An Ethical Problem - Or, Sidelights upon Scientific Experimentation on Man and Animals
by Albert Leffingwell
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There can be no doubt of the fact that public apathy regarding the abuses of vivisection as now carried on without limitations or restrictions is grounded upon the great anaesthetic delusion. This misinterpretation of facts, this misunderstanding of scientific statements, constitutes the most singular delusion of the present time.

What is anaesthesia? It has been defined as a state of insensibility to external impressions, sometimes introduced by disease, but more generally in modern surgery by the inhalation of the vapours of ether or chloroform. The discovery of the properties of these drugs constitutes a very interesting chapter in the story of scientific achievement; but in this connection the chief point of interest lies in the fact that the most wonderful of all advances in medicine was made without resort to the vivisection of animals. Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson, an English scientist who had much to do with its various methods, tells us that "the instauration of general anaesthesia came from experiments on man alone; there is no suspicion of any experiment on a lower animal in connection with it"; and Professor Bigelow, of Harvard Medical School, as we have seen, makes the same statement.

The extent to which insensibility may be carried depends entirely on the amount of the vapour inhaled. Suppose the quantity to be very small. Then the result will be a diminished sensibility, without entire loss of consciousness. Let the quantity inhaled be considerably increase, and we may produce a profound stupor with muscular relaxation, the eyes are fixed, and the eyelids do not respond when the eyeball is touched. There is now deep anaesthesia, and complete unconsciousness to the surgeon's knife. The borderline between life and death is not distant; and if still more of the anaesthetic is administered, we may reach a condition from which there is no awakening. The skill of the anaesthetist is not unlike that of a pilot, who needs to know just how far the ship may be steered in a difficult channel without running upon the rocks.

For a slight operation, a very little of the drug will often suffice. In some hospitals abroad—and perhaps in America—it is the custom not to give anaesthetics to charity patients when the pain is not greater than the extraction of a tooth. Between a light anaesthesia and the deep insensibility required for some capital operation, THERE IS EVERY CONCEIVABLE DEGREE. We see the same thing in ordinary sleep. The deep unconsciousness of a thoroughly exhausted man is vastly different from the light slumber of an anxious mother, who is aroused by a word or touch. Yet both conditions are what we call "sleep."

Now, one of the popular delusions regarding what is called "anaesthesia" arises from ignorance of its innumerable degrees. We are told, for instance, "anaesthetics were used" in certain vivisections. That assertion alone, in a majority of cases, will quiet any criticism. If "anaesthetics were used," then the average reader assumes that of course there was no pain. The experimenter may know better. But if ignorance persists in misinterpreting statements of fact, it is possible that he may think he is not obliged to make the truth plain, to his positive disadvantage. If such method of reasoning ever obtains, it may explain very much.

And yet it would seem that only very ignorant people could be so blinded by authority as not to perceive where the fallacy lies. A slight amount of ether or chloroform may mean to a vivisected animal no protection whatever from extreme pain. The fact has long been known. Many years ago Dr. George Hoggan declared that "complete and conscientious anaesthesia is seldom even attempted, the animal getting at most a slight whiff of chloroform by way of satisfying the conscience of the operator, OR OF ENABLING HIM TO MAKE STATEMENTS OF A HUMANE CHARACTER." In other words, it enables him to say, "Anaesthetics are always used." Shall we always be blind to the insignificance of that phrase?

That chloroform or ether will suppress the consciousness of pain during a surgical operation, every reader is aware. But when we speak of certain vivisections, we are on different ground. The pains to be inflicted are sometimes far more excruciating than any surgical operation. In the stimulation of sensory nerves, and in various operations upon these nerves, there may be excited agonies so great that they break through the limited unconsciousness induced by chloroform. One of the most experienced vivisectors in America has given his testimony on this point. Speaking of his experiments upon some of the most exquisitely sensitive nerves, Dr. Flint says: "WHEN we have used anaesthetics"—not the significance of the phrase—"WE COULD NEVER PUSH THE EFFECTS SUFFICIENTLY TO ABOLISH THE SENSIBILITY OF THE ROOT OF THE NERVE. If an animal, brought so fully under the influence of ether that the conjunctiva had become absolutely insensible" (the degree of insensibility required by the surgeon), "the instant the instrument touched the root of the nerve in the cranium, THERE WERE EVIDENCES OF ACUTE PAIN."[1] Of other experiments upon the same nerves he tells us that "in using anaesthetics, we have never been able to bring an animal under their influence SO COMPLETELY AS TO ABOLISH THE SENSIBILITY.... In cats that appear to be thoroughly etherized, as soon as the instrument touches the nerve, there is more or less struggling."[2]

[1] Flint's "Physiology," vol. iv., p. 97. [2] Flint's "Physiology," vol. iv., p. 193.

This statement needs to be remembered. The agony may be so keen, so exquisite, so far beyond the pain of a surgical operation, that it makes itself felt. Pain, then, conquers the anaesthetic, exactly as the anaesthetic usually conquers the pain.

What, then, is the value of the phrase, "ANAESTHETICS WERE USED"? Dr. Hoggan has told us. It has no value whatever.

Sir Thornley Stoker, President of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, and an inspector of laboratories under the Act, was questioned about the pain endured by an animal in course of a prolonged vivisection, and he frankly admitted that a vivisector "could do no more than give an opinion. He could have no CERTAINTY as to the entire absence, the continuous absence, of pain."[2] Dr. Thane, a professor at University Medical College, London, and a Government inspector, being asked whether one might not be able to distinguish between painful and painless experiments, replied that "the inspector never could distinguish exactly which experiments were painless and which were painful, AND THE EXPERIMENTERS AND OBSERVERS THEMSELVES cannot distinguish IN A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF CASES."[3]

[2] Evidence before Royal Commission, Question 1,064. [3] Ibid., Question 1,335.

These are the opinions of experts. This attitude of uncertainty is the only ground possible for a scientific man who aims at stating the whole truth. When a professional vivisector gives us assurance that no pain was felt during the severest operations, he is only putting forth an opinion. He is but mortal. We are not obliged to assume his infallibility in a region where experts are in doubt, and where there may be a desire for concealment.

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, a work was published describing in detail experiments upon surgical shock—so termed to distinguish it from a similar condition arising from overwhelming emotions. These experiments were almost exclusively made upon dogs, man's faithful friend and companion; and their number was so great and their character so horrible that their publication at first excited general criticism and condemnation. At one the suggestion was put forth that the experiments were painless, because "anaesthetics were employed." The vivisector had said:

"In all cases the animals were anaesthetized, usually by the use of ether, occasionally by chloroform, either alone or with ether. In a few cases CURARE AND MORPHINE WERE USED."

In a number of succeeding volumes, the same assertion has been put forth; and as understood by the average reader, it has tended to dispel doubts regarding the character of the experiments. It seems worth while to examine the account of these investigations a little closely. The question for us is not whether anaesthetics were employed, but to what extent we may find ourselves assured regarding their efficiency in abolishing sensibility in every case.

The experiments in question were of a peculiar kind. They differ in certain respects from anything to be found in the records of American vivisection. The number of dogs sacrificed—148—was far greater than seems necessary to establish any working hypothesis. It would appear that the methods of vivisection selected were generally designed for the purpose of making the strongest possible impression, and, if consciousness was present, the sharpest pangs that human ingenuity could invent were repeatedly inflicted. The most sensitive parts of the body were crushed in various ways. The lungs were stabbed, or shot through; the intestines were lifted from the body, and burned or placed in boiling water; the nerves were exposed and scraped; loops of intestines were manipulated or crushed; the ear was penetrated; the jaws were opened as far as "the maximal normal separation," and then by extraordinary force separated still more; the paws were crushed, and sometimes burnt by the application of a Bunsen's flame; the stomach was dilated by pumping air and water into it till the stomach burst; one animal was subjected to "all kinds of operations for a period of three hours more," including the cutting out of kidneys and double hip-joint amputations; another suffered the opening of the abdomen, the crushing of the kidneys, "severe manipulation of the eye," "severe manipulation of the tongue, puncture, crushing," etc., and lastly, a "stimulation of the sciatic nerve"; in one case, the paw "was placed in boiling water for a considerable time"; in another, "boiling water was poured into the abdominal cavity"; in yet another, flame was applied over the heart. I am not quoting all this from memory; the work describing all these experiments lies open before me as I write. No Iroquois savage, no Spanish inquisitor, no professional tormentor of any age ever devised more exquisite torments, more excruciating agonies, more lengthened tortures than these 148 vivisections imply—UNLESS, THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EXPERIMENT THE COMPLETE INSENSIBILITY OF THE VICTIMS WAS SECURED BY RECOGNIZED ANAESTHETICS, BEYOND THE POSSIBILITY OF DOUBT.

