RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1881. Mr. Charles Darwin and the defence of science. British Medical Journal 2 (3 December): 917.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by AEL Data; corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 10.2005. RN3


[page] 917

MR. CHARLES DARWIN AND THE DEFENCE OF SCIENCE.

THE following is an extract from a letter of Mr. Darwin to Dr. Lauder Brunton,1 dated November 19th.

Dear Dr. Lauder Brunton,—I saw in some paper that there would perhaps be a subscription to pay Dr. Ferrier's legal expenses in the late absurd and wicked prosecution.2 As I live so retired, I might not hear of the subscription, and I should regret beyond measure not to have the pleasure and the honour of showing my sympathy and admiration of Dr. Ferrier's researches… …

We mentioned last week that a number of eminent medical men, among whom are Sir William Jenner, Sir James Paget, Sir William Gull, Sir J. Risdon Bennett, Mr. Lister, and many others, have also spontaneously expressed their desire to take part in such proceedings as it may be thought desirable to take, in order to prevent the recurrence of unjust attacks upon biologists and medical men, and other men of science, who may, in the prosecution of their studies, become subject to interference by the opponents of experiments upon animals under the existing law. With this view, and with the further object of putting into an accessible form the information on the benefits which experimental physiology confers upon the art and practice of medicine, and the advancement of the science of healing, arrangements are in progress for the formation of an extended association of medical men, biologists, and other men of science, and those interested in the advance of knowledge and the alleviation of human and animal suffering. Circulars will shortly be issued, inviting members of the medical profession, physiologists, men of science, and others, to join such an association; meantime, communications may be addressed to Dr. Lauder Brunton, F.R.S., 50, Welbeck Street. We may mention that subscriptions already offered for the purpose range in amount from £100 to one guinea.

1 Thomas Lauder Brunton (1844-1916), physician, pharmacologist, and consultant at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London.

2 In November 1881 David Ferrier (1843-1928), physician and neurophysiologist was charged with infringing the Vivisection Act by the Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals. It transpired that Ferrier was innocent and the case was dismissed. See the British Medical Journal (19 November 1881), The Times (18 November 1881) and ML 2: 437-41 where more of this letter is reproduced.


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