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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John William Salter   28 February [1862]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 28th

My dear Sir

Mr. Sowerby2 sent me the enclosed & I see on corner it is to be returned. I have been very glad to see it; for it certainly seems a very striking series; though there is a rather wide gap between the Coal & Tertiary. And I further presume the true affinities of Crustaceans must be very difficult to make out in Fossils.3 Nevertheless such series delight me.— I wish I could persuade you to publish papers on such subjects.4

That series which you showed me of the Brachiopods was very striking.5 Its publication would counter-balance half-a-dozen of the most spiteful Reviews,6

With many thanks | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the series of Crustacea (see n. 3, below) and by the mourning border on the notepaper, which was used in January and February 1862, for Charlotte Langton, Emma Darwin’s elder sister.
CD probably refers to James de Carle Sowerby, Salter’s father-in-law (ODNB). Sowerby’s brother, George Brettingham Sowerby, had been engaged by CD to do the illustrations for Orchids.
The enclosure has not been found, but may have been a draft of a series illustrated in Salter 1862, p. 90 (read May 1862). The illustration showed a series of Phyllopoda (a subclass of the Crustacea), going from the Triassic to the Tertiary period without showing any intermediate forms. The Crustacea discussed by Salter have since been reclassified as part of the subclass Phyllocarida.
Salter did, in fact, publish the series of Crustacea (see n. 3, above). CD had earlier expressed his regret that he ‘could not persuade Mr Salter to publish a little paper on the subject’ of the affinities among the brachiopods in the context of his transmutation theory (Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Thomas Davidson, 26 April 1861).
Salter had shown CD a series of fossil brachiopods at the Museum of Practical Geology in April 1860. Salter had made a chart, following CD’s own illustration of divergence facing p. 117 in Origin (see Correspondence vol. 8, first letter to Andrew Murray, 28 April [1860] and n. 12, and Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Thomas Davidson, 26 April 1861 and n. 3).
On the reviews of Origin, see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VII and Ellegârcurbr;rd 1990.


CD returns a paper he has received through [G. B.?] Sowerby. He wishes he could persuade his correspondent to publish papers on such subjects. The series on brachiopods was very striking.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John William Salter
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5019,” accessed on 30 July 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)