« 이전계속 »
amusement of their sovereign was to watch and mimic their dying contortions. When one of his associates, the Count de la Rocheguyon, was on his death-bed, Louis sent to inquire how he did. He will not have long to wait,' replied the expiring courtier, · before final struggles will commence. I have often helped him to mimic others ; it is my turn now.' The lad who tortures dogs and cats in Hogarth's Four Stages of Cruelty,'
his career with a murder: and it may be taken for a maxim that he who in sheer wantonness behaves brutally to a sheep would not, if he could give free scope to his passions, be over gentle to the shepherd.
Mankind have thus a direct interest, on their own account, in enforcing mercy to brutes. But it is the imperative right of the animals themselves. The notion of coarse and ignorant minds is that all which exists has been created for the sole service of the human race, to use or abuse as the fancy takes them. A respectable Guacho exhorted Mr. Darwin, when riding in the Pampas, to spur his jaded steed. He refused, and represented that the animal was exhausted. Never mind,' replied the Guacho, it is my horse.' With some difficulty Mr. Darwin made him comprehend that it was from motives of humanity, and not from the fear of diminishing the value of a piece of property, that he was induced to forbear. “Ah! Don Carlos,' exclaimed the man, with a look of astonishment, 'what an idea!' Hundreds upon hundreds of drivers in our own country share the opinions of this Guacho, and follow his practice. When God created the world, he did indeed 'give man dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' He renewed the authority to Noah after the Flood, with the addition of the permission to kill and eat,-- Every moving thing shall be meat for you.' But this power, which is delegated to us over the animal world, is, like every other gift of Providence, to be exercised according to the rules of justice and mercy, and not according to the wanton instigations of cruel caprice. Acting by God's leave, in God's stead, we must govern his creatures with the same benevolence which pervades the entire being of Him from whom we have received the trust :
• Heaven's attribute is universal care,
And man's prerogative to rule, but spare.' He may slaughter animals for his sustenance ; he may make war upon them when they destroy his property, and mar his comfort; he may press them into his service, and compel them within the limits of humanity to do his bidding. This surely is enough.
It excludes nothing which can contribute to our real wants and real happiness. All beyond, which trifies with life and inflicts pain, is useless and therefore wicked, and, as opposed to the very nature of the Deity, cannot receive his sanction in ourselves.
* For many a crime deem'd innocent on earth
But God will never.' Our observation of animals would alone prove to us that Providence designed their welfare even if it were not a necessary deduction from the attributes of the Creator. Although our Lord had not told us that he had care for sparrows, the whole make, economy, and habits of the sparrow would reveal the fact.
• Know Nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch warm’d a bear.' When we read of the bears disporting themselves in the regions of ice, revelling in an intensity of cold, which to man with every contrivance of art is almost past endurance, and produces in him diseases which shortly terminate his existence; when we read of their sitting for hours like statues upon icebergs, where, if we were to take up our position, we should become statues indeed, and be frozen into the lasting rigidity of death ; when we read of their sliding in frolic down slopes of snow which, if we were to touch with our bare hand, would instantly destroy its vitality and create a wound like a burn; when we read these statements in the narratives of the polar voyagers, we cannot resist the conclusion that the fur, which enables its original possessor to be at home in wilds which prove to us a dismal grave, was given more with a view to the warmth of the animal than with a view to the warmth of the monarch. He who located the bear amid the bleak borrors of an Arctic winter and adapted him to take his Mustime therein, has certainly some consideration for the needs and joys of the shaggy quadruped while he lives as well as for those of the man who flays him when he is dead. Paley discerned the proof of the benevolence of the Deity more clearly in the pleasures of an infant than in anything else in the world, because its gratification was manifestly provided for it by another. "Every child,' he adds, I see at its sport affords to my mind a kind of sensible evidence of the finger of God, and of the disposition which directs it.' The argument is equally applicable to animals. The vivacity of fish, their leaps out of the water, their frolics in it, show, as Paley has himself remarked, the
excess of their spirits. He has recorded, in a famous passage of his ‘Natural Theology,' his frequent observation of a thick inist by the sea-shore half a yard high, and two or three broad, and stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, which was formed entirely of shrimps in the act of bounding from the margin of the water-an act which, in his opinion, expressed delight as plainly as though they had intended it for the purpose. There is no creature, in fact, which does not sensibly exhibit, in its own fashion, its sportive propensities, and this general happiness of brutes is at once an unanswerable testimony that their Maker designed them to be happy, and that those who interfere unnecessarily with their tranquillity are turning what was meant to be a beneficent rule into a hateful tyranny.
