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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   14 April [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Ap. 14

My dear Hooker

I worked all the time in London on the vivisection question; & we now think it advisable to go further than a mere petition. Litchfield drew up a sketch of a bill, the essential features of which have been approved by Sanderson, Simon & Huxley, & from conversation, will I believe be approved by Paget, & almost certainly I think by Michael Foster2   Sanderson Simon & Paget wish me to see Lord Derby & endeavour to gain his advocacy with the Home Secretary3 Now if this is carried into effect it will be of great importance to me to be able to say that the bill in its essential features has the approval of some half dozen eminent scientific men. I have therefore asked Litchfield to enclose a copy to you in its first rough form; & if it is not essentially modified may I say that it meets with your approval as Pres. R. S.?4 The object is to protect animals & at the same time not to injure Physiology, & Huxley & Sanderson’s approval almost suffices on this head. Pray let me have a line from you soon

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

P.S. I have just read an Italian pamphlet by Delpino on Pitchers; & he says that Dischidia has pitchers & whenever you return to Nepenthes you ought to attend to these;5 for Delpino perceives that all other well know pitchers have something in common. He puts the spathe of Alocasia odora under the same heading, as it catches so many insects. What can he mean by the “sesqui pedali tubi” of Sarracenia drummondii in which he finds nothing but a multitude of moths.6


The year is established by the reference to the vivisection bill (see n 2, below).
CD had prepared a petition to regulate vivisection, and then, with the assistance of Richard Buckley Litchfield, had drafted a bill on the subject (see letter to J. S. Burdon Sanderson, [11 April 1875]). CD refers to John Scott Burdon Sanderson, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Simon, James Paget, and Michael Foster.
Edward Henry Stanley, the earl of Derby, was foreign secretary; Richard Assheton Cross was home secretary (see letter from J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 12 April [1875]).
Hooker was president of the Royal Society of London.
A lightly annotated copy of Federico Delpino’s paper ‘Sulle piante a bicchieri’ (Delpino 1871) is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Dischidia is a genus of epiphytic plants in the milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae. Hooker had been working on Nepenthes, the genus of tropical pitcher-plants (see Hooker 1874a).
Alocasia odora is the night-scented lily; Sarracenia drummondii is a synonym of S. leucophylla (the white pitcher-plant). Sesquipedali tubi (Italian): one-and-a-half foot long tube. The ‘moths’ were probably Exyra semicrocea (the pitcher-plant mining moth).


CD and others now think it advisable to go further than a petition on vivisection, and a bill has been drafted.

F. Delpino’s pamphlet on pitchers ["Sulle pianti a bicchieri", Nuovo G. Bot. Ital. 3 (1871): 174–6].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 384–5
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9927,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

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