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Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin
 
 

Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin [Kindle Edition]

Peter J. Bowler
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"Using his unrivaled knowledge of Charles Darwin and the revolution associated with his name, Peter J. Bowler digs deeply and profoundly into the ideas and events that Darwin's On the Origin of Species started by asking what would have happened had Darwin died young and the Origin never been written. Would science have gone on much the same; would social ideas associated with Darwin make no appearance? Bowler raises and discusses these and related questions in a work that is fun and informative. Whether or not he is right or wrong in his judgments, he makes you rethink yours. Buy the book and challenge Bowler's counterfactual history." -Michael Ruse, author of Darwinism and Its Discontents"

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The ideas and terminology of Darwinism are so pervasive these days that it seems impossible to avoid them, let alone imagine a world without them. But in this remarkable rethinking of scientific history, Peter J. Bowler does just that. He asks: What if Charles Darwin had not returned from the voyage of the Beagle and thus did not write On the Origin of Species? Would someone else, such as Alfred Russel Wallace, have published the selection theory and initiated a similar transformation? Or would the absence of Darwin’s book have led to a different sequence of events, in which biology developed along a track that did not precipitate a great debate about the impact of evolutionism? Would there have been anything equivalent to social Darwinism, and if so would the alternatives have been less pernicious and misappropriated?

In Darwin Deleted, Bowler argues that no one else, not even Wallace, was in a position to duplicate Darwin’s complete theory of evolution by natural selection. Evolutionary biology would almost certainly have emerged, but through alternative theories, which were frequently promoted by scientists, religious thinkers, and moralists who feared the implications of natural selection. Because non-Darwinian elements of evolutionism flourished for a time in the real world, it is possible to plausibly imagine how they might have developed, particularly if the theory of natural selection had not emerged until decades after the acceptance of the basic idea of evolution. Bowler’s unique approach enables him to clearly explain the non-Darwinian tradition—and in doing so, he reveals how the reception of Darwinism was historically contingent. By taking Darwin out of the equation, Bowler is able to fully elucidate the ideas of other scientists, such as Richard Owen and Thomas Huxley, whose work has often been misunderstood because of their distinctive responses to Darwin.
Darwin Deleted boldly offers a new vision of scientific history. It is one where the sequence of discovery and development would have been very different and would have led to an alternative understanding of the relationship between evolution, heredity, and the environment—and, most significantly, a less contentious relationship between science and religion. Far from mere speculation, this fascinating and compelling book forces us to reexamine the preconceptions that underlie many of the current controversies about the impact of evolutionism. It shows how contingent circumstances surrounding the publication of On the Origin of Species polarized attitudes in ways that still shape the conversation today. 


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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1227 KB
  • Print Length: 329 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0226068676
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (22 Mar 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BGMRV12
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this book, (Bowler 2013) Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin, Professor Bowler - Professor emeritus of the history of science at Queens University Belfast - creates a counterfactual history of how things might have turned out had Darwin died aboard the Beagle and never written about natural selection.

His book is well written and entertaining once you get beyond the necessarily very thorough caveats about the usefulness of thinking counter-factually in the introduction. However, it contains significant and unforgivable errors. That I am no Darwinist and no science historian and yet the fact that I know them to be 100% erroneous does not bode well for Bowler or Chicago University Press and it's so-called "expert" peer review system!

A book such as Bowler's takes a lot of work - blood sweat tears and even bone marrow - but his credulous parroting of the Darwinian myth that Matthew's published discovery of natural selection did not reach the brains of either Darwin or Wallace is his utter downfall. An error of fact that, unfortunately, makes his entire book a fool's errand. All is not lost of course. He could bring out a second edition with Patrick Matthew as the protagonist.

In this review, I prove my point. On which note, what follows is a brief presentation of Bowler's errors and the published evidence in the literature that proves him to be 100 per cent wrong.

