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Title: Animals' Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress
Author: Salt, Henry S.
Language: English
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As a memorial of work done on behalf of the rights of animals, it has
been thought fitting, by members and friends of the late Humanitarian
League, that a new edition of this little book should be published
in the year that brings the centenary of “Martin’s Act,” the first
legislation for the prevention of cruelty to the non-human races.

Of the progress made in this branch of ethics, since 1822, some account
is incidentally given in the book; and during the last few years the
advance has been steadily continued. Attention has been drawn, for
instance, to the antiquated methods employed in the slaughter of
animals for food; and this has corresponded with an increase in the
practice of vegetarianism. The treatment of other domestic animals,
such as pit ponies, and the worn-out horses exported to the Continent,
has stirred the public conscience; and at the same time the cruelty and
folly of what is technically known as “the wild animal industry”--the
kidnapping of “specimens” for exhibition in zoological gardens, or as
“performing animals” on the stage--are becoming better understood.

Again, the disgust caused by the ravages of “murderous millinery” (a
term first used as a chapter-heading in this book) has taken visible
shape in the recent Act for the regulation of the plumage trade; and
even “sport,” the last and dearest stronghold of the savage, has
been seriously menaced, not only by the discontinuance of the Royal
Buckhounds in 1901, but also lately by the emphatic condemnation of

The core of the contention for a recognition of the rights of animals
will be found in the following passage of a letter addressed by Mr.
Thomas Hardy to the Humanitarian League in 1910:

  “Few people seem to perceive fully as yet that the most far-reaching
  consequence of the establishment of the common origin of all species
  is ethical; that it logically involved a readjustment of altruistic
  morals, by enlarging, as a necessity of rightness, the application
  of what has been called ‘The Golden Rule’ from the area of mere
  mankind to that of the whole animal kingdom.... While man was deemed
  to be a creation apart from all other creations, a secondary or
  tertiary morality was considered good enough to practise towards the
  ‘inferior’ races; but no person who reasons nowadays can escape the
  trying conclusion that this is not maintainable.”

It may be taken, perhaps, as a sign of the extension of humane ideas
that, since its first appearance in 1892, this essay on “Animals’
Rights” has passed through numerous editions, and has been translated
into French, German, Dutch, Swedish, and other European tongues.

Valuable suggestions concerning the book have reached me from several
friends: in particular I am indebted to Sir George Greenwood, who has
been actively associated, both in Parliament and elsewhere, with the
cause of justice to animals.

                                                                H. S. S.

  _January 1922._


  CHAP.                                      PAGE



   III. THE CASE OF WILD ANIMALS               34


     V. SPORT, OR AMATEUR BUTCHERY             50

    VI. MURDEROUS MILLINERY                    59

   VII. EXPERIMENTAL TORTURE                   67

  VIII. LINES OF REFORM                        77

  APPENDICES                                   95

  BIBLIOGRAPHY                                117

  INDEX                                       123




Have the lower animals “rights”? Undoubtedly--if men have. That is the
point I wish to make evident in this opening chapter. But have men
rights? Let it be stated at the outset that I have no intention of
discussing the abstract theory of rights, which at the present time
is looked upon with suspicion and disfavour by many social reformers,
since it has not unfrequently been made to cover the most extravagant
and contradictory assertions. But though its phraseology is vague,
there is nevertheless a solid truth underlying it--a truth which has
always been clearly apprehended by the moral faculty, however difficult
it may be to establish it on an unassailable logical basis. If men have
not “rights”--well, they have an unmistakable intimation of something
very similar; a sense of justice which marks the boundary-line where
acquiescence ceases and resistance begins; a demand for freedom to
live their own lives, subject to the necessity of respecting the equal
freedom of other people.

Such is the doctrine of rights as formulated by Herbert Spencer.
“Every man,” he says, “is free to do that which he wills, provided he
infringes not the equal liberty of any other man.” And again, “Whoever
admits that each man must have a certain restricted freedom, asserts
that it is _right_ he should have this restricted freedom.... And hence
the several particular freedoms deducible may fitly be called, as they
commonly are called, his _rights_” (“Justice,” pp. 46, 62).[1]

The fitness of this nomenclature is disputed, but the existence of
some real principle of the kind can hardly be called in question;
so that the controversy concerning “rights” is little else than an
academic battle over words, which leads to no practical conclusion. I
shall assume, therefore, that men are possessed of “rights,” in the
sense of Herbert Spencer’s definition; and if any of my readers object
to this qualified use of the term, I can only say that I shall be
perfectly willing to change the word as soon as a more appropriate one
is forthcoming.[2] The immediate question that claims our attention is
this--if men have rights, have animals their rights also?

From the earliest times there have been thinkers who, directly
or indirectly, answered this question with an affirmative. The
Buddhist and Pythagorean canons, dominated perhaps by the creed of
reincarnation, included the maxim “not to kill or injure any innocent
animal.” The humanitarian philosophers of the Roman empire, among
whom Seneca, Plutarch, and Porphyry were the most conspicuous, took
still higher ground in preaching humanity on the broadest principle of
universal benevolence. “Since justice is due to rational beings,” wrote
Porphyry, “how is it possible to evade the admission that we are bound
also to act justly towards the races below us?”

It is a lamentable fact that during the churchdom of the middle ages,
from the fourth century to the sixteenth, from the time of Porphyry to
the time of Montaigne, little or no attention was paid to the question
of the rights and wrongs of the lower races. Then, with the Reformation
and the revival of learning, came a revival also of humanitarian
feeling, as may be seen in many passages of Erasmus and More,
Shakespeare and Bacon; but it was not until the eighteenth century, the
age of enlightenment and “sensibility,” of which Voltaire and Rousseau
were the spokesmen, that the rights of animals obtained more deliberate
recognition. From the great Revolution of 1789 dates the period when
the world-wide spirit of humanitarianism, which had hitherto been felt
by but one man in a million--the thesis of the philosopher or the
vision of the poet--began to disclose itself, gradually and dimly at
first, as an essential feature of democracy.

A great and far-reaching effect was produced in England at this time
by the publication of such revolutionary works as Thomas Paine’s
“Rights of Man” and Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights
of Woman”; and looking back now, after the lapse of a hundred years,
we can see that a still wider extension of the theory of rights was
thenceforth inevitable. In fact, such a claim was anticipated--if
only in bitter jest--by a contemporary writer, who furnishes us with
a notable instance of how the mockery of one generation may become
the reality of the next. There was published anonymously in 1792 a
little volume entitled “A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes,”[3] a
_reductio ad absurdum_ of Mary Wollstonecraft’s essay, written, as the
author informs us, “to evince by demonstrative arguments the perfect
equality of what is called the irrational species to the human.” The
further opinion is expressed that “after those wonderful productions
of Mr. Paine and Mrs. Wollstonecraft, such a theory as the present
seems to be necessary.” It _was_ necessary; and a very short term of
years sufficed to bring it into effect; indeed, the theory had already
been put forward by several English pioneers of nineteenth-century

To Jeremy Bentham, in particular, belongs the high honour of first
asserting the rights of animals with authority and persistence.

  “The legislator,” he wrote, “ought to interdict everything which may
  serve to lead to cruelty. The barbarous spectacles of gladiators
  no doubt contributed to give the Romans that ferocity which they
  displayed in their civil wars. A people accustomed to despise human
  life in their games could not be expected to respect it amid the fury
  of their passions. It is proper for the same reason to forbid every
  kind of cruelty towards animals, whether by way of amusement, or to
  gratify gluttony. Cock-fights, bull-baiting, hunting hares and foxes,
  fishing, and other amusements of the same kind, necessarily suppose
  either the absence of reflection or a fund of inhumanity, since they
  produce the most acute sufferings to sensible beings, and the most
  painful and lingering death of which we can form any idea. Why should
  the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will
  come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which
  breathes. We have begun by attending to the condition of slaves; we
  shall finish by softening that of all the animals which assist our
  labours or supply our wants.”[4]

So, too, wrote one of Bentham’s contemporaries: “The grand source of
the unmerited and superfluous misery of beasts exists in a defect in
the constitution of all communities. No human government, I believe,
has ever recognized the _jus animalium_, which ought surely to form a
part of the jurisprudence of every system founded on the principles of
justice and humanity.”[5] A number of later moralists have followed
on the same lines, with the result that the rights of animals have
already, to a certain limited extent, been established both in private
usage and by legal enactment.

It is interesting to note the exact commencement of this new principle
in law. When Lord Erskine, speaking in the House of Lords in 1811,
advocated the cause of justice to the lower animals, he was greeted
with loud cries of insult and derision. But eleven years later the
efforts of the despised humanitarians, and especially of Richard
Martin, of Galway, were rewarded by their first success. The passing of
the Ill-treatment of Cattle Bill, commonly known as “Martin’s Act,” in
July, 1822, is a memorable date in the history of humane legislation,
less on account of the positive protection afforded by it, for it
applied only to cattle and “beasts of burden,” than for the invaluable
precedent which it created. From 1822 onward, the principle of that
_jus animalium_ for which Bentham had pleaded, was recognized, however
partially and tentatively at first, by English law, and the animals
included in the Act ceased to be the mere property of their owners;
moreover the Act has been several times supplemented and extended
during the past half century. It is scarcely possible, in the face
of this legislation, to maintain that “rights” are a privilege with
which none but human beings can be invested; for if _some_ animals are
already included within the pale of protection, why should not more
and more be so included in the future?[6]

For the present, however, what is most urgently needed is some
comprehensive and intelligible principle, which shall indicate, in a
more consistent manner, the true lines of man’s moral relation towards
the lower animals. Hitherto even the leading advocates of animals’
rights seem to have shrunk from basing their claim on the only argument
which can ultimately be held to be a sufficient one--the assertion
that animals, as well as men, though, of course, to a far less extent
than men, are possessed of a distinctive individuality, and therefore
are in justice entitled to live their lives with a due measure of that
“restricted freedom” to which Herbert Spencer alludes. It is of little
use to claim “rights” for animals in a vague general way, if with the
same breath we explicitly show our determination to subordinate those
rights to anything and everything that can be construed into a human
“want”; nor will it ever be possible to obtain full justice for the
lower races so long as we continue to regard them as beings of a wholly
different order, and to ignore the significance of their numberless
points of kinship with mankind.

For example, it has been said by a well-known writer on the subject
of humanity to animals[7] that “the life of a brute, having no moral
purpose, can best be understood ethically as representing the sum
of its _pleasures_; and the obligation, therefore, of producing the
pleasures of sentient creatures must be reduced, in their case, to the
abstinence from unnecessary destruction of life.” Now, with respect to
this statement, I must say that the notion of the life of an animal
having “no moral purpose” belongs to a class of ideas which cannot
possibly be accepted by the advanced humanitarian thought of the
present day--it is a purely arbitrary assumption, at variance with our
best science, and absolutely fatal (if the subject be clearly thought
out) to any full realization of animals’ rights. If we are ever going
to do justice to the lower races, we must get rid of the antiquated
notion of a “great gulf” fixed between them and mankind, and must
recognize the common bond of humanity that unites all living beings in
one universal brotherhood.

As far as any excuses can be alleged, in explanation of the
insensibility or inhumanity of the western nations in their treatment
of animals, these excuses may be mostly traced back to one or the other
of two theories, wholly different in origin, yet alike in this--that
both postulate an absolute difference of nature between men and the
lower kinds.

The first is the so-called “religious” notion, which awards immortality
to man, but to man alone, thereby furnishing (especially in Catholic
countries) a quibbling justification for acts of cruelty to animals,
on the plea that they “have no souls.” “It should seem,” says Mrs.
Jameson,[8] “as if the primitive Christians, by laying so much stress
upon a future life, in contradistinction to _this_ life, and placing
the lower creatures out of the pale of hope, placed them at the same
time out of the pale of sympathy, and thus laid the foundation for this
utter disregard of animals in the light of our fellow-creatures.”

I am aware that a quite contrary argument has, in a few isolated
instances, been founded on the belief that animals have “no
souls.” “Cruelty to a brute,” says an old writer,[9] “is an injury
irreparable,” because there is no future life to be a compensation for
present afflictions; and there is an amusing story, told by Mr. Lecky
in his “History of European Morals,” of a certain humanely-minded
Cardinal, who used to allow vermin to bite him without hindrance, on
the ground that “we shall have heaven to reward us for our sufferings,
but these poor creatures have nothing but the enjoyment of this present
life.” But this is a rare view of the question which need not, I think,
be taken into very serious account; for, on the whole, the denial of
immortality to animals (unless, of course, it be also denied to men)
tends strongly to lessen their chance of being justly and considerately
treated. Among the many humane movements of the present age, none is
more significant than the growing inclination, noticeable both in
scientific circles and in religious, to believe that mankind and the
lower animals have the same destiny before them.[10]

The second and not less fruitful source of modern inhumanity is to
be found in the “Cartesian” doctrine--the theory of Descartes and
his followers--that the lower animals are devoid of consciousness
and feeling; a theory which carried the “religious” notion a step
further, and deprived the animals not only of their claim to a life
hereafter, but of anything that could, without mockery, be called a
life in the present, since mere “animated machines,” as they were thus
affirmed to be, could in no real sense be said to _live_ at all! Well
might Voltaire turn his humane ridicule against this most monstrous
contention, and suggest, with scathing irony, that God “had given the
animals the organs of feeling, to the end that they might _not_ feel!”
“The theory of animal automatism,” says Professor Romanes, “which
is usually attributed to Descartes, can never be accepted by common
sense.” Yet it is to be feared that it has done much, in its time, to
harden “scientific” sense against the just complaints of the victims of
human arrogance and oppression.[11]

Let me here quote a most impressive passage from Schopenhauer.

  “The unpardonable forgetfulness in which the lower animals have
  hitherto been left by the moralists of Europe is well known. It is
  pretended that the beasts have no rights. They persuade themselves
  that our conduct in regard to them has nothing to do with morals,
  or (to speak the language of their morality) that we have no duties
  towards animals: a doctrine revolting, gross, and barbarous, peculiar
  to the west, and having its root in Judaism. In philosophy, however,
  it is made to rest upon a hypothesis, admitted in despite of evidence
  itself, of an absolute difference between man and beast. It is
  Descartes who has proclaimed it in the clearest and most decisive
  manner; and in fact it was a necessary consequence of his errors.
  The Cartesian-Leibnitzian-Wolfian philosophy, with the assistance of
  entirely abstract notions, had built up the ‘rational psychology,’
  and constructed an immortal _anima rationalis_: but, visibly, the
  world of beasts, with its very natural claims, stood up against
  this exclusive monopoly--this _brevet_ of immortality decreed to
  man alone--and silently Nature did what she always does in such
  cases--she protested. Our philosophers, feeling their scientific
  conscience quite disturbed, were forced to attempt to consolidate
  their ‘rational psychology’ by the aid of empiricism. They therefore
  set themselves to work to hollow out between man and beast an
  enormous abyss, of an immeasurable width; by this they wish to prove
  to us, in contempt of evidence, an impassable difference.”[12]

The fallacious idea that the lives of animals have no moral purpose is
at root connected with these religious and philosophical pretensions
which Schopenhauer so powerfully condemns. To live one’s own life--to
realize one’s true self--is the highest moral purpose of man and animal
alike; and that animals possess their due measure of this sense of
individuality is scarcely open to doubt. “We have seen,” says Darwin,
“that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties,
such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason, etc.,
of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes
in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals.”[13] Not less
emphatic is the testimony of the Rev. J. G. Wood, who, speaking from
a great experience, gives it as his opinion that “the manner in which
we ignore individuality in the lower animals is simply astounding.” He
claims for them a future life, because he is “quite sure that most of
the cruelties which are perpetrated on the animals are due to the habit
of considering them as mere machines without susceptibilities, without
reason, and without the capacity of a future.”[14]

The long-maintained distinction between human “reason” and animal
“instinct” is being given up by recent scientific writers, as, for
example, by Dr. Wesley Mills in his work on “The Nature and Development
of Animal Intelligence,” and by Mr. E. P. Evans in “Evolutional Ethics
and Animal Psychology.”

  “The trend of investigation,” says Dr. Mills, “thus far goes to show
  that at least the germ of every human faculty does exist in some
  species of animal.... Formerly the line was drawn at reason. It
  was said that the ‘brutes’ cannot reason. Only persons who do not
  themselves reason about the subject with the facts before them can
  any longer occupy such a position. The evidence of reasoning power is
  overwhelming for the upper ranks of animals, and yearly the downward
  limits are being extended the more the inferior tribes are studied.”

We have to get rid, as Mr. Evans points out, of those “anthropocentric”
delusions which “treat man as a being essentially different and
inseparably set apart from all other sentient creatures, to which he is
bound by no ties of mental affinity or moral obligation.”

  “Man is as truly a part and product of Nature as any other animal,
  and this attempt to set him up as an isolated point outside of it is
  philosophically false and morally pernicious.”

This, then, is the position of those who assert that animals, like men,
are possessed of certain limited rights, which cannot be withheld from
them, as they are now withheld, without tyranny and injustice. They
have individuality, character, reason; and to have those qualities
is to have the right to exercise them, in so far as surrounding
circumstances permit. No human being is justified in regarding an
animal as a meaningless automaton, to be worked, or tortured, or
eaten, as the case may be, for the mere object of satisfying the wants
or whims of mankind. Together with the destinies and duties that are
laid on them and fulfilled by them, animals have also the right to be
treated with gentleness and consideration, and the man who does not so
treat them, however great his learning or influence may be, is, in that
respect, an ignorant and foolish man, devoid of the highest and noblest
culture of which the human mind is capable.

Something must here be said on the important subject of nomenclature.
It is to be feared that the ill-treatment of animals is largely
caused--or at any rate the difficulty of amending that treatment is
largely aggravated--by the common use of such terms as “brute-beast,”
“live-stock,” etc., which implicitly deny to the lower races that
intelligent individuality which is undoubtedly possessed by them. It
was long ago remarked by Bentham, in his “Introduction to Principles
of Morals and Legislation,” that, whereas human beings are styled
_persons_, “other animals, on account of their interests having been
neglected by the insensibility of the ancient jurists, stand degraded
into the class of _things_”; and Schopenhauer also has commented on the
mischievous absurdity of the idiom which applies the neuter pronoun
“it” to such highly-organized animals as the dog and the ape.

A word of protest is needed also against such an expression as “dumb
animals,” which, though often cited as “an immense exhortation to
pity,”[15] has in reality a tendency to influence ordinary people in
quite the contrary direction, inasmuch as it fosters the idea of
an impassable barrier between mankind and their dependents. It is
convenient to us men to be deaf to the entreaties of the victims of
our injustice; and, by a sort of grim irony, we therefore assume that
it is _they_ who are afflicted by some organic incapacity--they are
“dumb animals,” forsooth! although a moment’s consideration must prove
that they have innumerable ways, often quite human in variety and
suggestiveness, of uttering their thoughts and emotions. Even the term
“animals,” as applied to the lower races, is incorrect, and not wholly
unobjectionable, since it ignores the fact that _man_ is an animal no
less than they. My only excuse for using it in this volume is that
there is no better brief term available.

