« PreviousContinue »
occurred she at length recovered. At the full time she was safely delivered.
"the Infant was apparently healthy, but immediately after allowing it to suckle it assumed the hues of a rattlesnake, swelled very much, and soon died.
"A Puppy was then procured and put to the breasts; it died in two days with the same symptoms.
"A Lamb was tried next, and in succession one puppy and three lambs shared the same fate.
"Another puppy was procured. This exhibited but little of the symptoms and did not die. The woman all this time was as well as is usual after confinement.
"In the spring of 1803 I was called to see Mrs. Beeman soon after another birth. She had strong apprehensions that it would be unsafe to put the child to the breast, but was eventually prevailed on to make the experiment, and no disagreeable consequences resulted.
"These statements may be verified by reference to Mr. and Mrs. Beeman and H. Y. Champin, Esq., as well as other persons in the town of Braintrim.
"Dr J. R. Coxe. Yours, &c., S. T. Barstow."
—Coxe's Dispensatory, 1881, p. 738.
A Colt.-—A Cowbridge correspondent writes:—" A valuable mare belonging to Mr. Davies, of Ystradowny, was recently bitten by a rattlesnake during the night. On the following morning a colt which the mare had been suckling was found dead, the virus having apparently been communicated from one animal to the other in the milk. The application of vigorous restoratives were necessary to save the life of the mare.—Newspaper.
On the Uselessness of Vivisection upon Animals as a Method of Scientific Research. By Lawson Tait, F.R.C.S. Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Birmingham Philosophical Society, vol. ii, p. 121, 1882.
Experimental Physiology: its Benefits to Mankind. By Richard Owen, C.B., M.D., F.R.S., &c. London: Longmans, 1882.
The Coward Science, our answer to Professor Owen. By Charles Adams, "Paid Secretaryto the Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection. London: Hatchard, 1882.
At a meeting of the Materia Medica Section of the International Medical Congress of 1881, the president, Dr. Fraser, was profuse in his compliments to Dr. Murrell, who had detailed a series of experiments with drugs on the hearts of frogs removed from the body, which he pronounced to be eminently scientific and valuable; but he at the same time said that the observations of most of the other speakers were far behind the actual state of medical science. These speakers who came in for this presidential censure were some half-dozen adherents of homoeopathy, who had held up the Hahnemannic method of testing medicines on the healthy human body as the sole reliable method for ascertaining the physiological properties of medicines.
This little episode illustrates the mental attitude of the old school in the matter of experimental physiology. With these gentlemen experimental physiology means vivisecting the so-called lower animals, chiefly dogs, cats, rabbits, guineapigs, and frogs, though a diversion is sometimes made from this list, on the one hand to monkeys, horses, and deer, on the other to rats and mice. But though monkeys, as being likest in their anatomical structure to man, would be preferred, if they were to be had easily and cheaply, dogs are the most frequent subjects of the experimental physiologist's experiments. Certain qualities possessed by our canine friends have procured for them the distinction of being the chief subjects of the physiologist's experiments. Dogs are submissive, good tempered, confiding, easily fixed in any required position, not much given to panic fears or inconvenient struggling. They have been known to lick the hand of the scientific operator, and will show unimpaired intelligence by wagging their tails when kindly spoken to in the midst of scientific agonies;* and we have lately read that a large mastiff, which had been diligently vivisected during the day by his master, and had been tied up for further experiments on the morrow, when his master was attacked by a burglar in the night burst his bonds and pinned the armed ruffian to the ground. Traits such as these seem to show that dogs in their close companionship with man have learned, and act on, the maxim of returning good for evil, so constantly preached though so little practised by man; perhaps further intercourse with the superior being will enable the dog to imitate man more exactly, in the meantime it is very convenient for physiological purposes that dogs still practise the Christian virtue which men only preach. Such traits as these show also that dogs have not the same prejudiced repugnance to vivisection as their friends the zoophilists or " bestiarians,'' as Professor Owen calls them with as much propriety as good taste.f Moreover, dogs are easily procured for experimental purposes in any numbers from those industrious tradesmen the dog stealers. On the other hand, though in mental and emotional qualities dogs resemble some of the best specimens of humanity, they are physically very different. By nature they belong to the
* "Consciousness was retained throughout, and the poor animal seemed to ask my help in the paroxysms, and in the intervals feebly turned his head, and wagged his tail when spoken to."—Experiments on a young sheep-dog, by Dr. J. Harley, St. Thomas's Hospital Reports, vol. v, new series, 1874, p. 155.
