RECORD: Darwin, Emma. 1877. Vivisection and cruelty. To the editor of the "Spectator". The Spectator (6 January): 15.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 12.2020. RN1

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The other publications on the subject of steel traps by the Darwins were published in 1863.

1. An appeal [against steel vermin traps]. [Bromley, Kent]: [privately printed.] F1931.

2. Vermin and traps. Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, no. 35 (29 August): 821-822. F1728.

3. [An appeal]. The Bromley Record, (1 September): 168. A2031.

This 1877 publication is mentioned in Correspondence vol. 11, p. 778.

[page] 15



SIR,—Those who sympathise with the sufferings of animals must have felt great satisfaction at the warm interest which has lately been excited on the subject of vivisection. There is, however, a kind of suffering, inflicted not in the cause of science, but in that of amusement, which seems nearly forgotten.

On every one of the great estates of this country steel traps are being industriously prepared, and set to catch the vermin which invade man's privilege of killing the game. If we attempt to realise the pain felt by an animal when caught, we must fancy what it would be to have a limb crushed during a whole long night between the iron teeth of a trap, and with the agony increased by attempts to escape. Few men could endure to watch for five minutes an animal thus struggling with a torn and mangled limb, yet on the well-preserved estates throughout the kingdom thousands of animals thus linger every night probably for eight or ten hours. No doubt this is the most effectual way of preserving game, but I cannot believe that English gentlemen, who would not themselves give unnecessary pain to any living creature, and are eager to prevent brutality whenever they see it, either on the part of drovers or physiologists, will continue to allow even this motive to weigh against such an amount of suffering.—I am, Sir, &c.,


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 30 November, 2022