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Darwin Correspondence Project

To R. B. Litchfield   24 April [1875]1

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

April 24th

My dear Litchfield

I have seen Sir John, who thinks L. Playfair wd be best man to present petition.2

Sir J. read our bill & he thinks it very important for physiology that the first impression given by it shd be on the humanity side, & suggested some such title as “an Act to restrict vivisection (or experiments on animals) (excepting under due conditions) or something of this kind.— Also in the preamble he thought it wd. be much the best to begin with “it is expedient that all useless suffering by animals shd be saved; nevertheless it is for the public advantage &c &c.3 These were not his words but his sense.— He is a very sharp man, & this suggestion may be worth your considering—

He thought the bill a far more important & useful step than the petition.— He doubted any use in the latter & I am inclined to agree. But on the other hand, regarding humanity, I cannot but think that the more the subject is stirred up on all sides the better.4

Yours affect, | C. Darwin


The year is established by the references to the draft vivisection bill on (see n. 3, below).
John Lubbock and Lyon Playfair (see letter to R. B. Litchfield, [24 April 1875] and n. 2).
Litchfield amended the second draft of the bill printed on 24 April 1874 with ink annotations (DAR 139.17: 32). For the changes to the title and preamble, see Appendix VI.
On the vivisection petition, see the letter from J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 23 April [1875] and n. 5.


Sir John Lubbock’s advice on draft of petition on vivisection. Agrees with Lubbock’s opinion that a bill would be more effective – but the more the subject is stirred up, the better.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Buckley Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 58373)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9946,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

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