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It is worthy the imitation, and the admiration of the civilized world, that the British government has taken under the protection of law, the happiness of the brute species, so far as to punish offenders, for the barbarous treatment they inflict on animals, in the course of their useful services. We would also have all slaughter houses treated as nuisances, and removed from the haunts of men. Premiums should be given to those, who find out the least painful manner of taking away the lives of those animals which are necessary for sustenance. The object of all governments should be, to discourage cruelty, and diffuse over the minds of the public, as much benevolence as may tend to the practice of those virtues which reason approves, and which christianity requires.
Parents ought to bring up their children from infancy to the abhorrence of killing and tormenting any creature; and as the faults to be amended lie in the mind, the tutor, who is not drawn from the dregs of the people will certainly prevent his pupil from partaking of Domitian's favourite amusement, and will rescue a miserable insect, or other animal, from the torture inflicted by a wanton fancy. He will not suffer him to extend evils in other modes. He will prevent him from robbing birds of their young; he will keep him from the chase; and from the hardened barbarity of putting worms on a hook, as baits to catch fish. He will set before him the example both of a negative and active goodness, in a total forbearance from every unnecessary injury, and in the seizing of all opportunities for acts of kindness to every thing "wherein is the breath of life."
STRICTURE THE EIGHTH
LIFE, said the judicious Graham to his pupil Frederick, as they were sitting on the banks of a beautiful rivulet which commanded a large extent of the adjacent country; should be a continued effort to banish our prejudices and extinguish our vices. Look at those sportsmen, who are so intent on running down an innocent animal, and who are cutting the thread of an existence which was given for enjoyment, in such a manner as to combine a high degree of mental with bodily pain. We know, my dear Frederick, that your sentiments are similar to our own, and that by the power of sympathy, you actually partake of some of that misery which at this moment you see overwhelming a poor creature. But these sportsmen are constituted of the same materials as ourselves; they have the same portion of sympathy given them by nature; and they, like us, are equally subject with the creature they are pursuing to pain, to death, and all the agonizing sensations which arise from excessive fear. They are, we dare say, honourable men too; they believe that they would scorn to effect the destruction of a fellow man with such excessive odds; and if you were to tell them that it was possible for them, in any given situation of power and prejudice, to use the
same cruel violence against one of their own species, they would regard you as an abusive defamer. But this, Frederick, is an error; there are no such partialities in nature existing between the same species of animals. Beasts of prey do not devour each other, because, for wise purposes, they have an instinctive aversion to such food; but you see, when their appetites are in motion, they will destroy one another in contest for gratification. Where this instinct is weaker, there are some animals which actually eat their own young. Man in a savage state will sometimes feed on man; and there is no violence which this being, though improved by civilization, has not committed against his own species, whenever they have been found in opposition to his fancied interest. To what atrocious cruelties have not pride, the lust of power, riches, beauty, and the dire passions of revenge, given birth! And even where these powerful incentives have been wanting, the mere insolence of superiority, and the force of habit, have given birth to injuries similar to those now endured by this hare. Not to mention the evils that were inflicted for ages, by some of our own countrymen, on their African slaves. The Spartans, a race of men not destitute of the qualities of the heart, actually hunted the Helotes in their sports. If men, Frederick, neglect to cultivate sympathy, which enables us to acquire notions of equity, and thus to trace the virtues of the sovereign mind, that quality in them which carries the appearance of benevolence is the mere power of habit. Not that we mean to insinuate that sportsmen are incapable of tender sentiments; no,
when natural sympathy is not quite subdued, when habits are favourable to its exertion, it will rise and command attention. We boast much of modern refinements and civilization; but we know of none that are worth the possessing, except those which induce a more extensive benevolence than was formerly practised amongst men. For if such appear to our advantage in the comparative line of reasoning, they never will amount to positive excellence, till all our barbarous customs are abolished, and our sentiments change their heterogeneous nature for a more consistent system of feeling.
Truly, says Frederick, I have often wondered that Plato, who was so deep a thinker, should have founded the rectitude of actions on human sentiment; for these appear so liable to take their tone from the operation of causes under the control of accident, that it is impossible to affix any idea of consistency or immutability to them. You are certainly in the right, replied Mr. Graham, and Plato could never have deviated into this error, had not his attention been so much fixed on the contemplation of the governing mind, as to make him look over the confusion and contradiction which take place in human sentiment. But whilst one smiles at the rhapsodies of those who perhaps have carried Plato's idea farther than it was carried by the philosopher, we cannot help feeling a little angry with systems which confine rectitude to that mode of conduct which is the best adapted to support the happiness of man.
Thus; when God subjected the far greater number of his creatures to this Lord of the creation, he subjected
them to a being, not bound by any tie in nature, or the reason of things, to use equity and mercy in the exercise of his power; and to whose necessary wants are added all the excitements which arise from a whimsical, depraved, and luxuriant imagination. Absurd as is this opinion, Frederick, it has been supported by the great Mr. Hume, who does not know by what principle the brutes can claim justice, which is another name for mercy, at our hands. But the difficulties which confound these reasoners lie in their founding rectitude on a principle of utility, and then in confining utility to the benefit of their own species. But as utility, unless taken in a very general sense, is liable to mislead the judgment, every rule of human society, founded on partial, and even mistaken views of interest, with the sentiment to which it gives rise, finds its justification on the plea of utility; and Mr. Hume's speculations on this subject are not free from the same errors. Thus inconsistency and mutability hang on this system, in the same proportion as they hang on every system of morals founded on human sentiment; but if we take utility in a general sense, and say, then virtue consists in that conduct which is of general utility, we shall come to those essential differences which regulate the divine economy, only with this distinction, that man must confine himself to what is general; it is Omnipotence alone can extend to what is universal.
As the discerning the difference of human actions, says Frederick, as far as it respects rectitude and its contrary, is so necessary to virtue, I have often wondered