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Darwin Correspondence Project

To St G. J. Mivart   23 January [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Jan. 23d

My dear Sir

Our letters have crossed. I am very much obliged for the kind one just received. I am sorry I added the P.S. but I truly thought you wd. be very glad of a fair excuse for not writing to me.—2

At p. 102 you speak of my dogmatic assertion “that it is a false belief” that natural species &c &c.—3 It sounds very dogmatic, but as I have not hitherto been accused of dogmatism, I shd. be very glad to alter the expression in any future edition.— I have hunted through the most likely places in the 5th Edit of Origin & in two chapters in Variation under Domestication,4 & I find only the most guarded expressions, resting chiefly on my failure to find Evidence of sudden & great changes, & the admission that the conditions of life may have produced a considerable effect, especially in book on Domestic animals.— All this makes me very anxious to correct so positive a statement, unaccompanied, as it appears in your book, with any softening expressions.— So pray oblige me & forgive me for troubling you.—

I will not positively make any more remarks, & will only again thank you for the very kind expressions in your note & remain

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from St G. J. Mivart, 22 January 1871.
In Mivart 1871a, p. 102, Mivart wrote, ‘Now, considering the number of instances adduced of sudden modifications in domestic animals, it is somewhat startling to meet with Mr. Darwin’s dogmatic assertion that it is “a false belief” that natural species have often originated in the same abrupt manner.’ See also letter to Francis Darwin, [after 21 January 1871] and n. 2, which relates to a similar claim by Mivart.
CD refers to Origin 5th ed. and Variation.


Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.


Acknowledges StGJM’s kind letter. [See 7451.]

Offers to alter the "dogmatic assertion" referred to on page 102 [of StGJM’s On the genesis of species] but in 5th ed. of Origin and in Variation CD finds only qualified expressions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
St George Jackson Mivart
Sent from
Source of text
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums
Physical description
ALS 4pp & photocopy

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7453A,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

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