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AN APPEAL TO HEARTS AND HEADS (1)
BY EDWARD MAITLAND
“Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.” – Gen. XLIX.
“Blessed is the soul whom the Just commemorate before God; for whom the poor, and the orphan, and the dumb creature weep.” – ANNA KINGSFORD, in “Clothed with the Sun.”
IT IS a very real and serious danger with which modern society is confronted, the danger which arises from the demand of certain scientific classes to exercise supremacy over it, and the readiness of the generality to concede such demand. History shows that there is always a disposition on the part of specialists of some sort to get themselves erected into an oligarchy and invested with a universal dictatorship, in the exercise of which they trample under foot every principle, sentiment, and interest that stands in their way. History shows also that it depends upon what people most dread, what class of specialists gets the upper hand. Thus, when the danger is anarchy or invasion, then the specialists in military
science – the soldiery – bear sway. When people most fear for their souls, or believe their worldly welfare to be endangered by supernatural causes, then the specialists in religion – the priests – become the rulers, they being credited with a monopoly of the arts of saving souls and propitiating the powers above. And now that peace and security are sufficiently assured to enable us to dispense with a military domination; and people are for the most part persuaded either that there are no such things as souls to be saved and supernatural powers to be propitiated, or that priests possess no special faculty in the matter, but that the body is all in all, their concern is all for their bodily welfare, and they are ready to give a tree hand to the specialists of medical science, and to invest the doctors with the authority formerly wielded by soldiers and ecclesiastics. And in this way it has come that the professors of the cure of souls have been superseded in power by those of the cure of bodies.
Now, of specialists in any department, this is indisputably true. Be they eminent as they may in their own department – and indeed by reason of such eminence – they are in the highest degree liable to be correspondingly deficient in respect of departments other than their own; so that the converse of the adage, “General knowledge means particular ignorance,” holds good of them, and their particular knowledge means general ignorance. This is because the habit of exclusive concentration upon one subject or class of subjects renders them non-percipient in respect of others, and incapacitates them for estimating their relative values. For this reason it is necessary that society at large keep a strict watch on specialists, and particularly on that class which the
circumstances of the time bring most into vogue, in order that other interests may not suffer.
To this rule the class of specialists now to the front, that of medical science, is no exception, and the interests to which it is blind are precisely those which, for all who have taken pains to obtain knowledge both general and particular, are the most important of all interests, seeing that upon them it depends whether life be worth living at all, and humanity be something worth belonging to. These are the interests of that part of man’s nature which. So far transcends the sphere of physiology and medicine as wholly to escape recognition by the exclusive followers of those branches of knowledge, use what instruments of observation they may, namely, the part moral and spiritual in the human system. Not, be it observed, that those studies by any means necessarily incapacitate the mind for the discernment and appreciation of higher things. To one duly percipient and reflective, and capable of thought which, being really free, is un-restricted to the material and physical, every natural object is suggestive of an informing idea the pursuit of which, if carried far enough, uplifts the mind to the divine source of all truth; while the very inadequacy of the physical organism to account for the facts of consciousness suggests the necessity of something vastly transcending the organism to complete and interpret the man. That this is notoriously not the case with the physiologist of the period is, then, no fault of the study itself. Rather does it show that medical science has for the most part fallen into the Lands of men whose minds are not duly percipient and reflective; of men, that is, who in respect of the higher regions of man’s nature are rudimentary and undeveloped, and who accordingly,
instead of supplementing and correcting the senses by the mind, subordinate and suppress the mind in favour of the senses, and make these their sole criterion of truth and right.
This is to say, that they who represent the medical science of the day, and – as shown by their insistence upon Vivisection – claim to dictate to society its code of religion and morals, are, in respect of all matters transcending the physical, exactly in the condition of persons who, on the strength of their feeling the earth stationary beneath their feet, and seeing the sun and stars go round it every twenty-four hours, and finding these impressions uncontradicted by any other of the bodily senses, should deny the diurnal revolution of our planet, and mate it the fixed centre of a daily revolving universe.
It is at the bidding of men thus mentally deficient that the community at large of Christendom. has been called upon, by the toleration of vivisection, to outrage and repudiate all that infinitely superior part of man’s nature which transcends the physical and physiological, namely the moral and spiritual, and, divorcing head from heart, mind from moral conscience, force from sympathy, and making the organism all in all, to consent to practices which are utterly incompatible, not only with religion and morality but with humanity itself. And, incredible as it may appear, the demand has been acceded to, and this, not by a particular community or country but by Christendom at large. And in token of its abjuration at once of its religion, its morality and its humanity, Christendom – so-called, be it noted, for its once veneration of a humanity, which for its miracles of sympathy and self-sacrifice in
love for others was accounted divine – has suffered itself to become from end to end thick-studded with torture-chambers, wherein, year by year, myriad upon myriads of creatures, highly organised, keenly sensitive, harmless, defenceless, healthy and otherwise happy, are subjected to the most protracted and excruciating torments which the human mind can conceive, and scientific skill can devise and inflict. And this is done on the chance, avowedly remote and problematical, and hitherto un-realised, of finding thereby some modicum of relief for the ailments which, by their own ignorance, folly, or wickedness, men have brought upon themselves, and which by wholesome and virtuous living they would escape. And so far from the conscience of Christendom being revolted by this vast and horrible iniquity, even its churches – called Christian – one and all have remained passive and mute, not one of them, as a church, raising a voice in protest. While – with a handful of exceptions, who are despised and scoffed at as “sentimental,” “fastidious,” and “hysterical” – their members stand by eager to accept the proffered gains, heedless alike of the cost in suffering to the victims, of the unutterable degradation to the perpetrators, and of the principles to which, by consenting to such practices, they commit themselves.