Such assurance as this it is now impossible for anyone to give with scientific certainty. The absolute insensibility of each and every animal thus vivisected cannot be demonstrated. On the contrary, there are reasons which compel belief that, in many instances, these vivisections implied the most horrible and prolonged torments that the practice of animal experimentation has ever been permitted to evoke.

What are some of these reasons?


Now, the omission of this statement is peculiarly significant. If it had been possible, we may be quite sure that such a statement would have been made. Suppose, for example, that in place of vague generalities the experimenter had said:

"Before the commencement of each experiment, the animal was deeply anaesthetized by the inhalation of chloroform or ether, or both; and the insensibility thus induced before the experiment began was maintained until the death of the animal. Curare was never used. In no instance and at no time during any experiment was the anaesthesia otherwise than profound; the corneal reflex was never to be obtained, nor was any other sign of sensibility to pain ever to be noted."

A statement like this would have been definite. But with due regard for truth, it could not have been made. Instead of an explicit statement, we have merely the assertion—so easily misunderstood— that "in all cases the animals were anaesthetized." And this statement may mean nothing whatever, so far as concerns the painlessness of these vivisections.


It is a well-known fact that dogs are peculiarly susceptible to chloroform, and very likely to die while under its influence. The president of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, a teacher of science for many years, Sir Thornley Stoker, stated in his testimony that a dog's heart is very weak and irregular. "I fear that in the case of dogs, anaesthesia is not always pushed to a sufficient extent, as these animals often die from the effects of the anaesthetic if given to a full extent.... THE ANAESTHESIA CANNOT BE COMPLETE, if the dog lives as long as is necessary for some of these experiments."[1]

[1] Testimony before Royal Commission, Questions 761, 836.

Now, one of these experiments lasted over three hours, and many of them over an hour. How many of the 148 animals died because the anaesthesia was TOO DEEP?

On this point the admissions of the experimenter seem especially significant. "OVER-ANAESTHESIA rendered the animals subject to early collapse, and decidedly less capable of enduring a protracted experiment." During certain experiments, "CONSIDERABLE CARE was necessary to prevent excessive inhalation of the anaesthetic by the animal." And yet all that could happen to the unfortunate victim would be a painless death; to prevent that would require, doubtless, considerable care. "If the animals were allowed PARTIALLY TO RECOVER FROM THE EFFECT OF THE ANAESTHETIC, care was necessary in reducing them again to surgical anaesthesia, as an excess of the anaesthetic was liable to be inhaled."[1] This admission is evidence complete, that the insensibility was not always maintained from beginning to end; the creatures were in some cases—how many we can never know— "ALLOWED PARTIALLY TO RECOVER."

In the detailed accounts of these vivisections, we find more than one proof of the sensibility of the animals. Take the following:

EXPERIMENT 126. "The animal did not take the anaesthetic well, and part of the experiment was made under INCOMPLETE ANAESTHESIA." There was noted, also, "contraction of the abdominal muscles, on account of INCOMPLETE ANAESTHESIA."

EXPERIMENT 133. "Bunsen's flame to the right paw.... In the control experiments, as well as this, THE DOG WAS NOT UNDER FULL ANAESTHESIA ... THE ANIMAL STRUGGLED ON APPLICATION OF THE FLAME."

EXPERIMENT 5. "UNDER INCOMPLETE ANAESTHESIA, crushing of foot caused a very sharp rise, followed by an equally sharp decline of pressure. THIS WAS REPEATED SEVERAL TIMES. Under full anaesthesia crushing of paws caused rise again."

EXPERIMENT 4. "First, crushing of paw.... Second, crushed foot extensively, JUST BEFORE CORNEAL REFLEX WAS ABOLISHED."

To the average reader the last few words convey no definite meaning, but their significance is plain. Until the corneal reflex is abolished, the surgeon does not begin to operate, for sensibility remains. It is needless to quote further; even a single instance of incomplete anaesthesia, admitted by the vivisector himself, suffices to overturn the claim that the insensibility was complete in every case. "Words," says Bishop Butler, "mean what they do mean, and not other things"; and no amount of literary juggling can prove that whether the insensibility is complete or incomplete, the pain is precisely the same.


The use of CURARE rests upon the admission of the vivisector himself. After mentioning the employment of chloroform and ether, as before quoted, he adds: "In a few cases, CURARE and MORPHIA were used." Now, these drugs are not anaesthetics, and curare especially is only used when it is desired to keep the vivisected creature incapable of any movement—no matter what degree of torment it may be suffering. In his textbook on physiology, Professor Holmgren calls curare the "most cruel of poisons," because an animal under its influence "it changes instantly into a living corpse which hears and sees, and knows everything, but is unable to move a single muscle; and under its influence no creature can give the faintest indication of its hopeless condition." Dr. Starling, the professor of physiology at University College, London, states that when an animal has had an anaesthetic administered and also a dose of CURARE, if the anaesthetic passed off, the animal would be unable to move, or to show any sign of suffering.

Nor is morphia an anaesthetic. "So far from suppressing sensibility completely," says Claude Be'rnard in his lectures, "morphine sometimes seems to exaggerate it." An animal under its influence "FEELS THE PAIN, BUT HAS LOST THE IDEA OF DEFENDING HIMSELF."

We should have been very glad if the author had stated in his book the precise experiments in which curare and morphia were employed. We are told that the number was "few." But in comparison with the total number—146—how many may that phrase signify? Were there twenty? Possibly. It would seem that in every case after the preliminary administration of anaesthetics—the dog's throat was cut, so that artificial respiration could be easily maintained; "tracheotomy was performed," to use the scientific phraseology. This is done when curare is given, for then not the slightest movement of the tortured animal can disturb the delicate instruments which are attached to it. We may therefore assume that every case wherein only curare and morphia were used—how many there were we do not know—implied torment for the wretched victims.

Human beings are not submitted on the surgeons' table to operations of this character, prolonged for hours. If, in the interest of Science, some experimenter would place himself in like condition to that of the animals upon which he worked; if, under anaesthesia—complete or incomplete—he would permit a hand to be "crushed," a nerve trunk "stimulated," his feet placed in boiling water "for a considerable time," and a Bunsen's flame applied for two minutes to some part of his body—we might possibly learn whether the acutest pains inflicted could be absolutely suppressed. Perhaps he would survive to tell us; but the animal cannot speak. No assurances suffice to clear our doubts; assurances prove nothing. It may be, to use the words of a great surgeon, that "in this relation, there exists a case of cruelty to animals far transcending in its refinement and in its horror, anything that has been known in the history of nations."

Such are some of the reasons which induce doubt of the theory that all of the experiments of these vivisectors were conducted upon animals wholly insensible to painful impressions. To become the victim of the anaesthetic delusion regarding them is to justify; and to justify is to share responsibility. But this is not all. There would seem to be other evidence of the most convincing character, that some of the animals thus subjected for hours to the stimulation of nerves and to the most frightful mutilations were not at all times in such state of unconsciousness as to prevent the occurrence of one most significant indication of pain. It is proof to which the attention of the public, so far as known, has never yet been directed; and I propose to illustrate somewhat at length what has been done in the name of free and unlimited vivisection, not only during the closing years of the past century, but down almost to the present time.



If the reform of vivisection may only be hoped for, when the secrecy concerning it shall have been dispelled, the beginning of the present century is not propitious of any changes. Against all intrusion upon its rites, the physiological laboratory in England and America maintains as successful an opposition as ever characterized the Eleusinian mysteries of the pagan world. No laboratory—so far as known—dares to invite inspection at any hour, even from men of the highest personal character, and leave them free to reveal or to publicly criticize whatever in the experiments upon animals there conducted seems worthy of caution or reproof. Silence and concealment, so far as the outer world is concerned—these are yet the strange ideals of modern vivisection.

Within the realm of scientific literature, however, this reticence is not maintained. Experiments may be there described in terms so abstruse and technical, that, while clear enough to the professional reader, they convey little or no meaning to the man in the street. There would seem to be a growing tendency to state certain facts in carefully shrouded phraseology, in complete confidence that the full meaning will not be discerned. Within the past few years, therefore, a large number of vivisections have been described in full— vivisections which half a century ago would have aroused the horror and execration of the English-speaking world—without exciting any very general condemnation beyond the circle of those who ask for reform. Experimentation of this kind, exhibiting the practice as it is carried on to-day, seems worth of a somewhat careful examination. It will not be necessary to go beyond the work of a single vivisector who has made his name a household word wherever experiments upon animals are discussed in England or America.

