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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. S. Burdon Sanderson   30 April [1875]1

49 Queen Anne Street

Monday April 30

Dear Mr Darwin,

The day before yesterday Dr L. Playfair called upon me. He entirely approves of the Bill & is quite prepared to introduce it, in case that should seem to be the best course. Yesterday he was to see Ld Cardwell and to show it to him. I feel sanguine in hoping that Ld Cardwell will be induced to adopt it for this reason.2 Mr Colam, the Secretary of the S. for the P. of C. to A. called on me yesterday and developed to me their scheme. It appears to be substantially the same as ours (certainly not more restrictive)   They (the Society) regard it as Lord Cardwells he having approved of it.3 Consequently I think there is good reason to hope that a compromise will be effected. As soon as it is effected it would I think be well that it should be known as generally as possible that such a measure has the support of our side.

L. Playfair seems to think that if Ld Cardwell adopts this Bill or one which we can approve of, it could be passed this session

I have also seen Sir J. Paget4 who has been in personal communication with Ld. Cardwell & says that he desires to meet the wishes of scientific men on this subject & to act in such a way as to secure their cooperation

I think it very satisfactory that the Society for the prevention are willing to cooperate with us

Yours very truly | J B Sanderson


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 28 April [1875].
Lyon Playfair had agreed to present the vivisection bill to the House of Commons if Edward Cardwell would not present it to the House of Lords (see letter from Lyon Playfair, 29 April 1875). Cardwell had also been sent a copy of the vivisection bill (see letter from Edward Cardwell, 29 April 1875).
John Colam was secretary and Cardwell a vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both men were on the committee that was established in January 1875 to investigate the practice of vivisection in Britain. The committee was considering a bill for the regulation of vivisection that had been initiated by Frances Power Cobbe (see letter from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 30 April 1875, and Appendix VI). The RSPCA did not present a bill, but Cobbe proceeded with her own bill, which was presented on 4 May 1875 (Cobbe 1904, p. 640).
CD had also secured the support of James Paget for the vivisection bill (see letter to J. S. Burdon Sanderson, [11 April 1875]).


Cobbe, Frances Power. 1904. Life of Frances Power Cobbe as told by herself. Posthumous edition. London: Swan Sonnenschein.


Lyon Playfair approves the bill concerning animal experimentation and would be prepared to introduce it should it be necessary. Believes a bill could be passed by Parliament by September.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9958A,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

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