An Ethical Problem - Or, Sidelights upon Scientific Experimentation on Man and Animals
by Albert Leffingwell
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[1] "Physiological Researches," by John Reid, p. 92. (In all quotations the italics are the compiler's.)

Regarding the pain inflicted by him in certain other vivisections, Reid is equally frank in his admissions:

"In repeated experiments upon the laryngeal nerves, we found in all animals operated upon (except two dogs, which appeared CONSIDERABLY EXHAUSTED BY GREAT PREVIOUS SUFFERING) ample ground for dissenting from the statements of Dr. Alcock.... With the exceptions mentioned, VERY SEVERE INDICATIONS OF SUFFERING ... ATTENDED THE PINCHING AND CUTTING OF THE NERVE."[1]

[1] "Physiological Researches," p. 73.

Some physiological observers have remarked that among the more highly organized species of animals the creature struggles against the ligatures previous to a second operation more than it did at its first experience. It is evident that in such cases, in animals as well as among human beings, the memory of agony endured creates a mental condition of terror and fear. But what effect would the emotion of terror have upon the heart's action if certain nerves were first severed? Brachet relates an experiment wherein he tortured a dog in every conceivable way, yet the heart's action was not notably quickened if such nerves were first divided. Reid determined, therefore, to experiment for himself upon this emotion of TERROR induced by memory of previous pain, and six dogs were selected for his purpose. The nerves were first "cut in the middle of the neck, and a portion of each removed." He then tells us the results:

"After the operation, the pulsations of the heart were reckoned when the animal was lying or standing on the ground, and AFTER IT HAD BEEN CARESSED FOR SOME TIME TO CALM ITS FEARS. It was then lifted up on the table, on which it had been tied, and operated upon; and after having been spoken to HARSHLY, the pulsations were again reckoned."

In every case Reid noted that the heart's action increased from 20 to 40 beats per minute on lifting the animal to the vivisection table, whereon it had previously suffered torment. He adds:

"In those experiments it was particularly observed that the animals made no struggles in carrying them to and from the table, and consequently the increased excitation of the heart MUST HAVE ARISEN FROM THE MENTAL EMOTION OF TERROR. In a seventh dog this was conjoined with violent struggles. The pulsations, eight hours after the operation, were 130; WHEN PLACED ON THE TABLE AND MADE TO STRUGGLE, the pulsations were about 220; when he had been SUBJECTED TO PAIN, and struggled more violently, they became so frequent that they could not be accurately reckoned. These experiments...prove that after the section of the vagi the pulsations of the heart may not only be quickened by muscular exertion, but also by MENTAL EMOTIONS."[1]

[1] Reid, "Physiological Researches," pp. 168-171.

Objection is often made to the citation of vivisections which occurred before the discovery of ether or chloroform. But in these experiments of Reid—as in those of Brachet—the use of anaesthetics, even had they been known to him, would have been a hindrance. HOW CAN ANYONE EXPERIMENT ON THE "MENTAL EMOTIONS" OF AN ANIMAL WHILE IT IS PROFOUNDLY INSENSIBLE TO ALL EXTERNAL INFLUENCES? The idea is an absurdity. The biography of Reid thus refers to this very point:

"Allusion has been made to the infliction of suffering on living animals.... This suffering was not merely incidental to dissections, but in many of the experiments recorded WAS DELIBERATELY INFLICTED. In many of the experiments, EVEN IF ANAESTHETICS HAD BEEN KNOWN at the period of his observations, THEY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED.... It was essential to the settlement of the question that the animal should be left TO EXHIBIT ALL THE PAIN IT FELT, AND SHOULD BE EXPRESSLY SUBJECTED TO TORTURE."[2]

[2] "Life of John Reid," by Geo. Wilson, M.D., 1852, p. 153.

And precisely the same apology is put forward to-day. More than once, by high scientific authority, the public has been comfortably assured that nowadays "anaesthetics are always employed," in severely painful experiments, EXCEPT "in those instances in which THE ANAESTHETIC WOULD INTERFERE WITH THE OBJECT OF THE EXPERIMENT." Truly it is a broad exception. For all we know, it is the laboratory's excuse, even for the present-day repetition of the experiments of Magendie, Brachet, and Reid. "The anaesthetic would interfere." But what was the value of all this experimentation upon mind and body, this "mental emotion of terror" in a dog, and this calming of its fear by caresses, followed by the torment of the operation? There was no value so far as the treatment of human ailments is concerned. Reid's experiments led to no change whatever in medical practice. Reading of certain experiments, one is constantly reminded of the old peasant's reply to his grandchild, who had found a skull on what once was a battlefield. Holding it in his hand, the old man told the story of the Battle of Blenheim, and the awful suffering it had caused:

"'But what good came of it at last?' Said little Peterkin; 'Why, that I cannot tell,' quoth he, 'BUT 'TWAS A FAMOUS VICTORY!'"

At the early age of thirty-eight the physiologist seemed to see before him the bright prospect of a long and happy life. He possessed unusual physical strength, robust health, and a resolute and courageous spirit. His home was happy. No one considered him a cruel man; indeed, we are told, he was rather fond of animals. "In his own house he always had pet dogs and cats about him, and he was as ready as Sir Walter Scott to rise from any occupation to humour their whims." In his profession he had made somewhat of a reputation, yet higher honours and wider renown and increased financial prosperity seemed almost certain to await him in the not distant future.

But one day, in November, 1847, he noted in himself the symptom of a disease that gave cause for alarm. The pain at first was doubtless insignificant, but the symptom occasioned anxiety because it would not disappear. Some of his friends were the best surgeons of Scotland, and he asked their advice. They were careful not to add to his discouragement, and they suggested the old, old formula—"rest and a change of scene." A year passed. The disease made constant progress, and there came a time when of its malignant character there could be no possible doubt. Finally, the vivisector recognized that it was not merely death which confronted him, but death by the most mysterious and agonizing of human ailments. In June, 1848, he wrote to a friend: "I have a strong conviction that my earthly career will soon come to a close, and that I shall never lecture again."

And then, gradually, to the ever-increasing agony of the body, came the anguish of REMORSE. He remembered the trembling little creatures which again and again he had lifted to their bed of torment, and "made to struggle," that he might observe how the heart-beats of a mutilated animal were quickened "from the emotion of terror"; and now, in the gloom of horrible imaginings, TERROR held HIM with a grasp that would never loosen or lessen while his consciousness remained. He remembered the the evidence of "severe suffering" he had so often evoked by the "pinching and cutting and stretching" of nerves; the creatures he had first "caressed to calm their fears"—and then vivisected; the eyes that so often had appealed for respite from agony—and appealed in vain; and now, NATURA MALIGNA, to whom pity is unknown, was slowly torturing him to death. He pointed to the seat of his suffering as being "THE SAME NERVES on which he had made so many experiments, and added: 'THIS IS A JUDGMENT UPON ME FOR THE SUFFERING I HAVE INFLICTED ON ANIMALS'"[1]

[1] "Life of John Reid," by Dr. G. Wilson, p. 273.

More than once during the last months of his life he recurred to the same subject.

His biographer says:

"He could not divest his mind of the feeling that there was a special Providence in the way in which he had been afflicted. He had devoted peculiar attention to the functions of certain nerves, and had inflicted suffering on many dumb creatures that he might discover the office of those nerves; and HE COULD NOT BUT REGARD THE CANCER WHICH PREYED UPON THEM—IN HIS OWN BODY—AS A SIGNIFICANT MESSAGE FROM GOD."[2]

[2] Ibid., p. 250.

Again and again he repeated the conviction to which his mind continually reverted in the midst of his torment. To him conscience brought no message of Divine approbation, but only a sentence of condemnation upon his past pursuits. Nor was Reid alone in this feeling of apprehension and questioning. We are told by his medical friend and biographer that many of his brother physicians were startled by learning

"that Dr. Reid is doomed to die by a disease WHICH REPEATS UPON HIS OWN BODY NOT IN ONE, BUT IN MANY WAYS, the pains which he had imposed upon the lower animals."[1]

[1] Reid's "Life," p. 252.

Undoubtedly, friends of the tormented vivisector attempted to comfort him with the assurance—so often repeated in our day—that his experiments on living animals had been carried on "for the benefit of sick and suffering humanity." But Reid was too honest a man to permit himself to be thus deluded while under the very shadow of death. For him the time had come when the specious apologies for the infliction of torture—so current in our day—could be of no avail in lessening the poignant feeling of Remorse. In the dying hour men speak the truth about their actions. It was so with Reid.

"He confessed to having thought much of Scientific FAME in his labours, and IT WOULD BE UNTRUE TO SAY THAT THE ALLEVIATION OF HUMAN SUFFERING was the motive always before him when he inflicted pain on the lower animals."[2]

[2] Ibid., p. 65.

