"So long as this remains unrepealed, these scientific horrors, which I hold to he an insult to the Deity and to the civilization of our generation, will proceed." Let us see what facts Mr. Bergh has to offer in support of so decided a condemnation. Of his Vivisection Address, several pages are occupied with descriptions of more or less cruel European experiments, and with lurid comments thereon; a single page is devoted to a single New York case. Immediately after dwelling at some length upon the atrocities perpetrated in the veterinary school at Alfort, in France, he says: "Those of you who have Been able to listen to the recitals I have just made, will, perchance, experience a glow of national pride at the thought that such devilish deeds are impossible in this happy land of yours; but your self-gratulation is but partially true, as I have lately had occasion to verify. On the 19th of December, 1879, I dispatched an officer of the society I represent to attend an exhibition of a similar sort at one of the colleges of the city of New York. . . . A live dog was brought in, said to be under the influence of an anæsthetic." The rest of the description indicates that the experiment was the same as No. 6 of those mentioned upon page 171. So far, therefore, as depends upon the evidence furnished by Mr. Bergh, to evoke the law for the suppression of vivisection in the State of New York, because formerly anæsthetics were unknown, and because in France they are still too often unemployed, is as if an army were summoned for the extermination of the panthers in the "North Woods," upon the pleas that they were numerous and dangerous not many years ago, and that at the present time in India thousands of people are annually slain by tigers.
So far as I can ascertain, Mr. Bergh is not only the originator and instigator of the anti-vivisection legislation in this State, but almost its sole supporter. No articles by members of his society have come to my notice. According to the "Medical Record" for March 13, 1880 (page 292), in that year but a single vote was cast in the Assembly against the acceptance of the adverse report of the committee to which his bill had been referred. Its fate at the last session is thus announced in the Annual Report of his Society: "That sum of all physiological villainy, vivisection, which I again recommended to the consideration of that sapient State congress which was characterized by a portion of the press as a 'mob,' has been remorselessly, and at the bidding of a heartless and opinionated medical faculty, disrespectfully slaughtered as before."
Nevertheless, in a letter dated November 24, 1882, Mr. Bergh says, "I am not quite sure whether I shall introduce a vivisection bill at the ensuing session"; and in view of what has taken place in England, at first sight a most unlikely nursery for any movement in behalf of animals, it may be well to consider somewhat carefully his qualifications for leadership in a movement of such importance.
- Vivisection address, 1880, p. 24.