The Matthew and Darwin Letters

The Matthew and Darwin Letters

On this page you will learn how authors of the Darwin Correspondence Project website, and by direct association its textbooks at Cambridge University, have at least seemingly engaged in academic fraud by apparently pretending they have read and transcribed all known Darwin's letters to Patrick Matthew. In fact, they have been replicating, without citation of the authors involved, secondary published sources that contain a transcription error dating back to Calman's transcription of the original three letters that were shown to him by Matthew's daughter, Euphema Matthew, in or before 1912. Calman wrote that his 1912 published transcriptions were the first publication of those letters. However, The Darwin Correspondence Project cites the original letters in Edinburgh National Library as their claimed source. That is a deception and amounts to academic irregularity. In effect, it is academic fraud and proof of plagiary of Calman's original transcription.

Images of these three Darwin letters, which have never before been published, are now published on this web page. They were sent to me under licence by Ian Hardie on 8th Novemeber 2019. Ian and his wife transcribed these originals. In so doing, they found they differ from transcriptions published elsewhere. Tipped off by an email from Hardie, my own research of November 10th 2019 identified that the erroneous transcription on the Darwin Correspondence Project, and these same error in countless other publications, date back to Calman's 1912 transcription errors.

After Patrick Matthew outed Darwin's replication of his prior published breakthrough in an open letter to the Gardeners' Chronicle (1860) and in a series of other letters written to journal and newspaper editors, Matthew and Darwin corresponded. In 1863 Darwin's wife, Emma, replied to one of Matthew's letters to her husband because Darwin claimed to be too ill to write.

What you will read of their letters here is only from their surviving correspondence. Contrary to yet another another Darwin myth, Darwin did not save all his letters. As his son explained, he kept some and systematically burned many others (see Sutton 2017 for the details).

The three letters from the Darwins to Patrick Matthew on this page are protected by copyright and reproduced here under licence by kind permission of Ian Hardie. He, together with Min Hunter, as executors of the John Matthew estate, donated the originals to the National Library of Scotland, which is in Edinburgh.

The three 'Darwins to Matthew' letters were expertly photographed by the renowned photographer Antonia Reeve and accurate transcripts of the letters provided by Ian Hardie and his wife. The images of these three letters are not to be reproduced elsewhere, in any form, without written permission of the copyright holder © Antonia Reeve 2019. The original letters are held in the National Library of Scotland, Acc.10963.

To necessarily repeat the important point made above, Darwin and Matthew scholars should note Ian Hardie identified that earlier transcription errors of these letters were published by the late Jim Dempster (W. J. Dempster), and many others before him and since. My own research identified that these errors start with Calman's 1912 transcription on page 456 of the three originals shown him by Matthew's daughter Euphemia and are replicated by the Darwin  Corresponndence Project but wrongly attributed to the original lettters rather than Calman's 1912 first ever published transcription. Calman's transcription error is also replicated as though it is a veracious copy by other publications, none knowing nor correctly citing its secondary source being the "striking" Calman possible transcription error of 1912.

In additon to what Ian Hardie found. Thanks entirely to his alerting me to the issue, I have further identified that the Darwin Correspondence Project has recorded inaccurate transcriptions from Calman's 1912 article - rather than the original letters in the National Library of Scotland. In all three of the Darwin's to Matthew letters, Calman mis-transcribed a lot of punctuation. And the Darwin Correspondence Project has copied those errors verbim, yet gives the impression these transcribed letters are taken directly from the original letters that reside in Scotland; copies of which, on this page, are kindly licenced to 

This is why it is important to transcribe from original sources! This is why it is deemed serious academic misconduct to pretend you have when you have not. Such misconduct leads to falsehoods in the record of scientific discovery and the lives of those who made those discoveries, of those who stole them and of those who to this day seek to pervert the truth in order to perpetuate a much loved myth about Darwin.

Letter From Charles Darwin letter to Patrick Matthew (text trancription taken directy from the Darwin Correspondence Project - archived on 16.May 2021: (

13 June 1862




Kent. S.E                                                                      


Dear Sir


I presume that I have the pleasure of addressing the Author of the work on Naval Architecture and the first annunciator of the theory of Natural Selection. Few things would give me greater pleasure that to see you; but my health is feeble, and I have at present a son ill and can receive no one here, nor leave home at present.


I wish to come up to London as soon as I can; if, therefore, you are going to stay for more than a week, would you be so kind as to let me hear, and if able to come up to London, I would endeavour to arrange an interview with you, which afford me high satisfaction:


With much respect, I remain, Dear Sir,


Yours very faithfully.