So anomalous is the attitude of man towards the lower animals, that it
is no marvel if many humane thinkers have wellnigh despaired over this
question. “The whole subject of the brute creation,” wrote Dr. Arnold,
“is to me one of such painful mystery, that I dare not approach it”;
and this (to put the most charitable interpretation on their silence)
appears to be the position of the majority of moralists and teachers
at the present time. Yet there is urgent need of some solution of the
problem; and in no other way can this be found than by the admission of
the lower races within the pale of human sympathy. All the promptings
of our best and surest instincts point us in this direction. “It is
abundantly evident,” says Lecky, “both from history and from present
experience, that the instinctive shock, or natural feelings of disgust,
caused by the sight of the sufferings of men, is not generically
different from that which is caused by the sight of the suffering of
animals.” If this be so, can it be seriously contended that the same
humanitarian tendency which has already emancipated the slave, will not
ultimately benefit the lower races also? Here, again, the historian of
“European Morals” has a significant remark:

  “At one time the benevolent affections embrace merely the family,
  soon the circle expanding includes first a class, then a nation,
  then a coalition of nations, then all humanity; and finally its
  influence is felt in the dealings of man with the animal world. In
  each of these cases a standard is formed, different from that of the
  preceding stage, but in each case the same tendency is recognized as

But, it may be argued, vague sympathy with the lower animals is one
thing, and a definite recognition of their “rights” is another; what
reason is there to suppose that we shall advance from the former phase
to the latter? Just this; that every great liberating movement has
proceeded exactly on such lines. Oppression and cruelty are invariably
founded on a lack of imaginative sympathy; the tyrant or tormentor
can have no true sense of kinship with the victim of his injustice.
When once the sense of affinity is awakened, the knell of tyranny is
sounded, and the ultimate concession of “rights” is simply a matter
of time. The present condition of the more highly-organized domestic
animals is in many ways very analogous to that of the negro slaves
of a hundred years ago: look back, and you will find in their case
precisely the same exclusion from the common pale of humanity; the
same hypocritical fallacies, to justify that exclusion; and, as a
consequence, the same deliberate stubborn denial of their social
“rights.” Look back--for it is well to do so--and then look forward,
and the moral can hardly be mistaken.

We find so great a thinker as Aristotle seriously pondering, in his
“Ethics,” whether a slave may be considered as a fellow-being. In
emphasizing the point that friendship is founded on propinquity, he
expresses himself as follows:

  “Neither can men have friendships with horses, cattle, or slaves,
  considered merely as such; for a slave is merely a living instrument,
  and an instrument a lifeless slave. Yet, considered as a man, a slave
  may be an object of friendship, for certain rights seem to belong to
  all those capable of participating in law and engagement.”

Slaves, says Bentham,

  “have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as in
  England, for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The
  day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those
  rights which could never have been withholden from them but by the
  hand of tyranny.”

Let us unreservedly admit the immense difficulties that stand in the
way of this animal enfranchisement. Our relation towards the animals is
complicated and embittered by innumerable habits handed down through
centuries of brutality and mistrust; we cannot, in all cases, suddenly
relax these habits, or do full justice even where we see that justice
will have to be done. A perfect ethic of humaneness is therefore
impracticable, if not unthinkable; and we can attempt to do no more
than to indicate in a general way the main principle of animals’
rights, noting at the same time the most flagrant particular violations
of those rights, and the lines on which the only valid reform can
hereafter be effected. But, on the other hand, it may be remembered,
for the comfort and encouragement of humanitarian workers, that these
obstacles are, after all, only such as are inevitable in each branch of
social improvement; for at every stage of every great reformation it
has been repeatedly argued, by indifferent or hostile observers, that
further progress is impossible; indeed, when the opponents of a great
cause begin to demonstrate its “impossibility,” experience teaches us
that that cause is already on the high road to fulfilment.

As for the demand so frequently made on reformers, that they should
first explain the details of their scheme--how this and that point will
be arranged, and by what process all kinds of difficulties, real or
imagined, will be circumvented--the only rational reply is that it is
absurd to expect to see the end of a question when we are now but at
its beginning. The persons who offer this futile sort of criticism are
usually those who under no circumstances would be open to conviction;
they purposely ask for an explanation which, by the very nature of the
case, is impossible because it necessarily belongs to a later period of
time. It would be equally sensible to request a traveller to enumerate
beforehand all the particular things he will see by the way, on pain
of being denounced as an unpractical visionary, although he may have a
quite sufficient general knowledge of his course and destination.

Our main principle is now clear. If “rights” exist at all--and both
feeling and usage indubitably prove that they do exist--they cannot
be consistently awarded to men and denied to animals, since the same
sense of justice and compassion apply in both cases. “Pain is pain,”
says Humphry Primatt, “whether it be inflicted on man or on beast; and
the creature that suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible of
the misery of it while it lasts, suffers _evil_; and the sufferance of
evil, unmeritedly, unprovokedly, where no offence has been given, and
no good can possibly be answered by it, but merely to exhibit power or
gratify malice, is Cruelty and Injustice in him that occasions it.”

I commend this outspoken utterance to the attention of those ingenious
moralists who quibble about the “discipline” of suffering, and
deprecate immediate attempts to redress what, it is alleged, may be a
necessary instrument for the attainment of human welfare. It is perhaps
a mere coincidence, but it may be observed that those who are most
forward to disallow the rights of others, and to argue that suffering
and subjection are the natural lot of all living things, are usually
themselves exempt from the operation of this beneficent law, and that
the beauty of self-sacrifice is most loudly belauded by those who
profit most largely at the expense of their fellow-beings.

But “nature is one with rapine,” say some, and this utopian theory of
“rights,” if too widely extended, must come in conflict with that iron
rule of internecine competition by which the universe is regulated.
But is the universe so regulated? We note that this very objection,
which was confidently relied on a few years back by many opponents
of the emancipation of the working-classes, is not heard of in that
connection now. Our learned economists and men of science, who set
themselves to play the defenders of the social _status quo_, have seen
their own weapons of “natural selection,” “survival of the fittest,”
and what not, snatched from their hands and turned against them, and
are therefore beginning to explain to us, in a scientific manner, what
we untutored humanitarians had previously felt to be true, viz., that
competition is not by any means the sole governing law among the human
race. We are not greatly dismayed, then, to find the same old bugbear
trotted out as an argument against animals’ rights--indeed, we see
already unmistakable signs of a similar reversal of the scientific

The charge of “sentimentalism” is frequently brought against those
who plead for animals’ rights. Now “sentimentalism,” if any meaning
at all can be attached to the word, must signify an inequality, an
ill balance of sentiment, an inconsistency which leads men into
attacking one abuse, while they ignore or condone another where a
reform is equally desirable. That this weakness is often observable
among “philanthropists” on the one hand, and “friends of animals” on
the other, and most of all among those acute “men of the world,” whose
regard is only for themselves, I am not concerned to deny; what I wish
to point out is, that the only real safeguard against sentimentality
is to take up a consistent position towards the rights of men and of
the lower animals alike, and to cultivate a broad sense of universal
justice (not “mercy”) for all living things. Herein, and herein alone,
is to be sought the true sanity of temperament.

It is an entire mistake to suppose that the rights of animals are in
any way antagonistic to the rights of men. Let us not be betrayed for
a moment into the specious fallacy that we must study human rights
first, and leave the animal question to solve itself hereafter; for it
is only by a wide and disinterested study of _both_ subjects that a
solution of either is possible. “For he who loves all animated nature,”
says Porphyry, “will not hate any one tribe of innocent beings, and
by how much greater his love for the whole, by so much the more will
he cultivate justice towards a part of them, and that part to which
he is most allied.” To omit all worthier reasons, it is too late in
the day to suggest the indefinite postponement of a consideration
of animals’ rights, for from a moral point of view, and even from a
legislative point of view, we are daily confronted with the problem,
and the so-called “practical” people who affect to ignore it are
simply shutting their eyes to facts which they find it disagreeable to

Once more then, animals have rights, and these rights consist in the
“restricted freedom” to live a natural life--a life, that is, which
permits of the individual development--subject to the limitations
imposed by the permanent needs and interests of the community. There
is nothing quixotic or visionary in this assertion; it is perfectly
compatible with a readiness to look the sternest laws of existence
fully and honestly in the face. If we must kill, whether it be man or
animal, let us kill and have done with it; if we must inflict pain,
let us do what is inevitable, without hypocrisy, or evasion, or cant.
But (here is the cardinal point) let us first be assured that it _is_
necessary; let us not wantonly trade on the needless miseries of
other beings, and then attempt to lull our consciences by a series of
shuffling excuses which cannot endure a moment’s candid investigation.
As Leigh Hunt well says:

  “That there is pain and evil, is no rule
  That I should make it greater, like a fool.”

Thus far the general principle of animals’ rights. We will now proceed
to apply this principle to a number of particular cases, from which we
may learn something both as to the extent of its present violation, and
the possibility of its better observance in the future.



The main principle of animals’ rights, if admitted to be fundamentally
sound, will not be essentially affected by the wildness or the
domesticity, as the case may be, of the animals in question; _both_
classes have their rights, though these rights may differ largely in
extent and importance. It is convenient, however, to consider the
subject of the domestic animals apart from that of the wild ones,
inasmuch as their whole relation to mankind is so much altered and
emphasized by the fact of their subjection. Here, at any rate, it
is impossible, even for the most callous reasoners, to deny the
responsibility of man, in his dealings with vast races of beings,
the very conditions of whose existence have been modified by human

An incalculable mass of drudgery, at the cost of incalculable
suffering, is daily, hourly performed for the benefit of man by these
honest, patient labourers in every town and country of the world. Are
these countless services to be permanently ignored in a community which
makes any pretension to a humane civilization? Will the free citizens
of the enlightened republics of the future be content to reap the
immense advantages of animals’ labour, without recognizing that they
owe them some consideration in return? The question is one that carries
with it its own answer.[17]

But the human mind is subtle to evade the full significance of its
duties, and nowhere is this more conspicuously seen than in our
treatment of the lower races. Given a position in which man profits
largely (or _thinks_ he profits largely, for it is not always a
matter of certainty) by the toil or suffering of the animals, and our
respectable moralists are pretty sure to be explaining to us that
this providential arrangement is “better for the animals themselves.”
The wish is father to the thought in these questions, and there is
an accommodating elasticity in our social ethics that permits of the
justification of almost any system which it would be inconvenient to
us to discontinue. Thus we find it stated, and on the authority of
a bishop, that man may “lay down the terms of the social contract
between animals and himself,” because, forsooth, “the general life of a
domestic animal is one of very great comfort--according to the animal’s
own standard (_sic_) probably one of almost perfect happiness.”[18]

Now this prating about “the animal’s own standard” is nothing better
than hypocritical cant. If man is obliged to lay down the terms of the
contract, let him at least do so without having recourse to such a
suspiciously opportune afterthought. We have taken the animals from
a free, natural state, into an artificial thraldom, in order that
_we_, and not _they_, may be the gainers thereby; it cannot possibly
be maintained that they owe us gratitude on this account, or that this
alleged debt may be used as a means of evading the just recognition
of their rights. It is the more necessary to raise a strong protest
against this jesuitical mode of reasoning, because, as we shall see, it
is so frequently employed, in one form or another, by the apologists of
human tyranny.

On the other hand, I desire to keep clear also of the extreme contrary
contention, that man is not morally justified in imposing any sort
of subjection on the lower animals.[19] An abstract question of this
sort, however interesting as a speculation, and impossible in itself
to disprove, is beyond the scope of the present inquiry, which is
primarily concerned with the state of things at present existing. We
must face the fact that the services of domestic animals have become,
whether rightly or wrongly, an integral portion of the system of modern
society; we cannot immediately dispense with those services, any more
than we can dispense with human labour itself. But we _can_ provide,
as at least a present step towards a more ideal relationship in the
future, that the conditions under which all labour is performed,
whether by men or by animals, shall be such as to enable the worker to
take some appreciable pleasure in the work, instead of experiencing a
lifelong course of injustice and ill-treatment.

And here it may be convenient to say a word as to the existing line
of demarcation between the animals legally recognized as “domestic,”
and those _feræ naturæ_, of wild nature. In the Act of 1849, in which
a penalty was imposed for cruelty to “any animal,” it was expressly
provided that

  “The word _animal_ shall be taken to mean any horse, mare, gelding,
  bull, ox, cow, heifer, steer, calf, mule, ass, sheep, lamb, hog, pig,
  sow, goat, dog, cat, or any other domestic animal.”

But as time went on, and public opinion was more sensitive, the
interpretation of this vague reference to “any other domestic animal”
became a point of considerable importance, since it closely affected
the welfare of certain captive animals which, though regarded as wild,
and therefore outside the pale of protection, were to all intents and
purposes in a state of domestication. The Act of 1849 was accordingly
amended by the Wild Animals in Captivity Act of 1900, which made it
an offence to maltreat a wild animal while actually in a state of
captivity. (_See also_ the Act of 1911, _infra_ p. 34.)

“Food, rest, and tender usage,” were declared by Humphry Primatt, the
old author already quoted, to be the three rights of the domestic
animals. Lawrence’s opinion was to much the same effect.

  “Man is indispensably bound to bestow upon animals, in return for
  the benefit he derives from their services, good and sufficient
  nourishment, comfortable shelter, and merciful treatment; to commit
  no wanton outrage upon their feelings, whilst alive, and to put them
  to the speediest and least painful death, when it shall be necessary
  to deprive them of life.”

But it is important to note that something more is due to animals,
and especially to domestic animals, than the mere supply of provender
and the mere immunity from ill-usage. “We owe justice to men,” wrote
Montaigne, “and grace and benignity to other creatures that are capable
of it; there is a natural commerce and mutual obligation betwixt them
and us.” Sir Arthur Helps admirably expressed this sentiment in his
well-known reference to the duty of “using courtesy to animals.”[20]

If these be the rights of domestic animals, it is pitiful to reflect
how commonly and how grossly they are violated. The average life of our
“beasts of burden,” the horse, the ass, and the mule, is from beginning
to end a rude negation of their individuality and intelligence; they
are habitually addressed and treated as stupid instruments of man’s
will and pleasure, instead of the highly-organized and sensitive beings
that they are. Well might Thoreau, the humanest and most observant of
naturalists, complain of man’s “not educating the horse, not trying
to develop his nature, but merely getting work out of him”; for such,
it must be acknowledged, is the prevalent method of treatment, in
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, at the present day, even where
there is no actual cruelty or ill-usage.

We are often told that there is no other western country where tame
animals are so well treated as in England, and it is only necessary
to read the records of a century back to see that the inhumanities of
the past were far more atrocious than any that are still practised in
the present. Let us be thankful for these facts, as showing that the
current of English opinion is at least moving in the right direction.
But it must yet be said that the sights that everywhere meet the eye
of a humane and thoughtful observer, whether in town or country, are
a disgrace to our vaunted “civilization.” Watch the cab traffic in
one of the crowded thoroughfares of our great cities--always the same
lugubrious patient procession of underfed overloaded animals, the same
brutal insolence of the drivers, the same accursed sound of the whip.
And remembering that these horses are gifted with a large degree of
sensibility and intelligence, must one not feel that the fate to which
they are thus mercilessly subjected is a shameful violation of the
principle which moralists have laid down?

Yet it is to this fate that even the well-kept horses of the rich must
in time descend, so to pass the declining years of a life devoted to
man’s service! “A good man,” said Plutarch, “will take care of his
horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but when old and past
service. We ought certainly not to treat living beings like shoes and
household goods, which, when worn out with use, we throw away.” Such
was the feeling of the old pagan writer, and our good Christians of the
present age scarcely seem to have improved on it. True, they do not
“throw away” their superannuated carriage-horses--it is so much more
lucrative to _sell_ them to the shopman or cab-proprietor, who will in
due course pass them on to the knacker and cat’s-meat man.

The use of machinery is often condemned, on æsthetic grounds, because
of the ugliness it has introduced into so many features of modern life.
On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that it has immensely
relieved the huge mass of animal labour, and that when such forces are
generally used for purposes of traction, one of the foulest blots on
our social humanity is likely to disappear. Scientific and mechanical
invention, so far from being necessarily antagonistic to a true beauty
of life, may be found to be of the utmost service to it, when they are
employed for humane and not merely commercial, purposes.[21] Herein
Thoreau is a wiser teacher than Ruskin. “If all were as it seems,” he
says, “and men made the elements their servants for noble ends! If the
cloud that hangs over the engine were the perspiration of heroic deeds,
or as beneficent as that which floats over the farmer’s fields, then
the elements and Nature herself would cheerfully accompany men on their
errands and be their escort.”

It is no part of my purpose to enumerate the various acts of injustice
of which domestic animals are the victims; it is sufficient to point
out that the true cause of such injustice is to be sought in the
unwarrantable neglect of their many intelligent qualities, and in the
contemptuous indifference which, in defiance of sense and reason, still
classes them as “brute-beasts.” What has been said of horses in this
respect applies still more strongly to the second class of domestic
animals. Sheep, goats, and oxen are regarded as mere “live-stock”;
while pigs, poultry, rabbits, and other marketable “farm-produce,” meet
with even less consideration, and are constantly treated with brutal
inhumanity by their human possessors. Let anyone who doubts this pay a
visit to a cattle-market, and study the scenes that are enacted there.

The question of the castration of animals may here be briefly referred
to.[22] That nothing but imperative necessity could justify such a
practice must, I think, be admitted; for mutilation of this kind is not
only painful in itself, but deprives those who undergo it of the most
vigorous and spirited elements of their character. It is said--with
what precise amount of truth I cannot pretend to determine--that
man would not otherwise be able to maintain his dominion over the
domestic animals; but on the other hand it may be pointed out that
this dominion is in no case destined to be perpetuated in its present
sharply-accentuated form, and that various practices which, in a sense,
are “necessary” now,--_i.e._ in the false position and relationship
in which we stand towards the animals,--will doubtless be gradually
discontinued under the humaner system of the future. Moreover,
castration as performed on cattle, sheep, pigs, and fowls, with no
better object than to increase their size and improve their flavour
for the table, is, even at the present time, utterly needless and
unjustifiable. “The bull,” as Shelley says, “must be degraded into the
ox, and the ram into the wether, by an unnatural and inhuman operation,
that the flaccid fibre may offer a fainter resistance to rebellious
nature.” In all its aspects, this is a disagreeable subject, and one
about which the majority of people do not care to think--probably from
an unconscious perception that the established custom could scarcely
survive the critical ordeal of thought.

There remains one other class of domestic animals, viz., those who
have become still more closely associated with mankind through being
the inmates of their homes. The dog is probably better treated on the
whole than any other animal;[23] though, to prove how far we still
are from a rational and consistent appreciation of his worth, it is
only necessary to point to the fact that he is commonly regarded by a
large number of educated people as a fit and proper subject for that
experimental torture which is known as vivisection. The cat has always
been treated with far less consideration than the dog, and, despite
the numerous scattered instances that might be cited to the contrary,
it is to be feared that De Quincey was in the main correct, when he
remarked that “the groans and screams of this poor persecuted race, if
gathered into some great echoing hall of horrors, would melt the heart
of the stoniest.” The institution of “Homes” for lost and starving dogs
and cats is a welcome sign of the humane feeling that is asserting
itself in some quarters; but it is also no less a proof of the general
indifferentism which can allow the most familiar domestic animals to
become homeless.

It may be doubted, indeed, whether the condition of the household
“pet” is, in the long run, more enviable than that of the “beast of
burden.” Pets, like kings’ favourites, are usually the recipients of
an abundance of sentimental affection but of little real kindness; so
much easier is it to give temporary caresses than substantial justice.
It seems to be forgotten, in a vast majority of cases, that a domestic
animal does not exist for the mere idle amusement, any more than for
the mere commercial profit, of its human owner; and that for a living
being to be turned into a useless puppet is only one degree better than
to be doomed to the servitude of a drudge. The injustice done to the
pampered lap-dog is as conspicuous, in its way, as that done to the
over-worked horse, and both spring from one and the same origin--the
fixed belief that the life of a “brute” has no moral purpose, no
distinctive personality worthy of due consideration and development.
In a society where the lower animals were regarded as intelligent
beings, and not as animated machines, it would be impossible for this
incongruous absurdity to continue.