An operation seemed to hold out hope of relief from his terrible agony. It was deemed best to perform it—as Reid had experimented— without anaesthetics, "that the sufferer, with every sensation and faculty alive, might literally become an operator upon himself." In the course of a second operation, Dr. Wilson tells us: "THE SAME NERVES and bloodvessels which had been the subject of Dr. Reid's most important inquiries WERE LAID BARE IN HIMSELF, BY THE SURGEON'S KNIFE." But all remedial measures were in vain. The two years of apprehension, suspense, recognition, despair, of slowly increasing physical torment and the agony of remorse, came at last to an end. In July, 1849, he found the long-wished-for peace.

Seventy years ago the religious sentiment of Scotland easily favoured that doctrine of Divine displeasure which seemed probable to Reid and his friends. In our day, however, we are less certain of being able to interpret the "judgments of God"; and if we regard it as a remarkable coincidence, it is as far as we may safely go. Coincidences of some kind are a universal experience.

That notorious vivisector, Dr. Brown-Se'quard, devoted many years of his life to experiments on the seat of all that is concentrated and exquisite in agony—the spinal cord. It was a curious coincidence certainly, that in his last days the vivisector was affected by a disease of the spinal cord, which at one time compelled him to go on all-fours like a beast. Even the remorse of Reid finds a parallel, for toward the end of his life, Haller, one of the greatest physiologists that ever lived, is said to have expressed in letters deep regret for the suffering he had inflicted upon living animals.

We cannot doubt, however, that the experience of excruciating agony affecting the very nerves upon which he had so often experimented must have brought to the dying man a deeper realization of the pain he had caused than he could otherwise have known. A noted surgeon, whose finger was the seat of a felon, asked his hospital assistant to lance it, at the same time cautioning him to be particularly careful to cause as little pain as possible. "Why, I've often heard you tell patients coming to the hospital not to mind the lancing—that the pain to be felt was really nothing at all," replied the assistant.

"Ah, yes," rejoined the surgical sufferer, "but then, remember, I was AT THE OTHER END OF THE KNIFE!" In watching the phenomena elicited by experiments upon animals, there have been vivisectors who forget what was felt "at the other end of the knife," and so became utterly oblivious to the suffering they caused. A leading physiologist of England once declared that he "HAD NO REGARD AT ALL" for the pain of an animal vivisected, and that "he had no time, so to speak, for thinking what the animal would feel or suffer"; that he never used anaesthetics, "except for convenience' sake." Can such a man realize the meaning of the word "PAIN"? Without sharp personal experience, can anyone, adequately comprehend what it signifies?

Remorse may be evidence, not so much of exceptional delinquency as of exceptional sensitiveness to ethical considerations. By the baser and more degraded souls it is rarely experienced. The greatest criminals usually meet their doom, untouched by any feeling of remorse. Perhaps it does not greatly matter how this infinite regret is occasioned. Sometimes—

"... pain in man Has the high purpose of the flail and fan."

It separates and purifies. To one whose great suffering from disease is long continued, there must come a clearer vision of the infinite littleness of all transitory ambitions. Such supreme regret as that which came to Reid has great value. The poor soul once so longed for "fame"—which means only a little wider recognition to-day, and a little more enduring remembrance by posterity than that which is gained by the generality of mankind. Of that horde of torturers, avid also for "fame," whose causation of unreckonable anguish brings into their ignoble natures no thought of pity, no emotion of regret, everyone comes at last to rest in that deep forgetfulness which he deserves. Here, however, is the story of one whose penitence gives reason for longer remembrance, who greatly erred and greatly suffered, whose contrition atoned, whose example admonishes—JOHN REID, physiologist.



At every point in the discussion of vivisection we are confronted by the plea of utility. If, to some extent, we may admit the reasonableness of the argument, yet such admission must be with certain definite reservations. The infliction of extreme pain either upon human beings or on animals for objects other than their own benefit—how far is it to be justified if some useful end is thereby achieved? The subject is worth of study.

The utility of judicial torture as a method of securing the confession of criminals does not seem to have been questioned for hundreds of years. The Romans often put all their slaves to torture as soon as any crime occurred, of which some of their servants could have been aware. That sometimes the innocent suffered beyond endurance and falsely confessed seemed to our forefathers no reason whatever for changing an ancient custom, so often productive of useful ends. Mysterious crimes, which under our modern methods of investigation escape detection, were frequently brought to light in earlier times simply by the threat of torment and the sight of the executioner. There can be no question that in innumerable cases the torture of accused criminals whose guilt was almost certain, yet not absolutely proven, served to further the ends of Justice. If modern civilization condemns the torture of suspected lawbreakers, it is upon other grounds than that Justice finds it useless in every case.

The public punishment of great offences against the state—punishment accompanied with ignominy and extreme torment—seemed to our ancestors equally justified by utility. If an old woman were convicted of witchcraft—and nobody questioned the actuality of the offence two hundred and fifty years ago—her punishment by burning at the stake certainly might be expected to deter others from entering into compacts with the Evil One. If heresy and unbelief lead not only the sceptic himself, but all who follow his teaching, into eternal darkness, there seemed to our forefathers no surer method of checking the first tendencies toward intellectual revolt, and saving innumerable souls, than by delivering the heretic to the flames, and accompanying his execution by everything calculated to excite popular derision and execration. The public punishment of treason, and particularly of attempted or achieved assassination of the sovereign or head of the State, was made as excruciating and terrible as possible, in order THAT THE EXAMPLE MIGHT DETER.

We speak somewhat vaguely to-day of such tortures and their atrociously horrible accompaniments. It may be worth while to see just what they were. two or three centuries ago civilized nations considered that IF TORMENT WAS USEFUL IT WAS JUSTIFIABLE. There are three cases which stand out in history with especial distinctness, the details of which are little known, and I propose to cite them simply as evidence of the extent to which judicial torment was carried, but a little while ago, among some of the most enlightened and progressive nations of modern times.

If ever the assassination of a Prince deserved the severest punishment, it was the murder in July, 1584, of William the Silent, the leader of the Protestants of Holland in their struggle for independence from Spanish dominion. The sentence pronounced upon the murderer, Balthazar Gerard, a mere hired assassin, was carried out within ten days after commission of the crime. A contemporary writer, apparently an eyewitness of his execution, speaks of Gerard as one "whose death was not of a sufficient sharpness for such a caitiff, and yet too sore for any Christian." His description of the murderer' execution is as follows:

"The order of the torment was four days. He had the first day the strappado openly, in the market; the second day, whipped and salted, and his right hand cut off; the third day, his breasts cut out, and salt thrown in, and then his left hand cut off. The last day of his torment, which was the 10th of July, he was bound to two stakes, standing upright, in such order that he could not shrink down nor stir any way. Thus standing, naked, there was a great fire placed some small distance from him wherein heated pincers of iron, with which pincers two men did pinch and pull his flesh in small pieces from his bones throughout most parts of his body. Then was he unbound from the stakes and laid upon the earth, and again fastened to four posts; then they ripped him up, at which time he had life and PERFECT MEMORY."[1]

[1] Harl. Misc., vol. iii., p. 200. "Printed at Middleborough, Anno 1584." The above account is taken from a rare publication, in the British Museum Library. Motley's account of Gerard's torment includes elements of horror not mentioned by this writer.

Thus did Holland, a leading civilized nation, attempt to deter assassins from assaulting her rulers.

Three centuries ago in May, 1610, Henry IV., King of France, was struck down by the dagger of Francis Ravilliac; and France, the leading civilized nation of Europe, determined that the punishment of the crime should be so horrible that it might be expected for ever to deter others from imitating his offence. Standing in a tumbril, naked in his shirt, with the knife wherewith he had stabbed the King chained to his right hand, Ravilliac was carried to the doors of the Church of Notre Dame, where he was made to descend, and to do penance for his crime.

"After this was he carried to the Greve, where was builded a very substantial scaffold of strong timber, whereupon he was to be tormented to death. By the executioners, he was bound to an engine of wood and iron, made like to a St. Andrew's Cross; and then the hand, with the knife chained to it, wherewith he slew the king, and half the arm, was put into an artificial furnace, then flaming with fire and brimstone...yet nothing at all would he confess, but yelled out with such horrible cries, even as it had been a Divill or some tormented soul in hell...and though he deserved ten times more, yet humane nature might inforce us to pity his distress. After this with tongs and iron pincers made extreme hot in the same furnace, the executioners pinched and seared his breasts, his arms, and thighs and other fleshy parts of his body, cutting out collops of flesh and burned them before his face; afterward into the same wounds thus made, they poured scalding oil, rosen, pitch and brimstone...yet he would reveal nothing but that he did it of himself...because the King tolerated two religions in his kingdom...but cried out with most horrible roars, even like the dying man tormented in the brazen bull of Philaris."

