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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/693

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VIVISECTION.

tween any two of them varies within very wide limits. For our purposes it will perhaps be best to take the second as marking the end of life, to say that an animal is still alive so long as the heart is beating, and air enters into and issues from the chest.

It is very desirable that a discussion, the decision upon which must be of the utmost importance to physiology at least, should not be turned aside to any false issues. The question whether vivisection is a bad thing is in no wise settled by asserting that there are many things equally bad. Thus, to say that the evil wrought upon animals in the name of science is but a flea-bite compared to that done in the name of sport, is simply to bring forward a tu quoque argument of no real worth, except to stop the mouths of particular opponents. When an ardent sportsman, or when one, no sportsman himself, but having a theoretical admiration of the pleasures of the field, declaims against vivisection, it may be worth while to remind such a one of some of the agonies of sport—of the scenes which accompany a battue or a pigeon-match; of wounded birds dragging their maimed bodies to some hidden covert, there to die a lingering death; of the piercing squeals of the hunted hare; of the last moments of the brave fox, when, after a fruitless struggle, the time comes for his living body to be torn by the pursuing hounds; to ask him how often a living object of sport is by some purposeful, sudden blow, humanely killed "to put it out of its misery;" to suggest to him, as a matter of reflection, that, had we any satisfactory measure of pain, it would be found that all the pain which physiologists have caused, since their science began, is less than that which the animal creation has suffered in the field from the hands of the members of the two Houses of Parliament since the last general election. It may be of use to say this to a sportsman; but vivisection is not thereby justified. It is no use saying it at all to those who are now agitating this question. They are equally opposed to cruelty in sport as to cruelty in science; but they are also wise in their generation. They see that there is far more hope of putting down the one than the other. Biologists and physiologists are at the present moment clearly in disrepute. To call them atheists, is to show one's self a man of spirit and intelligence. Following out their own science, along the path Nature has pointed out to them, they have run counter to many established opinions and cherished views. Divorced by the divergence of their respective methods in large measure from the mathematicians and physicists, to whom orthodoxy is easy, accused of materialism, active in the support of Darwinism and evolution theories, believed by the many to have no faith—their position not a little resembles that of the Jews in the middle ages; they are just in the condition in which the accusation of cruelty is most tellingly made and most readily credited against them by a vulgar public. This the opponents of vivisection know full well; and therefore it is against the physiologists and not against the pigeon-