This, then, appears to be our position as regards the rights of
domestic animals. Waiving, on the one hand, the somewhat abstruse
question whether man is morally justified in utilizing animal labour
at all, and on the other the fatuous assertion that he is constituting
himself a benefactor by so doing, we recognize that the services of
domestic animals have by immemorial usage become an important and,
it may even be said, necessary element in the economy of modern life.
It is impossible, unless every principle of justice is to be cast to
the winds, that the due requital of these services should remain a
matter of personal caprice; for slavery is at all times hateful and
iniquitous, whether it be imposed on mankind or on the lower races.
Apart from the rights they possess in common with all intelligent
beings, domestic animals have a special claim on man’s courtesy and
sense of fairness, inasmuch as they are not his fellow-creatures only,
but his fellow-workers, his dependents, and in many cases the familiar
associates and trusted inmates of his home.



That wild animals, no less than domestic animals, have their rights,
albeit of a less positive character and far less easy to define, is
an essential point which follows directly from the acceptance of the
general principle of a _jus animalium_. It is of the utmost importance
to emphasize the fact that, whatever the _legal_ fiction may have been,
or may still be, the rights of animals are not _morally_ dependent on
the so-called rights of property.

The domination of property has left its trail indelibly on the records
of this question. Until the passing of “Martin’s Act” in 1822, the
most atrocious cruelty, even to domestic animals, could only be
punished where there was proved to be an infringement of the rights
of ownership. Some measure of legal protection was, as I have said,
accorded to wild animals in the Wild Animals in Captivity Act of 1900,
which was repealed, re-enacted, and extended in the Protection of
Animals Act, 1911; which Act was itself strengthened by an Amendment
passed in 1921, prohibiting the coursing or hunting of a wild animal
in an enclosed space from which it has no reasonable chance of escape.
With this exception, it is permissible for anyone to kill or torture
them with impunity, except where the sacred privileges of “property”
are thereby offended. “Everywhere,” it has been well said, “it is
absolutely a capital crime to be an unowned creature.”

Yet surely an unowned creature has the same right as another to live
his life unmolested and uninjured except when this is in some way
inimical to human welfare. We are justified by the strongest of all
instincts, that of self-defence, in safe-guarding ourselves against
such a multiplication of any species of animal as might imperil
the established supremacy of man; but we are _not_ justified in
unnecessarily killing--still less in torturing--any harmless being
whatsoever. In this respect the position of wild animals, in their
relation to man, is somewhat analogous to that of the uncivilized
towards the civilized nations. Nothing is more difficult than to
determine precisely to what extent it is morally permissible to
interfere with the autonomy of savage tribes--an interference which
seems in some cases to conduce to the general progress of the race, in
others to foster the worst forms of cruelty and injustice; but it is
beyond question that savages, like other people, have the right to be
exempt from all wanton insult and degradation.

In the same way, while admitting that man is justified, by the
exigencies of his own destiny, in asserting his supremacy over the
wild animals, we must deny him any right to turn his protectorate into
a tyranny, or to inflict one atom more of subjection and pain than is
absolutely unavoidable. To take advantage of the sufferings of animals,
whether wild or tame, for the gratification of sport, or gluttony, or
fashion, is quite incompatible with any possible assertion of animals’
rights. We may kill, if necessary, but never torture or degrade.

  “The laws of self-defence,” says an old writer,[24] “undoubtedly
  justify us in destroying those animals who would destroy us, who
  injure our properties or annoy our persons; but not even these,
  whenever their situation incapacitates them from hurting us. I know
  of no right which we have to shoot a bear on an inaccessible island
  of ice, or an eagle on the mountain’s top, whose lives cannot injure
  us, nor deaths procure us any benefit. We are unable to give life,
  and therefore ought not to take it away from the meanest insect
  without sufficient reason.”

I reserve, for fuller consideration in subsequent chapters, certain
problems which are suggested by the wholesale slaughter of wild animals
by the huntsman or the trapper, for purposes which are loosely supposed
to be inevitable. Meantime a word must be said about the condition of
those tamed or caged animals which, though wild by nature, and not
bred in captivity, are yet to a certain extent “domesticated”--a class
which stands midway between the true domestic and the wild. Is the
imprisonment of such animals a violation of the principle we have laid
down? In most cases I fear this question can only be answered in the

And here, once more I must protest against the common assumption that
these captive animals are laid _under an obligation_ to man by the
very fact of their captivity, and that therefore no complaint can
be made on the score of their loss of freedom and the many miseries
involved therein! It is extraordinary that even humane thinkers and
earnest champions of animals’ rights should permit themselves to be
misled by this most fallacious and flimsy line of argument. “Harmful
animals,” says one of these writers,[25] “and animals with whom man has
to struggle for the fruits of the earth, may of course be so shut up:
they gain by it, for otherwise they would not have been let live.”

And so in like manner it is sometimes contended that a menagerie is a
sort of paradise for wild beasts, whose loss of liberty is more than
compensated by the absence of the constant apprehension and insecurity
which, it is conveniently assumed, weigh so heavily on their spirits.
But all this notion of their “gaining by it” is in truth nothing
more than a mere arbitrary supposition; for, in the first place, a
speedy death may, for all we know, be very preferable to a protracted
death-in-life; while, secondly, the pretence that wild animals enjoy
captivity is even more absurd than the episcopal contention that the
life of a domestic animal is “one of very great comfort, according to
the animal’s own standard.”

To take a wild animal from its free natural state, full of abounding
egoism and vitality, and to shut it up for the wretched remainder of
its life in a cell where it has just space to turn round, and where it
necessarily loses every distinctive feature of its character--this
appears to me to be as downright a denial as could well be imagined
of the theory of animals’ rights. Nor is there much force in the
plea founded on the alleged scientific value of these zoological
institutions, at any rate in the case of the wilder and less tractable
animals, for it cannot be maintained that the establishment of
wild-beast shows is in any way necessary for the advancement of human
knowledge. For what do the good people see, who go to the gardens on a
half-holiday afternoon to poke their umbrellas at a blinking eagle-owl,
or to throw dog-biscuits down the expansive throat of a hippopotamus?
Not wild beasts or wild birds certainly, for there never have been
or can be such in the best of all possible menageries, but merely
the outer semblances and _simulacra_ of the denizens of forest and
prairie--poor spiritless remnants of what were formerly wild animals.
To kill and stuff these victims of our morbid curiosity, instead of
immuring them in lifelong imprisonment, would be at once a humaner and
a cheaper method, and could not possibly be of less use to science.[26]

But of course these remarks do not apply, with anything like the same
force, to the taming of such wild animals as are readily domesticated
in captivity, or trained by man to some intelligible and practical
purpose. For example, though we may look forward to the time when it
will not be deemed necessary to convert wild elephants into beasts
of burden, it must be acknowledged that the exaction of such service,
however questionable in itself, is very different from condemning an
animal to a long term of useless and deadening imbecility. There can be
no absolute standard of morals in these matters, whether it be human
liberty or animal liberty that is at stake; I merely contend that it is
as incumbent on us to show good reason for curtailing the one as the
other. This would be at once recognized, but for the prevalent habit of
regarding the lower animals as devoid of purpose and individuality.

The caging of wild song-birds is another practice which deserves the
strongest reprobation. It is often pleaded that the amusement given
by these unfortunate prisoners to the still more unfortunate human
prisoners of the sick-room, or the smoky city, is a justification of
their sacrifice; but surely such excuses rest only on habit--habitual
inability or unwillingness to look facts in the face. Few invalids, I
fancy, would be greatly cheered by the captive life that hangs at their
window, if they had fully considered how blighted and sterilized a life
it must be. The bird-catcher’s trade and the bird-catcher’s shop are
alike full of horrors, and they are horrors which are due entirely to a
silly fashion and a habit of callous thoughtlessness, not on the part
of the ruffianly bird-catcher (ruffianly enough, too often) who has to
bear the burden of the odium attaching to these cruelties, but of the
respectable customers who buy captured larks and linnets without the
smallest scruple or consideration.

Finally, let me point out that if we desire to cultivate a closer
intimacy with the wild animals, it must be an intimacy based on a
genuine love for them as living beings and fellow-creatures, not on the
superior power or cunning by which we can drag them from their native
haunts, warp the whole purpose of their lives, and degrade them to the
level of pets, or curiosities, or captives. The sanctuaries which the
parks of some large towns now afford to birds, squirrels, etc., suggest
what our relations with wild animals _might_ be, under more humane

Of all uses to which animals can be put--and this applies to the
domesticated as well as to the wild--the silliest, perhaps, is that
of training them to “perform.” The true interest of animal life lies
in its naturalness; and to see a dog, or horse, or lion performing a
“trick” is a sight which ought to cause disgust rather than pleasure
in any rational mind, especially as the process of training in most,
if not in all cases, involves the practice of cruelty. Humane persons
should discountenance every sort of entertainment in which animals are
introduced, from the dancing bear in the village to the more elaborate
but not less idiotic performances on the stage. Many of them are cruel;
all of them are stupid; most of them are both.



It is impossible that any discussion of the principle of animals’
rights can be at all adequate or conclusive which ignores, as many
so-called humanitarians still ignore, the immense underlying importance
of the food question. The origin of the habit of flesh-eating need
not greatly concern us; let us assume, in accordance with the most
favoured theory, that animals were first slaughtered by the uncivilized
migratory tribes under the stress of want, and that the practice thus
engendered, being fostered by the religious idea of blood-offering
and propitiation, survived and increased after the early conditions
which produced it had passed away. What is more important to note, is
that the very prevalence of the habit has caused it to be regarded as
a necessary feature of modern civilization, and that this view has
inevitably had a marked effect, and a very detrimental effect, on the
study of man’s moral relation to the lower animals.

Now it must be admitted, I think, that it is a difficult thing
consistently to recognize or assert the rights of an animal on whom
you purpose to make a meal, a difficulty which has not been at all
satisfactorily surmounted by those moralists who, while accepting
the practice of flesh-eating as an institution which is itself
beyond cavil, have nevertheless been anxious to find some solid basis
for a theory of humaneness. “Strange contrariety of conduct,” says
Goldsmith’s “Chinese Philosopher,” in commenting on this dilemma; “they
pity, and they _eat_ the objects of their compassion!” There is also
the further consideration that the sanction implicitly given to the
terrible cruelties inflicted on harmless cattle by the drover and the
slaughterman render it, by parity of reasoning, wellnigh impossible to
abolish many other acts of injustice that we see everywhere around us;
and this obstacle the opponents of humanitarian reform have not been
slow to utilize. Hence a disposition on the part of many humane writers
to fight shy of the awkward subject of the slaughter-house, or to gloss
it over with a series of contradictory and quite irrelevant excuses.

Let me give a few examples.

  “We deprive animals of life,” says Bentham, in a delightfully naïve
  application of the utilitarian philosophy, “and this is justifiable;
  their pains do not equal our enjoyments.”

  “By the scheme of universal providence,” says Lawrence, “the services
  between man and beast are intended to be reciprocal, and the greater
  part of the latter can by no other means requite human labour and
  care than by the forfeiture of life.”

Schopenhauer’s plea is somewhat similar to the foregoing:

  “Man deprived of all flesh-food, especially in the north, would
  suffer more than the animal suffers in a swift and unforeseen death;
  still we ought to mitigate it by the help of chloroform.”

Then there is the argument so frequently founded on the supposed
sanction of Nature.

  “My scruples,” wrote Lord Chesterfield, “remained unreconciled to the
  committing of so horrid a meal, till upon serious reflection I became
  convinced of its legality from the general order of Nature, which has
  instituted the universal preying upon the weaker as one of her first

Finally, we find the redoubtable Paley discarding as valueless the
whole appeal to Nature, and relying on the ordinances of Holy Writ.

  “A right to the flesh of animals. Some excuse seems necessary for the
  pain and loss which we occasion to animals by restraining them of
  their liberty, mutilating their bodies, and at last putting an end
  to their lives for our pleasure or convenience. The reasons alleged
  in vindication of this practice are the following: that the several
  species of animals being created to prey upon one another affords
  a kind of analogy to prove that the human species were intended to
  feed upon them.... Upon which reason I would observe that the analogy
  contended for is extremely lame, since animals have no power to
  support life by any other means, and since we have, for the whole
  human species might subsist entirely upon fruit, pulse, herbs, and
  roots, as many tribes of Hindus actually do.... It seems to me that
  it would be difficult to defend this right by any arguments which the
  light and order of Nature afford, and that we are beholden for it to
  the permission recorded in Scripture.”

It is evident from the above quotations, which might be indefinitely
extended, that the fable of the Wolf and the Lamb is constantly
repeating itself in the attitude of our moralists and philosophers
towards the victims of the slaughter-house. Far wiser and humaner,
on this particular subject, is the tone adopted by such writers as
Michelet, who, while not seeing any way of escape from the practice
of flesh-eating, at least refrain from attempting to support it by
fallacious reasonings.

  “The animals below us have also their rights before God. Animal life,
  sombre mystery! Immense world of thoughts and of dumb sufferings!
  All nature protests against the barbarity of man, who misapprehends,
  who humiliates, who tortures his inferior brethren.... Life--death!
  The daily murder which feeding upon animals implies--those hard and
  bitter problems sternly placed themselves before my mind. Miserable
  contradiction! Let us hope that there may be another globe in which
  the base, the cruel fatalities of this may be spared to us.”[27]

Meantime, however, the simple fact remains true, and is every year
finding more and more scientific corroboration, that there is no such
“cruel fatality” as that which Michelet imagined. Comparative anatomy
has shown that man is not carnivorous, but frugivorous, in his natural
structure; experience has shown that flesh-food is wholly unnecessary
for the support of healthy life. The importance of this more general
recognition of a truth which has in all ages been familiar to a few
enlightened thinkers, can hardly be over-estimated in its bearing on
the question of animals’ rights. It clears away a difficulty which has
long damped the enthusiasm, or warped the judgment of the humaner
school of European moralists, and makes it possible to approach the
subject of man’s moral relation to the lower animals in a more candid
and fearless spirit of enquiry. It is no part of my present purpose
to advocate the cause of vegetarianism; but in view of the mass of
evidence, readily obtainable, that the transit and slaughter of animals
are necessarily attended by most atrocious cruelties, and that a large
number of persons have for years been living healthily without the use
of flesh-meat, it must at least be said that to omit this branch of the
subject from the most earnest and strenuous consideration is playing
with the question of animals’ rights. Fifty or a hundred years ago,
there was perhaps some excuse for supposing that vegetarianism was a
mere fad; there is absolutely no such excuse at the present time.

There are two points of especial significance in this connection.
First, that as civilization advances, the cruelties inseparable from
the slaughtering system have been aggravated rather than diminished,
owing both to the increased necessity of transporting animals long
distances by sea and land, under conditions of hurry and hardship
which generally preclude any sort of humane regard for their comfort,
and to the clumsy and barbarous methods of slaughtering too often
practised in those ill-constructed dens of torment known as “private

Secondly, that the feeling of repugnance caused among all people of
sensibility and refinement by the sight, or mention, or even thought,
of the business of the butcher is also largely on the increase; so that
the details of the revolting process are, as far as possible, kept
carefully out of sight and out of mind, being delegated to a pariah
class who do the work which most educated persons would shrink from
doing for themselves. In these two facts we have clear evidence, first
that there is good reason why the public conscience, or at any rate the
humanitarian conscience, should be uneasy concerning the slaughter of
“live-stock,” and secondly that this uneasiness is already to a large
extent developed and manifested.

The common argument, adopted by many apologists of flesh-eating, as
of fox-hunting, that the pain inflicted by the death of the animals
is more than compensated by the pleasure enjoyed by them in their
life-time, since otherwise they would not have been brought into
existence at all, is ingenious rather than convincing, being indeed
none other than the old familiar fallacy already commented on--the
arbitrary trick of constituting ourselves the spokesmen and the
interpreters of our victims. Mr. E. B. Nicholson, for example, is of
opinion that “we may pretty safely take it that if he [the fox] were
able to understand and answer the question, he would choose life,
with all its pains and risks, to non-existence without them.”[29]
Unfortunately for the soundness of this suspiciously partial
assumption, there is no recorded instance of this strange alternative
having ever been submitted either to fox or philosopher; so that a
precedent has yet to be established on which to found a judgment.
Meantime, instead of committing the gross absurdity of talking
of non-existence as a state which is good, or bad, or in any way
comparable to existence, we might do well to remember that animals’
rights, if we admit them at all, must begin with the birth, and can
only end with the death, of the animals in question, and that we cannot
evade our just responsibilities by any such quibbling references to an
imaginary ante-natal choice in an imaginary ante-natal condition.

The most mischievous effect of the practice of flesh-eating, in its
influence on the study of animals’ rights at the present time, is that
it so stultifies and debases the very _raison d’être_ of countless
myriads of beings--it brings them into life for no better purpose than
to deny their right to live. It is idle to appeal to the internecine
warfare that we see in some aspects of wild nature, where the weaker
animal is often the prey of the stronger, for there (apart from the
fact that co-operation largely modifies competition) the weaker races
at least live their own lives and take their chance in the game,
whereas the victims of the human carnivora are bred, and fed, and from
the first pre-destined to untimely slaughter, so that their whole mode
of living is warped from its natural standard, and they are scarcely
more than animated beef or mutton or pork. It has been well said that
“to keep a man (slave or servant) for your own advantage merely, to
keep an animal that you may _eat_ it, is a lie. You cannot look that
man or animal in the face.”[30]

Vegetarianism, then, is the ideal towards which food-reformers must
strive; and in the meantime something may be done by the improvement of
methods of slaughtering. The advantages of the public over the private
slaughter-house have repeatedly been demonstrated, as, for example, in
the Report of the Tuberculosis Commission of 1898, and in the Report
of the Commission appointed by the Admiralty “to consider the humane
slaughtering of animals,” issued in 1904. Anyone who will compare the
blundering, haphazard methods of many English slaughter-houses with the
model abattoirs of Germany, Switzerland, and other Continental States,
will at once see the pressing need of such reforms on the score of

The butchers’ objections to the abattoir system arise from the usual
trade prejudices, and from the fear that their interests would suffer;
but private interests, real or imagined, should not be allowed to stand
in the way of a reform which would in the long run benefit all classes
of the community--not least the unhappy victims of the shambles.
One thing is certain, that if all flesh-eaters could themselves see
what goes on behind the scenes in many private slaughter-houses, an
end would soon be put to a system which is as barbarous as it is
insanitary--a fruitful cause of cruelty to the animals and of danger to
the public.

Reform of diet will doubtless be slow, and attended in many individual
cases with its difficulties and drawbacks. But at least we may lay down
this much as incumbent on all humanitarian thinkers--that everyone
must satisfy himself of the necessity, the real necessity, of the use
of flesh-food, before he comes to any conclusion on the subject of
animals’ rights. It is easy to see that, as the question is more and
more discussed, the result will be more and more decisive. “Whatever my
own practice may be,” wrote Thoreau, “I have no doubt that it is a part
of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave
off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating
each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.”



That particular form of recreation which is euphemistically known
as “sport” has a close historical connection with the practice of
flesh-eating, inasmuch as the hunter was in old times what the butcher
is now,--the “purveyor” on whom the family was dependent for its daily
supply of victuals. Modern sport, however, as usually carried on in
civilized European countries, has degenerated into what has been well
described as “amateur butchery,” a system under which the slaughter of
certain kinds of animals is practised less as a necessity than as a
means of amusement and diversion. Just as the youthful nobles, during
the savage scenes and reprisals of the Huguenot wars, used to seize
the opportunity of exercising their swordsmanship, and perfecting
themselves in the art of dealing graceful death-blows, so the modern
sportsman converts the killing of animals from a prosaic and perhaps
distasteful business into an agreeable and gentlemanly pastime.

