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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francis Darwin   [before 22 July 1876]1

My dear F.

I shd be obliged if you cd inform your committee that am very unwilling to attend the deputation, as the excitement & fatigue wd almost certainly knock me up.2 Nor wd I attend, unless assured that the d. wd recommend to G. beyond their advice by the R. Commiss, so that they may believe due regard not only for the interest [of the] lower animals, but of physiology interest of physiology which I believe to be to be of to be of utmost importance for the good of mankind, as well as with respect to the lower animals.3 My [absence] or [presence] I cann not believe that the [presence] as a member of the deputation can be of any importance & therefore I hope that I may be excused.


The date is established by the reference to the committee and deputation for legislation about vivisection (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
The committee of the Physiological Society was engaged in negotiations with government officials and MPs in charge of a bill in Parliament to regulate vivisection; the committee sent a delegation on 22 July to meet with Richard Assheton Cross (the home secretary) regarding possible amendments to the bill before it was debated in Parliament (see French 1975, pp. 135–7, and Sharpey-Schafer 1927, pp. 5–7, 40). Francis Darwin was a member of the Physiological Society and CD was an honorary member (Sharpey-Schafer 1927, p. 13).
The Royal Commission on Vivisection, which met from June to December 1875, submitted a report in January 1876, recommending the conditions under which vivisection for physiological research and teaching should be permitted (Report of the Royal Commission on vivisection). CD had given testimony to the commission on 3 November 1875 (see Correspondence vol. 23, Appendix VI).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

French, Richard D. 1975. Antivivisection and medical science in Victorian society. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

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.

Sharpey-Schafer, Edward Albert. 1927. History of the Physiological Society during its first fifty years, 1876–1926. London: Cambridge University Press.


Asks FD to write on his behalf and say that he is unwilling to join a deputation [on vivisection] and that he believes in the need to protect physiology as well as lower animals.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 202: 40
Physical description
ADraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10747,” accessed on 13 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24