In recent times it has been discovered that there is a unity of method and law running through all forms of organic life, such as was never suspected in former ages. This was a great step in the progress of science, and a great opening for the physician and surgeon, as the whole realm of inferior life was at once made tributary to the development of the physician's art—that is, the human vivisector, who had been hitherto greatly cramped and embarrassed by the difficulties and limited scope of his operations, could now carry on his inquiries more thoroughly and comprehensively by experiments upon the lower animals. It was a grand possibility, and, broadly considered, forms the most important step in the progress of medical and surgical science and art.
But, here again, ignorance and prejudice have, even in our day, combined to hinder the use and extension of knowledge vital to human benefit. As the human body was once forbidden to be dissected, so now it is forbidden to vivisect the lower animals. Anti-vivisection societies are formed, and antivivisection legislation is sought and has been obtained to defeat the work of the experimental physiologist. The antivivisectionists express great sympathy for the poor dumb animals, and assume to be their protectors. The sympathy is commendable, the function assumed a most proper one, and the field for the exercise of both boundless, so that these friends of the suffering animals can exhaust all their energies in protective work, without meddling with the physiologists.
But these stupid zealots deny that there is any use in vivisection, or that any good has ever come from it. They profess to know more about the matter than the physiologists and surgeons, and demand that Government shall stop the practice entirely. We have now a fresh illustration of what it it is that they would suppress. A malignant case of cancer of the stomach, such as have hitherto resisted all remedies, has been cured by a surgical operation which could never have been successfully performed but for long apprenticeship in vivisection. A large fibrous cancer had grown over the pyloric orifice of the stomach through which the food passes into the intestine, which was nearly closed, and must soon have killed the patient. The stomach was opened, the cancerous tumor removed, a new orifice prepared, the intestinal tube sewed fast to the stomach, and the patient recovered. The operation was performed by Professor Theodor Billroth, of Vienna, and his account of it was translated by the United States Minister to Austria, Hon. John A. Kasson, and sent to the "New York Tribune," from which we copy it. Professor Billroth says: