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Darwin Correspondence Project

Historical documents

Dates of composition of Darwin's manuscript on species

Many of the dates of letters in 1856 and 1857 were based on or confirmed by reference to Darwin’s manuscript on species (DAR 8--15.1, inclusive; transcribed and published as Natural selection). This manuscript, begun in May 1856, was nearly completed by June 1858.

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'An Appeal' against animal cruelty

The four-page pamphlet transcribed below and entitled 'An Appeal', was composed jointly by Emma and Charles Darwin (see letter from Emma Darwin to W. D. Fox, [29 September 1863]). The pamphlet, which protested against the cruelty of steel vermin-traps, was privately printed in July, and Emma organised the distribution of the pamphlet in August and September 1863 (see letter from G. B. Sowerby Jr to Emma Darwin, 22 July 1863 and n. 1, and letters from Emma Darwin to W. D. Fox, [6–27 September 1863], 29 September [1863], and 8 December [1863]).

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Vivisection: Darwin's testimony to the Royal Commission

Wednesday, 3rd November 1875.

Mr. Charles Darwin called in and examined.

4661. (Chairman.) We are very sensible of your kindness in coming at some sacrifice to yourself to express your opinions to the Commission. We attribute it to the great interest which we know you take in the subject referred to us, both on the score of science and also on the score of humanity?

— Yes, I have felt a great interest in it.

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Vivisection: first sketch of the bill

Strictly Confidential

Mem: This print is only a first sketch. It is being now recast with a new & more simple form – but the substance of the proposed measure may be equally well seen in this draft.

R.B.L. | 2

586 Darwin and vivisection


Sketch of Bill, No. 1

Arrangement of sections.


Section 1. —Authority to make experiments may be granted by Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Home Department.

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Vivisection: BAAS committee report

Report British Assoc. Edinburgh 1871 p. 144

I No experiment which can be performed under the influence of an anasthetic ought to be done without it.

II No painful experiment is justifiable for the mere purpose of illustrating a law or fact already demonstrated; in other words, experimentation without the employment of anasthetics is not a fitting exhibition for teaching purposes.

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Essay: Evolutionary teleology

—by Asa Gray


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Essay: What is Darwinism?

—by Asa Gray


The Nation, May 28, 1874

The question which Dr. Hodge asks he promptly and decisively answers: ‘What is Darwinism? it is atheism.

Leaving aside all subsidiary and incidental matters, let us consider–1. What the Darwinian doctrine is, and 2. How it is proved to be atheistic. Dr. Hodge’s own statement of it cannot be very much bettered:

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Essay: Design versus necessity

—by Asa Gray


(American Journal of Science and Arts, September, 1860)

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DAR 247
Henrietta Darwin's diary

Henrietta Darwin's diary

Darwin's daughter Henrietta kept a diary for a few momentous weeks in 1871. This was the year in which Descent of Man, the most controversial of her father's books after Origin itself, appeared, a book which she had helped him write. The small lockable volume records her thoughts on attending an Anglican mission organised by one of her father's critics, her own inclination to thoughtful scepticism, and her intimate reflections on the consequences of her father’s theories for religious belief. This was also the year in which, within the space of three months, she met and married her husband, Richard Litchfield: the intensely personal and deeply reflective journal entries from July cover the period of their courtship.

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