The principal point toward which inquiry must be directed is the question of pain. One reason why they have been partly condoned by the public is not difficult to discover. In language which seemed to have no element of ambiguity, the experimenter apparently affirmed the entire absence of sensation on the part of the dogs which he and his assistants subjected to operations of various kinds and of an extreme character. It is true that, as a general rule, this affirmation was not as explicit as might perhaps be desired. He was writing for professional men only, not for the general public, and it is quite unlikely that any physiologist or medical reader could have been at any time misled in the slightest degree. If the language used was capable of more than one interpretation, if possibilities of insensibility were exaggerated into definite assertions, nothing of the kind was apparent to the general reader. Glancing at the statement that "the animals were completely anaesthetized," his doubts were abolished. Indescribably disgusting and hideous as were some of the vivisections, if they were absolutely painless, their performance was a matter of taste. Can we criticize the humaneness of one who, at the butcher's bench, mutilates the body from which life has gone? Complete and perfect anaesthesia, maintained till death, is practically only premature death. Deprived of sensibility—a deprivation that is never to cease—a living creature is beyond the infliction of cruelty. But is it certain that all these various experiments, made upon nearly five hundred dogs were without pain? Reasons for doubt concerning some of them have been given. Let us now look into the question so far as concerns vivisection in its relation to the pressure of the blood.

A little over two centuries ago the Rev. Stephen Hales, the rector of an obscure country parish in England, became interested in problems pertaining to the circulation of sap in plants, and blood in the higher animals. By various experiments he discovered that the blood of a living animal is subject to a definite pressure, and with some approach to accuracy he succeeded in measuring it. The subject seems to have attracted but little attention for over a century after the discovery of Hales; it was then again investigated by physiologists, and certain conclusions definitely reached. Without going into the subject at length, it suffices to state that this blood-pressure constantly varies slightly, being somewhat influenced by every disturbing condition, and probably by every physiological act. Any injury tending to lower the tone of the general system, or to induce the condition of shock, tends to cause the blood-pressure to fall. On the other hand, if the animal is sensible to pain, the stimulation of sensory nerves, or any sharp or sudden pang, TEND TO CAUSE A RISE IN THE PRESSURE OF THE BLOOD, unless the creature has become exhausted by the experimentation to which it has been subjected.

Upon this point the attention of the reader should be specially directed. What authorities support this conclusion? Only a few need be named, for there would appear to be no difference of opinion among physiologists regarding the fact.

Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, one of the leading medical writers in England, in a contribution to the latest edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," tells us:

"IRRITATION OF SENSORY NERVES tends to cause contraction of the bloodvessels, AND TO RAISE THE BLOOD-PRESSURE."[1]

[1] Enc. Brit., Art. "Therapeutics," p. 800.

Dr. Isaac Ott, an American physiologist of distinction, states in a description of certain vivisections made by him:

"IT IS A WELL-KNOWN FACT THAT IRRITATION OF A SENSORY NERVE causes an excitation of the vasomotor centre, WHICH IS INDEXED BY A RISE OF PRESSURE.... As indirect irritation ALWAYS PRODUCES A RISE OF PRESSURE, the sensory nerves and the conductors of their impressions up to the (spinal) cord are not paralyzed."[2]

[2] Ott, "On Physiological Action of Thebain," pp. 11-12.

Dr. Leonard Hill, in an article contributed to Schafer's "Textbook of Physiology" upon the circulation of the blood, says:

"Arterial pressure is affected reflexly BY STIMULATION OF ANY SENSORY NERVE IN THE BODY.... The usual result of stimulating a sensory nerve is A REFLEX RISE OF ARTERIAL PRESSURE."[3]

[3] Schafer's "Textbook of Physiology," vol. ii., pp. 166-167.

The writer goes on to explain that when the tone of the system in weakened "after prolonged experiment OR DURING THE ADMINISTRATION OF CHLOROFORM AND CHLORAL," then a fall of pressure may occur.

This phenomenon was known to physiologists many years ago. For instance, Dr. J. C. Dalton, professor of physiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in his well-known textbook on physiology, says that the most frequent instance of reflex constriction of arteries is that "which follows irritation of the central extremity of a sensitive nerve."

"This effect has been observed by many experimenters, and is regarded as nearly invariable. Galvanization of the central extremity of the sciatic nerve causes general constriction of the bloodvessels throughout other parts of the body, INDICATED BY INCREASED ARTERIAL PRESSURE. A similar result is produced by the irritation of ... other sensitive nerves, or nerve roots."[1]

[1] Dalton's "Physiology," pp. 507-508.

And, referring to another experimenter, Dr. Crile, puts the case clearly:

"PAIN INCREASES (BLOOD)-PRESSURE. In four cases of trauma (injury), a rise of 20 to 40 was noted upon pressure upon a nerve. Even in a healthy person, pinching the integument was noted increase the pressure."[2]

[2] Crile "On Blood-Pressure," p. 341.

It would seem unnecessary to accumulate evidence regarding a physiological phenomenon so long and so firmly established. We may therefore take it for granted that in a living animal or in a human being, as a general rule, the irritation of a sensory nerve will cause a rise of blood-pressure.

Let us now suppose that an animal destined to be vivisected lies before us, "stretched" on the vivisection dog-board, so securely fastened that voluntary movement is almost impossible. An incision has been made in the neck, and in the principal artery has been inserted a part of a delicate instrument designed to indicate the fluctuations of the blood-pressure of the animal. The sciatic nerve has been laid bare; the animal is supposed to be under the influence of an anaaesthetic continuously administered, and if our imagination is vivid and our faith implicit, we may believe that no suffering will be felt. BUT HOW MAY WE BE CERTAIN? This question came up more than once before the Royal Commission on Vivisection. How can one tell that an animal may not be insufficiently anaesthetized IF IT CAN MAKE NO SIGN, WHEN ALL THE ACTS BY WHICH IT MIGHT EVINCE ITS SUFFERING ARE CAREFULLY RESTRAINED? The animal which lies before us cannot move; every physical movement is as far as possible totally suppressed. It cannot use its voice, for the trachea is cut and otherwise used. ARE THERE NO MEANS WHEREBY WE CAN TELL WHETHER THE ANIMAL IS SUFFERING what one of the Royal Commission called "a nightmare of suffering"?

The answer to this question has been given by some of the leading physiologists of England.

Dr. J. M. Langley, professor of physiology in the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the Royal Society, gave explicit testimony on this point. His examiner was desirous of knowing upon what he would depend, other than upon the dose of the anaesthetic and watchfulness, if in the animal he could see nothing that would satisfy him.

"There is the state of the blood-pressure, which would indicate to some extent the reflexes on the vascular system," Professor Langley replied.


"IT WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE," replied the physiologist. Of course, he insisted upon the sufficiency of the anaesthesia, but he had made the most important admission which his evidence affords. IF PAIN WERE FELT, IT WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE.

Dr. W. E. Dixon of King's College, London, representing one of the sections of the Royal Society of Medicine, gave evidence before the Royal Commission on various matters pertaining to anaesthesia. Dogs, he asserted, "very easily die of chloroform; but if one goes sufficiently slowly they never die." (18,677)[1]

[1] Figures in parentheses refer to the questions or replies in the printed evidence.

"Supposing you were giving chloroform with CURARE, then it might be said you were not giving enough chloroform. BUT YOU CAN SEE WHETHER YOU ARE GIVING ENOUGH BY LOOKING AT THE BLOOD-PRESSURE." (18,690) Professor Dixon tells us that one of the gauges used for determining whether anaesthesia is present or not IS THE BLOOD-PRESSURE. "The blood-pressure goes DOWN BECAUSE THE CHLOROFORM IS GIVEN. The heart beats more feebly; therefore the blood-pressure goes down." (18,742)

Another expert physiologist, whose testimony on this point is enlightening, was Dr. Eh. H. Starling, professor of physiology at University College, London.

"Are there any means, other than the cries or struggles of the animal, by which you can tell whether the anaesthetic is passing off?"

"YES, YOU CAN TELL IT BY THE BLOOD-PRESSURE," Dr. Starling replied. "When one is working without curare, one notices THAT THE PRESSURE GOES UP, and then, if one does not attend to it, after that comes a little movement, AND YOU GIVE MORE ANAESTHETIC." (4,054)

We need not follow Professor Starling in his repeated assurances of complete anaesthesia in his vivisections; all this is merely an expression of faith in the accurate and perfect working of his instruments, a faith which some of the Commissioners did not share. What interests us is the statement that IF THE ANAESTHESIA IS IMPERFECT, THE BLOOD-PRESSURE WILL REVEAL IT. "The pressure goes up"; there is some slight motion on the part of the animal; IT FEELS, and that returning sensibility to painful impressions is indicated by an increase in the pressure of the blood.[1]

[1] Sir Victor Horsley admitted that "changes in the blood-pressure" afford an indication whether anaesthesia is perfect or not (Ques. 16,057).

