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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Burdon Sanderson   15 and 19 April [1875]1

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

April 15th

My dear Sanderson.

I despatch by this post a long & I hope clear letter to Ld. Derby at his private House.— I told him of our petition & of those who signed it. I then said that some of us had since had drawn up a sketch of a bill, & I told him very briefly of its main provisions.2

I then asked him to speak, if he did not object, to speak to the proper members of the cabinet, in order to stop hasty legislation versus science & added that we would send our sketch, or a small deputation would wait on any member of the Cabinet or we would do whatever else he advised, if he would give us his counsel for the sake of humanity & Science.— I hope with all my heart I have written judiciously & that we may succeed

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. If the affair goes on, as I hope it will, & you & Huxley & Paget agree about the bill, I could write to Hooker & with the above guarantee, I feel almost sure that he would allow us to use his name as Pre. R. Socy3

P.S. (19th) I have opened my letter to say that Huxley saw Lubbock late yesterday & showed him the petition. He was strongly against its being presented, as he felt sure that nothing of any kind would be done this session.4

Huxley forgot to ask him expressly whether he wd. present it, if we determined to have it presented; but the more I think about it, the less desirable does this seem to me, considering our other step of the bill.

Litchfield thinks that if the Home Secy. were to wish for a small deputation, this might happen soon, & we ought to be ready.5 Huxley will be away.— You wd no doubt attend & I wd come up.— Litchfield thinks Cambridge & Oxford ought to be represented. He will soon send you copies of new drafted bill & shd you then object, to communicate with Mr Foster & Rolleston,6 & turn over the subject of a deputation in your mind. Litchfield thinks that it wd be advisable for him to attend, as having drawn up the bill so as to explain it.— It seems, however, to me very doubtful whether the Home Secy. would soon wish for any deputation, but it is best to be prepared.



The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to E. H. Stanley, 15 April 1875.
See letter to E. H. Stanley, 15 April 1875 and nn. 2 and 3. Lord Derby: Edward Henry Stanley. The petition and bill concerned vivisection.
John Lubbock was MP for Maidstone (ODNB).
Richard Buckley Litchfield had assisted in drafting the bill (see letter to R. B. Litchfield, [24 April 1875]). The home secretary was Richard Assheton Cross.
Michael Foster was praelector in physiology at Trinity College, Cambridge. George Rolleston was a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and the representative of the university on the General Medical Council (ODNB).


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Has written to Lord Derby about the vivisection issue and urged him to speak to the proper members of the Cabinet to prevent "hasty legislation versus science". CD offered to send the sketch of the bill that has been drafted or a small deputation to wait on any member of the Cabinet. Lubbock does not think the petition should be presented as he feels sure that nothing will be done this session.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9934,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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