skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

St George Jackson Mivart


St. George Jackson Mivart
St. George Jackson Mivart, Photograph by Barraud & Jerrard, ICV No 27321
Wellcome Library, London

In 1874, the Catholic zoologist St George Jackson Mivart caused Darwin and his son George serious offence. Mivart had previously been a correspondent of Darwin’s, but had written hostile reviews of some of Darwin’s work, as a result of which Darwin had brought their correspondence to an end. The dispute was not resolved until early 1875, and, even then, not to Darwin’s complete satisfaction. The story sheds light on Darwin’s anxiety about the respectability of his views and the views of those associated with him, his reluctance to enter a public debate, the fierce loyalty of his friends, and contemporary codes of behaviour in scientific society. It has been discussed in Gruber 1960, pp. 98–114, and Dawson 2007, pp. 77–81.

George Darwin's article on marriage

In August 1873, George had published an article under the title ‘On beneficial restrictions to liberty of marriage’ in the Contemporary Review (G. H. Darwin 1873b). In this article, George discussed how modern scientific doctrines might be expected in the future to affect personal liberty in the matter of marriage. A better understanding of the inheritance of mental and physical qualities would make people realise that their reproductive choices would have an effect on future society. Francis Galton had written about the possibility of creating an elite who would intermarry as a way of improving the race; George wanted to discuss the consequences of a scheme he thought more likely to be adopted, the prevention of marriage among inferior members of the race. Mental disease seemed to be increasing, and in his view was inheritable, and the most obvious way to deal with it was to introduce restrictions on marriage.

As a first step, he argued, a divorce should not be refused on the grounds of the insanity of either party. The next step would be that insanity should itself be grounds for divorce: ‘as ... no slur would be cast on the character of either party, the divorce proceedings would lose much of their sting, and the patient, should he recover, would suffer in no other respect than does anyone, who is forced by ill-health to retire from any career which has been begun; although, of course, the necessary isolation of the parent from the children would be a peculiarly bitter blow’ (p. 418).

The next steps would be to make proof of never having been insane a prerequisite of marriage, then proof that parents and remoter ancestors were ‘likewise untainted’. These measures were, however, unlikely to be introduced in the near future. Physical health, he thought, should also be attended to by requiring a clean bill of health in both parties before marriage, and ultimately in their parents and ancestors. Felony in either party should also be grounds for divorce. The desired behaviours (in the choice of marriage partners) were unlikely to come about without legislation. In order to assess the probability that people would endure such restrictions, George looked at marital restrictions that had existed in the past or were still current. In the distant past, both marriage within and marriage outside the tribe might have been prohibited in different groups. Most cultures forbade consanguineous marriages to some degree, and some forbade marriages to someone of the same name. In Teutonic communistic bodies, marriage was forbidden to those who had not achieved a certain age or position; the breaking of these customs, by assault, adultery, or pregnancy outside wedlock, was punished savagely, and prostitution was ‘secretly promoted as a check to over-population’ (p. 424). At the present day, some states restricted marriage to those who could support themselves financially, and others granted divorce on very slight causes.

Mivart's review

George’s article appeared to have created very little stir, until, in July 1874, Mivart published an anonymous review of works by John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1874). The general argument of this article was as follows: Lubbock and Tylor were favourable to the monistic view of evolution, therefore any observations of theirs that failed to support this view could be relied upon. Their anthropological investigations suggested that all humans had language, morals, and religion. No transitional race between humans and animals had been found or proved to exist in the past. Therefore ethnology and archaeology, as far as they went, opposed the application of the monistic view to humans, and showed that the theory of evolution was inadequate to explain human qualities and that another factor, namely divine mind, must be introduced as the ‘direct and immediate originator and cause of the existence of its created image, the mind of man’ (p. 76).

Mivart’s argument did not win general assent. Darwin was more struck by the comments on himself and George that occurred throughout the paper.