But how is the measurement of the blood-pressure to be ascertained? One of the instruments in use is thus described:

"The pressure exerted upon the blood in the arterial system may be measured by attaching the carotid artery of a living animal to a reservoir of mercury, provided with an upright open tube or pressure- gauge.... Under pressure of the blood, the mercury rises in this tube, and the height of the mercurial column becomes an indication of the pressure to which the blood itself is subjected within the artery. The arterial pressure is found to be equal to the average of a column of mercury 150 millimetres, or 6 inches, in height."

Instruments for ascertaining the blood-pressure in human beings record it merely for a moment or two. In experimenting upon a living animal, an incision is made in the neck, the principal artery exposed and severed, and connected with the recording instrument.

"Pain" is a word which as a rule the modern physiologist prefers to exclude from his vocabulary. "We know absolutely nothing about pain except that which we ourselves have suffered," says a leading experimenter. We are unable neither to see, hear, smell, taste, or feel the pain of another being, and although the cries or struggles of an animal which is being vivisected may suggest that it is experiencing intense agony, the physiologist insists that in reality we know nothing about it, and we can only infer that it is experiencing something which our reason suggests that we should feel in its place. Of course we might say the same thing regarding agony undergone by another human being. What the physiologist does is note the phenomena following the stimulation of nerves, and to register it by appropriate instruments.

To stimulate a nerve is to excite its activity in some way. When the dentist touches with his instrument the exposed nerve of a tooth, there is immediate "stimulation," as many of us have had reason to assert, even if the dentist can know nothing of our sensations, and can only infer them by remembering his own. One may stimulate the nerve of a vivisected animal by mechanical means, by pinching or scraping it when exposed; and although the movements of the animal may indicate an exquisite sensibility, yet other methods are more effective for the purposes of the experimenter. "Electricity," Professor Austin Flint tells us, "is the best means we have of artificially exciting the nerves. Using electricity, we can regulate with exquisite nicety the degree of stimulation. WE CAN EXCITE THE NERVES LONG AFTER THEY HAVE CEASED TO RESPOND TO MECHANICAL IRRITATION." A French vivisector, M. de Sine'ty, removed the breasts of a female guinea-pig, nursing its young, and laid bare the mammary nerve, and he tells us that "the animal exhibits signs of acute pain, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE NERVE IS STIMULATED BY AN ELECTRIC CURRENT."[1]

[1] Gazette Me'dicale de Paris, 1879, p. 593.

In 1903 there was published in America an account of a large number of vivisections involving blood-pressure which a well-known experimenter had made, either personally or by his assistants. The number of dogs thus sacrificed was no less than 243; the experiments to which they were subjected amounted to 251. Ether alone was used in 107 experiments, or about 43 per cent. of the whole number; ether and morphia were employed in 80 experiments, or 32 per cent. of the total. Chloroform combined with ether was used but ONCE. In no less than 15 per cent. of the experiments no anaesthetic whatever is named, and CURARE was employed in nearly 10 per cent. of the investigations. Why was curare used? We have seen that the professor of physiology in Upsaal University regards it as "the most cruel of poisons." An animal under its influence, Professor Holmgren tells us, "changes instantly into a living corpse, WHICH HEARS AND SEES AND KNOWS EVERYTHING, but is unable to move a single muscle, and under its influence no creature can give the faintest indication of its hopeless condition." The French vivisector, Claude Be'rnard, tells us frankly that death under the influence of this poison "is accompanied by sufferings the most atrocious that the imagination of man can conceive." Precisely the reason why this poison was employed in the investigations before us we have no means of knowing by anything the vivisector has stated in his report. He tells us, indeed, that "the animals were all reduced to full surgical anaesthesia before the experiments began, a nd were killed before recovery from the same." We see no reason for doubting why this may not have been true. It is quite probably that as a rule the preliminary cutting operations necessary were made while the animal was deeply insensible. But was this deep insensibility maintained for hours? Was it so absolute that doubt is impossible? Since it is certain that the irritation produces a rise in blood- pressure, was this phenomenon never witnessed during the terrible operations to which these dogs were subjected for hours at a time? If, as Professor Langley of the University of Cambridge explained, pain "WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE," was this sign of agony ever evoked when the bare nerve was subjected to "stimulation," or the paws "slowly scorched" one after another? Let us see.

We observe that as a rule each vivisection consisted of two procedures, aside from the preliminary operation. In the first place, the normal pressure of the blood was reduced by various methods, calculated to depress the vital powers of the animal, and to induce a condition of collapse, and this was followed by such "stimulation" of nerves as would tend to cause the blood-pressure to rise in an animal not perfectly anaesthetized. The means taken to depress the vital powers were as varied as the ingenuity of the vivisectors could devise. Sometimes it was accomplished by skinning the animal alive, a par of the body at a time, and then roughly "sponging" the denuded surface. Sometimes it was secured by crushing the dog's paws, first one and then the other. Now and then the dog's feet were burnt, or the intestines exposed and roughly manipulated; the tail was crushed, the limbs amputated, the stomach cut out. Then came the "stimulation" of the exposed nerve, carried on and repeated sometimes until Nature refused longer to respond, and death came to the creature's relief. No torments more exquisite were ever perpetrated unless absence of feeling was completely secured. Was it so secured? Let the experimenter's own report give us the facts, remembering that if there was pain, "THE BLOOD-PRESSURE WOULD RISE."

EXPERIMENT 42. The material used was a little dog, weighing only 11 pounds. How it was "reduced to shock"—whether by skinning or crushing—we are not informed; all we know is that it was "reduced to shock." The sciatic nerve was exposed, the artery in the neck laid bare, and the instrument for measuring the blood-pressure carefully adjusted. Ether, we are told, was used. Was all sensibility thereby wholly suppressed? Let us see what is revealed by the changes of the blood-pressure.[1]

[1] In all experiments cited in this chapter the italics are not in the original descriptions.

"10.30 a.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. SLOW RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE. 10.35 a.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE. 10.51 a.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE. 11.30 a.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE 13 MILLIMETRES. 11.59 a.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE 5 MILLIMETRES."

Noon has come. It is the hour when experimenters need their accustomed refreshment, and we note a long interval during which there were no observations. The victim lies stretched upon the rack. After nearly two hours the pastime began again, or, we may say, "the young scientists resumed their arduous labours."

"1.55 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. ABRUPT RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE 17 millimetres. 3.3 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF 14 MILLIMETRES. 4.44 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF 2 MILLIMETRES."

The little animal is growing weaker. For more than six hours it has been on the rack. The play upon its nervous system is about over. At five o'clock the dog died.

The full details of this experiment do not here concern us, and are not given. Whether useful or not is another matter Pain, said Professor Langley, "WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE." Did not the blood-pressure rise when this creature's nerve was stimulated?

EXPERIMENT 114. In this experiment four dogs were simultaneously vivisected. Some of them lasted but a short time; but one—a young dog—was "in splendid condition," and subserved the object of the vivisection for many hours. The usual incisions were made in the trachea and carotid artery, and the femoral vein and sciatic nerve was exposed. At 10.59 a.m. the blood-pressure was found to be 125 milli- metres; at 10.42 it had been reduced to 99 millimetres—by what means we are not informed. Further details are as follows:

"11.42 a.m. Blood pressure 99 millimetres. 11.45 a.m. Stimulated sciatic nerve. PRESSURE ROSE TO 115 MILLIMETRES. 12 midday. Blood-pressure 95. Sciatic nerve stimulated: BLOOD-PRESSURE 115. 12.19 p.m. Blood-pressure 92. 1.23 p.m. Blood-pressure 108; sciatic nerve stimulated. 1.26 p.m. Blood-pressure 110; three minutes later."

Between 1.29 p.m. and 2.19 p.m. there is no record of any observations. Perhaps we may venture the hypothesis that during this period of nearly an hour's duration, the young experimenters went out to luncheon. The dog, while stretched upon the rack, could have had no other refreshment than cessation from the stimulation of its nerves.

But after about an hour's intermission the young vivisectors would seem again to have begun their observations concerning the effect produced by stimulating the sciatic nerve. What was that effect? It appears to have been very uniform.

"2.28 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. ABRUPT RISE AND FALL IN BLOOD-PRESSURE. 3.32 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE AND FALL IN BLOOD-PRESSURE. 4.16 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. BLOOD-PRESSURE ROSE TO 120, FALLING TO 105. 4.34 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. ABRUPT RISE AND FALL OF BLOOD-PRESSURE. 4.53 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. THE USUAL RISE AND FALL FOLLOWED."