t "Bestiarius" being, as Mr. Adams points out, the Latin name for a man who used to hack and mangle (or be hacked and mangled by) wild beasts in the arena.
carnivora, whereas man is more akin to graminivora; their skin does not perspire, and in anatomical structure they differ very considerably from man, so that it is not safe to infer that they will be similarly affected by physiological mutilations or by toxical or medicinal agencies.
Moreover, dogs have a disagreeable habit of howling loudly, and even shrieking, when hurt. This propensity, though it is a touch of nature that makes the dog world kin to the human world, is highly inconvenient to the physiological experimenter; not, indeed, for the effect that it could have on his own nerves—for he is above all that sort of thing—but because it painfully affects sensitive zoophilists within earshot, who might in consequence make themselves disagreeable to the physiologist, and even indict him for a nuisance, as we believe has been done.
Rabbits which, next to dogs, are the most frequent sub-' jects of the vivisector's attention, have not got this awkward propensity to make a noise, but, on the other hand, they are such frightened, struggling creatures that they are difficult to deal with, and besides, they are, though graminivorous, still more widely separated from man in structure and habits than dogs.
Frogs, which have often been commended as specially adapted for the physiologist's purpose, are certainly noiseless, easily managed, and very cheap, but they have defects of construction, such as a single heart, a meagre brain and a diffused vitality, that remove them too far from human affinities to allow them to be used with much advantage for experiments. In short, what with fundamental differences of structure, habits, and susceptibilities, all animals we are accustomed to call "lower " are unsuited for experiments which shall be of use to advance a knowledge of human physiology.
It is partly for this reason that Mr. Lawson Tait is completely justified in his statement that "vivisection as a method of research has constantly led those who have employed it into altogether erroneous conclusions, and the records teem with instances in which not only have animals been fruitlessly sacrificed, but human lives have been added to the list of victims by reason of its false light" (p. 120).
This, of course, only applies to inferences as to human physiology from experiments performed on other animals, but we would not, of course, deny the value of experiments on a dog to ascertain points connected with canine physiology, or on a rabbit to determine matters of leporine physiology, or on a frog to settle questions of ranal physiology. But, even if the results .of experiments on the lower animals were as competent to decide points of human physiology as we believe them to be the reverse, there is one insuperable obstacle connected with experiments on the lower animals which must always tend to obscure the interpretation of the observed phenomena. This is the want of intelligence of the animal operated on. We cannot interrogate him as to his sufferings and sensations, and so we are debarred from employing the most satisfactory method of ascertaining how he feels under our experiments. We are thus confined to obtaining by mere observation information which, were there intelligence, we might better obtain by cross-examination. Hence the most carefully conducted experiments often lead to perfectly negative results, or even to quite erroneous conclusions, and if reliance be placed on them it is not to be wondered at that, as Mr. Tait says, "human lives have been added to the list of victims by reason of its false light."
It is evident, therefore, that if, as Ferrier assures us,* "experiments on animals under conditions selected and varied at the will of the experimenter are alone capable of furnishing precise data for sound indications as to the functions of the brain and its various parts," and if of the brain, a fortiori of other organs and parts, considering the radical differences of structure of the various tribes of animals, such experiments, if employed to elucidate the physiology of animals of other classes, can only be misleading, and should therefore be abandoned. Experimental physiologists ought to endeavour to obtain living human subjects for their experiments. They might apply to the proper authorities to be permitted to experiment on condemned criminals. King * Functions of the Brainy p. xiv.