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have wasps attend their stalls for the sake of their services in driving away the flesh-fly; and, if we may believe the author of Hector St. John's American Letters, the farmers in some parts of the United States are so well aware of their utility in this respect, as to suspend in their sitting rooms a hornet's nest, the occupants of which prey upon the flies without molesting the family.' Wasps are large consumers of fruit, but this is best protected by hanging bottles half full of a mixture of beer and sugar to the tree. • The wasps,' says Cobbett, attracted by the contents, go down into the phials and never come out again.' The offenders alone suffer, and the rest are left free to pursue the avocations which nature has assigned them.
Mr. Rowell furnishes a curious example of the regular gradation in which the devourers of to-day are devoured to-morrow.
* I kept in a glass globe a variety of the smaller aquatic animals, such as the larvæ of dragonflies, and introduced amongst them a few of the common newts and water-beetles, one of which was the Dyticus marginalis. The dragonflies had been living on the animalcules, the newts attacked and devoured the dragonflies. The next morning I found one of the newts lying at the bottom of the vessel half-eaten, and, while looking on, saw the Dyticus attack another newt. Not wishing to have them all destroyed, I took the Dyticus out of the water and put it in the sunshine, when, after a few minutes, it few away, and had not gone more than thirty or forty yards when a sparrow caught it.'
Thus the animalcules supported the dragonfly, the dragonfly the newts, the newts the beetle, the beetle the sparrow, and, as the sparrow has many enemies, he most likely became a meal for some bigger creature before the animal compound was given over to the inexorable maggots, and revivified anew in the shape of flies, again to run the destructive round. Nature seems to have taken especial pains to maintain in vigour the carnivorous element wherever animal life is congregated together. If the pike is carefully excluded from a fish-pond, he appears there after a time just as though he had smelt out his prey, and made his
way to it over earth or through air. The eggs have been carried there on the legs and feathers of the water-fowl, or else been eaten by them and passed from their bodies undigested. The due balance is maintained, in spite of the jealous preserver of fish, and his sole consolation for his ineffectual efforts to shut out the pike from his share of thie banquet must be the reflection that the intruder makes a far better dish than all the fry he consumes. Benjamin Franklin, who at the age of sixteen had adopted the notion that it was wrong to eat anything which had life, was brought back, two years afterwards, to carnivorous
habits by seeing some smaller fish taken from the stomach of a cod.' • « If,” thought I,' he says, you eat one another, I don't see why we may not eat you." So I dined upon cod very heartily and have since continued to eat as other people.' Whichever way we look, the intentions of Providence are too clear to be disputed, and the benefits which result too plain to be denied, though many of the effects of the arrangement are impossible to be traced. The system of the world is not a collection of independent circles, but wheel is connected with wheel in an endless series, and the most we can do in our present state is to catch here and there a partial glimpse of the complicated machine,
Pope, in some beautiful lines of his Essay on Man,' has described the benefits which our protection confers upon
the larger animals on which we feed. The interest we have in their welfare causes us to keep them in greater comfort than if they were left to a state of nature, and by stimulating the growth of provender we, at the same time, maintain them in far greater numbers. If, instead of tending them that we might afterwards draw
upon them for our nutriment, they and we were rivals for the possession of the soil and its fruits, we must either kill or starve them at last to avoid starving ourselves.
In respect of death, indeed, the poet considers man and his victims upon equal terms.
• The creature had his feast of life before ;
Thou too shalt perish when thy feast is o'er.' The circumstance in the contrast which would seem most disadvantageous to them is their apprehension of the bloody fate which awaits them, but this they clearly do not contemplate. There is true philosophy, as well as fine poetry, in the lines of Pope which every child can repeat:
• The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.' The feelings of the lamb are not those of the murderer in the condemned cell, who knows that he is about to be led to the gallows. It probably browses untroubled by the thoughts of death, and certainly no more dreads in anticipation its violent end than we in health do our natural end, and we are aware in our own case that the difficulty is not to forget but to remember it. • The hare,' as Paley remarks, 'notwithstanding the number of its dangers and its enemies, is as playful an animal as any other.' Vigilant and timid, its happiness is yet undisturbed by its fears, and it lives, we should judge, in considerably less alarm of the
dog and the sportsman than the housebreaker does of the policeman, or the old lady of the housebreaker. The fish which share the same pond with the pike pass and repass him without being agitated by his presence until he gives them chace. The end, when it does come, is mostly too sudden to be painful. The moral and religious discipline which results from sickness shows us why a lingering death is best suited to ourselves. With animals the death of disease would be merely protracted misery, Left unnursed and unfed, they would endure far more than by the knife of the butcher or the beak of the hawk; and if one class of creatures are at greater disadvantage than another, it would appear to be those which perish slowly from a natural decay.