Ch. Darwin





Letter From Patrick Matthew 3 December 1862 to Charles Darwin 
Gourdie hill, Errol, N.B.

Dec. 3 1862

Dear Sir,

When in London last summer it was only for a few days, engrossed with mercantile concerns so that I could not bestow that attention to scientific thought that I should have liked; I also learned from Prof. Huxley, that by coming up to London you were sometimes rendered unwell. I would have been sorry to bring you from home least I might do you injury, & therefore did not reply to your letter. I also could not but feel that I was an intruder & that there existed in scientific men a strong vis inertiæ & retiring inclination which I had no right to disturb, especially as I believed I could be of no service in advancing your present pursuit. While you have been making advances in vegetable science, I have been attempting to promote a better system of land occupancy by the farmer - that there might be protection of property created by the farmer in enriching the vegetable mould. This is a question of the highest importance to the British Empire & Race. My line lies more in the political & social, Your’s in tracing out the admirably balanced scheme of Nature all linked together in dependant connection—the vital endowed with a variation-power in accommodation to material change. Altho’ this is a grand field for contemplation, yet am I tired of it — of a world where my sympathies are intended to be bounded almost exclusively to my own race & family. I am not satisfied with my existence to devour & trample upon my fellow creature. I cannot pluck a flower without regarding myself a destroyer. At present we feel some enjoyment in tracing out the scheme of Nature. Since I have paid attention to the progress of discovery, so much has been done that comparatively little remains to do. What will become of man when all the great facts of material & vital science are pointed out? We may be satisfied that we have lived in the great age of discovery & in the country & of the Race in which & by whom these discoveries have been made. Man cannot advance much higher. A reaction such as attended Babylonian, Egyptian, Grecian & Roman civilizations must soon ensue. The same powers that have reached high civilization cannot support it. Fall we must.

We have had a very bleak & unpleasant summer in Scotland, yet another season may be more propitious. Change of air & scene if the change is not too great acts a salutory part in the human constitution & a journey to Scotland might next summer be of service to you or any of your family. You mentioned you had a Son unwell. I hope he soon recovered. Should you think of a jaunt to Scotland I would be most happy in pointing out the little I know of the character of the country. There is something in the change of place which stimulates mental conception.

I enclose one or two pieces which I have been amusing myself with,& remain Dear Sir Yours truly P. Matthew.

Letter From Emma Darwin to Patrick Matthew (text trancription taken directy from the Darwin Correspondence Project - archived on 16.May 2021: (

21 November 1863



Kent. S.E

Dear Sir

Mr Darwin begs me to thank you warmly for your letter, which has interested him very much. I am sorry to say that he is so unwell as not to be able to write himself.

With regard to Natural Selection, he says that he is not staggered by your striking remarks. He is more faithful to your own original child than you are yourself. He says you will understand what he means by the following metaphor.

Fragments of rock fallen from a lofty precipice assume an infinitude of shapes - these shapes being due to the nature of the rock, the law of gravity etc. - by merely selecting the well-shaped stones and rejecting the ill-shaped an architect (called Nat. Selection) could make many and various noble buildings.

Mr Darwin is much obliged to you for sending him your photograph. He wishes he could send you as good a one of himself. The enclosed was a good likeness taken by his eldest son but the impression is faint.

You express yourself kindly interested about his family. We have five sons and two daughters, of these two only are grown up. Mr Darwin was very ill two months ago and his recovery is very slow, so that I am afraid it will be long before he can attend to any scientific subject.

Dear Sir, yours truly

E. Darwin





Letter From Patrick Matthew 6 June 1864 to Charles Darwin

Dear Sir,

I am now in London for a week or so and have a desire to meet with you before I return to Scotland. If it were convenient I would visit you at Down or meet you at any place in London.

The Affair of Schleswig-Holstein is occupying my attention at present on which I am to publish in a few days, & I will do myself the honor of forwarding to you a copy. It is highly probable that this little work will meet more contumely than any ever printed in Britain except Tom Paine’s “rights of man”. I hope you are now able for your vocation of forwarding natural science. If you receive the Gardeners Chronicle you will see I have not been quite idle. I left Germany Holstein about 9 days ago, where I was visiting my Son, a farmer there. I remained only two weeks & hastened to London to expose the shameful mistatements of the British Press.

Yours very Sincerely P. Matthew.

