27 MAY 1882, Page 14



Sia,—I have to apologise to you and your readers for not having made sufficiently clear the point to which I wished to direct attention ; in the editorial note with which you have honoured me, you speak of Sir C. Bell making an experiment " to verify " a theory ; whereas, I tried to show that he used experiment to " decide the matter." The view I have taken is supported by what Charles Bell wrote to his brother in Novem- ber, 1821 (see "Letters of Sir C. Bell," p. 272) :—" The dis- coverer of the nervous system had nobody to go before him. The discoveries of anatomists had only made the matter more intricate and abstruse."

Clinical observations are, no doubt, of value; but what would Dr. Kingsford have said, if he had lived in 1823, and had heard of a surgeon with new views on the cause of squinting who was "looking out for a patient to try this upon P" (See the " Letters," p. 279.) The truth is that the advocates as much as the adversaries of rational physiological experimentation may call Bell to their assistance ; granting that Mrs. Kingsford can find some support in some of Bell's writings, it would follow that he would only be another example of the phenomenon of a man kicking down the ladder by which he ascended.

This is sufficiently common to afford a reason for saying nothing on the matter, and speech only becomes necessary when there is developed an Association which would seem to have for one of its prime objects the complete removal of that ladder, and the conversion of a scientific inquirer into the apostle of a revolt against scientific methods, which was born in ignorance, has been nurtured in sentiment, and grown strong:

[The " reckless accusation " has been at least as common on the side of Vivisection as on the other side. Where is the "revolt against scientific methods" involved in saying that whatever you may discover by them, if they inflict such hideous torture as Sir Charles Bell's experiment undoubtedly inflicted,. you have even less right to try them on a donkey than on a. convict condemned to death P—En. Spectator.]