Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/380

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
366
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
science must not inflict the least pain on any animal for the most beneficent object, any one else may inflict the most exquisite tortures on any non-domestic animal—that is, on ninety-nine hundredths of the brute creation—without any punishment at all. If he can show that the torture was inflicted from cruelty, from gluttony, for money, for amusement—for any motive, in fact, except a desire to do good by extending knowledge—he enjoys the most perfect impunity; but woe to him if in his infliction of pain there is any alloy of science!"

An attempt was made to protect animals from pain against the sportsman as well as the man of science, by putting both upon the same footing as regards penalties, but it failed. Mr. Lowe says:

"A motion to extend the law which forbade the cruelly abusing or torturing any domestic animal, to animals non-domestic, and to increase the penalty to a level with the penalty imposed for performing a painful experiment, was lost by a large majority, the Government voting against it. . . . The efforts, therefore, of the two Houses of Parliament to introduce humanity into our laws, as regards animals, stands thus:
"1. Absolute liberty to torture all non-domestic animals except by way of scientific experiment.
"2. Practical liberty for any one who can afford to pay five pounds to torture domestic animals except by way of scientific experiment.
"3. No punishment for painful experiment except by leave of the Secretary of State."

Now, politicians are not partial to science, but the British Government would never have committed itself to such ridiculous legislation except for the pressure of a fanatical agitation which grew out of no real sympathy with the sufferings of the lower animals. Had it been so, the crusade would have been directed against sportsmen for their extensive and selfish infliction of cruelty, rather than against the physiologists for the small amount of pain which they caused, and that, too, in the unselfish and beneficent pursuit of knowledge which is designed to mitigate human suffering and save human life. The agitation was incited by fictitious horrors, and was worked up and sustained in a business way by practised manipulators of popular passion and prejudice. It was directed against a certain class of scientific men, and had its chief root in those narrow prejudices against science which the press and the pulpit have recently done so much to nourish and sustain. There has been an especial dread of biological science, because it meddles with the mysteries of life, and aims to explain things which ignorance and superstition would rather not have explained. Experiments upon animals are looked upon with abhorrence, not solely because of the creatures' suffering, but also because the knowledge thus deduced and applied to man is held to be derogatory and degrading to his nobler nature. The anti-vivisection movement, in short, was very much a result of that feeling of jealousy and hostility toward science which is by no means confined to the ignorant classes, and which it was not difficult to inflame into the fanatical intensity of an aggressive and intolerant popular movement.

 

 

POLITICAL ECONOMY IN THE UNITED STATES.

The hundredth anniversary of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" has been the occasion in England of a pretty careful review of the science which he founded—its methods, its province, its achievements, and its prospect of future usefulness—with the result, not of reaching definite conclusions, but of revealing very wide differences of opinion as to what political economy really is. The general tone of the discussion is decidedly doleful; dissatisfaction with the present and doubt as to the future being the only points upon which there is unanimity. Politicians and newspapers alike declare that the centennial marks the decline and not the consummation of the "dismal science;"