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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. A. Cross   May 1875

Down | Beckenham

May 1875


The Earl of Derby has been good enough to forward to you a letter which I wrote to his Lordship on the ultimo explaining the grounds which have led myself & other persons engaged or interested in the study of physiology to desire that an act of Parliament may be passed to restrict, & at the same time to authorize under proper conditions, the making of experiments on living animals.1

I stated in that letter that a draft of a bill had been prepared putting in a practical shape the proposals we had to make. This draft has now been seen & approved by a number of scientific men, among whom are (some of ?) the most prominent representatives (in England) of biological science. & I think it well to send you a copy of it. in the hope that Her Majesty’s Government may take the subject into their consideration.2

Should the Government adopt the view embodied in the Bill I should be glad to learn whether they would be disposed to introduce it into Parliament as a Ministerial Measure, or, in the event of its being introduced as a private Bill to give it their sanction & support.3

I have the honour to be, Sir, | your obedient Servant | Ch Darwin

The Rt. Honble The Secy. of State | for the Home Dept.


CD’s letter to Edward Henry Stanley, the earl of Derby, of 15 April 1875, had been forwarded to Cross, who was home secretary (see letter from E. H. Stanley, 17 April 1875).
The draft vivisection bill had been approved by Joseph Dalton Hooker (the president of the Royal Society), James Paget (the president of the Royal College of Surgeons), George Burrows (the president of the College of Physicians), Richard Owen, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Scott Burdon Sanderson, and CD (see letter to E. H. Stanley, 15 April 1875).
Private bills are legislative bills that affect the interests of only a particular body or individual (OED).


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Sends a copy of the draft vivisection bill [see 9933] and hopes that it may be approved of and supported by the Government.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Assheton Cross, Viscount Cross of Broughton in Furness
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 97: C19–21
Physical description
DraftS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9961,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

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