skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To St G. J. Mivart   8 January [1872]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 8th


My dear Sir

I most fully agree with what you say about pursuing the truth at all costs.1 I will not enter on any details, as I am convinced that nothing which I could say would have any influence on you.— If I had not been personally known to you, I shd. not have been vexed at the spirit which seems to me & to some others to pervade all your articles in relation to me, notwithstanding general expressions to the contrary.— I can say this confidently, as I read the Month long before I knew that you were the author, & considered carefully all the arguments, without caring about the denunciation of atheism &c., as I had been well accustomed to covert sneers of all kinds & to denunciations of all kinds.—2 As it is your several articles have mortified me more than those of any other man, excepting Prof. Owen; & for the same reasons, as I was silly enough to think he felt friendly towards me.—3 I hope that you will now let this correspondence drop, as I want to drive the whole subject out of my mind; & I can protect myself for the future by not reading your controversial writings, only those devoted to ordinary science.— So you can pursue your course, & I can pursue mine for a little longer, without our interfering with each other.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


Mivart had published books and articles critical of CD’s theory of natural selection, including one in the Catholic journal, the Month ([Mivart] 1869). He also published On the genesis of species (Mivart 1871a), and an anonymous review of Descent in Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871c), which CD correctly suspected was by him, and a riposte to Thomas Henry Huxley in Contemporary Review (Mivart 1872a).
CD had enjoyed apparently cordial relations with Richard Owen, who described fossil mammal specimens from the Beagle voyage, until Owen published a hostile review of Origin in the Edinburgh Review ([Owen] 1860; see Correspondence vol. 8 and ODNB s.v. Owen, Sir Richard).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1869. Difficulties of the theory of natural selection. Month 11: 35–53, 134–53, 274–89.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

[Owen, Richard.] 1860b. [Review of Origin & other works.] Edinburgh Review 111: 487–532.


Wishes their correspondence regarding their differences to be dropped, as CD feels that nothing he could say would have any influence on StGJM.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
St George Jackson Mivart
Sent from
JA 8 72
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (General Special Collections DC AL 1/18)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8149,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20