An Ethical Problem - Or, Sidelights upon Scientific Experimentation on Man and Animals
by Albert Leffingwell
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It may be questioned whether more serious charges against the laboratory have ever been made than are contained in these statements by an expert in vivisection. The man of the world wonders at the unanimity of scienitfic writers of the day in opposing every step tending to reform. Professor James tells us it is due to "the power of club opinion to quell independence of mind." That the professional vivisectors as a body "CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO BE TRUTHFUL WHEN ATTACKED," that they combine "to deny every alleged fact stoutly," these are the admissions of an expert experimenter, whose record as a man of science is surely equal if not superior to that of any vivisector in America.

Professor James believed that some abuses had been rectified. He says:

"That less wrong is done now than formerly is, I hope, true. There is probably a somewhat heightened sense of responsibility. There are, perhaps, fewer lecture-room repetitions of ancient vivisections, supposed to help out the professors' dulness with their brilliancy, and to 'demonstrate' what not six of the students are near enough to see, and what all had better take, as in the end they have to, upon trust. The waste of animal life is very likely lessened, the thought for animal pain less shamefaced in the laboratories than it was. These benefits we certainly owe to the antivivisection agitation, which ,in the absence of producing actualy State regulation, has gradually induced some sense of public accountability in physiologists, and made them regulate their several individual selves.

"But how infinitely more wisely and economically would these results have come if the physiologists as a body had met public opinion half- way long ago, agreed that the situation was a genuinely ethical one, and that their corporate responsibility was involved, and had given up the preposterous claim that every scientist has an unlimited right to vivisect, for the amount or mode of which no man, not even a colleague, can call him to account.[1]

"The fear of State rules and inspectors on the part of the investigators is, I think, well founded; they would probably mean either stupid interference or become a sham. But the public demand for regulation rests on a perfectly sound ethical principle, the denial of which by the scientists speaks ill for either their moral sense or their political ability. So long as the physiologists disclaim corporate responsibility, formulate no code of vivisectional ethics for laboratories to post up and enforce, appoint no censors, pass no votes of condemnation or exclusion, propose of themselves no law, so long must the antivivisectionist agitation, with all its expensiveness, idiocy, bad temper, untruth, and vexatiousness, continue, as the only possible means of bringing home to the careless or callous individual experimenter the fact that the sufferings of HIS animals are somebody else's business as well as his own, and that there is 'a God in Israel' to whom he owes account.

"WILLIAM JAMES. "Cambridge, Mass., "May 5 (1909)."

[1] "Unnecessary and offensive in the highest degree would it be, ... by legislation of any kind, to attempt to dictate or control how, and by whom, and for what purposes, and under what conditions and upon what animals in the laboratories, ... experiments should be made. The decision in these matters SHOULD BE LEFT WHOLLY TO THOSE IN CHARGE OF THESE INSTITUTIONS."—From a memorial of Dr. Simon Flexner, Dr. W. T. Councilman, Dr. H. C. Ernst, and other members of the Association of American Physicians against Senate Bill regulating vivisection in the District of Columbia, May 4, 1896.

This is a very strong indictment. If he misunderstood the antivivisectionists, we must remember that Henry Clay in 1851 could see nothing good in William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition party. But James knew precisely what the vivisection of animals meant, for he had taught physiology, and had been engaged in experimentation for more than a quarter of a century. When he speaks of the power of "club opinion to quell independence of mind," he explains a situation which otherwise might remain obscure. When he asserts that certain groups "cannot be trusted to be truthful or moral," we have the explanation of a philosopher who was not given to over-statement.

Do we not find in this letter an outline of what Professor James would suggest as steps toward vivisection reform? In perfunctory inspection of laboratories or supervision by State inspectors, he has no confidence; such inspection would probably degenerate into a sham. A well-known experimentor once said to the rwiter: "Your inspectors of laboratories must be either well-educated and competent men, or else officials of the grade of the average policemen. If the belong to the first class, do you think they will become detectives and spies? If, on the other hand, they earn the salary of the average policeman, will they be intelligent enough to discover abuses, and invariably of such rectitude that a ten-dollar bill will not induce official blindness?"

It would seem that this objection to State inspection cannot be lightly considered. For the prevention of cruelty it may be right to permit certain persons always to have the right to enter any laboratory whatever without previous notice; the fact that they may come at any time constitutes the safeguard to a limited degree. But such men must be persons unpaid by the State, of intelligence sufficient to comprehend all peculiarities of experimentation, and of a probity that no bribe can disturb. It would be far better to allow things to go on as they are than to have cruelty protected by public confidence in a legal supervision that did not sufficiently supervise and restrian.

It appears to me, as I have said elsewhere, that first of all public opinion should be aroused, not so much to condemn all experimentation upon animals, as to know with certainty the facts about it. Of the vivisection of animals in England and America carried on in secret, the general public, even of the more intelligent class, has no more accurate inforumation than two centuries ago it had of the methods of the Spanish Inquisition in the dungeons of Madrid or Seville. How did it happen that an institution so execrated and so universally condemned to-day, managed for centuries almost unchallenged, to exist? Precisely as the closed laboratory manges to exist among us, becauseof the secrecy in which it was surrounded, and the general confidence which it claimed as its due. Reform canot make headway so long as the dungeon is dark and the laboratory is locked. The strongest line of defence is the maintenance of ignorance, even though we have the curious anomaly, existing nowhere else, of Science covering herself with darkness and hiding behind ignorance. It was one of the ablest advocates for vivisection that America has produced, who, in an address before the American Academy of Medicine, condemned the secrecy of the physiological laboratory as "a grave and profound mistake," adding that "if there be necessary secrecy, there is wrong." No more significant condemntation of present-day methods has ever been uttered.

An eminent London physician, Dr. Greville Macdonald, wrote not long ago in favour of that publicity of vivisection, or rather of that knowledge of its methods which should precede any attempt at legislation. The question of interference is one that the State must decide, though the dangers and advantages of vivisection can only be arrayed in intelligible order by one who understands the subject. "But the public, HAVING HEARD THE EVIDENCE, must decide whether or no the State shall more willingly sanction cruelty in the secret laboratory than in the highway.... I most reluctantly admit, it is almost impossible to get evidence upon such points, and for the reason THAT THE THINGS WHICH WE FEAR ARE PRACTISED IN SECRET PLACES. Nevertheless, it is just because of this secrecy that the public have a right to make trouble. But for John Howard's crusade against the horrors of the prisons, the public had never known the truth, their infamies had never been remedied; and the public have now as much right to question the physiologist's repudiations as they had then to doubt the denials of the gaolers. The evidence is sufficient to justify, in my own mind, a large measure of sympathy with the antivivisectionists, though I am not of them."

What lines of procedure in the direction of reform would Dr. Macdonald advocate? He admits that "to prohibit vivisection altogether would be to invite its performance in such secrecy as no system of espionage could unearth. Legislation can seldom do more than compromise, because it cannot essay the impossible." He admits that "no Act of Parliament can eradicate the spirit that makes cruelty possible." But there are some things that may be done, and upon four points Dr. Macdonald believes legislation is desireable. "The first is that vivisection ought to be prohibited for the purposes of teaching, because it is often misleading and always demoralizing. The second is that the inspection of the physiological laboratories should be carried out more systematically and always unexpectedly, and that the inspectors should largely be increased in number. Thirdly, I would prohibit all dissections, with or without anaesthetics, upon live horses and dogs. Fourthly, I would make the administration of curare for purposes of experiments a criminal act."

One method of obtaining information concering the practice in America is through a Legislative commission. Guided intelligently, such a Commission should be able to present in its final report a large accumulation of important facts. It is evident, however, that if such disclosures are likely to tell against present methods of research, the appointment of any such Commission will be strenuously opposed by everyone connected with the laboratories. The strange thing is that precisely this opposition has been evinced in the State of New York, as elsewhere shown. The powers that control prefer the present darkness, and for the time being have been able to secure it. But this very opposition is so significant that no effort should be relaxed to bring every phase of the practice of vivisection into the light of day.

That altogether too much reliance may be placed upon Government inspection of laboratories seems unquestionable. If one could be sure that it would always be conducted by intelligent and educated men, with due appreciation of scientific aims, yet in thorough sympathy with humane motives and objects, it would undoubtedly be of use. But no such reliance can be ours. The experience of England should convey a lesson in this respect.

Suppose, therefore, that in place of demanding the State inspection of laboratories, or any present interference with the conduct of the vivisector, we endeavor first of all to learn the facts through the experimenters themselves. Of course they will not volunteer any information that may seem to tell against the practice; we must expect the laboratory to put forward ever obstacle that might hinder the facts from becoming public if there is anything wrong to hide. But unless the claim be soberly put forth—and I am not sure that this may not be the case—that the vivisector has a right to work in complete secrecy, and to hide his methods from the world, he cannot complain at being the reporter of his own activities.

Assuming then, that our object be solely the acquisition of knowledge without interference until necessity be shown, what can be done by legislation in America to attain the end desired?

