RECORD: Harris, Stanford. 1888. Mr. Darwin and the Royal Commission on vivisection, being an inquiry into the foundations of the late Mr. Darwin's statements upon this subject. Manchester: "Guardian" Printing Works.
REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by Angus Carroll, transcribed (double key) by AEL Data, corrections by John van Wyhe. 2.2012.
NOTE: The scans are from a copy in the collection of Angus Carroll.
BEING AN INQUIRY INTO THE FOUNDATIONS OF
THE LATE MR. DARWIN'S STATEMENTS
UPON THIS SUBJECT.
"GUARDIAN" PRINTING WORKS 3, CROSS STREET.
MR. W. D. HOWELLS, reviewing Mr. Lea's book upon the Spanish Inquisition, makes a very important and weighty observation, which at first sight appears somewhat paradoxical. It is this:—
"Mr. Lea traces the rise of the Inquisition. … He lets us see, without denunciation or apparent prejudice, how everything base and cruel in the men armed with the baneful power of the Inquisition poisonously blended itself with their unselfish zeal for the unity of the Church, which represented to them the salvation of souls, and how the evil ceased to be deadly only when it excluded the good."
The simple meaning of which I take to be, that it is easier to cope with and put down evil which is practised for the love of evil, than it is to do so with the deadlier form of wrong which is perpetrated by those who have satisfied their conscience as to their actions and are zealous and upright men. When a thoughtless and brutal collier is seen beating his horse on the roadway, he can be speedily dealt with; far otherwise is the case of the scientific man who, in his zeal for knowledge, and while saying that he has the good of mankind in view, slowly cuts out the nerves of some sentient and conscious animal. Such a man may have as "kind and noble" a heart as Mr. Darwin describes his friend having, about whom he nevertheless wrote (in respect to another matter than vivisection), "I will tell him that I never could believe that an inquisitor could be a good man; but now I know that a man may roast another and yet have as kind and noble a heart as Sedgwick's." In fact, the history of the ages past surely makes this thing plain, whatever else we may learn from it, that it is no guarantee for justice and mercy being done in any particular matter that the matter in question is entirely in the hands
of an otherwise exalted or right-seeking body of men. In the words of Professor Huxley, "No man, nor any body of men, is good enough, or wise enough, to dispense with the tonic of criticism." The words of the late Lord Shaftesbury are equally true, that "No one, whoever he may be, ought to be entrusted with absolute power." This is so true in all matters concerning creatures capable of acute suffering, that it is not wonderful that a recent writer should go so far as to ask whether "civilised man is yet civilised enough to be trusted with the happiness and training and fate of animals."
Readers of the life of the late Charles Darwin cannot fail to be impressed by at least two characteristics of that much-discussed man. These are his love of truth and his tenderheartedness. How did it come to pass, then, that this man, whose sleep was disturbed at night by the remembrance of the screams he had heard in the solitudes of Brazil, and which he had attributed to the torture and beating of slaves; who also—writing as late as March, 1871, to Professor Lankester, upon the subject of vivisection—says, "It is a subject which makes me sick with horror, so I will not say another word about it, else I shall not sleep to-night"—how is it, I repeat, that such a man can, a few years later, defend and uphold vivisection? The key, I think, can be found in a letter to his daughter, bearing date January 4, 1875. To her he writes:—
"I cannot at present see my way to sign any petition, without hearing what physiologists thought would be its effects, and then judging for myself."
I take it that upon this Darwin consulted his vivisecting friends, and they assured him of the necessity of vivisection, and so far converted him to their views as to cause him to make a remarkable statement, namely, that the Royal Commissioners had proved that the accusations of "inhumanity," and the causing of useless suffering made against our English physiologists, were false; although he does go on to say that those against Continental physiologists are, to some extent, true. The effect of such a declaration from such a man will probably be widespread. A short time since a lady, who had just finished reading "The Life of Darwin," remarked to me that if what Darwin said was true, then anti-vivisectionists were "great liars." It becomes, therefore, of some importance to inquire into the truth of Darwin's statement. Was Darwin correctly informed as to the amount of suffering inflicted by physiologists in the name of science? Will an examination into the facts of the case support or contradict this expressed opinion of his? I propose to deal in detail with certain assertions upon the
subject which appear in his letters. At the outset, we cannot be too grateful to Mr. Darwin's son for candidly giving us the feelings with which Charles Darwin—the man of all others who became wholly absorbed in science—viewed the subject of vivisection from the point of view of the suffering of the animals operated upon. We must be grateful, I say; because anti-vivisectionists are accused of sentimentalism, exaggeration, and even hysterical emotion. Yet here we have a man absorbed in scientific pursuits, largely of an experimental character, who dares not think or write much upon vivisection lest he be kept awake at night, and who speaks of being made "sick with horror" by the contemplation of the subject.
The first quotation I shall attempt to refute is from a letter to a Swedish professor, in which Darwin says, "Several years ago, when the agitation against physiologists commenced in England, it was asserted that inhumanity was here practised," and goes on to say that "the Royal Commission proved that the accusations were false." This letter was written on April 14, 1881.
The evidence which can be obtained from the Blue Book of this Royal Commission to disprove this statement of Mr. Darwin is of two kinds. First, there is the direct evidence of the perpetration of cruelty; secondly, there is what may be described as circumstantial evidence. This latter is really as important as the former: it consists of the opinion of English vivisectors as to what constitutes pain in animals, and also what, in their opinion, is not to be considered cruelty in the action of their brother physiologists abroad; because what they do not find blameworthy in another, they may very easily themselves commit, should circumstances favour them and the law permit.
It would be perhaps convenient to quote first from the report of the Commissioners, made at the conclusion of their labours, and signed by all of them, including Messrs. Erichsen and Huxley, who are ardent advocates of vivisection, and who have to some extent experimented on living animals themselves.
