain the observations of species and varieties compiled on the voyage of the Beagle’.3

Edward Blyth (1810–1873) was the man whose ideas probably influenced Darwin most. An English chemist and zoologist, Blyth wrote three major articles on natural selection that were published in The Magazine of Natural History from 1835 to 1837.7 Charles was well aware of these. Not only was this one of the leading zoological journals of that time, in which his friends Henslow, Jenyns and Lyell had all published articles, but also it seems that the University of Cambridge, England, has Darwin’s own copies of the issues containing the Blyth articles, with Charles’s handwritten notes in the margins!8

Charles Darwin’s ‘Historical Sketch’

After the publication of his Origin of Species in 1859, Charles was accused by his contemporaries of failing to acknowledge his debt to these and other predecessors who had written about natural selection. The cry became so loud that, in 1861, he found it necessary to add a Historical Sketch, which listed some of these previous writers, to the third edition of his Origin. Then, under continued attack, he enlarged this in three subsequent editions until, in the 6th and last edition, he mentioned some 34 other authors who had previously written on how species originated or changed. But he gave very few details of what they had said, and they were sealed off in the Historical Sketch, away from the main line of discussion. Darlington calls it ‘the most unreliable account that ever will be written’.9
This was not enough for the English satirist Samuel Butler. In 1879, he wrote Evolution Old and New, a book in which he accused Darwin of slighting the evolutionary speculations of Buffon, Lamarck and Darwin’s own grandfather, Erasmus.

Modern accusations of plagiarism

One of the leading modern evolutionists to claim that Darwin ‘borrowed’ (some would say ‘plagiarized’) the works of others was the late Loren Eiseley, who was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and the History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania before his death. Eiseley spent decades tracing the origins of the ideas attributed to Darwin. In a 1979 book,10 he claimed that ‘the leading tenets of Darwin’s work—the struggle for existence, variation, natural selection and sexual selection—are all fully expressed in Blyth’s paper of 1835’.11 He also cites ‘Blythisms’ and use of rare words by Darwin (such as ‘inosculate’, meaning to pass into), after it appeared in Blyth’s paper of 1836, similarities of phrasing, and Darwin’s choice of similar lists of creatures in similar contexts.12
Eiseley’s work seems to have encouraged other 20th-century evolutionists to speak up. Darlington accused Darwin of ‘a flexible strategy which is not to be reconciled with even average intellectual integrity’.13 In 1981, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe referred to Eiseley’s ‘courageous’ stand and wrote: ‘Darwin by his own account was a voracious reader of other men’s work … . It was not in his character, however, to make a return for what he received.’ And: ‘The evidence does not permit of any conclusion except that the omissions [by Darwin] were deliberate … a serious sin of omission remains to be redeemed by the world of professional biology.’14

It is true that in his Origin, Charles mentions correspondence with, or information from, Blyth—on the habits of Indian cattle, the hemionus [Asian wild ass] and crossbred geese,15 but, as Eiseley comments: ‘Blyth is restricted to the role of taxonomist and field observer.’16 So why was Darwin so loath to credit Blyth with the key element of his theory? Why did he not cite Blyth’s papers that dealt directly with natural selection?

Answer: Probably for two reasons.
  1. Blyth was a Christian and what we would nowadays call a ‘special creationist’. E.g. concerning the seasonal changes in animal colouring (such as the mountain hare becoming white in winter), Blyth said that these were ‘striking instances of design, which so clearly and forcibly attest the existence of an omniscient great First Cause’.17 And he said that animals ‘evince superhuman wisdom, because it is innate, and therefore, instilled by an all-wise Creator’.18
  2. Blyth correctly saw the concept of natural selection as a mechanism by which the sick, old and unfit were removed from a population; that is, as a preserving factor and for the maintenance of the status quo—the created kind.19 Creationists like Edward Blyth (and English theologian William Paley) saw natural selection as a process of culling; that is, of choosing between several traits, all of which must first be in existence before they can be selected.


History has bestowed the dubious credit for the idea of evolution by natural selection on Charles Darwin. Apart from the fact that selection itself, while a real phenomenon, is utterly impotent to provide the extra information necessary to produce new traits, most, if not all, of the major ideas attributed to Darwin had previously been discussed in print by others. Not only was this ‘brainchild’ of Darwin’s not really his, but it also had many fathers!

Fairness or fear?