Finally, his body was torn to pieces by four strong horses, the remains gathered and burnt, and the ashes scattered to the winds. "God in His justice," piously observes the narrator, "will, I hope, in like manner reward all such as desperately attempt to lift their hands against the Lord's Anointed."[1]

[1] Harl. Misc., vol. vi., p. 607. "The Terrible and deserved death of Francis Ravilliac, showing the manner of his strange torments at his execution, the 25th of May last past, for the murther of the late French King, Henry IV."

Almost a century and a half passed before the Place de Greve, in Paris, again witnessed the torment of a fanatic for an attack upon the sacred person of a King. On January 5, 1757, Louis XV. was slightly wounded by a young Frenchman, Robert Franc,ois Damiens. The injury was not severe, and the King's recovery was soon complete. Such an attack, however, was a capital offence, and it was determined that the criminal should not only lose his life, but that he should be made to undergo every possible addition of torment and agony. On the morning of March 28, 1757, Damiens was subjected to torture, in order to induce him to reveal the names of any accomplices. In the extremity of his agony he appeared at one time to lose consciousness; but the surgeon and the physician—"qui font toujours pre'sent a' la torture"—declared him still conscious, and the torment continued, accompanied by "terrible cries." When he had been for two hours and a quarter in the hands of the tormentors, the physician and surgeon gave it as their opinion that to continue might lead to an "accident," and the doomed wretch was taken to his dungeon, in order to recuperate.

Toward three o'clock of the afternoon the same day, Damiens was notified that everything was in readiness for his execution. Clothed in but a single garment, he was made to mount a tumbril, and was carried to the doors of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Descending from the cart, holding a lighted candle in his hands, he knelt and made "l'amende honorable," after the form prescribed., It is but a short distance from the Church of Notre Dame to the Place de Greve. Here a vast crowd had gathered in order to witness the extremest agony of a dying man. Members of the French aristocracy were present; ladies of quality paid vast sums for the occupancy of windows overlooking the square, and played cards to pass the time until the spectacle of torment should begin. A scaffold about 9 feet square received the executioners and their victim. The tortures were of the same character as those inflicted in the same place upon the assassin of Henry IV. There was the burning of the right hand, the mutilation of the body and limbs, the pouring of melted lead and other substances into bleeding wounds. Terrible cries, "heard at a great distance," were induced; there were shrieks for pity; there were prayers to God for strength to endure: "Mon Dieu, la force! la force! Seigneur mon Dieu, ayez pitie de moi! Seigneur mon Dieu, donnez-moi la patience!" Prayers for patience, for strength to suffer and endure—these his only petitions in the supreme agony.

At last came the final act of the tragedy. Four young and vigorous horses were attached, each to a seared and lacerated limb, and the attempt was made to rend asunder the still living body. The horrible spectacle lasted for more than an hour. Finally the surgeon and the physician in attendance gave it as their opinion that complete dismemberment could not be effected except afer a partial severance of the limbs. The operation was performed, the horses were again attached, and the fearful spectacle came to an end. Damiens apparently preserved consciousness even after both legs and an arm had been torn from his body. The remains were gathered and burnt on the place of torment, and the noble lords and ladies who had gloated over the scene returned to their homes. It is not at all improbable that among those who witnessed the torments of Damiens in 1757 for an assault upon a King's sacred person there were some who lived to see Louis XVI. mount the scaffold in 1793.[1]

[1] See "Pie'ces Originales des Process fait a Robert Franc,ois Damiens, Paris," 1757, vol. iii., pp. 379-409; and Perkin's "France under Louis XV.," vol. ii., p. 87.

I have quoted at length three cases of judicial torture, occurring among Christian nations, which were then in the front rank of modern civilization. In Turkey and in Egypt, in India and in China, among the savage Sioux and Iroquois of North America, the tragedies of prolonged torment were more frequent, but not more horrible. But in what way do such records of torture concern the abuses of vivisection?

For two reasons they are suggestive. Not infrequently it is intimated that reports of cruelty by physiologists cannot be true: they are merely "blood-curdling stories"; their horror makes the charge beyond the possibility of belief. A physiologist cannot have been so cruel, and yet have seemed so gentle, so benevolent, so mild. Here are presented the records of torment inflicted upon human beings; torments approved by the highest legal authorities; torments to the supervision of which even medical science, in one case at least, lent its representatives to assist the torturers, and if the facts were not so well attested, they, too, would pass belief. But we know they are not fictions; they were actualities. To push them out of recollection into forgetfulness is to unlearn one of the chief lessons that History can teach us—the lesson of warning. The atrocities of biological experimentation can no more be dismissed with a shrug of incredulity than one can sneer at the agonies of Gerard or Damiens because they, too, suggest a heartlessness in the men of that time which our finer civilization can hardly conceive.

But the chief lesson of this black chapter of history concerns the great question of utility. That these atrocious torments were inspired simply and solely by an intense passion for revenge is an immeasurably dishonouring imputation. For the statesmen not only, but the religious leaders of that period, believed—and justly believed—in the usefulness of public torture; they believed that the fear of an ignominious and horrible death amid the jeering cries of the surrounding populace would tend to hinder others from repeating the offence. The utility of Terror as a deterrent they knew—as France knew it in '93, as the Spanish Inquisition knew it for nearly three centuries, as every nation knew it in times of popular insurrection or foreign wars. What Civilization came at last to recognize was that UTILITY OF TORTURE, NO MATTER HOW GREAT, COULD NOT JUSTIFY ITS USE. This principle in its application to the punishment of human beings has been universally recognized by every civilized nation in the world. It only remains for the future Civilization to recognize it so far as concerns beings inferior to ourselves. The repetition by students in a laboratory of an experiment upon the nervous system of a dog, simply to demonstrate well-known facts, tends, perhaps, to fix them in memory; but that degree of utility does not justify the torture. "The time will come," said Dr. Bigelow of Harvard Medical School, "when the world will look back to modern vivisection in the name of Science as it now does to burning at the stake in the name of Religion."



The student of history, attempting to trace the agitation for reform of vivisection, is early confronted by a curious fact. It is the ignorance which generally prevails concerning the part borne by the medical profession in exciting public attention to the cruelties of experimentation. The present generation of scientific teachers, of medical students and physicians, are as a rule profoundly ignorant of the beginning of the controversy, and would be as surprised as Professor Osler of Oxford University seems to have been surprised, to hear that medical journals first made known to the world the abuses of vivisection. Remembering how vigorously the physiological laboratory of to-day resists and resents either investigation or criticism, one is forced to confess that rarely, if ever, in the history of the world has a transformation of ideals been more completely attained. If the followers of Wilberforce and Clarkson, to whom the world is indebted for the great impulse against negro slavery, were to-day organized for the exploitation of the negroes on the Congo, or the Indians on the Amazon, or for carrying on the slave-trade secretly, without restriction or supervision, the condition of affairs could hardly be more singular than the dominance obtained by the physiological laboratory upon the medical conscience of to-day. The facts constitute a remarkable chapter of human experience; and though once before they have been stated by the present writer, it is evident, by the evidence given before the Royal Commission, that a vast amount of ignorance yet remains to be dispelled.

Up to a period considerably beyond the middle of the last century, the sentiment of the medical profession in England was practically unanimous in condemning the methods of vivisection which prevailed on the Continent of Europe. In 1855 the science of bacteriology was unknown. It is possible that not more than half a dozen English physiologists at that time were making experiments on living animals. It was not even regarded as an essential in the teaching of medical schools. In 1875 some of the most distinguished surgeons and physicians of Great Britain testified before the Royal Commission that as medical students they had never witnessed an experiment on a living animal.

That the agitation against the cruelties of vivisectors which made itself evident during the last half of the previous century had no origin in ignorance is easily demonstrated. It was the medical journals of England which first made known to the world the atrocities perpetrated in the name of Science in Continental laboratories. In our own day, when some of the leading teachers in medical schools have only scorn for those who denounce cruelty in the laboratory, it is worth while to study the sentiments of an earlier generation, when sympathy for animal suffering was not a subject for mockery.

The Medical Times and Gazette of London was one of the earlier of medical journals to denounce the cruelties perpetrated by vivisection abroad. In its issue of September 4, 1858, the editor says:

"In this country we are glad to think that experiments on animals are never performed nowadays except upon some reasonable excuse for the pain thus wilfully inflicted. We are inclined to believe that the question will some day be asked, whether any excuse can make them justifiable? One cannot read without shuddering details like the following. It would appear from these that the practice of such brutality is the everyday lesson taught in the veterinary schools of France.

