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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/695

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the lifeless forces of the universe. The very conditions of his existence lay upon him the burden, and in so doing give him the right, to use the world around him, the lives of animals included, to aid him in his strife. Imagine the results of forbidding man to take away the lives of animals. Suppose, for instance, the whole human race were to form itself into a Society for the Prevention of the Destruction of Tigers. How many generations would pass before "the last man" provided a tumultuous crowd of tigers with the last human meal?—possibly the indefatigable secretary of the Society sealing with his death his loyalty to the cause. Or, since tigers, like man, are carnivorous, and might therefore be supposed more worthy of death than herbivorous creatures, let us suppose the efforts of the Society to be directed toward the preservation of sheep. How many generations would pass before the face of the earth were covered with woolly flocks, and man were driven to lead a laborious, frugivorous, arboreal life on the tree-tops, or to earn a scanty subsistence on resuscitated Pfahlbauten, as being the only places where the necessities of the sheep would permit him to dwell? Did the reader ever by chance descend, at early dawn, into the kitchen and watch the convulsive agonies of a writhing heap of cockroaches drowning in the watery trap set for them by the cook overnight? What a scene of unutterable woe is that when judged from the stand-point of the cockroach! But, if man were to deny himself the right of vivisection or vivipression over the vermin which infest his home and bed, what would come of it?

To be serious: man, if he is to live and prosper, must kill other animals. It is a duty laid upon him by the nature of things; a duty, and therefore a right. Self-preservation demands it. But what do we mean by self-preservation? Can we draw a line and say that he is justified in slaying an animal for this purpose and not for that? We can only do so by applying the test of whether the death of the animal is useful to him or not. Whenever or wherever the death of an animal is of advantage either to himself or to the human society of which he is a unit, he is justified in slaying that animal.

The success of the human race in the struggle for existence depends on man's being well fed; man is therefore justified in slaying and eating a sheep. The success of the human race in the struggle for existence is dependent on knowledge being increased; man is therefore justified in slaying a frog or a rabbit, if it can be shown that human knowledge is thereby enlarged.

Death is in itself painful. It is only by special means that the pangs amid which the ties of life are loosened can be done away with. The slaughter of an animal is therefore of necessity painful, except in the special cases where means have been taken to do away with pain. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, when an animal is slaughtered by man, it is the death of the animal which benefits man, the pain itself which accompanies the death does him no good at all. While