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N  O  T  E

   This webessay is a companion piece for our digital edition of Thomas Tryon’s The Planter’s Speech to his Neighbours & Country-Men of Pennsylvania, East & West-Jersey ..., originally published at London in 1684.
   It is referenced in the Editor’s Introduction to Tryon’s prescient
Planter’s Speech, which argued for the humane treatment of all our “Fellow-Creatures,” and was the first English publication to advocate for animal rights in North America. Tryon was that rare devout, nonviolent colonist who practiced what he preached: “Thou shalt not kill, oppress, hunt, hurry, nor offer any kind of Violence either to Mankind, or any Creature, either of the Air, Earth, or Water; they all bear thy Creator’s Image, and have his Laws of Order, Number, Weight and Measure ... neither must thou dare to destroy, or violate any Creature whatsoever; for they are thy Brethren, having the same Father, Creator, and Preserver with thy self, and participate equally with thee, according to their Natures, of his Care and Influence.” (T. Tryon, Some Memoirs of the Life Mr. Tho. Tryon, 1705, 82–4)
   For a prefatory discussion of Tryon’s vocal opposition to the imported culture of violence in the American colonies, and his foundational contribution to USers’ ongoing debate over gun control,
see our What’s Blooming news page (entry dated 5/9/2014).

The End Justifies the Means? A Short History of Early-Modern Animal Abuse

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^ 17th-century head-piece, showing six boys with farm tools, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677).

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A   P R E V I E W

Following William Harvey’s experimental work on the circulation of the blood in the 1640s, gruesome experiments on living dogs became commonplace in biomedical research circles, and even experimenters who were sickened by the cruelty of such vivisectional studies believed that the end (scientific understanding and medical advancements) justified the means.

Seventeenth-century biomedical researchers procured human cadavers through the criminal justice system and from the battlefields of the civil war and other military engagements, but the most successful experimental studies in respiration, muscular action, intravenous injection, and blood transfusion relied on living dogs and other animals (including birds) as subjects. In particular, the transfusion of blood “aroused great interest in the polite world” and 22 papers on this topic were published in the first 5 volumes of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions. To give just one example of genteel interest at the time: on 14 November 1666,

there was a pretty experiment [conducted at a meeting of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge], of the blood of one dogg let out (till he died) into the body of another on one side, while all his own run out on the other side. The first died upon the place, and the other very well, and likely to do well. This did give occasion to many pretty wishes, as of the blood of a Quaker to be let into an Archbishop, and such like. But, as Dr. Croone says, [it] may if it takes be of mighty use to man’s health, for the amending of bad blood by borrowing from a better body.

(S. Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, new edn., 11 vols., ed. R. Latham and W. Matthews, 2000, 7.370-1)

This appreciation of the Royal Society’s biomedical research program was written by the same Samuel Pepys who later recorded his acute distress at witnessing a small boy torture a dog. After attending the opening of a new play late in the afternoon of 18 May 1668, Pepys traveled with his guests to a tavern in Kensington,

and there we sang to my great content; only, vexed in going in to see a son of Sir Heneage Finche’s beating of a poor little dog to death, letting it lie in so much pain that made me mad to see it; till by and by, the servants of the house chiding of their young maister, one of them came with a thong and killed the dog outright presently. Thence to Westminster Palace and there took boat and to Foxhall, where we walked and eat and drank and sang, and very merry ....

(S. Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, new edn., 11 vols., ed. R. Latham and W. Matthews, 2000, 9.203-4)

Ladies, on the other hand, tended to disapprove of animal experiments designed to further experimental knowledge, as recounted by Robert Boyle in his write-up of Experiment XLI for his New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall (1660). In this case, the compassionate ladies witnessing Boyle’s stifling of birds in an “air pump” (a vacuum chamber) intervened to rescue the bird from “sudden destruction,” by putting an end to Boyle’s experiment, which then had to be continued in secret:

Another Bird being within about half a minute, cast into violent Convulsions, and reduc’d into a sprawling condition, upon the Exsuction of the Air, by the pitty of some Fair Lady’s (related to Your Lordship) who made me hastily let in some Air at the Stop-cock, the gasping Animal was presently recover’d, and in a condition to enjoy the benefit of the Lady’s Compassion. And another time also, being resolv’d not to be interrupted in our Experiment, we did, at night, shut up a Bird in one of our small Receivers, and observ’d, that for a good while he so little felt the alteration of the Air, that he fell asleep with his head under his wing; and though he afterwards awak’d sick, yet he continu’d upon his legs between forty minutes and three quarters of an hour; after which, seeming ready to expire, we took him out, and soon found him able to make use of the liberty we gave him for a compensation of his sufferings.

(R. Boyle, New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects, 1660, 361)

But genteel ladies had few qualms about the torture of animals when it came to ends (e.g., food and pharmacy and cosmetics) which they valued more than scientific inquiry.

Lady Catherine Sedley’s household recipe for “Oyl of Swallows” (a medicine used for human sprains and weakness of the sinews) called for pounding in a mortar “ten or twelve young swallows ready to fly together with their gutts and feathers,” prior to boiling them with lavender, thyme and sage in fresh butter; the medicinal compound was then strained through a linen cloth. (The Lady Sedley, her Receipt Book, scribal publication, 1686)

And recipes for a cosmetic known as “Puppy Water” — according to Mary Doggett’s MS. Book of Receipts dated 1682, “a distillation of a young fat puppy and a pint of ‘fasting spittle’ in a quart of new butter-milk, 2 quarts of white wine, lemons, egrimony and camphire” — were so popular that John Evelyn (a founding member of the Royal Society) added one to the 2nd edition of his posthumous publication of a satiric “enumeration of the immense variety of the modes and ornaments belonging to the [female] sex” penned by his daughter, Mary, when she was 19 years of age (Mary died in 1685, at age 20):

Take a Fat Pig, or a Fat Puppidog, of nine days old, and kill it, order it as to Roast, save the Blood, and fling away nothing but the Guts; then take the Blood, and Pig, or the Puppidog, and break the Legs and Head, with all the Liver and the rest of the Inwards, of either of them, put all into the Still if it will hold it, to that, take two Quarts of old Canary, a pound of unwash’d Butter not salted; a Quart of Snails-Shells, and also two Lemmons, only the outside pared away; Still all these together in a Rose Water Still, either at once or twice; Let it drop slowly into a Glass-Bottle, in which let there be a lump of Loaf-Sugar, and a little Leaf-gold.

(Mary Evelyn, Mundus muliebris: or, The ladies dressing-room unlock’d, and her toilette spread. In burlesque. Together with the fop-dictionary, compiled for the use of the fair sex. The second edition. To which is added a most rare and incomparable receipt, to make pig, or puppidog-water for the face, ed. by John Evelyn, 1690, 22–23)

Women were also avid hunters, with their own ceremonies and rituals, as recorded by Margaret Cavendish, while marchioness (later duchess) of Newcastle:

... though it is a usual custome, for Ladies and women of quality, after the hunting a Deer, to stand by until they are ript up, that they might wash their hands in the blood, supposing it will make them white, yet I never did; ....

(M. Cavendish, The Philosophical and Physical Opinions, 1st edn., 1655, 100–101)

This illustrated webessay will delve further into these and other examples of 17th-century animal (ab)uses, including poems and paintings by women who took different sides in the debate over domestic violence, be it conducted in the kitchen, closet/laboratory, or field.

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