To enumerate some of these principles. Instead of there being one and the same source, and that a divine source, for all things good and true, the universe is so perversely constituted that the morally wrong may be the scientific-ally right and the practically useful; and divine ends, such as the art of healing, are to be attained by infernal means, such as the practice of torturing. It is not the finest minds that are best qualified for the investigation
of disease and the ministration to suffering, but the-hardest hearts; and the fittest authorities on questions of belief and conduct are the specialists of physical science who have renounced the very idea of religion and morality as a chimera. Might is right; the end justifies the means; there are no moral limits to the pursuit of a self-gratification; but it is legitimate to seek one’s own advantage regardless of the cost to other sentient beings and of every principle of humanity. Man has no duties towards those who are unable to assert their own rights, or towards his own better nature. The true way of evolution is by moral degradation; the practice of the lowest is the proper rule of the highest; inhumanity is humanity; mankind are to be benefited by that which by its very nature is utterly subversive of humanity, even to the demonisation of man himself; and pessimism, which by its affirmation of the supremacy of evil, constitutes the deification and worship of evil, is the one true faith and philosophy.
Such are the leading articles of the creed of a vivisecting Christendom, imposed upon it by, and accepted at the hands of, its specialists in medical science. Meanwhile, the conditions of existence are rendered such that the-survival of the fittest for them means the survival of the unfittest to exist at all.
But it is said that the doctor is necessarily, by the very nature of his vocation, so humane as to render a prior I incredible the items of this indictment against him. Never was there a greater fallacy, or one more deservedly ridiculed and scoffed at, and this even by the subjects
themselves of it, as they who have experience of them can testify. And the marvel is how in the face of history with its abounding records of the awful doings of those who, being priests of religion and claiming to be ministers of Christ, were responsible for the horrors of the Inquisition and multitudinous persecutions and other cruel practices, such a plea can find utterance. As well might we credit the soldier with more courage than other men on account of his vocation; the policeman with more civic virtue; the ecclesiastic with profounder piety; the lawyer with a greater love of justice, as the doctor – for the same reason – with more humanity than other men. He is but as others, as he himself knows and freely admits, and being so he is no less liable than others to ignore right principles in favour of evil methods where he conceives the interests of his order or his own advancement to be concerned. And it is precisely through its persistency in doing this that the medical profession of our day has identified itself with a conspiracy against the human race the most dire that can be conceived, in that it has for its object the destruction of the character of mankind present and to come, even to the re-construction of society on ethics which can only be adequately characterised as those of hell, and the peopling of the earth with fiends instead of beings really human. For there are no other terms by which to describe a condition of things wherein the stronger and craftier do not hesitate, for their own selfish ends, ruthlessly and by wholesale to torture the weaker and simpler, or to designate the beings who do this or who consent to it.
The fact that the victims differ in form, complexion, speech, and grade of evolution from their persecutors, constitutes no pica in mitigation of this indictment any
more than the plea of the Inquisitionist that their victims differed in faith, seeing that they share with man the capacity for suffering, and that this of itself suffices to entitle them to human sympathy. Nor would the contention, even were it true, that the animals have no moral nature, exempt man from having moral obligations towards them. For it is in the moral nature of man himself that the rights of the animals and his duty towards them are founded. But the denial to animals of any moral nature is wholly unsustainable even from a scientific point of view. For it follows from the doctrine of evolution that it is precisely because they have, however rudimentarily, a moral nature, that man also has it; inasmuch as he represents but a fuller unfoldment of attributes possessed by them in a lower degree, so that but for their possession of it, he could not have it. Certainly no one who has ever enjoyed the privilege of an animal’s friendship would deny to it a moral nature.
But it is urged on behalf of the practice, (1), that it is necessary to medical science; (2), that it is rendered painless by anesthetics; and, (3), that so much suffering is induced by other causes, such as flesh-eating and sport, as to render of little or no account the addition made to the sum total by science. The two first of these pleas will find their answer in the citations presently to be made from the writings of the experimentalists and their partisans. The third, namely the existence of other and minor cruelties, such as those involved in flesh-eating and sport, so far from justifying the giant cruelty of vivisection, constitute rather a plea for renouncing these also, as many persons in these days are doing with manifold advantage to themselves and the world, on all planes of consciousness, physical, intellectual, moral, and
spiritual. For it is incontestable that the prevailing low level in thought and conduct, through which alone vivisection has been accepted, is largely if not wholly due to the deterioration of character and perception induced by a diet for which man is not naturally adapted, and on which therefore he cannot be at his best; since neither by his physical structure nor his moral constitution does man belong to the order of the carnivora. As the diet of the condition of self-deterioration theologically called “The Fall,” it must be renounced if man would reverse the Fall and achieve his Redemption. It needs but the love and the will to accomplish this. Nevertheless, true though it be that none can so consistently work for the deliverance of the animals from scientific cruelty as they who, by renouncing the use of them for food, have first made sacrifice in themselves, it is not true that the flesh-eater cannot consistently oppose vivisection. Between death and torture there is a vast gulf. Death is the common lot of all, and need not be painful; torture is exceptional, and must be painful.
The citations now about to be made are designed to serve a purpose over and above that of demonstrating the barbarity and other evils of vivisection, but one no less necessary to our purpose. For while they are intended to show that the experimentalists, at least those of our own country, are as unscrupulous in the statements whereby they support their practice as in the practice itself; they are intended also to discredit, by their tone and character, the individuals responsible for them, by convicting them out of their own mouths of being wholly undeserving of serious heed on this question, and this even though they be the foremost representatives of their craft. For, as should always be remembered, such fame as any mere
specialists may obtain is due to the praises of their own order, and by no means necessarily to genuine merit. Rather do they constitute what is termed a “mutual admiration society.”
One of the most notable of modern physiologists, the late Dr. W. B. Carpenter, writing in the Fortnightly Review of February, 1882, says, referring to the genus vivisector:
“I can from the bottom of may heart wish him God speed, in the full conviction that his work is true and right, and will be approved of as merciful in the highest sense by that divine Father who requires of us the obedience of the spirit, not of the letter.”