The laxity which prevails upon a point of such extreme importance induces us to specify some of the commonest motives to cruelty and to endeavour to expose them as we proceed. There is not one, perhaps, which operates more widely than that which would seem to offer the least temptation—unmixed wantonness, without any sort of object. Nothing is safe, provided it be small enough to destroy, which approaches within the reach of many people's hands and feet. To see a living thing and to desire to kill it are with them inseparable acts. On the islands of the Galapagos Archipelago in the Pacific the birds are so tame that they can be struck with a stick. The sailors who land there, Mr. Darwin states in his very, delightful Naturalist's Voyage,' wander through the woods in search of tortoises and take a wicked delight in repaying the trustfulness of a race as yet unversed in the blood-thirstiness of men, by knocking them upon the head and leaving them to rot. Assuredly Providence has done nothing without an object, and is it to be supposed that he contrived creatures, which like ourselves are fearfully and wonderfully made, and breathed into them the breath of life, merely that we might beat out their brains by random blows as we pass along? Here is a wonderful assemblage of animate nerves, and blood-vessels, and digestive organs beyond even our power to comprehend, and can it possibly be the end of their creation, that we should ignorantly crush them like a piece of dirt ? So elaborate and sentient a toy was never devised for so poor a purpose, and what must be the heartlessness of those who can thus idly extinguish the harmless merriment of myriads of beings? They ask of us no other favour than to let them alone, but if they must minister to our gratification, we might try and find it in sympathising with their enjoyment instead of recklessly annihilating it, as beyond all dispute we should be more worthily
employed in studying the wisdom and greatness of God displayed in their construction than in blindly converting his transcendant handiwork into a shapeless and bloody mass.
Or put the argument in another form, and imagine that the beings above us were to treat us as we treat the beings below us, and we at once perceive that we should think them less angels than fiends. If every time they passed one of our species they struck him down into the dust, we should marvel at the ferocity of their dispositions, and be puzzled to explain how a race excelling us in intellect and strength could take delight in such unmeaning savageness. Swift represents Gulliver, when he is picked up by a Brobdingnag, as trembling lest the giant should dash him to the ground, as he himself had served vermin in England. This, Dr. Hawkesworth says in a note, was meant to inculcate humanity by making the case of the animals our own. The very word humanity is derived from human, to denote that mercy is the attribuie of man, as brutal is derived from brute, to denote that acts of ferocity are proper only to irrational creatures. Nevertheless we believe that the human is the solitary being, with the exception of the animals whom he trains to act like himself, who kills merely for the sake of killing, without regard to the cravings of hunger or the necessities of self-defence.
The passion for exciting amusement has been another fertile source of cruelty. Cock-fighting, which dates from antiquity, which was the favourite entertainment in the last century, and which is not even yet extinct, may serve for an illustration of the wide-spread propensity to indulge in sanguinary spectacles. In the · Present State of England’ for 1750, cock-fighting is called
a recreation for persons of birth and distinction,' and it is mentioned as the characteristic of the sport ‘that it is an ample testimony to the invincible spirit of those little animals. The writer neglected to add that it was as ample a testimony to the invincible brutality of the persons of birth and distinction who could patronise the exhibition, and bet thousands upon the issue. Crabbe has detailed the particulars of the conflict with a minute accuracy which no prose description could surpass, and with a power which prose could hardly rival, though his scene is laid in a low public-house instead of a cock-pit built for the purpose, and the spectators are peasants instead of peers :-
• Here his poor bird the inhuman cocker brings,
Must faintly peck at his victorious foe,
And only bled and perished for his sake.' As vices usually go in clusters, so in this amusement cruelty, gambling, and curses met together--cruelty which tortures the animal world, gambling which inflicts ruin upon fellow-men, curses which strike at Omnipotence himself. The compiler, who called it a recreation for persons of birth and distinction, says immediately after of prize-fighting, that though 'it displayed the dexterity of the persons engaged in it, it was an inhuman sort of diversion, and frequently attended with effusion of blood.' In those days a prize-fight meant a fight with swords, and we are told by Sir Richard Steele that the combatants 'cut collops of flesh' from one another for the gratification of the crowd. But these gladiators, at least, were voluntary victims and were paid for their suffering; and debasing as was the sport both to the actors and the spectators, it was less hateful than exciting a couple of fowls to peck each other to. pieces, and watching the process with fiendish exultation. Who could recognise in the eager attendants upon that bloody ring Shakspeare's • paragon of animals, in action like an angel! in appreliension like a God!? Yet the exhibition itself was only a portion of the evil. Cruelty is the parent of worse cruelty, and the hardening process did not always stop at the cock-pit. A rich man, towards the close of the last century, had a favourite bird which had won for him several profitable matches. At last it lost, and the owner showed his gratitude for its past services by tying it to a spit and roasting it alive. Its screams brought some gentlemen who were in the house to its rescue; but the miscreant seized a poker and declared he would kill any person who came between him and his vengeance. In the midst of his imprecations he dropped down dead, suddenly summoned to the tribunal of his Maker, to urge if he could the equitable petition
• The mercy I to others show
That mercy show to me.' The sports of the field come distinctly under the denomination of cruelty when the creatures are neither destroyed because they are themselves destructive, nor because they are wanted for food. The principle does not affect the taking of game, which is an article of diet, and which cannot be killed more painlessly than by shooting. But the question remains how far we are