"It is evident therefore that the number of experiments at present performed upon living animals can by no means be regarded as the limit of the number which we are called upon to include in our consideration, but on the contrary we must assume that the experimental method is being rapidly developed. … In laying before your Majesty our opinion as to the extent to which the practice now prevails, we have not the means of referring to statistical returns, except as regards the experiments performed in
the physiological laboratories attached to medical schools and universities*, and there can be little doubt that experiments have been and now are performed occasionally by private persons, of whose number we are able to form no accurate computation. … The present feeling appears to have been excited by a variety of concurrent circumstances such as the movement of which we have already spoken, involving, it is believed, a great increase, present and prospective, in the practice of subjecting live animals to experiments; the introduction at some of the principal medical schools of experiments, by way, not of original research only, but by demonstration to students given in public; and the circulation here of the reports of many very painful experiments, mainly taken from foreign publications; but most of all by the appearance, in 1873,
* And whether these lists—furnished at the request of the Commission—were compiled with sufficient care, and likely to include the worst cases, may be gathered from the following extracts showing the difficulty the questioner had in arriving at the truth:—
Mr. W. Williams (Principal of the New Veterinary College at Edinburgh)—Asked (Q. 6084): "I have here before me the return which you made to the inquiries. … One of the questions is, 'State what animals (including frogs) are used either for original research or class demonstration,' … the reply to which is, 'Frogs only'?" Mr. Williams answers: "Yes; that is written by Dr. Young. I never thought of the horse at the time, the thing really escaped my memory." (6085): "In signing that you forgot it?" "Yes." (6086): "And you, I suppose, also forgot what had happened when you sent the next answer, in which it is said that the animals are always rendered unconscious?" "Yes."
Again. Mr. J. Burdon Sanderson (Q. 2607) states that: "I am able to form a very correct opinion as to the number of people who are actually engaged in this country in physiological investigation. About the time that Dr. Sharpey was giving evidence here, we went through the number together, and at that time we calculated that in England and Scotland there were about 13 persons now engaged, more or less, in physiological investigations in this country. I think I may make it up, by taking a great deal of pains, to 15 or 16." He then names 15, and is asked by Mr. Hutton (2608): "Dr. Wickham Legg you have not mentioned?" "I ought to have put him in; I forgot him. …" Another commissioner (Lord Winmarleigh) adds (2610): "As you are giving the whole list, had you not better put in your own name too?" "Yes."
These lapses of memory are explained by that tendency to which Mr. Darwin refers in the following statement: "I had also, during many years, followed a golden rule, namely, that whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones."
of a book called 'A Handbook of the Physiological Laboratory,' professing to be intended for beginners, and describing many very severe experiments. It is admitted in his evidence by the editor himself, that no adequate means had been taken either to explain the meaning which was intended to be conveyed by the word 'beginners,' viz., beginners in the special study of physiology, or to make known what he told us is the general understanding in all English laboratories, that anæsthetics should be administered in the great majority of cases, and in other cases painful experiments should not be repeated merely to demonstrate truths already sufficiently established. … We have not thought it part of our duty, the majority of us not having had professional training, to decide upon matters of differing professional opinion, but we have been much struck by the consideration that severe experiments have been engaged in for the purpose of establishing results which have been considered inadequate to justify that severity by persons of very competent authority. Cases may not improbably arise in the future in which the physiologists may be disposed to underrate the pain inflicted in the course of establishing results which may prove to be trivial, or even worthless. Looking to the circumstance that a great increase is to be expected in physiological inquiry, it appears to us most important that some legislative control should be established to prevent abuse extending in this direction."
Proceeding to the evidence itself, given before these Commissioners, we may commence with a question asked Sir William Fergusson, Bart., F.R.S. (Q. 1037): "We have been told that, speaking generally, experiments of this kind are performed with the greatest possible consideration for the animal, and with the greatest indisposition to inflict at least protracted suffering. Do you believe that to be the case?"—"Gentlemen may fancy that, but I do not think that they fulfil that idea. Indeed, I have reason to imagine that such sufferings, incidental to such operations, are protracted in a very shocking manner. I will give an illustration of an animal being crucified for several days perhaps; introduced several times into a lecture room for the class to see how the experiment was going on."
Next we have Professor H. W. Acland, M.D., F.R.S., of Oxford, who, in answering Question 921, says: "They were made" (speaking of experiments by Sir B. Brodie and others) … "by persons not only of great intellectual power, but of tender and gentle natures; they were in themselves experiments of a revolting and grave nature, but they were done by such men."
We find Mr. W. B. Carpenter, C.B., M.D., Registrar of London University, being asked (Q. 5603): "Would you put any limit on the painful character of the experiments to be made for scientific purpose?" His answer was: "I should certainly justify the infliction of any amount of pain for a sufficient scientific purpose," &c.*
Dr. Carpenter's attitude, as shown in the above quotation, makes the following statement by him all the more forcible. In answer to Question 5627, he says:—"… I have myself seen in certain instances a perfect callousness to animal suffering before the introduction of anæsthetics. I will not mention names, but I have seen a callousness which very strongly repelled me, and this when important experiments were being performed. But that, I think, does not constitute any adequate reason against the performance of well-considered experiments with a definite object." At Question 5616, Dr. Carpenter is asked: "I see an experiment narrated in your own work on physiology, as to which I should like to know whether you think it was a really desirable one to make. I find this stated—'The introduction of a little boiling water threw the animal at once into a kind of a dynamic state, which was followed by death in three or four hours; the mucous membrane of the stomach was found red and swollen,' &c… It is not one of your own experiments, but one of which you are there narrating the results. Now, do you not think that that might have been argued as one of the most certain inferences from the well-known facts of human experience, and that it was quite an unnecessary experiment to make?"—"That which you have just read is probably taken from a late edition of my book (seventh edition by Mr. Power)." (Q. 5619): "It is published in your book, but not by you?"—"Not by me."