Do we find in the last observation an indication of a growing distaste for such work? One cannot tell. Between 5.49 p.m. and 6.36 p.m. there are no observations recorded. Perhaps this period of forty-seven minutes—three-quarters of an hour—were devoted by the young vivisectors to the conviviality of their evening repast. Then the usual observations were renewed. But at 7.10 p.m., while again "stimulating the sciatic nerve," suddenly the dog's heart stopped. At 7.12 p.m. "the dog died." During a period from eleven o'clock in the forenoon until after seven o'clock in the evening—EIGHT HOURS AND THIRTEEN MINUTES—the little animal had been stretched upon the rack. Its "splendid condition" had enabled it to survive the tortures to which its three less vigorous companions in martyrdom had long before succumbed, and had made it possible for many hours to play upon exquisite sensibility.

"PAIN," said Professor Langley to the Royal Commissioners, :WOULD CAUSE A RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE."


Let us study these vivisections further. When animals were subjected to injuries calculated to make the strongest impression uppon their sensibility, was not the response A RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE?

EXPERIMENT 38. A small female spaniel, weighing about 13 pounds. Ether is said to have been used for anaesthesia.

"12.54 p.m. Blood-pressure 98 millimetres. 1.11 p.m. HIND-FOOT BURNED. THE BLOOD-PRESSURE ROSE RAPIDLY TO 118 MILLIMETRES. A slow fall followed. 1.42 p.m. THE FOOT WAS BURNED. A SHARP RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE FOLLOWED."

The dog died of heart failure, after an experience of nearly five hours in the hands of the vivisectors.

EXPERIMENT 73. A dog, weighing about 15 pounds. Morphia and ether said to have been used. Did they prevent sensation under such "stimulation" as follows:

"APPLICATION OF THE BUNSEN FLAME TO THE FOOT FOR FOUR SECONDS WAS FOLLOWED BY A DECIDED RISE IN THE BLOOD-PRESSURE.... The blood- pressure was maintained higher BY REPEATED BURNINGS." These are the final words of the report of this experiment. We do not know when the dog died, nor to how many burnings he was subjected.

The use of fire as a method of "STIMULATION" of nerves seems to have been very attractive. For example:


Of what possible value was such an experiment? Does any one believe that in a human being blood-pressure will ever be maintained by slowly scorching the hands and feet of the patient?

EXPERIMENT 75. Small dog, weighing about 13 pounds. Morphia and ether said to have been used. During this experiment the intestines were exposed and manipulated, and the foot and tail "CRUSHED." "THE LEFT HIND-FOOT WAS BURNED; A RISE IN THE BLOOD-PRESSURE FOLLOWED."

EXPERIMENT 96. Dog. NO ANAESTHETIC MENTIONED. Artificial respiration. "BURNING HIND-PAW PRODUCED A RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE." After administration of CURARE, there was another "BURNING OF THE PAW," the blood-pressure did not respond, and shortly after, the dog died.

EXPERIMENT 95. Dog, in good condition. NO ANAESTHETIC MENTIONED. Integument removed from three-fourths of the body. "BURNING OF THE HIND-PAW. ABRUPT RISE (of blood-pressure), 55 MILLIMETRES, then an equal fall. The denuded surfaces were roughly sponged for a considerable time." Then CURARE was given, and artificial respiration followed.

EXPERIMENT 46. Mongrel; good condition. An excessive amount of ether given at beginning; artificial respiration became necessary. Extensive operations were made, such as crushing the paws, breaking the legs, and manipulating the nerve trunks. These were followed by A RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE.


"11.26 a.m. Animal reduced to surgical shock by skinning and mechanically irritating the raw surface. 11.36 a.m. CURARE given. 11.58 a.m. Electrical stimulation of sciatic (nerve). RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE. 12.48 p.m. Sciatic nerve stimulated. RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE. 1.12 p.m. Electrical stimulation of sciatic nerve cause A RISE ... IN BLOOD PRESSURE. 2.40 p.m. Animal died."

When Dr. Francis Gotch, F.R.S., the professor of physiology in the University of Oxford, was examined before the late Royal Commission on Vivisection, he testified that under curare an animal could not even blink an eye, so complete is the immobility produced by this drug. Yet to the eye of the experimenter would there not be something to tell him whether or not the animal was feeling pain?

"I should say so," replied the physiologist—"in the alternations of blood-pressure."

"IT IS A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE, is it not?" inquired one of the Commissioners.

"YES," was the physiologist's curt reply.

"But it would be diminished if the animal was absolutely anaesthetized?"

"YES," was the reply of Dr. Gotch.

"Is a change in blood-pressure the only mode by which you can objectively determine whether the animal is conscious, or suffering pain, if under the influence of curare?" somewhat later, he physiologist was asked.

"I suggest that THAT IS ONE OBVIOUS WAY."

Let us turn again to the experiment just quoted. No anaesthetic is mentioned. Curare was administered, the sole effect of which is to render the living animal as motionless as a corpse. Three times the greta nerve was electrically "stimulated," and each time there was that RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE which we are told upon the highest authority was the "ONE OBVIOUS WAY" of determining the presence of pain.

Keeping in mind this testimony of the professors of physiology at the Universities of Oxford, of Cambridge, and of London, that if pain were present during a vivisection IT WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF THE BLOOD- PRESSURE, let us now examine a little more carefully some of the experiments referred to in the volume reviewed in the previous chapter. We have had assurances of their painlessness. But to the scientific man assurances are of little value as compared with the testimony of the instrument. Were any of these experiments associated with a "RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE"? It is unnecessary to study them in their relation to other phenomena. In the early "stimulations of a nerve trunk, a rise in blood-pressure was always produced"; but after a number of repetitions the time came when no effect was produced, or the pressure fell; the point of exhaustion had been reached. But let us note what the instrument recorded. The italics are ours.

EXPERIMENT 5. "Under incomplete anaesthesia, CRUSHING OF FOOT CAUSED A VERY SHARP RISE, followed by an equally sharp decline of pressure. This was repeated several times." (The author also tells us that "under full anaesthesia, crushing of the paws" caused a rise. One may question the completeness of the insensibility.)

EXPERIMENT 8. Fox terrier, two years old; ether.... CRUSHING OF THE PAW WAS ATTENDED BY IMMEDIATE RISE..... Crushing of the fore-leg WAS ATTENDED BY A RISE.... Crushing of the foot, ATTENDED BY A RISE. Cutting skin of thigh and leg was ATTENDED BY A RISE.


EXPERIMENT 17. Several loops of intestines were withdrawn and placed IN BOILING WATER, ATTENDED BY A RAPID RISE of the blood-pressure, followed soon by a fall.

EXPERIMENT 28. Hip-joint amputation made on both sides caused a rise in pressure. GRASPING SCIATIC NERVE WITH FORCEPS and MAKING TRACTION (pulling upon the nerve) CAUSED A RISE.

EXPERIMENT 36. Small white dog.... HOT WATER introduced into abdominal cavity PRODUCED A RISE.

EXPERIMENT 59. Spaniel, female; weight only 13 pounds. It has "been nursing its puppies," and is very cross. Duration of experiment, one and a half hours. Manipulation of ovaries caused slight RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE.

EXPREIMENT 76. Dog. Among other procedures, the vivisectors "APPLIED A LARGE GAS-FLAME to the posterior extremities in the region of the knee; a slight rise. Repeated the application for a longer time; slight rise.... APPLICATION OF A BUNSEN FLAME TO THE NOSE, PRODUCING A SLIGHT RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE."

EXPERIMENT 82. A small female dog; weight oly 9 pounds. Time of experiment, one hour and fifty-five minutes. "One-third of a grain of CURARE and one-twelfth of a grain of morphia were injected into the jugular vein." After various manipulations, there was "APPLICATION OF BUNSEN'S FLAME TO THE RIGHT HIND-FOOT," causing "AN APPRECIABLE RISE IN THE BLOOD-PRESSURE."

EXPERIMENT 87. Dog. Time of experiment, two hours and forty-five minutes. "Injected CURARE and morphine into the jugular vein; artificial respiration maintained.... The sciatic nerve was exposed and stimulated by a faradic current. A SHARP INCREASE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE during the period of stimulation was noted."[1]

[1] Concerning the rise of blood-pressure as the sign of an animal's sensibility to painful impressions, when under the influence of CURARE, see testimony of Professor Gotch of Oxford University, quoted on a preceding page.


EXPERIMENT 95. "Application of Bunsen's flame to the paw produced but slight rise.... Bunsen's flame applied to the foot, CAUSING RISE IN BOTH PRESSURES.... Application of BUNSEN'S FLAME NOW PRODUCED A SHARP RISE IN THE PRESSURES." Then the blood-pressure fell, and though the vivisector applied flame to the intestines, it produced no effect so far as the blood-pressure was concerned.

EXPERIMENT 97. "Application of A BUNSEN'S FLAME PRODUCED THE CHARACTERISTIC INCREASE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE.... Stimulation of the sciatic nerve by the faradic current produced an INCREASE IN BLOOD- PRESSURE.... Repetition of the stimulus produced A FURTHER RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE...."

