Man remains the cruelest of all animals
An offended chimp defends his species
In May of 1928, a Russian-born surgeon known widely as “Monkey gland man” arrived in London to much fanfare, for Monkey gland man was famous for implanting thin slices of chimpanzee1 testicle into the scrotums of men, supposedly for all manner of benefits, e.g. prolonged lifespan, increased sex drive, and improved eyesight. Prior to Dr. Voronoff’s arrival, an article appeared in the London Daily News in which eminent bacteriologist Dr. Edward Bach warned the public against the aforementioned “monkey-gland grafting,” not because it was a terrifying con, but because it may cause the patient to take on the chimp’s “worst” characteristics. Shortly after Bach’s warning, the following letter appeared in the same newspaper, signed by “Consul Junior,” a famous chimp at London Zoo.
It had in fact been written by George Bernard Shaw.
The Monkey House
May 26, 1928
On behalf of my fellow-guests of the Royal Zoological Society, I must protest warmly against the audacious statement by Dr. Edward Bach reported in your issue of last Saturday.
He declares first, that ‘when the glands of an ape are grafted on to a human being, the characteristics of an ape are bound also to be transplanted’, and, second, that ‘characteristics possessed in a high degree by the anthropoid ape are cruelty and sensuality’.
The implication is that apes are more cruel and sensual than human beings. We apes are a patient, kindly race, but this is more than we can stand.
Has an ape ever torn the glands from a living man to graft them upon another ape for the sake of a brief, unnatural extension of that ape’s life?
Has it been necessary to found a society for the protection of ape children as has been done for the protection of human children?
Was the late war a war of apes or of men?
Was poison gas a simian or a human invention?
How can Dr. Bach mention the word cruelty in the presence of an ape without blushing? We, who have our brains burnt out ruthlessly in human scientists’ laboratories, are reproached for cruelty by a human scientist!
We ourselves are not concerned with what man calls science, except as mutilated victims. But we are concerned with experience.
We perceive that vaccination and anti-toxin inoculation have given to men neither the virtues of the cow nor the qualities of the horse.
Man remains what he has always been: the cruelest of all animals and most elaborately and fiendishly sensual.
Let him presume no further on his grotesque resemblance to us. He will remain what he is in spite of all Dr. Voronoff’s efforts to make a respectable ape of him.
The photo of a rude gorilla is via Getty, but I censored it myself because I care about the health of my readers. Please, if you’re able, become a paying subscriber. Were it not for those subscriptions—or donations!—I genuinely wouldn’t be able to spend so much time sending out these letters and occasionally pixelating the digits of young gorillas. Thank you.
This originally said “monkey testicle,” in keeping with the nickname “Monkey gland man.” I’ve changed it following complaints, and because it didn’t make sense. Thank you for keeping me on my toes.