« AnteriorContinuar »
ved with men totally addicted to their passions, men who sacrifice every thing to lust, barbarity, rapacity, and vengeance; with men, in short, who exceed in cruelty the most ferocious animals; with parricides, with murderers, and ruffians of the most flagitious description; with tyrants, and the ministers of ty. ranny ? and shalljustice be denied to the husbandman (apolmpa) ox, to the dog educated with us, to the cat. tle that nourish us with their milk, or with their wool protect us from the cold ?" We are undoubtedly bound to animals by the general duties of humanity; there is a natural alliance and commerce, a reciprocal obligation, which ought ever to be acknowledged. But however the affections of animals are attuned to the feelings of the human heart, they are accounted the mere result of mechanic impulse; however they may verge on human wisdom, their actions are said to have only the semblance of sagacity. Enlightened by superior reason, man considers himself im. mensely removed from animals, and, born to immormortality, be scorps to acknowledge, with brutes that perish, a social bond. Such are the unfeeling dogmas, which are early instilled into the mind, and which induce a callous insensibility, foreign to the na. tive texture of the heart; such the cruel speculations which prepare us for the practice of that remorseless tyranny, and which palliate the foul oppression that we exercise over our inferior but fellow-creatures,
MAN COMPARED WITH OTHER
ANIMALS. If we turn our eyes on other animals, we find they are supported with bones, covered with skins, moved by muscles; that they possess the same senses, and acknowledge the same appetites; we may hence conclude, from the strongest analogy, that their functions of life are similar to our own. They are capa. ble of anxiety and doubt. They design, compare, and alter purposes, as circumstances require; and, from various means, select that which is best adapted to the end in view. Our sympathy should therefore be strongly and zealously exerted in their favour; we should never violate their rights, never make war against or injure them, compassionate their sufferings, relieve their wants, cultivate harmony and peace, and exchange good offices with them, as humanity, mor. ality and christianity enjoins. Has not nature giv. en, to almost every creature, the same spontaneous signs of the various affections ? Admire we not in other animals whatever is most eloquent in man, the tremor of desire, the tear of distress, the piercing cry of anguish, the pity-pleading look, expressions that speak to the soul with a feeling which words can but feebly convey? A dog, on some provocation, bites his master; but no sooner has he done it, than he ap. pears to be moved by repentance: you may perceive him sorrowful, uneasy, ashamed to shew his face, and confessing his guilt, by cringing to the ground. From such similarity of affections, sensations, and propensities, should not mutual love proceed, and the bonds of friendship with man be more cultivated, at least with the milder and more congenial kinds ? It is ob. vious, that man, after all his boasted pre-eminence,
resembles the brutes in his birth, in his growth, in his mode of sustenance, in his decay, and in his dissolu. tion. In these particulars he must be numbered a. mong the animals whom he has reduced under subjection, and whom he often despises as mere anima. ted matter. But man possesses reason, and is suffi. ciently proud of the endowment. Reason, however, alone will not confer that superiority which he baugh. tily assumes. Many among the tenants of the air, the water, and the grove, display a degree of reason scarcely to be distinguished from that of man. Nei. ther the microscopic powers of metaphysics, nor the partial medium of human pride, have effected a remote distinction.
Man, in a state of nature, is not much superior to other animals. His organization is indeed extreme ly happy; but the dexterity of his figure is counter. poised by great disadvantages. Inferior to the bull in force; and in fleetness to the hound; the os sub. lime, or front erect, a feature which he bears in common with the monkey, could scarcely have inspired him with those haughty and magnificent ideas, which the pride of human refinement thence endeavours to deduce.
Exposed, like his fellow-creatures, to the injuries of the air ; urged to action by the same physical ne. cessities; susceptible of the same impressions; actuated by the same passions; and equally subject to the pains of disease, and to the pangs of dissolution, the simple savage never dreamt that his nature was so much more noble, or that he drew his origin from a purer source, or more remote than the animals in whom he saw a resemblanceas complete. Nor were the simple sounds, by which he expressed the singleness of his heart, formed to flatter him into that fond sense
of superiority over the creatures, whom the fastidious insolence of cultivated ages absurdly styles mute.
"Man prides himself on possessiog an intellect superior to that of all other animals, and on taking reason for the guide of all his actions, but as far as happiness, or the mere absence of suffering, is the end of action, the reason of man appears to be inferior to the animal instinct. A brutal ignorance debases and enslaves the great mass of mankind. They appear incapable of acquiring knowledge; of perceiving the connection of the ideas, which are laid before them; or the obvious relations of cause and effect. There they are void of all independance of thought or prin. ciple; a blind adherence to custom, or a slavish submission to authority, becomes the rule of life; and is substituted for self-government, and a manly obedience to the voice of truth and the dictates of reason.
" The moraltraits are as much distorted as the phy. sical. The affections, which should link man to man, and make each human being regard his fellow creature as his brother, are choked, and almost extinguished. Envy, hatred, jealousy, and all the malignant passions, predominate in the human bosom. The infliction of pain on sensitive beings, instead of exciting compassion, is, with the multitude, a source of pastime and merriment. To such a degree are the strongest instincts of our nature perverted, that the first principle of self-preservation is finally destroy. ed; the hand is raised against the existence of it's possessor; or the parental arm against the life of the offspring.
66 Such is an outline, too faithful, of the habitual condition, perhaps of the majority of the human species. I omit the still darker shades of the picture;
thetragedies which perpetually embitter domestic life; our crowded hospitals, from the gates of which, shoals of supplicants are, by necessity repelled ; our surgi. cal operations, the very thoughts of which make the blood run cold; and our madhouses, the interior of which presents views, from which sensibility shrinks with horror and affright. Can we avoid asking our. selves, is this enormous mass of evil then necessary and unavoidable? Does it result from the very nature of things, and the primative organization of man, or on the other hand is it not factitious, the consequence of an artificial mode of life, of corrupt habits, or of accidents, which may be avoided ?--Lambe's additional Reports, p. 44.
! It has been frequently remarked, that the resem. blance between the cry of a hare in distress and an infant, is exact. The hare, the stag, and several other animals will weep when they cannot escape, after being pursued. The same has been observed in the turtle, when taken and thrown on it's back.
How strangely does man abuse his reason when he attempts to judge and appreciate himself! If he be the King of Animals, he wretchedly debases his subjects, who afford him that subsistence, to which he frequently owes his existence, and many of the pleasures of which life is susceptible: Unable to exert himself without being sensible of his weakness, and reminded, by nature, every instant, of that inferior rank from which he continually labours to raise himself, he endeavours, by lowering the importance and usefulness of other animals to increase the distance which separates them. He maintains that God has made him after his own image; he thus makes God human, like himself; and the animals of many different species, who possess the same faculties which