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Darwin Correspondence Project

To St G. J. Mivart   28 January [1871]

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Jan 28th

My dear Sir

Though I may appear bothersome I must thank you cordially for your letter: it has given me in [every] way sincere pleasure.—1 I have told Murray to send you a copy of Dom. Animals, as I thought you wd not object to keep a copy for my sake.—2 I have found passage ‘false-belief’— The whole with context does not sound to me dogmatic.— One of my Boys has copied passage.—3


Animal and Plants Voll 2. page 414

On the other hand it is certain that the ancon and mauchamp breeds of sheep,4 and almost certain that the niata cattle,5 turnspit6 and pug-dogs, jumper and frizzled fowls,7 short faced tumbler pigeons,8 hook-billed ducks &c, and with plants a multitude of varieties, suddenly appeared in nearly the same state as we now see them. The frequency of these cases is likely to lead to the false belief that natural species have often originated in the same abrupt manner. But we have no evidence of the appearance or at least of the continued procreation under nature of abrupt modifications of structure and various general reasons could be assigned against such a b[el]ief: for instance, without separation a single monstrous variation would almost certainly be soon obliterated by crossing.


CD refers to his publisher, John Murray. Mivart had said that he did not have a copy of Variation (letter from St G. J. Mivart, 26 January 1871).
CD also discussed ancon and Mauchamp sheep in Variation 1: 100.
On niata cattle, see also Variation 1: 89–91.
On turnspit dogs, see also Variation 1: 17.
See also Variation 1: 230.
See also Variation 1: 152–3.


Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


He has found passage on false belief, Variation 2: 414, and does not think the whole with context is dogmatic. [Encloses copy of the passage.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
St George Jackson Mivart
Sent from
JA 28 71
Source of text
DAR 249: 96–7

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7462A,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19