Alfred Russel Wallace 

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), while living at Ternate in the Malay Archipelago, independently developed a theory of evolution almost identical with that of Charles Darwin.1 In 1858 he sent Darwin a copy of his manuscript on natural selection, entitled On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type, which outlined in complete form what is now known as the Darwinian theory of evolution.2 Darwin’s friends, Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker, immediately arranged to have Wallace’s manuscript, along with two earlier unpublished items by Charles Darwin (an 1844 essay and an 1857 letter to Asa Gray), read at the next meeting of the Linnean Society of London, on 1 July 1858. This has euphemistically been referred to as the reading of a ‘joint paper’, but it all took place without the personal participation of Wallace, and even without his knowledge or permission—he was still on an island off the coast of New Guinea! It also caused Charles to rush through the writing of his Origin of Species, and publish it on 24 November 1859. Some have seen this so-called ‘joint paper’ not as fair play on Darwin’s part, but rather as the result of his fear of being scooped by Wallace. Brackman says: ‘Wallace, not Darwin, first wrote out the complete theory of the origin and divergence of species by natural selection … and was robbed in 1858 of his priority in the proclaiming of the theory’ (emphasis in the original).3

References and notes

  1. Wallace had been thinking on the subject as early as 1845, and had published a rather general paper on it in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, September 1855. See ref. 2, p. 78.
  2. Eiseley says, ‘It was Darwin’s unpublished conception down to the last detail, independently duplicated by a man sitting in a hut at the world’s end.’ Eiseley, L., Alfred Russel Wallace, Scientific American 200(2):80, February 1959.
  3. Brackman, A., A Delicate Arrangement: The Strange Case of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, Times Books, New York, p. xi, 1980.

References and notes

  1. Grigg, R., Darwinism: it was all in the family, Creation 26(1):16–18, 2003.
  2. Hutton’s views have been summarized as ‘the present is the key to the past’. Hutton’s misconception is now sometimes referred to as uniformitarianism.
  3. Reviewed by Paul Pearson in Nature 425(6959):665, 16 October 2003.
  4. Pearson says that Hutton ‘used the selection mechanism to explain the origin of varieties in nature’, although ‘he specifically rejected the idea of evolution between species as a “romantic fantasy”’.
  5. Quoted from ref. 3.
  6. Quoted by Stephen Jay Gould in Gould, S., Natural selection as a creative force, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Belknap Press of Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, p. 138, 2002.
  7. Blyth, E., The Magazine of Natural History Volumes 8, 9 and 10, 1835–1837. Sourced from ref. 8, Appendices.
  8. Source: Bradbury, A., Charles Darwin—The truth? Part 7—The missing link, , 30 October 2003.
  9. Darlington, C.D., The origin of Darwinism, Scientific American 200(5):61, May 1959.
  10. Eiseley, L., Darwin and the Mysterious Mr X, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1979, published posthumously by the executors of his will; from Eiseley, L., Charles Darwin, Edward Blyth, and the Theory of Natural selection, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 103(1):94–114, February 1959.
  11. Ref. 10, p. 55.
  12. Ref. 10, pp. 59–62.
  13. Darlington, C.D., Darwin’s Place in History, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, p. 60, 1959.
  14. Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, C., Evolution from Space, Paladin, London, pp. 175–179, 1981.
  15. Darwin, C., The Origin of Species, 6th ed., John Murray, London, 1902, pp. 21, 199, and 374 respectively.
  16. Ref. 10, p. 52.
  17. Blyth, E. (1835), ref. 7.
  18. Blyth, E. (1837), ref. 7.
  19. Wieland, C., Muddy waters: Clarifying the confusion about natural selection, Creation 23(3):26–29, 2001.

Extra Credit:   James M Foard's treatise on Blyth.

Eiseley's tome "Charles Darwin, Edward Blyth, and The Theory of Natural Selection" may be available at your local University library or can be accessed with JSTOR credentials here.

Finally for today, the Andrew J. Bradbury document entitled Charles Darwin - The Truth?  We shall present part 10 of the entire work:

Part 10 - Mr Blyth, Mr Wallace ...

