CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS
SPEECHES AGAINST VIVISECTION
By CARDINAL MANNING (b. 1808, d. 1892)
His Eminence Cardinal Manning was, from its foundation in 1876 till 1891, a Vice-President of the Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection (now known as the National Anti-Vivisection Society). The following is a summary of the occasions on which he publicly supported the work of the Society; in addition to which he frequently attended the Executive Committee meetings.
March 20th, 1876:
Cardinal Manning joined a Deputation to the Home Office, consisting of the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Earl of Miato, Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir F. Elliot, Lord Mount-Temple, and other gentlemen, to urge the introduction by Government of a Bill to restrict Vivisection, in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission. (The Bill was introduced immediately afterwards, and became - much altered - in August of the same year the Act 39 & 40 Vict., c. 77).
June 10th, 1876:
Cardinal Manning spoke at the First General Meeting of the Victoria Street Society at Westminster Palace Hotel, the Earl of Shaftesbury in the chair. Speakers: the Marquis of Bute, the Earl of Glasgow, and others.
April 22nd, 1877:
Cardinal Manning, the Bishops of Winchester, Gloucester and Bristol, Prince Lucien Buonaparte, and Lord Mount-Temple spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Society.
June 25th, 1881:
Cardinal Manning spoke again at the Annual Meeting of the Society, held that year at the house of the Lord Chief Justice of England. On this occasion His Eminence said:
"I am very glad to move this resolution, for in two years I have not had the opportunity of expressing what I feel on this subject. There are men present now who know that before that period I was not slow in expressing strongly what I feel and desire. Then conviction had not been awakened, and I take the first opportunity that has been offered to me to renew publicly my firm determination, so long as life is granted me, to assist in putting an end to that which I believe to be a detestable practice without scientific result, and immoral in itself. [Cheers]
And believing, as I do, that it cannot be controlled; that we had endeavoured to control it; that we have had a most elaborate commission and report, that commission and report laid down the number of conditions under which this practice must be admitted; legislation was founded on that report, and I believe not only has that legislation been ineffectual, but that we have been entirely hoodwinked, and the law has not been carried into effect. I believe the time has come, and I only wish that we had the power, legally to prohibit altogether the practice of vivisection. [Applause].
I am quite prepared, then, to adopt the report in my hand; and I do so for reasons which I find in the report itself, which I read through attentively and carefully this morning. One reason why I am glad to adopt the report is contained in the memorial to Mr. Gladstone when I read: 'The Act 39 & 40 Vict., c. 77), which promised to effect the reconciliation between the claims of science and humanity, has proved so ineffectual that some of the experiments cited as typically cruel before the Royal Commission (notably Dr. Rutherford's) have been in 1878 repeated under the direct sanction of the law; while three times as many vivisectors were licensed in 1878 as there were men engaged in such pursuits throughout the kingdom ~n 1875'. That passage, I think, was written after careful and exact examination of the facts, all abundantly proving what is asserted, viz., that the statute that was passed two years ago has been ineffectual, and that as we cannot control we must prohibit. [Cheers].
I read, also, in the same document that Dr. Lauder-Brunton experimented on ninety cats, and Dr. Rutherford on forty dogs, all of whom endured many days of torture; of cases of dogs and rabbits baked and stewed to death by Claude Bernard; and of twenty-five dogs coveted with turpentine and roasted alive by Professor Wertheim; and I only ask whether, in the name of 'science', experiments of that kind can be permitted?
The same document says, and says most wisely: 'Let not the name of science be made odious by responsibility for deeds which, if committed openly ~n our streets, would call forth the execrations even of the roughest of the populace'. Then again: 'The history of the existing Act has shown that it is futile to attempt to separate the use of vivisection (if lawful use it have) from abuse. Between sanctioning its atrocities and stopping the practice altogether there is no middle course'. By prohibiting vivisection 'You will at one and at the same moment save numberless animals from pangs which add no small item to the sum of misery upon earth, and men from acquiring that hardness of heart and deadness of conscience for which the most brilliant discovery of physiology would be poor com-pensation'. I think these sentences are both weighty and true. [Hear, hear].
I was not before aware of the horrors which had been perpetrated. In page 34 of the Report there is a reference to the pamphlet on the Action of Pain on Respiration, by the physiologist Mantegazza. The professor describes the methods which he devised for the producton of pain. It seems they consist in 'planting nails, sharp and numerous, through the feet of the animal in such a manner as to render the creature almost motionless, because in every movement it would have felt its torment more acutely'. Further on he mentions that, to produce still more intense pain he was obliged to employ lesions, followed by inflammation.
