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Letter 7710

Mivart, St G. J. to Darwin, C. R.

23 Apr 1871

Summary

Feels their conflict lies in the field of philosophy rather than in that of physical science. Regrets that they differ so widely.

Transcription

7, North Bank, | N.W.

Sunday, | April 23d | 1871.

My dear Sir,

I thank you very much for your kind letter received yesterday.I can assure you that it was a very great pleasure indeed to meto express agreement with you and that it has been, & ever will be,a most painful effort on my part to force myself to state mydissent from one who has so many just titles to my esteem.f1

As to the “Monkey & Mushroom”—I could hardly make my viewsclear without going into Metaphysics—which just now, I cannotwell do.f2

I hope, some day, to defend my position at length, in the meantimeI may observe that our conflict lies rather in the field of“Philosophy” than in that of “Physical science”.

I rejoice much to be sure of this because I do not recollect thatyou have ever (either in conversation or by writings) laid claim tohave made any special study of metaphysics and because, therefore,I can feel that while combatting (as duty compels me to do) positionsyou adopt, I am not so much combatting you, as others to whoseviews your scientific labours give additional currency.

I am more & more persuaded that it is philosophical questions whichwill form the subjects of important controversy in our own immediatefuture.

Thanking you very much for the gratifying expressions towards me youhave been so kind as to use & wishing with all my heart we did notdiffer so widely I remain, with kindest regards, My dear Sir |Your’s very truly | St Geo. Mivart.

DAR 171: 194

true

Footnotes

f1
See letter to St G. J. Mivart, 21 April [1871].
f2
See letter to St G. J. Mivart, 21 April [1871] andn. 4. In Man and apes : an exposition of structuralresemblances and differences bearing upon questions of affinity andorigin (Mivart 1873), Mivart compares simian and human anatomy,concluding that the ‘much vaunted Gorilla … is essentially no lessa brute and no more a man than is the humblest member of the family towhich it belongs’ (p. 193).
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