Know Thy Place

This part of Charles Darwin - The Truth? addresses two more fundamental questions relating to the origin of The Origin of Species and Eiseley's discovery of 'the Blyth Connection':

  • Why didn't Blyth speak up on his own behalf when Darwin laid claim to his ideas?
  • If Darwin took his central ideas from Blyth's papers rather than from the sources named in the Darwin myth, how did Alfred Wallace manage to come to the same conclusions using the texts referred to in the "Darwin Myth"?
Loren Eiseley was well aware, when he raised the issues covered in his original paper and the subsequent book, that there was something odd about the fact that Blyth had never challenged Darwin's use of his ideas in The Origin. It is my perception that Eiseley was himself a man of generous spirit, which would explain the answer he offered to this conundrum:

"Being both generous and modest, perhaps he never saw any relation between his youthful cogitations and the great change in human thinking which ensued a quarter of a century later. ... Or perhaps he thought the old conception common."1
An interesting thought, and it is by no means impossible that Blyth might have "thought the old conception common". Desmond and Moore, in their biography of Darwin (1991) offer the observation that:

"The tree was the key. By the 1850's it was an accepted metaphor among naturalists ... Even from Calcutta, ... Edward Blythe [sic] ... compared life to a tree that 'branches off, & still divides & subdivides & resubdivides.' It was Darwin's image exactly: he had long visualised nature as 'irregularly branched.'"2
(Italics added for emphasis)
And is that really so surprising that Darwin's image fitted "exactly" with Blyth's metaphor, given that it was Blyth himself who, in his two papers of 1836 had described the spread of species by 'indefinite radiation'. It was a metaphor which Blyth had been using as far back as the 1830s, a metaphor that Blyth himself had borrowed from the famous French naturalist Lamarck. And Lamarck had first used it some 30 years earlier still, a fact that could hardly have escaped Darwin's notice!

But there's more to it than that.

In 1871, you may remember, Blyth wrote to tell Arthur Grote:
"I am now preparing [a work] on 'The Origination of Species', a subject upon which I think I can throw some light."3
Had Blyth really failed to recognise his own work as the basis for Darwin's ideas? Did he really intend publishing a book with an almost identical title on a mere whim? It is surely clear beyond reasonable doubt that by 1871, if not earlier, Blyth recognised that Darwin had been feeding from him, as from so many others, like some intellectual leech. And he chose to keep silent.

This action, while it may appear quite ludicrously self-effacing today, made perfectly good sense in the context of Victorian England.

It should be noted, for example, that the 'middle classes' which now make up such a large proportion of the population, only began to develop as a distinct social group during the Victorian era. At the time when The Origin was published the middle classes were barely established, and were often hard to distinguish from the upper end of the lower or working classes from which they had so lately emerged. Moreover, where notions of class may be regarded as irrelevant or even destructive today, in Victorian England social status was a paramount influence in all walks of life.

(An important part of the attraction of Darwin's explanation of natural selection, the struggle for existence, etc., was the veneer of intellectual respectability it gave to the way the British ruling classes were already wont to behave.)

A brief consideration of Blyth's situation shows that he was really in a very poor position so far as openly reclaiming his ideas was concerned. He had no academic qualifications - a mere Trade School education could hardly be compared with a Cambridge degree, even one without honours - and no well-established social standing. He had no influential friends to support him; and the idea that he might have initiated a show down with Darwin is franly, under the circumstances, a complete non-starter.

Where we now have access to the relevant issues of the Magazine of Natural History and can see Darwin's pencilled notes in the margins beside Blyth's paper, Blyth himself couldn't prove that Darwin had even read the papers, let alone had preserved them for future reference - unless Darwin chose to admit it.

Or again, whilst we have Frances Darwin's assurance that Blyth's letters to Darwin "give evidence of having been carefully studied"4, how was Blyth to prove the importance of the contents of those letters unless Darwin chose to acknowledge their relevance?

Blyth may have been well respected in some circles, but the "ill-paid" museum curator, the butt of "ceaseless humiliations"5, was hardly in a position to pit himself against a wealthy, upper class, well-established member of the scientific establishment.

The Nobler Path 

We must also remember the simple but rather crucial fact that, when The Origin was first published, and when the great Oxford Debate of 1860 (featuring the famous exchange between Thomas Huxley - soon to become Fullerian Professor at the Royal Institution - and Bishop Wilberforce, FRS) took place, Edward Blyth was more than 5,000 miles away in India. He was already suffering from the illness which would cause his premature retirement and return to England in 1862; and he was still getting over the sudden death of his wife, who had died in 1857, only three years after their marriage.
More importantly than all of these considerations, however, there is one overwhelming reason why Blyth would almost certainly have kept Darwin's secret to himself. It can be summed up in just one line of Allen Hume's commentary on Blyth's character:

"Neither neglect nor harshness could drive, nor wealth nor worldly advantages tempt him, from what he deemed the nobler path"6
(Italics added)
Darwin's description of Blyth as "a very clever, odd, wild fellow"7, was possibly a touch pejorative, but not far off the mark. Blyth was, in essence, very gifted, very idealistic and very undisciplined. He was fascinated by the study of natural history for its own sake, and seems never to have been happier than when he was either expanding his own knowledge, or sharing that knowledge with others.
As Eiseley observed, Blyth made "innumerable specialised contributions to the natural history of Southeastern Asia."8. But he lacked the self-discipline needed to sit down and draw all his observations, knowledge and thoughts into one comprehensive, coherent whole. Not, that is, until his forced retirement in 1862. Only then did he start to think about authoring the book that he, of all people, was so well qualified to write.

