Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

forwarded to London ; but arriving a day too late, found the door closed against its admission. It is now published, with several additions to its original form, not from a presumptuous belief that it would have been successful, had it been permitted to enter the lists, nor with any desire to challenge comparison with the fortunate Essay; but simply from a wish that my labours, such as they are, may not be entirely lost, and with a hope that they may make an impression on my own friends and countrymen. Some passages of the printed Discourse before alluded to are incorporated with this Essay, which I now beg leave to inscribe to you, with all due sentiments of respect; and with esteem for your zeal in a cause, by which not only the good of the animal creation, but the great Christian virtues of brotherly kindness and charity, are promoted. I have the honor to be, my Lords and Gentlemen,

Your friend and advocate,

THE AUTHOR.

DUBLIN, November, 1838.

THE

RIGHTS OF ANIMALS,

AND

MAN'S OBLIGATIONS TO TREAT THEM WITH HUMANITY.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

The existence of a Society in London for the “ Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” argues well for the cause of humanity. Since its establishment in 1824 it has been zealously and successfully employed in promoting the benevolent design of its founders, by calling on the ministers of religion to advocate its cause both in Great Britain and Ireland, by enforcing legislative enactments, and restraining, by the arm of authority, the cruelty of those who would not listen to the persuasive voice of mercy. It has given a great and a good example, which, in due time, we hope to see extensively followed by the institution of similar societies. Some of the most degrading species of cruelty, as that of bull-baiting, have become nearly extinct under its exertions; and let us hope that all of them will soon cease to be known except by description. The various tracts, reports, and sermons published under its auspices have also, it may be presumed, been of no small service in drawing public attention to a subject that has long been too much neglected; which legislators have deemed too unimportant to merit their consideration, and which even some preachers of the gospel have thought beneath the dignity of the pulpit; as if

B

aught in which the interests of humanity are concerned should be deemed unworthy either of the serious attention of the legislative wisdom of the country, or of the pious labours of the ministers of that Great Being whose « tender mercies are over all his works."

There are many men of true benevolence and humanity to their fellowmen who yet seem unconscious that these virtues should be extended to the animal creation. Their compassionate feelings, which are sensibly touched by a tale of human wo, are never excited for the sufferings and labours of animals whose strength is wasted and life sacrificed in the service of man. This want of sympathy must be the result of inattention to a subject which formed no part of their early education, and which has at no time been properly brought before them as a theme for moral consideration. They have never been led to reflect that many animals are as delicately constituted and as sensible to pain as themselves—that all of them, as well as man, have their rights, which it is both unjust and cruel to violate or infringe—that man's dominion over them is a delegated trust, which he is required to use with discretion and lenity-that he is responsible to a higher than an earthly tribunal for the exercise of his power, and may not with impunity subject them to unnecessary suffering, nor wantonly revel in their destruction. Assuredly no sensible man, who will take the trouble of due reflection, can long remain under an error so egregious as to suppose it should be otherwise. He must soon learn to distinguish between being the lord and the tyrant of God's creatures, and find that in the charter of his dominion over them, there is no clause to justify or authorize any such treatment of them as can be taxed with cruelty.

There are some men again who, from an instinctive kindliness of disposition, would not give any creature a moment's pain, but yet would not put themselves to the slightest inconvenience to prevent its infliction. They think no harm in crushing a fly, or treading on a worm or snail in their path, when by the least effort they might spare the life of an unoffending creature, from whose death no possible good can result. Such carelessness has

« ZurückWeiter »