Vivisection forty years ago
This pamphlet was a reprint, published in 1876, of a chapter from William Drummond’s 1838 work The Rights of Animals.
What does the introduction state?
George Hoggan’s introduction makes it clear that the same vivisection practices and reactions against them were happening in 1830s as in the 1870s.
What was Drummond’s view?
Drummond’s attitude to vivisection is seen in the title of the first section: 'Love of Science Perverted – Vivisection'.
In the environment of growing opposition to vivisection, with the Parliament and the RSPCA hesitant, the Queen made known her support for abolition. The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876 was a compromise, which allowed regulated experiments on animals for research or the preservation of human life, and allowing vivisection for teaching purposes under certain circumstances. In 1880 Frances Power Cobbe published a book of illustrations of animals undergoing vivisection, entitled Bernard’s Martyrs referring to Claude Bernard, the French practitioner of vivisection.
What does Drummond point out about trans-species blood transfusion?
On page 29 Drummond writes ‘It has been proved that a fox will not become a spaniel nor a spaniel a fox, by the mutual transfusion of their blood; an experiment of the redoubtable Magendie, as one of his pupils informed the author.’ Francois Magendie, teacher of Claude Bernard, was infamous for his use of vivisection, earning from Drummond the name ‘arch-vivisector’.
In his review of H G Wells’s novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau, P Chalmers Mitchell described Doctor Moreau as ‘a cliché from the pages of an anti-vivsectionist pamphlet’.
- Article by:
- Matthew Taunton
- Fin de siècle, Power and politics, Visions of the future
H G Wells was a committed socialist whose political writing influenced, among other things, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr Matthew Taunton considers how Wells engaged with socialist ideas in his journalism, social commentary and fiction.
- Article by:
- Roger Luckhurst
- Visions of the future, Fin de siècle
Roger Luckhurst looks at H G Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau as a text that both provoked and explored feelings of disgust, reflecting late-Victorian questions and fears about vivisection, cannibalism and evolutionary degeneration.