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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/641

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ease ensues—slow, loathsome decay, sharp, convulsive torture, or the burning to death of fever.

All this is going on in the sea and on the land and has been going on for geological ages upon a scale which baffles expression in number or quantity. And this is God's ordering of Nature in "perfect mercy." With it man has had nothing to do, since there is every reason to believe that it existed ages before he appeared upon the scene. Cardinal Manning goes on to tell us that he believes in Genesis; but there we are told, "And God saw everything that he had made: and behold, it was very good." According to any estimate of the enormity of physical suffering which I have been able to find among anti vivisection writers, the God who ordained such a scheme of Nature must be a monster of cruelty. What is wrong with the equation? The Creator? Nature? Or the ideas of antivivisectionists? Is it not true that the religion of a hermit's hut, a lady's parlor, or a pope's palace is apt to fit ill the problems of the wide world, and that we must go to Nature to study even religion?

This travail of the animal creation is the "Slough of Despond" for every philosophy but one. The biologist would agree with the Creator in pronouncing it "very good." He too has gained in some degree the divine point of view, and can see that out of the struggle comes the quickening to nobler form and higher life, and that, without this, life of any sort is scarce worth the living.

Few who drive thoroughbreds ever pause to think of the fleeing for life, through geological epochs, the kicking and biting, the hardship and training it has cost to give to the horse his beauty and strength, since the time when the fox-sized Eohippus picked his way among Eocene bogs. So with man, so with every form of life that has attained any height of development. The price has been great, but the gain is priceless; and we would not give back, if we could, all the suffering the world has felt and revert to vegetation and formless slimes.

Examining a step further, is it not possible to imagine a more merciful dispensation of Nature? Suppose all the "cruel" carnivora should be exterminated or become vegetarian. Would we not then have the animal millennium of certain sentimental people? No, far from it. The ensuing year would be the most dreadful in the experience of the animal kingdom upon the earth, and would end in death by starvation and disease of many more animals than are now annually appropriated by the carnivora. But suppose all manner of disease should be done away with—the millennium of scientific medicine; the struggle for food would be only the more terrible, and it is more merciful to kill in a night, even by pestilence, than in a month by starvation and the kicks and butts of stronger animals.