An ingenious machine, constructed by. 'our' Tecnomasio, of Milan, enabled him likewise to grip any part of an animal with pinchers with iron teeth, and to crush, or tear, or lift up the victim, 'so as to produce pain in every possible way'. The first series of his experiments, Signor Mantegazza informs us, were tried on twelve animals, chiefly rabbits and guinea-pigs, of which several were pregnant. One poor little creature, 'far advanced in pregnancy', was made to endure dolori atrocissimi, so that it was impossible to make any observations in consequence of its convulsions. Nothing can justify, no claim of science, no conjectural result, no hope for discovery, such horrors as these. [Applause].
Also, it must be remembered that whereas these torments, refined and indescribable, are certain, the result is altogether conjectural - everything about the result is uncertain but the certain infraction of the first laws of mercy and humanity. [Loud applause].
But on the other hand, I know that Sir William Fergusson, whom we have lately lost, has declared that science had never received the slightest augmentation from vivisection, and no man had greater experience than he; and when I know that Sir Charles Bell, who with the practical knowledge of Fergusson had a scientific genius peculiarly his own, has left a record that no gains to science have resulted from vivisection, then I say we are misled if we believe that vivisection leads us legitimately on to the path of discovery. [Hear, hear].
I am firmly convinced that there is only one thing to do, and that is to make the statute law of the land stronger than it is. Let no one believe that England is free from the enormities practised abroad. I love my country and my countrymen, but I will not confide in the notion that that which is practised abroad has not been and cannot be practised in our midst; and if I thought that there was at this moment a comparative exemption in England, I would say, 'Let us take care that there shall never be the reaction of the continent on this country, for it is true and certain that whatever is done abroad within a little while is done among ourselves, unless we render it impossible that it should be done'." [Loud applause].
On the 21st June, 1882:
His Eminence spoke again at a meeting held at the house of Lord Shaftesbury, Grosvenor Square.
After referring to many cruel experiments, and particularly to the well-known statements of Cyon and Claude Bernard concerning the insensibility of vivisectors to the sufferings of their victims, he proceeded to say: "I think that if we are by these practices to reduce our medical men and surgeons, and those into whose care we fall in moments of suffering, to a state of moral insensibility like this, then happy will be those who slip out of the world without passing through their hands!
Well, then, it appears to me that as we have the uncertainty of the result, and the certainty of atrocious and unimaginable suffering, we have a case so strong, that I cannot understand any civilised man committing or countenancing the continuance of such a practice. I will add only one short word.
I am somewhat concerned to say it, but I know that an impression has been made that those whom I represent, if not with approbation, at least with great indulgence, at the practice of vivisection. I grieve to say that abroad there are a great many (whom I beg to say I do not represent) who do favour the practice; but this I do protest, that there is not a religious instinct in nature, nor a religion of nature, nor is there a word in revelation, either in the Old Testament or the New Testament, nor is there to be found in the great theology which I do represent, nor in any Act of the Church of which I am a member; nor in the lives and utterances of any one of those great servants of that Church who stand as examples, nor is there an authoritative utterance anywhere to be found in favour of vivisection.
There may be the chatter, the prating, and the talk of those who know nothing about it. And I know what I have stated to be the fact, for some years ago I took a step known to our excellent secretary, and brought the subject under the notice and authority where alone I could bring it. And those before whom it was laid soon proved to have been profoundly ignorant of the outlines of the alohabet even of vivisection. They believed entirely that the practice of surgery and the science of anatomy owed everything to the discoveries of vivisectors. They were filled to the full with every false impression, but when the facts were made known to them, they experienced a revulsion of feeling.
I will only detain you further to ask if vivisection is to be continued, where is its term or limit to be? What is to be its limit if we are to be vivisectors, not for utility but for science? And if we are to proceed upon the whole animal creation, multiplying experi-ments on every vein, every nerve, every muscle, every function of the body, with every drug to be applied and every surgical instrument to be used, I would ask what is to be the end of such practice? To me than this nothing more terrible can be conceived. I quite agree with what your lordship said a year ago. I do not believe this to be the way that the All-wise and All-good Maker of us all has ordained for the discovery of the healing art which is one of His greatest gifts to man. He has indeed attached labour to the drawing of the harvest out of the soil; but I do not believe the revelation of the healing art will come in the furrows of the atrocious suffering which vivisection inflicts on the lower animals. I cannot believe it, I cannot call it a truthful doctrine, but a superstition. But I leave it to the scientists, and if they believe it, then in my opinion they are the most superstitious men on earth. I sincerely hope that these two Bills will pass into law, and that they will put a check to this most atrocious practice".