1. THE REGISTRATION OF LABORATORIES.—Every place where experiments upon animals are to be legally made should be licensed by the State. It has been suggested that such regulation should recognize the occasional necessity for experiments upon animals relating to the transmission of diseases at other places than laboratories, as, for example, on farms. A liberal recognition of all genuine exceptions might easily be made; the only object of such regulation is to insure that all experimentation whatever comes upon the record. So long as this is accomplished, every exceptional case of such investigation outside a laboratory may easily be permitted without injury to the principle involved.

2. REGISTRATION OF EXPERIMENTERS.—Every man who desires to perform experiments upon animals should be required to obtain a licence from the State granting such privilege for a definite time. This could work no injury to science in America, for in England it has been a rule in force for many years. When one remembers that a physician or surgeon, even though possessed of the greatest skill, cannot practise unless licensed by the State, it is difficult to see why a practice so liable to abuse and crulety should be without this simple recognition of the experimenter's ability, humaneness, and skill.

3. REPORTS OF EXPERIMENTS.—We are sometimes told that if there is any secrecy in vivisection, it is only that which scientific men everywhere demand for scientific work. The dissecting-room has its enforced privacy; the chemist must have his period of uninterrupted attention, and to the observatory of the astronomer it is not easy to obtain admittance at any and all times. Suppose Society to grant the privacy for a time, asking in return from every registered laboratory and from every experimenter, the completest reports of all experiments upon animals. What objection can be raised if there is nothing to conceal? The Savings Bank, the Insurance Company, even the National Treasury, are all required to give at regular intervals information concerning the disposition of funds. Let us place the creatures liable to vivisection and taken into a laboratory on a plane of equal importance with bags of silver coin taken into a banking-house. From greta financial institutions we require detailed information and reports attested by oath concerning the disposition made of money taken into its treasury. No cashier would dream of objecting to such reports; they are the tribute which conscious integrity unhesitataingly pays to secure public confidence and trust. Now, in the interests of science—which means always truth demonstrated, not truth concealed—and in the interests of humanity as well, let us ask for ever material fact pertaining to the creatures entering a laboratory for vivisection, whether it be the dog, "stolen, to begin with" (to use the phrase of the London Lancet), or animals more legitimately acquired, so long as their lives are to be exploited in the professed interests of mankind.

In every registered laboratory, therefore, the law should require that a register be kept concerning every animal of the higher species brought upon the premises for purposes of experimentation. The species of every such animal, its sex, colour, condition, and apparent age; from whom it was acquired and the price paid for it; and to whom for experimentation it was finally delivered—all these facts should be a part of the permanent record of every laboratory. It ought not to be difficult to devise a register, which at the outset would probably meet the suggested requirements.[1]

[1] See Appendix, pp. 340-343.

One advantage of such a register as this would be the assistance it would render in all attempts to trace animals which are stolen or lost, and which find their way to the laboratory. Every animal which may possibly have been a pet should be kept for redemption for two to three weeks, and no animal should be purchased unless the purchaser is able to have a record of the address of the seller. Anyone can distinguish between a homeless vagabond of the street and an animal which must have been well treated in a good home, and I believe that experimentation upon a pet animal under any conditions should be forbidden by law.

The gain arising from such registration is obvious. It would mark the entrance within the laboratory of every creature intended for experimentation of any kind. It makes possible to an extent the tracing of pet animals, lost or stolen, which now find themselves devoted to vivisection. The inspection of such a register should be permitted to any person whatever endeavouring to trace a lost or stolen pet. A summary should be regularly furnished for publication, attested by oath, precisely as the cashier of a national bank periodically attests the accuracy of his reports. Such a report is but a promulgation of facts which ought to be within the reach of the public. By no stretch of the imagination can one honestly declare that such knowledge will constitute an impediment to justifiable research. Yet no one acquainted with this subject can doubt that every resource of the laboratory will be brought forward to resist to the uttermost even the giving of so little information as this.

But we must go beyond this. To trace animals to the door of the laboratory, and there to drop them, leaves the curtain unlifted; they enter the darkness, and that darkness must be dispelled. It must be the privilege of the public to know as completely as possible EXACTLY WHAT IS DONE AFTER THEY PASS THE DOOR. How is this to be accomplished? How may we know what is done to the animals thus traced to the door of every laboratory without being charged with impeding the legitimate researches of science? For reasons stated, inspection will not accomplish it. As carried out in England, it certainly has accomplished but little for the protection of animals. The published reports of experiments made in that country under one or another "certificate," are practically of no value whatever except to show the constant increase of such experiments every year. The plummet must sink to deeper depths. If Society is to grant to the physiological laboratory that isolation and freedom from interference which it craves, THEN SOCIETY HAS THE RIGHT TO ASK IN RETURN THE COMPLETEST DISCLOSURE THAT CAN BE GIVEN OF METHODS AND RESULTS.

It has the right. Unfortunately it cannot persuade or compel. That is the province of Legislation.

Vivisection, we must always remember, is an exceedingly complex practice. It is a means of demonstrating well-known facts; it is also a method of original research. How many animals in any given laboratory are used in each of these phases of experimentation? No one can tell us. If the laboratory keeps no account, it is unlikely that the information could be given by anybody else. A strong impression exists that "original research" for any object of conceivable utility to mankind is vastly more infrequent than vivisection for the repetition—painful or otherwise—of facts perfectly well known. We need to have the question settled with an accuracy upon which as much reliance may be placed as upon the oath of the cashier of a bank. "Every laboratory," said Dr. George M. Guld, in an address before the American Academy of Medicine, "should publish an annual statement setting forth plainly the number and kind of experiments, the objects aimed at, and, most definitely, the methods of conducting them." This wise suggestion, however, bore no fruit. No such "annual statemnet" has ever been issued by any American laboratory, so far as I am aware. Even if thus issued it would not go far enough. Such reports should be attested under oath by each individual experimenter, exactly as the officers of a bank are required by law to make reports regarding its financial standing. Every experimenter should therefore be required to state what he has done during the three preceding months; to give the number of animals of each species which have been delivered to him, the object of each experiment, and the cases in which curare was employed. Especially should a careful distinction be drawn between original investigations made in private and experiments made before students or by students themselves, solely for the illustration of well-known facts. An outline of a report that would cover these facts will be found in the appendix.

And yet this is hardly enough. It is not sufficient to have the results of individual experience; we should have a summary of all experimental work made upon the higher animals in each laboratory given us by the responsible head of that institution. An outline of a report that would give us the information desired is not difficult to devise.[1]

[1] See Appendix.

There is little doubt but that violent objection will be made to any such reports. But in the opinion of very many persons the truth about a vivisection laboratory is quite as desirable as the truth about a country bank. Verification in either case implies the same. It would mean that the statement was not made carelessly, but with a due appreciation of the solemnity of an oath. Any gross misstatement on the part of a bank cashier would almost certainly subject him to a rigid examination, and to the penalty of dismissal. It should be the same with a laboratory. If gross missatements should be made with apparent design to hide something that should have been made known, it seems to me that those who thus offend should have their licences suspended or revoked. We cannot forget that Society is here dealing with a peculiar institution, where secrecy is regarded as a virtue. If one could imagine a bank or an insurance company, where every official or employee, from the president down to the scrub-woman, was seeking in every way to keep its affairs hidden from the general public, we should in one respect have the counterpart of the physiological laboratory of to-day.

On the other hand, when the law asks for the truth, whether it be of a bank or a laboratory, under penalties for concealment that cannot be easily disregarded, we may be very certain that in the vast majorty of instances compliance will be accorded to its demands. Instances of attempted concealment will, of course, occur; the cashier who has speculated with the funds of the bank will endeavour to conceal his crime, and the vivisector who has carried his private experiments or his demonstrations before students to cruel and unwarrantable lengths will seek by all possible means to prevent revelation of his transgression. In both cases there will be occasional success. But as regards vivisection, it cannot be questioned that whenever in future the law makes a demand for such reports as are here outlined, a vast amount of information, now carefully concealed from the possibility of public judgment, will become known. We shall obtain it, too, withut crossing the threshold of a single laboratory, without hindering in any way whatever the least important investigation of a single scientific inquirer.

Ought we not to go beyond this and require reports to state the facts regarding anaesthetics? Eventually such information should undoubtedly be required. So far as the immediate present is concerned, it would seem perhaps the wiser course not to complicate the inquiry in this way. There are vivisectors who would declare that "anaesthetics are always used" when ether or chloroform has been given in quantity and in time absolutely insufficient to secure for the vivisected animal immunity from pain. Sometimes we shall ask how many animals and of what species are subjected to mutilations and observations that last for days and weeks, and how many, if any, have had "nerves torn out by the roots," as one American physiologist connected with a medical school tells us he has repeatedly done. Into the thousand and one phases of experimentation Society must one day make inquiry. But may it not be best to wait till some knowledge of the leading facts are secured? A report regarding anaesthesia might be utterly useless, except to keep hidden the very facts we wish to know. What some of these facts are may be indicated hereafter, but it would seem best not to include them in any present demand.

