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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. W. Salter   18 June 1867

8 Bolton Road | St Johns Wood

June 18/67

Dear Mr Darwin

You really must let me send you something in return for your valued aid—which I hope I shall never require again.1 A death in our family deeply regretted, has had this effect, that it just clears me from vexing liabilities & enables me to work with quiet mind.

I did apply to the Royal Socy. some time ago—and they gave me £50, a princely sum for me then. I hope to be a subsr to that fund some day—soon.2

Let me send you the Suppt. Eng. Boty. You may not care for British plants, but few men have taught us so much of their true meaning—& the causes of the local distribution of species. I believe in you heartily, half way.

It will cost me nothing—so I shall send it. I believe few works on Botany can boast better plates—and if I can only get the means I will finish it, please God, before another two years are out.3

I am obliged to write: for we never see you at the Geol. Socy. and tomorrow, Wednesday, is our last meeting for the season. Can you not come. We have few philosophers among us. Even Huxley has cut us, and Phillips seldom comes. We have only raw material except Lyell & one or two others. Think of it, & dont let it go down.4

There is a glut of papers on Wednesday & I shall exhibit the oldest certain fossil known—a Lingula from the red Cambrian rocks.5

Eozoon is very mythical indeed. Rupert Jones says it will pass next into the superstitious stage, & then the positive— But I am all but positive it is mineral only, & have held that from the first—no proof you will say that the opinion is just.6

Yours ever truly, & obliged | J. W. Salter

C. Darwin Esqre


Salter had applied to CD for financial assistance in May (see letter from J. W. Salter, 14 May 1867 and n. 1).
No letter from CD to Salter has been found, but CD had evidently advised him to apply to the Royal Society of London for help; the society administered a scientific relief fund for the aid of ‘scientific men, or their families’ (Record of the Royal Society of London, p. 111).
Salter refers to the Supplement to the English botany of the late Sir J. E. Smith and Mr. Sowerby (W. J. Hooker, Sowerby [et al.] 1831–63), of which he was the proprietor. See letter from J. W. Salter, 14 May 1867 and nn. 3 and 5.
Salter refers to the Geological Society of London, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Phillips, and Charles Lyell.
Salter gave two papers at the 19 June meeting of the Geological Society: ‘On some tracks of Pteraspis (?) in the Upper Ludlow Sandstone’, and, jointly with Henry Hicks, ‘On a new Lingulella from the Red Lower Cambrian rocks of St. Davids’ (see Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 23 (1867): 333–41).
CD had evidently asked Salter’s opinion of Eozoon canadense. See letter from J. V. Carus, 11 February 1867, n. 5. Salter presumably refers to Thomas Rupert Jones, a fellow member of the Geological Society, who was alluding to Auguste Comte’s three stages of thought: the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive.


Offers to send parts of J. Syme, English botany [1863–86] in appreciation of CD’s aid.

Comments on CD’s species theory.

Will exhibit Cambrian fossil at next meeting of Geological Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
John William Salter
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St John’s Wood
Source of text
DAR 177: 14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5571,” accessed on 21 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15