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Darwin Correspondence Project

To the secretary of the Royal Commission on vivisection   8 November 1875


When I had the honour of being examined by H. M. before commissioners I was asked whether I had not been concerned in preparing a draft of a bill in relation to experiments on living animals;1 & it has occurred to me that H. M. Commissioners might perhaps wish to see this draft.— It was prepared with the advice of several eminent, phys experts,, & it seemed to us to guard against wilful cruelty, & to protect physiology from injurious interference.—

The differences to which I alluded in my examination between our bill & that laid before parliament are on the second copy indicated in M. S in the second copy; the important point being that demonstration on an animal rendered insensible is is made illegal in the altered bill.2

I have the honour to be | Sirs | Your obedient serv | C. D.

November 8th. 1875— | To Secr of Commission on Vivisection


CD appeared before the Royal Commission on vivisection on 3 November 1875 (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 2 November 1875 and n. 1). His testimony appears in the Report of the Royal Commission on vivisection, pp. 233–4. The secretary of the Royal Commission was Nathaniel Baker.
CD had worked with John Scott Burdon Sanderson and Thomas Henry Huxley to prepare a draft bill for the regulation of vivisection. On the changes made to the bill before it was introduced to Parliament, see the letter from T. H. Huxley, 19 May 1875 and n. 2, and letter from Lyon Playfair, 27 May 1875. The final copy of the draft before the changes were made is in DAR 139.17: 22.


Report of the Royal Commission on vivisection: Report of the Royal Commission on the practice of subjecting live animals to experiments for scientific purposes; with minutes of evidence and appendix; 1876 (C.1397, C.1397-1) XLI.277, 689. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.


CD sends a draft bill which he helped to prepare relating to experiments on live animals; the Commissioners may wish to see it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Secretary of the Royal Commission on vivisection
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97: C3
Physical description
AdraftS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10251,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23