What may we conceive will be the attitude of the laboratory interests toward any attempt to secure information concerning the practice, not by State inspection, but by and through reports made by themselves? If the popular conceoption of physiological investigation were true, should we not be sure of the hearty approval of all physiologists regarding any measure so calculated to remove misunderstanding and distrust? Here would be the wished-for opportunity to demonstrate the vast importance of the problems pursued, and the wonderful results attained compared with the small cost of animal life, the humane and ever-present solicitude of the experimenter, the immunity from suffering. Here, too, we should have that "organized, systematic, and absolute frankness" in regard to the practice of vivisection, for which one of its greatest American defenders once appealed. But, on the other hand, suppose that the laboratory in England and America dare not permit the whole truth to be known? Suppose that it would not willingly permit the general public to know even the number of animals which are now sacrificed in the demonstration of well-known facts? Then assuredly the laboratory interests will unite to prevent any legislation that could tend to destroy the secrecy that now exists, or to bring the facts of vivisection to the light of day. Which hypothesis is the true one, some day will reveal. We shall then discover whether the laboratory will yield to a demand for publicity, or whether, contending for continued secrecy, faithless to Science, it will resist every attempt to make known the whole truth, and cling to the ideals and traditions of the Spanish Inquisition of three hundred years ago.



It is necessary to make a distinction between societies aiming to destroy animal experimentation, root and branch, and those which hope only to prevent abuses and cruelties. Antivivisection societies have been organized in different States. Of their activities it is not necessary here to speak. But another kind of organization has made its appearance, societies aiming solely at the prevention of abuse and the restriction of the practice within limits compatible with humane ideals.

The first society in America organized for the express purpose of prevention of cruelty in animal experimentation appears to have been the American Antivivisection Society, founded at Philadelphia in 1883. The object of the society, as defined by its first charter, was "the restriction of the practice of vivisection within proper limits, and the prevention of the injudicious and needless infliction of suffering upon animals under the pretence of medical or scientific research." To Mrs. Caroline Earle White of Philadelphia, more than to any other, was due the credit of bringing this first society of protest into being over thirty years ago.

It was believed by the founders of this society that the medical profession—so many members of which had recognized the reality of the abuses and the necessity of reform—would join in some common endeavor to restrict and to regulate the practice. But attempts in direction of any legislation met with decided opposition from the principal laboratories in the State, and although a few physicians of eminence lent their influence to the promotion of reform, the great body of medical practitioners stood aloof. And gradually the founders of the society came to believe that their position was wrong; that the policy of concession and compromise ought to be abandoned, and that instead of asking that any experimentation be legalized, the society should demand the total abolition of all experiments upon living animals.

At a meeting held in 1887 a resolution was brought forward favouring the change of the name of the society and the aim which hitherto they had had in view. Opposition merely to experiments of a painful character was not sufficient; from that time forward every phase of experimentation was equally to be condemned. The resolution was carried. And now for more than a quarter of a century the society has striven to influence public sentiment in favour of its ideal, the total suppression of all scientific experiment upon living animals, whether painful or otherwise. It is needless to say that they have done this in the face of innumerable obstacles, and doubtless with a recognition of the impossiblity of present success. Three times they have introduced into the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania a Bill for some restriction of animal experimentation, and always without avail.

Other antivivisection societies in different parts of the country, adopting the same ideal, were organized shortly afterward. So far as legislation is concerned, their efforts have met with uniform failure. They have succeeded, however, in keeping the subject before the world in making known the abuses of the practice and voicing a condemnation of its cruelties wherever discerned. I have elsewhere expressed the opinion that, even if their ideals are beyond present possibility of attainment, the constant, persistent, and unwearied protest of these societies against the cruelties and abuses of vivisection have helped, more than anything else, to keep the question a living issue.

In 1896 was organized the first society having for its object solely the repression of abuse, the American Society for the Regulation of Vivisection. Its object was distinctly stated in its title, and its work was confined almost entirely to the publication of literature. In 1903 the Vivisection Reform Society, organized to advance the same moderate views, was incorporated under United States laws, and the earlier society became merged therein. The president was Dr. David H. Cochran of Brooklyn, a distinguished educator, and the secretary, upon whose shoulders fell nearly all the work of the organization, was Sydney Richmond Taber, Esq., a member of the legal profession. Among its supporters were Cardinal Gibbons, Professor Goldwin Smith, Senator Gallinger, Professor John Bascom, ex-President of the University of Wisconsin, Professor William James of Harvard University, and men of standing and influence in the medical and legal professions. For several years its work was carried on with efficiency and enthusiasm, chiefly by the propaganda of the press. It has always seemed to me that the name of the society was especially felicitous, for it expressed tersely the object of the organization, not the abolition of all scientific utilization of animal life, but the repression and elimination of abuse. A year or two later there was incorporated at Washington the National Society for the Humane Regulation of Vivisection, the objects of which were identical with those of the earlier societies. For many reasons it did not appear expedient to keep in activity two societies with precisel the same objects, and into the new organization the Vivisection Reform Society was finally merged.

Another American society which has done particularly good work is the Vivisection Investigation League of New York. The object of this association is fairly expressed by its name; it seeks to investigate the practice, so far as inquiry is practicable, and to make known from the writings of experimenters themselves exactly what is done in the name of scientific research. In this direction the League has already done work of exceptional value and interest.

An organization which more than any other has distinguished itself for persistent, unwearied, and vigorous attempts to secure reform by legal enactment is the Society for the Prevention of Abuse in Animal Experimentation, organized in Brooklyn, New York, in 1907.[1] From the first it repudiated the suggestion that it was opposed to scientific experimentation upon animals under all circumstances; it has never denied that some benefits have accrued through animal experimentation, even though such benefits have been exaggerated, but it has bent all its energies toward securing such legislation in the State of New York as should limit the practice to competent men, place it under such legal control, render its abuse a misdemeanour, and all unnecessary and wanton cruelty a legal offence. Bills were therefore introduced for the appointment of a Commission of inquiry regarding the extent and nature of the practice at each annual session of the Legislature. Some of these Bills were reported out of the Committee, and one reached debate in the Senate. But investigation of the practice was precisely what the supporters of the modern laboratory do not seem to desire. They were strong enough to influence the Legislature against such inquiry, and their attempts to open the laboratory have so far failed. Will it be possible for ever to maintain this secrecy? That is the question for the future.

[1] To the discriminating and energetic work of Frederic P. Bellamy, Esq., the counsel of the society, and of Mrs. William Vanamee, the secretary, the success of this society is particularly indebted. In the public journals, on many occasions, they have definitely and comprehensively outlined the aims of the organization, and in this respect there has been no excuse whatever for any misunderstanding or misstatement.

In its early efforts to secure investigation an attempt was made by this society to secure the co-operation of members of the medical profession, and in union with a large number of persons belonging to various professions over seven hundred physicians in the State of New York signed a petition in 1907-08 in favour of a measure that would have tended to elicit the facts. As soon as the Medical Society of the State of New York became aware of this endorsement, it sent out to each of these physicians a request that he would withdraw his name. What Dr. William James called "the power of club influence to quell independence of mind" could hardly have been more significantly exercised, yet less than forty signers were willing to accede to such demand. Upon the files of the society are now the signatures of over six hundred physicians in the State who have favoured legislation restricting the practice of vivisection to competent men, and providing against cruelty and abuse.

In the fall of 1911 the Society circulated a petition throughout the State. It asked the Legislature of the State of New York to provide—

"an immediate and impartial investigation by a non-partisan commission into the practice of animal experimentation as conducted in this State. In view of the inherent possibility of cruelty in the practice, and the obvious inadequacy of the existing laws to prevent such cruelty, we deem the existing status of vivisection in this State to be a menace to the community, which calls for legislative investigation."

To this petition more than twelve thousand signatures were obtained. Again the influence of the laboratory was effective in preventing the Legislature from granting the investigation desired.

Some of the most scholarly editorials which have appeared in the newspaper press in favour of inquiry have been those of Hon. St. Clair McKelway, the Chancellor of the Board of Regents of the State of New York and editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, the leading evening newspaper in the United States. Referring to one of the Bills introduced by the Society for the Prevention of Abuse in Animal Experimentation, Dr. McKelway said:

"The Bill ought to be passed. It would secure an unpaid representative Commission to investigate animal vivisection, protecting it from abuses, and allowing it to be properly pursued within safeguards of necessity and mercy.... The regulation of vivisection is not the abolition of it, but the civilization of it. Such of the medical profession as are a Trade Union on a large scale, as afraid of one another as they are deaf to the voices of humanity and to public opinion, should be forced by the State to courses that should long ago have been volunteered by themselves. The beginning of the end of licensed cruelty has come. The struggle may still take time, but the time will be well spent and the result is as certain as the triumph of every other benign movement for the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men and in the laws of the State."

Of another bill introduced by this society, Chancellor McKelway wrote:

"The Society for the Prevention of Abuse in Animal Experimentation necessarily has an awkwardly long name; necessarily, to state just what the Society is, and to show just what it is not. It is not to prevent animal experimentation, but only to prevent the abuse of it. It is not an antivivisection body, ut it is a body to control the work of vivisection within the confines of actual necessity, and to bring the work under accountability to law as affected by a relation to reason, to humanity, and to the mercy which is mightiest in the mighty, and which becomes a State more than its sovereignty, and a monarch more than his crown.