From which we learn that for the physiologist of the period one of these two things is true: Either there is no “divine Father” common to all created beings, but the animals come from some other and unholy source; or, a “divine Father” is one who approvingly permits the stronger and craftier members of his family, for their own selfish ends, ruthlessly to torture the weaker and simpler. While the man who, by doing this, follows such a Father is, by implication, a godlike man!
The same eminent specialist maintained also the thesis already exposed in part, that “because animals have no moral nature, therefore man has no moral obligations towards them.” Which is to say that our rule of conduct is to be, not our own sense of right and wrong, but the sense of right and wrong we ascribe to those with whom we may be dealing. So that if we credit them with a want of moral conscience we are justified in discarding
our own moral conscience in regard to them, and in being treacherous, false, unjust, selfish, cruel, and heedless of any obligation to our own moral superiority. Nevertheless – and here we have a specimen of the quality of the lay vivisectionist – the enunciation of this monstrous doctrine was shortly afterwards followed by the publication of a treatise – bearing the name of Girdlestone and dating from Clifton – maintaining the comparative non-sensibility of animals, which treatise was dedicated to Dr. Carpenter in token of what it called “his well-reasoned recognition of the claims equally of Religion and Morality upon the fealty of mankind!” It was in the laboratory of Dr. Carpenter that the experiment was performed of injecting boiling water into the stomach of a dog; and on being interrogated before the Royal Commission respecting his opinion of this wanton and barbarous act, he could find no word of reprobation for it, but declared that he “considered the infliction of any amount of pain to be justifiable for a sufficient (!) scientific purpose.”
It was not on the ground of their insensibility that Professor Charles Richet, in his article in the Revue de Deux Mondes, “Le Roi des Animaux”, rested the right to experiment upon animals; but on the ground of man’s superiority. By which he showed that, for his order, man is superior only because of the greater force at his disposal, and that kingship means not justice but tyranny, and the power to govern confers the right to torture. It is from this operator that the world has learned that “an average horse lives thirty-three days without food, while an average dog dies of starvation on the twenty-first day”, and other animals in varying periods. The series of experiments by which this valuable information was
obtained, comprised nearly thirty animals of several different kinds, all of whom were deliberately starved to death by him to obtain it. And it was in his laboratory that the experiment was performed which consisted in boating animals to a pulp with a heavy mallet. The following passage occurs in his published writings:
“I do not believe that a single experimenter says to himself when he gives curare to a rabbit, or cuts the spinal marrow of a dog, or poisons a frog, ‘Here is an experiment which will relieve or cure the disease of some man’. No, in truth, he does not think of that. He says to himself, ‘I shall clear-up some obscure point; I will seek out a new fact’. And this scientific curiosity, which alone animates him, is explained by the high idea he has formed of Science. This is why we pass our days in fetid laboratories, surrounded by groaning creatures, in the midst of blood and suffering, bent over palpitating entrails.” (1)
We find no hypocritical pretence here whether of utility or anesthetics, or of the comparative non-sensibility of the animals. The operator addresses himself to the public as frankly and as confident of their sympathy as we might conceive a devil addressing his fellow-devils, taking it for granted that the sentiments of humanity are as extinct in them as in himself.
In the same spirit Dr. Caradec writes:
“Let us leave aside the unwholesome (malsaine) theory of the utility of the applications of science. Let us cultivate it purely for itself, for the joy, the discipline, the enlargement of mind it gives the intelligence, absolutely as we should do good for good’s sake, without thought of a reward to follow. And
let us recognise boldly that Science has a right, in respect of any kind of knowledge whatever, to follow its own road, to determine its own method of investigation.” (1)
Professor Mantegazza similarly describes himself – in his treatise Del Dolore – as conducting his experiments “with much love and patience”; the said experiments being on the “physiology of pain,” and consisting in producing the maximum of suffering. He classifies the pain produced by him under the four heads, great pain, intense pain, cruel pain, and most atrocious pain. Among his victims were some animals far advanced in pregnancy. The handbooks of the craft expressly inculcate the repression of feeling on part of the operator. Says Dr. Cyon, in his manual (Methodic, p. 15):
“The true vivisector must approach a difficult vivisection with joyful excitement. He who shrinks from cutting into a living animal, or approaches an experiment as a disagreeable necessity, will never be an artist in vivisection.”
Writing in the Revue de Deux Mondes, the late Professor Claude Bernard called “The prince of experimentalists,” says: –
“Science permits us to do to the animals what morality forbids us to do to our own kind.”
Unable to say that morality permits us to torture the animals, and bent upon saying something in defence of the practice, he frames an expression absolutely meaningless, hoping to hoodwink the public by a mere jingle of words. As well might he have said, “science permits us to do to our own kind, what morality forbids us to do to the animals.” Of course “science” can neither permit
nor forbid. It belongs to morality alone to do that. And to talk of science in the abstract as permitting or forbidding, is as absurd as to talk of any particular science – say chemistry or geology – as permitting or forbidding. It was Claude Bernard, who, speaking of the results obtained by experimentation upon living animals, declared:
“Our hands are empty to-day, but our mouths are full of legitimate promises for the future.”
A prediction which hitherto the future has failed to fulfil. The promises, nevertheless, are as abundant as ever; the same operator thus defines his order:
“A physiologist is no ordinary man. He is a learned man, a man possessed and absorbed by a scientific idea. He does not hear the animal’s cries of pain. He is blind to the blood that flows. He sees nothing but his idea.”
How, while thus resolutely turning his back upon the ideal, he should be able to see a true idea, h e does not tell us. And he is quite oblivious of the fact that one of the recognised proofs of insanity is precisely such “possession and absorption by an idea” to the exclusion of all other considerations.
