Cammell on Vivisection

Fire Odin


Charles Richard Cammell

Per­haps the most dis­gust­ing and sor­did part of all the vile busi­ness of Vivi­sec­tion is the pub­lic atti­tude towards it. What is the pub­lic answer to our denun­ci­ations of the mon­strous crimes of our labor­at­or­ies ? It is always this: “You can­not stop Vivi­sec­tion because it is the means by which so many cures are found for human ill­ness.”

I am sick and tired of telling people that Vivi­sec­tion is of no use to them, and of prov­ing to them that it is of no use to them; that Claude Bern­ard him­self, the High Priest of Exper­i­ment­al Sci­ence, died with the cry of des­pair on his lips, “Nos mains sont tou­jours vides !”; that the hands of the Vivi­sect­or will always be empty; that the noise of his vaunted dis­cov­er­ies dies down, and that noth­ing solid, noth­ing real, remains to him — noth­ing but the massed agony of mil­lions of ter­ri­fied and tor­tured creatures, mad with pain and fear. By such means as the Vivi­sect­ors no good thing can ever come to Human­ity. By a mys­ter­i­ous and fun­da­ment­al law, at once phys­ic­al and meta­phys­ic­al — a most Divine law — Good can­not be born of Evil. God is just. His mer­cy is but for the mer­ci­ful. No nation that tol­er­ates the prac­tice of Vivi­sec­tion deserves that any good should come to it; nor will any good come to it. Peace will not remain with it; it does not deserve Peace; it deserves War, and it will get War, with all its sci­en­ti­fic hor­rors, which are pre­pared in those very labor­at­or­ies where the faith­ful dumb friends of man are so ruth­lessly repaid by him for their fidel­ity.

Yes, I am weary of show­ing people how use­less a thing Vivi­sec­tion is to them. I do not care a straw if it is of use to them or not. A man or woman who is such a craven and such a wretch as to wish to save his life — to remain at best for a few more short years in this world of care — by per­mit­ting and encour­aging the unspeak­able abom­in­a­tions of Vivi­sec­tion, is bet­ter dead. We do not want a world full of sickly brutes and cow­ards who have been kept alive by crimes. We want a world of decent people, who look life and death in the face, and who would scorn “to save thenselves a twinge of pain” ( as Robert Brown­ing put it ) by caus­ing incal­cul­able suf­fer­ing to defence­less creatures. What sort of people is the world made up of. if this is the one reas­on why Vivi­sec­tion is tol­er­ated; that it serves to keep cravens alive, when Nature would have them dead ?

In the Holy Cru­sade again­st Vivi­sec­tion not so much would I put before people the utter use­less­ness of that mon­strous prac­tice; rather would I put them to shame by reas­on of their con­tempt­able and cruel cow­ardice in for one moment enter­tain­ing the idea of wish­ing to save their own mor­tal bod­ies by coun­ten­an­cing such immor­al­it­ies as those com­mit­ted in the name of Exper­i­ment­al Sci­ence. I am loth to believe that the world is utterly shame­less. I hes­it­ate to believe that the major­ity of people in this or any oth­er coun­try, are as cal­lous of cruelty, or as cow­ardly as they appear to be from the atti­tude they adopt towards Vivi­sec­tion. Either would I deem that they are still ignor­ant of the depth of its hor­rors; rather would I believe that if they once really knew of what is going on under the false pre­tence of the pub­lic wel­fare, they would repu­di­ate it — would denounce and renounce Vivi­sec­tion for ever. We must arouse their sense of shame. We want a world of decent people, not a world of cravens who look to the sad­ist in the Labor­at­ory to keep their bod­ies alive by any means, how­ever exac­rable, when the time has come for their souls to move onward.

Early 20th Cen­tury.