Error of fact 1:

On page 54 Bowler (2013) writes of Patrick Matthew:

`Patrick Matthew may well have stated the idea of natural selection as early as 1831, but he did nothing to explore its implications or to persuade his readers that it had the potential to revolutionize biology.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy Ride With Something for Everyone to Love and Hate 17 April 2013
By Let's Compare Options - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A statistician colleague of mine once described taking credit for what "might have happened" as "coming back from where we've never been." Counterhistory is just plain fun that way. I mean, think about science fiction. It's filled with the premise that changing one tiny thing changes us to cave people in the year 2020, let alone killing off a "great man." In fact, I once watched a sci fi flick (can't remember which one), where a really great scientist was killed by a time traveller, and when he returned, the world was just the same. He asked, what the hell? The scientists explained that the old sci fi theories of the importance of any one individual or theory in sci fi were just silly-- male ego at it's worst. No one "great person's" death ever matters (goes the flick), because someone always takes their place!

This book is that kind of fun and joy, with a lot of "belief suspension" in the form of very well researched factual details to help us buy into the ride even more. It is intellectually stimulating, a bit tongue in cheek, and will put to rest the idea that history can't be a page turner. The "missing context" wasn't that natural selection was so hard to buy, it was that the sweet and stuffy British loved their little dogs so much, they couldn't imagine the dog eat dog brutality of Darwin's take on adaptation.

A lot of "old" Darwinian ideas (like the eons it takes to mask the process) have been eclipsed today by molecular and even synaptic and ionic charge (electronic) Darwinism, where the "evolution" of oscillatory spike patterns in the brain take nanoseconds, and provide a crucible for what amounts to competition that seems inevitable. The problem isn't suspending disbelief in this new context, it is the near impossibility of imagining lack of selection at the speed of viral change, which in the case of neurons, approaches the speed of light. Even so, Bowler is so knowledgeable about the impact of the theory that he does a truly amazing job of getting us to "try" to picture it anyway.

Bowler's not an apologist, but in rewriting history with such a deft hand, he asks us (subtly) if there is perhaps a kinder and gentler way for religious folks and scientists to get along, without the jarring polarization of cruel nature vs. sweet angels, or Godlike souls vs. barely above monkey gene passers. Without "taking sides" (which is why all extremists will hate this book), he does an outstanding job of creating alternate realities that demonstrate smoother transitions, and grey areas, and conciliation, are possible.

In another recent science joyride (The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible) another author (Fortnow) tells a story of how different life would be if we solved the P-NP problem, turning humans into deities in some senses, but making privacy and personal accomplishment impossible in others. It is a thrilling and scary prospect. This book is a fun read, a page turner, light but making you reconsider many myths on every page-- highly recommended. In the end, will you side with the thousands of sci fi writers who believe changing one thing can radically change history, or the few who say it won't change anything? If you're into God, you might say that "He would still execute the history we see..." and if you're into science, you might say, "In which universe? In quantum terms, the world Bowler describes already exists, as do all others, so nothing is really ever gained or lost."

An enjoyable "side effect" of this book in our own life is the introspection that makes us wonder if one different turn in our own personal history would have brought us to an entirely different "destiny." Not many books do that! The wonder it elicits makes us consider how we personally got here, where we are... or might be... compared to... Like many alternate reality genre books, this book cleverly takes us out of our reality for a bit, which, like a really well written sci fi novel, can be both educational and fun.

I don't mean to minimize the importance of the evolution debate, but as Erwin Schrodinger said, it's hard to debate folks who are unable to temporarily suspend their myths (on either side!!). Bowler doesn't minimize the seriousness either, he just refuses to make the book boring by being ponderous, thank God... or buyer selection... you decide.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good theories 2 May 2013
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is about a great question, what if Darwin never made the discoveries we over look in todays society? This was an interesting read and it is hard to imagine the society we know today without the discoveries of Darwin. I would gladly recommend this for any Biology major or anyone who is in some way shape or form interested about science or nature.
2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless 24 Jan 2014
By RR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This must be one of the most pointless books ever written - if Darwin hadn't come up with the theory someone else would have - with the exact same results except the dim witted creationists would be hating someone else.
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bowler sends himself and other Darwinists on one last fools errand 16 April 2014
By Dr Mike Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this book, (Bowler 2013) Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin, Professor Bowler - Professor emeritus of the history of science at Queens University Belfast - creates a counterfactual history of how things might have turned out had Darwin died aboard the Beagle and never written about natural selection.

