ANIMALS AND THEIR MASTERS.
R. MILVERTON, who is, we suppose, the special spokesman
.0.1. of the author of "Friends in Council," remarks in the course of the earnest, lively, and often humorous conversation s which have just appeared on the subject of "Animals and Their Masters," that if men are to be damned for this and that sin, as theologians so freely expect, there is more reason to think they will be damned for their sins of cruelty towards "those creatures who have been given into our complete dominion, and for our con- duct to whom we shall be fearfully answerable," than for almost who have been given into our complete dominion, and for our con- duct to whom we shall be fearfully answerable," than for almost any others. And really we should heartily agree with him, where- ever the sins of cruelty and barbarity can be referred to specific intention, and not to that habit of heedlessness which arises from the inattention and hurry of the day, and the t-udency to believe —what so many people have a reason for wishing to believe—that even the highest animals do not suffer at all as human beings do under the same circumstances. Cruelty in the strictest sense of the term, the infliction of pain for the sake of giving suffering, is, as far as we can see, more completely destructive to the soul of man, more completely a death-stroke to the spirit of love, and therefore to the vision of God, than any, even the worst sin not involving deliberate cruelty. But it is quite certain, as the friends "in council " show, that a good deal of barbarity is not so much cruelty, as the result of silly and false theorising on the nature of the lower animals. Even in our own day, there has been a partial revival of Descartes' absurd theory, that the lower
animals are very elaborate and delicate machines, constructed to move about and utter cries,—and that as they never learn how to
do what they do by instinct, they may be supposed to be con- structed so as to act in a certain way on a certain thing being done, and so that what looks like feeling in them is only the working of their mechanism ; indeed, the present writer has heard a certain amount of hypothetical value attributed to this theory in relation to the lower orders of creatures by one of the most eminent of our living physiologists,—oddly enough, too, one who heartily accepts Mr. Darwin's theory of the descent of man. Thomas Aquinas is quoted by "Friends in Council" as saying, " Animalia brute non delectantur visibilibus, odoribus, et souls, nisi in ordine ad su3teritationem naturm," a remark which seems to show conclusively the very interesting though negative biographical fact that Thomas Aquinas did not keep either cats or dogs,—or if he did, did not observe them. Digs are not only delighted by sounds which are not sounds of a kind to interest them through their appetites, but they are also not unfrequently very much dis- tressed by such sounds. There are plenty of dogs which will howl whenever a gong or bell rings. There are others which detest music, and some passionately fond of it. Some distinguish between the human voice and instrumental music, and will howl at the latter only when it is unaccompanied by the former, evidently as a pro- test against the Cartesian notion that animals are crying machines. Such dogs,—the present writer possesses one of them,—probably regard crying machines as preternatural portents, but have no objection to the cries of living beings, even when not at all superior in melody or harmony. If the false theories which make men indifferent to the sufferings of animals could be got rid of finally, there would be more chance of getting rid of the shameful neglect and inattention to their welfare which is so severely but justly criticised by those friends "in Council," and of getting sportsmen, and even scientific men in search of fresh knowledge, to consider that animals, like human beings, have rights to be violated, and that their rights are grossly violated when you compel them to bear quite needless suffering, and treat their sufferings either as excuses for a stimulating chase, or as the subjects of mere scientific curio- sity. Sir Arthur Helps gives weight to his book by his experience of the working of the regulations of the Privy Council in relation to the transit of animals, and shows, we think, at least as cogent reason for the interference of the State on their behalf as there is for its interference on behalf of ignorant children,—and on precisely the same ground, that they are not able to assert their own rights. If it is a duty to interfere to preserve children from the hands of baby-farmers, surely it is in a less degree,—a less degree only because of the less moral evil involved,—right to pre- serve geese not only from the tortures involved in the manufacture
of pates de foie gras, —not, we trust, an English torture,—but from such tortures as are inflicted on them in Englishmen's hands, some of which are thus described in this book :— "At seven o'clock on the night of the 7th inst., thirty-six boxes of live geese arrived at Waterloo Station from St. Malo, rid Southampton,
consigned to 11Ir. Leadenhall Market. Each box appeared to be three feet four inches long, two feet wide, and sixteen inches deep; and * Straban and Co.