A notable achievement of this savant was the invention of a stove so contrived as to allow of observations being made upon animals while being slowly baked to death. After his death a street in Paris was called by his name; and a statue was erected to him opposite the College de France, towards which the English physiologists and their sympathisers generally contributed. The character of this memorial affords a striking instance of the levity of the order in regard to this ghastly subject. There is in Westminster Abbey a statue of the famous philanthropist
Samuel Wilberforce, who was so largely instrumental in procuring the abolition of negro slavery. It represents the hero sitting, with a negro kneeling in gratitude before him as the benefactor of his race. The memorialists of Claude Bernard adopted the idea of this design, but with a difference. They have placed beside the standing figure of the professor the effigy of a dog mangled and lying in a torture-trough. Thus, while we have honoured our hero by representing him with the slave he has delivered, the vivisectors have honoured their hero by representing him with the creature he has tortured to death. Such is their humour.
One of the foremost of our own leaders of science, after inditing the following passage from Scripture: –
“And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” proceeds to remark: “If any so-called religion takes away from this great saying of Micah, I think it wantonly mutilates – while , if it adds thereto, I think it obscures – the perfect ideal of religion. But what extent of knowledge, what acuteness of scientific criticism, can touch this, if anyone possessed of knowledge or acuteness could be absurd enough to make the attempt? Will the progress of research prove that justice is worthless and mercy hateful; will it ever soften the bitter contrast between our actions and our aspirations; or show us the bounds of the universe and bid us say, ‘Go to, now we comprehend the infinite?’” (1)
Seven years have elapsed since these admirable words were printed, and Professor Huxley has yet to show that he meant them seriously by withdrawing the weight of his support from the school of the torturers to cast it into the opposite scale. He still gives his countenance to that
method of research for whose followers – to use his own emphatic expression – “Justice is worthless and mercy hateful”; be still remains a devotee of what, to borrow another emphatic expression coined by him in a different connection, is but a “reasoned savagery.” Of course it remains open to him to contend as be has done, that animals may be little more than non-sensitive automata and incapable of pain. But it is equally open to the non-physiologist to distrust the seriousness of this contention and to demand that at least the animals should have the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile he can write with well-feigned indignation about the cruelty and wrong done in the case of the Gadarene swine – a favourite instance with the vivisectionists to prove that Christ was on their side! But does it never occur to him that if there be a parallel at all in the case, it is between the vivisectors und the devils? or that, taken as a parable, the story is admirable as importing that the selfish and cruel dispositions which men cherish in themselves, are so utterly detestable that even swine could not endure them, but would drown themselves to get rid of them? Of course the tormentors are not serious when they claim as their partisan Him whose whole life was a voluntary sacrifice of Himself for others. But how damning to them is their readiness to jest on a theme so horrible as vivisection.
Continuing our citations in support of the allegation that the vivisectionists are as unscrupulous in the statements by which they defend their practice as they are in the practice itself, we come to one taken from a book
entitled Character, as Seen in Body and Parentage, (1) and designed for popular education.
“Fifty thousand animals, “writes Mr. Jordan,” are selected and driven to slaughter – necessarily to slaughter if the human race is to continue to exist.”
How he arrives at this number, and for what period it would suffice, is not stated. The doctor is evidently unaware that the great majority of mankind are not flesh-eaters, and that the rest are so only by degeneracy of habit and in violation of their natural constitution.
“The physiologist,” he continues, “takes one of these, puts it into a deep sleep, and takes from it a truth beneficent both to men and animals. It is the one fortunate animal of the 50,000. Out of 50,000 deaths it would, if it had foreknowledge and choice, choose the one death allotted to it. (...) The strangest immorality of our time is the so-called anti-vivisectionist movement; immoral chiefly because it would perpetuate the cruelty of ignorance; immoral because it prefers the falsehood of indolence to the truth of research; immoral, also, because with instincts natural to the inexact multitude, it cares less for exact; truth than for effect, opinion, sensation, belief; immoral because it is insincere; for while giving itself out to be philanthropic, it is, at root, theological. It is theological in its motives, its methods, its objects, its agents, its writers, its speakers, its platforms; in its dislike, not of one science but of all the sciences.”
Against this impudently mendacious tirade, every allegation in which is evoked out of the writer’s own consciousness, having no foundation in fact, may be set the following statement of the Swiss expert Dr. Borel, written to expose the false pretence of painless vivisection set up by and on behalf of M. Pasteur. It is addressed to the
Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, in which it appeared, August 5th, 1889:
“Will you permit a vivisector, past, present and future – if it were necessary for the good of science and mankind – to tell those good people who believe seriously that the animals experimented on by M. Pasteur do not suffer, that they are deceiving themselves. My personal experience of fifteen years-practice gives me the right formally to deny the truth of that. I have vivisected birds, horses, frogs, rabbits, monkeys and, above all, dogs; and I can affirm three things: (1) That it is nearly completely impossible to employ anesthetics upon them so as to render them insensible. (2) That the sufferings of the animals after the experiments are so great that they are almost stupefied; showing the apathy and of the martyr. And (3) that the employment of curare, far from diminishing sensibility, augments it exceedingly; more than that, the use of it necessitates tracheotomy beforehand, to make them respire artificially, because the curare totally paralyses all voluntary movement, and thus they would otherwise suffocate.
“Anyone who is accustomed to a laboratory, to physiology, or to pathological experimentation, knows that animals suffer when vivisected, and greatly, until they die. No, it is necessary for M. Pasteur to have living animals to support his thesis; this letter is not the place to enquire “whether he is right or wrong; but I maintain, I, pathologist, and lately chief of an hospital, that he has imposed on brave men whose confidence he has Avon, when he pretends that these animals do not suffer. To listen to him, one would say they come voluntarily to submit themselves to his experiments, to procure pleasures hitherto unknown.”
Brutal as is the tone of this letter, there is in it a truth-full ring which carries conviction with it and effectually disposes of Mr. Jordan’s pretence about the “deep sleep” and “the one death the fortunate animal would choose.” But notwithstanding the palpable and proved falsehood of this pretence, it is a favourite one with the physiologists.