EXPERIMENT 110. "Application of Bunsen's flame PRODUCED A SHARP RISE...."

EXPERIMENT 113. "Bunsen's flame applied to the posterior and anterior extremities PRODUCED A MARKED RISE IN PRESSURE.... BUNSEN'S FLAME OVER REGION OF THE HEART PRODUCED A GRADUAL RISE."

EXPERIMENT 131. "Bunsen's flame to the right hind-foot was followed by A RATHER MARKED RISE IN CENTRAL BLOOD-PRESSURE."


In the year 1900 the same vivisector published an account of certain experiments on the respiratory system, 102 in all. We have the usual assurances of anaesthesia, which, of course, can only be regarded as the operator's opinion. Fire is an element of some of these experiments. We are told that "a large blow-flame burner used for glass-blowing supplied a flame that could be adjusted to a very great range of intensity." Of this statemnet one can have no doubt upon reading some of the experiments described. Upon "a healthy little poodle," weighing only ten pounds, with a blood-pressure of 120 millimetres, the following experiment was made:

"The mouth was held wide open, and THE BLOW-FLAME DIRECTED INTO THE PHARYNX AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. The immediate effect upon the blood- pressure was A TEMPORARY RISE. Again the flame was applied; THE BLOOD-PRESSURE ROSE TO 204 MILLIMETRES, CONTINUING AT THIS HIGH RATE FOR SOME TIME."

Probably this little creature was the pet of some child. From whose door, one day, did it wander, to be snatched up by some thief, sold to a laboratory, and sent to a death like this?

In another experiment a Newfoundland dog "CONTINUOUSLY BREATHED THE FLAME FOR TWELVE MINUTES." In a similar experiment that followed, "the results were practically identical. In this case THE FLAME WAS SO INTENSE AS TO MELT THE ADIPOSE TISSUE AROUND THE TRACHEA." The animal was broiled alive.

During the first year of the twentieth century the same writer presented the public an account of an "Experimental and Clinical Research into Certain Problems," a work containing a considerable number of experiments of a nature similar to those before published. We are again told that in all cases "the animals were anaesthetized, usually by ether, occasionally by chloroform," alone or combined with other substances, although, in a few cases, "CURARE and morphine were used"—neither of which is an anaesthetic. A curious statement seems to imply a confession that all these experiments were not absolutely painless, for the writer says:

"Every precaution was taken to inflict AS LITTLE PAIN OR DISTRESS AS POSSIBLE."

Is not this an admission that in some experiments there was pain? How senseless is such statement! When Ridley and Latimer were burnt alive at Oxford, the executioner might have protested with equal assurance that "every precaution was taken to burn the condemned with as little pain and distress as possible."

Between the experiments recorded in this volume and those which have been reviewed, there is no very great difference. There is a rise of blood-pressure after any mutilation or stimulation calculated to cause pain, except in the few cases where a sufficiency of the anaesthetic appears to have been given; to these attention will be called. A new procedure seems to have been the use of the injection of a hot salt solution into the blood. Some of the results of experiments were as follows:

EXPERIMENT 12. "Burning right hind-foot caused a slight RISE IN BLOOD- PRESSURE.

"Ten minims (drops) of chloroform on inhaler produced a DECIDED FALL in blood-pressure."

EXPERIMENT 56. "Dog. Hind-foot burned, FOLLOWED BY A RISE IN BLOOD- PRESSURE.... Burning the nose caused A VERY MARKED RISE in blood-pressure. The animal, after the injection of cocaine, WAS NOT UNDER FULL ETHER ANAESTHESIA, CUNJUNCTIVAL REFLEX BEING PRESENT."

EXPERIMENT 27. "Dog. Ether anaesthesia. Hind-foot was burned, producing A SHARP RISE in the blood-pressure.

"Right paw again burned, and ARTERIAL PRESSURE ROSE.... Animal subjected to FURTHER BURNING, which was followed by ADDITIONAL SLIGHT RISE IN PRESSURE."

A considerable number of experiments involved the adding of hot salt solution to the blood.

EXPERIMENT 34. Dog, in good condition. Saline solution in jugular vein.... In this and in preceding experiments with the hot saline, the animal, THOUGH UNDER SURGICAL ANAESTHESIA, STRUGGLED.

That shows the worth of the "surgical anaesthesia." When Professor Starling was asked how he might know that the anaesthesia was passing off, he told the Royal Commission that it was by noting the SLIGHT MOVEMNET of the the animal, IN CONJUNCTION WITH A RISE OF BLOOD- PRESSURE.[1] Scalding water in the blood seems to have given both of these signs:

[1] Evidence before Royal Commission, Question 4,054.

EXPERIMENT 11. At 3.35 saline at 64 degrees C. (this is 147 degrees F.). THE DOG STRUGGLED SOMEWHAT. The blood-pressure ROSE MARKEDLY. 3.45. Saline in jugular vein. Slight fall, then a quite ABRUPT RISE in blood-pressure.... THE DOG AGAIN STRUGGLED VIGOROUSLY. 3.48. Saline at 60 degrees C. (140 degrees F.). Slight RISE in blood-pressure. DOG STRUGGLED SOMEWHAT. 3.54. Saline at 60 degrees C. An immediate RISE in blood-pressure. 4.12. One-half drachm of chloroform on inhaler. 4.13. MARKED FALL in blood-pressure. 4.13. CHLOROFORM TAKEN AWAY. BLOOD-PRESSURE IMMEDIATELY AROSE to previous level.

EXPERIMENT 32. A few drops of chloroform were given instead of ether, the BLOOD-PRESSURE FALLING immediately.... After a few minutes, several drops of chloroform were again administered, a marked FALL (of blood-pressure) following. One-half drachm of chloroform given, PRODUCING A GRADUAL FALL IN BLOOD-PRESSURE. On removing the chloroform, the blood-pressure recovered. At 5.30, saline stopped. Eye reflex not gone. At 5.36 THE ANAESTHESIA REMOVED. SLIGHT RISE in blood-pressure. REFLEXES NOT ABOLISHED.

Does all this seem obscure to the reader? At all events, he can see that the effect of even a "few drops of chloroform" is a fall of the blood-pressure, and that when the "anaesthesia is removed" there comes the rise which is so constantly associated with sensibility.

Some of the experiments related to the effect of cocaine in "blocking" sensation. These effects have long been known; the necessity of all this burning of flesh is not apparent.

In another experiment, a large dog was reduced to "surgicla anaesthesia," and both sciatic nerves exposed. In one nerve cocaine was inject, in the other salt solution.

The cocaine paw was subjected to burning by a Bunsen flame, UNTIL THE PAW WAS CHARRED. There was no effect on the blood-pressure. But on applying the Bunsen flame to the other paw, "THERE WAS A DELIBERATE DRAWING UP OF THE LEG, AS IF TO REMOVE THE PAW FROM THE FLAME." The writer tells us elsewhere that "under general anaesthesia—no matter how deep—if the paw of an animal is subjected to the flame of a Bunsen's burner, after the lapse of a short time, the leg is drawn up ... in a deliberate but rather forceful manner, removing the foot from the flame." When cocain is injected into a nerve trunk, we are told that an effectual physiologic "block" is produced. The difference is manifest. Yet the vivisector would have us believe that in all cases of his "anaesthesia" the dog is unconscious. May it not be rather that there are phases of agony so great that the anaesthesia of the laboratory does not suppress them? Is this a matter of uncertainty? Then why not permit the vivisected dog to have the benefit of the doubt?

Here is a most significant experiment:

EXPERIMENT 17. "... The animal was allowed to come out of the influence of the general anaesthesic sufficient (sic) to make a slight struggle.... THE FEET WERE BURNED just previous to the application of cocaine, and ... BLOOD-PRESSURE WAS INCREASED. More cocaine was then applied; THE ANIMAL BECAME TOTALLY ANAESTHETIZED, THE CORNEAL REFLEXES WERE ABOLISHED, and on applying a Bunsen flame to the paws, NO EFFECT WAS PRODUCED."

Here we have an instance of a dog allowed to come out of the influence of the anaesthetic and to struggle; the feet burned; and finally, such a degree of total anaesthetization as to prevent the usual phenomena. But why are we told that "the animal became TOTALLY ANAESTHETIZED, and that the corneal reflexes were abolished"? Is it a confession that in other experiments such a state of deep insensibility was not invariably produced?

What is the necessity for all this burning? The smell of scorched and charred living flesh may have hung as heavily in the laboratory of the hospital as before the altars of Baal; it could hardly have been an attractive savour. Here are other instances:


Here, then, was sensation; the eye responded to the touch.

