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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   22 December [1874]1

Down, Beckenham, Kent.

Dec. 22nd,

My dear Huxley,

Hooker has sent me your note to him to read, and I must write a few lines to say again how I honour you both for being willing to undertake so disagreeable a job for our sakes and pro bono publico.2 Scarcely anything in my life has made me so indignant and pained me so much as this attack on George. If Mivart sends any answer I should not be surprised if he says the article was much altered. He said this about the article in the “Month” in which I was attacked as an atheist, &c.:3 in this case I will see that Murray hears that the responsibility of the libel is thrown on the Editor’s shoulders.4 I cannot think what you will do if Mivart takes no notice. I do not believe that Mivart will put down the whole affair “to the account of my short temper,” as you are pleased to say;5 he must know you too well for that. Hooker is still inclined (after he hears the result of your move) to write direct to Mivart,6 and I think this has some advantages. I shall be very anxious to hear the result. From what you say I shall not write until the ground is clear, so when I know that he admits the article or will give no answer, I shall write in very plain terms, and so come to a dead cut

Yours very gratefully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 December 1874.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 December 1874. Pro bono publico: for the public good (Latin). Huxley and Joseph Dalton Hooker had been discussing how to respond to an attack apparently by St George Jackson Mivart on an article by George Howard Darwin (‘On beneficial restrictions to liberty of marriage’; G. H. Darwin 1873a) in an anonymous article in the Quarterly Review criticising works by John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor ([Mivart] 1874, p. 70).
CD refers to ‘Difficulties of the theory of natural selection’ ([Mivart] 1869), which was published anonymously in the Month, a Catholic journal. There is an annotated copy of [Mivart] 1869 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. No letter has been found in which Mivart claimed the article had been altered; he may have discussed it with CD in person.
John Murray was the publisher of Quarterly Review; the editor was William Smith.


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

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1874b. Primitive man: Tylor and Lubbock. [Essay review of the works of John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor.] Quarterly Review 137 (1874): 40–77.


Thanks THH and Hooker for defending George Darwin against Mivart’s libel.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 145: 273
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9769,” accessed on 30 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22