Now, on the very face of it, this amateur butchery is, in one sense,
the most wanton and indefensible of all possible violations of the
principle of animals’ rights. If animals--or men, for that matter--have
of necessity to be killed, let them be killed accordingly; but to seek
one’s own _amusement_ out of the death-pangs of other beings, this is
saddening stupidity indeed! Wisely did Wordsworth inculcate as the
moral of his “Hartleap Well,”

  “Never to blend our pleasure or our pride
  With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.”

But the sporting instinct is due to sheer callousness and
insensibility; the sportsman, by force of habit, or by force of
hereditary influence, cannot understand or sympathize with the
sufferings he causes, and being, in the great majority of instances, a
man of slow perception, he naturally finds it much easier to follow the
hounds than to follow an argument. And here, in his chief blame, lies
also his chief excuse; for it may be said of him, as it cannot be said
of certain other tormentors, that he really does not comprehend the
import of what he is doing. Whether this ultimately makes his position
better or worse, is a point for the casuist to decide.

That “it would have to be killed anyhow” is a truly deplorable reason
for torturing any animal whatsoever; it is an argument which would
equally have justified the worst barbarities of the Roman amphitheatre.
To exterminate wolves, and other dangerous species, may indeed, at
certain places and times, be necessary and justifiable enough. But the
sportsman nowadays will not even perform this practical service of
exterminating such animals--the fox, for example--as are noxious to the
general interests of the community; on the contrary, he “preserves”
them (note the unintended humour of the term!), and then, by a happy
afterthought, claims the gratitude of the animals themselves for his
humane and benevolent interposition.[31] In plain words, he first
undertakes to rid the country of a pest, and then, finding the process
an enjoyable one to himself, he contrives that it shall never be
brought to a conclusion. Prometheus had precisely as much reason to be
grateful to the vulture for eternally gnawing at his liver, as have
the hunted animals to thank the predaceous sportsmen who “preserve”
them. Let me once more enter a protest against the canting Pharisaism
which is afraid to take the just responsibility of its own selfish

  “What name should we bestow,” said a humane essayist of the
  eighteenth century,[32] “on a superior being who, without provocation
  or advantage, should continue from day to day, void of all pity
  and remorse, to torment mankind for diversion, and at the same
  time endeavour with the utmost care to preserve their lives and to
  promulgate their species, in order to increase the number of victims
  devoted to his malevolence, and be delighted in proportion to the
  miseries which he occasioned? I say, what name detestable enough
  could we find for such a being? Yet, if we impartially consider the
  case, and our intermediate situation, we must acknowledge that, with
  regard to the inferior animals, just such a being is the sportsman.”

The excuses alleged in favour of English blood-sports in general, and
of hunting in particular, are for the most part as irrelevant as they
are unreasonable. It is often said that the manliness of our national
character would be injuriously affected by the discontinuance of these
sports--a strange argument, when one considers the very unequal, and
therefore unmanly, conditions of the strife. But, apart from this
consideration, what right can we possess to cultivate these personal
qualities at the expense of unspeakable suffering to the lower races?
Such actions may be pardonable in a savage, or in a schoolboy in whom
the savage nature still largely predominates, but they are wholly
unworthy of a civilized and rational man.

As for the nonsense sometimes talked about the beneficial effects of
those field-sports which bring men into contact with the sublimities
of nature, the dynamiters who used to cross the ocean to blow up an
English town might on this principle have justified the object of their
journey by the assertion that the sea-voyage brought them in contact
with the exalting and ennobling influence of the Atlantic.[33]

As the case stands between the sportsman and his victims, there cannot
be much doubt as to whence the benefits proceed, and from which party
the gratitude is due.

  “Woe to the ungrateful!” says Michelet. “By this phrase I mean the
  sporting crowd, who, unmindful of the numerous benefits we owe to the
  animals, exterminate innocent life. A terrible sentence weighs on the
  tribes of sportsmen--they can create nothing. They originate no art,
  no industry.... It is a shocking and hideous thing to see a child
  partial to sport; to see woman enjoying and admiring murder, and
  encouraging her child. That delicate and sensitive woman would not
  give him a knife, but she gives him a gun.”

The sports of hunting and coursing are a brutality which could not be
tolerated for a day in a state which possessed anything more than the
mere name of justice, freedom, and enlightenment. Sir Thomas More says
of his model citizens in “Utopia:”

  “Nor can they comprehend the pleasure of seeing dogs run after a hare
  more than of seeing one dog run after another; for if the seeing them
  run is that which gives the pleasure, you have the same entertainment
  to the eye on both these occasions, since that is the same in both
  cases; but if the pleasure lies in seeing the hare killed and torn by
  the dogs, this ought rather to stir pity, that a weak, harmless, and
  fearful hare should be devoured by strong, fierce, and cruel dogs.”

To be accurate, the zest of sport lies neither in the running nor the
killing, as such, but in the excitement caused by the fact that a
life (some one else’s life) is at stake, that the pursuer is matched
in a fierce game of hazard against the pursued. The opinion has been
expressed, by one well qualified to speak with authority on the
subject, that “well-laid drags, tracked by experts, would test the
mettle both of hounds and riders to hounds; but then a terrified,
palpitating, fleeing life would not be struggling ahead, and so the
idea is not pleasing to those who find pleasure in blood.”[34]

The case is even worse when the quarry is to all intents and purposes
domesticated, an animal wild by nature, but by force of circumstances
and surroundings tame. Such are the park deer, the victims of the
sportsmen who persist in carrying on the carted stag hunt, in spite of
the abolition of the Royal Buckhounds in 1901. There is urgent need
that the laws which relate to the humane treatment of animals should be
amended, or more wisely interpreted, on this particular point, so as to
afford immediate protection to these domesticated stags, whose torture,
under the name and sanction of “sport,” has been long condemned by
the public conscience. Bear-baiting and cock-fighting have now been
abolished by legal enactment, and it is high time that the equally
demoralizing sport of hunting of tame stags should be relegated to the
same category.[35]

The same must be said of some sports which are practised by the
English working man--rabbit-coursing, in particular, that half-holiday
diversion which is so popular in many villages of the North. An attempt
is often made by the apologists of amateur butchery to play off one
class against another in the discussion of this question. They protest,
on the one hand, against any interference with aristocratic sport,
on the plea that working men are no less addicted to such pastimes;
and, on the other hand, a cry is raised against the unfairness of
restricting the amusements of the poor, while noble lords and ladies
are permitted to hunt the carted stag with impunity.

The obvious answer to these quibbling excuses is that _all_ such
barbarities, whether practised by rich or poor, are alike condemned by
any conceivable principle of justice and humaneness; and, further, that
it is a doubtful compliment to working men to suggest that they have
nothing better to do in their spare hours than to torture defenceless
rabbits. It was long ago remarked by Martin, the author of the famous
Act of 1822, that such an argument indicates at bottom a contempt
rather than regard for the working-classes; it is as much as to say,
“Poor creatures, let them alone--they have few amusements--let them
enjoy them.”

Nothing can be more shocking than the treatment commonly accorded to
rabbits, rats, and other small animals, on the plea that they are
“vermin,” and therefore, it is tacitly assumed, outside the pale of
humanity and justice; we have here another instance of the way in which
the application of a contemptuous name may aggravate and increase
the actual tendency to barbarous ill-usage. How many a demoralizing
spectacle, especially where the young are concerned, is witnessed
when “fun” is made out of the death and torture of “vermin”! How
horrible is the practice, apparently universal throughout all country
districts, of setting steel traps along the ditches and hedgerows, in
which the victims are frequently left to linger, in an agony of pain
and apprehension, for hours, or even days! Yet there are no means of
redressing these barbarities, because the laws, such as they are, which
prohibit cruelty to animals, are not designed to take any cognizance of

All that has been said of hunting and coursing is applicable also--in
a less degree, perhaps, but on exactly the same principle--to the
sports of shooting and fishing. Let me quote a striking testimony to
the wickedness and injustice of sport, as exhibited in one of its most
refined and fashionable forms, the “cult of the pheasant.”[36]

  “For what is it but the deliberate massacre in cold blood every year
  of thousands and tens of thousands of tame, hand-reared birds who are
  literally driven into the jaws of death and mown down in a peculiarly
  brutal manner?... A perfect roar of guns fills the air, louder tap
  and yell the beaters, above the din can be heard the heart-rending
  cries of wounded hares and rabbits, some of which can be seen
  dragging themselves away, with both hind legs broken, or turning
  round and round in their agony before they die. And the pheasants!
  They are on every side, some rising, some dropping, some lying dead,
  but the greater majority fluttering on the ground wounded, some
  with both legs broken and a wing, some with both wings broken and a
  leg, others merely winged, running to hide, others mortally wounded
  gasping out their last breath of life amidst the fiendish sounds
  which surround them. And this is called _sport_!... Sport in every
  form and kind is horrible, from the rich man’s hare-coursing to the
  poor man’s rabbit-coursing. All show the ‘tiger’ that lives in our
  natures, and which nothing but a higher civilization will eradicate.”

It does not in the least matter, so far as the question of animals’
rights is concerned, whether you run your victim to death with a pack
of yelping hounds, or shoot him with a gun, or drag him from his native
waters by a hook; the point at issue is simply whether man is justified
in inflicting any form of death or suffering on the lower races for his
mere amusement and caprice. There can be little doubt what answer must
be given to this question.



We have seen what a vast amount of quite preventable suffering is
caused through the agency of the slaughterman who kills for a business,
and of the sportsman who kills for a pastime, the victims in either
case being regarded as mere irrational automata, with no higher destiny
than to satisfy the most artificial wants or the most cruel caprices
of mankind. A few words must now be said about the fur and feather
traffic--the slaughter of mammals and birds for human clothing or
human ornamentation--a subject connected on the one hand with that of
flesh-eating, and on the other, though to a less degree, with that of
sport. What I shall say will of course have no reference to wool, or
any other substance which is obtainable without injury to the animal
from whom it is taken.

It is evident that in this case, as in the butchering trade, the
responsibility for whatever wrongs are done must rest ultimately on the
class which demands an unnecessary commodity, rather than on that which
is compelled by economic pressure to supply it; it is not the man who
kills the bird, but the lady who wears the feathers in her hat, who is
the true offender. But here it will be asked, _is_ the use of furs and
feathers unnecessary? Now of course if we consider solely the present
needs and tastes of society, in regard to these matters, it must be
admitted that a sudden, unexpected withdrawal of the numberless animal
products on which our “civilization” depends would be a very serious
embarrassment; the world, as alarmists point out to us, might have to
go to bed without candles, and wake up to find itself without boots.
It must be remembered, however, that such changes do not come about
with suddenness, but, on the contrary, with the extremest slowness
imaginable; and a little thought will suggest, what experience has
already in many cases confirmed, that there is really no indispensable
animal substance for which a substitute cannot be provided, when once
there is sufficient demand, from the vegetable or mineral kingdom.

Take the case of leather, for instance, a material which is in almost
universal use, and may, under present circumstances, be fairly
described as a necessary. What should we do without leather? was, in
fact, a question very frequently asked of vegetarians during the early
and callow years of the food-reform movement, until it was found that
vegetable leather could be successfully employed in boot-making, and
that the inconsistency of which vegetarians at present stand convicted
is only a temporary and incidental one. Now of course so long as oxen
are slaughtered for food, their skins will be utilized in this way; but
it is not difficult to foresee that the gradual discontinuance of the
habit of flesh-eating will lead to a similar gradual discontinuance of
the use of hides, and that human ingenuity will not be at a loss in the
provision of a substitute. So that it does not follow that a commodity
which, in the immediate sense, is necessary now, would be absolutely or
permanently necessary, under different conditions, in the future.

My sole reason for dwelling on this typical point is that I wish to
guard myself, by anticipation, against a very plausible argument, by
which discredit is often cast on the whole theory of animals’ rights.
What can be the object, it is said, of entering on the sentimental path
of an impossible humanitarianism, which only leads into insurmountable
difficulties and dilemmas, inasmuch as the use of these various animal
substances is so interwoven with the whole system of society that it
can never be discontinued until society itself comes to an end? I
assert that the case is by no means so desperate--that it is easy to
make a right beginning now, and to foresee the lines along which future
progress will be effected. Much that is impossible in our own time may
be realized, by those who come after us, as the natural and inevitable
outcome of reforms which it now lies with us to inaugurate.

This said, it may be freely admitted that, at the outset, humanitarians
will do well to draw a practical distinction between such animal
products as are converted to some genuine personal use, and those
which are supplied for no better object than to gratify the idle whims
of luxury or fashion. The _when_ and the _where_ are considerations
of the greatest import in these questions. There is a certain
fitness in the hunter--himself the product of a rough, wild era in
human development--assuming the skins of the wild creatures he has
conquered; but it does not follow because an Eskimo, for example, may
appropriately wear fur, or a Red Indian feathers, that this apparel
will be equally becoming to the inhabitants of London or New York;
on the contrary, an act which is perfectly natural in the one case
is often a sign of crass vulgarity in the other. Hercules, clothed
triumphant in the spoils of the Nemean lion, is a subject for painter
and poet; but what if he had purchased the skin, ready dressed, from a
contemporary manufacturer?

What we must unhesitatingly condemn is the blind and reckless barbarism
which has ransacked, and is ransacking, whole provinces and continents,
without a glimmer of suspicion that the birds and quadrupeds which it
is rapidly exterminating have any other part or purpose in nature than
to be sacrificed to human vanity, that idle gentlemen and ladies may
bedeck themselves, like certain characters in the fable, in borrowed
skins and feathers. What care _they_ for all the beauty and tenderness
and intelligence of the varied forms of animal life? and what is it to
them whether these be helped forward by man in the universal progress
and evolution of all living things, or whether whole species be
transformed and degraded by the way--boiled down, like the beaver, into
a hat, or, like the seal, into a lady’s jacket?

Whatever it may be in other respects, the fur trade, in so far as it is
a supply of ornamental clothing for those who are under no necessity
of wearing fur at all, is a barbarous and stupid business. It makes
patchwork, one may say, not only of the hides of its victims, but of
the conscience and intellect of its patrons. A fur garment or trimming,
we are told, appearing to the eye as if it were one uniform piece, is
generally made up of many curiously shaped fragments. It is significant
that a society which is enamoured of so many shams and fictions, and
which detests nothing so strongly as the need of looking facts in the
face, should pre-eminently esteem those articles of apparel which are
constructed on the most deceptive and illusory principle. The story of
the Ass in the Lion’s skin is capable, it seems, of a new and wider

Cruel as is all hunting of animals for their fur, there is a peculiar
callousness in the seal “fishery,” not only because the seal, far from
being a fish, is one of the most sensitive of warm-blooded animals, but
because of the atrocious methods by which the practice of “sealing” has
too often been pursued. In all the history of man’s dealings with the
lower races, there is no bloodier record than that of his treatment of
the trustful and unresisting seal.

But if the fur trade gives cause for serious reflection, what are we to
say of the still more abominable trade in feathers? Murderous, indeed,
is the millinery which finds its most fashionable ornament in the dead
bodies of birds--birds, the loveliest and most blithesome beings in
Nature! It has been said that “to enumerate all the feathers used for
ornamental purposes would be practically to give a complete list of
all known and obtainable birds.” The figures and details published by
those humane writers who have raised an unavailing protest against this
latest and worst crime of Fashion are really appalling in their stern
and naked record of unremitting cruelty.

  “One dealer in London is said to have received as a single
  consignment 32,000 dead humming-birds, 80,000 aquatic birds, and
  800,000 pairs of wings. A Parisian dealer had a contract for 40,000
  birds, and an army of murderers were turned out to supply the order.
  No less than 40,000 terns have been sent from Long Island in one
  season for millinery purposes. At one auction alone in London there
  were sold 404,389 West Indian and Brazilian bird-skins, and 356,389
  East Indian, besides thousands of pheasants and birds-of-paradise.”

The meaning of such statistics is simply that the women of Europe and
America have given an order for the ruthless extermination of birds.

It is not seriously contended in any quarter that this wholesale
destruction, effected often in the most revolting and heartless manner,
is capable of excuse or justification; yet the efforts of those who
address themselves to the better feelings of the offenders appear
to meet with little or no success. The cause of this failure must
undoubtedly be sought in the general lack of any clear conviction that
animals have rights; and the evil will never be thoroughly remedied
until not only this particular abuse, but all such abuses, and the
prime source from which such abuses originate, have been subjected to
an impartial criticism.[37]

In saying this I do not of course mean to imply that special efforts
should not be directed against special cruelties. I have already
remarked that the main responsibility for the daily murders which
fashionable millinery is instigating must lie at the door of those
who demand, rather than those who supply, these hideous and funereal
ornaments. Unfortunately the process, like that of slaughtering cattle,
is throughout delegated to other hands than those of the ultimate
purchaser, so that it is exceedingly difficult to bring home a due
sense of blood-guiltiness to the right person.

The confirmed sportsman, or amateur butcher, at least sees with his
own eyes the circumstances attendant on his “sport”; and the fact
that he feels no compunction in pursuing it is due, in most cases, to
an obtuseness or confusion of the moral faculties. But many of those
who wear seal-skin mantles, or feather-bedaubed bonnets are naturally
humane enough; they are misled by pure ignorance or thoughtlessness,
and would at once abandon such practices if they could be made
aware of the methods employed in the wholesale massacre of seals
or humming-birds. Still, it remains true that all these questions
ultimately hang together, and that no complete solution will be found
for any one of them until the whole problem of our moral relation
towards the lower animals is studied with far greater comprehensiveness.

For this reason it is perhaps unscientific to assert that any
particular form of cruelty to animals is _worse_ than another form; the
truth is, that each of these hydra-heads, the offspring of one parent
stem, has its own proper characteristic, and is different, not worse
or better than the rest. To flesh-eating belongs the proud distinction
of causing a greater bulk of animal suffering than any other habit
whatsoever; to sport, the meed of unique and unparalleled brutality;
while the patrons of murderous millinery afford the most marvellous
instance of the capacity the human mind possesses for ignoring its
personal responsibilities. To re-apply Keats’s words:

  “For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
    And went all naked to the hungry shark;
  For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death
    The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
  Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
    A thousand men in troubles wide and dark;
  Half ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
  That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.”



Great is the change when we turn from the easy, thoughtless
indifferentism of the sportsman or the milliner to the more determined
and deliberately chosen attitude of the scientist--so great, indeed,
that by many people, even among professed champions of animals’
rights, it is held impossible to trace such dissimilar lines of
action to one and the same source. Yet it can be shown, I think, that
in this instance, as in those already examined, the prime cause of
man’s injustice to the lower animals is the belief that they are mere
automata, devoid alike of spirit, character, and individuality; only,
while the ignorant sportsman expresses this contempt through the medium
of the battue, and the milliner through that of the bonnet, the more
seriously-minded physiologist works his work in the “experimental
torture” of the laboratory. The difference lies in the temperament of
the men, and in the tone of their profession; but in their denial of
the most elementary rights of the lower races, they are all inspired
and instigated by one common prejudice.

The analytical method employed by modern science tends ultimately, in
the hands of its most enlightened exponents, to a recognition of the
close relationship between mankind and the animals; but incidentally
it has exercised a most sinister effect on the study of the _jus
animalium_ among the mass of average men. For consider the dealings
of the so-called naturalist with the animals whose nature he makes it
his business to observe! In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, he is
wholly unappreciative of the distinctive quality, the individuality,
of the subject of his investigations, and becomes nothing more than a
contented accumulator of facts, an industrious dissector of carcasses.

  “I think the most important requisite in describing an animal,” says
  Thoreau, “is to be sure that you give its character and spirit, for
  in that you have, without error, the sum and effect of all its parts
  known and unknown. Surely the most important part of an animal is its
  _anima_, its vital spirit, on which is based its character and all
  the particulars by which it most concerns us. Yet most scientific
  books which treat of animals leave this out altogether, and what they
  describe are, as it were, phenomena of dead matter.”