No. 16. Ampton St. Gray’s Inn Road, London

Letter From Patrick Matthew to Charles Darwin 12 March 1871
Gourdiehill, Errol, Scotland,

March 12 1871

To Charles Darwin Esq.

Dear Sir,

I am Glad to see by the Newspapers that you have had health & strength so as be able to bring out full illustrations of the variation & selection Laws of Nature. Of which I would desire to be able to write a critique, but am so much taken up with political and agricultural affairs that I fear I will not have time, more especially as I intend in a few weeks to go over to Germany where one of my sons has been settled as an agriculturist for many years & has a large family; and as being known quite as much in Germany as in Britain I may remain some time. I also fear that I am not sufficiently a restricted Naturalist as be able to enter into the minutiæ of the science.

I am now engaged with the cutivation of Peace & of Climate, Also the Philosophy of Agriculture, in which being above four score it is probable I may not be able to complete, as you have been able to do in your province. I enclose an Article from the Scotsman Newspaper which will shew I am not yet quite effete. I hope your family are now all well, When you wrote to me long ago, one of your sons was very unwell. I hope he reovered.

I have not had time to give the subject — the modification of life to circumstances — sufficient attention. One strange character of rye, acquired we may suppose by being so very long cultivated in fields, of taking a gregarious nature, was observed by me when over in Germany. I walking through wheat fields searching for new varieties of wheat, I found a few scattered plants of rye, which being nearly ripe, had only 2 or 3 grains in the ear, the other spaces being empty chaff. Also on a few solitary ears of rye on the high way I found equally unfruitful. This did not seem to be from bird depredation. At the blooming time of fields of rye, rye grass, pinus sylvestris & pinaster, in time of a soft S. West Zephyr, there is often seen a pollen mistcloud sweeping along, which in the rye seems necessary to the fecundation probably from being so long used to it.

There cannot be a doubt that in the scheme of nature there exists high design & constructive power carried out by general Laws, And the great probability is that these laws are everlasting, as Nature itself is, tho’ under these laws subject to revolution. It is also probable that the spark of life, like light, & heat &c., is radiated from the sun & has a power of building up to itself a domicile suited to existing circumstances & disseminating sparks of its own kind, but possessed of a variation power. That there is a principle of beneficence operating here the dual parentage and family affection pervading all the higher animal kindom affords proof. A sentiment of beauty pervading Nature, with only some few exceptions affords evidence of intellect & benevolence in the scheme of Nature. This principle of beauty is clearly from design & cannot be accounted for by natural selection. Could any fitness of things contrive a rose, a lily, or the perfume of the violet. There is no doubt man is left purposely in ignorance of a future existence. Their pretended revelations are wretched nonsense.

It is a beautiful parable, the woman walking through the City of Damascus bearing fire in the one hand & water in the other, crying, with this water I will burn heaven & with this water extinguish hell that man may worship God for his own sake & not as mercenary labourers. We are gifted with a moral sense & it is delightful to do good. It is a pleasure to me to wish you & yours the enjoyment of doing good. I regret I cannot do more than wish it.

Patrick Matthew

P.S. I see it stated that you cannot account for useless parts by the laws of variation & competition, general laws cannot provide against accidents in all cases.

Letter from Charles Darwin to Patrick Matthew  March 15th 1871  (text trancription orginally taken directy from the Darwin Correspondence Project - archived on 16.May 2021:  ( then the underlined text is the correction added by me. Contrary to what they claim, the Darwin Correspondence Project has clearly copied their transcription from Calman - and not from the original letters, which they reference as their source. 

The Darwin Correspondence Project and others have unknowingly published a mistranscribed version of the above letter to have it that Darwin writes: "Your parable of the Damascus woman is quite new to me & very striking." In fact, we can see from the photograph of the actual hand written letter (as opposed to replicating printed citations and then pretending the words copied come from the original source held at the National Library of Scotland) Darwin actually wrote: "Your parable of the Damascus Woman is quite new to me and my thinking."



Kent. S.E                                                                      


Dear Sir


I thank you for your kind letter. You show no signs of your four score years in your letter or in the newspaper article, which seems written with your pristine vigour. My health keeps very indifferent and every exertion fatigues me, so that I doubt whether I shall be good for much more. Your parable of the Damascus Woman is quite new to me and my thinking. I sincerely wish you a happy meeting with your son. I have many letters to write, so pray excuse my brevity, and believe me, with respect.


Yours faithfully



Ch. Darwin



Citation fraud and plagiary is serious academic misconduct 

It is possible that  Calman has mistranscribed two words. He has recorded what appears to be the original "my thinking" text with the possible mistranscription "very striking". 

