« PreviousContinue »
SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS.
CLAIMS OF THE LOWER ANIMALS TO HUMANE TREATMENT FROM Man.
man—Wanton cruelty less frequent than heedless cruelty-Injury done by
Sufferings of animals used for the food and other necessary uses of man-Railway
transit of cattle-Sea transit-Modes of slaughtering cattle, sheep, poultry,
History of British legislation on cruelty to animals-Royal Society for the Pre-
vention of Cruelty to Animals—Jubilee Meeting, 1874–Queen Victoria's
VIVISECTION, AND OTHER EXPERIMENTS ON LIVING ANIMALS.
Prize essays of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—
Report of Committee of British Association for the Advancement of Science
MERCY TO ANIMALS.
CLAIMS OF THE LOWER ANIMALS TO HUMANE
TREATMENT FROM MAN.
He term “cruelty to animals,” in the following pages, e includes all kinds of ill-usage and needless suffering
which the lower animals undergo at the hand of man. Comparatively a small proportion of this suffering is caused by wanton cruelty. To inflict pain in cold blood, or for the sport of the thing, may well be called not only inhuman but fiendish. The very name of humanity implies some relation to the better feelings of our nature; while inhumanity points to that unmixed spirit of evil by which man is degraded. A disposition to take delight in the infliction of pain for its own sake, is so far repugnant to the sympathies even of inan's fallen nature, that our efforts are to be directed more against ignorance and thoughtlessness than against wilful cruelty.
The different kinds of animal sufferings must be dealt with in different modes. Where these are inflicted by wilful cruelty, stern repression is needed, and the helpless creatures must have such protection as the law can give. In the punishment of offenders of this class, the present penalties are not always
suitable nor sufficient. Compared with a small fine or short imprisonment, it is thought by some that corporal chastisement would be more powerful as a deterrent, as it would certainly be the punishment most fitting for those who wantonly inflict pain. In other cases our weapons must be educational rather than repressive. If the injuries are caused by ignorance or by thoughtlessness, we must point out the reality of the suffering, and try to awaken sympathy for dumb animals; teaching also that want of thought does not release from moral responsibility and just blame. If the injuries are incidental, and produced in the pursuit of some justifiable end, as in destroying animal life for the uses of man, we have to see that there be as little suffering as possible. The advancement of human knowledge and happiness may rightly supersede the claims of the lower animals, but we must examine how far these benefits are real. The advancement of the healing art, for example, might warrant the adoption of experiments on living animals, but we must be satisfied that the results of vivisection are such as justify the practice of it, and that these results can be obtained in no other way.
It is only in recent times that this subject has obtained due attention. In ancient times, there was among the nations no recognition of common brotherhood, and little sympathy for man, as man; and no sense of those claims which the children of one great family have upon each other for justice and mercy. Patriotism was the most liberal of their virtues, and within a sphere so contracted it would be in vain to look for humanity to the brute creation. With the exception of a passage in Plutarch's Life of Cato the Censor, a brief reference in one of Cicero's Familiar Letters, and a few other allusions, I do not know of any protest in the classical writers of antiquity against cruelty to animals. On the contrary, the pages of