Further evidence of Dr. Carpenter's is to the following effect:—Q. 5621: "… Various experiments on glueing animals together—that is to say, removing the skin
* It must have been this and similar evidence which inspired Mr. Richard Holt Hutton to write his exceedingly important rider to the Report (signed by himself alone). He sums up his plea for the protection of such domestic animals as dogs and cats in these words: "Indeed I may be allowed to say that the measure proposed will not at all satisfy my own conception of the needs of the case, unless it results in putting an end to all experiments involving, not merely torture, but anything at all approaching it; for where the pursuit of scientific truth and common compassion come into collision it seems to me that the ends of civilisation, no less than of morality, require us to be guided by the latter and higher principle."
from two different animals, and binding them closely together, so that a new membrane forms, which is common to both … until they grow together in fact … Clearly it must involve the greatest possible misery to the animals so artificially united?" [Professor Huxley remarks that experiments such as these have been made to put Darwin's theory of pangenesis to the test.] 5624: "Do you not think that there may be some danger that a physiologist would be inclined to try experiments (I mean painful experiments) simply with a sort of discovering idea, to find out what will happen, without having any definite notion of producing a result which would bear upon some question affecting life or pain?"—"I am quite sure that that has been the case, and is the case." [In the letter—already quoted—of Mr. Darwin to Professor Ray Lankester, Mr. Darwin says: "It is justifiable for real investigation . . but not for mere damnable and detestable curiosity."] 5625: "And would you not consider that that is a thing open to very great objection?"—"Certainly."
Dr. E. Crisp, in answer to Question 6157—"What was the particular point which you were desirous to lay before us?"—volunteered the following statement: "I am rather a penitent upon this question. I have been a vivisector for some time. For several years I cut into animals, removing their spleens and the thyroid glands (the glands in the neck, and performed many other experiments."
In answer to Question 6374, Mr. G. H. Lewes says: "Yes; what I wish is that there should be more thoughtful experimenters, and fewer needless experiments."
Dr. Emmanuel Klein, assistant professor at the laboratory of the Brown Institution, being examined, gives the following remarkable evidence:— Q. 3538: "What is your own practice with regard to the use of anæsthetics in experiments that are otherwise painful?"—"Except for teaching purposes, for demonstration, I never use anæsthetics where it is not necessary for convenience. If I demonstrate, I use anæsthetics; if I do experiments for inquiries in pathological research, except for convenience sake—as, for instance, on dogs and cats—I do not use them. On frogs and the lower animals I never use them." Q. 3539: "When you say that you only use them for convenience sake, do you mean that you have no regard at all to the sufferings of the animals?"—"No regard at all." Q. 3540: "You are prepared to establish that as a priniciple which you approve?"—"I think that with regard to an experimenter—a man who conducts special research and performs an experiment—he has no time, so to speak, for thinking what
will the animals feel or suffer. His only purpose is to perform the experiment, to learn as much from it as possible, and to do it as quickly as possible." Q. 3541: "Then for your own purposes you disregard entirely the question of the suffering of the animal in performing a painful experiment?"—"I do." Q. 3544: "But, in regard to your proceedings as an investigator, are you prepared to acknowledge that you hold as entirely indifferent the sufferings of the animal which is subjected to your investigations?"—"Yes." After having stated his belief that on the Continent there is no regard to suffering, he is asked—Q. 3553: "But you believe that, generally speaking, there is a very different feeling in England?"—"Not amongst the physiologists; I do not think there is."—Q. 3660: "As I understand you, if you were directed to perform an operation …. with reference to the nerves of a dog, and it became necessary to cut the back of the dog severely for the purpose of exposing the dog's nerves, for the sake of saving yourself inconvenience, you would at once perform that without the use of anæsthetics?"—"Yes." Q. 3362: "But it so happens that, for Mr. Simon's purposes at all events, you have never been called upon to perform such an experiment?"—"Never." Q. 3681: Asked if he pithed his frogs—an operation to prevent subsequent consciousness of pain?—"No." Q. 3683: "But you think it unnecessary, because you say that a physiologist has a right to do as he likes with the animal?"—"Yes." (In his private research he used guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, mice, frogs, dogs, cats, monkeys, and sheep.)*
Mr. E. A. Schäfer, M.R.C.S., was asked (Q. 3801): "Then may I take it that there are a great number of experiments which, supposing a frog to be a sensitive animal, must cause a vast deal of pain, which are not done under chloroform?" "There is no doubt about it." (3802): "And there is no precaution taken to diminish pain if it suffers pain?"—"I think I may say no special precaution."
*It may be worth while to give here a question of Mr. Forster's and the answer by Mr. Klein, as illustrating the foolishness of expecting men of the same profession to inspect one another (as is now the case under the Act). The humane minute issued from the Home Office was in this case rendered a dead letter.
Q. 3746 (Mr. Forster): "Do you recollect whether Mr. Simon informed you that when I was in office I had said something to them about this, or did he give you a minute that I wrote?"—"I think he spoke to me about it, but really it is so long ago that I could not be certain." Q. 3747: "You cannot recollect whether he gave you a minute?"—"No." Q. 3748: "You do not recollect his giving you any words written by me to this effect—'That no experiments on living animals should be conducted at the cost of the State without the employment of some anæsthetic in case of painful operations, and without a report from time to time by the gentleman conducting the experiments, explaining their object and showing the necessity for the purpose of discovery.' Do you recollect seeing those words?"—"No. May I be allowed to say this, that at that time I was not connected directly with Mr. Simon. I was at that time simply an assistant of Dr. Burdon Sanderson, so that Mr. Simon could not have occasion to give me that instruction in an official way." It further appears, however, that—(Q. 3749): "When you were put directly under him, you had not that minute laid before you, as I understand you?"—"No."