The image directly below is page 457 of Calman (1912) with his possible transcription error highlighted.

The source of what we might call the possibly "striking transcription error" that others have copied without due citation to him is W. T. Calman (1912, pp. 451- 457) who was shown the three letters on or before 1912 by Matthew's daughter Euphemia Matthew. And Calman notes that the letters have never before been published.

Matthew and Darwin scholars should note that the above letter is one of the three later originally found by Ian Hardie and Min Hunter at the home of John Matthew after his death. They set up the Patrick Matthew Trust, which employed the then leading Matthew expert, Jim Dempster, to conduct further research and write on the topic of Darwin's and Wallace's replications of Matthew's original prior published discovery of the concept of macroevolution by natural selection.

Using a secondary transcribed source such as Calman's published transcription of 1912 yet citing the material as though it is the primary source is one of the most simple forms of poor scholarship counting as academic misconductd.  Wrong attribution issue on the Darwin Correspondence website and elsewhere in the literature on Darwin and Matthew is just one more ironic example of the many issues of dreadful scholarship plagiarism that that run through the so called "Darwin industry" like hidden woodworm.

Calman's article of 1912 is in a book (British Association, Dundee Meeting 1912 Handbook) recording the materials and ideas disseminated along with the events of the British Association meeting of 1867 in Dundee, which is close to Matthew’s home near Errol in the Carse of Gowrie, Scotland. The book was published long after Matthew wrote to the press in 1862 complaing bitterly that he had been craftily platform blocked from speaking about his own discovery whilst others were permitted to do so. Notably, the plagiarist Alfred Wallace attended the Dundee meeting, along with Darwin’s geological mentor Charles Lyell and Robert Chambers. Chambers, I discovered, was another who cited Matthew’s (1831) book long before he went on to write the Vestiges of Creation, a bet selling science book on evolution, which was Wallace’s greatest influence and a huge influence on Darwin’s work on the topic.

Matthew complained to the Dundee Advertiser in 1862 that he had been platformed blocked from speaking on his origination of natural selection by organisers of the annual meeting of the British Association for Advancement of Science:

'Sir,— The conduct towards me of the soi-disant British Association for the Advancement of Science has been such that I consider it right to lay the subject before the public. I gave in to their Assistant-General Secretary nine papers to be read. Of these they rejected seven and admitted two, one of the latter, on Botany, I withdrew, as I thought it required the rejected to appear along with it.

The other I did not withdraw, as it had an immediate importance, but which the Society managed, by delaying the reading till the last, not to read. I will match the importance of these nine papers, in a national point of view, against all that was read at the Dundee meeting, of which the public will have an opportunity to judge. With regard one of these papers, on what is termed Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, but which theory was published by me about thirty years before Darwin (honourably acknowledged in his last edition by Darwin), at a time when man was scarcely ready for such thoughts, I surely had the best right to be heard upon this subject. Yet others were allowed to speak upon it, and its parent denied to do so. Such is the conduct of a Society terming itself the British Association for the Advancement of Science.— l am, &c.,'  (Secondary source: Dempster, W. J. 1983 Patrick Matthew and Natural Selrction. Paul Harris Publishing. p.125 ). 

By way of another ironic example of even worse academic misconduct by plagiarism, we can see Dagg's more recent disgraceful plagiarism in the Linnean Journal, in a paper that desperately tries to argue - through what is arguably the most pitiful systematic failure to cite the most relevant compelling newly published evidence of it - against Darwin’s plagiarism. Dagg plagiarised, by failure to cite me as the discoverer even though he knew I discovered it, my original unearthing in 2013 (and first published in 2014 and then in two peer reviewed papers, Sutton 2014 and 2015) that Selby (editor of the journal that published Wallace's 1855 Sarawak paper, which Darwin read pre-1858) cited Matthew's 1831 book and the original ideas in it years before Darwin and Wallace wrote on the topic. See all the fully referenced and evidenced details here of Dagg's incredibly ironic plagiarism. Dagg's is perhaps the most ironic example of plagiarism in history and should win a prize? Worse, we know Dagg read my original research, including the original Selby unearthing, because he commented upon it at length in many places on the Internet, including ludicrously desperate hatchet job Amazon and other jealous malicious reviews of my 2014 e-book that contains it (e.g. here). The cyberstalking obsessive plagiarist Dagg is so obsessed with trying to supress the facts of Darwin's plagiarism he has even wasted huge amounts of time trying to discredit my international reputation as the discoverer and mythbuster of the Spinach Supermyth on his ludicrous blog that has been cited on Wikipedia's weirdly cultish page about me (here). Clearly the desperate Linnean Society, which also published the original Darwin and Wallace papers of 1858 that blatantly plagiarised Patrick Matthew's theory, will go down in the history of science as a particularly nasty and seedy organization.