"A small cow, very thin, and which had undergone numerous operations— that is to say, WHICH HAD SUFFERED DURING THE DAY THE MOST EXTREME TORTURE—was placed upon the table, and killed by insufflation of air into the jugular vein."[1]

This fact is related by M. Sanson, of the veterinary school of Toulouse, merely incidentally, when describing an experiment of his own upon the blood. The wretched animal was actually cut to pieces by the students! ... M. Sanson adds (merely wanting to prove that the nervous system of the animals upon which he operated was properly stirred up): 'Those who have seen these wretched animals on their bed of suffering—lit de douleur—know the degree of torture to which they are subjected; torture, in fact, under which they for the most part succumb!'"

[1] In all extracts italics are the compiler's.

A little later the same medical journal again touched the subject of vivisection in its editorial columns. In its issue of October 20, 1860, the editor is even more emphatic in denunciation:

"Two years ago we called attention to the brutality practised at the veterinary schools in France, and gave a specimen of the kind of torture there inflicted upon animals. WE ARE VERY GLAD TO SEE THAT THE PUBLIC ARE NOW OCCUPIED WITH THE SUBJECT, and we are sure that the Profession at large will fully agree with us IN CONDEMNING EXPERIMENTS WHICH ARE MADE SIMPLY TO DEMONSTRATE PHYSIOLOGICAL OR OTHER FACTS WHICH HAVE BEEN RECEIVED AS SETTLED POINTS AND ARE BEYOND CONTROVERSY. We consider the question involved as one of extreme interest to the Profession, and we shall gladly throw open our columns to any of our brethren who may wish to assist in framing some code by which we may decide under what circumstances experiments upon living animals may be made with propriety."

The words italicized in the foregoing quotation are of special significance to-day. The editor is "very glad" to note the interest taken in the subject by the general public—a sentiment quite foreign to that of the present time. One notes, too, the gratifying assurance that the medical profession of England at that period would "fully agree in condemning experiments," which nowadays are made not only in medical schools but to some extent in every college of any standing in the United States. And this condemnation on the part of the medical profession was voiced four years before the date assigned by Professor Bowditch as that of "the first serious attack upon biological research in England."

A few months later the same medical periodical outlined the principles which it believed should govern the practice of animal experimentation. In the issue of this journal for March 2, 1861, the editor makes the following pronouncement:

"VIVISECTION.—We have been requested to pronounce a condemnation of vivisection....

"We believe that if anyone competent to the task desires to solve any question affecting human life or health, or to acquire such a knowledge of function as shall hereafter be available for the preservation of human life or health, by the mutilation of a living animal, he is justified in so doing. But we do not hesitate to condemn the practice of operating on living animals for the mere purpose of acquiring coolness and dexterity, and WE THINK THAT THE REPETITION OF EXPERIMENTS BEFORE STUDENTS, MERELY IN ORDER TO EXHIBIT THEM AS EXPERIMENTS, SHOWING WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN, IS EQUALLY TO BE CONDEMNED."

Again, on August 16, 1862, the Medical Times and Gazette gives an expression of its views on the subject. It condemns the cruelty of Magendie, concerning which one will seek vainly to-day in medical periodicals for any similar expression of reprobation. Referring to the subject, the editor says:

"No person whose moral nature is raised above that of the savage would defend the practices which lately disgraced the veterinary schools of France, or in past years the theatre of Magendie.[1] Professor Sharpey, in his address to the British Medical Association, has accurately drawn the required limits, fully obtained and confirmed, ITS REPETITION IS INDEFENSIBLE; and 'as the art of operating may be learned equally on the dead as on the living body, operations on the latter for the purpose of surgical instruction are reprehensible and unnecessary.'"

[1] The lecture-room in which vivisections were publicly performed.

To the London Lancet the cause of humaneness to animals is also indebted, for its repeated condemnation of the cruelties of vivisection. As the exponent and representative of British surgery, its words undoubtedly carried great weight among medical practitioners. In its issue of August 11, 1860, after pointing out the utility of certain physiological inquiries, the Lancet's editor thus defines what it regards as reprehensible cruelty:

"On the other hand, when at any moment the practice overpasses the rigorous bounds of utility, when its object is no longer the pursuit of new solutions of scientific problems, or the examination of hypotheses requiring a test; when vivisection is elevated into an art, and this art becomes a matter of public demonstration—then it is degraded by the absence of a beneficent end, and becomes a cruelty. The THE EXHIBITIONS OF EXPERIMENTS WHICH AIM ONLY AT A REPETITION OF INQUIRIES ALREADY SATISFACTORILY CONCLUDED, and the DEMONSTRATION OF FUNCTIONS ALREADY UNDERSTOOD, appear to us to rank among the excesses which must be deplored, if not repressed. The displays in these amphitheatres are of the most painful kind, and it is to be deeply regretted that curiosity should silence feeling, and draw spectators to mortal suffering.... The Commission (of the Societies for Prevention of Cruelty) asks for nothing which the most zealous devotees of science cannot—and ought not—to grant. It demands only the cessation of experiments which are PURELY REPETITIVE DEMONSTRATIONS OF KNOWN FACTS."

This is a remarkable utterance. It is quite probable that it voiced an almost unanimous opinion among English physicians and surgeons of half a century ago. How far have we strayed since then! The Lancet of to-day would doubtless earnestly oppose any legal prohibition of experiments which it once ranked among the "excesses which must be deplored, IF NOT REPRESSED."

Two or three months afterward the Lancet again expressed its condemnation of experiments made for the demonstration of known facts. In its issue of October 20, 1860, the Lancet editor says:

"The moment that it [vivisection] overpasses the bounds of necessity; when it ceases to aim at the solution of problems in which humanity is interested, and becomes a new means of public demonstration, having no benevolent end—then it is degraded to the level of A PURPOSELESS CRUELTY. The repetitive demonstration of known facts, by public or private vivisections, is an abuse that we deplore, and have more than once condemned."

On January 12, 1861, the Lancet opens its columns to a correspondent, who invites attention of its readers to the views of Professor Owen, afterward Sir Richard Owen, and the most distinguished anatomist of his time:

"Professor Owen, one of the first physiological authorities of the present day, observes: 'That no teacher of physiology is justified in repeating any vivisectional experiment, merely to show its known results to his class or to others. IT IS THE PRACTICE OF VIVISECTION, in place of physiological induction, pursued for the same end, AGAINST WHICH HUMANITY, CHRISTIANITY, AND CIVILIZATION SHOULD ALIKE PROTEST.'"

It is probable that no stronger denunciation of the cruelty of vivisection ever appeared than that contained in the leading editorial of the London Lancet of August 22, 1863. The writer was certainly not an opponent of all experiments upon animals; he admits that "if pressed for a categoric answer whether such a practice as vivisection were permissible under proper restrictions for the purpose of advancing science and lessening human suffering, the answer would be in the affirmative." But the practice is evidently spreading. It is asserted that experiments upon animals "are a common mode of lecture illustration," and that such investigations "have spread from the hand of the retired and sober man of matured science into those of everyday lecturers and their pupils." Against such extension of vivisection the editor of the Lancet enters an emphatic protest:

"If we were pressed simply for a categoric answer to the question whether such a practice [as vivisection] were permissible under proper restrictions and for the purpose of advancing science and lessening human suffering, we need hardly say that the answer would be in the affirmative. It is asserted, however, that the practice of vivisection and such investigations as are implied by this term, 'have spread from the hands of the retired and sober man of matured science into those of everyday lecturers and their pupils,' and that such experiments 'are a common mode of lecture illustration....'

"We will state our belief that there is too much of it everywhere, and that there are daily occurring practices in the schools of France which cry aloud in the name both of honour and humanity for their immediate cessation. About two years ago, our Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals became possessed of the knowledge that it was still the practice in the schools of Anatomy and Physiology in France for lecturers and demonstrators to tie down cats, dogs, rabbits, etc., before the class; to perform upon them operations of great pain, and to pursue investigations accompanied by the most terrible torture. THIS, TOO, FOR THE PURPOSE ONLY OF DEMONSTRATING CERTAIN FACTS WHICH HAD BEEN FOR LONG UNHESITATINGLY ADMITTED, and for giving a sort of meretricious air to a popular series of lectures. It learned, moreover, that at the veterinary schools of Lyons and Alfort, live horses were periodically given up to a group of students for anatomical and surgical purposes, often exercised with ... extra refinements of cruelty...."