The then President of the Royal College of Physicians questioned (Q. 157) as to abuses, says: "I think there have been great abuses in the performance of operations and experiments on living animals." (158): "And that those abuses ought to be restrained?"—"I do think so."
John Mallet Purser, M.D., Trinity College, Dublin, gave the following evidence—(Q. 4799A): "Then do you contend for the powers of lecturers generally to perform painful operations for demonstration to students?"—"Yes, I do." (Q. 4827): "In giving lectures in a private school, did you use demonstrations on living animals?"—"I did occasionally." (Q. 4831): (When a pupil he saw experiments in the same private school as above referred to.)
J. G. McKendrick, M.D. (asked, Q. 4005, about the experiments of Rutherford's in which he took part), says: "My impression is that the animals would suffer a considerable amount of pain." (4016): After saying that pain was "rare," Dr. McKendrick is asked (Q. 4017): "I suppose you can hardly say it rarely happens; probably in these experiments of Professor Rutherford's very great pain has been inflicted?"—"Yes, I fancy so."
Dr. Hoggan, speaking of similar experiments, in answer to Question 4061, states that: "During the acute stage, if I may use that word, I am of opinion that the suffering of a dog in the experiment referred to, that is, under curari for six or eight hours after the first making of the hole in the abdomen, would be more intense than in the case of a human being (i.e., a human being passing a gall-stone). I give that as my opinion. I may be right or wrong." In answer to Question 4218, Dr. Hoggan gives the date of a particular student telling him that he had vivisected 15 cats, and adds: "I know this, that he opened up the thorax and abdomen." At Question 4238 (apropos of theses at Edinburgh), Dr. Hoggan remarks: "What I meant by that is this, that I consider that this demand for a thesis is one of the
most fruitful causes of vivisection." He goes on to quote C. Bernard that vivisection is "used too much," that people rush to do it and get the roughest results, and the consequence is that the whole of physiological science is so much encumbered with a mass of contradictions, that people are apt to say that there is nothing found out in physiology.
Mr. Colam, the Secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in his evidence read a paper received from a gentleman formerly a student in Edinburgh, and now a veterinary surgeon at Woolwich. This paper stated (Q. 1687, page 87) that he had witnessed vivisection among students, and goes on to say that: "In the following term, having become a senior, I was introduced to a great number of vivisections, and on some occasions operated myself. The experiments were certainly never designed to discover any new fact, to elucidate any obscure phenomena, but simply to demonstrate the most ordinary facts of physiology. Our victims were sometimes dogs, but more frequently cats. Many of the latter were caught by means of a poisoned bait, the animal being secured while suffering from the agonies caused by the poison, when antidotes were applied for their restoration. They were then imprisoned in a cupboard at the students' lodgings, and kept there until a meeting could be arranged. Sometimes the students secured their victims by what is known as a cat hunt, that is a raid on cats by students armed with sticks late at night. I am not prepared to say that the object of the students was to commit cruelty, or that there was any morbid desire to witness pain, but I say emphatically that there was reckless love of experimentation. What, for instance, could justify the following experiment, performed for the purpose of witnessing the action of a cat's heart? The operator first of all made an incision through the skin of the animal's chest. The skin was then laid back by hooks, in order to enable the operator to cut through the cartilage of the breast-bone, and to draw his knife across the ribs for the purpose of nicking them. This process is necessary to enable him to snap the ribs and lay the fractured part back.… In a few cases the animals were narcotised. (Exonerates the professor from knowledge of above.) Signed, James B. Mills, M.R.C.V.S., Artillery at Woolwich."
When Mr. Mills appeared himself, later on, before the Commissioners, he confirmed the above statement, which had been signed by him, and added that he had information that "last session (i.e., 1874-5) the practice of vivisection among the students continued," and gave the following
particulars (Q. 4957): "Last winter the subject that was operated on was a horse, and it was bought for the purpose of dissection. This animal was subjected during a whole week to operations, such as tenotomy and neurotomy, and various minor operations." (No chloroform being given). (Q. 4970): "… Were animals bought and operated upon simply for the purpose of exhibition and demonstration?"—"They were." (Q. 4971): "In the college?"—"They were." (Q. 4972): "That was so when you were a student in the college, was it?"—"Yes." (Q. 4975): "Now, what animals were operated upon simply for the purpose of demonstration?"—"Horses and donkeys" (Q. 4981) "and dogs." (Q. 5055. Questioned as to private experiments): "A few of the medical college students were always mixed with the veterinary students." Question 5073 and following questions elicited also the statement that he, himself, opened the chest of a cat, in private lodging, without giving chloroform. The cat lived seven or eight minutes. The object was to see the heart beat, but the remaining vivisections were simply for dissecting out nerves, and yet the animal was alive.
The Principal of the College, Mr. Williams, was subsequently questioned as to the horse mentioned by Mr. Mills being kept for a week. (Q. 6027): "The result of your inquiry is that you do believe the thing was done?"—"Yes." He goes on to explain that he was not aware at the time of this case. Mr. Williams was then asked (Q. 6033): "Were those operations performed under chloroform?"—"No." "Were no anæsthetics given?"—"No, none whatever." "Were they painful operations?"—"Very. The animal was cast by means of hobbles."—"And were the operations chiefly on the nerves?"—"Nerves and tendons." [The above was, Mr. Williams stated, against rules, but students were allowed to bleed a horse, while it waited to be killed, without superintendence.]
