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a world; like watch-towers standing on high to guide the distant traveller ; like beacons to the mariner, each Author will influence the circle round him: trimmed by this labour his lamp will burn more bright, and shed an increased radiance; his voice, se practised, will sound more clearly in the wanderer's ear; his opinions fertilized, will colonize more rapidly with bright inhabitants the souls of those who are his company; and while he looks with pride to him who leads the van of honour, and fills the public ear, he will feel a just contentment in his own labour, and pleasantly reflect that every hand which takes the pen of contest, will reap
the benefit, and gain the power that he has gained.
Flattered and soothed by such hopes of usefulness, let us then, though diffidently, proceed. Impressed with a due sense of our inadequate powers, a sense which zeal heightens, as it paints the depth and interest of the cause, yet remembering that good-will may sometimes supply the place of talent, and fervour and sincerity work out the effect of eloquence.
Before we enter on our task, (a labour of love
and hope,) let us address those who think lightly of the efforts of that Society whose offer commands our pen. The subject has been considered of small import, and those who exert themselves in it, a class fond and fatuitously prejudiced; who give the interests of beasts a place they little deserve beside the engrossing cares of man.
But is it difficult to show, that this opinion has its origin in that selfishness of our nature, which makes a regard to our own pursuits or sufferings so paramount ? It is a relic of barbarism, a remnant of that savage state, when minds compressed by narrow cares and narrow pains, were wrought incapable of a generous and extended sympathy. Engrossing and violent views in every shape are barbaric, unrefined, unchristian; and may it not be said, that the reckless devotees of sport, who bruised their bird to death at Shrove-tide, were scarcely further removed from that pure spirit which ought to warm the heart, than the blind and bigoted puritan, who doomed to death the woodland songster, because upon the Sabbath he used the notes his Maker gave him? It is the attention of the pious and reflecting that we first desire to engage; to persuade them that these also are works of charity. Those who are already occupied with deeds and feelings of benevolence towards men, we would convince that brutes are not undeserving their regard, and that by teaching kindliness and mercy towards the tongueless world, a harvest will be returned to the garners of human mercy and love.
Many we know; how many more must there be who, if their sympathies were but thus extended; if a small share of that indefatigable zeal and ardour with which they watch over to improve their fellow men, were divided from the main channel, and diverted to fertilize the grateful meadows of kindness to the dumb world, all that can be desired in their circles would perhaps be accomplished. And here occurs a thought which occupies them, and too frequently affords an argument for their indifference. Beasts have not a soul; their pleasures and their pains are limited to the present; and while the souls of men must be preserved from wrath eternal, it is considered a trifle that a horse shall groan an hour; their time and their exertions are too valuable to be spent in such a
But supposing that the objects are unconnected, (which we deny, and undertake to prove,
that kindness and attention to the animal world will, more than any single object that can be named, conspire to tune the heart to innocence and virtue, and render it susceptible of, and habitual in, the purity of Christian principle and practice,) does not the argument they apply, demand a wholly opposite direction ? If the “brutes that perish,” have no hopes but in the present, if they are seen no more,” what reason can be more commanding, to make that present happy? When for their pains they are to receive no recompense; when the future holds out for their sufferings here, no balance of perpetual joy, how can the feeling heart pass coldly by their miseries?
They need no trials, no cares, nor sorrows, to correct their passions or abate their pride; they are uncorrupted, stamped with the signet of their original purity; we read from generation to generation the same character which was first marked by their Creator's hand; legibly written there, can be read the traces of primeval innocence. They speak intelligibly of a world before the fall, companions of man in his first state, what other relics of that Paradise have been handed down to
us through the lapse of ages? The same patient obedience, the same dumb eloquence of looks that were cultivated by our first Parents, kindness and attention will still elicit from them; and we can fancy sometimes in their aspect may be perceived, as it were, an hereditary grief, a plaintive solicitation, mourning at a sad recollection of former pleasures, and pleading to be restored to that mild intercourse which doubtless crowned those innocent days, ere sin had raised in man host of fatal interests which blind us, and cut off the access of the voice of nature, and stop the channels of its intercourse.
Indeed no person, who is in the habit of paying but the ordinary attention to animals, who keeps a cat only to catch mice, a horse for service, or a cow to milk, is aware of the degree in which attention and kindness have the power of calling forth the sympathies of these creatures; nor is there a greater difference between the feelings and intelligence of these two states, than between the latter state and that intelligent communion which it may be supposed existed in our Primitive purity.