Did Blyth really intend to complete and publish his book? We'll never know, but I suspect the answer was "no". Certainly not with that highly ironic title.

Edward Blyth wasn't just an idealist, he was one of those rare people - a Christian who actually managed to live according to his beliefs.

Based on comments such as those of Professor Mayr (see Darwin Myth #7 in Part 7 of this paper), and others, I believe it is this latter point, that Blyth was actually a professing Christian, which makes it so difficult for evolutionists to acknowledge his papers as the primary source of Darwin's ideas on evolution.

Blyth did start work on The Origination of Species, in a manner of speaking, but it never amounted to anything more than a loose collection of rough ideas. For Blyth, the choice between gaining a reputation for himself at the expense of another (now a longstanding acquaintance), or keeping silent, was no choice at all. He remained silent to the end, I believe, because for him silence was "the nobler path".

Fever Pitch

Having addressed, at considerable length, what I refer to as the Darwin Myth - the 'public relations' version, if you will, of Darwin's life and work - we must now consider a second set of alternatives: the public and not so public versions of how Alfred Russel (no second "l") Wallace came to play a part in the publishing of The Origin of Species.

Peter Brent tells the story thus:

"Wallace had long believed in the transmutation of species. There is a myth that the entire notion seized him between fits of malarial fever in 1858, but the fact is that he was thinking about the subject as early as 1845. ... In December of that year he wrote to H.W. Bates [concerning Chambers' Vestiges of Creation, published a year earlier]: 'I do not consider it as a hasty generalization, but rather as an ingenious hypothesis strongly supported by some striking facts and analogies ... I would observe that many eminent writers give great support to the theory of the progressive development of species in animals & plants.' "9
Peter Bowler, in his own biography of Darwin, perpetuates the notion that Wallace only lighted on his own solution in 1858, and adds the further information that Wallace was actually "suffering from a bout of fever on the island of Gilolo (not, as he later claimed, on the better-known Spice Island of Ternate)."10

Alfred Russel Wallace was born in the village of Usk in Monmouthshire on January 8th, 1923. Though his formal schooling was brief, he learnt a love of books from his father, a lawyer, and had gleaned some further education at the 'Hall of Science' - a socialist-run night school off the Tottenham Court Road. He had attended school in London, though only until his middle teens, and had gone on to be a trainee land surveyor back in Wales and an assistant teacher in a Leicester school before he joined forces with H.W Bates to become a professional specimen hunter (initially in South America).

Over the next few years, apart from a two year sojourn in London (1852-54) he travelled a good deal, though the places he visited were mainly dictated by his ability to gain free passage on this or that Government ship.

In 1855 he had his first theoretical paper - On the law that has Regulated the Introduction of New Species - published in the Annals of Natural History. The main thrust of the paper being to demonstrate that new species always emerged in areas already colonised by a related species. As biographers often note, however, Wallace was good on generalities but short on details - like what mechanism led to the formation of the new species?

As Peter Bowler observes, the evolutionary implications in Wallace's paper were clear enough, but the lack of anything more substantial than this high level view apparently left Darwin unimpressed, and it certainly did nothing to motivate him to speed up his own work on 'the species question'.
Given time, of course, Wallace would become the spur that finally roused Darwin to action, with his 1858 paper: On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type. But even here there may be more than meets the eye.

It is interesting, indeed fascinating, that Darwin should say of Wallace's second paper:
"If Wallace had my MS sketch written out in 1842, he could not have made a better short abstract! Even his terms now stand as heads of my chapters."11
Even more interesting, and one of the major puzzles that nagged at me as I worked on my own original research, was this question: Just how did Wallace, a poorly educated (though by no means illiterate) specimen hunter, manage to recover so quickly and thoroughly from a bout of fever that he could, in just two evenings (according to Wallace) produce a paper that mirrored Darwin's work so closely that "even his terms now [stood] as the heads of [Darwin's] chapters"?