all were made of rough jagged-edged deal planks, left with openings between each plank at the top and sides. In every box, so far as I could tell, from nine to twelve geese were huddled together so closely that none could move except by trampling one over another; or by getting a neck, head, or wing out of one of the openings. Some of the geese were screaming, many wore lying down with heads and necks extended, seemingly quite exhausted; several were dead. I could cum, three, but believe there must have been more, the boxes being so placed in a mass on the platform that I could only examine closely those that were outermost. It was painful to see heads, necks, and wings protruding from the boxes, so firmly fixed in openings that moderate force could not remove them. But it was still more painful to see how eagerly those geese which could get their heads out freely drank up some water the porters sprinkled on the boxes. The geese were so crowded together it would have been impossible to give them either food or water in the boxes, and I greatly fear they must have been left in them all night, as there was no preparation for their re- moval when I left at twenty minutes past eleven. I could not learn how long they had been in the boxes Mb:erten: 'I want the whole subject of the transit of living creatures to be reconsidered. Nothing in this world is an unmixed benefit. The increased facility of locomo- tion by railway has introduced new elements of difficulty into the whole question. How I should endeavour to meet this particular case, is by the adoption of some general rules, similar to those which have been introduced into the Passengers' Act, 1855, and subsequent Acts, with relation to the transit of human beings. Don't let us talk about ducks, or geese, or any such small fry ; but let us contend for a provision of this kind—that in all cases of transit of living creatures a certain space should be allowed, bearing some proportion to the size of the creatures respectively."
Some one will, perhaps, quote against us the French aphorism "Le droit derive de la capacite," and maintain that only those animals have rights which can prove capacity to exercise their rights, like thesorrel nag a propos of which Mr. Milverton tells so admirable a story :— ". There have been a few wise horses in. the world. I knew one myself of a sorrel colour. He did not kick, or rear, or pursue any of those fantastic devices for getting rid of his rider ; but when. he ob- jected to him, he always rubbed him off against a wall or a cart-wheel. No human being. who made himself objectionable to this horse, was ever known to "remain." You do not understand the allusion ? A Frenchman, whe had taken to riding in England, was asked how he succeeded in this mode of locomotion, so novel to him. He replied- -When he go easy I am a'y suis) ; but when ho jomp hard, I do not remain." Now nobody could remain" upon the horse I have been telling you about. But, alas ! a wise horse, like a wise man, often keeps all his wisdom to himself ; and this wise sorrel (-was not the wisest horse that Gulliver met with in his sojourn with the Hony- hnhnms a sorrel nag ?) did not impart his secret to his brother bays or greys.'"
But then if in this sense a right can be only made good by a capacity, what are we to say to our children's right to teaching ? Certainly they do no* make good their capacity for learning before they are taught. Evidently the French maxim does not exactly cover the most serious class of rights at all,—the rights of the weak and the incapable to protection, at the hands of those who are strong and capable, from the sufferings incidental to weakness and incapacity. The "capacity" from which their right derives, is the capacity of appreciating the difference between suffering and en- joyment, and that capacity is none the less for their inability to make others understand it. There are certain rights which first make themselves felt in the shape of other persons' duties, but they are not the less genuine rights of the creature which, unlike the sorrel nag, is unable to force them on the attention of its fellow- creatures.
And by far the best way to make the rights of the lower animals felt is to bring the imagination, the fancy, and the emotions of men to play round the actual lives of those creatures with which we have most intercourse, after the pleasant and humorous fashion of these conversations of the friends "in Council." Indeed, the only fault we have to find with the author is that from a certain weariness of the stories of animal character, he enters too little into the indications of individual feeling in the animal world, and confines himself too much to the subject of the treatment by man of his dumb fellow-creatures. We should have liked more of this sort of humorous interpretation of the feelings of dogs, for in- stance :—
" Ellesmere : 'All animals I have known intimately have had a great appreciation of fun ; and that is why I like the animal creation so much. If I were to pretend to throw Fairy into tho water, a proceed- ing which she knows that I know she dislikes, she would perfectly un- derstand that this was a more demonstration, similar to that of an in- dependent member asking a question of a minister in the House, the whole affair haring been arranged an hour or two before at the minister's official residence in Downing Street, and Fairy would thoroughly enter into the joke. I can hardly tell you how much I see in this. It impresses me more than hundreds of those stories showing the sagacity of animals which are current in the world. Milverton has been wonderfully merciful to us, in not giving us hosts of these stories."
