The Island of Doctor Moreau
Doctor Moreau Explains
"AND now, Prendick, I will explain," said Doctor Moreau, so soon as we had eaten and
drunk. "I must confess that you are the most dictatorial guest I ever entertained. I warn
you that this is the last I shall do to oblige you. The next thing you threaten to commit
suicide about, I shan't do,-- even at some personal inconvenience."
He sat in my deck chair, a cigar half consumed in his white, dexterous-looking fingers.
The light of the swinging lamp fell on his white hair; he stared through the little window
out at the starlight. I sat as far away from him as possible, the table between us and the
revolvers to hand. Montgomery was not present. I did not care to be with the two of them
in such a little room.
"You admit that the vivisected human being, as you called it, is, after all, only the puma?"
said Moreau. He had made me visit that horror in the inner room, to assure myself of its
"It is the puma," I said, "still alive, but so cut and mutilated as I pray I may never see
living flesh again. Of all vile--"
"Never mind that," said Moreau; "at least, spare me those youthful horrors. Montgomery
used to be just the same. You admit that it is the puma. Now be quiet, while I reel off my
physiological lecture to you."
And forthwith, beginning in the tone of a man supremely bored, but presently warming a
little, he explained his work to me. He was very simple and convincing. Now and then
there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice. Presently I found myself hot with shame at our
The creatures I had seen were not men, had never been men. They were animals,
humanised animals,--triumphs of vivisection.
"You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things," said Moreau. "For my
own part, I'm puzzled why the things I have done here have not been done before. Small
efforts, of course, have been made,--amputation, tongue-cutting, excisions. Of course you
know a squint may be induced or cured by surgery? Then in the case of excisions you
have all kinds of secondary changes, pigmentary disturbances, modifications of the
passions, alterations in the secretion of fatty tissue. I have no doubt you have heard of
"Of course," said I. "But these foul creatures of yours--"
"All in good time," said he, waving his hand at me; "I am only beginning. Those are
trivial cases of alteration. Surgery can do better things than that. There is building up as
well as breaking down and changing. You have heard, perhaps, of a common surgical