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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. S. Burdon Sanderson   23 April [1875]1

49 Queen Anne St

April 23rd.

Dear Mr Darwin,

I received your letter this morning. I have read & noted the contents of the enclosure which I return to you.2

I will write to Lyon Playfair asking him to see me after he has read the Bill, which you will have sent him3

I think the licensing of places objectionable, but too impractical to be likely to be adopted by Parliament. Places cannot be made responsible, So that licensing them would not prevent abuses, supposing such to be likely to occur.4

I have not yet received Dr Aclands signature. Otherwise we have them all. I cannot (after careful consideration) see that it would be advisable to suppress the petition.5

I have sent some notes to Mr. Litchfield on the section—particularly (4) i.e. the last paragraph.6

It is rather disagreeable to think that these miserable people will be going on agitating till next year.

I had a choice anonymous letter the day before yesterday setting forth in the usual style, the penalties & pains of the other world in prospect for me

Very truly yours | J B Sanderson


The year is established by the references to the draft vivisection bill (see n. 3, below).
CD’s letter and the enclosure have not been found; see, however, the letter to J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 15 and 19 April [1875].
Thomas Henry Huxley had suggested consulting Lyon Playfair about the draft vivisection bill (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 21 April 1875).
On the proposed licensing of vivisection, see Appendix VI.
Prior to drafting the vivisection bill, CD had worked with Thomas Henry Huxley to prepare a petition for which John Scott Burdon Sanderson had been collecting signatures (see letter from T. H. Huxley, [4 April 1875] and n. 2, and letter from J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 7 April [1875]). Henry Wentworth Acland was regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford and president of the General Council of Medical Education and Registration (ODNB).
Richard Buckley Litchfield had helped draft the vivisection bill. Item 4 of the first printed draft (DAR 139.17: 21) contained the terms under which professors or lecturers could hold licenses.


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.


Further discussion about the act regulating animal experimentation; believes the licensing of places to be impracticable.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9945A,” accessed on 31 July 2021,

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