The whole system of our “natural history” as practised at the present
time, is based on a deplorably partial and misleading method. Does
a rare bird alight on our shores? It is at once slaughtered by some
enterprising collector, and proudly handed over to the nearest
taxidermist, that it may be “preserved,” among a number of other
stuffed corpses, in the local Museum. It is a dismal business at best,
this science of the fowling-piece and the dissecting-knife, but it
is in keeping with the utilitarian tendency of a certain school of
thought, and only a few of its professors rise out of it, and above
it, to a maturer and more far-sighted understanding.

  “The child,” says Michelet, “disports himself, shatters, and
  destroys; he finds his happiness in _undoing_. And science, in its
  childhood, does the same. It cannot study unless it kills. The sole
  use which it makes of a living mind is, in the first place, to
  dissect it. None carry into scientific pursuits that tender reverence
  for life which Nature rewards by unveiling to us her mysteries.”

Under these circumstances, it is scarcely to be wondered at that
modern scientists, their minds athirst for further and further
opportunities of satisfying this analytical curiosity, should desire
to have recourse to the experimental torture which is euphemistically
described as “vivisection.” They are caught and impelled by the
overmastering passion of knowledge; and, as a handy subject for the
gratification of this passion, they see before them the helpless race
of animals, in part wild, in part domesticated, but alike regarded by
the generality of mankind as incapable of possessing any “rights.” They
are practically accustomed (despite their ostensible disavowal of the
Cartesian theory) to treat these animals as automata--things made to be
killed and dissected and catalogued for the advancement of knowledge;
they are, moreover, in their professional capacity, the lineal
descendants of a class of men who, however kindly and considerate
in other respects, have never scrupled to subordinate the strongest
promptings of humaneness to the least of the supposed interests of
science.[38] Given these conditions, it seems as inevitable that the
physiologist should vivisect as that the country gentleman should
shoot. Experimental torture is as appropriately the study of the
half-enlightened man as sport is the amusement of the half-witted.

But the fact that vivisection is not, as some of its opponents would
appear to regard it, a portentous, unaccountable phenomenon, but rather
the logical outcome of a certain ill-balanced habit of mind, does not
in any way detract from its intellectual and moral loathsomeness.
It is idle to spend a single moment in advocating the rights of the
lower animals, if such rights do not include a total and unqualified
exemption from the awful tortures of vivisection--from the doom of
being slowly and mercilessly dismembered, or flayed, or baked alive, or
infected with some deadly virus, or subjected to any of the numerous
modes of torture inflicted by the Scientific Inquisition.[39] Let us
heartily endorse the words of Miss Cobbe on this crucial subject:

  “The _minimum_ of all possible rights plainly is--to be spared the
  worst of all possible wrongs; and if a horse or dog have no claim
  to be spared from being maddened and mangled after the fashion of
  Pasteur and Chauveau, then it is impossible it can have any right at
  all, or that any offence against it, by gentle or simple, can deserve

The assertion, commonly made by the apologists of the Scientific
Inquisition, that vivisection is justified by its utility--that it is,
in fact, indispensable to the advance of knowledge and civilization--is
founded on a mere half-view of the position; the scientist, as I have
already remarked, is a half-enlightened man. Let us assume (a large
assumption, certainly, controverted as it is by some most weighty
medical testimony) that the progress of surgical science is assisted
by the experiments of the vivisector. What then? Before rushing to the
conclusion that vivisection is justifiable on that account, a wise man
will take into full consideration the other, the moral side of the
question--the hideous injustice of torturing a sentient animal, and the
terrible wrong thereby done to the humane sense of the community.[40]

The wise scientist and the wise humanist are identical. A true science
cannot possibly ignore the incontrovertible fact that the practice
of vivisection is revolting to the human conscience, even among the
ordinary members of a not over-sensitive society. The so-called
“science” which overlooks this vital fact, and confines its view to
the material aspects of the problem, is not science at all, but a
one-sided assertion of the views which find favour with a particular
class of specialists.

Nothing is necessary which is abhorrent, revolting, intolerable,
to the general instincts of humanity. Better a thousand times that
science should forego or postpone the questionable advantage of certain
problematical discoveries, than that the moral conscience of the
community should be unmistakably outraged by the confusion of right and
wrong. The short cut is not always the right path; and to perpetrate
a cruel injustice to the lower animals, and then attempt to excuse it
on the ground that it will benefit posterity, is an argument which is
as irrelevant as it is immoral. Ingenious it may be (in the way of
hoodwinking the unwary) but it is certainly in no true sense scientific.

If there be one bright spot, one refreshing oasis, in the discussion
of this dreary subject, it is the humorous recurrence of the old
threadbare fallacy of “better for the animals themselves.” Yes, even
here, in the laboratory of the vivisector, amidst the baking and sawing
and dissection, we are sometimes met by that familiar friend--the proud
plea of a single-hearted regard for the interests of the suffering
animals! Who knows but what some beneficent experimentalist, if only
he be permitted to cut up a sufficient number of victims, may discover
some potent remedy for all the lamented ills of the animal as well as
of the human creation? Can we doubt that the victims themselves, if
once they could realize the noble object of their martyrdom, would vie
with each other in rushing eagerly on the knife? The only marvel is
that, where the cause is so meritorious, no _human_ volunteer has as
yet come forward to die under the hands of the vivisector![41]

It is fully admitted that experiments on men would be far more valuable
and conclusive than experiments on animals; yet scientists usually
disavow any wish to revive these practices, and indignantly deny the
rumours, occasionally circulated, that the poorer patients in hospitals
are the subjects of such anatomical curiosity. Now here, it will be
observed, in the case of men, the _moral_ aspect of vivisection is
admitted by the scientist as a matter of course, yet in the case
of animals it is allowed no weight whatever! How can this strange
inconsistency be justified, unless on the assumption that men have
rights, but animals have no rights--in other words, that animals are
mere _things_, possessed of no claim on the justice and forbearance of
the community?

One of the most notable and ominous features in the apologies offered
for vivisection is the assertion, so commonly made by scientific
writers, that it is “no worse” than certain kindred practices. When
the upholders of any accused institution begin to plead that it is
“no worse” than other institutions, we may feel quite assured that
the case is a very bad one indeed--it is the drowning man catching
at the last straw and shred of argument. Thus the advocates of
experimental torture are reduced to the expedient of laying stress on
the cruelties of the butcher and the herdsman, and inquiring why, if
pole-axing and castration are permissible, vivisection may not also be
permitted.[42] Sport, also, is a practice which has greatly shocked the
susceptibilities of the humane vivisector. A writer in the “Fortnightly
Review” has defined sport as “the love of the clever destruction of
living things,” and has calculated that three millions of animals
are yearly mangled by English sportsmen, in addition to those killed

Now if the attack on vivisection emanated primarily or wholly from
the apologists of the sportsman and slaughterer, this _tu quoque_
of the scientist’s must be allowed to be a smart, though rather
flippant, retort; but when _all_ cruelty is arraigned as inhuman
and unjustifiable, an evasive answer of this kind ceases to have
any pertinence. Let us admit, however, that, in contrast with the
childish brutality of the sportsman, the undoubted seriousness and
conscientiousness of the vivisector (for I do not question that he acts
from conscientious motives) may be counted to his advantage. But then
we have to remember, on the other hand, that the conscientious man,
when he goes wrong, is far more dangerous to society than the knave or
the fool; indeed, the special horror of vivisection consists precisely
in this fact, that it is not due to mere thoughtlessness and ignorance,
but represents a deliberate, avowed, conscientious invasion of the
very principle of animals’ rights.

I have already said that it is idle to speculate which is the worst
form of cruelty to animals, for certainly in this subject, if anywhere,
we must

              “... reject the lore
  Of nicely calculated less or more.”

Vivisection, if there be any truth at all in the principle for which
I am contending, is not the root, but the flower and consummation of
barbarity and injustice--the _ne plus ultra_ of iniquity in man’s
dealings with the lower races. The root of the evil lies, as I have
throughout asserted, in that detestable assumption (detestable equally
whether it be based on pseudo-religious or pseudo-scientific grounds)
that there is a gulf, an impassable barrier, between man and the
animals, and that the moral instincts of compassion, justice, and love,
are to be as sedulously repressed and thwarted in the one direction as
they are to be fostered and extended in the other.

For this very reason our crusade against the Scientific Inquisition, to
be thorough and successful, must be founded on the rock of consistent
opposition to cruelty in every form and phase; it is useless to
denounce vivisection as the source of all inhumanities, and, while
demanding its immediate suppression, to suppose that other minor
questions may be indefinitely postponed. It is true that the actual
emancipation of the lower races, as of the human, can only proceed
step by step, and that it is both natural and politic to strike first
at what is most repulsive to the public conscience. I am not denying
the wisdom of such a concentration of effort on any particular point,
but warning my readers against the too common tendency to forget the
general principle that underlies each individual protest.

The spirit in which we approach these matters should be a liberal
and far-seeing one. Those who work for the abolition of vivisection,
or any other particular wrong, should do so with the avowed purpose
of capturing one stronghold of the enemy, not because they believe
that the war will then be over, but because they will be able to use
the position thus gained as an advantageous starting-point for still
further progression.



Having now applied the principle with which we started to the several
cases where it appears to be most flagrantly overlooked, we are in a
better position to estimate the difficulties and the possibilities
of its future acceptance. Our investigation of animals’ rights has
necessarily been, in large measure, an enumeration of animals’ wrongs,
a story of cruelty and injustice which might have been unfolded in far
greater and more impressive detail, had there been any reason for here
repeating what has been elsewhere established by other writers beyond
doubt or dispute.

But my main purpose was to deal with a general principle rather than
with particular instances; and enough has already been said to show
that, while man has much cause to be grateful to the lower animals for
the innumerable services rendered by them, he can hardly pride himself
on the record of the counter-benefits which they have received at his

  “If we consider,” says Primatt, “the excruciating injuries offered
  on our part to the brutes, and the patience on their part; how
  frequent _our_ provocation, and how seldom _their_ resentment (and in
  some cases _our_ weakness and _their_ strength, _our_ slowness and
  _their_ swiftness); one would be almost tempted to suppose that the
  brutes had combined in one general scheme of benevolence, to teach
  mankind lessons of mercy and meekness by their own forbearance and

It is unwise, no doubt, to dwell too exclusively on the wrongs of which
animals are the victims; it is still more unwise to ignore them as
they are to-day ignored by the large majority of mankind. It is full
time that this question were examined in the light of some rational
and guiding principle, and that we ceased to drift helplessly between
the extremes of total indifference on the one hand, and spasmodic,
partially-applied compassion on the other. We have had enough, and too
much, of trifling with this or that isolated aspect of the subject,
and of playing off the exposure of somebody else’s insensibility by
way of a balance for our own, as if a _tu quoque_ were a sufficient
justification of a man’s moral delinquencies.

The terrible sufferings that are quite needlessly inflicted on the
lower animals under the plea of domestic usage, food-demands, sport,
fashion, and science, are patent to all who have the seeing eye and
the feeling heart to apprehend them; those sufferings will not be
lessened, nor will man’s responsibility be diminished by any such
irrelevant assertions as that vivisection is less cruel than sport, or
sport less cruel than butchering,--nor yet by the contrary contention
that vivisection, or sport, or flesh-eating, as the case may be, is the
prime origin of all human inhumanity. We want a comprehensive principle
which will cover all these varying instances, and determine the true
lines of reform.

Such a principle, as I have throughout insisted, can only be found
in the recognition of the right of animals, as of men, to be exempt
from any unnecessary suffering or serfdom, the right to live a natural
life of “restricted freedom,” subject to the real, not supposed or
pretended, requirements of the general community. It may be said, and
with truth, that the perilous vagueness of the word “necessary” must
leave a convenient loop-hole of escape to anyone who wishes to justify
his own treatment of animals, however unjustifiable that treatment may
appear; the vivisector will assert that his practice is necessary in
the interests of science, the flesh-eater that he cannot maintain his
health without animal food, and so on through the whole category of
systematic oppression.

The difficulty is an inevitable one. No form of words can be devised
for the expression of rights, human or animal, which is not liable
to some sort of evasion; and all that can be done is to fix the
responsibility of deciding between what is necessary and unnecessary,
between factitious personal wants and genuine social demands, on those
in whom is vested the power of exacting the service or sacrifice
required. The appeal being thus made, and the issue thus stated, it may
be confidently trusted that the personal conscience of individuals and
the public conscience of the nation, acting and reacting in turn on
each other, will slowly and surely work out the only possible solution
of this difficult and many-sided problem.

For that the difficulties involved in this animal question are many and
serious, no one, I imagine, would dispute, and certainly no attempt
has been made in this essay to minimize or deny them. It may suit
the purpose of those who would retard all humanitarian progress to
represent its advocates as mere dreamers and sentimentalists--men
and women who befool themselves by shutting their eyes to the fierce
struggle that is everywhere being waged in the world of nature, while
they point with virtuous indignation to the iniquities perpetrated
by man. But it is possible to be quite free from any sentimental
illusions, and yet to hold a very firm belief in the principle of
animals’ rights. We do not deny, or attempt to explain away, the
existence of evil in nature, or the fact that the life of the lower
races, as of mankind, is based to a large degree on rapine and
violence; nor can we pretend to say whether this evil will ever be
wholly amended. It is therefore confessedly impossible, at the present
time, to formulate an entirely and logically consistent philosophy of
rights; but that would be a poor argument against grappling with the
subject at all.

Nor are the hard unmistakable facts of the situation, when viewed in
their entirety, by any means calculated to inspire with confidence
the opponents of humane reform. For, if it be true that internecine
competition is a great factor in the economy of nature, it is no less
true, as has been already pointed out, that co-operation is also a
great factor therein. Furthermore, though there are many difficulties
besetting the onward path of humanitarianism, an even greater
difficulty has to be faced by those who refuse to proceed along that
path, viz., the fact--a stronger fact than any that can be produced
on the other side--that the instinct of compassion and justice to the
lower animals has already been so largely developed in the human
conscience as to obtain legislative recognition. If the theory of
animals’ rights is a mere idealistic phantasy, it follows that we have
long ago committed ourselves to a track which can lead us nowhither.
Is it then proposed that we should retrace our steps, with a view to
regaining the antique position of savage and consistent callousness;
or are we to remain perpetually in our present meaningless attitude,
admitting the moral value of a partially awakened sensibility, yet
opposing an eternal _non possumus_ to any further improvement? Neither
of these alternatives is for a moment conceivable; it is perfectly
certain that there will still be a forward movement, and along the same
lines as in the past.

Nor need we be at all disconcerted by the derisive inquiries of our
antagonists as to the final outcome of such theories. “There is some
reason to hope,” said the author of the ironical “Vindication of the
Rights of Brutes,” “that this essay will soon be followed by treatises
on the rights of vegetables and minerals, and that thus the doctrine of
perfect equality will become universal.” To which suggestion we need
only answer, “Perhaps.” It is for each age to initiate its own ethical
reforms, according to the light and sensibility of its own instincts;
further and more abstruse questions, at present insoluble, may safely
be left to the more mature judgment of posterity. The human conscience
furnishes the safest and simplest indicator in these matters. We know
that certain acts of injustice affect us as they did not affect our
forefathers--it is our duty to set these right. It is not our duty to
agitate problems, which, at the present date, excite no unmistakable
moral feeling.

The humane instinct will assuredly continue to develop. And it
should be observed that to advocate the rights of animals is far
more than to plead for compassion or justice towards the victims of
ill-usage; it is not only, and not primarily, for the sake of the
victims that we plead, but for the sake of mankind itself. Our true
civilization, our race-progress, our _humanity_ (in the best sense
of the term) are concerned in this development; it is ourselves, our
own vital instincts, that we wrong, when we trample on the rights of
the fellow-beings, human or non-human, over whom we chance to hold

This most important point is constantly overlooked by the opponents of
humanitarian reform. They labour, unsuccessfully enough, to minimize
the complaints of animals’ wrongs, on the plea that these wrongs,
though great, are not so great as they are represented to be, and that
in any case it is not possible, or not urgently desirable, for man to
alleviate them. As if _human_ interests also were not intimately bound
up in every such compassionate endeavour!

And this brings us back to the moral of the whole matter. The idea of
Humanity is no longer confined to man; it is beginning to extend itself
to the lower animals, as in the past it has been gradually extended
to savages and slaves. “Behold the animals. There is not one but the
human soul lurks within it, fulfilling its destiny as surely as within
you.” So writes the author of “Towards Democracy”; and what has long
been felt by the poet is now being scientifically corroborated by the
anthropologist and philosopher. “The standpoint of modern thought,”
says Büchner,[44] “no longer recognizes in animals a difference of
kind, but only a difference of degree, and sees the principle of
intelligence developing through an endless and unbroken series.”

It is noteworthy that, on this point, evolutionary science finds itself
in agreement with oriental tradition.

  “The doctrine of metempsychosis,” says Strauss,[45] “knits men and
  beasts together here [in the East], and unites the whole of Nature
  in one sacred and mysterious bond. The breach between the two was
  opened in the first place by Judaism, with its hatred of the Gods
  of Nature, next by the dualism of Christianity. It is remarkable
  that at present a deeper sympathy with the animal world should have
  arisen among the more civilized nations, which manifests itself here
  and there in societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals. It
  is thus apparent that what on the one hand is the product of modern
  science--the giving up of the spiritualistic isolation of man from
  Nature--reveals itself simultaneously through the channel of popular

The true scientist and humanist is he who will reconcile brain to
heart, and show us how, without any sacrifice of what we have gained
in knowledge, we may resume what we have temporarily lost during the
process of acquiring that knowledge--the sureness of intuitive faculty
which is originally implanted in men and animals alike. Only by this
return to the common fount of feeling will it be possible for man
to place himself in right relationship towards the lower animals,
and to break down the fatal barrier of antipathy that he has himself
erected.[46] If we contrast the mental and moral attitude of the
generality of mankind towards the lower races with that of such men as
St. Francis or Thoreau, we see what far-reaching possibilities still
lie before us on this line of development.

A not altogether unjustifiable complaint is made against “lovers of
animals,” that they are often indifferent to the struggle for human
rights, while they concern themselves so eagerly over the interests
of the lower races. Equally true is the converse statement, that
many earnest reformers and philanthropists, men who have a genuine
passion for human liberty and progress, are coldly sceptical or even
bitterly hostile on the subject of the rights of animals. This organic
limitation of sympathies must be recognized and regretted, but it is
worse than useless for the one class of reformers to indulge in blame
or recrimination against the other. It is certain that they are both
working towards the same ultimate end; and if they cannot actually
co-operate, they may at least refrain from unnecessarily thwarting and
opposing each other.

The principles of justice, if they are to make solid and permanent
headway, must be applied with thoroughness and consistency. If there
are rights of animals, there must _à fortiori_ be rights of men;
and, as I have shown, it is impossible to maintain that an admission
of human rights does not involve an admission of animals’ rights
also. Now it may not always fall to the lot of the same persons to
advocate both kinds of rights, but these rights are, nevertheless,
being simultaneously and concurrently advocated; and those who are in
a position to take a clear and wide survey of the whole humanitarian
movement are aware that its final success is dependent on this broad
onward tendency.

