Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/804

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
780
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

experiment which antivivisection writers tell us to wait for, and which they say is sent by Providence to teach men physiology. Thiersch made the same experiment upon fifty-six mice, the conditions being accurately determined and scientifically controlled, and with the death of fourteen mice gave the world more exact information about the contagion of cholera than all the cholera epidemics recorded in history. This is the scientific experiment which we are told should not be made.[1]

The antiseptic method, which we owe in so great a measure to the vivisectional experiments of Joseph Lister, is past all reasonable controversy and we may refer to it here. It has come to be used in hospitals generally, and has reduced mortality from surgical operations to one tenth of what it was before. Any one who has seen even a few cases of antiseptic surgery will readily agree with Dr. Keen when he says: "Sir Joseph Lister has done more to save human life and diminish human suffering than any other man of the last fifty years."[2] Still, Lister was obliged to leave England to continue experiment in his merciful work after the passage of the restrictive law in 1876.

In the Tübingen Hospital died from amputation before introduction of Lister's method and after:

Per cent. Per cent.
Of lower limb 43·5 3·2
Of upper limb 30·6 2·9[3]

We might extend much further the list of useful discoveries which have depended for some essential part of their development upon vivisectional experiment; but such is not our present purpose. The reader can find these amply discussed elsewhere. We would, however, at this point call special attention to the way in which a discovery of this kind is received. Jenner's smallpox inoculation was obliged to run the same gantlet of popular and professional favor and disfavor as Lister's discovery, as Koch's and Pasteur's are running now. Such discoveries are in even greater danger from ignorant and enthusiastic supporters than from learned opponents. The problems involved are very complicated. Exceptions of every kind occur—e. g., a person may have smallpox twice, and so, although vaccination protects in most cases, it does not in all; and, further, as Jenner himself says, "inoculation sometimes under the best management proves fatal."[4]

In the case of one of these complications in London, Jenner


  1. John Simon. Experiments on Life. London, 1881.
  2. W. W. Keen. Our Debts to Vivisection. Reprint from Popular Science Monthly, May, 1886, p. 15.
  3. Heidenhain. Die Vivisection, p. 34.
  4. Jenner, loc. cit., p. 57.