The following quotations from Mivart’s paper mention Darwin and George:

p. 45: ‘Mr. Darwin, for example, does not exhibit the faintest indication of having grasped [the elementary principles of rational thought and language], yet a clear perception of them, and a direct and detailed examination of his facts with regard to them, was a sine quâ non for attempting, with a chance of success, the solution of the mystery as to the descent of man.’

p. 63: ‘It is one of the calamities of our time and country that unbelievers, instead of, as in France, honestly avowing their sentiments, disguise them by studious reticence—as Mr. Darwin disguised at first his views as to the bestiality of man, and as the late Mr. Mill silently allowed himself to be represented to the public as a believer in God.’

p. 70: ‘Another triumph of the ... Christian period has been the establishment of at least a pure theory of the sexual relations and the protection of the weaker sex against the selfishness of male concupiscence. Now, however, marriage is the constant subject of attack, and unrestrained licentiousness theoretically justified. Mr. George Darwin proposes that divorce should be made consequent on insanity, and coolly remarks that, should the patient recover, he would suffer in no other respect than does anyone that is forced by ill-health to retire from any career he has begun [!]; “although, of course, the necessary isolation of the parent from the children would be a peculiarly bitter blow.” Elsewhere he speaks in an approving strain of the most oppressive laws, and of the encouragement of vice in order to check population. There is no hideous sexual criminality of Pagan days that might not be defended on the principles advocated by the school to which this writer belongs. This repulsive phenomenon affords a fresh demonstration of what France of the Regency and Pagan Rome long ago demonstrated; namely, how easily the most profound moral corruption can co-exist with the most varied appliances of a complex civilisation.’

p. 77: ‘A deep debt of gratitude will indeed be one day due to Mr. Darwin— one difficult to over-estimate. This sentiment, however, will be mainly due to him for the indirect result of his labours. It will be due to him for his having, in fact, become the occasion of the reductio ad absurdum of that system which he set out to maintain—namely, the origin of man by natural selection, and the sufficiency of mechanical causes to account for the harmony, variety, beauty, and sweetness of that teeming world of life, of which man is the actual and, we believe, ordained observer, historian, and master.’

Clearing George's name

On 27 July, Darwin wrote to George: he was thinking of taking legal advice on the affair, and certainly wanted something published to clear George’s name. He was also wondering whether he should break off relations with John Murray, his own publisher and also the proprietor of the Quarterly Review. George took advice from his friends and decided there was no legal recourse, but wanted to write an ‘explicit denial & short account of [his] essay’ and have Darwin send it for publication in the next issue of the Quarterly (letter from G. H. Darwin, 29 July 1874). Darwin hastily advised against the summary of the essay and any mention of himself (letter to G. H. Darwin, [30 July 1874]), and was unhappy with what George sent to him. It was too long and contained an abstract of George’s paper, which Darwin pointed out was not the kind of thing Murray would be likely to wish to circulate (letter to G. H. Darwin, 1 August [1874]). Darwin provided a draft of the much shorter letter that he wanted George to write (George’s first draft has not been found), adding that he thought it very important not even to allude to ‘the insanity question or oppressive laws’.

Darwin’s main objection to the Quarterly Review article was the suggestion that George approved of prostitution (vice); evidently he thought there was no point disputing either divorce in the case of insanity or ‘oppressive laws’, by which George meant the customs of the ‘German communistic bodies’ and others, which might show the comparative acceptability of his own suggestions.

In his reply, George pointed out that he could not avoid reference to the ‘oppressive laws’, since they were mentioned in the text Darwin wanted to quote from the review, and, if George did not repudiate them explicitly, he might be thought to endorse them (letter from G. H. Darwin, 5 August 1874). He sent a second draft, which Darwin approved (letter to G. H. Darwin, [5 or 6 August 1874]), while reiterating his concern that George should deal chiefly with the charge of encouraging licentiousness. A postscript to Darwin’s letter, which may belong to another letter, since it is written on a separate piece of paper, reveals that Darwin had guessed, correctly, the reviewer’s identity: St George Jackson Mivart. George took on board Darwin’s comments and sent a fair copy of his letter with his letter of 6 [August] 1874. George and Darwin were also collaborating over Darwin’s letter to Murray, in which Darwin was to ask Murray to publish George’s letter in the Quarterly. George was anxious not to bring about a rupture between the two of them. Darwin sent George’s letter to Murray with his letter of 11 August 1874, and was no doubt relieved to receive a swift and courteous response, agreeing to all he asked (letter from John Murray, 12 August 1874).

In October, George’s letter appeared, followed by an anonymous rejoinder from Mivart (Quarterly Review 137 (1874): 587–8).

Trinity College, Cambridge,

7th August, 1874.