The advent of democracy, imperfect though any democracy must be which
does not embrace all sentient beings within its scope, will be of
enormous assistance to the cause of animals’ rights, for under the
present unequal and inequitable social system there is no possibility
of those claims receiving their due share of attention. In the rush
and hurry of a competitive society, where commercial profit is avowed
to be the main object of work, and where the well-being of men and
women is ruthlessly sacrificed to that object, what likelihood is
there that the lower animals will not be used with a sole regard to
the same predominant purpose? Humane individuals may here and there
protest, and the growing conscience of the public may express itself in
legislation against the worst forms of palpable ill-usage, but the bulk
of the people simply cannot, and will not, treat animals as they ought
to be treated. Do the wealthy classes show any such consideration?
Let “amateur butchery” and “murderous millinery” be the answer. Can
it be wondered, then, that the “lower classes,” whose own rights are
existent far more in theory than in fact, should exhibit a feeling of
stolid indifference to the rights of the still lower animals? It is
to democracy, and the democratic sense of kinship and brotherhood,
extending first to mankind, and then to the lower races, that we must
look for future progress. The emancipation of men will bring with it
another and still wider emancipation--of animals.[47]

In conclusion, we are brought face to face with this practical
problem--by what means can we best provide for the attainment of the
end we have in view? What are the surest remedies for the present
wrongs, and the surest pledges for the future rights, of the victims of
human tyranny? There are two pre-eminently important methods, which are
sometimes regarded as contradictory in principle, but which, as I hope
to show, are not only quite compatible, but even mutually serviceable
and to some degree inter-dependent. We have no choice but to work
by one or the other of these methods, and, if we are wise, we shall
endeavour to work by both simultaneously, using the first as our chief
instrument of reform, the second as an auxiliary.

I. Education, in the largest sense of the term, has always been,
and must always remain, the indispensable condition of humanitarian
progress. Very excellent are the words of John Bright on the subject:

  “Humanity to animals is a great point. If I were a teacher in a
  school, I would make it a very important part of my business to
  impress every boy and girl with the duty of his or her being kind to
  all animals. It is impossible to say how much suffering there is in
  the world from the barbarity or unkindness which people show to what
  we call the inferior creatures.”

It may be doubted, however, whether the young will ever be specially
impressed with the lesson of humanity as long as the general tone of
their elders and instructors is one of cynical indifference, if not
of absolute hostility, to the recognition of animals’ rights.[48] It
is society as a whole, and not one class in particular, that needs
enlightenment and remonstrance; in fact, the very conception and scope
of what is known as a “liberal education” must be revolutionized and
extended. For if we find fault with the narrow and unscientific spirit
of what is known as “science,” we must in fairness admit that our
academic “humanities,” the _literæ humaniores_ of colleges and schools,
together with much of our modern culture and refinement, are scarcely
less deficient in the spirit of sympathy and brotherhood. This divorce
of “humanism” from humaneness is one of the subtlest dangers by which
society is beset; for, if we grant that love needs to be tempered and
directed by wisdom, still more needful is it that wisdom should be
informed and vitalized by love.

It is therefore not only our children who need to be educated in the
proper treatment of animals, but our scientists, our religionists, our
moralists, and our men of letters. For, in spite of the great progress
of humanitarian ideas during the past century, it must be confessed
that the popular exponents of western thought are still for the most
part quite unable to appreciate the profound truth of those words
of Rousseau, which should form the basis of an enlightened system of

  “Hommes, soyez humains! C’est votre premier devoir. Quelle sagesse y
  a-t-il pour vous, hors de l’humanité?”

But how is this vast educational change to be inaugurated? Like all
far-reaching reforms which are promoted by a few believers in the
face of the public indifference, it can only be carried through by
the energy and resolution of its supporters. The efforts which the
various humane societies are now making in special directions, each
concentrating its attack on a particular abuse, must be supplemented
and strengthened by a crusade--an intellectual, literary, and social
crusade--against the central cause of oppression, viz.: the disregard
of the natural kinship between man and the animals, and the consequent
denial of their rights. We must insist on having the whole question
fully considered and candidly discussed, and must no longer permit
its most important issues to be shirked because it does not suit the
convenience or the prejudices of comfortable folk to give attention to

Above all, the sense of ridicule that at present attaches to the
supposed “sentimentalism” of an advocacy of animals’ rights must be
faced and swept away. The fear of this absurd charge deprives the cause
of humanity of many workers who would otherwise lend their aid, and
accounts in part for the unduly diffident and apologetic tone which
is too often adopted by humanitarians. We must meet this ridicule,
and retort it without hesitation on those to whom it properly
pertains. The laugh must be turned against the true “cranks” and
“crotchet-mongers”--the noodles who can give no wiser reason for the
infliction of suffering on animals than that it is “better for the
animals themselves”--the flesh-eaters who labour under the pious belief
that animals were “sent” to us as food--the silly women who imagine
that the corpse of a bird is a becoming article of head-gear--the
half-witted sportsmen who vow that the vigour of the English race is
dependent on the practice of fox-hunting--and the half-enlightened
scientists who are unaware that vivisection has moral and spiritual,
no less than physical, consequences. That many of our arguments are
mere superficial sword-play, and do not touch the profound emotional
sympathies on which the cause of humanity rests, is a fact which
does not lessen their controversial significance. For this is a
case where those who take the sword shall perish by the sword; and
the clever men-of-the-world who twit consistent humanitarians with
sentimentality may perhaps discover that they themselves--fixed as they
are in an ambiguous and utterly untenable position--are the sickliest
sentimentalists of all.

II. Legislation, where the protection of harmless animals is concerned,
is the fit supplement and sequel to education, and the objections urged
against it are for the most part unreasonable. It must inevitably
fail in its purpose, say some; for how can the mere passing of a
penal statute prevent the innumerable unwitnessed acts of cruelty and
oppression which make up the great total of animal suffering? But the
purpose of legislation is not merely thus preventive. Legislation
is the record, the register, of the moral sense of the community;
it follows, not precedes, the development of that moral sense, but
nevertheless in its turn reacts on it, strengthens it, and secures it
against the danger of retrocession. It is well that society should
proclaim, formally and decisively, its abhorrence of certain practices;
and I do not think it can be doubted, by those who have studied the
history of the movement, that the general treatment of domestic animals
in this country, bad as it still is, would be infinitely worse at this
day but for the legislation that dates from the passing of “Martin’s
Act” in 1822.

The further argument so commonly advanced, that “force is no remedy,”
and that it is better to trust to the good feeling of mankind than
to impose a legal restriction, is an amiable criticism which might
doubtless be applied with great effect to a large majority of our
existing penal enactments, but it is not very applicable to the case
under discussion. For if force is ever allowable, surely it is so when
it is applied for a strictly _defensive_ purpose, such as to safeguard
the weak and helpless from violence. The protection of animals by
statute marks but another step onward in that course of humanitarian
legislation which, among numerous triumphs, has abolished slavery and
passed the Factory Acts--always in the teeth of this same time-honoured
objection that “force is no remedy.” Equally fatuous is the assertion
that the administrators of the law cannot be trusted to adjudicate
between master and “beast.” It was long ago stated by Lord Erskine
that “to distinguish the severest discipline, for enforcing activity
and commanding obedience in such dependents, from brutal ferocity and
cruelty, never yet puzzled a judge or jury--never, at least, in my long

Such arguments against the legal protection of animals were admirably
refuted by John Stuart Mill:

  “The reason for legal intervention in favour of children apply not
  less strongly to the case of those unfortunate slaves and victims
  of the most brutal part of mankind, the lower animals. It is by the
  grossest misunderstanding of the principles of Liberty that the
  infliction of exemplary punishment on ruffianism practised towards
  these defenceless beings has been treated as a meddling by Government
  with things beyond its province--an interference with domestic life.
  The domestic life of domestic tyrants is one of the things which it
  is most imperative on the Law to interfere with. And it is to be
  regretted that metaphysical scruples respecting the nature and source
  of the authority of governments should induce many warm supporters of
  laws against cruelty to the lower animals to seek for justification
  of such laws in the incidental consequences of the indulgence of
  ferocious habits to the interest of human beings, rather than in the
  intrinsic merits of the thing itself. What it would be the duty of a
  human being, possessed of the requisite physical strength, to prevent
  by force, if attempted in his presence, it cannot be less incumbent
  on society generally to repress. The existing laws of England are
  chiefly defective in the trifling--often almost nominal--maximum to
  which the penalty, even in the worst cases, is limited.”[49]

Only with the gradual progress of an enlightened sense of equality
shall we remedy these wrongs; and the object of our crusade should be
not so much to convert opponents (who, by the very disabilities and
limitations of their faculties, can never be really converted,) as to
set the confused problem in a clear light, and at least discriminate
unmistakably between our enemies and our allies. In all social
controversies the issues are greatly obscured by the babel of names
and phrases and cross arguments that are bandied to and fro; so that
many persons, who by natural sympathy and inclination are the friends
of reform, are found to be ranked among its foes; while not a few of
its foes, in similar unconsciousness, have strayed into the opposite
camp. To state the issues distinctly, and so attract and consolidate
a genuine body of support, is, perhaps, at the present time, the best
service that humanitarians can render to the movement they wish to

In conclusion, I would state emphatically that this essay is not an
appeal _ad misericordiam_ to those who themselves practise, or who
condone in others, the deeds against which a protest is here raised. It
is not a plea for “mercy” (save the mark!) to the “brute-beasts” whose
sole criminality consists in not belonging to the noble family of _homo
sapiens_. It is addressed rather to those who see and feel that, as has
been well said, “the great advancement of the world, throughout all
ages, is to be measured by the increase of humanity and the decrease of
cruelty”--that man, to be truly man, must cease to abnegate his common
fellowship with all living nature--and that the coming realization of
human rights will inevitably bring after it the tardier but not less
certain realization of the rights of the lower races.




It was argued by Mr. D. G. Ritchie, in his book on “Natural Rights,”
that though “we may be said to have duties of _kindness towards_ the
animals,” it is “incorrect to represent these as strictly _duties
towards_ the animals themselves, as if they had rights against us.”
(The italics are Mr. Ritchie’s.) I take this to mean that, in man’s
“duty of kindness,” it is the “kindness” only that has reference to
animals, the “duty” being altogether the private affair of the man.
The kindness is, so to speak, the water, and the duty is the tap; and
the convenience of this arrangement is that the man can shut off the
kindness whenever it suits him to do so; as, for example, it suited Mr.
Ritchie in regard to the question of vivisection.

It is strange that ethical authorities should thus hold, as Catholic
theologians do, that we owe no direct duties to animals, and that
animals not being “persons” have, strictly speaking, no rights. Indeed,
so entertaining did the very idea of the “personality” of animals
appear to Mr. Ritchie that he waxed humorous in his desire to know
whether a sponge is a “person” or “several persons,” and whether the
parasites on a dog are to be respected as “persons,” and so forth.

On the other side, the humanitarian contention is quite clear--that
there is no difference _in kind_ between man and the other animals,
nor any warrant in science or ethics for drawing between them, as
between “persons” and “things,” an absolute line of demarcation.
Compelled to admit that the difference is only one of degree, Mr.
Ritchie sought to evade the significance of this fact by arguing that
it does not follow that, if men have rights, animals also have rights
“in the same sense of the term.” I maintain that it _does_ so follow.
If by the recognition of rights we mean that man, as a sentient and
intelligent being, should be exempt from all avoidable suffering, it
follows that other beings who are also sentient and intelligent, though
in a lower degree, should have, in a lower degree, the same exemption.
This principle, if pressed to its extreme logical conclusion, will of
course lead, like all other principles, to what Mr. Ritchie called
“difficult questions of casuistry,” and will open a door for small
jokes about the personality of parasites and sponges.

Then, again, it is too often overlooked that the rights claimed for
animals, as for men, are not absolute but conditional (“this restricted
freedom” is Herbert Spencer’s expression), and that a recognition of
the rights of other beings is not incompatible with an equal assertion
of one’s own. Self-defence is the first and most obvious right of
everyone. If, for instance, we hold that a tiger has a right to be
spared any unnecessary torture, are we compelled on that account to
allow him to eat us if he comes out of his cage? And how would our
shooting the tiger, under those untoward circumstances, prove that the
tiger is not a “person,” inasmuch as murderers and _human_ tigers, are
similarly treated under similar conditions? This “tiger” argument, to
which Professor Ritchie was much addicted, is really very small game.




Attempts are still made, from time to time, to revive the old Cartesian
doctrine that animals do not feel pain. Thus Mr. E. Kay Robinson, in
a book entitled “The Religion of Nature” (1906) has sought to bring
peace and comfort to the minds of his readers, and to reconcile the
seeming cruelties of Nature with the existence of a merciful God, by
proving that the non-human races, unlike mankind, have no consciousness
of suffering, even when they exhibit all the symptoms of pain and show
a dread of its recurrence. This is nothing but the ancient doctrine
of Descartes in a new garb, and is itself the outcome of the old
anthropocentric view of the world.

On the practical results that would follow the general acceptance
of Mr. Robinson’s theories it is hardly worth while to speculate.
He himself is at pains to suggest that while the Cartesian doctrine
undoubtedly led to cruelty in the past, the modern Robinsonian version
of it would have the opposite effect. I greatly doubt it. For to
whatever extent it is true that animals are unconscious of pain, to the
same extent it must be true that there is no “cruelty” (in the true
sense of the term) in “paining” them. An enlightened man, no doubt,
will avoid any tyrannical interference with the lives of other beings,
whether they are conscious or not, but the majority of men are not
enlightened, nor in any hurry to become so; we are living, in fact, in
an age of very gross and palpable savagery, out of which nothing can
lift us but the growing sense of kinship. Mr. Robinson’s book is one of
the latest attempts--and, in some respects, the feeblest--to impair in
a very important respect this sense of close kinship between the human
and the non-human, and for that reason I regard it as very mischievous
in its tendency. As a fair instance of Mr. Robinson’s logic, let us
take his triumphant citation of the fact that even a human being, when
engaged in some desperate and painful struggle, is often conscious, for
the moment, of neither fear nor pain. From this Mr. Robinson quietly
assumes that animals are _always_ thus unconscious, because (_a_) some
of their actions and emotions are so, and (_b_) “we have no right to
suppose that one action or emotion of an animal is more conscious than
another.” But, on the contrary, we have every right to suppose that
consciousness varies in animals, as in men, as may be gathered from the
indifference which two fighting dogs will show to the blows rained upon
them by their owners, though at a moment of less excitement the same
blows would elicit the most obvious signs of pain.

The _crux_ of the whole problem lies here--in the meaning of the
gestures by which animals appear to indicate that, like human beings,
they are conscious of their various emotions, and it is by his chapter
on “Actions of Animals Explained” that Mr. Robinson’s treatise must be
judged. Humanitarians entirely reject his dogmatic assertion (to take
a typical example) that “a dog’s exhibition of distress when separated
from its master and mistress is only the working of the strong instinct
of the gregarious, hunting animal, needing the primary factor of his
life, namely, a leader to follow.” Not a particle of real proof can
be given in support of such statements, and it is upon foundations of
this kind that the “Religion of Nature” is built. And here there come
to mind those trenchant words of Mr. Cunninghame Graham, which exactly
describe the tone and method of Mr. Robinson’s argument:

  “Instinct and reason; the hypothetical difference which good weak
  men use as an anæsthetic, when their conscience pricks them for
  their sins of omission and commission to their four-footed brethren.
  But a distinction wholly without a difference, and a link in the
  long chain of fraud and force with which we bind all living things,
  men, animals, and most of our reasoning selves, in one crass
  neutral-tinted slavery.”



“After many centuries of usefulness,” so it is said, “the horse is
about to be retired from active service as an agent in locomotion.”
Electricity, petrol, and cable tramcars are to be the chief factors
in this change, which will replace horsepower by the greater energies
of mechanical invention, and will make it possible to ride a hundred
miles “for about a shilling.” Looking at the matter as humanitarians
we are heartily pleased at the prospect. To be sure, it is not
very creditable to the good feelings of mankind that, “after many
centuries of usefulness,” the horse should be “retired,” not because
we are ashamed of the ill-usage he has received, but because we have
discovered a cheaper method of traction; nor is it pleasant to reflect
on the countless myriads of undeserved blows and curses that have
descended on our faithful friend and helper during the period of his
service. But letting that pass, as one of the many blots with which the
pages of history are disfigured, we rejoice to think that the wretched
system of horse-traction is perhaps drawing to a close, and we trust
that the present century will see it legally prohibited in England, as
dog-traction has already been.

No doubt we shall hear a lot of sentimental talk about the picturesque
beauty of the horse, the ugliness of machinery, and so forth; but
we shall know what to reply to such “æsthetic” arguments, with the
experience before us (or, let us hope, _behind_ us) of the hackney-cab,
the tramcar, and the tradesman’s cart and wagon. The usage of the
horse, in our so-called civilization, has reached a pitch of sordid
deformity which, even if regarded solely from the point of view of
the artist, makes it impossible to advance any valid argument against
the motor-car. However unromantic such mechanical conveyance may be,
it will at least save us from the unseemly sights that have outraged
every sense of beauty, decency and humaneness. The motor will not
be recklessly overloaded; it will not be cursed, and thrashed, and
wrenched out of its natural shape by way of an outlet for the savage
temper of its driver; for curiously enough, the lifeless machine will
be treated with far more respect, and in a far more rational spirit,
than the living animal, and the conductor who should ill-use a car,
as horses are now ill-used, would be promptly conveyed to the nearest
police-cell or lunatic-asylum.

But what, it may be asked, is to become of the horse himself, in the
new age of machinery? Is “retirement,” in his case, to be the same
thing as extinction? We do not know; but we know this--that, in the
case of our “beasts of burden,” merciful extinction is a preferable
fate to what is humorously called “preservation.” Centuries hence,
perhaps, some learned antiquarian will reconstruct, from such
anatomical data as may be available, the gaunt, misshapen, pitiable
figure of the London cab-horse, and a more humane and enlightened
posterity will shudder at the sight of what we still regard as a
legitimate “agent in locomotion.”

                                                From _The Humanitarian_.



Some fifty or sixty years ago the poet, James Thomson (“B.V.”), wrote
as follows in his journal:--

  “It being a very wet Sunday, I had to keep in, and paced much,
  prisoner-like, to and fro my room. This reminded me of the wild
  beasts at Regent’s Park, and especially of the great wild birds,
  the vultures and eagles. How they must suffer! How long will it be
  ere the thought of such agonies becomes intolerable to the public
  conscience, and wild creatures be left at liberty when they need not
  be killed. Three or four centuries, perhaps.”

This gloomy prognostication hardly seems likely to be fulfilled,
for there has lately been a great awakening of the conscience, if
not of the general public, at least of the humaner section of it,
and much improvement in the condition of the wild animals in the
“Zoo” has now been effected. Ever since its establishment in 1891
the Humanitarian League has been drawing attention to the cruelty of
cellular imprisonment for animals as for men, and it is therefore with
legitimate satisfaction that humanitarians note the introduction of a
reform which they were the first to advocate. Here, for example, is an
extract from a pamphlet which I wrote for the League in 1895, under the
title of “A Zoophilist at the Zoo”:--

  “‘Christianos ad leones’ was the cry of the heathen persecutors in
  ages long past, when the Christian martyrs were flung to the lions
  in the Roman amphitheatre. Time has now had his revenges; but we do
  not know that the new version of ‘Christianos ad leones,’ as daily
  exemplified in the stream of visitors to the lion-houses at the Zoo,
  is altogether edifying. Indeed, it has sometimes occurred to us, when
  musing on that strange medley of thoughtless sight-seers, who derive
  an unaccountable pleasure from staring at the wretched life-prisoners
  in our great animal convict-station, that the infra-human is not
  always confined to the inner side of the bars, and that there was
  some force in Thoreau’s epigram that God made man ‘a little lower
  than the _animals_.’ Well, we must hope for better things in the
  future. Less than a century ago it was the fashion to cage pauper
  lunatics where passers-by could see them; and benevolent nurses,
  when inclined to give a treat to the children in their charge, would
  pleasantly take them to have a peep at the frenzied ravings of the
  maniacs. We marvel now to hear of such inhumanity, but it may be that
  a future generation will equally marvel to hear that the sight of
  caged animals--those martyrs of Christian civilization--could give
  any satisfaction to the children, and the grown-up children to whom a
  “Zoo” is a Paradise.