His book is well written and entertaining once you get beyond the necessarily very thorough caveats about the usefulness of thinking counter-factually in the introduction. However, it contains significant and unforgivable errors. That I am no Darwinist and no science historian and yet the fact that I know them to be 100% erroneous does not bode well for Bowler or Chicago University Press and it's so-called "expert" peer review system!

A book such as Bowler's takes a lot of work - blood sweat tears and even bone marrow - but his credulous parroting of the Darwinian myth that Matthew's published discovery of natural selection did not reach the brains of either Darwin or Wallace is his utter downfall. An error of fact that, unfortunately, makes his entire book a fool's errand. All is not lost of course. He could bring out a second edition with Patrick Matthew as the protagonist.

In this review, I prove my point. On which note, what follows is a brief presentation of Bowler's errors and the published evidence in the literature that proves him to be 100 per cent wrong.

Error of fact 1:

On page 54 Bowler (2013) writes of Patrick Matthew:

`Patrick Matthew may well have stated the idea of natural selection as early as 1831, but he did nothing to explore its implications or to persuade his readers that it had the potential to revolutionize biology. His contribution is worth noting, but to suggest that is provides the basis for dismissing Darwin as the true founder of the theory is to misunderstand the whole process of how scientific revolution happens.'

In point of disconfirming fact for Bowler's argument:

Other great discoverers, such as Mendel, Fleming, and Higgs, did not take their ideas forward, but others did. The main issue, therefore, in the story of Matthew, Darwin and Wallace is simply to determine whether or not Matthew influenced Darwin or Wallace. Focusing upon that question, we do know that Matthew fully articulated his discovery of natural selection in a publication 27 years before Darwin and Wallace (1858) replicated it. And we know that both Darwin (1859) and Wallace claimed to have also discovered natural selection independently of one another (Darwin and Wallace 1858). Darwin (1860 and 1861) specifically claimed no-prior knowledge of Matthew's discovery and Wallace (1871; 1905) less specifically, simply claimed to have discovered it independently.

We now know (see Sutton 2014) that Loudon (1832), Selby (1842) and Chambers (1832) each cited Matthew's book before being at the epicentre of influence and facilitation of Darwin's and Wallace' published work on evolution. That fact alone proves that Matthew in fact did influence others of the importance of his discovery. And those others - via 'knowledge contamination' - must most surely have influenced both Darwin and Wallace.

So Nullius in Verba Charles Darwin! Because other naturalists who influenced you actually cited Matthew's book pre-1858!

(1) Loudon edited and published Blyth's (1835 and 1836) hugely influential papers on evolution - papers which Bowler mentions as having stated several key concepts of natural selection. And Darwin (1861) freely admitted the great contribution Blyth made to his own thinking on the topic.

(2) Chambers (1832) cited Matthew's book and then went on (Chambers 1844) to publish the Vestiges of Creation - a book which Both Wallace and Darwin admitted was a great influence on thinking about natural selection and organic evolution in general.

(3) Selby (1842) cited Matthews book many times and commented upon his key natural selection notion of power of occupancy. And Selby edited and published Wallace's (1855) famous Sarawak paper - which contained many examples of key natural selection ideas. Darwin also read that paper pre-1858.

