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vices. They, above all other men, require to be under the moral control of Him in the presence of whose infinite majesty the inequalities of human conditions disappear. And further, their great position and their great duties involve them in moral perils of which the commonalty of mankind know nothing. The interests committed to their trust are so immense, and the temptations to promote these interests by a disregard of moral law are sometimes so violent, that their only absolute safety lies in their profound conviction that, since God is on the side of righteousness, the welfare of neither individuals nor of nations can be permanently secured by selfishness, falsehood, or injustice. In times of disaster, when a political leader has lost the confidence of the country, and believes that for the sake of the highest interests of the country itself it is of the first importance that he should recover power, he will be tempted to recover it by reckless measures which will entail immeasurable evils. The temptation may be resisted in the strength of a genuine devotion to the permanent interests of the nation, and of a firm loyalty to the laws of public morality; but religious faith will give an additional and a unique support to moral fidelity. In his triumphant times, the Christian statesman will find in his religious faith a strong check on the arrogance and the ambition which have sometimes brought dishonour on a noble reputation and destroyed capacity for great national services. It will make him just and generous to his opponents. It will protect him from jealousy of the allies and colleagues whose rising power may seem to threaten his own ascendency. Anticipating the supreme hour when he will have to give in his final account, his only solicitude will be so to discharge his trust as to win the approbation of God.
It may be true—I fear it is—that in Christian preaching a very inadequate place is given to the duties of citizenship. There are some Christian communities that regard politics with distrust ; while insisting that the authority of Christ over human life is absolute and unlimited, they formally surrender one great province of human activity to the "world" and the devil. But the effective power of the Christian faith extends far beyond the definite teaching of its ministers. In every part of the country municipal duties are being discharged with unselfish and unostentatious fidelity by men whose public spirit is one expression of their Christian charity. Speaking of my own political connection, I can affirm that the Liberal party finds a large proportion of its strongest and most unselfish supporters in those whose desire is to get the will of God done on earth as it is done in heaven. What would happen to England if "the secular movement in politics" became triumphant I cannot tell. At present the ethical spirit created by an earnest loyalty to Christ is one of the most vigorous and most generous elements of the national life.
R. W. Dale.
THE ANTI-VIVISECTIONIST AGITATION.*
I WAS asked some time ago to write an article for the ContemPorary Review on the violent agitation which has sprung up in several European countries against the practice of vivisection, and I somewhat unguardedly undertook to do so. Now I find myself in a difficulty. Not that my interest in the subject is at all less keen than it was; far from it; but after turning over with some attention the voluminous literature which it has produced,—papers, pamphlets, magazine articles, Parliamentary debates,—I have come to the conclusion that too much has already been said on this unhappy topic.
Too much. But, be it understood, I do not bring this reproach against the anti-vivisectionist writers, but against my own scientific co-religionists, who have gone too far in the conflict with unreasonable adversaries.
When we take into consideration the results actually obtained, it becomes a ■ question whether, in ever admitting discussion on the utility of vivisection, the physiologists have not shown an excessive condescension, and, to say the truth, committed a grave mistake. What end can they possibly propose to themselves in carrying on a scientific discussion with the persons whom interest or eccentricity has led to declare war against the laboratories? Do they hope to convince them of their error? Fools cannot be convinced, nor can those who, from interested motives, choose to make fools of themselves. Do they hope to influence public opinion and keep it from going astray? If so, one can but admire their childlike confidence in the general good sense. How can they expect to come victorious out of a contest with maniacs hy taking the ground of scientific discussion, where all the chances of success—insincerity, ignorance, and, above all, human stupidity, the supreme dictator of every popular Terdict—range themselves on the side of the enemy?
* It is thought that it will be interesting and instructive to English readers to understand the view of this question which is taken by one of the most distinguished of the Continental physiologists who practise vivisection.—Ed.
It was a great mistake,—great enough to endanger the whole future of physiology, if scientific progress could be arrested by law, or by the explosions of a coarse fanaticism. But science, proscribed in one country, will take its flight into another; driven from the public laboratory, it will take refuge in the private study, and perhaps there gain in depth what it has lost in diffusion.
To whom do the physiologists and doctors address their refutations of the foolish accusations brought against them? To the general public, clearly; to members of the Government, and members of Parliament,—that is, to outsiders whose judgment has no value at all in matters of science. By so much as committing ourselves to this discussion at all, we have virtually admitted their competence and authority in these questions in a manner which must mislead the masses.
In fact, while the physiologists, in their lectures and treatises, contented themselves with the frank and simple statement of a few general truths—which, moreover, could not be doubted by their adversaries themselves—the anti-vivisectionists on their part had recourse to all the methods, and employed all the weapons, of political agitation—indignation meetings, defamatory pamphlets, hair-stirring placards, and monster petitions. The serious refutations which some men of science had condescended to proffer became fresh weapons in the hands of these unscrupulous persons, thanks to the skill with which they mutilated the texts, distorted quotations, and held up to public animadversion the experiments described in memoirs intended for specialists, in which, very naturally, no mention was made of the anaesthetics to be used, their employment being taken as a matter of course. Is it to be wondered at that these miserable artifices were successful? The masses (Ministers and members of Parliament included) must be excused for taking them seriously when they heard those who used them speaking as on equal terms to men of science, and discussing with them the most complex and technical details. If they have been misled, the fault must rest first of all with the physiologists themselves, who, in deigning to enter the arena at all with such adversaries, gave them unmerited credit with the crowd.