  “It all depends on how we look at these things. At present menageries
  are simply part of the whole system which regards the lower animals
  as mere goods and chattels, created for the use and amusement of
  mankind, without any definite claim, in return, to a free and healthy
  existence. The animals are no more than subjects for the museum or
  menagerie, the laboratory or dissecting-room. Does a rare bird alight
  on our shores? Our object is to knock it down first, and, as the
  taxidermists say, ‘set it up’ afterwards; or, if it still lives, to
  confine it in a cage or aviary. The London Gardens are doubtless a
  great deal better than many other menageries; but our whole method of
  treating animals is stupid and barbarous. We want a more humane and
  intelligent appreciation of animal life, and that sense of _kinship_
  which would make us desirous of seeing our rudimentary brethren under
  happier and more natural conditions.

  And, after all, we have ourselves paid the penalty for our lack of
  humanity, by the loss of humour that accompanied it; for the bathos
  of the notices that used to meet us at every turn in the Gardens was
  very depressing to those who were alive enough to feel it. The Bengal
  Tigers’ den labelled, ‘Beware of Pickpockets’! The Eagles’ Aviaries
  labelled, ‘To the Refreshment Rooms’! Were ever such incongruous
  ideas set in such ludicrous proximity? There, disconsolate in
  durance vile, sat the fabled Bird of Jove, who bore off Ganymede to
  be the god’s cup-bearer, while, within a few yards, the _modern_
  Ganymede was serving out coffees and lemon-squashes, and enjoying
  (though perhaps he knew it not) the most complete vengeance on the
  great Raptor who enslaved him.”

The most powerful indictment of the Zoological Gardens, as they were,
was the series of articles contributed by Mr. Edmund Selous to the
_Saturday Review_ in 1901, and afterwards reprinted as a pamphlet by
the Humanitarian League, under the title “The Old Zoo and the New,”
a picture of what the Zoo actually was, as contrasted with what it
might become. It was the publication of this trenchant criticism,
synchronizing as it did with a movement for reform within the
Zoological Society itself, that brought about the present improved
state of public opinion as to the management of the Gardens, and caused
the _Daily Mail_, that enterprising journal which is ready to exploit
even humanitarian ideas when they seem likely to be popular, to publish
a number of caustic articles on “The Tortured Animals at the Zoo.”

From America comes the same complaint, as in the following passage
taken from an article in _Our Animal Friends_ (New York):--

  “It is indeed high time that the conditions of animals in menageries
  and zoological establishments should be made a subject of very
  practical concern. In many cases their condition is pitiable. Few
  things are more distressing to observe than the restive motions of
  the larger cats, such as lions, tigers, and leopards, or of smaller
  animals like wolves and foxes, pacing back and forth in their small
  dens, as if suffering an agony of restlessness, as indeed they often
  must be. No animal ought to be kept in any such condition, and the
  time may come--we think it has already come--when this form of
  cruelty may be abolished by the strong hand of law, where it cannot
  be terminated by the milder methods of persuasion.”



What do our up-to-date scientists think (if they think at all) of the
justification of vivisection put forward by Monsignor John S. Vaughan,
a sacerdotalist of the medieval school? To a watchful observer few
things could have been more entertaining than the spectacle of an
old-world Catholic, a belated casuist of (say) thirteenth century
temperament, coming forward in the _Saturday Review_ (new style) to
justify, from a moral standpoint, the doings of the modern vivisector,
and basing his argument on the immemorial “proposition” that “beasts
exist for the use and benefit of man.”

Now, there are undoubtedly numbers of persons living in this twentieth
century who still hold the belief that the animals were created for
man’s pleasure, and it may be that, in appealing to that ancient
superstition, Mgr. Vaughan was using the most popular weapon in the
pro-vivisectionist armoury. But whatever the “man in the street”
may think on this subject, the evolutionist and man of science, at
any rate, is _not_ able to take refuge in the plea that man is the
centre of the universe, and that all other beings were created for
mankind; for if there is one thing above others that Darwin’s followers
have scouted, it is this old anthropocentric notion which forms the
Monsignor’s “proposition.” The animals, according to the scientific
view, were not designed for man’s benefit, nor is there any impassable
gulf between human and non-human--on the contrary, man was evolved from
among the animals, and is in very truth an animal himself. This is the
creed, beyond denial or evasion, of the Darwinian scientists, whose
torture of their rudimentary brethren the sacerdotalist is so eager to
condone. Monsignor Vaughan is defending vivisection by an assumption
which the vivisectors themselves must hold to be unscientific and
obsolete. The sufficient answer to the anthropocentric fallacy of the
theologian is found in Mr. Howard Moore’s laconic remark: “But Darwin
has lived.”

But vivisection has got to be defended somehow, on moral, as well as
medical, grounds; and to do Monsignor Vaughan justice the ground he
alleges is the only one that can afford, or could once have afforded,
any semblance of logical foot-hold. “Beasts exist for the use and
benefit of man.” In that unquestioned belief lay the justification--the
supposed justification--of the horrible tortures inflicted on animals
in the medicinal and magical quackery of the middle ages, when, as
Dr. Berdoe has pointed out, “the nastier the medicament the more was
expected of it.” Animals were regarded alike by the religion, and
the science, and the common usage of the times, as mere _things_,
providentially designed to be the instruments of man’s welfare, at the
cost of whatever suffering to themselves. What, therefore, if they were
carved, and tortured, and vivisected to provide mankind with the filthy
nostrums prescribed as the remedies for disease? An anthropocentric
philosophy could explain and justify it all. And so it might do at the
present time, but for the fact that the anthropocentric philosophy--as
a philosophy--has itself ceased to exist.

Indeed, the point of the complaint against the scientists is
precisely this--that the practice of vivisection, though perhaps
logically justifiable on the absurd old belief that animals have
no _raison d’être_ except to minister to man’s convenience, is
wholly unjustifiable in the light of evolutionary science, which has
demonstrated beyond question the kinship of all sentient life. That the
scientist, in order to rake together a moral defence for his doings,
should condescend to take shelter even under the medieval reasoning
of the sacerdotalist, is a proof that his position is hopelessly
inconsistent and unsound; for having got rid of the old anthropocentric
fallacy in the realm of science, he actually avails himself of the same
fallacy in the realm of ethics. This, of course, is less surprising
when we remember that one and the same person may be, and often is,
as reactionary in one department of thought as he is progressive in
another, and that the modern man of science is not infrequently a
medievalist in morals. The present writer well remembers the incident
which first shook his faith in the infallibility of “science.” He had
adopted a vegetarian diet, and a distinguished scientist with whom he
happened to be on friendly terms expressed a wish to “speak to him” on
the subject. The writer felt that a critical moment had arrived, and
awaited the scientific pronouncement with respectful anxiety. When it
came--spoken with evident earnestness--it was this: “Don’t you think
the animals were _sent_ us as food?”

So we see the scientist and the sacerdotalist, forgetting their
radical differences, patching up a superficial alliance with the
pious object of perpetuating the experimental torture of the
laboratory. Henceforward let none say that Darwinian and Catholic are
not in agreement. _Laborare est orare_ was the old saying; and now
surely it should be expanded by Monsignor Vaughan and his Catholic
fellow-vivisectionists into _laboratorium est oratorium_--the house
of torture is the house of prayer. If it is not exactly “mercy and
truth” that are met together, “righteousness and peace” that have
kissed each other, still it is a beautiful and touching scene of
reconciliation--this meeting of scientist and sacerdotalist over the
torture-trough of the helpless animal. They might exclaim in the words
of Tennyson:--

  “There above the little grave,
  O there above the little grave,
    We kissed again with tears.”

It seems to us as humanitarians, that, as far as Monsignor Vaughan and
the Catholic vivisectionist school is concerned (it is otherwise with
the scientists), it is pure waste of time to argue with them, there
being a fundamental difference of opinion as to data and principles.
The sole reason for discussion is to insure that the humanitarian
view of the question be rightly placed before the public, and this
can best be done by stating it clearly in contradistinction to the
anthropocentric dogma. We do _not_ admit the assumption that “beasts
exist for the use and benefit of man.” We view the matter in a wholly
different aspect. We find ourselves born into an age which has been
evolved in a gradual progress from savagery to civilization, with
old-world wrongs around us, the worst of which are being slowly
redeemed, century after century, by a growing spirit of brotherhood.
We have never pretended that these wrongs, woven as they are into the
fabric of Society, can be immediately and simultaneously righted, nor
do we admit, in the case of the lower animals any more than in the
case of men, that the necessity of inflicting _some_ pain confers the
right to inflict _any_ pain. We insist on the undeniable tendency from
barbarism to humaneness, which has already at many points bridged the
gulf between man and man, and will also bridge the gulf between man and
his lower fellow-creatures. Science has exploded the idea that there
is any difference in kind, and not in degree only, between the human
and the non-human animal; and sympathy, guided by reason, is making it
more and more impossible that we should for ever treat as mere automata
fellow-beings to whom we are, in fact, very closely akin.

                                                  _Humane Review_, 1901.



“Confessions of a Physician,” by V. Veresaeff, is a Russian work,
first published in 1901, the writer of which exposes with the
utmost frankness the secrets of the medical profession--the doubts,
difficulties, dangers, scruples, failures, and even homicides, that
fall to the lot of the practitioner. It is not that Veresaeff is
disloyal to his colleagues; but his judgment is drawn in two opposite
directions by his sense of duty to Science on the one side, and to
Morality on the other, and is exercised by the problem of how to
reconcile the “necessities,” as he conceives them, of medical research
with the “rights,” as he cannot but admit them to be, of its human and
non-human victims. Hence, though Veresaeff is himself only in part
a humanitarian, his book has considerable interest for humanitarian

In a dissertation on the English anti-vivisection movement, from which
the Russian movement originated, Veresaeff, while not stifling his
misgivings, falls back on the assertion that vivisection is necessary,
because it is impossible without it to know the living organism. He is
very contemptuous of the “clergymen, society ladies, statesmen, persons
entirely unassociated with science,” who seek to refute the scientists;
but then, veering to the moral side of the question, he makes the
following reference to this book on “Animals’ Rights”:

  “However, we must give them their due; for not all the
  anti-vivisectionists base their opinions upon such crude and
  ignorant tenets. A number of them seek to base the whole question
  upon foundations of pure principle; thus, for instance, the author
  of ‘Animals’ Rights, Considered in relation to Social Progress,’
  says: ‘Let us assume that the progress of surgical science is
  assisted by the experiments of the vivisector. What then? Before
  rushing to the conclusion that vivisection is justifiable on that
  account, a wise man will take into full consideration the other--the
  moral side of the question--the hideous injustice of torturing an
  innocent animal.’ This is the only possible and fitting position for
  the anti-vivisectionist to take up; whether science can dispense
  with vivisection or not, does not concern him; animals are made to
  suffer, and that settles everything. The question is plainly put,
  and there can be no room for any equivocation. I repeat, we ought
  not to ridicule the pretensions of the anti-vivisectionists--the
  sufferings of animals are truly horrible--and sympathy with them is
  not sentimentality; but we must bear in mind that there is no ‘way
  round,’ where the building up of scientific medicine--its goal--the
  healing of mankind--is at stake.”[56]

While welcoming this statement, I must point out that in the passage
of “Animals’ Rights” (p. 71) to which Dr. Veresaeff refers, I did not
for a moment _admit_ that vivisection is necessary to surgical science;
I merely _assumed_ it for purposes of argument, and I added the
important qualifying words which are omitted in the Russian quotation:
“A large assumption certainly, controverted as it is by some most
weighty medical testimony.” It is necessary to point this out, because
we humanitarians do not share Dr. Veresaeff’s perplexity, swayed as
he is between the demands of a vivisecting science and the protests
of a suffering humanity; on the contrary, we are convinced that the
painful contradiction between conflicting duties, by which his mind
is troubled, is a phantom of his own creation. No doubt if he assumes
that one particular science, that of medicine, must pursue its course
regardless of any other science, such as that of morals, he will find
himself confronted by problems and contradictions innumerable, to which
no direct answer can be given; but that very assumption is one which
no clear-headed thinker will grant. No single science can make true
progress at the expense of another science; and when such conflicts
arise they are a sign that there is something wrong, and that it is
time to pause and to reflect. Medical problems, like all others, can
only be solved in the solution of the social question as a whole, and
there is no royal road to the achievement of medical aspirations.



It is to be regretted that so distinguished a writer as Mr. G. K.
Chesterton should have given countenance to the idea that an assertion
of the rights of animals implies a denial of the rights of man. “I use
the word humanitarian,” he says (in his book “Orthodoxy,”) “in the
ordinary sense, as meaning one who upholds the claims of all creatures
against those of humanity.” This strange blunder of supposing that
we humanitarians regard the interests of humans and sub-humans as
antagonistic to each other seems to arise from a misunderstanding
of our statement that, in the spread of humane feelings, there is a
_gradual_, not immediate, recognition of kinship, embracing first the
family, then the fellow citizen, then the slave, and then the non-human
race--a progressive sense of morality which is thus ridiculed by Mr.

  “I think it wrong to sit on a man. Soon, I shall think it wrong to
  sit on a horse. Eventually (I suppose,) I shall think it wrong to
  sit on a chair. That is the drive of the argument.... A perpetual
  tendency, to touch fewer and fewer things might, one feels, be a mere
  brute unconscious tendency, like that of a species to produce fewer
  and fewer children.”

Mr. Chesterton, it will be seen, supposes that the trend of humanitarian
thought is merely “to touch fewer and fewer things”--to “touch,” that
is, with the whip, the hob-nailed boot, the hunting-knife, the scalpel,
or the pole-axe. He wholly fails to see that what we really desire is
to “touch” not fewer and fewer things, but more and more--_i.e._, to
get into touch with them by virtue of that sympathetic intelligence
which shows us that they are akin to ourselves. Why, ultimately, do we
object to such practices as vivisection, blood-sport, and the butchery
of animals for food? Because of the cruelty involved in them, no doubt;
but also, and even more, because of the hideous narrowing of our own
human sympathies and human pleasures which these savage customs involve.

Let Mr. Chesterton imagine the existence of an ogreish race of men so
powerful that wherever one of them appeared, all ordinary mortals would
be fain to run at full speed into holes and corners to escape him.
Would these tyrants find it to be a diminution, and not rather a vast
increase, of their enjoyment, if they learnt gradually “to touch fewer
and fewer things” in the ogreish sense, while they touched more and
more in the sense of brotherhood and friendship? Precisely the same in
kind, though not, of course, in degree, is the relation, as apprehended
by humanitarians, of man towards the lower animals.

Equally erroneous is Mr. Chesterton’s assumption that mankind is, in
some special and exclusive sense, a “society,” different in kind, and
not in degree only, from the lower races.

  “Mankind is not a tribe of animals to which we owe compassion.
  Mankind is a club to which we owe our subscription. Pity, the vague
  sentiment of the _sunt lacrymæ rerum_, is due indisputably to
  everything that lives. And as regards this, the difference between
  our pity for suffering men and our pity for suffering animals is very
  possibly only a question of degree. But the difference between our
  moral relation to men and to animals is not a difference of degree in
  the least. It is a difference of kind. What we owe to a human being
  we owe to a fellow-member of a fixed, responsible, and reciprocal
  society.... This is the basic error upon which all Mr. Salt’s school
  goes wrong. They will not see that when we talk of human superiority
  we do not mean superiority in a degree on an inclined plane; we
  mean the existence of a certain definite society, different from
  everything else, and founded not on the sorrows of all living, but
  on the rights of men. Cruelty to man and cruelty to animals are two
  quite detestable, but quite different, sins.... The man who breaks
  a cat’s back breaks a cat’s back. The man who breaks a man’s back
  breaks an implied treaty. The tyrant to animals is a tyrant. The
  tyrant to men is a traitor. Nay, he is a rebel, for man is royal.”[58]

Mankind, says Mr. Chesterton, is a society. But so are bees and
beavers. There are innumerable societies, and it is impossible to prove
that human society is more organic or more conclusive than the rest.
Our sense of kinship is continually widening, and there never has been,
nor is, any finality in the social bond of which Mr. Chesterton speaks.
It would have surprised the Greek or Roman of old to be informed that
he was a member of the same society with the barbarian or the slave.
It would hardly be admitted by the white American of to-day that he
and the African negro are own brethren. That, presumably, is because
their sympathies are not yet developed enough to enable them to see
even the fact of human kinship; but what if Mr. Chesterton’s sympathies
are not developed enough to enable _him_ to see what many less subtle
intellects have already seen--that beyond this “human” society there is
the still larger society of the higher sentient existence.

“The man who breaks a cat’s back breaks a cat’s back.” This terse
saying contains the root of all cruelty to animals, the quintessence
of all the anthropocentric bigotry which has caused the immemorial
ill-usage of the non-human races through the length and breadth of the
world. “The man who breaks a cat’s back breaks a cat’s back.” Yes, and
the scientist who vivisects a dog, vivisects a dog; the sportsman who
breaks up a hare breaks up a hare; the butcher who bleeds a calf bleeds
a calf. That is all. And if one points out the cruelty, injustice, and
folly of vivisection, or sport, or flesh-eating, appeal is instantly
made to the vaunted fact that man is “royal” and the human race “a



It is, perhaps, not sufficiently recognized by zoophilists how
largely the ill-usage of the lower animals is due to the iniquity of
present social conditions, and how vain it is to expect to remedy the
consequences without attacking the cause. So long as pecuniary profit
and self-interest are accepted as the guiding principles of trade, it
will remain impossible to secure a right treatment for animals; because
it is absurd to suppose that mankind will agree to exempt the lower
races from the results of an economic tyranny of which men also are the
victims. If the worship of the great god “Profit” bears so hardly on
men and women, is it likely that the result of this pitiless struggle
will be less disastrous to the animals, who by most people are not
regarded as fellow-beings at all?

Let us take a few instances. The over-working of horses is one of the
commonest and worst forms of ill-treatment to which domestic animals
are liable, and is justly punishable by law when “cruelty”--that
somewhat vague offence--can be proved. But such proof, except in
flagrant cases, is rendered practically impossible by the fact that,
for the sake of employers’ profits, men and women are daily over-worked
quite as cruelly as horses are. If tramway companies are permitted
to work their men long and shameful hours to swell the shareholders’
dividends, what can be done for the horses? And where there is actual
ill-usage of horses by those who have charge of them, it must be
remembered that the men’s ill-temper is often the result of the harsh
conditions under which they work. Selfishness begets its like, and the
sufferers by a harsh system will in turn treat other sufferers harshly.

Again, why is it that so many persons are engaged in trades that
involve cruelty to animals? Obviously because the present conditions of
society leave them no choice. One man must be a slaughterman, another
a cattle drover, another a bird-catcher, because no other occupation
happens to be open to him, and he naturally chooses to ill-treat
animals rather than to starve himself. Economic necessity leaves no
scope for humaneness. Before we fairly condemn the brutal drover, or
sealer, or bird-catcher, we must so reconstitute society as to ensure
to each citizen a decent and humane livelihood. It is idle to preach
humanity to those who themselves live in ever-present fear of the

In like manner “sport,” in its baser forms, is maintained and
perpetuated by bad social conditions. It was the “hangers on” of the
Royal Buckhounds who made it so difficult to abolish that disreputable
institution; tame stags must still be worried that local “trade”
may be encouraged; and that rich idlers may come into the hunting
districts to spend their wealth. So, too, the blackguardly pastimes
of rabbit-coursing and pigeon-shooting are mainly supported by the
betting and gambling element, which thrives in proportion as honest
work is underpaid. Nor is it to be wondered that many individuals
of all classes should become gamblers and rogues, when the principle
of commercial enterprise is what it is--an utterly immoral desire to
make money by the quickest possible method, and without the slightest
consideration for any interests but one’s own.