It appeared that at Paris the whole neighborhood adjoining the medical school—including patients in a maternity hospital—"were constantly disturbed, when the course of physiology was proceeding at the school, by the howling and barking of the dogs, both night and day." The dogs were silenced. "The fact was, the poor animals were now subjected to the painful operation of dividing the laryngeal nerves as preliminary to the performance of other mutilations! And what were these dogs for? Simply for the vain repetition of clap-trap experiments, by way of illustrations of lectures for first-year students! These facts becoming known, the general public has at length interfered, and, we think, with very great propriety. THE ENTIRE PICTURE OF VIVISECTIONAL ILLUSTRATION OF ORDINARY LECTURES IS TO US PERSONALLY REPULSIVE IN THE EXTREME. Look, for example, at the animal before us, stolen (to begin with) from his master; the poor creature hungry, tied up for days and nights, pining for his home, is at length brought into the theatre. As his crouching and feeble form is strapped upon the table, HE LICKS THE VERY HAND THAT TIES HIM! He struggles, but in vain, and uselessly expresses his fear and suffering until a muzzle is buckled on his jaws to stifle every sound. The scalpel penetrates his quivering flesh. One effort only is now natural until his powers are exhausted—a vain, instinctive resistance to the cruel form that stands over him, the impersonation of Magendie and his class. 'I recall to mind,' says Dr. Latour, 'a poor dog, the roots of whose vertebral nerves Magendie desired to lay bare to demonstrate Bell's theory, which he claimed for his own. The dog, already mutilated and bleeding, twice escaped from under the implacable knife, and threw his front paws around Magendie's neck, licking, as if to soften his murderer, and ask for mercy! Vivisectors may laugh, but I confess I was unable to endure that heartrending spectacle.' But the whole thing is too horrible to dwell upon. Heaven forbid that any description of students in this country should be witness to such deeds as these! We repudiate the whole of this class of procedure. Science will refuse to recognize it as its offspring, and humanity shudders as it gazes on its face."

In all the literature of what is known as "antivivisection" is it possible to find a more emphatic condemnation of scientific cruelty than this? The decadence of humane sentiment in the laboratory can hardly be more strikingly illustrated than by a comparison of this editorial utterance of the Lancet with some of the present-day expressions of opinion in medical journals. When a quotation from this editorial was brought to the attention of a professor in Cambridge University not long since, it seemed to him so incredible that he made "a special inquiry," and then felt safe in publishing a doubt of its authenticity. If, as one may perhaps imagine without undue violence to probability, this "special inquiry" was made in the editorial rooms of the journal in question, the incredulity which even there found expression only illustrates the gulf that lies between the present and the past. It is a marvel, indeed, that the human sentiment of that earlier period, before the dominance of Continental ideals became an accomplished fact in America and England, can be so utterly forgotten by the medical journals and medical teachers of the present time.

A week later the Lancet again discusses the subject always, it should be remembered, as the advocate of vivisection, provided the practice be carried on under humane restrictions. A few sentences of the editorial of August 29 are specially significant:

"... As a general rule, neither our [British] students nor teachers are wont to carry on experiments upon living animals even in a private way. The utmost that can be said is that perhaps some two or three— at the most six—scientific men in London are known to be pursuing certain lines of investigation which require them occasionally during the year to employ living animals.... Whilst the schools of medicine in this country are as a rule not liable to the charge of vivisectional abuses as regards the higher animals, we cannot altogether acquit them from a rather reckless expenditure of the lives and feelings of cold-blooded creatures.... The reckless way in which we have sometimes seen this poor creature [the frog] cut, thrown and kicked about, has been sometimes sickening.... We cannot help feeling there is both A BAD MORAL DISCIPLINE FOR THE MAN, as well as an amount of probable pain to the creature, in such a practice."

How strange such criticism as this appears to-day! Can one imagine a medical journal in America or England expressing in our time any sympathy for the suffering of frogs in a physiological laboratory? Can one fancy on the part of its editor a suggestion of "bad moral discipline" which the ruthless vivisection of animals of the highest organization or grade of intelligence might induce? To-day such criticism is unthinkable. Yet the capacity of animal suffering has not diminished. The number of victims is vastly larger. What change has occurred which makes it impossible to conceive on the part of a medical journal of the present time the expression of such a sentiment of pity for one of the lower forms of animal life?

The Lancet was not alone in such condemnations. No periodical of that day, devoted entirely to the problems of medicine, occupied a position of influence equal to that of the British Medical Journal. One of its earlier editorial utterances concerning vivisection appeared in its issue of May 11, 1861, three years before the date given by Dr. Bowditch as that of "the first serious attack."

"The Emperor of the French has received a deputation from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We sincerely trust that this interview may be the means of putting an end to the unjustifiable brutalities too often inflicted on the lower animals under the guise of scientific experimentation. IT HAS NEVER APPEARED CLEAR TO US THAT WE ARE JUSTIFIED IN DESTROYING ANIMALS FOR MERE EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES; but now that we possess the means of removing sensation during experiments, the man who puts an animal to torture ought, in our opinion, to be prosecuted."

Referring to the experiment upon a cow mentioned in Dr. Brown-Se'quard's Journal of Physiology, and already described, the editor adds:

"We are not disposed, in a question of this kind, in which some of the highest considerations are concerned, to allow our opinion to be swayed by the opinions or the proceedings of even the greatest surgeons and the greatest physiologists. That such authorities performed vivisection is a fact; but it does not satisfy us that the proceeding is justifiable. Under any circumstances, this much, we think, is evident enough: that IF VIVISECTIONS BE PERMISSIBLE, THEY CAN ONLY BE SO UNDER CERTAIN LIMITED AND DEFINED CONDITIONS. We need hardly add that these conditions have not yet been laid down. Altogether, the subject is one well worthy of serious discussion, and gladly would we see the interests of medical science in the matter properly reconciled with the dictates of the moral sense."

Nothing could be more clearly stated. One reads almost with a feeling of amazement the sentences we have italicized in the foregoing quotation. Here, in the editorial columns of the principal medical journal in the world, is expressed doubt of the justification of any destruction of animals whatever, "for mere experimental research." What magnificent independence of the opinions and experimentation "of even the greatest surgeons and the greatest physiologists" is here displayed!

Five months later the British Medical Journal in its editorial columns again refers to the peculiarly atrocious vivisection which it had once before denounced; it is evident that the journal intends that such actions shall not be forgotten. In the issue of October 19, 1861, it says:

"The brutalities which have been so long inflicted upon horses, etc., in the veterinary schools of France under the name of Science are perfectly horrible. Some idea of what has been daily going on in those schools during many past years may be obtained from such a statement as the following, taken from a paper by M. Sanson, in the Journal of Physiology [edited by Dr. C. E. Brown-Se'quard]. M. Sanson is speaking incidentally of the condition of animals upon whose blood he was himself experimenting: 'A small cow,' he writes, 'very thin, and which had undergone numerous operations—that is to saw, WHICH HAD SUFFERED DURING THE DAY THE MOST EXTREME TORTURE—was placed upon the table,' etc. M. Sanson adds '...Those who have seen these wretched animals on their bed of suffering—lit de douleur—know the degree of torture to which they are subjected; torture, in fact, under which they for the most part succumb!' THE POOR BRUTES ARE ACTUALLY SLICED AND CHOPPED, PIECEMEAL, TO DEATH, in order that the e'le'ves (students) may become skilful operators!"

Almost a year passes, and on September 6, 1862, we again find the editor of the British Medical Journal discussing the ethics of animal experimentation. He admits that there is useless vivisection and unnecessary infliction of pain. Significant, indeed, it will seem to the physician of to-day to find one of the leading exponents of medical opinion condemning as "unjustifiable" demonstrations of well-known facts, which are now considered as essential to medical education. After stating that some restrictions should be imposed, the editor adds:

"We will venture to suggest that these restrictions should be well and clearly defined; that some high authority like Dr. Sharpey himself should lay down certain rules on the subject, and for the purpose of preventing, if possible, any needless suffering from being inflicted experimentally on the lower animals. All of us must be well aware that many needless experiments are actually performed, and until some clearly defined rules on this head are laid down, we venture to think such needless suffering will still continue to be inflicted on animals. If, for example, it were publicly stated by authorities in the profession that experiments of this nature, made for the mere purpose of demonstrating admitted physiological facts, are unjustifiable, a great step would be gained, and a great ground of complaint cut from under the feet of the enthusiastic antivivisection societies. The very fact of an authoritative sanction to the legitimate performance of such experiments...."

