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The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A., 1883

Albrecht von Haller

Albrecht von Haller M.D. 1708-1777
(text from the 1st edition, 1883)

The founder of Modern Physiology was born at Berne. In 1723 he went to Tübingen to study medicine, afterwards to Leyden, where the famous Boerhaave was at the height of his reputation. Twelve years later he received the appointment of physician to the hospital at Berne; but soon afterwards he was invited by George II., as elector of Hanover to accept the professorship of anatomy and surgery at the University of Göttingen.

His scientific writings are extraordinarily numerous. From 1727 to 1777 he published nealry 200 treatises. His great work is his Elements of the Physiology of the Human Body (in Latin), 1757-1776 - the most important treatise on medical science - or at least on anatomy and surgery - up to that time produced. The Icones Anatomicœ ("Anatomical Figures") is "a marvellously accurate, well-engraved representation of the principal organs of the human body." His writings are marked by unusual clearness of meaning, as well as by accurate and deep research.

We wish we could here stop; but the force of truth compels us to affirm that, for us at least, his reputation, great as it is in science, has been for ever tarnished by his sacrifices - with frightful torture - of innocent victims on the altars of a selfish and sanguinary science.

One plea in extenuation of this callousness in regard to the suffering of other animals, and only one, can be offered in his defence. At this very moment, after all the humanitarian doctrine that has been preahed during the century since the death of Haller, tortures of the most cold-blooded kind are being inflicted on tens of thousands of horses, deer, dogs, rabbits, and others, in all the "laboratories" of Europe; while he had neither the prolonged experience of the uselessness of all such unnatural experimentation, of which the vivisectors and pathologists of our day are in possession, nor the same indoctrination of a higher morality, which has been the heritage of these latter days. The sicentific barbarity of Haller does not affect the nature of his physiological testimony, which, it might be presumed, ought to be of some weight with his disciples and representatives of the present day. He asserts :-

"This food, then, that I have hitherto described, in which flesh has no part, is salutary; inasmuch as it fully nourishes a man, protracts life to an advanced period, and prevents or cures such disorders as are attributable to the acrimony or the grossness of the blood." (1)



    1. Elements of Physiology

Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet - index