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horror, we must reflect with less surprise, that beasts then suffered much, when man suffered
But if the animal kingdom has shared in the improvements with which an enlightened religion has marked all the thoughts and actions of men, it seems highly doubtful if they have shared equally these benefits; and while we have been soothing the thorns of our own condition, have we been equally mindful of those our companions in the darker ages of torture? It is true that games of cruelty have been almost abolished. The merry chanticleer writhes no more in agonies at Shrove-tide ; nobles and gentlemen, in this Protestant country at least, no longer find in the bull-bait and dogfight a principal amusement. And the little village maid has begun to learn that the music of the impaled cockchafer is far other than the voice of mirth. Yet in all this, though apparently much, too little has been really done; and while man has been fencing his own person and rights with the most assiduous care; while he cannot receive from his fellow a moment's pang without a legal claim to punishment and redress; while he is now attempting more, and striving to blot from the page of justice all punishments inflicting pain upon his own form, it may be doubted whether those pains which individuals of the animal world suffered at seasons intensely from these unhallowed games, are not now inflicted in a more painful and protracted shape.
In this respect the iron sceptre has passed from Momus to the hand of Mammon, and in the daily and unremitting toil of his service, and from the heartlessness of his votaries, we doubt whether a greater aggregate of suffering be not inflicted, than sprang from those barbarous customs, cruel as they were. To point out the nature of that suffering will form a portion of this Essay.
The particular efforts of benevolent individuals, whose unremitting perseverance, undiscouraged by the sneers and neglect which met them at the outset, succeeded at length in bringing these dumb and defenceless victims of cruelty within the pale of the law, are too well known to be recapitulated here, nor is it our proper object to commemorate them. Invaluable as are the effects of these ex
ertions, there are particular features connected with legislation on this subject, which if they do not detract from its efficacy, render it doubly necessary to awaken the public feeling, and call its attention in a lively manner in aid of such enactments. What we more particularly would allude to is, that pathetic silence which distinguishes them from pleading, complaining, right-demanding man. A creature, bearing the title of Humanity, carrying a face erect towards heaven, exhibits his superiority by wounding some patient and obedient steed, using his power as a power to torture, with base ingratitude, that creature upon whom depends his bread, by whose exertions he lives and feels the enjoyments of life. His cruelty is noticed by some friend of mercy, he is summoned, imprisoned or fined. But how fares his unhappy victim ? the law cannot remove him from the torturer's hands : and is it to be supposed that the heart which is so hard as to commit the crime, will be softened by the punishment? Will not rather the Demon of revenge stalk malignant in his bosom? from fear of punishment he will be seen to sin no more ; but who can disclose the secret tale of horror ? who again display before the bar of justice those
aggravated pains, by which spite and malice shall seek to compensate their own just penalty? The sufferer is silent, and cannot complain.
If this picture be true, and every friend of these animals will recollect how often his interference has been checked by a conviction of its truth, how necessary does it become to converse, to preach, to write, to use every method unceasingly, that may awaken the attention of all classes to the subject, and thus mediately or immediately touch those hard and savage hearts, (brutal, unjustly named, for in brutes is wanton cruelty unknown,) to whose care unfortunately too often their destinies are consigned.
Connected with this view, a feature of utility appears in the present undertaking, which is perhaps scarcely less advantageous than the great and primary object which it is intended to realize. To obtain a composition in style, in matter, and in feeling, worthy this interesting theme, is an invaluable prospect. Yet another benefit will be attained, and though none may dare to hope for words of moving eloquence equal to the occasion, and though one alone can bear away the prize, the labours of the rest, though unsuccessful, will not be vain.
Those who have long laid the subject to their hearts, and have mourned by night and day over the calamities of those who share the gift of existence, who feel like them
- both joy and grief, pleasure and pain,"
will have received a pointed stimulus to arrange their thoughts. An honourable ambition, to write well in such a cause, will add new vigour even to benevolence, and summon energies never raised before. The apprehension, quickened by the prospect of utility on so large a scale, will detect new lights and beauties which had never crossed the private meditation. These will direct their steps, and encourage their zeal, and though failing as the victors in the competition, they will gain a prize to the sincere votary of mercy, more desirable and more dear--an increased knowledge of its interests, and of the means to forward them.
Like colonies planted in a desert region, to civilize