The traditional explanation is that Wallace came to the same conclusions because, amongst other things, he was inspired by the same source - Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population. The trouble is, there is good evidence that Malthus' wasn't Darwin's original inspiration. On the subject of the struggle for existence, for example, as Mayr observed:
"It was in the writings of Lyell that Darwin first encountered the concept of the struggle for existence, not in Malthus."12
What we now know, but Mayr apparently didn't, was that Blyth also dealt with the struggle for existence, by that name, in his 1835 paper in the Magazine of Natural History. We also know that Darwin had access to both sources during his time aboard the Beagle - 2-3 years before he read Malthus!

But if Malthus isn't 'the missing link' what, or who, is?

  1. Darwin and the Mysterious Mr X., Loren Eiseley. op. cit. p.79.
  2. Quoted in Darwin, A. Desmond and J. Moore. Michael Joseph:London:1991. p.419.
  3. Darwin and the Mysterious Mr X., Loren Eiseley. op. cit. p.181.
  4. Ibid. p.247.
  5. Dictionary of National Biography, op. cit. p.277.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Quoted in Darwin, A. Desmond and J. Moore. op. cit. p.419.
  8. Darwin and the Mysterious Mr X., Loren Eiseley. op. cit. p.49.
  9. Charles Darwin, Peter Brent. op. cit. p.406.
  10. Charles Darwin: The man and His Influence, Peter J. Bowler. op cit. p.112.
  11. The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Frances Darwin (ed.). op. cit. Vol. 2. p.116.
  12. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, evolution, and inheritance, Ernst Mayr. op cit. p.483.

Go to other sections

Part 0 - Introduction
Part 1 - Metaphors and Myths
Part 2 - The Mystery Begins
Part 3 - All At Sea
Part 4 - He Who Hesitates ...
Part 5 - Last Days
Part 6 - Without Reference ...
Part 7 - The Missing Link
Part 8 - Going Public, Maybe
Part 9 - ... Father to the Man
Part 11 - ... and 'Mr' Lyell
Part 12 - The Final Frontier

Appendices - The full text of Blyth's papers from 1835-37
Appendix A - The Varieties of Animals - Part 1
Appendix B - The Varieties of Animals - Part 2
Appendix C - Seasonal and Other Changes in Birds - Part 1
Appendix D - Seasonal and Other Changes in Birds - Part 2
Appendix E - Seasonal and Other Changes in Birds - Part 3
Appendix F - Seasonal and Other Changes in Birds - Part 4
Appendix G - Psychological Distinctions Between Man and Other Animals - Part 1
b> Appendix H -
Psychological Distinctions Between Man and Other Animals - Part 2
b> Appendix I -
Psychological Distinctions Between Man and Other Animals - Part 3
Appendix J - Psychological Distinctions Between Man and Other Animals - Part 4

This paper was written and produced by Andrew J. Bradbury


Now for the "Ride of Paul Revere, uhm, I mean William Dawes, er, Samuel Prescott?!" A view of the events associated with "One if by land and two if by sea."