That three of only seven naturalists, newly discovered to have cited Matthew's book in the literature, should have played such essential roles in influencing, editing and publishing the work of Darwin and Wallace proves beyond all reasonable doubt that Matthew did persuade his readers that natural selection had the potential to revolutionize biology. Bowler is proven wrong, because under the very criteria that Darwinists such as Bowler specifically created to exclude Matthew from his rightful place as an immortal great thinker of science, the new discovery of his certain indirect influence upon Darwin and Wallace, means that as both first discoverer and proven influencer Matthew now has full and complete priority over Darwin and Wallace for the discovery of natural selection. Perhaps Darwinists would now like to exercise their right to cognitive dissonance and invent some new `bury the Scot' criteria to protect their namesake from being knocked off the pedestal he fought to so hard for them to put him on?

Error of fact 2

On page 31 Bowler writes that Wallace missed the key element of using artificial selection to explain natural selection.
Bowler (2013, p. 31):

`Alfred Russel Wallace also conceived a basic idea of natural selection, although we shall see that he understood its implications rather differently. Wallace also missed key elements of the case Darwin presented, most obviously the analogy between artificial and natural selection.'

However, Bowler very conveniently fails to mention that Eiseley (1979, pp.71-73) believed Darwin plagiarised Matthew's (1831) prior use of the analogy of artificial selection to explain natural selection and even replicated a specific example of trees raised in nurseries in his unpublished essay of 1844.

Bowler has penned another absolute fallacy by telling us that Wallace did not deploy the artificial selection analogy. Because in his own Linnean Society paper, Wallace (see Darwin and Wallace 1858), whilst specimen hunting in the jungles of the Far East, in actual fact, does incredibly replicate Matthew's prior- discovery that artificial selection is the key to explaining natural selection. Wallace (1858) wrote:

`...those that prolong their existence can only be the most perfect in health and vigour - those who are best able to obtain food regularly, and avoid their numerous enemies. It is, as we commenced by remarking, "a struggle for existence," in which the weakest and least perfectly organized must always succumb.' [And]: `We see, then, that no inferences as to varieties in a state of nature can be deduced from the observation of those occurring among domestic animals. The two are so much opposed to each other in every circumstance of their existence, that what applies to the one is almost sure not to apply to the other. Domestic animals are abnormal, irregular, artificial; they are subject to varieties which never occur and never can occur in a state of nature: their very existence depends altogether on human care; so far are many of them removed from that just proportion of faculties, that true balance of organization, by means of which alone an animal left to its own resources can preserve its existence and continue its race.'

By failing to discover who Matthew influenced, who in turn must have influenced Darwin and Wallace, Bowler's (2013) entire book is a fool's errand because it is based on the false premise that Darwin and Wallace were independent discoverers of natural selection. To compound that dysology Bowler, creates the fallacy that Wallace did not replicate Matthew's prior use of artificial selection as an analogy to explain natural selection. Bowler's deploys that specific fallacy to make the case that Darwin was an original thinker. Clearly, the hard facts prove that nothing could be further from the truth. Because both Darwin and Wallace both audaciously replicated Matthew's use of artificial selection.

Here is just one example among many of what Matthew (1831) wrote on this precise issue in the main body of his book:

`Man's interference, by preventing this natural process of selection among plants, independent of the wider range of circumstances to which he introduces them, has increased the differences in varieties particularly in the more domesticated kinds...'

In his unpublished essay of 1844, Darwin wrote:

`In the case of forest trees raised in nurseries, which vary more than the same trees do in their aboriginal forests, the cause would seem to lie in their not having to struggle against other trees and weeds, which in their natural state doubtless would limit the conditions of their existence...'

We should not actually be in the least bit surprised to find Wallace replicating Matthew's artificial selection analogy to explain his discovery, because Selby, the editor and publisher of Wallace's (1855) Sarawak paper, cited Matthew's book many times in his own book on forest trees (Selby 1842), which is an irrefutable case of Matthewian knowledge contamination of Wallace's pre-Origin work. I made that particular discovery in 2013. It was completely undetected by anyone until I published it in (Sutton 2014). So much then for Bowler's uncritical parroting of the Darwinist myth that Matthew never influenced anyone with his discovery.