"The Legislature again has before it a Bill to bring animal experimentation, or the infliction of pain on animals, in the interest of the treatment of human beings, within law and under responsibility to law. Not for the first time is this Bill brought. It will be brought again and again until the Bill becomes law. The instinct of mercy and justice backs this measure and annually augments its supporters. That instinct will not become extinct until God abdicates or creation reverts to chaos. The movement is on the gaining hand. Doubt of its eventual and nearing success is unthinkable, for in its favour are all the forces that maintain and advance justice and mercy in the hearts of men and in the action of States.

"State-regulated vivisection should be differentiated from antivivisection or from no vivisection, just as civilized and necessary war should be from the impossible abolition of all war. Between reulation and prohibition is a difference. Between responsibility and wantonness is a difference. Yet regulated vivisection has been confounded with antivivisection by the union of zany cranks and trade-unionized men of medicine, who have not refrained from the coercion of patients, from the deception of the public, from the inoculation of legislators with mendacity, capsuled in sophistry, and from the direct or indirect corruption or intimidation of not a few public journals. The discovery of the ways and means and men is bringing the evil to an end.

"That discovery coincides with the arousal of the public conscience against political corruption, party corruption, and interparty as well as intraparty bribery and tyranny. There is accord between all the forces for betterment. Barbarism and cruelty toward the brute creation are as certainly doomed as polygamy and human slavery were. The needs of surgery will be preserved from wanton slaughter in the name of surgery, in times past, and now wrought by men called doctors and by cub-boys called students. The statesmen in politics are realizing this. The demagogues and opportunists in Legislatures are, too. So are the men of mercy, conscience, and vision in medicine itself. The impact of banded pretension in trade-unionized medical schools and societies is resented and resisted by teachers and practitioners, who are becoming ashamed not to be free, and who are abetting those who would free them.

"There is a good time coming around the whole circle of uplift. The time will not be long coming; but when it shall come, its duration will have no end, and its progress will be perpetual."[1]

[1] Editorial, Brooklyn Eagle, April 4, 1910.

It is an interesting fact that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, founded by Henry Bergh, the first organization of its kind in America, joined in the demand for further investigation. Under the heading, "The Facts Demanded," the editor of its periodical makes known its position regarding vivisection:

"The above caption defines the attitude of the Society to-day toward the practice of 'animal experimentation.' In the common phrase, 'we want to know,' and we are not to be deterred from what we believe to be a duty by being told from sources more or less reputable that it is none of our business. For many years this Society has been the chief representative in this country and in this city of that large class among our people who feel and cherish an interest in and a sense of humanity for what are called the 'dumb animals.' One great life—that of the founder, Henry Bergh—was spent in this service, and prematurely sacrificed in his devotion to these interests. With faults and failures to reach his ideal, with stumbles and falls, freely admitted, but with a persistent purpose to attain it in the end, this Society has never faltered in its effort to follow the path where he had blazed the way. It has never been seriously accused of acting from fear or favour or from other than altruistic motives, and by so doing it has gained and kept the confidence and respect of a great part of what is best in our community. It is far too late in the day for any newspaper or anay group of citizens, no matter how influential in the one case or highly respected in the other, to say to this Society: 'You shall not do the work for which you were chartered, and which for forty-five years you have performed in this community.'

"Now, what is that work in the present instance? Expressed in its simplest terms, it is a demand that the practice of animal experimentation shall be investigated by the State to determine what is actually being done, and that thereafter legislation shall be had that shall place it under such supervision and restriction as shall insure differentiation between scientific investigation performed for wise and adequate ends and purposes on the one hand, and on the other acts of a painful and brutal character performed from unworthy motives, with no adequate benefit possible as a resultant, and which clearly come within the classification of cruelty.

"We submit that this is an eminently fair proposal, and one that should not be opposed by any friend of scientific work, and least of all by the physicians of this city. Yet what do we find? The attitude of that profession is clearly shown by the letter of Mr. Bergh, which we reproduce in our columns, and which will unquestionably receive credence from its frankness and from the eminent name attached to it, now borne by a worthy and devoted descendant of our first president.

"The attitude of the medical profession on this subject is this: 'We know what we are about.' 'We practice vivisection for wise purposes.' 'We surround it with as humane conditions as the object sought will permit.' 'We have made great and beneficial discoveries by its means.' 'We assert that we con trol it within the above limits.' 'But we will not state what we do, or how.' 'We will not permit our assertions to be verified if we can help it.' 'We will oppose any movement in the Press or the Legislature looking to this end.' 'And we will encourage the Press to defeat such an effort, not only by ridicule and irony but by a definite misrepresentation of the motives and views of the Society that seeks "to know."'

"We do not at this moment question the truth of the assertions as to the practice and control which we have put (accurately, we think) into the mouths of the medical profession; but it is startlingly evident that these assertions can only apply TO THAT PART OF ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION WHICH THEY PRACTICE OR CONTROL. What of the other part? Will those who champion unrestricted, uninvestigated, unsuperintended vivisection assert that they will guarantee to the people of this city that no act of cruelty or wantonness is or ever shall be committed here by a medical practitioner under the guise of scientific investigation? Will they guarantee that such acts are not, and never shall be, committed in this State? Will they guarantee the humanity and the practice of the thousands of medical students who annually graduate from the colleges? Will they enter into bonds to the community for the acts of those who, from time to time, they expel, for cause from the medical societies? Will they place their own great reputations and highly esteemed characters behind, and as vouchers for, many a practitioner with whom they would not meet in consultation, and whom they would not allow to practice or malpractice in the house of a friend or a patient? We think not—we KNOW they would not, for such endorsements and guarantees would be impossible of fulfilment. And if they will not and cannot, they wshould cease to stand between the society that seeks 'to know' and the evils it seeks to expose and eliminate.

"Gentlemen of the medical profession, understand once for all that this Society does not seek to abolish vivisection. It recognizes the good, the great good, that has and that may come to the human race from its careful, humane, and scientific use. But it aims to abolish its ABUSES, and in that aim it is entitled to your advice and co-operation."

Enough has been given to indicate the purpose of the present movement for vivisection reform. It is not the same as antivivisection, and although it has been persistently misrepresented as such by the advocates of unrestricted freedom in the physiological laboratory, perhaps we have no reason to expect from that quarter any other course. Yet in expressing appreciation both of purpose and accomplishment, it may perhaps be well to suggest a single caution. The time is probably coming when those who have most persistently opposed all appeals for more light concerning vivisection will announce willingness to accede to the public demnad, provided the vivisector may himself appoint the investigators, and define the limitations of the inquiry. It needs but little discernment to foresee that an inquiry so conducted may be no better than a farce, and conduce to no real change in the present obscurity. To be of any value the commission of inquiry regarding vivisection must be so intelligent regarding all phases of the practice that it shall know how to penetrate to hidden recesses, where things not desired to be revealed shall be concealed; capable, too, of distinguishing between the work of the expert scientist and that of the ignorant and careless student, untouched, it may be, by any sense of pity or compassion for the creature in its power. The greatest cruelties may yet be found, not in the laboratory of the investigator, but in that of the demonstrator of well-known facts. Perhaps no investigation of the practice of vivisection can be expected until public opinion shall have been educated to demand it, and then, in point of thoroughness, let us trust it may leave nothing to be desired. Meantime the work of agitation for reform must continue; no matter how slight the accomplishment, surely something is done. "All work," said Carlyle, "is as seed sown; it growns and spreads, AND SOWS ITSELF ANEW, and so in endless palingenesia lives and works."



One phase of the vivisection controversy is of singular significance. It is the peculiar tendency to unfairness which the advocates of unrestricted experimentation seem to display in every discussion regarding the practice. In all controversy there is something to be said on both sides of the question, yet it would seem to be impossible for anyone writing in advocacy of unlimited and unrestricted vivisection to state fairly the views to which he is opposed. Statements, the inaccuracy of which may easily be ascertained, are again and again repeated, until it would almost seem that upon reiteration of error and untruth a certain degree of dependence has been placed for the creation of prejudice against reform.

To demonstrate the truth of such a charge would require a volume. Let it here suffice to mention a few instances of what may at least be termed an unfairness in controversy. Partly, of course, it is the result of ignorance, and of imperfect acquaintance with the past history of vivisection; partly it is due to that enthusiasm of youth which sometimes prefers a seeming victory to any close fidelity to truth. Other instances cannot be thus explained. Some of them are worth consideration as problems for which no solution is easily to be found.

In January, 1913, a Bill was introduced into the New York Legislature providing for an inquiry into the practice of animal experimentation. There was no suggestion of any restriction of vivisection; it was simply an attempt to get at the real facts concerning the practice as now carried on. If it be assumed that no objectionable practices exist, it would seem difficult to oppose such inquiry upon any reasonable grounds. It might possibly have been expected that the Laboratory would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate to the general public that nothing deserving censure could be found to exist.

For reasons not difficult to understand, the proposal to investigate the laboratory and its methods has been resisted quite as strongly as if it had been an attempt to prohibit experiments altogether. To justify rejection of inquiry would not appear to be an easy task. To create a sentiment of approval of the policy of secrecy it doubtless seemed necessary to make an appeal to the general public by editorial utterances, in journals supposed to be impartial and of high standing in other directions. In a New York daily paper which claims to be conducted with special regard for respectability and avoidance of unseemly sensationalism, there appeared, therefore, an editorial opposing all inquiry on the part of the legislature into the methods of animal experimentation. It is worth while to see how matters of history were placed before its readers by one of the most reputable of New York journals:

"... An outcry was raised against the English doctors in the early seventies, and it was decided to investigate their laboratories. A Royal Commission was appointed in 1875 by Queen Victoria. The Commission took elaborate testimony, and found no material abuse; but owing to the inflamed state of the public mind, and the attitude of many members of the medical profession, who at that early date did not appreciate the importance of the experimental method, a restrictive law was recommended, which resulted in the calamitous measure of 1876.