Other evidence of Dr. Hoggan was to the following effect—(Q. 3459): "Do you know whether the practice with regard to experiments in this country is accompanied with the same pain to animals as elsewhere?"—"Certainly, there can be no difference. Vivisection is the same all the world over." In answer to Question 3471, he stated that he "was strongly urged to try experiments by my teacher and others, on a subject that had already been published. I refused to do it; and tried quite by myself, whether I could administer the anæsthetic, and go through with it. I found I could not do it, and therefore refused to go further into the question, until I had learnt how vivisection was done."
[His teacher offered to put his own room at Mr. Hoggan's disposal.] (Q. 3479): "Do you think that similar advice was given to other students?"—"I have no doubt of it whatever, because several students have told me; one told, who is now dead, that he had performed ten or fifteen experiments on cats shortly before then, and recommended me strongly, as what he had seen was so very clear, to get cats and dogs and examine the action of the various muscles in those animals, that I had contended in my dissertation had not the use that was assigned to them." (Q. 3481): [Believed in consequence that there was much experimenting among students.] (Q. 3484): "Then you give this as a fact, that you desire us to take upon your own personal knowledge that at the time that you were studying medicine at Edinburgh, it was common for the medical students to try private experiments, and that with the knowledge, and concurrence and approval of the lecturer?"—"I do."
Another Edinburgh gentleman, Mr. A. J. Sinclair, M.D., who had advised Dr. Hoggan to make experiments, gives his opinion as follows (5898): "Now would you at that time have thought him doing a wrong act if he had made those experiments on cats without using chloroform?"—"I would not."
The professor above referred to by Dr. Hoggan—Mr. P. D. Handyside, M.D., F.R.S.E.—being examined, repudiated "associating" himself with the experiments of Mr. Hoggan's student days, but acknowledges that he advised him to make them, and offered him a room. (Q. 5972): "… The professors and teachers in the University of Edinburgh think it their duty to encourage any young man who shows a certain amount of scientific aptitude to carry out original research, and to embody the original scientific research in the thesis.…?" (Question originally put to Dr. Hoggan, now put to Professor Handyside.)—"Clearly it is so."
Mr. W. B. A. Scott, M.D., asked (Q. 5238): "Have you any knowledge at all as to whether the practice of vivisection goes on amongst students of either of these universities?"—Answered; "Yes, among the students in their own rooms."
Dr. J. Anthony says (Q. 2513) that "juveniles" in the "provinces" experiment; "they tell me candidly what they are doing, and I am obliged to shake my head occasionally." (Q. 2514): "Are these young medical practitioners?"—"Yes." (Q. 2515): "Who, in your judgment, are engaged in vivisection without any justifiable object, and merely from curiosity?"—"Merely from curiosity." (Animals used were
guinea pigs, kittens, cats, and stray dogs in private houses, anæsthetics not being used.) (Q. 2532): "You stated … that within your knowledge medical practitioners in the country were in the habit of performing experiments which you considered cruel and unnecessary?"—"Yes, they have come to my knowledge."
Dr. Sanderson (2617) knew a gentleman who "has made a certain number of experiments of animals of an injudicious and useless kind."
Mr. A. de Noé Walker, surgeon, after referring to Continental experiments in these words (Q. 1710): "My general and very decided impression was that a great deal of it was wanton and unnecessary," is asked (Q. 1711): "Do you believe that there is anything of the kind that you there condemned in this country now?"—"Not from my personal experience in physiological laboratories in this country; but from reading experiments published in this country, there is, I believe, much to be condemned." In answer to Question 1729 he stated: "I could bring forward many cases in which ten, twenty, or thirty animals have been subjected to the same experiments, and have given in each case the same result; and I consider that a cruel abuse of power."
Mr. Jesse in his evidence (page 273) quotes the "Physiological, Anatomical, and Pathological Researches of John Reid, M.D., Chandos Professor of Anatomy and Medicine in St. Andrew's University, 1848" (page 92): "I have exposed the trunk of the par vagum" (a large nerve) "in the neck, in at least thirty animals, and in almost all of these the pinching, cutting, and even the stretching of the nerve were attended by indications of severe suffering.… It was frequently difficult to separate the nerve from the artery, on account of the violent struggles of the animal, though some of them had been pretty quiet during the previous part of the operation."
Dr. Ferrier, examined as to the experiment performed by him on monkeys, and stated to be entirely under anæsthetics, in answer to Question 3364 says, "I think I saw no indication of the animal suffering pain." (3365): "But you have expressed yourself so in this article as to many cases. At page 79, for instance, 'Experimental Researches in Cerebral Physiology and Pathology in the West Riding Lunatic Asylum Medical Reports'" (See Q. 3363), "I see you say, 'In order to determine whether the combined movements were conditioned by the voluntary impulse of the left hemisphere, I next proceeded, two hours after the removal of the right hemisphere, to expose the signoid gyrus
of the superior external convolution of the left hemisphere. Having ascertained by electrisation that I could induce the usual movements of the right foreleg by stimulation of its centres here situated, I cut away the greater part of this gyrus, checking the hæmorrhage with cotton wool steeped in perchloride of iron. After this the animal ceased to struggle, and lay in whatever position it was placed. Pinching the toes caused reflex movements in all the four limbs, and at the same time the animal barked energetically, and howled when pinched. Pinching the tail especially caused the animal to bark. This condition continued for several hours, barking being always elicited and some reflex movements of the legs, but not to any great extent. The barking may also have been a reflex phenomenon, but from the fact that barking alone was sometimes induced, without any marked reflex movements of the limbs, I was rather inclined to attribute the phenomenon to retention of consciousness and distinct sense of pain. Ultimately (five hours after the operation) no barking was caused, but only reflex of the limbs and trunk when the legs or tail were pinched. The dog survived for eight hours after the removal of the hemispheres.' In that case clearly you did believe that the animal was suffering?"—"My last answer was with reference to the experiments on the electrical excitation of the brain, and that one which you have now read I had not in my mind; and even there I had very considerable difficulty in determining whether the animal was conscious or not." (3366): "Still your opinion was that it was conscious?"—"That was the opinion to which I came in the end."*
* The value of Professor Ferrier's method of experimenting on the brain may be gathered from the following extract from "Elements of Human Physiology, by D. L. Hermann, translated by Arthur Gamgee, M.D., F.R.S.," 1875, page 497:—
"The usual plan of investigation, viz., that of applying stimuli to the brain-substance, leads either to negative results, or, if electrical stimulation is used, to results which, owing to the unavoidable dispersal of the currents in numerous directions, are not sufficiently localised to form the basis for trustworthy conclusions. In the place of exact observations, after section and stimulation of different regions, we have the far less refined method of observation after lesions—lesions induced in the most delicate and complicated organ of the body by means so absurdly rough that, as Ludwig has forcibly put it, they may be compared to injuries to a watch by means of pistol shot."