In the July number of the ‘Quarterly Review’ of the present year reference is made on p. 70, in the article entitled ‘Primitive Man—Tylor and Lubbock,’ to an essay by me, published in the ‘Contemporary Review’ for August 1873, and entitled ‘On Beneficial Restrictions to Liberty of Marriage.’ The passage is as follows:—

‘Elsewhere (pp. 424–5) he (Mr. George Darwin) speaks in an approving strain of the most oppressive laws, and of the encouragement of vice to check population. There is no sexual criminality of Pagan days that might not be defended on the principles advocated by the school to which this writer belongs. This repulsive phenomenon affords a fresh demonstration of what France of the Regency, and Pagan Rome long ago, demonstrated; namely, how easily the most profound moral corruption can co-exist with the most varied appliances of a complex civilisation.’

The Review thus asserts,—

First, that I approve of the encouragement of vice to check population, and of the most oppressive laws.

This I absolutely deny.

These pages (424–5) form part of a merely historical sketch of the various marriage customs and laws which have obtained at various times and places. The sketch is prefaced by a distinct statement that the facts are merely given historically. The laws and customs referred to by the Reviewer are those of the early German communistic bodies, and considerable prominence was given to them on account of their extraordinary nature and barbarity.

Secondly, he asserts that there is no hideous sexual criminality which might not be defended on the principles advocated by such as myself.

I deny that there is any thought or word in my essay which could in any way lend itself to the support of the nameless crimes here referred to.

The reference to myself is moreover introduced by the statement that,—

‘Now, however, marriage is the constant subject of attack, and unrestrained licentiousness theoretically justified.’

The whole object of my essay was to advocate the introduction of further regulations in our marriage laws; and the institution of marriage is attacked only in so far as that I maintained that certain changes therein are required.

Each of these charges is absolutely false and groundless.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, | George Darwin.


To the Editor of the Quarterly Review.

Nothing could have been further from our intention than to tax Mr. Darwin personally (as he seems to have supposed) with the advocacy of laws or acts which he saw to be oppressive or vicious. We, therefore, most willingly accept his disclaimer, and are glad to find that he does not, in fact, apprehend the full tendency of the doctrines which he has helped to propagate. Nevertheless, we cannot allow that we have enunciated a single proposition which is ‘false’ or ‘groundless.’ Mr. Darwin’s own words are (p. 412): ‘The object of this article is to point out how modern scientific doctrines may be expected in the future to affect the personal liberty of individuals in the matter of marriage.’ That the mode in which they may be expected to affect ‘liberty’ and ‘marriage’ has his approval is manifest, since he tells us (p. 419): ‘one may hope’ for certain preliminary restrictions, and that (p. 420) ‘we can only make a really successful attack by compelling the production, before marriage, of a clean bill of health in the party, and ultimately in his parents and ancestors.’ He next considers the possibilities of future legislation, and, as a preliminary, enumerates various laws and customs which have already prevailed. But as he does not say a single word to intimate his disapproval or condemnation of them generally, we may be excused if we misapprehended his meaning as to certain of them, more especially as some of the practices (as for instance great facility of divorce) enumerated in the same pages are elsewhere expressly approved by him. Thus he remarks (p. 418): ‘A next step, and one to my mind urgently demanded, is that insanity or idiocy should of itself form a ground of divorce,’ adding that the ‘patient, should he recover, would suffer in no other respect than does everyone who is forced by ill health to retire from any career which has been begun; although, of course, the necessary isolation of the parent from the children would be a peculiarly bitter blow.’ Certainly it would be difficult to advocate legislation more oppressive and heartless than this. Mr. Darwin will not probably venture to assert that the persons, whom his proposed legislation would debar from marriage, can be expected to lead a life of continency. We are confident that no unprejudiced person, certainly no Christian, can regard the approval of such laws and practices as anything less than an approval (however little intended) ‘of the most oppressive laws, and of the encouragement of vice to check population.’

But the whole tone and tendency of the article is (as Mr. Darwin would probably be the last to deny) in harmony with the teaching of that school which, regarding temporal welfare as the one only end and material prosperity as the one only sanction, logically denies all absolute individual rights, asserting that man is essentially no better than the brutes, and may, like brutes, be treated in any way useful for material ends without regard to any Divine law. Mr. Darwin (p. 413) himself speaks of difficulty in carrying out such restrictions as he advocates, ‘so long as the pernicious idea generally prevails that man alone of all animals is under personal and direct management of the Deity; and yet what believer in evolution can doubt that results as surprising might be effected in man, as are now seen in our horses, dogs, and cabbages?