EXPERIMENT 72. Dog; weight 12 pounds. (Spinal) cord exposed. 5.5. Burning foot was followed BY RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE. 5.10. BURNING FOOT. "A RISE IN BLOOD-PRESSURE FOLLOWED." Cocaine was then injected, and burning of paws "produced no effect." There was a difference in the phenomena produced.

In the year 1909 the same vivisector published stll another volume recording experiments upon haemorrhage and the transfusion of blood. To many of these experiments we should take no exception on the ground of inutility or excessive production of pain. Others, however, are to be criticized, particularly when studied in connection with the claim put forth of complete absence of animal sensation. In his introduction the experimenter seems to assert in the most distinct and emphatic way the complete unconsciousness of each victim. He says:

"No experiment was performed in which the particular animal used was not reduced to complete insensibility by means of ether, or some other equally efficient anaesthetic. If the statement is made that the anaesthetic was stopped during an experiment, it does not mean that the animal could suffer pain, but that death was threatened from too much anaesthetic, more being given as soon as signs of revival were shown. In every experiment in which necessary mutilation was performed, the animal was killed before coming out of the anaesthetic; therefore absolutely no suffering was undergone. Very few recovery experiments were performed, no more than were necessary to prove a given fact."

What is the scientific value of this assurance—that "absolutely no suffering was undergone"?

It can have no value, except as an opinion on the part of one extremely interested in the maintenance of a particular view. So far from being a series of painless experiments, we do not hesitate to suggest that IF RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE BE A SIGN OF PAIN, then, in all probability many of them involed torments as exquisite as it is possible to imagine.

Take, for example, the folloowing vivisections:

EXPERIMENT 10. The subject was a dog, said to be in a good condition. From time to time blood was abstracted from the body. 4.26. ON BURNING A PAW UNDER LIGHT ANAESTHESIA, THERE WAS A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 16 MILLIMETRES. 10.16. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE. 11.13. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE of 13 millimetres. 1.42. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE of 13 millimetres.


What is "LIGHT anaesthesia"?

It is a condition which a few drops of chloroform will produce; a state in which the loss of consciousness is so slight that any pain may be as keenly felt as if no stupefying agent had been given. What are we to think of a statemnet that in a condition of such light slumber the keenest of pains—THE BURNING OF LIVING FLESH—INVOLVED NO SUFFERING? How can one speak with authority on a matter like this against the evidence of the "one obvious sign" of sensibility? When the paws of the miserable animal were burned, was there not the rise of blood-pressure which indicated suffering? "Pain would cause a rise of blood-pressure," said the professor of physiology of the University of Cambridge. Should we find the significant rise of the blood-pressure in other experiments where fire was used for the "stimulation" of the nerves? Let us see.

EXPERIMENT 2. "On burning a paw, there was a RISE OF PRESSURE OF 10 millimetres. Stimulation of sciatic nerve resulted in A RISE of systolic pressure." EXPERIMENT 4. "11.45. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE. " 1.27. Sciatic nerve stimulated; RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE." EXPERIMENT 6. "Burned a paw. A RISE OF PRESSURE of 4 millimetres resulted." EXPERIMENT 12. "On burning a paw, there was a RISE OF PRESSURE of 16 millimetres." EXPERIMENT 14. "On burning a paw, A RISE OF 12 MILLIMETRES, followed by a temporary fall, and then a rise to a higher level. "On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE OF 2 MILLIMETRES." EXPERIMENT 15. "11.12. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 8 MILLIMETRES. "11.36. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 12 MILLIMETRES." EXPERIMENT 16. "Dog. Condition good. "11.22. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 22 MILLIMETRES. "11.33. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF 29 MILLIMETRES. "11.44. Contrl. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF 24 MILLIMETRES. "12.26. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 8 MILLIMETRES. "12.35. On burning a paw, there was A STEADY RISE OF PRESSURE." EXPERIMENT 22. "Dog. On burning a paw, there was A RISE IN PRESSURE OF 36 MILLIMETRES." EXPERIMENT 24. "On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE OF 12 MILLIMETRES. "12.19. On burning a paw, there was A RISE OF PRESSURE OF 18 MILLIMETRES." EXPERIMENT 29. "2.13. Blood-pressure 43. On burning a paw it rose 12 millimetres. "2.30. On burning a paw, THERE WAS A RISE OF BLOOD- PRESSURE." "3.6. On burning a paw, THERE WAS A RISE OF BLOOD- PRESSURE." EXPERIMENT 31. "3.35. On burning a paw, THERE WAS A RISE OF PRESSURE. "4.14. On burning a paw, THERE WAS A RISE OF PRESSURE."

The foregoing experiments are not quoted in full; in many of them, at intervals, the animals were bled; and these observations of the effects of "burning a paw" were incidental to others. BUT WHY ALL THIS BURNING AND STIMULATION TO PROVE A PHENOMENON SO UNIFORM?

One exceptional experiment must not be overlooked. On one occasion two dogs were vivisected at the same time. At the outset a paw of each dog was burned, causing A RISE of blood-pressure in each case. A little later the sciatic nerve was stimulated:

"11.25. On stimulating the sciatic nerves of each dog, Dog A showed a rising and falling pressure, and Dog B (MORE ETHER WAS GIVEN JUST THEN) showed an initial FALL, and a rise, with a sudden second FALL and a rise.

"11.32. BOTH DOGS WERE DEEPLY ANAESTHETIZED. Dog A: Stimulation PRODUCED NO EFFECT. Dog B: On stimulating the sciatic nerve, there was A FALL OF (BLOOD)-PRESSURE, WITH SLOW RECOVERY."

Here we have recorded by the experimenter himself the difference in the effect of stimulation of nerves in an animal "deeply anaesthetized" and the results produced when the anaesthesia was light.

It has seemed necessary to examine at some length these peculiar experiments. The volumes describing them are not easily to be seen; some appear to be out of print; even Sir Victor Horsley; in whose laboratory in London some of the experiments were performed, confessed that he did not know about the vivisections made in the United States—whether or not they differed from those performed in England. In the vast number of these vivisections, so far beyond anything previously reported in our country by a single experimenters; in the ingenuity and variety of the mutilations to which the victims were subjected—mutilations and stimulations calculated to cause the extremest agony, unless the anaesthesia was perfect; in the seeming affirmation of absolute insensibility of the wretched animals, although contradicted by the only sign of suffering that in some cases could possibly be seen; in the apparent uselessness of experiments, repeated again and again simply to elicit precisely the same phenomena; above all, in the absence from criticism which some of these "investigations" have managed to secure—all this constitutes a claim for especial consideration. There can be little doubt that they merely illustrate what goes on to-day, in many a laboratory in the United States, in secret—as these were made in secret—and untouched by the criticism of the outer world.

Of the absolute uselessness of the vast majority of these experiments much might be said, but it is aside from this inquiry. The question of utility is not here raised. The one matter of inquiry is the existence of pain.

If a vast number of the experiments recorded may have involved the keenest agony of the victims, how are we to explain the repeated assertions that sensation was absolutely removed? Among antivivisectionists there are those who belive that any human being who could thus subject animals to torment would not find it impossible to deny the fact. Such explanation implies an inveracity which it is not necessary to impute. Mankind is still liable to error; the false deductions of honest men have more than once led to mistaken affirmations of facts; and the most illustrious scientist that ever lived can hardly claim infallibility in matters of opinion. A distinguished philosopher and vivisector of three hundred years ago, Rene Descartes, put forth the theory that animals, being without souls, cannot suffer pain, and that their cries under vivisection were simply as the whirring of wheels in an intricate piece of machinery. We can easily imagine a modern follower of Descartes declaring, as the philosopher would have done, that "NO SUFFERING WAS FELT." A professor of physiology in Harvard Medical School, in course of an address before a State medical society, laid down the theory that "it is ENTIRELY IMPOSSIBLE to draw conclusions with regard to the sensations of animals by an effort to imagine what our own would be under similar circumstances"; and when a vivisector has reached the stage where he can hold that belief, he may define pain as something pertaining only to human beings, and feel himself justified in declaring that "VIVISECTION OF ANIMALS NEVER CAUSES PAIN," according to his definition of the word. It is well for the world that with this theory the vast majority of thinking men and women have no sympathy whatever. The organized efforts for the protection of animals from cruelty have no meaning if animals are without capacity for that anguish which cruelty implies. We believe, on the contrary, that many, if not all, of the higher species of animals, especially those nearest to man in structure and intelligence, receive, when subjected to the torment of fire or steel, precisely the same sensations that, under a like infliction, a human being would suffer. At any rate, if doubt be possible, should they not have the benefit of it?

