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Ptolemy we know handed over his criminals to Drs. Nerophilus and Erasistratus, who dissected them alive without anaesthetics to the great satisfaction of these eminent medical scientists, though it must be confessed with but small gain to physiological science; but as we have greatly improved in our methods since that time we may hope that researches conducted in our way might be more fruitful in results. We are not sure that application to the Home Secretary, who seems to exercise a certain power in determining the fate of criminals, would be successful, but perhaps a petition to Parliament would be more likely to succeed; at all events, it would probably be favourably con^ sidered by those members who are anxious to have certain criminals punished by the infliction of corporeal suffering. These legislators might be willing to substitute for their favourite punishment of the lash vivisections, with or without anaesthetics, varied according to the heinousness of the crime. A criminal of not very deep dye might be let off with a mild vivisection, while one guilty of a very atrocious crime might be handed over to the experimental physiologists for some very risky experiments involving danger to life, such as those performed on monkeys by Professor Ferrier, as we understood, until a late trial showed that Dr. Yeo was the experimenter, though Dr. Ferrier had previously always taken credit for them.
It is quite possible, indeed probable, that Parliament might not accede to such a petition; still there is just a chance that it might, at all events there could be no harm in "trying it on." It would, any way, show the zoophilist public that physiological experimenters, or experimental physiologists, were quite willing to remove from themselves the reproach, so often hurled at them, of making useless vivisections on helpless animals of a different organisation, if only the ruling powers would help them in their laudable effort. Should the plan fail, our licensed vivisectors, backed by the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research, which contains many wealthy men, might appeal not to the scientific spirit but to the cupidity of the world at large, and by offering a considerable bribe induce some needy persons to submit themselves to physiological experimentation. It is scarcely likely that they will find willing subjects among their own countrymen, but as we know from Payn's By Proxy and other equally trustworthy sources of information that in China persons condemned to death can easily find substitutes who, for a moderate sum of money settled on their families, will quietly submit to torture and decapitation, there can be no doubt that plenty of Chinese might easily be got who, "for a consideration/' would cheerfully submit to the minor discomforts of vivisection. If not enough of Celestials to supply the physiological laboratories could be found down about Wapping and RatclifFe Highway, a sumciency might be exported ad hoc from China, Chinese being most exportable creatures. Whether the racial differences of these Asiatics may not be attended by physiological differences which might disqualify them from being used to decide points of general human, and more particularly European, physiology, is a problem for the consideration of our experimental physiologists before embarking on this novel branch of industry.* In the meantime, until these weighty questions have been settled, it might be as well to intermit the practice of dissecting alive the lower animals, which has hitherto furnished only contradictory results, and has done little or nothing to add to our knowledge of the physiology of man, or to assist us in curing human diseases.
But if vivisections on the lower animals have been nearly barren of reliable physiological information, experiments with medicinal agents on these animals have been equally fruitless and misleading as regards the therapeutical virtues of
* It is to be feared that there are inherent differences in the Chinese race that may invalidate their utility as corpora vilia for experiments to elucidate European physiology, for Mr. Newcome in the Med. Press and Circular has told us that the Chinese hare quite a different materia medica from ours, and though they raise large quantities of rhubarb, aloes, camphor and castor oil for the European market they do not use these drugs for themselves, medicinally at least. Indeed, we know that they employ castor oil for their salads, which European guests have often discovered to their consternation when assisting at their feasts. These facts seem to show that Orientals could scarcely be relied on as subjects of physiological experimentation by occidental physiologists.
these agents. In spite of Virchow's assertion* that the provings of drugs according to the method of Hahnemann cannot be even distantly compared in point of therapeutic value to the experiments with drugs on animals, all who are even superficially acquainted with the subject know that this assertion is in flagrant contradiction with facts. We have only to compare the hundreds of new and valuable medicines in our materia medica with the meagre list of remedies of doubtful value added to the common treasury of medicines by physiological experiments on animals, to be convinced of the absurdity of Virchow's assertion. We might go further and say, with perfect truth, that the knowledge of the therapeutic virtues of these two or three drugs was not obtained mainly or at all from the experiments with them on animals, but chiefly, or even solely, from their employment on human beings. Indeed, we are convinced that the method of testing drugs on the lower animals is altogether misleading, f A glaring instance of the illusory character of such experiments was furnished a short while ago by Professor Rutherford's experiments on dogs to ascertain the effects of Mercury on the bile. He subjected a large number of dogs to the inconvenience and discomfort of a biliary fistula, and dosed them freely with Mercury. To the infinite bewilderment of the medical world he announced as the result of his painstaking experiments and observations that Mercury has no influence on the biliary secretion. But every one knows that a blue pill or a few grains of Calomel given to a human being will produce a very decided effect on the secretion of bile. If Professor Rutherford's experiments were properly conducted, and it would be treason to doubt that such a master of physiological science could err in this respect, then the inference is that Mercury does
* Trans, of the Intern. Med. Congress of 1881, vol. i, p. 34.
