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Darwin Correspondence Project

From JSBurdon Sanderson   14 April [1875]1

49 Queen Anne St

April 14th 1875

Dear Mr Darwin,

I received your letter this morning.2 I should think that it wd. answer the purpose to write to Lord Derby, for all that is important is that the Government should know that a bill is being sketched & that they must not commit themselves.3

I had a note today from Sir Robert Christison4 who after expressing himself very energetically on the subject of the present agitation concludes “There should be no compromise, except to forbid vivisectional demonstrations to classes, which I always thought both useless and cruel”

I have not seen Mr Huxley.5

The notion of an Inspector appears to me absurd. It would be in the first place absurd to appoint one man to inspect half a dozen others of at least equal status with himself. There is no comparison between experimentation and anatomical dissection. Every student must dissect, but not one in a hundred need take part in any vivisection. Moreover an Inspector would be of no use in putting a stop to domestic experimentation6

Very truly yours | J B Sanderson


The year is established by the reference to the vivisection bill (see n. 3, below).
CD’s letter has not been found; see, however, the letter from JSBurdon Sanderson, 12 April [1875]).
CD was considering whether to call personally on Edward Henry Stanley, the earl of Derby, regarding the proposed vivisection bill (see letter to JSBurdon Sanderson, [11 April 1875] and n. 6, and letter from JSBurdon Sanderson, 12 April [1875]).
CD had planned to meet with Thomas Henry Huxley on 12 April 1875 to discuss the vivisection bill (see letter to JSBurdon Sanderson, [11 April 1875]).
On the proposed licensing and inspection of vivisection, see Appendix VI).


Agrees that CD should write to Lord Derby to say that a bill on animal experimentation was being prepared and that the government should not comment at this stage. [See 9933.] Ridicules the idea of using inspectors. Distinguishes between dissection and vivisection.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9930A,” accessed on 13 April 2021,

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