If one were asked whether he surely could demonstrate the emotions of any animal made incapable of movement, fixed immovably as in a vice, and subjected to the stimulation of fire, he might confess that inference and not proof was all he could offer. But if one goes farther, and inquires whether in any of the experiments recorded in this chapter there was evoked any sign of sensibility which delicate instruments could detect and record, then, assuredly, we are on safe ground. With startling uniformity we find recorded by the experimenters themselves the fluctuations of blood-pressure following the stimulation of exposed nerves, the crushing of pawes, the burning of the feet, the scalding with boiling water, and other mutilations. What is their significance? If, as Sir Lauder Brunton tells us, "the irritation of sensory nerves tends to cause contraction of blood- vessels AND TO RAISE THE BLOOD-PRESSURE"; if, as Straus affirms, "PAIN INCREASES BLOOD-PRESSURE," so that in a healthy person the pressure is increased even by pinching of the skin; if, as the physiologist Dalton declares, the irritation of any of the sensitive nerves induces a constriction of bloodvessels indicated by icreased arterial pressure; if the professor of physiology at University College, London, being asked if there were any means, other than the cries or struggles of an animal, by which one could tell if the anaesthesia of an animal was passing off, answered with scientific accuracy when he replied, "YAou can tell by the blood-pressure," adding that when sensibility was returning "THE PRESSURE GOES UP"; if it be true, as Professor Dixon, of King's College, London, told the Royal Commissioners, "you can see whether you are giving enough (of the anaesthetic) BY LOOKING AT THE BLOOD-PRESSURE"; if the professor of physiology at Oxford was correct in stating that "A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE" would tell an experimenter whether or not an animal undergoing vivisection was feeling pain, even though curare had rendered it so helpless that it could not even wink an eye, and that this rise of blood-pressure was the "ONE OBVIOUS WAY" of determining such sensibility; if we may depend upon the evidence of the professor of physiology at the University of Cambridge, that "PAIN WOULD CAUSE A RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE"; if the agreement of all these scientific authorities concerning the rise of blood-pressure as an indication of pain or returning sensibility can be accepted as scientific truth—then may we not be sure that all of the living animals whose vivisection we have here reviewed, in whose bodies, by fire and steel and every phase of mutilation, there was so constantly elicited this RISE OF BLOOD-PRESSURE, cannot be said to have attained a painless death? "A man about to be burned under a railway car begs somebody to kill him, yet iti s a statemnet to be taken literally, that a brief death by burning would be considered a happy release by a human being undergoing the experiences of some of the animals that slowly die in a laboratory." So wrote Dr. Bigelow of Harvard University, the most eminent surgeon that New England has yet produced; and were he living to-day, it is not improbable that he would point to some of the experiments here reviewed as examples of the vivisections he intended to condemn. It may be that although the present generation be indifferent, posterity will not condone, and that one day it will hold up some of the experiments of the twentieth century as involving the most prolonged, the most useless, the most terrible, the most cruel torments, that the annals of animal vivisection have ever supplied.



Every reflecting man must recognize that the settlement of the vivisection question is a problem that must find its solution at some period in future rather than to-day. But the duty of the hour remains the same. Admitting the existence of the wrong, what can we do to promote reform? What should we ask with the hope that popular judgment will gradually come to approve? How may we be faithful to that ideal of justice toward our inferior brethren, which underlies all humanitarian effort, and lack nothing in fidelity to Science to whose achievements we reverently look for the amelioration of the human race? There are those who would oppose the slightest use of animals for any scientific purpose whatever. There are others who would grant to the vivisector the secrecy and silence, the complete irresponsibility and unbounded freedom which he demands as his right. There are those to whom a middle course seems the only one leading to ultimate reform. What is the most reasonable attitude toward the laboratory and its claims possible to an honest and clear-minded investigator who is anxious to protect all living creatures from cruel acts, and equally concerned in the conservation of every legitimate privilege which Science can claim?

Such a man stands, let us say, before some great biological laboratory, richly endowed, slendidly equipped, and in the present enjoyment of freedom that is without bounds, and in a secrecy that to-day is as complete as can be imagined. What can he learn with certainty of what goes on within? If he hears claims of superlative gains by the experiments there carried on, how is he to weigh and decide their value? If there is cruelty behind those barred doors, how is he to prevent its constant recurrence? What, in short, should be the reasonable attitude of every intelligent man or woman anxious to know the truth and to promote reform of abuse?

For many years I have insisted upon the necessity for a certain degree of scepticism regarding every claim put forth by the laboratory, unsupported by convincing proofs. We may judge the future by the past. Has there not been evinced a disposition to exaggerate achievement, to deny secrecy, to mislead regarding the infliction of pain? No intelligent person, it seems to me, can study the vidence carefully, year after year, without reaching this attitude of distrust and doubt in a great number of instances. This by no means indicates that every claim of utility is false. A great many statements are accurate. Some claims will be partly true, but magnified by the enthusiasm of youth far beyond what devotion to a strict veracity would require. And some claims may be doubted altogether. It may be doubted whether any reliabce whatever can be placed upon the assertions or protesting denials of any profession vivisector now drawing a large income from the vivisection of animals, whose interests would possibly be affeted by failure to produce startling results, or by removal of the secrecy that now enshrouds the laboratory. The defenders of absolute licence have not told us the truth on every occasion it has been sought from them, and it must be gained from other sources and by other means.

It would seem, therefore, that the first step toward reform must be the creation of a public sentiment, eager, not so much to pass condemnation as to know the facts. That the laboratory, of its own accord and initiative, will ever open its doors and give to the world a complete knowledge of what goes on within its sacred precincts, is more than we can expect. The doors will open only when public opinion so demands. The laboratory is perfectly aware of this. With ever yenergy that such consciousness gives, it will fight to keep everything that it now hides from the light of day. Take, for example, the question of vivisection in our institutions of learning. To what extent is experimentation carried on therein merely to demonstrate what every student knows in advance? It would appear that certain lines of experiment are now permitted in such institutions which hardly more than a generation ago were condemned as cruel by the medical profession of Great Britain. We ought to inquire why it is that experiments which scarcely thirty years ago were thus condemned, are less abhorrent to-day. The removal of secrecy is the first and most important step toward any true reform.

It is the fashion of certain apologists for vivisection without control to represent their opponents as guided by sentiment alone. Perhaps it would be well to quote the opinions of one whose work for science should absolve him from that imputation.

One of the most illustrious philosphers which America has produced was Dr. William James, professor of psychology in Harvard University. In that institution, thirty-five years ago, he was assistant-professor of physiology, and knew exactly what was done. Harvard made him a professor of philosophy, and then of psychology; Princeton and Oxford and Harvard conferred upon him their highest honours. He lectured both at the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh. He wa s a member of various scienfitic societies in France, in Germany, in Denmark, and England. If any man was entitled by experience and study to speak with some authority concerning vivisection, it was William James of Harvard University.

He knew to what extent the practice of vivisection was carried on. Calling upon me one day in Cambridge, we compared views, and although he told me of certain experiments he proposed to make the next day, he was emphatic in his denunciation of the atrocities which over and over again were repeated in physiological laboratories throughout the land. The men who raised their voices against all reform were—he said—neither candid, nor honest, nor sincere.

Somewhat later, with some knowledge of his views, he was asked to hold an honorary relation to the Vivisection Reform Society. His reply was so characteristic of the man that it is here given:

"Dear Sir,

"I am made of too unorganized stuff to be a Vice-President of the Vivisection Reform Society, and, moreover, I make it a principle not to let my name appear anywhere where I am not doing practical work. But I am glad to send you, in answer to your request, a statement of my views, which you are at liberty to publish if you see fit.

"Much of the talk against vivisection is, in my opinion, as idiotic as the talk in defence of it is uncandid; but your Society (if I rightly understand its policy) aims not at abolishing vivisection, but at regulating it ethically. AGAINST ANY REGULATION WHATEVER I understand the various medical and scientific defenders of vivisection to protest. Their invariable contention, implied or expressed, is that it is no one's business what happens to an animal so long as the individual who is handling it can plead that to increase Science is his aim.

"This contention seems to me to flatly contradict the best conscience of our time. The rights of the helpless—even though they be brutes— must be protected by those who have superior power. The individual vivisector must be held responsible to some authority which he fears. The medical and scientific men, who time and time again have raised their voices in opposition to all legal projects of regulation, KNOW AS WELL AS ANYONE ELSE does the unspeakable possibilities of callousness, wantonness, and meanness of human nature, and their unanimity is the best example I know of the power of club opinion to quell independence of mind. No well-organized sect or corporation of men can ever be trusted to be truthful or moral when under fire from the outside. In this case, THE WATCHWORD IS TO DENY EVERY ALLEGED FACT STOUTLY; to concede no point of principle, and to stand firmly on the right of the individual experimenter. His being 'scientific' must, in the eye of the law, be a sufficient guarantee that he can do no wrong."

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