Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/357

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lower animals which has no place among experimenters. They speak as if, standing on a higher platform and beholding all creatures from a superior position, they could frame a code of laws which should have due regard to the rights of animals, and govern our own conduct in all our relations to them. This position is altogether fallacious: man can not disconnect himself from the animal world, and can not define its rights. It must, therefore, be abandoned as altogether untenable, and the subject discussed from a totally different stand-point. Our relation to the animal world can only in a very qualified sense be regarded from an ethical point of view; much in the same way as eating and drinking may be spoken of as questions of morality when moral considerations exert their influence over the amount and kind of food which we consume; this, however, can not hide from us the fact that the subject of digestion is fundamentally a physiological one.

The duty of man toward animals as an abstract question is from its very nature insoluble; it can only be partially answered on the grounds of expediency, and these will vary according to age and nation. We should, rather, ask what is our relation to the lower animal world, and in what place in that relationship can moral considerations come into force? In endeavoring to form a judgment of this relationship we must take facts as we find them, for the attempt at an explanation is trying to solve the riddle of our existence, and leaves us still with "the burden of the mystery of all this unintelligible world."

In seeking a solution of such a question as our duty toward inferior creatures, we must take into account man's animal nature; he is of the earth, earthy, and depends for his existence on the living world around him. Like many other creatures, he has to prey upon the lower animals for his subsistence, and although he may not often, after the example of some monsters of the deep, swallow small fishes by the mouthful—as in partaking of white-bait—yet, like the other carnivora, he hunts his prey and stealthily lies in wait for his victim. A large part of the existence of the lower animals is employed in search for food, or in protecting themselves from the assaults of their more powerful foes. Their exquisitely keen senses are put into full play to seek out their prey, or to place them on their guard against their more subtle enemies. Paley could discourse on the design manifested in the claws, teeth, and lithesome movements of the tiger, so well adapted for the capture of its victim, and with equal discernment portray the form and slender legs which enable the latter to escape its foe. It is necessary to picture Nature as we find it, or we may fall into the error which we see pervading so many recent writings—viz., that nearly all the miseries and pain inflicted on the lower animals arise from their connection with man. If we remember how many animals prey upon one another we shall realize the vast amount of pain and suffering ever existing among highly organized and sensitive creatures. None of us can measure the agonies of the slow death of an animal who has escaped mangled from