t Mr. Lawson Tait seems to be of the same opinion. "The question," says he, "of the investigation of the action of drugs by experiments on animals I have to confess is a very difficult one, because after we have found out what they do in one animal we find that in another the results are wholly different, and the process of investigation has to be repeated in man" (op. cit., p. 127).
not act on dogs in anything like the way it does on man; and if this is the case with Mercury, what ground have we for believing that other medicines may not have quite a different action on man from what they have on other animals. In fact, if we carefully compare the records of experiments with almost all other medicines made on man and on other animals, we shall find such differences in the manner in which they are severally affected as must disenchant us altogether with the notion that the results of such experiments made on other animals can teach us how drugs will act on man. The futility of such a mode of ascertaining the powers of medicines wa3 long ago pointed out by Hahnemann.*
We may give a concrete example in illustration of the impossibility of inferring the effects on man of a medicine from experiments on the lower animals. No medicine has been more frequently tested as to its effects both on man and the lower animals than Aconite and its alkaloid Aconitine. Dr. J. Harley has published in St. Thomas's Hospital Reports, vol. v., n. s., 1874, a series of experiments on various animals and on human beings with Aconitine. We will extract from them the effects of the drug on the pulse.
Obs. I.—Horse. ^Vsth gr. injected under skin of shoulder. After 2 hours the pulse was accelerated 10 beats, strong, full, irregular.
• "But some will say, 'the administration of drugs to animals by the mouth will furnish some certain results respecting their medicinal action.' By no means! How greatly do their bodies differ from ours! A pig can swallow a large quantity of Nun vomica without injury, and yet men have been killed with fifteen grains. A dog bore an ounce of the fresh leaves, flowers and buds of Monkshood; what man would not have died of such a dose? Horses eat it, when dried, without injury. Yew leaves, though so fatal to man, fatten some of our domestic animals. And how can we draw conclusions relative to the action of medicines on man from their effects on the lower animals, when even among the latter they often vary so much? The stomach of a wolf poisoned with Monkshood was found inflamed, but not that of a large and a small cat, poisoned by the same substance. What can we infer from this? Certainly not much, if I may not say nothing; Thus much at least is certain, that the fine internal changes and sensations, which a man can express by words, must be totally awanting in the lower animals" (Hahnemann's " Essay on a New Principle," from Hufeland's Journal, vol. iij 1796, translated in Lam Writings which see, p. 299).
Obs. II.—Horse, ^th gr. injected subcutaneouBly. After 1 hour pulse 50, increased in volume and power; after labour pulse 60, full and strong; after 3 hours pulse 68, full and strong; after 65 hours pulse 52, regular, but weak; after 18 hours pulse 40, weak.
Obs. III.—Horse. Before experiment pulse 50. ^th gr. injected. In ten minutes pulse 56, stronger; after 1-j hour pulse 68, full, regular, soft; after 2? hours pulse 40, very feeble; after 3 hours pulse 30; after 3 J hours pulse 80; after 4 hours pulse 84; after 6 hours pulse 60, very feeble: then the pulse rose rapidly to 120; after 7 hours pulse 60, regular as to time, very irregular as to force, &c.
Obs. IV.—Horse. Before experiment pulse 38. £ gr. injected. After i hour pulse 44, stronger; after 1 hour pulse 48, increased in volume and power; after 1 hour 10 minutes pulse 86, full and strong ; after 2 hours pulse 136.
Obs. V.—Dog. -^th gr. injected. After 15 minutes heart throbbing violently; after 33 minutes pulse 110 to 120, regular and strong.
Obs. VI.—Cat. TTV^ Er- injected. After 1| hour pulse 240, regular; after 2\ hours pulse 260, regular; after 4^ hours pulse 140.
Obs. VII.—Cat. -j^th gr. injected. After 45 minutes pulse 120.
Now compare the experiments of the same observer on the human subject.
Obs. X.—A man. Before experiment pulse 66, regular, jjflth gr. taken by mouth. No material alteration of the pulse was observed.
Obs. XI.—Man. Before experiment pulse 66. Took /^th gr. After 40 minutes pulse 60; after 1J hour pulse 58; after 3 hours pulse 56.
Obs. XIII.—Man. ^th gr. No effect observed on pulse, pupilsj or breathing.
It is usually stated, and many cases of poisoning corroborate the statement, that Aconite slows the heart primarily (though some cases show that the contrary occurs), but were we to be guided by Harley's experiments on horses, dogs, and cats, we would infer that it quickens the action of the heart in a very marked manner at first.