The important issue to note here is that the Darwin Correspondence Project and others all one way or another appear to have copied/replicated Calman's (1912 p.457) transcription of Darwin's letter to Matthew and other's subsequent publication of that particualr transcription, but essentially pretended they got the text from the original letters in the National Library of Scotland or from them as an original source somehow from them being elsewhere, which scholars in the know can prove is impossible since the letters went directly from John Matthew's house to the National Library in Scotland after his death. I think this latest Darwinian plagiarism tale is most ironic given the issue at the heart of this Matthew and Darwin topic being one of Darwin's and Wallace's disgraceful plagiarising failure to truthfully reference the source of the prior published, and cited by their friends, influencers and influencer's influencers.

Just as Darwin and Wallace did not want to cite Matthew the dangerous radical Chartist leader, Christian god and priest and upper-class mocking atheist, it appears that these latter-day Darwin Industry members have behaved similarly disgracefully. Indeed, John van Wyhe a major force behind the Darwin Correspondence Project resigned from the editorial board of the Polish journal that published my 2015 article on the independently verifiable evidence of Darwin's plagiarism. He then emailed a Scottish journalist to claim that the new and independently verifiable evidence of who I originally discovered did read and cite the book containing Matthew's prior published theory is nothing more than silly. See the detailed facts of that story here.

Note: For the historical record, I have made copies of van Wyhe's Sutton's research on Darwin and Matthew is a "conspiracy theory' email that he sent to a Scottish journalist. But for reasons of his copyright, I cannot legally publish it. 

Of course, again with great irony, in reality, conspiracy theories are those that tautologically claim there is conspiracy because people are conspiring, because the evidence of that conspiracy is not available, because there has been a cover-up of it. That most certainly is not the case in this story, as the independently verifiable published and expertly peer reviewed facts prove.

Proper academics interested in how the so-called "scientific establishment" seeks to silence those who bust much loved myths with new facts may care to note that Dr Mike Weale (then Reader in Statistical Genetics at Kings College London - the owner of the "Patrick Matthew Project" website wrote an email in 2016 to the VC of Nottingham Trent University - where I then worked before my retirement in 2018 as Reader in Criminology in a vicious attempt to have me disciplined or perhaps even sacked for what I wrote about van Wyhe's dreadful behaviour. Weale failed, of course, because an independent investigation by a Professor of Law and by HR at the university exonerated me of misconduct and pointed out Weal's disingenuity. Again, for the historical record, I have Weal's ludicrous, malicious, email to the VC Edward Peck and a copy of the findings of the investigation that exonerate me of academic misconduct. 

Scholars of plagiarism and poor scholarship know that offenders are caught out when they copy mistranscribed text from secondary sources whist citing the primary source as where they got it. By comparing a photographic image of his original letter to his mother with the version of it he transcribed in his memoirs, I originally proved that Wallace slyly lied in his autobiography to cover up the fact he bragged to his mother that Darwin and his cronies were going to pay him for co-operating in essentially pretending that he and Darwin jointly but independently discovered Matthew's prior published theory independently of its prior published source in Matthew’s 1831 book. Get the independently verifiable facts here.

Furthermore, I conducted an experiment that proved official Wikipedia editors of the Wikipedia page on Patrick Matthew are systematically deleting my newly unearthed facts about who read and reviewed and sought to brute censor so much as private rumination on Matthew's breakthrough years before Darwin or Wallace penned a word on the topic (see the results here).

I suspect the Darwinites running the Darwin Correspondence Project will seek next to slyly hide the plagiarism of Calman's 1912  transcription by editing the page with reference to the correct content of the original letter that is on this webpage, yet fail to admit it. But they cannot hide what they did. Because their original page is now archived for all to see, here:

Liars, plagiarists and malicious fact deniers always come undone in the end when facts they tried to bury follow their age old habit of burrowing to the surface. Then they get their rightful place in history. The facts and their deniers that is, which is quite some toxic legacy to echo down the pages of history. 

Dr Mike Sutton November 11th 2019



More information about Calman, Patrick Matthew and the Darwinites can be found here