"Far from allaying the British agitation, as was expected, the investigation only served to stimulate it.... A demand was made in 1906 for a second full investigation of laboratory methods. Again a Royal Commission was created, which took testimony for a year and half. Its report, submitted in March last year, overwhelmingly disproved the charges that the medical experiments upon animals are immoral and unjustifiable.... THE DOCTORS OF ENGLAND HAVE FOR A GENERATION HAD TO FLEE TO THE CONTINENT to prosecture their necessary labours. Is the experience of Great Britain to be repeated in the United States at the hands of persons who have become deluded into insensibiity to human suffering?"[1]

[1] Editorial in New York Times, January 28, 1913.

Now, this editorial utterance is not exceptionally misleading. In scores of newspapers throughout the United States just as ignorant and as prejudiced statements find editorial expression every year. It aims to justify the closing of the laboratory to all investigations whatever, and it attempts to do this by misstatements regarding historical facts. It tells us of an "outcry raised against the English doctors in the early seventies," forgetting to mention the attacks made by the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, and other medical periodicals, against the terrible cruelties of the practice long before the "early seventies." The Royal Commission of 1875, we are told, "found no material abuse." What is meant by the qualifying adjective "material"? Let us see how the inquiry impressed an impartial observer, the Lord Chief Justice of England.

"Is, then, the present law reasonable? It is the result of a most careful inquiry, conducted by eminent men in 1875, men certainly neither weak sentimentalists nor ignorant and prejudiced humanitarians, men among whom are to be found Mr. Huxley and Mr. Erichsen, Mr. Hutton, and Sir John Karslake. There men unanimously recommended legislation, and legislation, in some important respects, more stringent than Parliament thought fit to pass. They recommend it on a body of evidence at once interesting and terrible. Interesting, indeed, it is from the frank apathy to the suffering of animals, however awful, avowed by some of the witnesses; for the noble humanity of some few; for the curious ingenuity with which others avoided the direct and verbal approval of horrbile cruelties which yet they refused to condemn.... Terrbile the evidence is for the details of torture, of mutilation, of life slowly destroyed in torment, or skilfully prolonged for the infliction of the same or diversified agonies, for days, for months, in some cases for more than a year."[1]

[1] Fortnightly Review, February, 1882.

This was the view of the Lord Chief Justice of England of that day; and yet the unknown scribe, writing in a New York newspaper, without adducing a particle of evidence, would have his readers to believe that the Commission of 1875 "FOUND NO MATERIAL ABUSE."

Equally unfair and inaccurate is the editorial reference to the report of the Royal Commission of 1906. The conclusions set forth in this report cannot possibly be stated in a single sentence without leaving essential matters unstated. The six principal recommendations of the Royal Commission were all in the direction of reform, AND OF REFORM THAT IMPLIED THE EXISTENCE OF ABUSES that requierd change. The subject has been treated in a previous chapter, and need not occupy attention again.

But the worst misstatement in this editorial intended to incite prejudice against any inquiry in the State of New York was that which referred to the effect of the English law governing the regulation of vivisection. It is now nearly forty years since this law came into force. The editor speaks of it as "the calamitous measure of 1876"; and after declaring that "the doctors of England have for a generation had to flee to the Continent to prosecute their necessary labours," asks his readers whether "the experience of Great Britain is to be repeeated in the United States?" If this assertion were true, then assuredly the law would have been regarded with detestation and abhorrence by the medical profession of England, and by the teachers of medical science throughout the land.

Now, it so happens that the impression given is wholly false. It did not originate with the editorial writer; for many years the assumed evil results of the English law have been held up for our warning by those who desire a free hand in vivisection in America. But is it true that the law of 1876 is regarded in England as a calamitous measure, which Parliament should hasten to repeal? On the contrary, so far from being thus regarded, a large majority of the representatives of medical science in England are in favour of the law. Of course, every authority can suggest modifications for its betterment, but the principle which underlies the measure, of inspection of laboratories and the restriction of vivisection, they do not condemn. That it is a perfect measure, the leaders of the medical profession do not assert, but they evidently consider it as better than no law at all. It certainly is not considered, as the American editor calls it, "the calamitous measure of 1876."

The proofs of this attitude of the English medical profession may be found in the evidence given before the Royal Commission on Vivisection, the final report of which appeared in 1912. The misapprehension concerning the working of the English law is so widespread in America and is so sedulously cultivated by those who oppose any reform, that it seems worth while to show just how the law is regarded in the land to which it applies.

Sir Douglas Powell, President of the Royal College of Physicians, the physician to the King, and Senior Physician to Guy's Hospital, was asked whether the laws at present governing vivisection "have been in any way noxious to Science?" "No, I do not think so," was his reply. "I think, as administered at the present time, they have not interfered with the advance of Science." Sir Henry Morris, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, being asked substantially the same question, replied: "I think the present Act of 1876, under which vivisectional experiments are done, WAS AMPLY PROTECTIVE AGAINST CRUELTY, AND SUFFICIENTLY FREE AND LIBERAL FOR THE DUE PROSECUTION OF PROPER SCIENTIFIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL INQUIRY." Considering their source, are not these remarkable testimonies concerning what is the fashion in America to designate as "the calamitous measure of 1876"?

What is the opinion of the law held by men engaged in teaching in the medical schols of England? Do they demand its repeal?

Dr. Pembrey, the Lecturer on Physiology at Guy's Hospital, London, does not like many of the restrictions; yet, being asked if he advocated the abolition of the Vivisection Act, replied: "No, I would not do that.... I think only people interested and people who are competent should be allowed to make vivisection experiments." The professor of physiology in the University of Cambridge, Dr. J. N. Langley, told the Commissioners: "I WOULD MUCH RATHER HAVE THE ACT THAN NO ACT. I think it would not be fair to the animals to allow anyone to experiment upon them without control." Dr. Francis Gotch, professor of physiology in the University of Oxford, being asked whether the law had restricted scientific research in experiments upon warm-blooded animals, answered: "No, I do not think it restricts it. I THINK IT HAS OPERATED WELL." Dr. Lorrain Smith, professor of pathology in the Univesity of Manchester, when asked if he had any objection to the present restrictions placed by law upon operations on living animals, answered, "No." Dr. E. H. Starling, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and professor of physiology at University College, London, declared that at the present time, the physiological school in England occupied a very high place in the world, "not inferior to that of any other nation"—surely a strange fact for a country suffering from what the American editor calls "the calamitous measure of 1876"!

Everywhere we find substantially the same testimony. Sir James Russell, being asked whether the law had operated in way of preventing legitimate research, replied in the negative, giving it as his opinion that "the Act has worked with substantial smoothness." Sir Victor Horsley, widely known as an experimenter and as a surgeon, criticized many of the details of the law, yet when asked whether or not he was opposed to the Act altogether, answered: "Oh, no. I look upon the Act as necessary in view of public opinion.... To the purpose of the Act, that experiments should only be done in registered places and only by persons who hold a licence from the Home Secretary, there can be no objection whatever; at least, I cannot see any." Sir John Rose Bradford, professor of medicine at University College Hospital in London, being asked if it might not be better if the Act were abolished altogether, replied: "No; I think experiments on animals should be regulated by an Act." Whether there were any alterations that might be valuable, was a subject to which he had given no thought during recent yeaars. Dr. Dixon, a professor in King's College, declared that in his opinion "THE MEDICAL PROFESSION WOULD BE STRONGLY AGAINST THE ACT BEING REPEALED NOW." Dr. Thane, one of the Government inspectors, admits that science has not suffered materially by any restrictions, and has no recommendations to make. And Dr. Martin, a director of the Lister Institute, being asked if English scientific men "are less advanced than their brethren on the Continent in consequence" of the regulation of vivisection, answered very promptly, "No."

It is impossible here to quote the evidence in full; to do that would require a volume. No one of these experts claimed that the law was perfect; each representative of English science was doubtless able to indicate some detail capable of improvement and pertaining to the better working of the law. But when it came to repealing the law altogether, not one of the distinguished men here quoted was in favour of it. The principle of State regulation, against the adoption of which in America every art of prevarication has been employed, that principle is fully accepted by the English medical profession to-day. Was it fair for the editor of a leading journal to misstate so obvious a fact? Can one imagine that the leading representatives of medical science in England, the leading teachers and professors in medical colleges and schools, would have given the evidence just quoted if for thirty years the "doctors of England" had been flying to the Continent to escape the stringency of the law of 1876? Should we not have found some witness before the Royal Commission of 1906 making allusion to this flight of the doctors of England? It is quite possible that when the law went into operation, over thirty-five years ago, its working was less satisfactory than it is to-day. Was it fair to make these early criticisms annul the evidence given by a large body of representative men before this Commission of the twentieth century in favour of the regulation of vivisection by law? Of course such an editorial tended to strengthen prejudice against legal regulation in America. It did its work. But can success so achieved ever be worth of admiration?[1]

[1] The reader may ask why correction of so inaccurate a statement concerning the English law was not sent to the journal in question. This was done. A synopsis of all the medical opinions here given and taken from the evidence given before the Royal Commission was sent to the editor of the periodical. So fafr as seen, it did not appear.