Dr. Samuel Prescott Completed Paul Revere's Ride
From Charles Prescott III


Jeff -
Here is some information on Dr. Samuel Prescott who actually completed the ride Paul Revere started!
Charles David Prescott, III
(a cousin-a number of times removed)
Paul Revere, Lighting, Riding, Fighting and Other Thoughts
In 1774 and on into the spring of 1775, Paul Revere acted as an express rider. He was employed by various committees of the Massachusetts government to carry news, messages, copies of resolutions and other government documents as far away as New York and Philadelphia.
In addition, he was active in the "Sons of Liberty", an American Patriot group desiring independence from England.
In the days prior, Paul Revere and others had observed British troops assembling and had suspected that something was about to happen.
On the evening of April 18, 1775 Dr. Joseph Warren summoned Paul Revere and instructed him to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts. He was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.
Several associates rowed him across the Charles River to Charlestown. There he borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. And, he verified that the local "Sons of Liberty" committee had seen the pre-arranged signal.
Paul had arranged for these signals because he was afraid he might be prevented from leaving Boston.
There were two possibilities. The British could march "by land" out Boston Neck. Or they could row "by sea" across the Charles River to Cambridge.
One lantern hung in the steeple tower of the North Church would indicate "by land". Two lanterns would indicate that the British intended to come "by sea".
Robert Newman, the church sexton, snuck out of his house and went to the church where he was joined by John Pulling. John locked him in the church. He hung the lanterns for only a minute so that the British would not become suspicious. After hanging the lanterns, he left through a window. The British subsequently questioned Newman about the incident but no charges were filed.
On the way to Lexington, he reportedly stopped at each house "alarming" the country-side. He arrived in Lexington about midnight. Approaching the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry reportedly asked that he not make so much noise. Paul Revere is reported to have replied: "Noise! You'll have more noise than this before long. The regulars are coming out!"
After delivering his message, he was joined by William Dawes, a second rider sent on the same errand by a different route, who reportedly arrived about 12:30. They decided on their own to continue to Concord, Massachusetts where weapons and supplies were hidden and left about 1:00 AM.
On the way, they were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. It seems that he had been visiting his girlfriend at a Lexington tavern. The story is that she was the tavern owner's wife and that he was discovered with her and fled the tavern when he met up with Revere and Dawes.
Shortly after that, British troops stopped and arrested all three. Prescott immediately escaped. Dawes escaped soon after. Revere, however, was held some time before being released.
As he had no horse, he returned on foot to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775. It was the first battle in which British troops were killed.
Dawes also did not make it to Concord. He got lost in the dark and unfamiliar surroundings.
The only one who actually made it all the way to Concord was Dr. Samuel Prescott.
Every year Boston celebrates the anniversary of the lanterns that set the Revolutionary War in motion at a candlelit ceremony featuring typically featuring costumed Colonists, patriotic music and some famous actor as Paul Revere.
1999 highlights included David Connor as Paul Revere, an opening procession with the USS Constitution color guard and a bell-ringing performance by the Old North Guild of Change Ringers. Ethan Warren, a descendant of Paul Revere, read Longfellow's poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."
Samuel Prescott
Prescott, Samuel , 1751 - c.1777, American Revolutionary figure, born Concord, Mass. On the night of Apr. 18, 1775, he, Paul Revere, and William Dawes set out to warn the countryside of the British advance toward Concord. Revere was captured on the way, but Prescott got through with the news. He was later captured and died in prison.
More About Paul Revere
Paul Revere's Ride: This poem, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, helped make Paul Revere's ride famous. However, the poem does not mention Dawes or Prescott.
The Midnight Ride of William Dawes: In 1896 Helen F. Moore wrote this parody of Longfellow's poem and published it in Century Magazine. Of course, even this poem didn't get it completely right. Dr. Samuel Prescott still doesn't seem to have a poem.
Paul Revere House: The House, maintained by the Paul Revere Memorial Association, is a historic landmark. The house is open to visitors and the association has national memberships available. The house includes a 900 pound bell, a small mortar and a bolt from the USS Constitution, all made by Paul Revere & Sons. &laqno;&laqno;»»
Early America Review (Fal.1996), "Sons of Liberty: Patriots or Terrorists?": This article provides great background on the Sons of Liberty and discusses their role in the American Revolution.
Sidewalk Boston: A site with information about Boston events, including annual Revolutionary War celebrations.



"Hot Lips" Houlihan said...

So much verbiage...

Can we take this as a concession that Blyth did NOT actually coin the term "natural selection" then?

And that you will not be repeating this lie in future?

Thank you.

Chaos Engineer said...

Darwin was not necessarily a great thinker but rather a man who culled from the ideas of others and put them together to produce a hypothesis [...]

This puts me in mind of the famous quote from Isaac Newton. "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

Great scientists don't just vanish into the lab for 40 days and 40 nights and come out with a whole new field of study. They build on the work of their predecessors. So Darwin took some ideas that were already floating around in the scientific community, added his own voluminous observations, and organized them all into a coherent theory.

That's how things are done in the scientific world. It does take some getting used to if you're coming from a relgious background...respected religious leaders get their ideas directly from God and refuse to learn from anybody else. The idea of cooperating with their rivals is completely foreign to them.

Anyway, you can make an argument that it's unfair to give Darwin as much credit as he got...after all, there were lots of other scientists who were capable of coming up with the same theory; Darwin just happened to get there first. (Going back to Isaac Newton again: He and Leibniz invented calculus independently of each other, and then got into a huge feud over who stole it from whom.)

We see this same kind of unfairness in other walks of life. A business leader who organizes a company gets a lot more respect than the minimum-wage employees who are providing the actual goods and services.

I think the solution for this is some kind of Socialism. It's too late for poor Edward Blyth, but it's not too late to help the hard-working-but-unlucky scientists of the future. (Or we could just accept that life is unfair, I guess.)

AmericanVet said...

We will take this post as, to quote Chaos, " It's too late for poor Edward Blyth" to derive anything from his discovery other than credit. The article indicates to me that he was not all that concerned about it. But we now know that the idea of natural selection was not new but it was specified and described by Blyth and Darwin took it and used it in his books.