The denunciations of cruel vivisection by the British Medical Journal extend over a considerable period. Occasionally the Journal quotes the opinions of some of its medical contemporaries in Paris, admitting the need for reform. For instance, in its issue of May 2, 1863, in its editorial columns, the Journal presents us with a quotation from L'Union Me'dicale of Paris, suggesting distinctions that should be made in the selection of vivisection material:

"Vivisection is often useful and sometimes necessary, and therefore not to be absolutely proscribed; but I would gladly petition the Senate to forbid its performance on every animal which is useful to, and a friend of, man. The mutilations and tortures inflicted upon dogs are horrible. The King of Dahomey is less barbarous than these merciless vivisectors. HE cuts his victims' throats, but without torturing them; while THEY tear and cut to pieces these wretched dogs in their most sensitive parts. Let them operate on rats, foxes, sharks, vipers, and reptiles. But no; our vivisectors object to the teeth, the claws, the beaks of these repulsive animals; they must have gentle animals; and so, like cowards, they seize upon the dog—that caressing animal, which licks the hand, armed with the scalpel!"

Think of a such quotation in the columns of the British Medical Journal—a periodical which to-day rarely ventures to criticize any phase of animal experimentation.

The following summer, on August 22, 1863, the Journal find space in its editorial pages for yet other quotations from French medical periodicals concerning the "enormous abuses" of vivisection.

"We are very glad to find that the French medical journals are entering protests against the cruel abuse which is made of vivisection in France. L'Abeille Me'dicale says:

"'I am quite of you opinion as to the enormous abuses practised at the present day in the matter of vivisection.... In the laboratories of the College of France, in the E'cole de Me'decine, eminent professors, placed at the head of instruction, are forced to the painful sacrifice of destroying animals in order to widen the field of science. In doing so they act legitimately, and suffering humanity demands it of them. Those experiments are performed in the silence of private study, and the results obtained are then explained to the pupils, or treated of in publications.... But to repeat the experiments before the public, to descend from the professional chair in order to practise the part of a butcher or of an executioner, is painful to the feelings and disgusting to the sentiments of the student.... Such public exhibitions are ignoble, and of a kind which pervert the generous sentiments of youth. An end should be put to them. Ought we to allow the e'lite of our French youths to feed their eyes with the sight of the flowing blood of living animals, and to have their ears stunned with their groans, at this time when society is calling for the doing away of public executions? Let no one tell us that vivisections are necessary for a knowledge of physiology.... If the present ways, habits, and customs are continued, the future physician will become marked by his cold and implacable insensibility. Let there be no mistake about it: THE MAN WHO HABITUATES HIMSELF TO THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD, AND WHO IS INSENSIBLE TO THE SUFFERINGS OF ANIMALS, IS LED ON INTO THE PATH OF BASENESS.'

"So writes L'Abeille Me'dicale. But here L'Union Me'dicale takes up and comments on the tale:

"'This is all excellently said; but we must correct a few errors. Magendie, alas! performed experiments in public, and sadly too often at the Colle'ge de France. I remember once, among other instances, the case of a poor dog, the roots of whose spinal nerves he was about to expose. Twice did the dog, all bloody and mutilated, escape from his implacable knife, and twice did I see him put his forepaws around Magendie's neck and lick his face! I confess—laugh, Messieurs les Vivisecteurs, if you please—that I could not bear the sight.... It is true that Dr. P. H. Be'rard, Professor of Physiology, never performed a single vivisection in his lectures, which were brilliant, elegant, and animated. but Be'rard was an example of a singular psychological phenomenon. Toward the close of his life, so painful to him was the sight of blood and the exhibition of pain, that he gave up the practice of surgery, and would never allow his students to witness a vivisection. But Be'rard was attacked by cerebral haemorrhage, and the whole tone of his character was thereby afterward changed. The benevolent man became aggressive; the tolerant man, irritable.... He became an experimenter, and passed whole days in practising vivisections, TAKING PLEASURE IN THE CRIES, THE BLOOD, AND THE TORTURES OF THE POOR ANIMALS.'"

The following week the Journal again refers to the subject, the "ATROCITIES OF VIVISECTION." It is a noteworthy phrase, proceeding from a medical journal, and should not be forgotten. Concerning the truth of the charges, the absolute heartlessness exhibited, there can be no possible doubt, for the evidence is cumulative. Has the phrase "atrocities of vivisection" appeared in the editorial columns of any medical journal during the past twenty years, unless in the way of ridicule or contempt? It may be doubted.

"The atrocities of vivisection continue to occupy the attention of the Paris papers. The Opinion Nationale says: 'The poor brutes' cries of pain sadden the wards of the clinic, rendering the sojourn there insupportable both to patients and nurses. Only imagine that, when a dog has not been killed at one sitting, and that enough life remains in him to experiment upon him in the following one, they put him back in the kennel, all throbbing and palpitating! There the unhappy creatures, already torn by the scalpel, howl until the next day, in tones rendered hoarse and faint by another operation intended to deprive them of voice.'"

Again, only three weeks later, in its issue of September 19, 1863, the British Medical Journal presents in an editorial an account of the debate on Vivisection in the French Academy of Medicine. It is of interest, not only as an indication of English opinion at that day, but also as evidence of what was being done by vivisectors over fifteen years after the discovery of chloroform.

"Our readers are aware that the French Minister of Commerce submitted to the Academy of Medicine documents supplied to him by a London society.... A committee of the Academy examined these questions and issued a report, but they did not answer the simple questions put to it. A discussion on the report has naturally taken place in the Academy itself, and has given rise to some very interesting remarks. M. Dubois ... refused to draw up the report because he differed somewhat in opinion on the subject of vivisections from many of his associates. He therefore reserved the liberty of speaking his mind freely on the subject before the Academy. His conclusions are well worthy serious attention. They seem to us to contain all that can be rightly said in favour of vivisection, and to put the matter on its true and proper footing. The greatest praise is due to M. Dubois for having had the courage to express his opinion so boldly and openly....

"In the first part of his speech, M. Dubois demolished the work of the report, showing that it did not answer the questions of the Government, and left things exactly in their previous state. He then proceeded to give his opinion as to what reforms should be made in the practice of vivisection. The greatest physiologists, he remarked, such as Harvey, Asselli, Haller, were parsimonious and discreet in their use of vivisection. To-day we have before our eyes a very different spectacle. Under pretence of experimentally demonstrating physiology, the professor no longer ascends the rostrum; he places himself before a vivisecting-table, has live animals brought to him, and experiments. The habitual spectators at the School of Medicine, the College of France, and the Faculty of Sciences, know how experiments are made on the living flesh, how muscles are divided and cut, the nerves wrenched or dilacerated, the bones broken or methodically opened with gouge, mallet, saw, and pincers. Among other tortures there is that horrible one of the opening of the vertebral canal or of the spinal column to lay bare membranes and the substance of the marrow; IT IS THE SUBLIME OF HORROR. One needs to have witnessed that sight thoroughly to comprehend the real sense of the word 'vivisection.' Whoever has not seen an animal under experiment CANNOT FORM AN IDEA OF THE HABITUAL PRACTICES OF THE VIVISECTORS. M. Dubois drew an eloquent picture of these practices, become usual in the physiological amphitheatres in the midst of blood and of howls of pain, and he showed that under the dominant influence of the vivisectors, physiological instruction has gone out of its natural road. Himself an eminent pathologist, he treated without ceremony the unjustifiable pretensions of those innovators, who, regardless at once of the principles of physiology and those of pathology, try to transport clinical surgery to the table of vivisection.

"M. Dubois, indeed, was so pungent in his censures that some of the Academicians left the hall without awaiting the end of his discourse. The veterinary part of his audience heard him to the end, and, it is to be hoped, profited by the picture he drew of the sight that met his eyes on his first visit to Alfort. M. Renault, the director of the establishment, took M. Dubois into a vast hall, where five or six horses were thrown down, each one surrounded by a group of pupils, either operating or waiting their turn to do so. Each group was of eight students, and matters were so arranged that each student could perform eight operations, so well graduated that, although the sixty- four operations lasted ten hours, a horse could endure them all before being put to death. Although unwilling to hurt the feelings of his host, M. Dubois could not help letting slip the word 'ATROCITY.' 'Atrocities, if you please,' replied M. Renault, 'but they are necessary.' 'What!' exclaimed M. Dubois; 'SIXTY-FOUR OPERATIONS, AND TEN HOURS OF SUFFERING?' M. Renault explained to him that this was a question of finance; that if more money were allowed, the horses might be kept only three or four hours under the knife. M. Dubois stated that it was true fewer operations are now performed, and that horses are kept less time under the hands of experimenting students. But, he declared, he should never forget the sight he witnessed at Alfort. Some of the horses were just begun upon; others were already horribly mutilated; they did not cry out, but gave utterance to hollow moans. M. Dubois, supported by the authority of many veterinary surgeons, demands that these practices should be discontinued. Dr. Parchappe, who spoke afterward, agreed with M. Dubois. He said: '... Experiments on animals are in no way indispensable to completely efficacious instruction in physiology.'"

