20 FEBRUARY 1875, Page 16



SIR,—In the Spectator of the 13th you quote Mr. Lewis Carroll as saying that the real (though not perhaps the ostensible) defence of vivisection is " the assumption that the promotion of knowledge is an end justifying all means." With this assumption I cannot at all agree, but it is not a question for argument ; no possible or con- ceivable arguments could convince those who think so that they are wrong. But it is otherwise with the arguments which the advocates of the practice rely on in addressing the outside public. They say that all increase of physiological knowledge tends to the increase of medical skill, and thus repays many times over the pain inflicted by experiments on animals. To this I mply that for the prevention of human suffering, it is quite as needful that physicians and surgeons should be humane, as that they should be. skilful. No men are humaner than the medical men of the present generation among us, but this will cease to be true, if the next generation are to learn their profession in the midst of such scenes as those described in Mr. Hoggan's letter, republished from the Morning Post in the Spectator of the 6th, and no increase of medical knowledge and skill will compensate for the evil done to patients and to society at large, if it is accompanied by increased indifference to suffering.

My opinions on the subject are not extreme. I think experi- ments on living animals are justifiable for the purpose of original' research, but unjustifiable, and much worse than useless, for the purpose of demonstration, or as an exercise of the students' skill.. No one questions Sir Charles Bell's humanity, and it is not likely that his observations on the roots of the nerves in the spinal cord, painful as they were and repulsive as he felt them, did any harm to his moral nature ; but it does not follow that they can be re- peated for mere demonstration without injury to the moral nature of the students. I do not think the argument set forth in this, letter has received the attention it deserves.—I am, Sir, &c.,