We would further remind Mr. Darwin that the words, ‘there is no sexual criminality of Pagan days which might not be defended on the principles advocated by the school to which this writer belongs,’ by no means imply that Mr. Darwin himself has in his essay defended such crimes. We expressly disown the interpretation which he puts upon our words. We spoke of the school, and not of an individual. But when a writer, according to his own confession, comes before the public ‘to attack the institution of marriage,’ even though it be ‘only in so far as that certain changes therein are required’ (such changes being, in our opinion, fatal in their tendency), he must expect searching criticism; and, without implying that Mr. Darwin has in ‘thought’ or ‘word’ approved of anything which he wishes to disclaim, we must still maintain that the doctrines which he advocates are most dangerous and pernicious.


Darwin thanked Murray for sending him the issue of the Quarterly Review including these letters, remarking that Mivart’s rejoinder was ‘a fine specimen of words having been used in a Pickwickian sense’ (letter to John Murray, 18 October 1874). In other words, Mivart had used the form of an apology without actually apologising.

Huxley intervenes

In December, Darwin told Thomas Henry Huxley about the affair. Mivart had been Huxley’s protégé, and Huxley’s reaction was savage (letter to G. H. Darwin, [6 December 1874]). Hooker and Huxley between them decided to take up the case; the first step was to have Mivart admit his authorship of the attack on George (letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 December 1874). Huxley met Mivart at an evening meeting, and was extremely cool to him; then spoke to one of Mivart’s close friends, a Father Roberts, explaining about the anonymous attack on George and the suspicions about the author. ‘I desired Mivart to know that I objected to have anything to do, with the writer of an article, which had so unjustifiably attacked a friend of mine.’ (Enclosure to letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 December 1874.) A reply soon came from Mivart.

124 Gower Street | W.C.

Dec 20th 1874.

Private & Confidential

Dear Huxley.

I thank you for your consideration in selecting the channel through which to convey the message I have received.

I do not write to attempt to justify the passage referred to (the writing of which has since caused me more pain & regret than anything I have before written) but for two reasons:

First because I think, on account of past matters to which I have too lately referred to repeat myself now, that a reply is due from me to you.

Secondly to make a certain statement of facts which I ask your patience to consider & leave the result in your hands.

Extracts & notes for the article referred to were written out by me long ago & taken with me abroad for use of the opportunity offered.— Amongst them were notes on Mr Darwin’s article which I read before I left England & did not take with me any more than the other books referred to or reviewed.

When I wrote out, at Dresden, my MS for the Quarterly, I unhappily trusted to my notes which I believed at the time to be fully justified, though I now think they were not & that the impression left on my mind by Mr Darwin’s paper was more vivid than a careful consideration of his words warranted.

Of course I need not say that I never dreamed of implying anything whatever against Mr Darwin personally as it is most certain that persons of the highest character may advocate principles without in the slightest degree realizing their consequences, from which, in fact they would be the first to shrink with horror.

After my return to England, I made enquiry as to the article & found it was just going to press, the opportunity was offered me of looking over it which I stupidly declined to avoid trouble.

I had not read it for months & of the particular passages (including the one referred to) I had not distinct recollection.

When I read it as published I was startled & vexed fearing it might give rise to misconstruction— I regretted it, as I still regret it all the more because the article not appearing as mine I was precluded from that sort of apology & reparation which I have, especially since October, felt to be due to Mr Darwin. For when I read his letter in August, I certainly felt that he had erred & misunderstood me (in saying that I had written what was “absolutely” “false”) as much as I had misread him.

I have however long determined that apology & reparation should be made to Mr Darwin in my own name, as a simple act of justice at the very first opportunity & if you can suggest to me a mode in which it can be performed I shall be grateful but if you decline I shall none the less seize the first opportunity to perform it.

In brief, I have, through the warmth of feeling engendered by a controversy I deem most important, committed a fault I bitterly regret— I frankly acknowledge having done so & am anxious as far as I can to repair it— I do not know what more I can do, but whatever the result, I have at least the satisfaction of knowing that what I wrote was at least free from every atom of personal hostility & that whatever your decision as to the future I cannot be deprived of those pleasant memories of the past which will never allow me to be other than

Your’s truly & gratefully | St George Mivart.