June 26th, 1884:
Cardinal Manning spoke again at the Annual Meeting held in Princes' Hall, the Earl of Shaftesbury in the chair. In the course of his speech His Eminence said:
"I can hardly conceive anything more horrible than the experiments that have been performed abroad I ask, when we see practices of this sort all over the continent, are we so utterly bewildered by our self love as to believe that anything in the English national character, or any public opinion in this country, will preserve us and our physiologists and our vivisectors from carrying on in due time, however slow their pace may be, the same horrible experiments as those which have been practised abroad? I for one will not so deceive, and I will not flatter myself-I will say more than this, I will not be so foolish or so vain as to imagine, that that which has been done abroad by Italians, Frenchman and Germans - among whom I have lived and know well - that they are men more capable of inflicting cruelty than Englishmen; I cannot for one instant deceive myself by the thought that what is done in those countries in an extreme degree may not be practised here, and I know not how soon, because the experiments already done here are the forerunners of those that may come hereafter.
"Nobody denies the lawfulness of capital punishment, I believe, except certain theorists who happily have not prevailed upon the intelligence of mankind. It is written in Holy Writ, and we are not wiser than that Book, but who will tell me the lawfulness of capital punishment justifies the infliction of torture? Your Lordship has just spoken of a proposition made in the time of Charles II, that convicts, whose lives were forfeited to the State, might be operated upon by the infliction of surgical torture. Who would say that capital punishment includes the right to inflict torture? [Hear, hear].
Once more. Nobody, I believe, except certain very excellent people whom I respect in their life, but not in their theology, maintain the unlawfulness of war. Well, no one maintains that if war be lawful, the use of explosive bullets or of poisoned wells, or of the infliction of any kind of cruelty, is justified and contained in the right to make war. Therefore, it is clear that the words 'kill and eat', and the dominion which the beneficient Maker of all things has given to man over the lower creatures, does not justify the infliction of exquisite torment in the name of Science-the most misleading of all the cries of this nineteenth century-nine-tenths of which is curiosity, issuing, I will not even say in knowledge, but issuing in a supposed knowledge, which I believe to be, in large measure, barren of result". [Applause].
On the 9th March, 1887:
His Eminence spoke again at the Westminster Palace Hotel, when he himself occupied the chair. On this occasion he made the following very important remarks:
"A literary man of very great reputation, and highly celebrated for his literary powers, but not equally so for his accuracy, I believe, was present at one of our meetings, and he heard out of my mouth this statement: that inasmuch as animals are not moral persons, we owe them no duties, and that therefore, the infliction of pain is contrary to no obligation. Now, he omitted to say that I did make that statement for the purpose only of refuting it [applause] but he put it into my mouth, and there it is in a book that is sold to all the bookstalls in the railway stations, and I am credited to this day with that which I denounced as a hideous and, I think, an absurd doctrine. [Hear, hear].
It is perfectly true that obligations and duties are between moral persons, and therefore the lower animals are not susceptible of those moral obligations which we owe to one another; but we owe a sevenfold obligation to the Creator of those animals. Our obligation and moral duty is to Him who made them and, if we wish to know the limit and the broad outline of our obligation, I say at once it is His nature, and His perfections and, among those perfections, one is most profoundly that of eternal mercy. [Hear, hear].
And, therefore, although a poor mule or a poor horse is not indeed a moral person, yet the Lord and Maker of that mule and that horse is the highest law-giver, and His nature is a law to Himself. And, in giving a dominion over His creatures to man, He gave them subject to the condition that they should be used in conformity to His own perfections, which is His own law, and, therefore, our law. [Hear, hear].
It would seem to me that the practice of vivisection, as it is now known and now exists, is at variance with those moral perfections.
"Now there is one other word I will add, and that is, I believe that science consists in the knowledge of truth obtained by the processes which are in conformity with the nature of God, who, the Holy Scripture says, is the Lord of all sciences. [Applause].
I remember Lord Shaftesbury saying at one of our meetings, 'I don't believe that science can be attained by processes which are at variance with the perfections of God', and if I have been right in what I have laid down, as it appears to me, that the infliction of torture of the most exquisite kind on the poor animals is at variance with the perfections of God for that reason, my conclusion is that science is not attained by that path, and that those who walk in it are out of the way.
"But I will most heartily continue to support the proceedings of this Society, for at the present day we are under the tyranny of the word Science. I believe in science most profoundly within its own limits; but it has its own limits, and, when the word science is applied to matter which is beyond those limits, I don't believe in it and, as I believe that vivisection is susceptible of such excessive abuse - such facile abuse - such clandestine abuse - all over the land, and by all manner of people, I shall do all I can to restrain it to the utmost of my power".
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