Professor Schiff, for instance, is wont gravely to assure the visitors to his laboratory at Geneva, that his victims regard him quite as their benefactor, and ought to consider themselves fortunate to have fallen into his hands rather than into those of other operators, whose cruelties – especially Claude Bernard’s, with whom he himself had worked – he strongly denounces. Yet Professor Schiff himself abjures anesthetics, using – when he uses any palliative at all – narcotics only, which merely stupefy and daze without inducing insensibility.
Speaking on behalf of both home and foreign experimentalists, Dr. Klein told the Royal Commission that they “pay no regard whatever to the sufferings of the animals.” And we have the assurance of a quondam experimenter, Dr. Hoggan, that “anesthetics are the greatest curse of vivisectible animals,” their effect being merely to lull the conscience of the public, and prevent them from forbidding the practice. This was before the passage of the Act for the regulation of vivisection. But what the practice still is under the Act, and how mendacious the denials, official and others, of the suffering inflicted, the following letter from a writer of repute – elicited by the allegation that the experimentalists are as unscrupulous in the statements by which they defend their practice, as in the practice itself – bears conclusive testimony.
“VIVISECTION: A DESCENT INTO HELL”
“I have not the heart to plead for the utility or the morality of vivisection any longer. I had written a dozen folios successfully, as I thought, refuting Mr. Maitland’s statements, with the exception of one or two minor points, re inspection, concerning which I had been misinformed. It was, however, gently suggested by one who had the right to advise that,
before sending off the MS., it might be well to avail myself of an open invitation to witness in person some stock experiments on living animals, especially frogs. I did so. A pledge of absolute secrecy was demanded and given; and he who so demanded was wise in his generation. One afternoon of Whit-week I descended into hell. Of what I saw I may not speak, save that it was eloquent enough of what had been done before, and what would be done afterwards. I came out into the sunshine of the outer world sickened, shocked, and revolted beyond measure; the twittering of free and happy birds seemed to thrill the air with tremulous agony, and such agony so miserably meaningless and inexpressibly pitiful was that I had left behind. I thought drearily of Inquisition tortures for the good of souls; I thought of theological casuistries anent the bloody vicarious sacrifice for the salvation of mankind. Alas, how blind we mortals are!”
“It simply remains to add that up to the present the intellectual judgment of this question is unchanged; but I refuse to condone that against which my heart and conscience rebel. I do not pronounce hastily, and must re-consider the matter in all its bearings, which will be a work of time. I am conscious that, in the words of Mrs. Besant, “some prices are too dear to pay for life,” and the licensed dissection of living animals is one of them.”
“Pain in man
Bears the high mission of the flail and fan;
In brutes ‘tis merely piteous.”
“Meanwhile, chiefly to Edward Maitland, but also to Mrs. Besant and A. Maconachie, my thanks are due for, however indirectly, causing me to confess an error accessory to crime.” (1)
It should be remembered that when a physiologist speaks of pain he does not use the terra in its colloquial sense. In his evidence before the Royal Commission, Dr. Sibson denied that it is painful to animals to be
baked, starved, or frozen to death, and that even the sufferings of human beings when wrecked at sea and left without food or drink, cause more than discomfort or inconvenience. He admitted, however, that Goltz’s experiment of boiling a frog to death was a “horrible idea, and he would not defend it.” He declared his own conviction that the experiments which involve suffering are very few; while Dr. Klein, on the contrary, declared that “many of them are necessarily of a painful character.” So far from the Act which regulates vivisection enforcing the use of anesthetics, it contains clauses dispensing with them in certain numerous cases; and even where used, they are frequently so ineffectually applied, that the expression “chloroform enough to swear by” has come into vogue in the laboratories; meaning enough to enable it to be certified as having been employed, but not enough to obviate suffering.
Notwithstanding Mr. Jordan’s allegation that the opposition to vivisection is based on a theological – meaning a religious, and, therein, an unworthy – motive, the practice bas not lacked the active support of the clergy. The late shrewd ecclesiastic, but indifferent Christian, Bishop – afterwards Archbishop – Magee, defended it in the House of Lords on the ground that in the hands of one single operator it had been the means of saving many hundreds of lives. And so firm was he in his advocacy that he refused to make retractation even after the statement had been conclusively shown to be false. The operation in question was that of ovariotomy, and it was Mr. – since Sir – Spencer Wells, who was wrongly credited
with having made the improvement by means of experiments upon guinea-pigs. Among the many absurdities of the claim is the fact that the danger which the operation in question has for human beings does not exist for animals, owing to the non-liability of the latter to inflammation of the parts concerned, whence the risk arises. But even otherwise the only verdict that could justly be pronounced upon a practitioner who should perform a capital operation upon a patient on the strength of any other mere animal, is, that he would deserve to be shut up as a dangerous lunatic. And so with all such experimentation, the difference of the constitution, especially in respect of the nervous system, being such as to render it impossible to reason from one to the other.
Nevertheless, many clergymen have been led to uphold the practice, some on the plea of utility, and some on grounds theological, the chief of which is its identity in principle with the tenet – cherished and exalted of priests, but abhorred and denounced of prophets – of vicarious sacrifice or the seeking of salvation through the suffering of others, and these innocent, instead of by repentance and self-amendment. (1) But it was reserved for a dignitary of
the Church to exalt it into a Christian grace. This was done in a sermon preached in the Metropolitan Cathedral of London, by the Bishop of Albany, N.Y.
According to this divine,
“The spirit of missionary enterprise finds illustration in the devotion of lives and treasure to wring the secrets of death and suffering from the brute creation over which God has given us dominion, that some mercy of help and healing should be brought to bear upon the mystery of human pain.” (1)
From which it would appear that Dr. Carpenter’s conception of a “Divine Father” is not peculiar to physiologists, but is shared by theologians of sufficient eminence to attain to bishoprics.