It could hardly be expected by anyone but the most sanguine of mortals that the French Academy of Medicine would agree to censure or condemn certain of its own members at the instance of English humanitarians, even though supported by men of their own nationality. When the matter came to a vote, the opponents of change passed a resolution declaring that complaints had no basis, and that the question of performing experiments or surgical operations in the veterinary schools "SHOULD BE LEFT TO THE DISCRETION OF MEN, OF SCIENCE." This is precisely the position taken to-day both in England and America by those who contend that the practice should not be restricted by law. The Journal, however, adds:

"Everyone who has followed this debate must be aware that the resolution is ... entirely opposed to the facts elicited in the discussion. Almost every speaker, except the veterinaries, put in a protest more or less strong against the practice of surgical operations in veterinary schools, and again and again was the word ATROCIOUS applied to them. We learn, moreover, that this mode of instruction was adopted in 1761, so that for more than a century these atrocious operations have been practiced on animals in French veterinary schools. Yet the Academy decides that complaints on this score are without foundation, and that men of science in this matter NEED NO INTERFERENCE! We may be sure that, however much the Academicians may snub the affair, the discussion cannot fail to have beneficial results."

Two or three weeks later, on October 10, the Journal again touches the subject of physiological demonstrations, and denounces them—when conducted as in Paris—as a scandal to humanity. The Journal says:

"M. Dubois has published a discourse ... on the subject of vivisection in answer to objections made to the amendments proposed by him. It is a brilliant summary of the whole subject, and utterly condemnative of the amendments carried by the Academy. M. Dubois showed to demonstration that ... physiological demonstrations on living animals in the public [Medical] schools ARE UTTERLY UNJUSTIFIABLE, AND A SCANDAL TO HUMANITY. IN ALL THIS WE MOST THOROUGHLY AGREE WITH HIM. He said:

"'If we are to carry out the wishes of certain savants, we shall make everyone of our professional chairs a scene of blood.... Let us tell the Minister that vivisections are necessary for the advancement of science, and that to suppress them would be to arrest the progress of physiology; but let us also say that THEY ARE UNNECESSARY IN THE TEACHING OF THIS SCIENCE, AND THAT RECOURSE OUGHT NOT TO BE HAD TO THEM, EITHER IN PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LECTURE.'"

Under what restrictions would the British Medical Journal of that day permit animal experimentation?

In two editorial utterances the Journal briefly defines its position. In the issue of January 16, 1864, we have the following expression of its views:

"The conditions under which—and under which alone—vivisections may be justifiably performed seem to us to be clear and easily stated.... We would say, then, in the first place, that those experiments on living animals, and those alone, are justifiable which are performed for the purpose of elucidating obscure or unknown questions in physiology or pathology; that whenever any physiological or pathological fact has been distinctly and satisfactorily cleared up and settled, all further repetition of the experiments which were originally performed for its demonstration are unjustifiable; that they are needless torture inflicted on animals, being, in fact, performed not for the purpose of eliciting unknown facts, BUT TO SATISFY MAN'S CURIOUSITY....

"And in the second place, we would say that only those persons are justified in experimenting upon living animals who are capable experimentalists.... All experiments made by inexperienced and incapable observers are unjustifiable, and for an obvious reason. The pain in such case, suffered by the animal, is suffered in vain.... Pain so inflicted is manifest CRUELTY."

If we compare this statement with any recent expression of the Journal's views, we shall see how far this organ of medical opinion has strayed in fifty years from the conservatism of Sir Charles Bell toward the unrestricted freedom demanded by the apologists of Magendie and Brachet. Six months later, another pronouncement appears in its editorial columns. In the issue of June 11, 1864, we read:

"Far be it from us to patronize or palliate the infamous practices, the unjustifiable practices, committed in French veterinary schools, and in many French Medical schools, in the matter of vivisection. We repudiate as brutal and cruel all surgical operations performed on living animals. WE REPUDIATE THE REPETITION OF ALL EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS FOR THE DEMONSTRATION OF ANY ALREADY WELL-DETERMINED PHYSIOLOGICAL QUESTION. We hold that no man except a skilled anatomist and a well-informed physiologist has a right to perform experiments on animals."

It is unnecessary to state that these excerpts from the editorial columns of medical journals are not quoted by way of criticism. On the contrary, they seem in the highest degree creditable to the medical periodicals in which they appeared. They voiced a condemnation of scientific cruelty which then found a universal response. In the awakening of public apprehension regarding the growing abuses incident to vivisection, their influence cannot be too highly esteemed. There can be no question that these exposures of physiological methods, these repeated and emphatic denunciations of cruelty, proceeding from the leading medical journals of England, contributed more than anything else to arouse the general public to the acknowledged existence of abuse, and to the necessity of some legislation regarding the vivisection of animals. AND YET NO ADVOCATE OF UNRESTRICTED VIVISECTION IN OUR DAY EVER REFERS TO THEM. Sir William Osler tells the Royal Commission that "it is news to him." Professor Bowditch, the leading physiologist of Harvard Medical School, refers with contempt to "blood-curdling stories" in the pamphlet of Dr. Fleming as the "first serious attack" upon vivisection—without the slightest reference to all this earlier criticism, this exposure of infamous cruelty by the leading journals of the medical profession! But the worst and most regrettable result of such ignorance on the part of those who teach is its effect upon those who, as students, follow their guidance, accept their prejudices, and, unconscious of their ignorance, give to their statements implicit trust.

We shall perhaps be told that although the facts are as stated, yet these medical condemnations of cruelty are the outgrown opinions of the Past. Are the foundations of morals so unstable? Can lapse of years transmute cruelty into benevolence and righteousness? Are we now to be asked to approve the conduct of Magendie and of Mantegazza and Be'rnard, and send to the lumber room of "past opinions" the expressions of horror and repulsion which their acts once excited throughout the English-speaking world? The science of the modern school of physiologists gives that implication: "LET ALL THAT PASS," is their cry to-day. With this we cannot for a moment agree. Rather let us believe that in the whirl and conflict of opinions that marks the social evolution of Humanity, there are some principles which are stable and some landmarks that cannot be altered. Cruelty is a vice that should never be condoned. What was regarded as infamous in the laboratory of fifty years ago should be considered equally infamous to-day.



The awakening of a nation to the existence of a great evil is only accomplished after years of persistent agitation. We have seen that some of the strongest denunciations of cruelty in biological experimentation were due to that large element in the medical profession which refused to condone cruelty under the guise of utility. Gradually public opinion began to be thoroughly aroused. In the year 1864 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offered a prize for the best essay on these questions:

"Is vivisection necessary or justifiable for purposes of giving dexterity to the operator (as in veterinary schools)?

"Is it necessary or justifiable for the general purposes of science, and, if so, under what limitations?"

The committee which decided the merits of the essays submitted included some of the most distinguished scientists of England, among them Professor Owen (better known as Sir Richard Owen), and Professor Carpenter, physiologists of eminence and experience. The first prize was accorded to Dr. George Fleming, the leading veterinary authority in Great Britain for many years, and a second prize was given to Dr. W. O. Markham, F.R.C.P., one of the physicians to St. Mary's Hospital of London, and formerly lecturer on Physiology at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School.

Dr. Fleming's essay was undoubtedly of great utility in calling attention to the abuses pertaining to Continental physiological teaching. That which makes his essay of chief value is not so much the presentation of arguments, as the long array of unquestionable facts for which the authorities are given. There is hardly a physiological writer of distinction from whose works he did not quote to illustrate the excesses he condemns.

It is Dr. Markham's essay, however, which for us, at the present moment, has principal significance. It is the argument of a professional physiologist, defending the right of scientific research within limits which then seemed just and right to the entire medical profession of the United Kingdom. Every physiologist or physician upon that committee which examined the essays is said to have marked with approval this presentation of their views; and Professor Owen— probably then the most distinguished man of science in Great Britain— appended a note significant of his especial agreement. And yet Dr. Markham's essay is never quoted at present by any advocate of free vivisection; even Professor Bowditch in that address to which reference has been made left unmentioned the work of his professional brother, one of the earliest defenders of animal experimentation.

The reader of Dr. Markham's essay will not find it difficult to comprehend the cause of this significant silence. Although the essay was in no way sympathetic with antivivisection, it represented the Anglo-Saxon ideal, in marked distinction from the doctrines which then prevailed in the laboratories of Continental Europe, and which since have become dominant throughout the United States. Defending the practice of vivisection as a scientific method, Dr. Markham freely admitted the prevalence of abuses to which it was liable when carried on without regulation or restraint. Under proper limitations it was at present necessary that some vivisection should be allowed; but with the advance of knowledge, he believed that this necessity would decrease, and the practice of animal experimentation gradually tend to disappear. Some quotations from this essay will be of interest.