(Provenance: Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives)


Huxley did not share this letter with Darwin but wrote to him, ‘he not only pleads guilty but expresses his regret in a manner which shews that he is not devoid of all the instincts of a gentleman’ (letter from T. H. Huxley, 23 December 1874). However, Huxley still wrote to Mivart, in a letter that he circulated to Hooker and Darwin, that it was necessary to break off friendly relations between them. Huxley was consciously taking on the role of Darwin’s bulldog: ‘You ought to be like one of the blessed Gods of Elysium & let the inferior Deities do battle with the infernal powers.’ What Hooker, Huxley, and Darwin were proposing was that they should ‘cut’ Mivart socially. The victim of a cut had to understand what was happening, both for his own edification and to avoid embarrassing scenes where he might try to address someone who was not willing to reply. However, for men in Hooker’s, Huxley’s, and Darwin’s social position, it was a tricky business, and could look like both cliquishness and the abuse of power. (Hooker was president and Huxley secretary of the Royal Society of London.)

Mivart swiftly replied to Huxley’s letter: again, Darwin did not see this.


124 Gower St W.C.

Dec. 24th 1874.

Private & Confidential

Dear Huxley,

I thank you for your letter of yesterday’s date as also for your promise to respect the “private & confidential” character of these communications—a restriction which is merely temporary, namely till I have liberty to speak openly in my own name.

The way however, in which you take my letter makes it necessary for me, in justice to myself, to reply & define more exactly what my meaning is. You say that you “gather that this regret & conviction that” the “attack was not justifiable” were in my mind “ever since the article was published”. This impression of yours is not accurate— On seeing the passage as published I had a feeling of vexation lest my meaning should be misunderstood & a consequent wish that I had written in my own name & it was only since October that careful reconsideration of what Mr Darwin wrote led me to deem that the expression I used was not in fact justified & that I found the determination to make all the reparation I could.

This intention was not a mere vague one but I had a definite plan before me the execution of which has been, to my great annoyance, delayed through no fault of mine. Thus, as I said in my letter, I did not feel in August as I have felt since October & when the apology was made, for which I take to myself the entire responsibility, I felt it was sufficient because it seemed to me to make sufficiently plain that I did not intend to attribute to Mr G. Darwin any personal slur but only an advocacy of principles leading to the consequences named without in the least meaning that he would admit the legitimacy of the inference, however I had to consider the dignity of the Review & not merely my own.

Even now I must in justice declare that bitter as is my regret & deep as is the pain I have experienced for having written as I did, that regret does not extend to the whole passage but refers to the special matters.

(1) The first of these is my having used the words “speaks in an approving strain” because a careful consideration of Mr G. Darwins paper has convinced me that the expression is unjustifiable except as regards the most oppressive laws of which it still seems to me he does speak with approval— Accordingly as to this expression I am not only willing but anxious, as a simple matter of justice, to retract & to apologize to Mr Darwin expressing my very deep regrets—although as was said in the apology, Mr Darwin’s tone seemed to me such as to render such a mistake “excusable” though not “justifiable”

(2) The second matter I regret is having referred to sexual matters in a passage in which an author’s name was mentioned. I regretted it & I regret it very much because there are so many people stupid enough to fancy or malicious enough to represent that the Reviewer meant to imply some personal blame as to the author referred to— instead of understanding, as was the fact, that the Reviewer simply selected an example likely to bring out his point more forcibly & [on coming] naturally apropos of marriage laws. This was the misunderstanding I dreaded & to which my last letter referred.

As to the course of conduct you say you would have followed, I must in reply say that I never thought of writing to Mr Darwin Senior because, from his expression in the last letter I received from him, I thought he would much rather I should not. Neither did I think of writing to Mr Darwin junior, because I thought he would deem my doing so an impertinence. The suggestion you make is new & welcome to me. Nonetheless in spite of my great regret as to the two points referred to I must maintain my opinion as to the tendency of Mr Darwin’s article generally. With respect to “hideous sexual criminality” I may say that I know a most highly cultured & intellectual man, of the school I intended to oppose, who deliberately maintains that the propagation of the criminality referred to would be most useful & beneficial to society as tending to limit population without requiring what he calls the “immorality” of ascetic self-denial.