On page 514 it is stated that such electrical stimulation irritates the more deeply seated parts, and adds: "This explanation is especially probable in the case of Ferrier's experiments. … No results as to the nature and distribution of the functions of the cortex, even of the value of approximations, can be deduced from these experiments,"
These quotations may be closed by the mention of two samples of the cases laid before the Commission by Mr. Colam. The whole list can be studied by reference to page 349, the page of the Blue Book containing documentary evidence of the same being appended in brackets. "Thirty dogs, covered with turpentine, and burned and scalded with hot water" (368). "Cats, rats, &c., engrafted" (rats joined to cats) (368).
Coming to the evidence which I have spoken of as "circumstantial," or as showing the views held by many English physiologists as to pain and cruelty, it will be sufficient to quote the following questions and answers from the Blue Book, in addition to those incidentally bearing on this point which have been given previously.
Professor Rutherford, in answer to Question 2989, says: "I really have had no personal experience of any unnecessary or reckless vivisection on any part of the Continent."
Dr. A. Gamgee, F.R.S., Brackenbury Professor of Physiology at Owens College, stated that he knew several foreign physiologists "pretty intimately," and is then asked—(Q. 5418): "Do you not think that a good many of them perform experiments which the English physiologists would mostly regard as needless, and even wanton?"—"I confess to you I do not believe it."
The opinion here expressed—and doubtless expressed by him elsewhere—by a gentleman generally considered very humane, and certainly most kind-hearted, would be most likely to set at rest many doubting humanitarians. Are we to take this opinion, or to believe that of the following gentlemen?
Dr. Sharpey states (Q. 444) in reference to Majendie's laboratory in Paris:—"I was so utterly repelled by what I witnessed that I never went back again" (explains that the experiments were painful, and without any sufficient object). "Majendie made incisions into the skins of rabbits and other creatures to show that the skin is sensitive. Now, surely all the world knows that the skin is sensitive. He put the animals to death finally in a very painful manner."
Dr. Anthony, also speaking of Paris, says (Q. 2582)—"The men there seem to care no more for the pain of the creature operated upon than if it were so much organic matter." In answer to Q. 2448, the same gentleman stated that the carelessness was also shown as to the end of animals after experimentation. Often they were allowed to simply "crawl" into a corner to die.
Mr. F. Sibson, M.D., says—(Q. 4739): "When Majendie was doing these ruthless things, Sir Charles Bell was erring in the opposite direction; and I believe it was the opposite polarity, induced by the ruthlessness of Majendie, which caused the over-fastidiousness of Sir Charles Bell."
Sir James Paget (Q. 369) says of Majendie, "he seemed really quite indifferent to pain."
Samples of continental experiments will be found in another part of this paper, but the general spirit of vivisection in France may be gathered from the words of Claude Bernard: "A physiologist is no ordinary man. He is a learned man, a man possessed and absorbed by a scientific idea. He does not hear the animal's cries of pain. He is blinded to the blood that flows. He sees nothing but his idea, and organisms which conceal from him the secrets he is resolved to discover."—Introd. à l'étude de la medecine expérimentale, Paris 1855, p. 180.
What a vivisector (in England, or "here" as Darwin puts it) does not consider pain may be gathered from the following—Dr. Sibson asked (Q. 4745): "I suppose you would not deny that the sufferings involved in raising the temperature of animals till they die would be very severe?" gave it as his belief that but little suffering is caused by raising the temperature, because "by the time the animal acquires anything like a temperature of 110, 111, or 112, the animal becomes unconscious." (Q. 4746): "The intermediate period is one of great suffering I suppose?"—"In the intermediate period the sufferings are not great." Dr. Sibson goes on to say that freezing animals to death, and starving them to death (Mangili's and Chossat's experiments) would not cause pain.
(Q. 2254) Dr. Burdon Sanderson (apropos of Handbook for the Physiological Laboratory): "Take the next one, No. 48, at page 237. All being now ready, the integument is opened along the middle line of the back, and the occipital bone perforated in the middle line with a fine awl, close to its posterior margin. The frog is then laid, back downward, on the board, in such a position that one of the needles enters the cranium through the hole in the occipital bone, the other the spinal cord. The web is then laid on a plate of glass, which covers the notch, and secured if necessary by fine pins, finally the heart is exposed as before, and so on." (Asked if he considered that painful). A.: "The source of pain, if anything, would be the introduction
of the pins which are mentioned here, because those pass through the integument of the frog; but of course I need not say that the amount of pain produced would be extremely small."
