Victorian London - Science and Technology - Vivisection


 . . . Among the other speakers was Miss COBBE, who read an address, in which, though womanly feeling was of course combined with masculine vigour, the former perhaps a little preponderated. Miss COBBE observed that-

"For her part, though she had no sympathy with sporting, she indignantly repudiated comparing the sportsmen of the field to the sportsmen of the laboratory, and asked did our sportsmen tie down a fox to a table, and slowly dissect its quivering nerves for two hours at a time, as PAUL BERT tormented a dog, or bake rabbits, as CLAUDE BERNARD baked one in his stove."

Certainly the sportsmen of the field are not to be  compared with the sportsmen of the laboratory. In the first place, there are not sportsmen of the laboratory, such as Miss COBBE means. Vivisectors pursue not Sport, but Science. Then the pursuit of Science, even by vivisection, differs materially, both as to end and means, from fox-hunting. Vivisection is practised for the acquisition of medical and surgical knowledge; fox-hunting as a mere amusement. Which would Miss COBBE prefer, is she were forced to choose - to be vivisected, and forthwith killed, under chloroform, or to be chivied over the country miles and miles as hard as ever she could go, till she could go no further, and then to be torn alive in pieces by dogs?

Punch, November 2, 1878