HLH apparently cannot comprehend English so in his alternate Universe of the mind Blyth still gets no credit. This was no concession, it was a declaration.

That Edward Blyth figured out and provided natural selection to Darwin and the world has just been verified to any normal mind.

Anonymous said...

Is this really where creationism/YEC has come to? "Hit pieces" on Charles Darwin. Really?

And you talk about real scientists "wasting time on evolution" when there are cancers to cure. What exactly do you call this garbage and all the "effort" that went in to writing it? What is the actual purpose of this article? To malign a long dead scientist? Weird, weird stuff.


"Hot Lips" Houlihan said...

"HLH apparently cannot comprehend English so in his alternate Universe of the mind Blyth still gets no credit."

I understand what the verb "to coin" means, as in "to coin a phrase". Do you?

You repeatedly made a specific claim, namely that Blyth coined the term "natural selection". There is no evidence that this is the case, and even when you were called on this specifically, you haven't provided any.

Instead of drawing the consequences and admitting your error, you continue not to back up your claim and instead you cast aspersions on others. Not what I would call a fine ambassador of Christianity, but that's your problem, not mine.

Chaos Engineer said...

That Edward Blyth figured out and provided natural selection to Darwin and the world has just been verified to any normal mind.

No...remember the "shoulders of giants" thing I was talking about? Blyth didn't come up with the idea of Natural Selection either; he was expanding on the work of earlier thinkers. Wikipedia traces the idea all the way back to Empedocles in the 5th Century BC.

I was browsing through the Wikipedia footnotes and stumbled across a paper by Maupertuis from 1744, well before Blyth and Darwin: Derivation of the laws of motion and equilibrium from a metaphysical principle.

It's an interesting read. Maupertuis believed in God, but thought that Biology-based Intelligent Design arguments were deeply flawed, and he looked for evidence of God in the laws of Physics instead.

Here's a paragraph that foreshadows Darwin:

But perhaps it is not miraculous that suitable organs are found in species that actually exist, since they help those animals to survive. One might argue that Chance has produced a countless number of individual animals, of which a few were constructed so that they could meet their own needs; the vast number of other individual animals perished since their parts were not suitable for survival. Animals without mouths cannot live; those lacking organs of generation cannot reproduce themselves. The few animals that have survived are those with well-ordered parts suited to survival; thus, the animals that we see today are but the smallest part of those produced by a soulless universe.

Which isn't to say that Darwin or Blyth stole from Maupertuis. They built on his work. For example, Maupertius just waves his hands and speculates that "Chance" could have produced a variety of animals. Darwin replaced "Chance" with "inherited mutations" and then provided evidence that this had actually occured.

All that said, I think you're reading too much into the article. It's not really intended to be a serious history of the idea of Natural Selection. It was just written to give the readers an excuse to hate Darwin. (Which I think is a mistake. Hatred needs to come from the heart. My experience is that it's best to try and banish all rational thought from your head and just let the hatred consume you. So the article would have been more effective if it had fewer purported facts about Blyth and more name-calling towards Darwin.)

AmericanVet said...

I believe, Chaos, you took a quote from Sir Isaac Newton in your comment. Do you remember that Newton was a Christian and a creationist? So was Blyth and so were the vast majority of scientists who invented modern science and implemented the scientific method.

You completely miss the point of all of this. I was simply pointing out that Darwin took his idea of natural selection from the writings of Blyth and that the collection of Darwin's notes proves it. It seems to matter to some commenters so I presented this post.

I do not "hate" Darwin as he is dead. I suppose the best word I can come up with is pity? I think his life is tragic. While men like Lyell and Haeckel deliberately lied to advance their worldview, I think Darwin actually believed what he wrote. He didn't know Lyell was a liar. He assumed that Lyell, as a gentleman, would be telling the truth. Darwin desperately wanted a naturalistic explanation for life and thought he had found it, albeit for the most part having culled it from the work of others.

But let us be clear. Darwinism is to me a great evil that has infected the worlds of science and academics with an unscientific mythology that hinders practical science as well. We now have Scientism in many cases rather than science. There are untold vast amounts of time and money being wasted trying to prove the unprovable hypothesis of Darwinism, trying to get organisms of various kinds to evolve, trying to find missing links that stay missing, and on and on and on.

What proves that Darwinism is unscientific is this: Creationism has the answers to every question. The answers fit scientific laws now in place. No fudge factors are required. Since real science is supposed to begin with what we know, Darwinism fails the test because in every case the foundational aspects of Darwnism have no proofs - in every case the check is in the mail. When you look under the rock of Darwinism there are no answers scurrying out or descending quickly down into the Earth. There is just nothing there. No answers for life, for design, for information, for the existence of existence itself.