Error of fact 3: Bowler Deploys Darwin's sly Appendix Myth

Darwin knew full well that Matthew's unique ideas were in both the main body of his book and in its Appendix. Indeed he wrote to his friend Joseph Hooker admitting as much (Darwin 1860b). Yet still Darwin went on to lie (Darwin 1861) that Matthew's ideas were brief and buried in his book's appendix as an excuse for not having read them and for his fallacious claim that those ideas went unnoticed pre-Origin of Species. Bowler merely parrots Darwin's great lie, flying in the face of the fact that Matthew's ideas run throughout the book where they take up many pages - including Matthew's artificial selection analogy, and the unique name for his discovery. Indeed, as outlined above; the very artificial selection analogy that Bowler (2013 - pp. 56-58) admits Matthew used is in the main body of his book - not its appendix.

See Sutton 2014 for hard proof of how page after page of Matthew's (1831) text on natural selection is in the main body of his book.

Another Darwinian Myth in the Making

In the weird unscholarly Darwinist tradition of writing that you are personally naming or calling something, when it has already been thus named by others, Bowler gives the false impression that he is uniquely coining his own term and its concept (see my blog on Richard Dawkins doing the exact same thing). In this case, Bowler (2013, p 139) writes:

'The formalist perspective encouraged a more structured progressionism that I call "developmentalism". '

But Bowler never coined the term developmentalism, because its been used by natural scientists since 1869. For example, see the Anthropological Review (1869, p.ixxxix):

`He dissented from developmentalism, we believe decidedly it has been said by Professor Welcker that although he was sceptical upon the descendance hypothesis he reserved himself expectant but the readers of the well argued exposition of his views entitled. Some Remarks on the Succession and Development of Animal Organisation on the surface of our globe, in the different periods of its existence, would rather conclude that he had decided against developmentalism after careful and thorough investigation.'

By giving such a powerfully false impression that he has coined the term "developmentalism", Bowler engages in exactly the same type of Darwinist dysology that led so many Darwinists to go into print with their erroneous beliefs that Darwin coined the term and concept `natural selection' and that Richard Dawkins coined the terms and concepts of the `selfish gene' and, most ironically, `replicator'. Of course, Darwin and Dawkins did no such thing. But, just like Bowler in 'Darwin Deleted', they sure as hell gave the self-serving impression that they are being orginal by naming terms and ideas that are, in fact, pre-named and pre-owned.

Discussion and conclusions

Bowler's weird error of fact, in claiming that Wallace, pre-1858, did not use the artificial selection analogy first used by Matthew to explain natural selection, led him ultimately to draw the 100 per cent wrong conclusion to crucially inform his ultimate prediction about what would have happened had Darwin drowned pre-Origin (Bowler 2013, p170):

`Wallace would not have used the analogy between natural and artificial selection...'

Surely this amazingly massive error, and the failure of any Darwinist to spot it before I, is further evidence that leading Darwinists are suffering from dreadful bias when it comes to assessing the originality of their namesake?

That Bowler's book passed peer review, and has been highly praised by fellow biologists and science historians, is indicative of a widespread and very deep-seated scientific monopoly on 'knowledge' that is facilitated by conflict of interest when it comes to judging who has priority for the discovery of natural selection. Failing to apply the scientific principle of nullius in verba (on the word alone of no one), it seems that Darwinists have been unable to see that their namesake is only their namesake due to their own failure to investigate Darwin's (1861) impudent claim that Matthew's ideas went unnoticed until he called Darwin's attention to them in 1860.