An editorial in a morning paper would hardly seem worth noticing. Upon the opinions of its readers it makes its impress, and is quickly forgotten. But the same untrue assertions will be made again more than once in order to create prejudice against any legal regulation of vivisection in America. It has seemed worth while, therefore, to set forth the evidence of the absolute untruth of such statements, regarding the English law.[1]

[1] In demonstrating that the English law for the regulation of vivisection is not there regarded with the disapprobation alleged by certain writers in this country, I must not be taken as claiming that the law from a humane standpoint is satisfactory. Until amended as advised by Dr. Wilson, a member of the Royal Commission, it cannot adequately protect animals liable to experimentation from hte possibility of abuse.

The extent to which an untruth concerning vivisection may be worked to create prejudice against reform is afforded by a curious legend concerning the late Lord Lister, one of the most eminent men of the last century.

So far as I have been able to discover, the first appearance of the story was in an address delivered before the Women's Medical College, and reprinted in the Popular Science Monthly of May, 1885, nearly thirty years ago. It thus appears:

"Lister himself, no tyro, but the great master, is still searching for further improvements. But when, lately, he desired to make some experiments on animals, still further to perfect our practice, so many obstructions were thrown in his way in England that HE WAS DRIVEN TO TOULOUSE to pursue his humane researches."

"He was driven to Toulouse." The phrase is worth remembering. Fifteen years later the author of this statement appeared before the Senate Committee at Washington, D.C., to oppose a Bill regulating the practice of animal experimentation in the District of Columbia. In course of his address, delivered February 21, 1900, he again repeated the story:

"When Lord Lister, whose name is the most illustrious in the history of surgery, wanted to carry out some further experiments in Great Britain, where, as Dr. Leffingwell has expressed it, the 'very moderate restriction of the law applies'—experiments for the direct benefit of humanity—HE WAS OBLIGED TO GO TO FRANCE TO CARRY ON HIS EXPERIMENTS for the benefit of the human race BECAUSE HE COULD NOT DO IT IN ENGLAND!"

Can one imagine any argument against the legal regulation of vivisection more weighty than this assertion, that the most illustrious man in English medicine was "obliged to go to France" because he could not make his researches on English soil? Could doubt of the story exist when it was related by the President of the American Medical Association before a committee of the United States Senate? This story alone may have indused the rejection of the proposed legislation.

The legend again found expression nearly three years later, in a letter written by the same person to Senator Gallinger, and telegraphed to the newspaper press throughout the country. In the Philadelphia Medical Journal of December 13, 1902, it appeared as follows:

"If the laws which you and your friends advocate were in force, the conditions for scientific investigation in this country would be quite as deplorable as those in England. For example, when Lord Lister, who has revolutionized modern surgery, largely as a result of such experiments, wished to discover possibly some still better way of operating by further experiments, HE WAS OBLIGED TO GO TO TOULOUSE TO CARRY THEM OUT, as the vexatious restrictions of the law in England practically made it impossible for him to continue there these eminently humane experiments."

Nearly a quarter of a century after the first appearance of this story, we meet it again. In an article entitled "Recent Surgical Progress," appearing in Harper's Monthly for April, 1909, we are told the same tale:


The law of 1876 has now multiplied into "laws" which obstruct and hinder even the researches of a Lister. And yet two years before, in his testimony before the Royal Commission, the President of the Royal College of Surgeons in England—Sir Henry Morris—had stated: "I think the present Act of 1875, under which vivisectional experiments are done, was amply protective against cruelty to animals AND SUFFICIENTLY FREE AND LIBERAL FOR THE DUE PROSECUTION OF PROPER SCIENTIFIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL INQUIRY."[1] But of the readers of Harper's Monthly probably not one in ten thousand had ever seen this evidence in the Vivisection Report.

[1] Minutes of Evidence, Question 7,805.

It will be seen that no two of these accounts are precisely the same. They agree, however, in stating that one of the most distinguished of English scientists was compelled to leave England in order to do his work; he "was driven to Toulouse."

It seemed to me worth while to investigate the truth of this story; and accordingly I wrote to Lord Lister, asking him, among other things, if it was true that he had been obliged to go to France to carry out experiments looking to the improvement of surgical methods, because the restrictions of the English law had made it impossible for him to carry out his investigations in England? The reply to my inquiry was clear and definite. The italics are mine.

"12, Park Crescent, "Portland Place, "December 23, 1910. "MY DEAR SIR,

"It is not strictly true that I was compelled to go out of the country to perform the experiments in question.

"I COULD, NO DOUBT, HAVE OBTAINED A LICENCE TO DO THEM HERE. But they had to be on large animals; and the Veterinary College, in which, I dare say, I might have had opportunity given me for the investigations, is a long way from my residence, and it would have been inconvenient to have worked there. Thus, my going to Toulouse was a matter of convenience rather than of necessity.

"The circumstance was of course of no interest to anyone but myself, AND I HAVE GIVEN NO ACCOUNT OF IT FOR PUBLICATION.... I have answered your question frankly, but I must beg you to understand that it is not intended for publication. "Believe me, "Sincerely yours, "LISTER."

From every man's correspondence Death at last removes the seal; and Lister's true story surely may now confront the distorted fiction which in America for many years has been given so wide a publicity.

The facts are indeed different from the legend which for more than a quarter of a century has been repeated as a convincing argument against reform. Of the malign influence of such a tale upon public opinion in preventing legislation in America, we can form no adequate estimate. For any intentional deception we may, of course, absolve the distinguished professional man who has made himself responsible as transmitter of the myth; no man with any conception of honour would state as facts what he knew to be false. But from the charge of carelessness, of gross inaccuracy, is one as readily to be freed? For a quarter of a century the statement has been in circulation—that when Lister desired to make most important researches, "so many obstructions were thrown in his way in England, that HE WAS DRIVEN TO TOULOUSE to pursue his humane researches"; and now Lister's letter shows us that he "could, no doubt, have obtained a licence to do them here"—showing that he did not even ask permission to experiment. In 1900 the public was informed that Lister "was obliged to go to France to carry on his experiments"; the readers of Harper's are told that "Lord Lister was COMPELLED TO GO TO FRANCE by reason of the stringency of the English antivivisection laws"; and now Lister writes that going to France was a matter of convenience, and not of necessity; that at the Veterinary College "I dare say I might have had the opportunity given me for the investigation"—showing that the opportunity had never been sought! Yet the influence of the untruth will continue for many a year.

Of Lister's extreme antipathy to the antivivisectionists and to th erestriction of animal experimentation there can be no doubt. That he misapprehended the effect of the law of 1876 we know; he imagined that even the observation of the circulation of the blood in a frog's foot under the microscope by an unauthorized investigator would render the student liable to a criminal prosecution. We can be very sure that if this were true, the Act of 1876 would never have escaped the condemnation of the scientific men whose opinions have been quoted from evidence given before the Royal Commission, men who found in this Act no impediment to any reasonable investigation. But when the reports of personal experience were brought to Lister's notice, he was willing to correct their gross exaggerations; yet—to avoid controversy, perhaps—he desired that the facts should not be published, and during his lifetime, compliance was given to his wish.

The phase of untruthfulness in the defence of unrestricted experimentation deserves far more attention than can here be accorded. One is loth to regard as possible any intent to deceive; the inaccuracy and exaggeration are undoubtedly due chiefly to ignorance on the part of men who ought to be well-informed, because the world looks to them for statements of fact concerning the benefits claimed to be due to experimentation. Take, for instance, an assertion made in testimony given before the Royal Commission by Sir Victor Horsley, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the representative of the British Medical Association. Referring to pyaemia, or blood- poisoning, he was not content to affirm the disappearance of these formidable maladies from the hospital to which he was attached, but went on to declare their disappearance altogeher. "Anybody," said Sir Vitor Horsley, "who would now be asked to write an article on pyaemia or blood-poisoning in a dictionary of surgery, COULD NOT DO IT; THE DISEASES ARE GONE!"[1]

[1] Evidence before Royal Commission, Question 15,669.

This statement is a most remarkable one. The witness was once widely known as a ruthless experimenter upon living animals, and he was now defending the practice by an enumeration of its gains. Apparently, no member of the Commission questioned his evidence; the representative of the British Medical Association solemnly affirmed that as a result of vivisection certain diseases had so completely disappeared that present observation or description was impossible, and the Royal Commission accepted his word. The statement that these septic diseases had disappeared crossed the Atlantic, and nearly six years afterward, in the columns of a New York journal, it again appeared.[2] Yet the statement was untrue. It is indeed difficult to believe that any educated medical man in England or America could have read it without recognition of its untruth. Let us glance at the evidence.

[2] New York Times, July 28, 1912.

