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1819 - scientific manuscript written by a published botanist, naturalist - pre Darwin.


KEITH, Patrick. An 1819 scientific manuscript written by the published botanist, naturalist & eccentric cleric The Reverend Patrick Keith (1769-1840), then aged 49 and of Bethersden, Ashford, Kent. 'Mr. Keith was a man of considerable ability, and of a somewhat caustic turn. He wrote a work on botany, and had a reputation as a tutor, but his theological views are said to have been peculiar.' (Archaeologia Cantiana Vol 16, 1886.) This brief biographical sketch confirms the impression given in the manuscript: this was a fiercely intelligent and curious man; not given to blindly accepting the opinions of others. He published two works on botany and some scientific papers, one of them drafted in this work. Three examples from the manuscript: He includes a few sketches of moss under the microscope and states: Sowerby's figure does not accurately represent the column as it now appears in the specimen before me. There are two wonderfully detailed and dated notes on rainbows: I think there are exceptions to Dr Watt's rule about the formation of the Rainbow. The work starts with his original draft text for an article published in The Annals of Philosophy, Volume 14, July - December 1819. The published article is very similar to the manuscript draft here and in it we once again find him vigorously disagreeable; this time with a Mr Meickle and his views on centrifugal force on the growth of plants. 200pp manuscript notebook, legible but at times cross-written. About 80 on religious matters, 120pp on science / botany. Original leather boards with later but not modern spine. Two signatures loose but holding. 180mm x 120mm. 1819. Also included in the notebook is a long and careful chapter-by-chapter review of Sketches of The Philosophy of Life by Sir T. C. Morgan, Colburn, 1818. This was probably intended for publication. As one might expect he has much to say against the author. In fact Keith's first sentence is: His Preliminary remarks are a sort of libel upon mankind; but especially upon Priests and Physicians. Interestingly there is a passage from Chapter One, the first passage quoted by Keith, which touches on evolution many years before Darwin: Organic bodies, in addition to these mechanic and chemical affections, are influenced by causes, which, without changing their visible structure and arrangement, produce in them deep and intimate modifications; by which their habits of action are altered, and they become susceptible of impressions, different from those which arise out of their original disposition. In addition there is an 8 page section entitled Botany in The Eighteenth Century. Patrick Keith was the author of two works; the one referenced here is รข A System of Physiological Botany' from Baldwin Cradock and Joy, London, 1816. (The other was a Botanical Lexicon from Orr, London, in 1837.).