We are not sure about the wisdom of Milverton's mercy in this respect. At least it depends on the mode in which the stories might be treated. If a little playful imaginative insight had
been brought to play upon them, as here, where the admirable comparison between the feelings of " Fairy " and the feelings of "the independent Member" who aims a concerted blow at Government, develops the real tie of sympathy between the dog and the man, such stories would do far more than any formal ex- pression of opinion to deepen that sense of a common nature between man and the lower animals, which is the beat conceivable security against the possibility of barbarity. In this connection we may regret that Sir Arthur Helps has not given more prominence to the qualities of the lower animals as good companions. The discus- sion between the friends "in Council" wanders off into a discussion on the qualities of good companionship, in which the lower animals are completely forgotten, and the characteristics of the human world come to the surface. We are told that the basis of good companion- ship rests on personal liking, early association, similarity of pursuits, and the like ; that the means of continuing it depend on perfect mutual confidence in the higher sense, without any morbid seeking for" confidences ;" and that for" high companionship "there must be an interest in many things, at least on one side, and on the other, a great power of receptivity. Even ignorant people will be extremely good companions to the most highly intellectual, if they are receptive, easily interested in the subjects which fascinate the latter, and keen, vigilant listeners who catch the proper points. Lastly, good companions should care more for the present and the future than for the past, and never indulge in needless and un- meaning detail. A "bore," on the contrary, is one who prefers hearing himself to eliciting what is good ; who repeats himself largely ; who is very fond of the past and its minutim ; and who expatiates in superfluous detail. Now, observe how nearly per- fectly all the conditions of good companionship are fulfilled of the companionship between the man and the dog,—at least, the better class of dogs, for we admit the existence of a class of canine bores,"—the class who prefer hearing themselves bark to the pleasure of eliciting good conversation, — who repeat themselves largely,—and who are so far devoted to the past that they insist punctiliously on the exact rehearsal of old traditions. On the other hand, a genuine friendship with a dog is created by personal liking, early association, and similarity of pursuits. Indeed, in regard to the last head, the best excuse, we will not call it a defence, we know forsorne kinds of sporting, is that if it inflicts need- leas suffering on one class of animals, it is almost essential to the com- plete friendship and intimacy with another. While dogs are what they are, no one gets quite so near to their hearts as the sportsman,— so that the very pursuit which violates one class of animal rights, really breeds the friendship which guards and consecrates another. Then, again, what friend gives, like the dog, the most absolute confi- dence, without any of that morbid exigeance which insists on the exchange of " confidences " on all sorts of petty subjects? And even for the purposes of "high companionship," where is the friend who has such receptivity for learning of you as the less self-opinionated and the more docile kind of dogs? There are self-opinionated dogs,—we suspect the Scotch colleys, with all their high intelligence, are usually .amongst the number,—who will not condescend to study human beings whom they find so inferior in instinct to themselves. But look at the Irish water- spaniels,—the kind to which Cowper's dog "Beau" belonged, who cropped for the poet the water-lily be admired half-an-hour after his unsuccessful attempt to get it ; where is there their equal for studying the moods of their master's mind, and truly interpreting his thoughts, and even his genius ? The greatest cat of our own day, whose story our own readers had an opportunity of reading some year or so ago, though in all probability purely a Saxon cat by descent, was a fervent Irish patriot, so strongly did he sympathise with his master. Indeed, Nero was seen one day to jump on the table and put his paws round a fine bust of Wolf Tone, in the enthusiasm of his hero-worship. Could you not speak of him as a splendid compainon, in Sir A. Helps' very words ?—" It is not exactly that his knowledge has made him so ; it is his almost universal interest in everything that comes before him," with the recommendation of his master's admiration. Of such a one as Nero or Beau you may safely say that, like Lord Palmerston, on whose capacity for companionship Sir A. Helps passes so strong a eulogium, he does not dwell much on the past, but lives in the present and future. Of such a dog as Cowper's you might surely say, as was said of Burke, that if you had met him taking shelter under an archway, you would at once find out that you were in the company of a really great dog, and not merely that, but that you had met with a good companion also, "with one whose society you would long for, as it would fulfil all the conditions for evoking and maintaining the rare felicity of high companion- ship." The author of the "Friends in Council" has written a
humorous and delicate plea for the due protection of animal rights. But he might have made it still more effective if he had conde- scended to let his fancy and humour play more steadily round the rudimentary germs of true human character in the other orders of the animal world, than he has deigned to do. Still what he has written is humorous, wise and good ; and, unlike the French- man on the jumping horse, it will "remain."