If it were true that the septic diseases which relate to blood- poisoning had really been so completely abolished that description of them were now impossible—as Sir Victor Horsley declared—it is evident that as causes of any part of English mortality they would cease to appear. The report of the Registrar-General of England and Wales tells a very different story. Sir Victor Horsley gave this testimony in November, 1907. During the five years preceding, and ending December 31, 1907, NO LESS THAN 2,933 PERSONS DIED FROM BLOOD- POISONING (PYAEMIA AND SEPTICAEMIA) IN ENGLAND AND WALES. During the year 1907, the year that testimony was given, the tribute of 604 lives was exacted by these diseases which had "GONE"! Even during the year following (1908), the recorded deaths due to blood-poisoning in England and Wales were 560; and yet the disease had been solemnly declared to be non-existent by the leading defender of English vivisection!

Nor is this all. In proportion to the total population the death-rate from blood-poisoning WAS HIGHER DURING THE YEAR THAT SIR VICTOR HORSLEY GAVE THIS ASTOUNDING TESTIMONY THAN IT WAS EVEN FORTY YEARS BEFORE. In 1868, in England and Wales, to a million persons living, the death-rate from septic diseases, or blood-poisoning, was fifteen; the year following it was sixteen. In 1870 it rose to eighteen, falling, however, to sixteen for the next two years. Nearly forty years go by, and we find a leading English vivisector assuring a Royal Commission that blood-poisoning had so completely disappeared that a medical writer could not describe it; and the Registrat-General charging this extinct disease with a death-rate of nineteen in 1906 and eighteen in 1907, A HIGHER RATE OF MORTALITY THAN A GENERATION BEFORE![1]

[1] For these statistics see reports of the Registrar-General of England and Wales, 54th Report, Table 16, and 73rd Report, Table 22.

These are officially stated facts. At the cost of half a crown Sir Victor Horsley might have learned that the diseases he so glibly declared had "gone" were still responsible for a part of English mortality, and a greater proportion even than during thirty-five to forty years before. It is this gross ignorance on the part of those who would teach us, this willingness in the defence of all phases of vivisection, to make assertions which are without foundation in fact, that justly tends to create distrust of every such statement, unsupported by proof. We are not questioning the value of asepsis, which is only a learned phrase to express absolute surgical cleanliness. The time may come when these septic forms of disease will entirely disappear. That day, however, has not yet arrived. Why declare that it is already here? Why proclaim that diseases had "GONE" which still existed, or that an enemy had been utterly exterminated which still was responsible for hundreds of deaths?

Nor are English medical writers alone guilty of blunders and exaggerations concerning the effect of experiments on animals. In the number of Harper's Monthly for April, 1909, to which we have referred, an American writer blunders quite as badly as his English confre're. He tells us that "the friends of experimental research have almost completely abolished the dangers of maternity, reducing its death-rate FROM TEN OR MORE MOTHERS OUT OF EVERY HUNDRED, to less than one in every hundred."

A more ignorant statement was never put forth by an intelligent writer. Where are statistics to be found going to prove that among any people, in any land, at a ny time, 10 PER CENT. of all mothers giving birth to offspring perished from the accidents or diseases incident to child-birth? No such statistics can be produce, for the simple reason they do not exist. In the United States we have no official statistics of mortality covering the entire country or reported from year to year. England, however, has recorded the mortality of its people for over half a century. What support does it afford to the assertion that at any time one in every ten mothers, bringing children into the world, perished either from accident or disease? During a period of sixty-two years, from 1851 down to th epresent time, there was not a single year in which mortality of Englishwomen from septic diseases connected with child-birth EVER REACHED EVEN ONE IN A HUNDRED. But this is the figure for all England. Then take the forty-four counties into which England is divided, and from the downs of Devon to the slums of Lancashire, one cannot find a county in all England in which the mortality of mothers from diseases pertaining to child-birth has reached even a quarter of the ratio stated by this medical writer. "From all causes together NOT FOUR DEATHS IN A THOUSAND BIRTHS and miscarriages happened in England and Wales during the first year, seventy-five years ago, that official statistics were gathered; it was a death-rate of five in one thousand the following year."[1] We are not questioning the value of surgical cleanliness; we dispute only the justice of exaggerated and misleading statements concerning any fact capable of scientific demonstration. There can be no doubt that less than half a century ago, in the maternity wards of certain hospitals and in the experience of certain men, there was a death-rate from such ailments far above the average experience of the country; but it was solely due to the ignorance, the criminal blindness and obstinacy of certain men in the medical profession. But a little over seventy years ago, when Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out that this saddest place of mortality was due to want of care on the part of medical men, it was two professors in two of the largest medical schools of America who opposed him; it was Professor Charles Meigs, of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, who laughed to scorn his warnings, and held up to the ridicule of the medical profession the theories that are now accepted as facts. With such men as teachers of medical science, what wonder that for women about to become mothers certain hospitals of that day were little better than slaughter-houses, to enter which was to leave hope behind?[2] But the experience of such hospitals is not the basis upon which Science rests conclusions when they may be ascertained by reference to the statistics of a nation. The murder-rate of Philadelphia is not to be determined by that of one of its slum districts. If, a century ago, a slave-owner of Jamaica owning ten negroes, whipped one of them so severely that he died, should we be justified in declaring that in the West Indies the murder-rate of slaves was 10 per cent., or "ten in a hundred"? Its absurdity is manifest. When, therefore, a reputable writer for a magazine largely read by wives and mothers puts forth the statement that by reason of some experiments the death-rate of diseases incident to maternity has been reduced "from ten or more mothers out of every hundred," leaving it to be inferred that such rate of mortality was once general, what are we to infer concerning his ideals of scientific accuracy?

[1] "Medical Essays of Dr. O. W. Holmes," Boston, 1899, p. 156. [2] "Polk told us that when he graduated in medicine, delivery in a lying-in hospital was far more dangerous than an engagement in the bloodiest battle, for during his internship at Bellevue, he saw FORTY- FIVE WOMEN DIE OUT OF THE SIXTY WHO HAD BEEN DELIVERED DURING A SINGLE MONTH."—Williams; Jour. Am. Med. Association, June 6, 1914.

Equally mistaken is the implication conveyed by the passage quoted that some vast reduction of mortality has been accomplished in regard to this special form of disease. This belief is doubtless entertained by a majority of medical practitioners, accustomed to accept statements of leaders without investigation or questioning. But it is not true. We need to remember, as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes tells us, "how kindly Nature deals with the parturient female, when she is not immersed in the virulent atmosphere of an impure lying-in hospital." To demonstrate the exact facts, I have tabulated all the deaths in England and Wales from diseases incident to child-birth, as compared with the number of children born, for sixty years from 1851 down to 1910. It will probably surprise many a medical practitioner to know that so far from having vastly diminished, the death-rate from diseases of this character in England and Wales WAS ACTUALLY LESS HALF A CENTURY AGO THAN IT WAS DURING THE TEN YEARS ENDING 1910. But the facts are beyond question; they not only rest upon the official reports of the Registrar-General, but they show a uniformity year after year which it is impossible to regard as due to chance. In England and Wales, during twenty years (1851-1870) the total number of births reported by the Registrar-General was 13,971,746. The total deaths from puerperal fever during the same period were 21,935—a mortality-rate per 100,000 births of 157. This was the period between forty and sixty years ago. During the ten years between 1901 and 1910, the births in England and Wales numbered 9,208,209; and the deaths from puerperal sepsis were 16,341, a mortality-rate per 100,000 births of 175—GREATER THAN THAT OF HALF A CENTURY AGO! The mortality- rate may now be going downward; it was in 1910 but 142 per 100,000 births, but in 1860 the corresponding death-rate was 140, and in 1861 it was 130—considerably less than at the present day.[1]

[1] These figures have been compiled from the annual reports of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England and Wales. Each Annual Report furnishes the number of births and the number of deaths from puerperal sepsis.

Nor is it true that recognition of the origin of this terrible disease was due to experiments upon animals. It was Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in America, who indicated, in 1843, the distasteful truth that the medical attendant was chiefly responsible for the deaths from this disease; and the great lights of the profession in Philadelphia made him and his theory the butt of their ridicule and scorn. It was Semmelweis, a young assistant in the Lying-in Hospital of Vienna, who in 1847 pointed out the same truth, drawn, not from any experiments, but from rational observation in the hospital wards; and his discovery was received with contempt, he was hated and despised in his lifetime, and he died, as an American author has phrased it, "with no other reward than the scorn of his contemporaries." It was not by laboratory experiments upon living animals that the methods by which this terrible disease is transmitted became known to Science; it was common sense in the sick-chamber that discerned its clue.

The decreased and decreasing mortality of tuberculosis is not infrequently claimed as a triumph of vivisection; in the article in Harper's Magazine to which reference has been made, it is intimated that experimentation has reduced the mortality of tuberculosis "from 30 to 50 per cent.," by treatment springing from the discovery of Koch.