Not that the bishops are unanimous on the subject. For while, in the discussion at the Church Congress of 1892, the practice was emphatically reprobated by Bishops Barry and Moorhouse, it was as strongly defended by Bishop Dowden, who – speaking in the spirit of Arch-bishop Magee when he deprecated the “Sermon on the Mount” as unpractical – declared that the high level of morality, taken by the latter – which was “Morality up in a Balloon” – would be “most disastrous,” not to the
cause of religion and morality, but “to the Church of England!” And he further insisted that the known of doctors to their patients made it quite impossible that they should be cruel in the laboratory.
Many eminent practitioners have borne testimony, not alone to the uselessness, but to the positive mischievousness of animal experimentation. In the past generation, Professor Majendie, one of the most inveterate and hardened of operators, used to warn his friends against employing any medical man who had obtained his knowledge or skill by means of it, as he would have obtained it by methods sure to mislead. Sir Charles Bell pronounced emphatically in favour of anatomy as against experimentation as the means of discovery, and regretted that, owing to the refusal of other physiologists to accept its results, he was obliged to have recourse to it in order to convince them. And Sir William Fergusson declared before the Royal Commission that he knew of no good accruing from it. In our own day, the eminent surgeon, Mr. Lawson Tait, once an experimenter himself, has uttered frequent emphatic protests against it, in which several other practitioners have concurred. Thus, in a letter to a physician printed in the Zoophilist, of November, 1890, he says:
“You may take it from me that instead of vivisection having in any way advanced abdominal surgery” – his own especial department – “it has, on the contrary, had a uniform tendency to retard it. (...) As to the use of the antiseptics of Lister, it increased our mortality, prevented recovery, and did a vast deal of harm by retarding true progress.”
The usage here referred to was for a considerable period one of the most vaunted triumphs claimed for vivisection. Mr. Tait further declared that certain valuable
improvements were kept back at least twelve years through recourse to methods derived from vivisection. And in a more recent letter he relates how, by setting aside the practice based on experimentation, “the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of women have been saved during the last five or six years, while for nearly forty years the simple road to this gigantic success was closed by the folly of a vivisector.” (1) Among the reasons adduced by him for the failure of vivisection is the obvious and important one of the inability of the animals to describe their own symptoms.
Notwithstanding the lamentable results through blood-poisoning of Lister’s antiseptical treatment, Professor Horsley cites it (Nineteenth Century, November, 1892) in vindication of animal experimentation; and in the course of a controversy in which he makes wholesale charges of falsehood against his opponents, he has the hardihood to endorse M. Pasteur’s monstrous statistics, which assume that all the persons treated by him have been bitten by rabid animals and were in danger of hydrophobia, and that all who survive his treatment are saved by it!
In the French medical schools examiners are wont severely to reprimand students who cite experiments upon animals in support of any conclusion, and to tell them that such methods are only for idle and inaccurate men, the only sound ones being clinical and pathological observation and post mortem examination. And it is by means of these and not of experimentation that the only discovery yet made of the cerebral seat of any faculty – notwithstanding the vast amount of agonising experimentation
performed for the purpose – was achieved. This is the localisation of the faculty of speech in the third frontal convolution by the late Professor Broca of Paris. Nevertheless, so infatuated with the method are even the fore-most of our own magnates of science that Professor Tyndall cannot refrain from concluding an article the whole burden of which is the importance of cleanliness both to the prevention and the cure of disease, with a denunciation of the anti-vivisectionists as a “crew of well-meaning homicides,” as if they were opposed to measures of that kind! (1)
This contention on behalf of greater cleanliness in the treatment of the sick and in the conditions of life generally, as the true cause of such progress as has been made in the treatment of disease, received emphatic support from Sir William Savory, who, speaking at the Medical Congress of 1881, of the great reduction in hospital mortality in recent times, said that “the change was due to the recognition of filth and foulness arising from putrefaction. Surgical wards, not long ago hot-beds of poison, are now fairly safe for patients!” – an indictment this of his own profession in the near past, which the most fanatical anti-vivisectionist would find it hard to surpass.
To come to another Goliath of the Philistine science of our own time and country. Being called on to de-liver an address on the unveiling of a statue of Harvey at Folkestone in 1881, Professor Sir Richard Owen not only denied Harvey’s own account of his share in the discovery of the circulation of the blood, by ascribing to experimentation that which Harvey himself ascribed to anatomy, but he took occasion yet further to exalt the experimental
method by ascribing to it the improvement made by Hunter in the treatment of aneurism, and sundry other discoveries, one only of which was really due to it, namely Lister’s antiseptics, the use of which, as above stated, proved so dangerous as generally to have been abandoned. The whole address was a piece of special pleading for vivisection; and, while the Professor claimed for the experimentalists that they are the true “Humanitarians,” on the ground that they work for the benefit of human beings, he stigmatised their opponents as “Bestiarians,” on the ground that they work for the benefit of the animals. Doing which, he showed how possible it is to combine the profoundest knowledge of the frame of man with the profoundest ignorance of man himself, and afforded a further signal illustration of the propensity of his order to sacrifice the reality of man to the form of man. For his address – which was copiously interspersed with pietistic phrases – contained a passage to which, if not intended to inculcate the propriety of an early hardening of the disposition by the general suppression in youth of the sentiments of com-passion and tenderness, it is difficult to assign a meaning. These were his words: –
“Labour, then, my young friends who may now listen to me: cultivate above all the manual arts of unravelling organic structures in the dead subject, and in perfecting your skill in exposing the parts which must be seen or experimented on in the lower living animals to yield the needed knowledge of their actions and functions.” (1)
The reproach so frequently brought against anti-vivisectionists, that they care more for the animals than for their own kind, becomes grotesque in its perversity
when it is considered that it is precisely their love for humanity and their desire to rescue it from degradation and loss, that prompts their efforts on behalf of the animals. They know that terrible as is the lot of these, that of their oppressors is even worse. For the principles of humanity cannot be renounced with impunity; but their renunciation, if persisted in, involves inevitably the forfeiture of humanity, and all the dread consequences, here and hereafter, appertaining thereto.