In Germany the anti-vivisectionists have not yet gained their point. On the one hand the traditional respect for science in that country, and on the other the contempt of the Government for all manifestations of public agitation, have, so far, saved physiology from the humiliating laws which place the control of scientific research in the hands of the policeman or of the first informer. But in England, alas! the agitation has had a disastrous effect. Under the influence of this pseudo-humanitarian movement, English legislators have allowed themselves to be drawn into passing measures which are an insult to the personal dignity of the men of research, and an outrage on science itself. Legally, it is fine and imprisonment for all who may dare to infringe the regulations snatched from the weakness of Parliament by a few hypocritical humbugs and hysterical old maids. In practice these Draconian laws may be applied with prudence and discrimination; but that does not affect the question. The hindrance to scientific research and the humiliation of scientific men remain the same.
This deplorable situation is, I repeat, largely due to the false tactics of my English brethren. They know too well the honour in which I hold them to take it ill from me that I say this of them. They have tried to bend before the storm and let it pass. They were wrong. They should have accepted the full and entire responsibility of physiological experimentation. They should not have lowered the flag of science. Above all, they should never have endured—men, as they were, of the highest intellectual culture—that a parcel of sophists should read them a lesson in the name of morality and humanity!
I shall never forget the painful impression I received some years ago, when one of my most eminent fellow-labourers in London sent me a letter in which he excused himself for keeping silence with regard to my book, " Physiologische Methodik," much as he wished to speak of it, on the ground that he was afraid of exasperating public opinion, which was already in arms against the physiologists.
Of what use was this modest effacement? Did my book escape the anti-vivisectionists? By no means. It will be seen further on that it has been not a little used and abused by them in this warfare. The abstention of competent physiologists has left them free course not only to falsify the text, but even to utilize the plates, which they have got up after a fashion of their own, and placarded in all the railway stations with the taking title, "The Horrors of Vivisection."
It may be said that if the physiologists had taken an aggress^e attitude, or shut themselves up in a haughty silence, the agitation would have assumed a still more menacing character, and perhaps resulted in measures yet more vexatious than those actually adopted. It is not very likely. But if it were, once admit the principle of police regulation as applied to scientific research, and it does not much signify about more or less. It is even possible that severer measures might sooner have demonstrated the absurdity of the whole thing. Besides, the professors of physiology, toxicology, and pathological anatomy had in their own hands one weapon, as simple as it would have been efficacious. In view of the impossibility of carrying on, under such conditions, a course of teaching on a level with the actual progress of science, they should have tendered their resignations.*
Is it the interposition of some few doctors, who have strayed into the opposite camp, which has led English physiologists to treat their adversaries almost as equals, and admit them to the honour of scientific discussion? Still it is a mistake. Contemporary physiology is of too recent creation to have as yet thoroughly permeated medical education. In a matter of physiological controversy many practitioners have, alas! scarcely more claim to authority than the old maids and abortive musicians who have shown such a sympathy for the sufferings of frogs and rabbits. Great as are the services which physiology has already rendered to the healing art, they would have been far greater still if doctors possessed a more precise acquaintance with its facts, and above all, if they had been sufficiently initiated into its methods of investigation.
The hostility of some few practitioners, more or less qualified, had therefore nothing in it that should have influenced men of science. The great doctors, such as Sir James Paget, Mr. Lister, and others— who have lent to our cause the aid of their own great reputation with the public—might, at little cost to themselves, have rid physiology of its enemies. They had only to leave the whole band of antivivisectionist agitation-mongers to the care of those doctors who are of opinion that physiology can get on without experiment, and medicine without physiology. The stroke would have been a sharp one, but not undeserved.f
Not that I would advise the physiologists to retire to their tents. Heaven forfend! I blame them, not' for showing fight, but for choosing their ground ill. Instead of entering on a scientific discussion with unfair opponents before the judgment-seat of an ignorant public, they should have left their peaceful fanes—
"Edita doctrina sapieDtum templa serena"—J
and carried the contest into the open forum. They should have met agitation by agitation, petition by counter-petition; they should have turned against the enemies of science every weapon which had been so skilfully and so unscrupulously used against themselves. Since they were attacked with virulent personalities, why should they not answer with arguments ad hominem, which would have baffled the knaves, held up the fanatics to ridicule, and snatched from one leader
* In Bimilar circumstances the writer himself retired from his post, and even left his own country, rather than submit to conditions which he considered incompatible with the dignity of his work.
i Even now, if all enlightened doctors would deal in this way with the partisans of an agitation which tends to deprive medical studies of their most solid basis, the effect of this new sort of strike would not be long in making itself felt.