Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/694

This page has been validated.
674
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

shooters that they make their complaint. They are even willing, at the present, to use the latter against the former. By-and-by, if they are successful in this, they will move against sport, on the ground that it is far more cruel and has far less justification than the vivisection which has been done away with.

Nor is it any use to tell a far larger class, the eaters of meat, that the pain which physiology has caused since the time of Galen is far less than that which in any one week is caused in butchers' shambles in providing flesh to fill the mouths of the people of London.

Nor is it, on the other hand, any use to say that because many physiologists are kindly, humane men in private life, therefore the accusation of cruelty brought against them must be false. I know a physiologist who, after a day spent in experimental work, may be seen sitting in the evening with a favorite cat on his lap, an old dog by his side, and a new one at his feet; but I would not therefore guarantee that he had not been cruel in the morning. He might be an angel in the bosom of his family, but a demon in the laboratory. I know a physiologist, of whom his friends have said that, had he not been so amiable, he might have made a noise in the world, and yet who at the present moment is being accused of brutal cruelties. I feel that the accusation might be true.

Nor is it of any use to say, though it may be said with perfect truth, that a great deal of the present agitation against vivisection is one of the many fruits of a mawkish sentimentalism which is stealing over the present generation, and by a lessening of manliness is curtailing the good effects of increased enlightenment. The foolish of this world are often used to correct the wise; and actions brought about by a wrong sentimentalism may be in themselves right and good.

The question whether it is desirable that man should continue to inflict the pains of death, or pains without death, on other animals, and, if so, within what limits, is one which must be argued out on its own merits alone, and the discussion of it will not be advanced by irrelevant considerations such as these on which we have dwelt.

There are two aspects of the inquiry—one from the side of man, the other from the side of the animal. Let us first consider the question from the point of view of the animal.

We have to determine the principles which govern or should govern the conduct of man toward animals. One broad principle may be briefly stated: Unless man destroys animals, animals would soon destroy man. Mr. Tennyson has told us—

"Nature is one with rapine, a harm no preacher can heal;"

and Mr. Darwin has shown that the lives of all living beings are shaped by "the struggle for existence." Man's life is a struggle for existence with his fellow-men, with living animals and plants, and with