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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/643

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621
THE VIVISECTION QUESTION.

her whelps with his own. Man's first duty is to those of his own species. If wild beasts endanger the life of his wife or child, it becomes his duty to kill them by any means in his power, let the suffering be what it must. This is man's first step in the conquest of any country. And when he has rid the earth of the fierce carnivora, it becomes his duty to kill such numbers of the herbivora as will enable the rest to obtain food and enjoy life. This surplus man has always utilized for food and clothing. All this, however, is but his first step. He must tend herds and till the soil to support as many as possible of his own species. Even then his work is but just begun. If disease threaten the life of his child, is his duty any different? Certainly not. It is as much his duty to exterminate the disease as to destroy the wild beast. To subdue the earth, "and have dominion over. . . every living thing that moveth upon the earth," was one of God's first and highest commands to man; and it includes microbes as well as lions and tigers.

At just this point we are met with the argument that there is no moral proportion between the amount of suffering caused by vivisection and the advantage gained. "Suppose it is capable of proof," says Lord Coleridge,[1] "that by putting to death with hideous torment three thousand horses you could find out the real nature of some feverish symptom, I should say, without the least hesitation, that it would be unlawful to torture the horses." Accepting the proportion as stated, we will have: Torture of three thousand horses is to knowledge of real nature of feverish symptom as power gained by such knowledge is to prevention of death annually from splenic fever, we will say, of many millions of cattle, horses, and sheep, and thousands of men in Europe. There is no very exact "proportion" between end and means, but Nature is too generous to insist on exact "proportions" when men study her laws aright.

The difficulty with good people who reason out this "proportion" is that they fail to grasp the stupendous size of the problems involved, the whole world over and through all time. France alone is estimated to lose sheep to the value of four million dollars annually from splenic fever, and in one district, Beauce, one hundred and eighty-seven thousand sheep are killed annually by it. In Russia, during 1857, it was reported that one hundred thousand horses perished from the disease. In other epidemics, the losses within small districts reach tens of thousands, and in one a thousand people caught the disease and perished.[2]


  1. Coleridge. The Nineteenth Century Defenders of Vivisection, p. 8.
  2. R. M. Smith. Therapeutic Gazette, November, 1884; and George Fleming. Vivisection and Diseases of Animals. Nineteenth Century, 1882, p. 470.