Widely divergent as are our views as to what is most important for the welfare of Mankind, I shall never, while we both live, cease to hope that that divergence may cease & even while it still exists it does not on my side in the least obstruct “familiar intercourse” or render it “unpleasant” to me, because it does not on my side, produce the least personal ill feeling. Of course I can only submit to your wishes in this respect but I do so with regret & with a hearty wish for many happy new years for you & your’s

remaining | Your’s very faithfully | St Geo Mivart

T. H. Huxley Esq Sec R.S. &c &c &c


(Provenance: Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives)


‘Expression in the last letter’ probably refers to Darwin’s letter to Mivart of 11 January 1872 (Correspondence vol. 20), in which he asked Mivart not to write again. The ‘highly cultured & intellectual man’ who advocated prostitution as a means of checking population growth may be a reference to William Clifford Kingdon, although it misrepresents his views; see Dawson 2007, pp. 181–2.

The damage to Mivart's reputation

This left the friends still in something of a quandary. Darwin was reluctant to have the matter stirred up even more. Hooker, on the other hand, was meditating having Mivart removed from the secretaryship of the Linnean Society of London, and was talking about informing the president, George Allman: he had already spoken to John Tyndall (letter from John Tyndall, 28 December 1874, and letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 December 1874).

By January 1875, Mivart had still not made any further move, and Huxley had persuaded Hooker that it would be improper for him, as president of the Royal Society, to act against Mivart, an ordinary fellow. Huxley himself was a secretary of the Royal Society, and Hooker was somewhat bewildered by Huxley’s reasoning, but submitted.

Huxley meanwhile took the opportunity to lambast ‘the anonymous Reviewer’, Mivart, in a passage of his review of Ernst Haeckel’s book Anthropogenie, in the Academy, 2 January 1875. ‘Possessed by a blind animosity against all things Darwinian, the writer of this paper outrages decency by insinuations against Mr. George Darwin, well calculated to damage a little-known man with the public, though they sound droll enough to those who are acquainted with my able and excellent friend’s somewhat ascetic habits. . . . What is not doubtful is the fact that misrepresentation and falsification are the favourite weapons of Jesuitical Rome; that anonymous slander is practice and not mere speculation; and that it is a practice, the natural culmination of which is not the profligacy of a Nero or of a Commodus, but the secret poisonings of the Papal Borgias.’ (Mivart was a Catholic convert.)

On 12 January 1875, Darwin finally wrote to Mivart, enumerating his offences, and refusing to hold any communication with him in the future. It was a formal letter, he wrote to Hooker on 12 January: ‘my women wd not let me send a savage one’. Henrietta, Darwin’s daughter, wrote to her brother Leonard in New Zealand on 8 January: ‘Also we’ve been concocting a letter for Father to write to Mivart. Everybody has had a shy at it & a word from everybody’s fuel has been patched together & I think has made a good letter. His reason for writing it is that he wants to be sure that Mivart will agree to a cut—for if not & they were to meet in the Linnean or anywhere else & Mivart was to come & shake hands with him he should hurck him down & go into a tremendous passion & I think he wd. Huxley’s article in the Academy is delightful, & only that it will be so stale you ought to read it when you come home & see how nicely he cuts Mivart into little pieces —’ (DAR 258: 1643).

In the meantime, Mivart responded to Huxley’s article in a letter published in the Academy, 16 January 1875, p. 66, signed, ‘The Quarterly Reviewer of 1874’. In it he reiterated his claim that Darwin had concealed his views on the origins of the human species, and added:

As to Mr. George Darwin, I gladly avail myself of this opportunity of repeating, what has already been stated by the Quarterly Review for October, that however I may have misunderstood him, nothing could have been further from my intention than the wish to insinuate anything against Mr. G. Darwin personally. It never occurred to me as possible, when the passage was written, that it could be taken as casting any slur of the kind. Had it so occurred to me, it would most assuredly never have appeared. Nor do I hesitate to avow my great regret for not having more carefully guarded against any such possible misapprehension.

This episode did Mivart lasting damage in the scientific community. He was excluded from the mainstream of biological science, led by Huxley, and failed in his attempts to join the Athenaeum Club, probably because of opposition from Darwin’s supporters, even after Darwin’s death (Gruber 1960, pp. 111–14).


In this section:

About this article

Based on Appendix V of The correspondence of Charles Darwin, volume 22: 1874

Edited by Frederick Burkhardt, James A. Secord, Samantha Evans, Shelley Innes, Francis Neary, Alison M. Pearn, Anne Secord, Paul White. (Cambridge University Press 2015)

Order this volume online from Cambridge University Press