AmericanVet said...

So I do not hate Darwin and, since he is dead, there is nothing I can do for him.

I hate Darwinism for the continual damage it does to people and to science and especially that it is the humbug that is the barrier to many people, erected to keep them away from knowing God. I can see Darwinism clearly for what it is and what it does. I can also see quite clearly that it is based on myths and stories rather than facts.

For this reason I know that commenters are not actually (usually) not trying to have a dialogue with me. Commenters are speaking directly to my audience trying to convince those who read the comments threads that they know the answers and that my posts are not true. Some of the commenters are frankly so illogical as to be humorous. Some of them are somewhat ill-mannered.

Now and then I believe that one of them is actually really trying to communicate with me. Dan S, for instance, was an interesting guy who made long galloping comments packed with both information and mirth. I enjoyed jousting with him very much. In his case I believe he genuinely sought to convert me to Darwinism and, when he realized that was not happening, gave up on commenting.

Sometimes Chaos disappoints me but very often he gives me something that deserves a response. On rare occasion Jon Woolf will also do this. The rest of the anonymous crowd pretty much is just putting up propaganda billboards. I wonder if you wonder why I let you do it?

I know of a scientist who used to comment on PZ Myers blog, disagreeing with him, and Myers banned him from the comments thread. Not because the scientist used foul language, no, but simply because the scientist disagreed with Myers and posted evidence Myers didn't like.

That will not happen here. You can repeat the most ridiculous Darwinist claims you wish if your language is not foul. Some of you, like HLH, are completely illogical and just throw fallacies around like a lawn spreader at top speed.

It is up to the reader to chose to believe either the materials I post or the commenters. There is no commenter who will be able to make me post something I do not wish to post. Some of you have revealed your game plan to me and I am highly unlikely to spend much time on what you say. Chaos has earned a blog post in the near future because he brought up some fair arguments worthy of discussion. If you want to actually get me to respond to a commment within a post, you will need to be intelligent and not simply blurt out propaganda or resort to ad hominem attacks.

AmericanVet said...

Oh, and Chaos? Who made the laws of physics? Who designed them? Who made the Universe? The idea that the laws of physics are the explanation for organisms is a bit like Hawking giving gravity credit for creating the Universe. Darwinism/Naturalism must have a naturalistic explanation for everything but that means you are dead before you take a breath. There is no naturalistic explanation for the existence of the Universe or the laws that function within it, not to mention information and life and design.

I will say this over and over again until people understand. The Laws of Thermodynamics describe the natural world, they have always worked and they are never broken. They prohibit the creation of the Universe. So it follows that the Universe and the LOT were both created by a non-natural entity with intelligence.

The Law of Biogenesis states that life comes from life. This law has also never been broken. Darwinists try to fudge this by saying it does not apply to "simple" life but in fact since the planet is absolutely perfect for life to exist that means simple life, if it can form naturally, should be forming now without any help from science. Yet it doesn't happen and even scientists using their intelligence and any apparatus they can think up can never cause life to form under any conditions whatever.

If you want to call yourself a scientist and yet ignore both the LOT and the LOB then you are being quite unscientific. You have climbed down from the shoulders of giants and are attempting to dig beneath their feet.

AmericanVet said...


"Which isn't to say that Darwin or Blyth stole from Maupertuis. They built on his work. For example, Maupertius just waves his hands and speculates that "Chance" could have produced a variety of animals. Darwin replaced "Chance" with "inherited mutations" and then provided evidence that this had actually occured."

Nope. No one has ever provided such evidence. Mutations are copying errors and mistakes within pre-existing code. Mutations cannot write code. Mutations need the code to be in place before they can break it or cause it to stutter. Organisms are designed to eliminate mutations if they can. Mutations are not the creator of organisms, they are the enemy of them!

This is completely backwards thinking and illustrates Darwinist folly. They remove God and add Chance. They remove intelligence and design and intentionality and replace it with random occurrence. This is what Darwinism does and why it is so ridiculous and anti-science. The typical Darwinist actually teaches this kind of nonsense and expects it to be swallowed whole. Where is the critical thinking and the logic?

Gary H. said...

AmericanVet said...
"Where is the critical thinking and the logic?"

As in atheism, so in Darwinism (the latter is the child of the former and inheriting its traits).
In other words, there is no critical thinking or logic in either the parent or its child.

Nice article.