Sloane was no Darwinist; the flora and fauna, animals and artefacts he was to acquire articulated a vision of providential order.
Not only was there an obvious tautology describing the collection but Sloane could hardly have been a Darwinist. Sloane, whose collection formed the basis of the British Museum was born in 1660 and died in 1753. The Origin of Species was published in 1859.
I do hope the Victoria and Albert Museum has a copy of Ernst Mayr’s The Growth of Biological Thought for the author of the review is its new director, the former Labour MP, Tristram Hunt.