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Darwin Correspondence Project

From St G. J. Mivart   23 April 1871

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 me to express agreement with you and that it has been, & ever will be, a most painful effort on my part to force myself to state my dissent from one who has so many just titles to my esteem.1

As to the “Monkey & Mushroom”—I could hardly make my views clear without going into Metaphysics—which just now, I cannot well do.2

I hope, some day, to defend my position at length, in the meantime I 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 that you have ever (either in conversation or by writings) laid claim to have made any special study of metaphysics and because, therefore, I can feel that while combatting (as duty compels me to do) positions you adopt, I am not so much combatting you, as others to whose views your scientific labours give additional currency.

I am more & more persuaded that it is philosophical questions which will form the subjects of important controversy in our own immediate future.

Thanking you very much for the gratifying expressions towards me you have been so kind as to use & wishing with all my heart we did not differ so widely I remain, with kindest regards, My dear Sir | Your’s very truly | St Geo. Mivart.


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


Mivart, St George Jackson. 1873. Man and apes, an exposition of structural resemblances and differences bearing upon questions of affinity and origin. London: Robert Hardwicke.


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

Letter details

Letter no.
St George Jackson Mivart
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, North Bank, 7
Source of text
DAR 171: 194
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7710,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

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