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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/360

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

there are others who would not take their lives for pleasure. Past generations have approved of cock-fighting: there may be a future generation who will discountenance pigeon-shooting, and will regard that age as barbarous which could witness without disgust the bleeding carcasses of sheep hanging up in our most fashionable thoroughfares. The spirit of the age and the feeling of society for the time seem to determine what amount and kind of pain and suffering people will allow to be inflicted on animals and what they will disallow. The very valuable Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals does not seem in its operations to offer a solution of the question. It would seem that most of the examples of cruelty which the society publishes are those where the public gain nothing by the act complained of, and can therefore afford to prosecute. For example, I have heard "shame" called on a carman who was endeavoring: to make a horse draw a coal wagon along the slippery pavement of Bond Street; and this exclamation came from a gentleman who on turning round might have seen the quails and larks closely caged for his table, and the dying and writhing lobsters waiting to end their miseries in a pan of boiling water. It would almost seem that the infliction of pain is allowable if approved by the majority, and that it is not allowable and constitutes cruelty if disapproved. In other words, cruelty depends upon the public estimation of its utility or inutility. One is forced to arrive at this conclusion, for the more one thinks over the rights of animals, or the ethical question of our treatment of them, the less does it appear that any considerations framed upon rights or morals have ever influenced mankind in its conduct. It is possible that some vague ideas respecting man's duty to animals may be floating-through different brains, but those ideas have never become concrete.

It being admitted that man has a power, if not a right, over the lives of the lower animals, the question arises, Where should this right be limited, and at what point should our animal instincts, appetites, and wants be restricted? Utility or advantage seems to be the gauge used by the majority of persons. The question, therefore, between the anti-vivisectionists and their opponents appears to be a narrow one. The former assert that the pain inflicted on animals is out of proportion to the advantages obtained: Lord Coleridge says as much in his well-wrapped-up dictum. We, on the contrary, declare that the importance of experiments can be shown to be overwhelming in comparison with the pain inflicted on animals for this and other objects. The lofty phrase that "knowledge is unlawful knowledge if it is pursued by means which are immoral" must be analyzed to understand its meaning. As it is made applicable to vivisection, it is clear that "immorality" means "giving pain to animals"; and his lordship's statement would run, "All knowledge is unlawful if obtained by giving pain to animals." Whence it follows that, as it is allowable to give pain to animals for various purposes, it is only unlawful to give pain when the pur-