Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

The Call of the Wild Flower

The Times Literary Supplement, July 20, 1922

Sir,—Your reviewer is mistaken in thinking that I needlessly imported into my book any “odious comparison” between flowers wild and tame. Such comparisons have long been widely prevalent in the common depreciation of wild flowers as “weeds”; and it was necessary to show how injuriously this prejudice has affected our native flora. The less brilliant flowers are despised as being valueless and unowned; hence the practice of transplanting the handsomer species into cultivation, and so robbing the wilderness in the interests of the garden. This being the case, there was nothing invidious in asserting what appear to some flower-lovers to be the superior attractions of the wild. Had I not done so, I should have neglected my main purpose, which was to dwell on the personal aspect of flower; for I think there is more personality in free plants than in any “prisoners of the parterre,” however beautiful these may be.

When I proposed, with what you call “half-humorous truculence” (but I trust with less of truculence than of humour), that the captives should be set free, I was, of course, referring to native British plants that have been adopted by the gardener, not to the more delicate aliens which, as you gravely remind me, would not long survive their release.

Yours faithfully,

Henry S. Salt