Do facts support this assertion? On the contrary, the decline in the mortality due to this dread destroyer of the human race BEGAN MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY BEFORE KOCH ANNOUNCED THAT DISCOVERY OF A GERM which was the cause of the disease. In his report for 1907, the Registrar-General of England and Wales tells us that "throughout the last forty years there has been a steady decline in the fatality of tuberculous diseases"; and he illustrates the figures by a diagram, showing, for both men and women, the steady fall in the death-rate from this disease from a period long before its bacillus was recognized. Here are the exact figures for England and Wales:


For five years, 1850-1854 .. .. .. 2,811 " " 1855-1859[1].. .. .. 2,647 " " 1861-1865 .. .. .. 2,528 " " 1866-1870 .. .. .. 2,449 " " 1871-1875 .. .. .. 2,219 " " 1876-1880 .. .. .. 2,042

" " 1881-1885 .. .. .. 1,830 " " 1886-1890 .. .. .. 1,635 " " 1891-1895 .. .. .. 1,462 " " 1896-1900 .. .. .. 1,322 " " 1901-1905 .. .. .. 1,218 " " 1906-1910 .. .. .. 1,106 ——————————————————————————————- [1] For statistics relating to period, 1850-1859, see Registrar- General's 34th Report, p. 249. For years, 1861-1880, see 48th Report, Table 27. For later period, see 73rd Report, p. 21.

This table is very significant. The death-rate of consumption in England for the year 1853 was 2,984 per 1,000,000 population. From that year, down to the five-year period, 1881-1885, there was a steady decline in the mortality of this disease, amounting to a fraction less than 39 per cent. On March 24, 1882, Koch announced his discovery. The fall of the death-rate from 1881-1885 to 1906-1910, was almost precisely the same—a fraction over 39 per cent. NOW WHAT WERE THE CAUSES WHICH INDUCED THE CONSTANTLY DECREASING MORTALITY FROM CONSUMPTION DURING THAT EARLIER PERIOD, WHEN THE NAME OF KOCH WAS UNKNOWN? Is it conceivable that they suddenly became inoperative thirty years ago? Is it not more than probable that the chief reason why the "great white plague" has steadily and almost uniformly decreased during sixty years, not only in England, but probably in all civilized lands has been the increased recognition of the value of sanitary laws and of personal hygiene? No one questions the importance of the discovery of Koch; it has given Science the knowledge that a definite enemy exists, whose insidious invasion she strives to prevent, and whose ultimate conquest may one day be accomplished—more by prevention than by cure. But when a medical writer ascribes the decrease in mortality of this disease to the discovery of Koch in 1882, and makes no reference to the steady fall in the death-rate which went on for a quarter of a century before that discovery was known, what is to be said of his fidelity to scientific truth? Is this the ideal of fairness which the laboratory of to-day inculcates and defends?

Why does it seem worth while to dwell upon these exaggerations and untruths? Was it necessary to go through the mortality records of a nation for more than half a century merely to prove the falsity of a single laboratory claim? I think so. These are not ordinary blunders or trivial mistakes. They are affirmations made in opposition to the slightest step toward reform of great abuses, by honoured and distinguished writers; by men who are regarded as absolutely reliable in all statements of fact. Their assertions of the vast benefits conferred upon the human race by experiments upon living animals are made in the journals of the day, in popular magazines—in periodicals which refuse opportunity of rejoinder, and which therefore lend their influence to securing the permanency of untruth. There are problems of science concerning which such affirmations would be of comparatively little consequence; if they concerned, for example the weight of an atom or the distance of a star, the controversy would excite but a languid interest, and the correction of inaccuracy might safely be left to time. But here, on the contrary, we touch some of the most vital problems of life and death, problems that concern every one; and in defence of practices, the cruelty of which has been challenged as abhorrent to the conscience of mankind, we have distorted and exaggerated claims of utility; we have assertions that have no basis in fact; we have covert appeals to woman's fears in her greatest emergency, and to that sentiment, the noblest almost that man himself can entertain—his solicitude for the mother of his children in her hour of peril. To the malign influence of untrue suggestion no bounds can be placed; in the creation of a public sentiment, its influence extends in ever-widening circles. It is against this unfairness and exaggeration that those who take moderate ground in this question of animal experimentation have the duty of protest and complaint. We do not ascribe the unfairness to intentional mendacity. Such motive may be discarded without hesitancy, so far as concerns any reputable writer. But surely there has been a carelessness regarding the truth which even the plea of ignorance ought not wholly to condone.

And the lesson? It is the reasonableness of doubt. Every statement put forth by the Laboratory interests in defence of the present system of unrestricted and secret vivisection should be regarded with scepticism unless accompanied by absolute proofs. In an experience of more than a third of a century, I have never read a defence of vivisection without limitations, which did not contain some exaggerated claim, some misstatement of fact. To doubt is not to dishonour; it is the highest tribute we may pay to Science; for "without doubt, there is no inquiry, and without inquiry, no knowledge."



No phase of modern science so closely touches the welfare of humanity as the studies which concern the prevention of disease. Up to a very recent period, well within the lifetime of many now living, practically the entire energy of the medical profession was given up to the treatment of human ailments, with an almost complete disregard of problems of prevention or studies of origin. To-day, in great measure, all this has been changed, and the importance of preventing disease has come well to the front. It is permissible to doubt whether the "cure" of any of the principal infectious diseases is likely to be so thoroughly accomplished as to eliminate it as a cause of mortality, and we may regard with greater promise attempts to discover the mysterious causes of our diseases, and the best methods by which their spread may be prevented. It is certainly a great gain that during the last hundred years mankind has learned that deliverance must come through human activity, and has ceased to regard typhoid or consumption as a dispensation of Providence.

For the conquest of some of the principal maladies affecting the human race at the present time I have long questioned whether the laboratory for experimentation upon animals offers the opportunity for the surest results. The average man has his attention fixed upon mysterious researches which are being carried on in this or that "Institute"; rumours of impending discoveries and almost certain cures are published far and wide; and gradually one gets the impression that notwithstanding abundant disappointments, it is only by yet more vivisection that the mystery will be solved. Is this a valid conclusion? In many cases, might not scientific research have a better chance to discover the secret of origin were it directed into other channels? I propose to suggest one method of scientific research with which vivisection is in no way concerned—an investigation into the cause of one of the most terrible and most threatening of human maladies—cancer, or malignant disease.

The subject is a vast one. Within the limits of a few pages it cannot be treated with any approach to the completeness which its importance demands. The utmost that can now be attempted is the suggestion of certain lines of research independent of animal experimentation, which, if carried out with completeness, might lead to results of incalculable benefit to humankind.

Outside the medical profession there are few who have the faintest realization of the facts pertaining to malignant disease. One reason for such ignorance is the lack of any organized system, in the United States, for recording the annual mortality. Except among barbarous or semi-civilized people, no such condition exists. When, during the autumn of 1912, Dr. Bashford, the Director of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund of England, was invited to lecture in New York, he confessed that he had tried in vain to obtain American statistics concerning cancer which might be compared to those of other nations; they simply did not exist. There are a few states and a few cities for which mortality records exist, but in some of the principle states of America there is no official record showing even the total number of deaths from murder, from accident, or disease. Once in ten years the Federal Government resents us the mortality report of the census year, but even here the information is not available until a considerable period after it is collated. There is, however, one nation whose official registers for many years have recorded the mortality from each cause of disease, for either sex, and for each ten-year period of life. These records have no equal elsewhere, and are only approached by the mortality records of the Empire of Japan. The figures concerning cancer upon which we may chiefly depend are those which pertain to the English people. There can be no doubts but that the mortality from cancer in America exhibits the same phenomena, though the rate may be higher.

The first thing to impress the student is the immensity of the tribute of mortality exacted by this disease, from those in the maturity of life, and in large measure at the period of greatest usefulness. During thirty years, from 1881 to 1910 inclusive, there perished in England and Wales from cancer no less than 703,239 lives. Figures like these, for the average intelligence, are practically incomprehensible; for this thirty-year tribute to malignant disease in a signle country represents more human being than all estimated to have perished on the battlefields of Europe for two hundred years. And if we were able to add the mortality from this one disease on the Continent of Europe, it might represent a total of several millions.

Another significant circumstance is the uniformity of the tribute exacted by cancer, year after year. We can see that best by taking the actual number of deaths from this cause, in a single country, and observing with what slow, implacable, and ever-increasing steps the great destroyer advances.


- Year. Males Females - 1905 .. .. .. 12,470 17,761 1906 .. .. .. 13,257 18,411 1907 .. .. .. 13,199 18,546 1908 .. .. .. 13,901 18,816 1909 .. .. .. 14,263 19,790 1910 .. .. .. 14,843 19,764 1911 .. .. .. 15,589 20,313 1912 .. .. .. 16,188 21,135 -

The terrible thing about these figures is their uniformity from year to year. With as great a degree of certainty as the farmer foretells the produce of his fields and the results of his seed-sowing, so the statistician can calculate the tribute that cancer will exact from the human race in future years. How many persons in England and Wales will die from some from of cancer during the year 1917? Unless some great catastrophe shall vastly lessen the total population, the number of victims destined to perish from malignant disease during that one year will hardly be less than 38,500, and in all probability will be more. And we have no reason to doubt that in the United States the mortality from cancer would be found equally uniform were it possible to know the facts.

Nor does uniformity pertain to numbers of either sex only. Each period of life has to furnish its special toll. If we look at the mortality among men or women for a period of years, we shall see this phenomenon very clearly. In the following table we see the deaths of men from cancer, in England, at each ten-year age-period.

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