Where pursuit of the prey precedes its capture, the period during which the chace continues is so much addition to the mental suffering, which is as bad or worse than physical pain. Leeches creep into the shells of fish, and devour the inhabitants. Müller saw a shell-fish crawl upon the bank of a stream to get out of the way of its enemy, but, not being able long to subsist out of the water, it was obliged to travel back again, and became the prey of the leech, who was waiting to receive it. Yet even in these and similar instances of suspense, as when hawks birds, and dogs foxes, there may be some alleviation to the distress from the hope of escape, and, at all events, the contest, however bitter, is seldom long sustained. There are other cases still in which the animal destroying loves to torture, as it looks to our eyes, the animal destroyed. But the very interesting account which Dr. Livingstone * gives of his sensations when the lion seized him by his arm, crunched the bone into splinters, and
shook him as a terrier-dog does a rat,' would lead to the conclusion that appearances are deceptive. The shock,' he says, 'produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake of the cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror, though I was quite conscious of all that was happening. It was like what patients partly under the influence of chloroform describe, who see the operation but feel not the knife.' He
* On a future occasion we shall endeavour to do justice to the admirable work of this missionary traveller. He describes the scenery of Africa, its vegetation, its climate, its animals, and its inhabitants with a minute accuracy which, to those who desire to have a complete acquaintance with a foreign land, is in the highest degree satisfactory. His long residence in the country has given him a perfect knowledge of his subject, and every word may be depended upon as much as if it was delivered upon oath. The unaffected philanthropy, the simple piety, the instinctive humanity which pervades every line of the work, give it the charm of an elevated sentiment which is everywhere felt even when it is not directly expressed.
infers that the same complacency is common to animals when between the jaws of their enemies, and is an express and merciful provision of the Creator. In fact, though disease is often painful, the act of dying is not. Bodily suffering would be no protection then, and, consistently with the invariable method of Providence, we are spared a useless anguish. The placid feelings which accompany natural death are known from the evidence of multitudes, who have testified to their ease with their latest breath. The very pleasurable feelings which accompany drowning and hanging have been recorded by numbers who have been recovered after consciousness had ceased. Death from cold we should suppose to be one of the worst forms in which the king of terrors could approach, but, instead of the frosty horrors we picture, the victim finds himself rocked at last into a soothing slumber. • I had treated,' says Dr. Kane, in his Arctic Explorations, the sleepy comfort of freezing as something like the embellishment of romance,
I had evidence now to the contrary. Two of our stoutest men came to me, begging permission to sleep : “they were not cold; the wind did not enter them now; a little sleep was all they wanted.” ? From this sleep, if they had been allowed to indulge in it, they would never have waked. The pain was not in dying, but in the effort to avoid it; the descent to the grave was easy and grateful ; all the resolution was required to keep the steep and toilsome road which led back to life. As man is more sensitive than the lower animals, their sufferings must be less, and, altogether, we should argue that the pangs which death inflicts upon them are not very great. The residue of misery which remains after every deduction answers, we may
be sure, some beneficent end, and our part in the matter is to beware of adding to their sorrows beyond the limits of necessity.
The strong language in which Cowper has expressed his disgust at cruelty towards dumb creatures is not a whit stronger than every reflecting man will approve :
'I would not enter on my list of friends
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.' Montaigne held cruelty to be the extreme of all vices; it is also one of the commonest. Humanity seldom or ever shows itself in inferior dispositions, and where it exists is readily destroyed. No unnatural taste is so rapidly acquired as the taste for shedding blood. There are few who are ignorant of the circumstance which occurred at the execution of Thistlewood and his fellow
conspirators conspirators for treason, A thrill of horror ran through the crowd when the first head was severed from its body, but so rapidly did the spectators become accustomed to the sight that on the executioner accidentally letting the third head drop, there was a shout of Ah! butter-fingered!' M. Blaze, in relating his military experience during the wars of Napoleon, mentions that the conscripts at the beginning of a battle made a circuit of twenty paces round the bodies which lay in their path. Soon they approached nearer, and ended by marching over them. Montaigne observed, during the French civil wars, that the atrocities kept increasing with exercise, till they rivalled anything which was recorded in the annals of antiquity or which we have read of the sepoys in our own day. . 'I could hardly persuade myself,' he says in his Essays, ' before I saw it with my eyes, that there could be found people so savage, who for the sole pleasure of murder would hack and lop off the limbs of others, sharpen their wits to invent unusual torments and new kinds of death without profit and for no other end than to enjoy the grateful spectacle of the gestures and motions, the lamentable groans and cries, of a man dying in anguish.' He has remarked that those who luxuriate in the sufferings of their fellow-creatures usually learn their first lessons in barbarity by the maltreatment of animals; and that after the Romans had become accustomed to the spectacle in their amphitheatres of the slaughter of beasts, they proceeded to take delight in the slaughter of gladiators. This is the natural progression. It is told of Henry IV. of France that he twice whipped his son, afterwards Louis XIII., with his own hand,—the first time because he had taken such a dislike to a gentleman that his servile attendants could only appease him by pretending to shoot with a pistol without ball the object of his aversion; the second time for crushing the head of a sparrow
Though the just punishment he had received was small in comparison with the unjust punishment he had inflicted, his mother objected to this discipline of her son. “Pray to God,' replied Henry, 'that I may live, for when I am gone he will ill-treat you. The experience of the king had taught him that cruelty seldom knows any distinctions, and that he who begins by crushing the heads of sparrows in sport would end by directing his venom against the very breasts he had sucked. The prediction was verified to the letter. He was scarcely human,' says a contemporary memoir-writer, and a single instance will suffice to prove it. A number of wounded Protestants were put, at the siege of Montauban, into the dry moat of the castle where he was quartered. Eaten by flies, tormented by thirst, tortured by their wounds, they perished miserably, and the Vol. 103.–No. 205.