From John William Salter 31 December 1866
8 Bolton Road | St. Johns Wood.
Dear Mr Darwin.
I think you know how badly off I have been these last 〈 〉 years—struggling with the most adverse circumstances—as well as frequent nervous prostration which takes more than half the life & sense out of me when I want it most.1
This last year I have broken down for 4 months—and have been pressed beyond measure in circumstances, in consequence.
Are you rich enough to aid me at all—and make me your debtor for any help I can give in looking over the paleozoic part of your reasonings in your great book.2 I do not know how else to help you.
Everything I have tried has failed more or less—but I have work to do of various kinds—which will keep me just afloat if the pressure of anxiety is taken off my mind.3
We have retrenched & retrenched, & wife & daughters keep school,4 & in spite of all they & I can do I cannot get rid of £200 debt.
Of course you will understand how hard it is for me thus to speak but my unfortunate relations with the Survey prevents Murchison from doing anything to aid me.5
I have a work, the only property now left me, which I have tried to sell & cannot except at ruinous loss., nor can I since the money crisis, borrow at all.6
I am trying to get aid from the Roy. Soc. fund (as Hawkins did)7 but all this is uncertain & unlikely too I fear. Can I do any literary work for you? I know you will forgive my asking you—for I have tried to be independent & failed— And I do not justify my faults of temper, which now I think have had a large share in pulling me down—
It is hard to establish a new business when one is 46— So few channels are open— the British Museum is closed against all but young men.8 Lecturing failed with me—& I lost money by it— Engraving I still do, but want of capital of any kind obliges me to do all the mechanical part as well, and even a young unmarried man finds that a badly paying affair.
Thank God, my family are all well now, & one at least is off my hands.9
Yours truly | J. W. Salter.
I trust you will burn my letter— I had hoped for so different a career—& even yet I trust to get on—if I can once get over the pressure which keeps £.s.d. in letters of fire before me—
JWS is seeking financial help. He is in debt and struggling and wonders if there is any paid service he might perform for CD.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5329,” accessed on 27 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5329