From John William Salter 4 January 1
8, B. Road | St. John’s Wood
Dear Mr Darwin
The very kind way in which you have done this takes off the feeling with which one receives aid from many.2
Believe me, it has been 3 years long hard struggle before I thought of asking any help but what my hands & brain could give me— The latter has given way a little I fear, but I am better now.3
I feel sure I shall be able in some way to return yr. kindness
The accompg. pamphlets you will not care for perhaps—though one refers to the new formation.4
It is a source of great pleasure to me to find that all the improvements in classification made in England are adopted abroad— They dont lead us as a rule, but we them.
I have a letter from old Sedgwick still as lively as ever—and I shall have a little work to do for him in the arrangt. of his Museum soon.5
Could I have got my own English Botany finished, I believe I should have been tolerably independent of accidents. But the same cause that has made it necessary to write to you prevented me from completing & making it valuable—6
Should you have any neighbours who possess English Botany—or yourself care about it, I enclose a prospectus & also a jeu d’esprit of my sister’s on my hard fate, as she calls it—7 It is more amusing than my papers—
I must tell you fairly, that the further I examine with the aid of your new theory, the more facts appear to me to agree with it— There are still some very important exceptions that make me think there is another law beside it not recognized— I do not think that breaks in the geol. succession are sufficient to account for the sudden leaps in life among the old strata. e.g. from Cephalopoda to Fish.8
But I follow yr. direction & make notes occasionally of these, or rather I will, for three years have passed away since I could get time for this.
Of course everybody agrees about species thats settled—but why do Entomostraca univalve Mollusca, & amphibia begin with such high forms? I would add Fish, but I might run the risk of saying something outrè & you have always Huxley9 at command.
J W Salter
In Plants you have it all your own way. Cryptogamia—Coniferæ—Phanerogamia, Diœcia10
Thanks CD for his kindness and hopes one day to return it.
Finds more and more observations fall in with CD’s theory but still finds it difficult to account for the sudden leaps in the fossil record and to explain why some organisms first appear as such high forms.
- highness and lowness
- imperfection of geological record
- negative attitude/assessment
- positive attitude/assessment
- reception of Darwinism
- species, speciation
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4969,” accessed on 23 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4969