The next quotation from Mr. Darwin which calls for notice is from the letter—already mentioned—to his daughter. It is: "The gentlemen of England are humane as long as their sports are not considered, which entail a hundred or thousand-fold more suffering than the experiments of physiologists." If by this Mr. Darwin meant that the number of victims to sport was greater than those to science he was doubtless correct;* but if he means that the same kind of pain is inflicted in both instances surely he is mistaken. The degree and the circumstances of the pain are what is objected to in vivisection. It is well known that not only the lower animals in the excitement of the chase, but man himself, in the excitement of battle, can suffer the most terrible mutilations without noticing them. Lord Saltoun gives an excellent example of the feelings of a greyhound of his (see "Scraps," by Lord Saltoun, p. 258) in cold blood, and in the heat of the chase respectively.
"He" (the greyhound), says Lord Saltoun, "possessed extraordinarily high courage, but at the same time was most delicate and tender. When led along, if a rough bush or anything annoying touched his side, he would whimper piteously and shrink from the contact, but as soon as let loose in pursuit of game he would dash over the roughest ground, and
* That the number, however, of victims to vivisection is likely to be much greater than is generally supposed may be inferred from such facts as the following:—
(Q. 994): A paper (read by Mr. Hutton) by Brown-Séquard, in which he described himself as having "at one time before the siege of Paris 584 guinea-pigs in my laboratory," and that "I can say I have had many and many thousands under observation from 1843 till now, a period of more than 30 years." (For the nature of these very painful experiments see page 377, appendix iv., of Blue Book.) At Q. 5747 Dr. Brunton says: "When I said 90 I should have said that was in one series. I used a much larger number." (Q. 5748): "For the snake poison experiments I should think I have used about 150 of 'all sorts'—rabbits, guinea-pigs, frogs, dogs, pigeons, and fowls." (Q. 3361): Dr. Ferrier spoke of 100 animals being vivisected by him previous to a certain date.
A report of a lecture given by M. Flourens records (Blatin nos Cruautés, pp. 201-202) the experimentations of himself and Majendie to establish the distinctions of the sensory and the motor nerves, according to Sir Charles Bell, upon over 8,000 dogs.
Monsieur Pasteur inoculates the brains of two rabbits per diem with rabies, if the account in the Nineteenth Century of this month (June, 1888) by an admirer may be taken as evidence.
through thorns that cut and scarred his skin in all directions without seeming to feel them or pausing an instant on account of them."
Instances such as these could be multiplied to any extent, and yet, if the vivisectors are right, the greyhound, paralysed with curari, strapped to a table, and its skin cut slowly with a knife, would be in much the same condition as the same animal "cut and scarred by the bushes." However much the suffering inflicted by sportsmen may be, as in the leaving of wounded animals to die, surely nothing equal to such suffering as the creatures must have undergone in the experiments now to be quoted, can ever be laid at the door of Sport.*
The first examples of pain inflicted by physiologists, which I have selected as being incomparably worse than those endured by hunted animals, is from the experiments of Mr. Brown-Séquard, as reported in the "Lancet," Nos. 1819 and 1823. This experimenter thus speaks: "The laying bare of the spinal cord, and its free exposition to the action of the atmosphere, instead of being a cause of loss or diminution of sensibility, as it had been said, seems to be followed by a marked increase of sensibility in the parts of the body which are behind the place where the cord is exposed.… Deep injuries to the posterior columns of the spinal cord are always followed by a degree of hyperæsthesia, which appeared in all parts of the body behind the place injured.… Before the operation, in rabbits the most energetic pinching of the skin produces agitation, but no shrieking; after the operation, on the contrary, the least pinching produces shrieking and a much greater agitation. Sometimes the hyperæsthesia is so considerable that the least pressure upon the skin makes the animal shriek.… I have already made this experiment upon animals belonging to more than twenty species.… Hyperæsthesia is greater during the first week after the operation than it is after a month or many months."
Mr. Chauveau, of Lyons, a veterinary surgeon, thus reports his experiments (Brown-Séquard's Journal de Physiologie, Vol. IV., No. 13, p. 48). The object was to "ascertain the excitability of the spinal marrow, and the convulsions and pain produced by that excitability." His studies were made
* It is true that there is much room for improvement in the treatment of animals intended for food, especially, for example, in the cruel mode of trapping rabbits, but as Dr. Purser remarked, in answer to Mr. Huxley on this point (Q. 4877) "two blacks do not make one white." Rather let us try and whiten both.
almost exclusively on horses and asses, who "lend themselves marvellously thereto by the large volume of their spinal marrow," and he "consecrated eighty subjects to his purpose." "The animal is fixed on a table; an incision is made on its back of from thirty to thirty-five centimetres; the vertebræ are opened with the help of chisel, mallet, and pincers, and the spinal marrow exposed." (No mention of anæsthetics.) Case 7: A vigorous mule, "when one pricks the marrow near the line of emergence of the sensitive nerves, the animal manifests the most violent pain." … Case 10: A small ass, very thin, pricked on the line of emergence—"douleur intense." Case 20: Old white horse lying on the litter, unable to rise, but nevertheless very sensitive. "At whatever point I scratch the posterior cord, I provoke signs of the most violet suffering." A third example of the "trifling" pain endured by vivisected animals is as follows: "Exper. IV. I exposed the upper orbital nerve on the left side of another rabbit, and then I poured on to it a few drops of a strong solution of ascetic acid. The pain was so violent that the animal emitted heartrending shrieks and writhed in the throes of a violent agony."—M. E. Bacchi, M.D., Turin, "Collection de Thèse pour le Doctorat," Paris, 1874, pp. 59 and 61.
Claude Bernard supplies a fourth. He baked sixteen dogs and numerous rabbits in a stove. These animals, Bernard tells us ("Leçons sur la Chaleur Animale," p. 347), survived respectively eight minutes, ten minutes, twenty-four minutes, and so on, according to the heat of the stove, and according to the position of their heads within it, or outside it. "It became impossible," he says of them, "to count the paintings. At last the creature falls into convulsions and dies—uttering a cry."
