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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   16 September [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept 16

My dear Hooker

I am very sorry to hear about poor Lady Hooker’s suffering illness.— Whenever you can come here, it will make us all uncommonly glad.2 I am very sorry to say that William (who is in Switzerland) has 1st. vol. of Buckle at Southampton, & I thought that the 2d Vol. alone wd not be worth sending.3 I despatched by this morning’s post the 2d. Edit. of Mivart; which is almost the same with 1st. Edit.—4 I am preparing a new & cheap Edit. of Origin, & shall introduce a new chapt. on gradation & on uses of initial commencements of useful structures; for this I observe has produced greatest effect on most persons.5

Everyone of his cases, as it seems to me, can be answered in fairly satisfactory manner. He is very unfair & never says what he must have known could be said on my side. He ignores the effect of use & what I have said in all my later books & editions on the direct effects of the conditions of life, & so-called spontaneous variation.—6 I send you by this post a very clever, but ill-written review from N. America, by friend of Asa Gray, which I have republished.—7

I am glad to hear about Huxley.—8 You never read such strong letters Mivart wrote to me about respect towards me, begging that I would call on him &c &c.9 Yet in the Q. Review he shows the greatest scorn & animosity towards me; & with uncommon cleverness says all that is most disagreeable.—10 He makes me the most arrogant, odious beast that ever lived. I cannot understand him. I suppose that accursed religious bigotry is at the root of it.— Of course he is quite at liberty to scorn & hate me, but why take such trouble to express something more than friendship   It has mortified me a good deal.

Your’s affectionately | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker to Emma Darwin, 15 September 1871.
CD refers to Hooker’s mother, Maria Hooker. Hooker had declined an invitation to visit the Darwins (see letter from J. D. Hooker to Emma Darwin, 15 September 1871).
In his letter to Emma Darwin of 15 September 1871, Hooker had asked CD to send him Henry Thomas Buckle’s History of civilization in England (Buckle 1857–61). CD refers to his son William Erasmus Darwin, who lived in Southampton.
In his letter to Emma Darwin of 15 September 1871, Hooker had asked CD to send him St George Jackson Mivart’s On the genesis of species (Mivart 1871a). The second edition came out in the same year (Mivart 1871b). There is an annotated copy of the first edition in the Darwin Library–CUL, and a lightly annotated copy of the second edition in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 583–9).
CD refers to Origin 6th ed. CD added a chapter called ‘Miscellaneous objections to the theory of natural selection’ to this edition (pp. 168–204), which included sections on these topics. This chapter in large part counters chapter 2 of Mivart 1871a, ‘The incompetency of “natural selection” to account for the incipient stages of useful structures’ (pp. 23–62).
For some of CD’s responses to Mivart 1871a, see the letter to Francis Darwin, [after 21 January 1871].
CD arranged for Chauncey Wright’s article Darwinism: being an examination of Mr. St. George Mivart’s ‘Genesis of species’ (Wright 1871a) to be republished in England (Wright 1871b; see letter to Chauncey Wright, 12 September 1871).
Mivart attacked CD in his review of Descent in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871c; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 September and n. 4).


Buckle, Henry Thomas. 1857–61. History of civilization in England. 2 vols. London: John W. Parker & Son.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Mivart, St George Jackson. 1871a. On the genesis of species. London: Macmillan and Co.

Mivart, St George Jackson. 1871b. On the genesis of species. 2d edition. London and New York: Macmillan and Co.

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1871c. Darwin’s Descent of man. Quarterly Review 131: 47–90.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Wright, Chauncey. 1871a. The genesis of species. [Essay review of St G. J. Mivart’s Genesis of species.] North American Review 113: 63–103.

Wright, Chauncey. 1871b. Darwinism: being an examination of Mr. St. George Mivart’s ‘Genesis of species’. [Reprint of ‘The genesis of species’, North American Review 113 (1871): 63–103, with an appendix.] London: John Murray.


Is preparing new edition of Origin [6th] in which he will introduce new chapter to answer Mivart’s criticisms. Mivart is unfair: suppresses facts in CD’s later editions.

Sends article [by Chauncey Wright, see 7940] reviewing Genesis of species.

Mivart writes to CD full of respect, but reviles him in print.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 204–5
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7949,” accessed on 29 January 2023,

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