"The proper and only object of all justifiable experiments on animals is to determine unknown facts in physiology, pathology, and therapeutics, whereby medical science may be directly or indirectly advanced. When, therefore, any fact of this kind has been once determined and positively acquired to science, all repetition of experiments for its further demonstration are unnecessary, and therefore unjustifiable.

"All experiments, therefore, performed before students, in classes or otherwise, for the purpose of demonstrating known facts in physiology or therapeutics, are unjustifiable. And they are especially unjustifiable because they are performed before those who, being mere students, are incapable of fully comprehending their value and meaning. THEY ARE NEEDLESS AND CRUEL: needless, because they demonstrate what is already acquired to science; and especially cruel, because if admitted as a recognized part of students' instruction, THEIR CONSTANT AND CONTINUED REPETITION, THROUGH ALL TIME, WOULD BE REQUIRED. I need hardly say that courses of experimental physiology are nowhere given in this country, and that these remarks apply only to those schools i France and elsewhere where demonstrations of this kind are delivered."[1]

[1] "Experiments and Surgical Operations on Living Animals: One of Two Prize Essays." London: Robert Hardwick, 1866.

"ESPECIALLY CRUEL!" Little could Dr. Markham have imagined that this "especial cruelty" which he thus so emphatically denounced in 1864 would spread from the Continent of Europe and become, within the short space of a single generation, the accepted method of physiological instruction in every leading college or university in the United States!

Dr. Markham evidently fancied that with the larger acquirement of facts the vivisection method would gradually become obsolete. He says:

"A consideration of the conditions here proposed as requisite for the rightful performance of experiments on living animals shows that experiments of this kind must ever be very limited, because those persons who are fitted for the due performance of them are of necessity few in number; and that in proportion as new facts are added by them to our knowledge, THE EXPERIMENTS MUST DIMINISH IN NUMBER...."

"Thus, then, we have seen that in the case of experiments legitimately performed on living animals, ... such experiments must always, from their nature, be comparatively few; that they must gradually diminish with the advance of scientific knowledge, so that A TIME MAY COME WHEN EXPERIMENTS ON LIVING ANIMALS WILL CEASE TO BE JUSTIFIABLE.

"... Very different, on the other hand, is the character and objects of physiological demonstrations performed in French Schools of Medicine.... These most painful practices are unjustifiable because they are unnecessary.... They afford no instruction to the student which may not be equally well obtained in another way. The pain, moreover, attendant on such proceedings is unlimited and unceasing. If they are to be accepted as a necessary part of the systemic instruction of the student, then must every veterinary student practice these experimental surgical operations, AND EVERY MEDICAL STUDENT BE MADE A WITNESS OF PHYSIOLOGICAL DEMONSTRATIONS ON LIVING ANIMALS. In all veterinary schools, under such conditions, an incalculable amount of pain inflicted on animals becomes a part of the regular instruction of students. At such a conclusion Humanity revolts.

"Experiments performed on living animals for the demonstration of facts already positively acquired to science are unjustifiable, and especially unjustifiable are such experiments when made a part of a systemic course of instruction given to students."

Here, then, we have a view of vivisection presented less than forty years since by a professional teacher of physiology in a London medical school. That the author was mistaken in his outlook, that the practice of vivisection instead of diminishing has a thousand times increased, and that operations then regarded as "especially cruel" have become the prevalent methods of instruction, are matters evident to all. Peculiarly significant is the fact that a creed, once almost universally held, may be so thoroughly obliterated by its antagonists within so brief a time. One may safely assert that not a single recent graduate from any Medical College in America, not a single student of physiology in any institution of learning in our land to-day, has ever been told that the practice of animal experimentation was once thus regarded by a large majority of the English-speaking members of the medical profession. So completely has the Continental view of the moral irresponsibility of science established itself in American colleges that the former preponderance of other ideals has passed from the memory of the present generation of scientific men.

The subject of vivisection does not again appear to have engaged the attention of the English medical Press for several years. The abuses and cruelties on the Continent, against which it had so vigorously protested, continued as before. In a brief editorial, the London Lancet, on April 3, 1869, again referred to the subject:

"VIVISECTION.—The subject of vivisection has been again brought on the tapis, owing to some remarks made by Professor (Claude) Be'rnard ... at the Colle'ge de France.... He admits on one occasion having operated on an ape, but never repeated the experiment, THE CRIES AND GESTURES OF THE ANIMAL TOO CLOSELY RESEMBLING THOSE OF A MAN.

"As the Pall Mall Gazette remarks, M. (Claude) Be'rnard expatiates on the subject with a complacency which reminds us of Peter the Great, who, wishing, while at Stockholm, to see the WHEEL in action, quietly offered one of his suite as the patient to be broken on it....

"We consider that vivisection constitutes a legitimate mode of inquiry when it is adopted to obtain a satisfactory solution of a question that has been fairly discussed, and can be solved by no other means....

"We hold that for mere purposes of curiosity, OR TO EXHIBIT TO A CLASS what may be rendered equally—if not more—intelligible by diagrams or may be ascertained by anatomical investigation or induction, VIVISECTION IS WHOLLY INDEFENSIBLE, and IS ALIKE ALIEN TO THE FEELINGS AND HUMANITY OF THE CHRISTIAN, THE GENTLEMAN, AND THE PHYSICIAN."

It is very probable that much of the criticism of foreign vivisection, which at this period appeared in the medical journals of England, was inspired by the abhorrence felt regarding the cruelty of certain French physiologists. We now know that the worst and most cruel of them all was Claude Be'rnard, Professor of Experimental Physiology at the Colle'ge de France, and the fit successor of Magendie. Just as pirates and freebooters have added to geographical discoveries, so science admits that regarding the functions of certain organs he added to accumulated facts. But the peculiar infamy of Be'rnard was the indifference displayed toward animal suffering long after the discovery of chloroform and ether, and his practical contempt for any sentiment of compassion for vivisected animals. Of this savagery one will look in vain for criticism or condemnation in the writings of the opponents of vivisection reform at the present day. Two physicians, however, have told us what they witnessed in the laboratory of Be'rnard. On February 2, 1875, there appeared in the Morning Post a letter from a London physician, describing his personal experience in the laboratory of this physiologist.


"If the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intends to give effect to the memorial presented to it on Monday, and do its utmost to put down the monstrous abuses which have sprung up of late years in the practice of vivisection, it will probably find that the greatest obstacle to success lies IN THE SECRECY WITH WHICH SUCH EXPERIMENTS ARE CONDUCTED, AND IT IS TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THAT SECRECY that its best efforts should be directed. So long as the present privacy be maintained, it will be found impossible to convict, for want of evidence. No student can be expected to come forward as a witness when he knows that he would be hooted from among his fellows for doing so, and any rising medical man would only achieve professional ruin by following a similar course. The result is that, although hundreds of such abuses are being constantly perpetrated among us, the public knows no more about them than what the distant echo reflected from some handbook of the laboratory affords. I venture to record a little of my own experience in the matter, part of which was gained as an assistant in the laboratory of one of the greatest living experimental physiologists.

"In that laboratory we sacrificed daily from one to three dogs, besides rabbits and other animals, and after four months' experience I am of opinion that not one of those experiments on animals was justified or necessary. The idea of the good of Humanity was simply out of the question, and would have been laughed at; THE GREAT AIM BEING TO KEEP UP WITH, OR GET AHEAD OF, ONE'S CONTEMPORARIES IN SCIENCE, even at the price of incalculable amount of torture needlessly and iniquitously inflicted on the poor animals. During three campaigns I have witnessed many harsh sights, but I think the saddest sight I ever witnessed was when the dogs were brought up from the cellar to the laboratory for sacrifice. Instead of appearing pleased with the change from darkness to light, they seemed seized with horror as soon as they smelt the air of the place, divining, apparently, their approaching fate. They would make friendly advances to each of three or four persons present, and as far as eyes, ears, and tail could make a mute appeal for mercy eloquent, they tried it in vain. Even when roughly grasped and thrown on the torture-trough, a low complaining whine at such treatment would be all the protest made, and they would continue to lick the hand which bound them, till their mouths were fixed in the gag, and they could only flap their tails in the trough as the last means of exciting compassion. Often when convulsed by the pain of their torture this would be renewed, and they would be soothed instantly on receiving a few gentle pats. It was all the aid and comfort I could give them, and I gave it often. They seemed to take it as an earnest of fellow-feeling that would cause their torture to come to an end—an end only brought by death.

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