In this breakneck competition everything must be done at high pressure,
or the margin of “profit” will be lost. It is horrible, is it not,
that the slaughterman should sometimes skin the sheep alive? But time
is money; and the slaughterman may himself be the victim of some
skinflint employer, and perhaps he is anxious to rise to eminence in
his profession and give his children a real Christian bringing up.
Thus, too, the master-butchers have opposed the abolition of private
slaughter-houses because their “profits” would be lessened. It costs
more to have the best and most modern appliances--so humanity once more
has had to wait.

The moral is that zoophilists, while in no wise relaxing their efforts
for the welfare of the animals, should also range themselves on the
side of social reform. And this suggests the remark that the sub-title
of this book is not devoid of significance, for it is when they are
“considered in relation to social progress” that the rights of animals
are most likely to be understood.


“Free Thoughts upon the Brute Creation.” By John Hildrop, M.A. London,
1742. This examination of Father Bougeant’s “Philosophical Amusement
upon the Language of Beasts” (1740) is an argument in favour of animal

“A Reasonable Plea for the Animal Creation.” By Robert Morris. London,
1746. A reprint of some letters urging that “we have no right to
destroy, much less to eat of any thing which has life.”

“An Essay on the Future Life of Brutes.” By Richard Dean. Manchester,
1767. The probability of a future life for animals is asserted on
scriptural and other grounds.

“An Apology for the Brute Creation, or Abuse of Animals Censured.”
By James Granger. London, 1772. A short sermon condemning cruelty to
animals in sport, etc.

“A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute
Animals.” By Humphry Primatt, D.D. London, 1776. A quaint but excellent
book, urging, as a rule of conduct, “to do unto others as, in their
condition, you would be done unto.”

“Disquisitions on Several Subjects.” By Soame Jenyns. London, 1782.
Chapter II treats of “Cruelty to Inferior Animals.”

“Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.” By Jeremy
Bentham. London, 1780. Bentham’s works contain several passages
asserting the rights of animals. His views, ridiculed by Dr. Whewell,
were supported by J. S. Mill, “Dissertations and Discussions,” ii, pp.

“The Cry of Nature, or An Appeal to Mercy and Justice on behalf of the
Persecuted Animals.” By John Oswald. London, 1791. Written to advocate
the discontinuance of flesh-eating.

“A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes.” London, 1792. Attributed to
Thomas Taylor. (See above, p. 4.)

“A Philosophical Treatise on Horses, and on the Moral Duties of Man
towards the Brute Creation.” By John Lawrence. Two vols. London,
1796-1798. The author of this humane book was a farmer, an authority
on the management of domestic animals, who was consulted by Richard
Martin, M.P., on the details of his Ill-treatment of Cattle Bill, which
became law in 1822.

“On the Conduct of Man to Inferior Animals.” By George Nicholson.
Manchester, 1797. A compilation of passages illustrating man’s cruelty
to the lower races.

“An Essay on Humanity to Animals.” By Thomas Young, Fellow of Trinity
College, Cambridge. London, 1798. The book contains chapters on sport,
cruelties connected with the table, etc.

“The Hare, or Hunting Incompatible with Humanity.” Dublin, 1800. A
story, by an anonymous writer, purporting to be told by a Hare.

“Zoophilos.” By Henry Crowe. Buckingham, 1819. Contains chapters on
sport, methods of slaughter for food, vivisection, etc.

“Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes.” By Lewis
Gompery. London, 1824. The author of this book was secretary of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and founder of an
Animals’ Friend Society. A later volume, “Fragments in Defence of
Animals,” was published by him in 1852.

“The Rights of Animals, and Man’s Obligation to treat them with
Humanity.” By William H. Drummond, D.D. London, 1838. A guarded essay,
in which the writer pleads for the restriction of vivisection, but
justifies flesh-eating and field-sports.

“Philozoia, or Moral Reflections on the Actual Condition of the Animal
Kingdom, and the means of improving the same.” By T. Forster. Brussels,
1839. A plea for humane education. A section of the book is devoted to
the condition of animals on the Continent.

“The Obligation and Extent of Humanity to Brutes, principally
considered with reference to the Domesticated Animals.” By W. Youatt.
London, 1839. The writer, a Professor in the Royal Veterinary College,
was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“The Morality of Field Sports.” By Professor E. A. Freeman,
“Fortnightly Review,” October, 1869. This article, together with
a reply by Anthony Trollope and a rejoinder by Prof. Freeman, was
reprinted (1900), under the title of “The Morality of Hunting,” by Mr.
R. K. Gaye, of Trinity College, Cambridge.

“Some Talk about Animals and their Masters.” By Sir Arthur Helps.
London, 1873. This popular little book contains many good remarks, but
does not advance any consistent view of the question.

“The Rights of an Animal, a New Essay in Ethics.” By Edward Byron
Nicholson. London, 1879. This book, with much interesting information,
includes a reprint of a chapter by John Lawrence on “The Rights of

“The Ethics of Diet, a Catena of Authorities Deprecatory of the Habit
of Flesh-Eating.” By Howard Williams. London and Manchester, 1883.
Though written primarily from a vegetarian standpoint, this scholarly
work contains a large amount of general information invaluable to
students of the animal question.

“Animals’ Rights, considered in relation to Social Progress.” By Henry
S. Salt. London, 1892.

“Moral Philosophy.” By Joseph Rickaby, S.J. London, 1892. Contains a
statement of the Catholic position in denial of rights to animals.

“Natural Rights.” By David G. Ritchie. London, 1895. See above,
Appendix I.

“The New Charter, a discussion of the Rights of Men and the Rights of
Animals.” Essays published by the Humanitarian League. London, 1896.

“Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology.” By E. P. Evans. London,

“The Nature and Development of Animal Intelligence.” By Wesley Mills,
M.D. London, 1898.

“Kith and Kin: Poems of Animal Life.” Edited by Henry S. Salt. London,

“Every Living Creature.” By Ralph Waldo Trine. London, 1901.

“The Basis of Morality.” By Arthur Schopenhauer. Translated by A. B.
Bullock. London, 1903.

“The Universal Kinship.” By J. Howard Moore. London, 1906.
This brilliantly written work asserts the scientific basis of
humanitarianism, and treats of the subject of animals’ rights under
three heads--the physical, the psychical, and the ethical kinship
between human and sub-human.

“The New Ethics.” By J. Howard Moore. London, 1907.

“The Church and Kindness to Animals.” London, 1907. A translation
from the French, “L’Église et la Pitié envers les Animaux” (1903), in
vindication of the Catholic Church against the charge of indifference
to animal suffering.

“The Place of Animals in Human Thought.” By the Countess Martinengo
Cesaresco. London, 1909. A work of value to those who are studying the
psychological aspect of the question.

“The Mahatma and the Hare.” By H. Rider Haggard. London, 1911.

“Killing for Sport.” By various writers, edited by Henry S. Salt, with
Introduction by G. Bernard Shaw. London, 1915.

The Publications of the Humanitarian League--Pamphlets on various
subjects, 1891-1919.

“Suffering and Wrong. The Message of the New Religion.” By Francis
Wood. London, 1916.

“Savage Survivals.” By J. Howard Moore. London, 1916.

“The Great Kinship.” An Anthology of Humanitarian Poetry, edited by
Bertram Lloyd. London, 1921.

“The Soul of an Animal.” By T. S. Hawkins. London, 1921.


 Aberdare, Lord, on Vivisection, 73 (note 41).

 Aristotle, quoted, 17.

 Arnold, Dr., quoted, 15.

 Bentham, Jeremy, on rights, 5, 14, 17, 42.

 “Better for the animals themselves,” 24, 25, 37, 46, 52, 72,
    73 (note 41).

 Bright, John, quoted, 86.

 Büchner, quoted, 83.

 Caged animals, 36-39.

 Caging of birds, 39.

 Cartesian doctrine, 10, 11.

 Castration of animals, 30, 31.

 Cattle traffic, 42, 45.

 Chesterfield, Lord, quoted, 43.

 Church, the, and rights of animals, 3.

 Cobbe, Frances Power, 8, 70, 71.

 Comte, Auguste, 24 (note 17).

 Cruelty to animals, causes of, 8-10, 16;
   responsibility for, 59;
   forms of, 75, 78.

 Darwin, quoted, 12.

 Democracy and rights of animals, 4, 23, 24, 85, 86.

 Dixie, Lady F., quoted, 57.

 “Domestic” animals, protected by law, 26.

 “Dumb” animals, an objectionable term, 14, 15.

 Education, as a method of reform, 86-89.

 Erskine, Lord, quoted, 90.

 Evans, E. P., quoted, 12-14.

 Feather trade, 63, 64.

 Flesh-eating, 42-47.

 Food question, importance of, 41.

 Fur trade, 59-63.

 Gompertz, Lewis, quoted, 25 (note 19).

 Helps, Sir A., 27.

 Huxley, 10 (note 11).

 Immortality of animals, 9, 10, 12.

 Jenyns, Soame, quoted, 36, 52.

 Kropotkine, P., 20 (note 16).

 Law for preventing cruelty to animals, need of amendment, 55-57.

 Lawrence, John, quoted, 5, 6, 26, 27, 42.

 Lecky’s “History of European Morals,” 9, 15, 16.

 Legislation, as a method of reform, 89-91.

 Machinery, use of, 29.

 “Martin’s Act,” 6, 34, 56, 90.

 Michelet, quoted, 44, 53, 54, 69.

 Mill, J. S., quoted, 91.

 Mills, Dr. Wesley, 12, 13.

 Montaigne, 27.

 More, Sir T., on sport, 54.

 Natural history, true method and false, 67-69.

 Nature, and struggle for existence, 19, 20, 47, 80, 81.

 Necessity, plea of, 72, 79.

 Nicholson, E. B., quoted, 37, 46.

 Nomenclature, influence of, 14, 15.

 Pain, the “discipline” of, 19.

 Paine, Thomas, 4.

 Paley, Dr. W., quoted, 43.

 Performing Animals, 40.

 “Pets,” 32.

 Pheasant-shooting, 57.

 Plutarch, 28.

 Porphyry, 3, 21.

 “Preservation” of animals, by sportsmen, 51, 52;
   by collectors, 68.

 Primatt, Dr. H., 9, 19, 26, 77, 78.

 Property, influence on legislation, 34, 35.

 Rabbit-coursing, 56.

 Reason and instinct, 12, 13.

 Rights, definition, 1, 2;
   need of a clear principle, 7, 78, 79.

 Ritchie, D. G., 2, 3, 7.

 Romanes, Professor, 10.

 Rousseau, 3, 88.

 Scientists and the rights of animals, 67-70.

 Schopenhauer, quoted, 11, 14, 42.

 Seal Fishery, 63.

 Slavery, 16, 17.

 Spencer, Herbert, on rights, 2.

 Sport, as related to other cruelties, 50, 51, 65, 66, 74;
   excuses for, 53;
   zest of, 54, 55.

 Stag-hunting, 55.

 Strauss, quoted, 83.

 Thomson, J. Arthur, quoted, 20 (note 16).

 Thoreau, 27, 29, 49, 68.

 Vegetarianism, 44, 48, 49.

 “Vermin,” treatment of, 56, 57.

 Vivisection, its iniquity, 69, 70 (note 39);
   relation to other cruelties, 67, 70, 74;
   morality of, 71, 73;
   right method of combating, 75, 76.

 Voltaire, 3, 10.

 Wild animals, unprotected by law, 26, 34-36;
   sanctuaries for, 40, 55.

 Wood, Rev. J. G., quoted, 12.

 Wordsworth, quoted, 51.

 Zoological Gardens, 38.



[1] An admirable definition of Rights is given by Mr. G. W. Foote
in his contribution to “The New Charter”: “Rights are of three
sorts--legal, moral, and natural. The legal meaning of ‘Rights’ is
undoubtedly the primary one ... and this is the only _definite_ sense,
in which the word can be used.... Moral Rights are widespread new
sentiments, demanding incorporation into Legal Rights; and Natural
Rights are still newer sentiments, aspiring to recognition as Moral
Rights, with a view to ultimate incorporation as Legal Rights....
They are respectively, a solid fact, a general demand, and a growing

[2] This remark implies not the “disparagement of logic and of all
careful use of language,” with which Professor D. G. Ritchie has
charged me in his book on “Natural Rights,” but simply that social
reformers cannot be debarred from using the best available terms
because no logically exact term is forthcoming. See Appendix I.

[3] Attributed to Thomas Taylor, the Platonist.

[4] “Principles of Penal Law,” chap, xvi., 1780.

[5] John Lawrence, “Philosophical Treatise on the Moral Duties of Man
towards the Brute Creation,” 1796.

[6] Professor Ritchie contends in his “Natural Rights” that domestic
animals have _not_ been granted rights in English law. “Because a work
of art, or some ancient monument, is protected by law from injury, do
we speak of the _rights_ of pictures or stones?” But the distinction
is obvious--works of art are protected only as _property_, domestic
animals as _sentient beings_, whether owned or unowned.

[7] “Fraser,” November, 1863; “The Rights of Man and the Claims of
Brutes,” by Frances Power Cobbe.

[8] “Book of Thoughts, Memories, and Fancies,” 1854.

[9] Humphry Primatt, D.D., author of “The Duty of Mercy to Brute
Animals” (1776).

[10] See the article on “Animal Immortality,” “The Nineteenth Century,”
Jan., 1891, by Norman Pearson. The upshot of his argument is that, “if
we accept the immortality of the human soul, and _also_ accept its
evolutional origin, we cannot deny the survival, in some form or other,
of animal minds.”

[11] Prof. Huxley’s remarks, in “Science and Culture,” give a partial
support to Descartes’ theory, but do not bear on the moral question of
rights. For, though he concludes that animals are probably “sensitive
automata,” he classes men in the same category. See Appendix II.

[12] Schopenhauer’s “Foundation of Morality.” I quote the passage as
translated in Mr. Howard Williams’s “Ethics of Diet.”

[13] “Descent of Man,” chap. iii.

[14] “Man and Beast, here and hereafter,” 1874.

[15] In Sir A. Helps’s “Animals and their Masters.” See an article on
“Dumb Animals,” in “The Humanitarian,” November, 1912. Also the chapter
on “Speech as a Barrier between Man and Beast,” in Mr. E. P. Evans’s
work on “Evolutional Ethics and Animal Psychology,” 1898.

[16] See Prince Kropotkine’s articles on “Mutual Aid among Animals,”
“Nineteenth Century,” 1890, where the conclusion is arrived at that
“sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle.” A similar
view is expressed in the “Study of Animal Life,” 1892, by J. Arthur
Thomson. “What we must protest against,” he says, in an interesting
chapter on “The Struggle of Life,” “is that one-sided interpretation
according to which individualistic competition is nature’s sole method
of progress.”

Another and more recent work, which has a very important bearing
on this question, is “Symbiosis: a Socio-Physiological Study of
Evolution,” by H. Reinheimer, 1920.

[17] Auguste Comte included the domestic animals as an organic part of
the Positivist conception of humanity.

[18] “Moral Duty towards Animals,” “Macmillan’s Magazine,” April, 1882,
by the then Bishop of Carlisle.

[19] See Lewis Gompertz’ “Moral Inquiries” (1824), where it is argued
that “at least in the present state of society it is unjust, and
considering the unnecessary abuse they suffer from being in the power
of man, it is wrong to use them, and to encourage their being placed in
his power.”

[20] “Animals and their Masters,” p. 101.

[21] See Appendix III.

[22] Under the Animals (Anaesthetics) Act, 1919, an anæsthetic is now
required in certain cases, but the scope of the Act needs to be greatly

[23] The use of dogs for purposes of draught was prohibited in London
in 1839, and in 1854 this enactment was extended to the whole kingdom.

[24] “On Cruelty to the Inferior Animals,” by Soame Jenyns, 1782.

[25] Mr. E. B. Nicholson. See Appendix IV.

[26] Unfortunately they are not of much value even for _that_ purpose,
owing to the deterioration of health and vigour caused by their
imprisonment. “The skeletons of aged carnivora,” says Dr. W. B.
Carpenter, “are often good for nothing as museum specimens, their bones
being rickety and distorted.”

[27] “La Bible de l’Humanité.”

[28] See the Humanitarian League pamphlets on “Cattle-ships,” and “The
Reform of the Slaughter-house.”

[29] “The Rights of an Animal,” 1879.

[30] Edward Carpenter, “England’s Ideal.”

[31] As in the article by Sir Herbert Maxwell on “Our Obligations to
Wild Animals,” “Blackwood’s Magazine,” August, 1899.

[32] Soame Jenyns, 1782.

[33] See the chapter on Fallacies of Sportsmen in the volume of essays
entitled “Killing for Sport” (George Bell and Sons, 1915). Several of
the sophisms by which fox-hunting is commonly defended were employed
by Dr. Lang, Archbishop of York, in an address which he gave (November
16, 1913) when dedicating a stained window to the memory of a deceased

[34] “The Horrors of Sport,” Humanitarian League pamphlet, by Lady
Florence Dixie.

[35] “It is extremely difficult to see why these tame deer of park and
paddock should not be held to be domestic animals within the meaning of
the Acts for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Indeed, if they have
ceased to be _feræ naturæ_ they must be domestic animals, unless there
be some miserable _tertium quid_ which is neither one nor the other. I
am not aware that there ever has been a definite decision of the High
Court upon this matter, and I venture to think that if a suitable case
were to be taken up and properly argued, it is possible that a judgment
welcome to humanitarians might be obtained.”--_Sir George Greenwood_
(“Humane Review,” January, 1908).

[36] Letter to “Pall Mall Gazette,” March 24th, 1892, by Lady Florence

[37] Since this was written, more than thirty years ago, there has been
a welcome growth of public feeling, resulting in a better control of
the plumage trade.

[38] See Appendix V.

[39] We are told that in this country such barbarities are no longer
possible, because, by the Act of 1876, vivisections may be performed
by none but licensed persons, and the use of anaesthetics is made
obligatory. It has to be remembered, however, that special licences
can be obtained to dispense with anaesthetics, or, if an anæsthetic be
administered, to allow the vivisector to keep the animal alive after
the effect of the anæsthetic has passed away, in order to watch the
results of the experiment, during which period the animal frequently
has to endure great suffering.

[40] On the reference to this passage in “The Confessions of a
Physician,” by V. Veresaeff, see Appendix VI.

[41] It is said that the first Lord Aberdare, in presiding over a
meeting of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
and in warning the society against entering on an anti-vivisection
crusade, gave utterance to the delightfully irrelevant remark that he
had himself been thrice operated on, and was all the better for it!

[42] See J. Cotter Morrison’s article on “Scientific _versus_ Bucolic
Vivisection,” “Fortnightly Review,” 1885.

[43] Professor Jevons, “Fortnightly Review,” 1876.

[44] “Mind in Animals,” translated by Annie Besant.

[45] “The Old Faith and the New.”

[46] See Appendix VII.

[47] See Appendix VIII.

[48] “They tell children, perhaps, that they must not be cruel to
animals.... What avails all the fine talk about morality, in contrast
with acts of barbarism and immorality presented to them on all
sides?”--Gustav von Struve.

[49] “Principles of Political Economy.”

[50] See p. 3.

[51] See p. 10.

[52] See p. 29.

[53] See p. 37.

[54] See p. 69.

[55] See p. 71.

[56] From the translation by Simeon Linden, London, 1904; pp. 158, 159.

[57] See p. 84.

[58] _Daily News_, April 10, 1906.

[59] See p. 86.

[60] It has not been attempted in the following pages to give a
complete bibliography of the doctrine of Animals’ Rights, but merely
a list of some of the chief works, in English, that touch directly on
that subject.


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Alternate or archaic spelling has been retained from the original.

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