It is true that as materialist the scientist of the day denies a future state for man. But it is also true that as evolutionist, he is logically bound to affirm it; seeing that without a permanent principle to retain and progress by moans of experiences received, evolution is impossible. And it is no less logical to hold that the condition in such future state depends upon the tendencies voluntarily encouraged in the present.
The discrepancy subsisting between the practice and the theory of the Paris schools concerning the utility of vivisection led the late Dr. Anna Kingsford, while studying medicine there, to ask the chef of her hospital – a man of high professional distinction – for an explanation. His reply, professorially addressed to the assembled class of students, throws such a flood of light on the whole subject as to qualify it to complete and crown this list of citations. It was to the effect, that he and his colleagues of the Faculté neither claimed for vivisection that it had been of any practical use in the past, nor expected it to he of such use in the future. But they insisted upon it as a necessary protest on behalf of them dependence of science, as against the interference of religionists and moralists. When the world at large, he declared, should have attained the high intellectual level of Franco, and
discarded its absurd beliefs in God, the Soul and Moral responsibility, or any criterion beyond practical utility, then, and then only, could science afford to dispense with vivisection. (1)
From which it appears that while in this country this most atrocious of all forms of seeking one’s own advantage regardless of the cost in suffering to other sentient beings, is claimed by some of its partisans to be in accordance with the principles of morality and religion, its more candid advocates abroad, where there is no pretence of a public conscience to be hoodwinked and cajoled, make its very immorality and impiety its fitting qualifications to serve as a protest against the interference of morality and religion with science, and therein against morality and religion themselves and all that they imply.
Defining precisely the leading conclusions to which a careful and comprehensive study of the question irresistibly compels the candid mind, we find as follows: – (1) That like other illicit passions the passion for experimentation upon living subjects grows by what it is fed upon until it becomes a positive mama, and that in such degree as vivisection prevails in the medical schools of any land, there the poor are in danger of repairing to the hospital only to find it a laboratory and themselves the victims of agonising and murderous experimentation performed on there for purposes altogether foreign to their own cases.
(2) That the substitution of methods so barbarous and unscientific for the humane and sound methods of clinical and pathological observation and post mortem examination, operates inevitably to the deterioration not only of the science of medicine but also of the practitioners them-selves, by repelling from the study of it the finest minds to hand it over to the hardest hearts and consequently to the dullest intelligences. This is because, as a form of insensibility, cruelty is akin to stupidity; and the first and most essential condition of interpretation, and therein of discovery – in science, as in all other departments what-ever of activity – the first condition, that is to say, of understanding, is sympathy. And of this faculty, vivisection, by the confession of its own votaries, as well as by the nature of the case, represents the absolute negation.
This is but as would confidently be anticipated by intelligent students of Nature who have learnt to look within the veil, and represents the Nemesis which inevitably attends on the violation of her laws, whether physical or moral. For, as these know absolutely, Nature is no mere mechanism, inconscient and insensible to defiance and outrage. Like her own children, she is a Soul, having a body. For we can have nothing that she has not. And she is very woman, whose real law is sympathy, whatever to shallow and loveless observation it may appear to be. For she reflects to each one who approaches her precisely the image he presents to her. Wherefore to those, and those only, who court her with reverence, humility, patience, and tenderness, does she open her heart and disclose her secrets. But the attempt to ravish these from her by violence – how mean so ever the subject of assault – she vehemently resents, and
avenges by smiting with impotence the intellect of the offender, so that he can in no wise discern the significance even of that which with his outer eyes he may behold. From this it comes – as is demonstrated by all the records of the practice – that, like the witness stretched upon the rack, Nature, put to the question by torture, answers with a lie. Through a creature crucified alive to a plank, cut into with knives, torn with saws, burnt with acids or hot irons, pounded to a jelly with mallets, pierced through and through with skewers, scalded inside and out with. boiling water, wetted with spirits and set on fire, plunged into boiling oil, whose brain and eyes and organs and limbs are dissected out bit by bit, whose nerves and sinews are wrung to their utmost tension with hooks and pincers, whose whole circulation is deranged and whose frame is writhing throughout with agony, Nature permits no trustworthy revelation to be made; so that the very “facts” obtained by a vivisecting science are not truths, but falsehoods. And if instances be demanded in token whether of the futility of the method or of its paralysing influence upon the minds of its followers, we have these two crucial ones. (1) Physiologists were – unknown to the general public – vivisecting not only animals but men and women – criminals from the prisons of Egypt and Italy being delivered to them in hundreds for the purpose – for nearly two thousand years, before that most probable and obvious of natural phenomena was discovered, the circulation of the blood. And the discovery, when at length it was made, was received by the profession at large with incredulity and derision. The discovery, moreover, though made by vivisectors – for it was contributed to by several – was neither due to vivisection, nor could have been made through vivisection,
but to anatomy only. (1) (2) To this day, as already mentioned it is a question – real or pretended – among physiologists, whether animals are capable of feeling pain.
Meanwhile Science, while resorting to such methods, has the effrontery, through the mouths of its votaries, to boast of its “bloodless victories!” Nevertheless the boast is true, but not as its utterers intend it. Its victories have indeed been “bloodless:” but, wherever it has sought knowledge by cruel means, it has suffered an unbroken series of defeats.
It is worthy of note that whereas Harvey declared – as pointed out by Dr. Bridges in the Harveian Oration for 1892 – that “neither by sight nor by touch could he trace the causes of the heart’s motion, though he watched it for hours together”; Professor Campbell declares that “there can be no real teaching of physiology to a student who has never seen a beating heart.” (Report of the Bureau of Education on Biological Instruction in the United States, 1892.)
