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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/358

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

his enemy and been left to linger on a sunburned soil, with hunger unappeased and thirst unslaked. Most of us have seen the picture of the dying camel in the desert, glancing up with fearful eye at the vultures hovering above him; and the cat playing with the terror-stricken mouse is to many a familiar sight. Over other and grosser cruelties practiced by one animal on another, it would be best to draw a veil. A far pleasanter picture is it to contemplate the beauties of Nature, the glorious vegetation, the singing of birds, the gamboling of the lambs in the meadows, or the wild herds in the prairies; and yet there is no escape from the fact that animals practice toward one another nearly every human crime. There is the bright side of the shield, but there is the other which shows that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth with pain until now."

Man, like other carnivorous animals, derives a pleasure from hunting his prey; and, indeed, many of the gratifications of life are dependent upon his animal instincts. In a primitive condition, while the woman is at home providing for the household, the husband is away in the forest or on the mountain seeking for food, and finding a keen exhilaration in the chase. In a higher state of civilization the instinct still remains; for, although the butcher may supply the meat, the sportsman still pursues the game; or if the fish-monger sells the salmon, the zest for catching the fish still exists. A man does not kill his own sheep for dinner, but he approves of the act; the most honest and guileless lady will not hesitate to eat the bird for the capture of which cunning and treachery have been employed. It would seem, from these examples, that a carnivorous animal like man can not frame a code of laws in relation to his inferiors, or determine the rights of the lower animals, on any Christian or other ethical principle, such as "to do as we would be done by." Up to recent times we have acknowledged no other law than "might is right." For I am not aware that society or the public voice has put any restraint on man's desire to kill whatsoever animals he pleases for his food; as for clothing, he may capture any creature he fancies, and steal the skin, coveting it the more the handsomer its coat; while society has not hitherto placed any limits upon his greed. We not only eat for necessity, but we foster and pamper our appetites, we breed creatures for our uses, and, when fit for our stomachs, kill them, doing also what humanity has never yet blushed at; first mutilating them and unsexing them. It has been truly said that in this sad world one of the greatest gifts bestowed on the animal creation is the relation of the sexes; and the singing of birds, the building of nests, the mating of animals, have given rise to much of the poetry of Nature. But it has been left for man to make herds of beef, and flocks of mutton, and horses whose only function is to drag our carriages. One might ask, in these sentimental and aesthetic days, whether one sigh of pity has ever been raised over these poor maimed creatures? What do those who talk of the rights of animals say on this