Vivisection and M. Pasteur

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Vivisection and M. Pasteur is an article published in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle on 17 april 1886.

This a report of a lecture about "Kindness to animals and the scientific experiments upon them" attended by Arthur Conan Doyle on thursday 15 april 1886 at the St. Simon's Schoolroom (Clarendon-road, Southsea).

Vivisection and M. Pasteur

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (17 april 1886, p. 2)


On Thursday an open meeting on the subject of kindness to animals and the scientific experiments upon them, was held at the St. Simon's Schoolroom in Clarendon-road, Southsea, the chair being occupied by the Rev. F. Baldey, who remarked that the whole Christian law was full of precepts on kindness to animals, and in the Jewish law there were many precepts in the same direction. The one object in view that evening would be to point out the great cruelty of vivisection. He had conversed with medical and Christian men on the subject, and particularly with one very recently, and they were of opinion that vivisection was of no practical utility; but, supposing that it was of very considerable practical use to human beings, he doubted whether they should be justified in permitting dumb animals to be tortured as they now were. They knew that at the present period there was a great scare in London about dogs and hydrophobia, but he believed that muzzling dogs was a great mistake, and said that the most sensible way would be to require all owners to place collars upon their animals, and to regard all other dogs as stray. — The Rev. R. A. Chudleigh, M.A., the Rector of West Parley, Wimborne, as the representative of the anti-vivisectionists, said that he never used harsh words against the vivisectionists, but he did not believe that torture, and often prolonged torture, could be the way in which a merciful God imparted His secrets to them. Turning next to M. Pasteur's scheme for treating hydrophobia, the speaker said that the scientific world had never been so dazzled with it as the outside world had been, and he characterised it as a great fallacy. He read extracts from the Paris correspondent of the Lancet, in which the writer remarked that many of the people had gone to M. Pasteur entirely through fright, some of them never having taken the trouble to ascertain whether the dog that had bitten them was really rabid, while others had not been bitten at all; and, in continuing, the speaker expressed a belief that when the proposed commission returned from investigating the plan being carried out by M. Pasteur it would report that his facts were loose and his mode of procedure not to be depended upon. Even if there were hydrophobic cases to be treated, he urged that they might be dealt with without the dreadful cruelties practised by M. Pasteur, for he held they were dreadful cruelties, which had been practised in the laboratory of the latter for a period of four years. He urged, in conclusion, that it was better even for man to suffer inconvenience than that such immoral and dreadful tortures should be inflicted upon animals, which was a reflection upon their common Christianity. — The Rev. W. J. Staynes shortly expressed himself highly in favour of what had been stated that night. — Dr. Conan Doyle said that it appeared to him to be as illogical for a reverend gentleman to lay down the law of medicine as it would be for any of the medical profession to get upon the platform and talk theology, and he protested against Mr. Chudleigh's conclusions, every one of them being open to criticism. (Hear, hear.) His whole theory seemed to be that M. Pasteur was mad, and that his dogs were not mad, while the extraordinary fact existed that medical men regarded M. Pasteur as a leading man in his profession, and that seven hundred people had been to him for treatment. M. Pasteur's experiments did not depend upon what the result of his cases might be, but upon what he had found out. He maintained that medical men were certainly the best judges of such questions, unless the lecturer applied to them what Mr. Gladstone called "a double dose of original sin." (Applause.) He did not suppose that the lecturer had ever seen the operation of vivisection, and if he had he had altogether omitted the fact that chloroform was used ; he (the speaker) had never known it per-formed without, and he disputed all the lecturer's inferences and many of his facts. (Applause.) He had seen a man die of hydrophobia, and he held that if a hundred thousand rabbits had been sacrificed to save that man's life it would have been worthy the object and justifiable. (Renewed applause.) — Dr. C. C. Claremont also opposed the lecturer in his theological views on the question, and said that as far as he knew all through creation some animals lived upon others, some meeting their deaths in as terrible a way as the most vivid vivisector could devise. He submitted that the lecturer's theological views were at least rather exaggerated, and as to the alleged uselessness and fallacy of certain experiments they could not fell whether or not they would be useful until they had been tried. In science they had to go step by step, and they had to proceed from an unknown point to an ascertainable fact. In concluding, the speaker reminded the lecturer of many problems which had been solved by experiments, among them being the knowledge of inflammation and the action of the heart, and said that the question was not whether the experiments should be made, but whether they should be made upon men or upon animals. (Applause.) — Mr. Chudleigh briefly replied, and also secured applause. He observed that if a medical gentleman thought an experiment would benefit him he should rather have it made upon himself than in a cruel way upon the lower animals. At that late hour it was impossible to speak at length, but not an argument had been advanced by the medical gentlemen that night which was not capable of being answered, and which had been answered over and over again. (Applause.) — An auxiliary was formed in the room to further the views of the Anti-Vivisection Society.