To conclude. As history shows, every age has its dominant orthodoxy claiming a vested interest in some barbarous wrong. But, as history also shows, it was not by tamely submitting to the dictation of specialists that our forefathers procured for us the possibilities of such progress as has been made. Wherefore, as they abolished, one after another, such horrors as bloody sacrifices, human and animal, prisoner-killing, witness-torturing, gladiatorial and other brutal sports, heretic-burning and
racking and persecution generally for conscience’ sake, witch-baiting, negro-slavery, and the rest, – so let us in our turn abolish the peculiar barbarism of our time, and this utterly; refusing any compromise or conditions, as dealing with men who have proved a thousand times over that the honour of humanity is not safe in their hands. Thus doing, we shall set ourselves and our children free to follow with unstained hearts and hands those knowledges whose power to bless or to curse depends no less on the method of their acquisition than on that of their application.
As it is, our rights of citizenship are grievously infringed. We are entitled to dwell in the land of our birth without having our lives rendered intolerable by the consciousness that such horrors are enacted and such principles recognised, under the sanction of our laws and the protection of our police. It is not only a question of torturing animals, it is a question of torturing men and women also. For we are tortured, and all other really human beings with us, through the knowledge of what is being done among us. Life for us is embittered and poisoned, even more than by a renewal of the fires of Smithfield, and the tortures of the Inquisition. Men and women can make resistance or cry for aid; and martyrs are not without their compensation. But the poor victims of the physiological laboratory are of those who, if man be against them, have no one on earth to help them. While the pitiful selfishness and cowardice of it is enough to make us despise and hate our own kind. Appealing only to our lowest instincts, the pleas advanced for it are an insult to our manhood and our womanhood.
Nor can we with consistency or hope of success pursue our warfare against the ruffianism of the street or the
alley, or the manifold forms of cruelty engendered of thoughtlessness, luxury and vice, when our endeavours may be met by the plea that, do what the perpetrators of these may, they cannot begin to compete with the licensed atrocities of the laboratory. The motive in each case is really the same. For in all it is, in some kind, self-gratification at the cost of others. And to punish in the poor and ignorant that which is permitted, and in a far greater degree, to the rich and cultured, is class legislation of the worst kind. Constituting the extremest instance conceivable of seeking one’s own advantage regardless of the cost to others, if vivisection be right then nothing is wrong.
Thus smiting down vivisection, we shall prove our-selves the true descendants and successors of those who smote down the corresponding iniquities of the past, who will live again in us, for the spirit is the same. And they who uphold vivisection will prove themselves the true descendants and successors of those who upheld the corresponding iniquities of the past, who will live again in them, for the spirit is the same. Then, just as now, abolition was denounced as dangerous to religion, morals, and the best interests of society. Historians tell us that the decline of the taste for human sacrifices – a practice once universal – was lamented as a piece of morbid sentimentality and a sign of national degeneracy. But just as the world has never regretted the abolition of such things in the past, so – we may rest assured – it will never regret the like abolition now. But rather will it rejoice evermore in its recognition, though tardy, of the self-evident propositions that as there is one and the same source, and that a divine source, for all things good and true, true science, like true religion, neither needs nor
can be advanced by torture, but can only be injured; that it were as well to take the opinion of sorcerers, or brigands, or of the priests of the Inquisition, or of any others who have put themselves out of the pale of humanity, respecting their practice, as that of the priests of a vivisecting science respecting theirs; that it is a far less evil to suffer than to deserve to suffer; and that, come what may, it is better to die men than to live fiends.
(19:1) The term “Vivisection” is used herein to denote all kinds of scientific experimentation upon live animals.
(30:1) Revue de Deux Mondes. February 15th, 1883. Cited in part from Anti-vivisection Evidences, by Ben. Bryan, 20 Victoria Street, S.W., 1802. For a categorical reply to M. Richet’s article see “Roi ou Tyran?” by Dr. Anna Kingsford.
(31:1) De Ia Ligue contre les Vivisections. Paris, 1878.
(33:1) Nineteenth Century, Dec. 1885.
(35:1) By Furneaux Jordan, F.R.C.S., p. 101. Kegan Paul & Co., edition of 1890.
(38:1) From The Agnostic Journal, June 25th, 1892.
(40:1) The adoption by Christendom of the sacerdotal presentment of its religion to the virtual rejection of the spiritual, in face of the unqualified preference accorded in Scripture to the latter, is a problem, the solution of which would, in all probability, shed a flood of light, not only on the sanction accorded by Christendom to the Inquisition and the physiological laboratory, and on the world’s sacrificial system generally, but also on the modern revolt against religion. For a frank treatment of this subject, and its bearing on vivisection, the reader is referred to one of the shilling issues of The Esoteric Christian Union, entitled The New Gospel of Interpretation, published by Lamley & Co., Exhibition Road, S.W.
Some sentences in sections 2 and 3 in this essay are transferred from its pages. As if expressly to confute Mr. Jordan’s allegation of the theological character of the opposition to vivisection, Sir Andrew Clark, speaking at Bristol while these pages are in The press, at the opening of a new Medical School, November 16, 1892, declared that the “law of vicarious sacrifice was plainly of divine appointment; and if one animal might not be used in the service of another and a higher animal, God was neither just nor loving.” “Used in the service of another” is the latest physiological euphemism for the deliberate infliction of torture by the stronger upon the weaker for selfish ends; while all distinction disappears between use and abuse!
(41:1) From a letter in The Spectator, September 1st, 1888, quoting a sermon which had been preached at St. Paul’s, June 18th.
(43:1) From a letter in the Birmingham Daily Post, October 4th, 1892, reprinted by the Victoria Street Society.
(44:1) Fortnightly Review, September, 1891. Article: “Tuberculosis.”
(45:1) Experimental Physiology, p. 13.
(47:1) The incident is referred to in the Nineteenth Century, February, 1882. “The Uselessness of Vivisection,” by Dr. Anna Kingsford.
(50:1) As see Dr. J.H. Bridges’ “Harvey and Vivisection,” Fortnightly Review, July, 1876.
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