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EARL OF CROMER
THIS work, compiled by Mr. Stephen Paget, to whose energy and perseverance all who are interested in scientific research owe a deep debt of gratitude, will, I think, be found useful to that very numerous body of people who, whilst greatly interested in the subject of Vivisection, have neither the time nor the inclination to study the voluminous Report of the Royal Commission, or the bulky minutes of evidence on which that report is based. It is, indeed, most desirable that the class of persons to whom I here allude should be provided with the means of obtaining information on this subject which will enable them, without undue labour and research, to form their own opinions; for it depends mainly on the views held by non-controversialists,
representing the mass of public opinion in this country, whether the cause of scientific research is to stand or fall. For some years
past public opinion on the subject of Vivisection has been in a state of suspense. On the one hand, a very general belief prevailed of the value of the experimental method in the furtherance of scientific research, accompanied by a strong disinclination to impose any hindrances on the pursuit of knowledge beyond those rendered necessary by the obvious dictates of humanity. On the other hand, a stern determination existed to prevent wanton and unnecessary cruelty being inflicted on the brute creation-a determination which had its origin not merely in a laudable repugnance to the infliction of pain on the animals themselves, but was also due to a belief in the demoralisation which would inevitably ensue in the persons of those who were the agents in its infliction. Were the accusations of callous indifference to suffering which were frequently levelled against the experimentalists true? Could the heartrending accounts of torture inflicted on animals, which were repeated with almost tedious iteration on the one side, and strenuously denied on the other, be substantiated
or not? Were the safeguards already provided by the law against wanton cruelty adequate, or did they require amendment? These were the questions on which the public, puzzled and confused by the conflicting utterances of rival controversialists, expected an authoritative statement of opinion from some impartial and independent source.
Before going any further, I wish to make a personal statement on this subject.
My reasons for accepting the post of President of the Research Defence Society some four years ago were twofold.
In the first place, I have an abhorrence of cruelty to animals, and have at times been fortunate enough to help in some small degree in the furtherance of measures tending to obviate or mitigate such cruelty as is now practised. Deeply convinced as I was of the necessity for promoting scientific inquiry, I certainly should not have associated myself with the Research Defence Society had I not, as a preliminary measure, fully satisfied myself both that the main accusations brought against the experimentalists were wholly devoid of foundation, and, further, that the very eminent and humane men with whom I should be associated were animated with
a detestation of anything approaching to wanton cruelty no less profound and sincere than that which I myself entertained.
My other reason for accepting the position of President of the Society was that I felt strongly that the Vivisectionists, and not their opponents, were the true humanitarians; that they were, under circumstances which rendered them peculiarly liable to misrepresentation, fighting a cause in which not only the whole human race, but also the brute creation, were deeply interested; that, on the one hand, their failure to prove their case would result in what Mr. Stephen Coleridge has characteristically termed the "desolating advance of science" being arrested, and that thus we should have to rely on the researches of more favoured scientists in other countries to arrest disease and to stay the hand of death, whilst, on the other hand, their success would connote the decrease of premature mortality and the mitigation of suffering; that it was not merely unjust, but also unwise, that the medical profession should be allowed to stand alone in the defence of a noble cause; and that their efforts to enlighten the public on the true facts of the case might perhaps
The Outlook, March 23, 1912.
in some degree be aided by association with those who, like myself, realised the vast importance of the issue at stake, albeit they could bring no special scientific acquirements to bear on the various technical points involved.
The questions which I have propounded above now admit of being confidently answered, not merely on the authority of any individual scientist, however eminent, but on that of a Royal Commission composed of men of unquestionable ability and impartiality, whose opinions have been formed after an exhaustive and prolonged inquiry into every branch of the question. The consciences of lovers of animals-in other words, those of the vast majority of the inhabitants of these islands-may now be at rest. They may support scientific research in the full assurance that in doing so they will benefit themselves, their friends, their relations, and their descendants, whilst at the same time they will not be giving their adhesion to any principles or practices which the dictates of humanity, reasonably interpreted, could condemn. They may profit by the invaluable knowledge acquired in the physiological laboratory without any reluctance due to