If Darwinists refuse to accept now that they are named after the wrong scientist, then we should not be surprised. It is important to understand that those calling themselves a Darwinist will have a colossal conflict of interest when it comes to judging whether someone not called Darwin should have priority over their hero for the very idea that made him famously their namesake. In light of the new discovery, that Matthew did influence Darwin and Wallace pre-1858, we should expect Darwinists to experience cognitive dissonance and set about making a number of implausible arguments along the lines that Matthewian knowledge contamination from Loudon, Chambers and Selby cannot be proven to have occurred. Failing that, we should expect them to create a new made-for Matthew excuse to deny his priority. Perhaps Darwinists will now newly create a third criteria for priority? Perhaps they will argue next that it is not the originator who influenced others to take a discovery forward that has priority for a discovery but whoever more famously convinced the wider world of the veracity of that discovery? After all that is exactly what appears to have happened by default in the case of Richard Dawkins and the 'selfish gene' and - with exquisite backside biting irony - the 'selfish replicator' (Sutton 2013).

The Darwinist Bowler is very far from alone in creating his own and spreading old fallacies, lies and myths to keep Patrick Matthew buried in relative obscurity. One cannot help wondering, how Professor Bowler - an expert historian of science - could have unwittingly made so many glaring factual errors? More so, his book is published by the prestigious University of Chicago Press, which means that it will have undergone expert peer review. How could the reviewers possibly fail to spot those obvious errors of fact? Surely it cannot be because they serve to perpetuate the myth that Darwin and Wallace each discovered natural selection independently of Matthew, can it?

Bowler's 2013 dysology sits among many other examples, by other authors, publishing with prestigious scientific publishers, which confirms the Dysology Hypothesis that poor scholarship facilitates and encourages others to get away with publishing further poor scholarship. Moreover, it is yet another example from a long list of scientific publications, by major science publishers, which are written by Darwinists who have, since 1860, managed to contain the threat of Patrick Matthew by publishing numerous downright fallacies, lies and myths.

References

The Anthropological Review (1869) Volume 7.

Bowler, P. J. (2013) Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.

Blyth, E. 1835. An attempt to classify the "varieties" of animals. The Magazine of Natural History. (8) (1), Parts 1-2.

Blyth, E. 1836. Observations on the various seasonal and other external Changes which regularly take place in Birds more particularly in those which occur in Britain; with Remarks on their great Importance in indicating the true Affinities of Species; and upon the Natural System of Arrangement. The Magazine of Natural History: Volume 9. p. 393 - 409.

Chambers, R. 1832. Chambers's Edinburgh Journal. William Orr. Saturday March 24th p. 63.

Chambers, R. 1844. Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. New York. Wiley and Putnum. (published anonymously).

Darwin, C. R. and Wallace, A. R. (1858) On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of London.

Darwin, C. R. (1860a) Natural selection. Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette no. 16 (21 April): 362-363.(This is Darwin's letter in response to Matthew's in the Gardeners Chronicle where Darwin clearly indicates he had no prior knowledge of Matthew's book).

Darwin, C. (1860b) Letter to Hooker. 13th April. Darwin Correspondence Project. Darwin Correspondence Database, [...]

Darwin, C. R. (1861) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. (Third Edition) London. John Murray.

Eiseley, L. (1979) Darwin and the Mysterious Mr X: New Light on the Evolutionists. New York. E. P. Dutton.

Loudon, J.C. 1832. Matthew Patrick On Naval Timber and Arboriculture with Critical Notes on Authors who have recently treated the Subject of Planting. Gardener's Magazine. Vol. VIII. p.703.

Matthew, P (1831) On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; With a critical note on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting. Edinburgh. Adam Black. [...]

Selby, P. J. (1842) A history of British forest-trees: indigenous and introduced. London. Van Voorst.

Sutton, M. (2013)The Selfish Gene Myth is Bust: Richard Dawkins is an Invented Originator. BestThinking.com

Sutton, M. (2014) Internet Dating with Darwin: New Discovery that Darwin and Wallace were Influenced by Matthew's Prior-Discovery. BestThinking.com

Wallace, A. R. 1855. On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 2. 16. 184-196

Wallace, A. R. (1871) Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. A Series of Essays. New York. Macmillan and Co.

Wallace, A. R. (1905) My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, Volume 1. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. Note: Taken here from digitally printed version (2011), Cambridge University Press.
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