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Darwin Correspondence Project

From St. G. J. Mivart to T. H. Huxley   20 December 1874

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 justify the passage referred to (the writing of which has since caused me more pain and 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 and leave the result in your hands.

Extracts and notes for the article referred to were written out by me long ago and taken with me abroad for use ofQQQQ the opportunity offered. Amongst them were notes on Mr. Darwin’s article which I read before I left England and did not take with me any more than the other works 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 and 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 higest 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 and 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 and of the particular passages (including the one referred to) I had no distinct recollection.

When I read it as published I was startled and 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 and 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 and 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 and reparation should be made to Mr. Darwin in my own name, as a simple act of justice at the very first opportunity and 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 and 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 and 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

Yours truly and gratefully | St George Mivart


Is writing confidentially not to justify the passage referred to [see 9759], which he much regrets, but to state facts. He never intended any personal hostility to [George] Darwin and seeks advice about how to make reparation.

Letter details

Letter no.
St George Jackson Mivart
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
London, Gower Street, 124
Source of text
DAR 145: 368
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9767F,” accessed on 22 March 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22 (Appendix V)