Paul Bert's experiment on a curarised dog was of the following nature: The side of the face, the side of the neck, the side of the foreleg, interior of the belly, and the hip were dissected out in order to lay bare, respectively, the sciatic, &c., nerves. These were excited by electricity for ten consecutive hours." (Roy. Com., Q. 4111. "Archives de Physiologie," vol. ii., 1869, p. 650; V.D. p. 8.)
Professor C. Lloyd Morgan, of Bristol, has recently endeavoured to make scorpions commit suicide (see "Nature," Feb. 1st, 1883). His experiments as described by himself will form a fitting conclusion to these horrible extracts. "I will now briefly describe the nature of my experiments: (1) Condensing a sunbeam on various parts of the scorpion's body… (2) Heating in a glass bottle, as this admits of
most careful watching. I have killed some twenty or thirty individuals in this way… (3) Surrounding with fire or red hot embers… (4) Placing in burning alcohol… (5) Placing in concentrated sulphuric acid… The creature died in about ten minutes… (6) Burning phosphorus on the creature's body. I placed a small pellet of phosphorus near the root of the scorpion's tail, and lit the phosphorus with the touch of a heated wire… (7) Drowning in water, alcohol, and ether… (8) Placing in a bottle with a piece of cotton wool moistened with benzine. (9) Exposing to sudden light. (10) Treating with a series of electric shocks. (11) General and exasperating causes of worry. I think it will be admitted," Mr. Morgan goes on to say, "that some of these experiments were sufficiently barbarous (the sixth is positively sickening) to induce any scorpions who had the slightest suicidal tendency to find relief in self-destruction. I have in all cases repeated the experiments on several individuals."
It will be seen from the date of this last series of experiments that they were not among those present to Mr. Darwin's mind when he wrote, but I have preferred to finish my examples with them in order to give a sample of what is still tolerated in England. To those who wish to know more on this point, I recommend a pamphlet by Mark Thornhill, Esq., "English Vivisection: Notes on some recent experiments" (Hatchards, 1885).
That Mr. Darwin felt there was something really requiring attention in this matter may be inferred from another quotation from the same letter to his daughter (Jan. 4, ′75), which has been already twice quoted from: "Therefore I conclude," he writes, "if (as is likely) some experiments have been tried too often, or anæsthetics have not been used when they might have been, the cure must be in the improvement in humanitarian feelings. Under this point of view I have rejoiced in the present agitation."
The last quotation I desire to make from Mr. Darwin's life is made not for the purpose of disputing it, but rather for that of strongly agreeing with, and if possible supporting it. I wish I had the power to make the point as clear as it ought to be made. It is again from that most important letter bearing date Jan. 4, 1875. Speaking of physiology, he writes: "Judging from all other sciences, the benefit will accrue only indirectly in the search for abstract truth.… Therefore the proposal to limit research to points in which we can now see the bearings in regard to health, &c., I look at as puerile."
Only those who are at all acquainted with the modes of scientific research, especially those of an experimental character, can grasp the full truth of this statement. Were it fully realised we should not hear proposals to "permit vivisection" for ten years more, and then, if it be unfruitful to man, it should be prohibited; nor should we hear so often people say, "I questioned my doctor about vivisection, and he asked me whether I would not kill that dog (pointing to the dog on the hearth) to save that child (pointing to the child in the cradle)." As a matter of fact such a case as this latter never—or hardly ever—can be possible. If vivisection is to be permitted it must—to be of use—be free and unlimited. It must be either permitted as a means, or it must be forbidden. It is impossible to tell what will, and what will not, turn out of use to man in any investigation. Undoubtedly it would advance physiology to have liberty, for example, to cut up human beings; and we may yet hear of the question being asked, "What! would you not rather that I cut up your infant than that your eldest son should die?" But, as Mr. Hutton forcibly puts it, in such cases the "higher principle" should prevail. Surely if it were proved that the chemicals used in a practical laboratory of chemistry were capable of intense suffering, mankind would refuse to permit the science of chemistry to advance at such a cost.
Lest these remarks be understood to imply that practical benefit has already accrued to medicine from vivisection, it may be well to quote from the evidence of Professor Acland, of Oxford, who (Q. 958) "declined to sign a memorial" which stated that the progress of medicine depended upon the experiments on animals. He says: "I do not think it does."
Also from the evidence of Professor Sanderson, himself a vivisector. At Q. 2731, being asked: "But as regards the higher consulting physicians and surgeons, you would wish to see a larger number of them passing through these laboratories; and you would not think them competent to advise on the more difficult cases without it?" Answered: "No, I would not go so far as that, because, as medicine stands at present, it stands on experience, and the man who is most competent to advise is the man of most judgment and clinical knowledge; in other words, of most experience."
That it is considered by some persons justifiable to inflict any amount of suffering on the lower animals for any good to man I had an instance not long since. "I would roast a sheep alive if I thought it would do my child any good,"
remarked a gentleman who has determined to bring up his child according to the creed of one who said "blessed are the merciful." To my mind no amount of good to man would justify—or ought to make acceptable to him—the kind of pain constantly being inflicted on the torture trough of science.
Science often in its most trivial inquiries has lighted on some useful thing, and science as a pastime knows no rival; but in our search for knowledge, and in our pursuit of pleasure, let us not increase the already heavy burthen of pain and sorrow borne by sentient creatures. In the words of Charles Darwin himself (writing upon another subject) "There is pain and vexation enough in the world without more being caused." Professor Acland also utters a useful warning when he says (Q. 944): "I am not at all sure that the mere acquisition of knowledge is not a thing having dangerous and mischievous tendencies in it."
MANCHESTER GUARDIAN" PRINTING WORKS.
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