4 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 8

. All ,travellers in omnibuses are familiar with this sentence,

which over and over again they have deciphered poked away in some corner where it does not take the room of more paying inscriptions. The caution to remember the 'bus-horses is not badly worded, and has more than once set the present writer off upon a train of thought which has enabled him to forget the jolting and the company. Dumb animals ! How much• suffering and injustice the phrase suggests. Almost all the troubles of those animals who desire the friendship of man come out of the fact that they cannot speak. They are so often misjudged and so often forgotten altogether because they are dumb. There is a class of person—the odd thing is that, morally speaking, it is often a very high class—for whom horses are merely a means of locomotion, and dogs and cats are tiresome little nuisances who infest the public high- ways, and sometimes even private houses, and are liable to bite and to mew. They have no natural liking for animals, and they do not wish to think s ',out them. Their own race offers them only too large a field for wonder, pity, and con- sideration, and they no more care when they see a horse beaten, or stumbling or falling before a heavy weight on a slippery incline, than they care when they see a motor-car slowly ascending a hill a little too steep for its engine-power, or a chauffeur tinkering at a machine which has broken down. Accounts of animal intelligence interest them not in the least. They are conscious of nothing when they hear them but a vague hope that they are not true, as derogating somewhat from the peculiar pride of humanity. The caress of an animal is disagreeable to them ; they do not want these little wordless declarations of sympathy; they fear lest they should be cheated of sympathy in return. The road to their hearts is by way of words ; yet they have excellent and hospitable hearts to be reached by those who can speak. On the other hand, there are people in whose lives animals play a large, perhaps a disproportionate, part; who are conscious of some strange relation to the brute creation ; who know well, and who cannot alter the fact, even though they may be rightly ashamed of it, that the sufferings of animals make a more instantaneous, if a less deep, appeal to their feelings than do the sufferings of their ordinary acquaintance. Such people experience at times a somewhat uncanny sensation, lasting only for a moment, which makes them think that "a dumb animal" has spoken to them. Not, of course, that )le has conveyed an idea in words, but that by some power of tIlinight transference or emotion transference, by some means of 'communication more primitive than speech, be has put himself into momentary and complete sympathy with a creature of a higher race. An uncommon sympathy with animals, a, sympathy going outside. the ordinary dictates of kindness, is perhaps of the nature of a survival, like the power to move one's ears. It has little bearing upon intellect or character. It does not preclude genius, witness the "Jungle Hooka" and . the traditions of Francis of Assisi. But it is not necessarily accompanied by quick human sympathies or much mental strength. It opens a world, however, a world of the imagina- tion, where those in whom the power survives may go alone, and where they may obtain a strange mental salve for injuries inflicted by the careless use of speech.

Between these two classes—the one which thinks too little !about animals, and the one which thinks too much—conies the general public. The general public in England is certainly not unkind. The average man rather likes animals. If he could keep his temper, and if he would take the trouble to reason, he would be, upon the whole, very kind to them. Of course there are a few who enjoy cruelty, and indulge their fiendish instincts even towards children ; but these may almost be considered in this country to be aberrations. The thought of them is liable to upset the judgment, and the ordinary man relegates it, as a rule, along with the thought of insane persons and habitual criminals, to one of those dungeons of the mind where all is darkness and confusion, and which we enter as seldom as we can. Uniform kindness to animals, like uniform kindness to every one else, requires a good bit of patience, for though animals are not quite so irritating as men, because they cannot insult you, they can be very irritating indeed. Those who care most for animals have by no means always the most con- trol over them. They are often treated by what St. Francis would have called their little brothers with a singular want of deference. They sympathise with the irresistible desire which at times takes hold of children, on four legs or on two, to do as they like, and are loved but not obeyed.

• To rule justly over an animal community, to keep the weaker folk "by their right" and the strong within the law, is an amusing but by no means an easy task, because those who cannot speak cannot give evidence. Take the case of an animal community living under the eye of the present writer, —two horses, several cats, a terrier, and a retriever. It is impossible to understand exactly their mental attitude towards one another, or how much each makes the others suffer. For instance, there is a cat who will sleep upon the back of the off horse. The horse may like it or he may not. Horses do not express themselves easily, and the long habit of strict discipline has not increased their powers in that direction. It is possible that to prevent the cat from doing so would be to deprive the horse of a cherished companion whose company is to him both dear and diverting. It may be that the cat loves him—she certainly loves no one else—and he may fill a gap in her life. On the other band, she may regard him only as a warm armchair—the latter supposition would be more in keeping with her character—and be may hate her. They may each sleep the better for the soothing presence of the other ; or she may give him broken nights, waking up, stretching, and sticking her claws in, and that may be the reason why he does not always like work in spite of his healthy appetite, and why he puts all that he possibly can upon the near horse. There is no telling. -

The relation of the retriever to the cats is still more compli- cated. The cats suspect him of criminality, of having murdered one of their kind ; but there is no certainty about the matter. The evidence is circumstantial only, and is as follows. 'Prince' was seen by the gardener proceeding towards the chalk-pit about a hundred yards from the house with a black cat hanging out of each side of his mouth. The cat has never been seen since. On the face of it, things look badly for Prince,' and it must be added that the remaining cats showed signs of nervousness for days. The Persian, who has undoubtedly more mental power than all the rest of the cats put together, missed several meals, sitting in a tree close to 'Prince's' kennel, and refusing to descend even when she conld see that he was on the chain. Some provocation was also suggested by the fact that for four days previous to the disappearance it had been noticed that Prince' had three .patches of fur off his face, and the coachman inclined to ascribe the injury to some cat unknown. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence in his favour. During the three days which elapsed between the injury and the tragedy he and the black cat had been upon their usual terms. The black cat was a very meek cat, and no one had ever suspected her of lifting her paw to dog or man. 'Prince's' manner with cats, though rollicking and not perhaps very happy, had been always considered substantially kind. He was accustomed to pick them up to show off his tender mouth, and often carried the Persian out of the kitchen into the courtyard without causing her any serious annoyance. No corpse was ever found. The family proceeded to the pit immediately upon receiving the gardener's information, and met 'Prince' coming out. He was quite unembarrassed. There were no signs of a struggle. The patches on his face were beginning to heal. 'Prince's' previous record is very good, and quite sufficient to establish his character for intelligence and general benevolence. Upon one occasion when the terrier had the serious misfortune to stick in a rabbit-bole, and was in imminent danger of suffocation, 'Prince' returned home and fetched the coachman, fawning on him and giving him no peace till he followed him to the place where 'Foxy's ' tail stuck out of the earth. Having regard to this story, it is not to be supposed that, either by accident or from unreasoning savagery, 'Prince' can have revtnged upon the black cat injuries inflicted by Jimmy,' a common grey Tom of abnormal size and strength who stands nothing from dogs, and is always described in the stable as "a desperate one." It is not impossible that we all misunderstood the black cat, and imputed to meekness what was in truth a reserved and sensitive pride. She may have hated 'Prince' with his rough manner and his practical jokes. The journey to the pit may have been the last straw, and she may have resolved to quit her home for ever. Some dogs are exceedingly fond of joking, and often get into trouble by it. The present writer knows at this moment an Aberdeen terrier whose highest mark of affection is a facetious snap,—a sign of goodwill never shown but to her intimates. One day, being in par- ticularly good humour and having a little forgotten herself, she played her joke upon the boot-boy, whose duty it is to take her out, and whose sense of humour differs from hers. The result was a quarrel which can never be healed, and which causes considerable domestic inconvenience. Probably he hit her. Possibly her gleaming eyes and teeth fired his indignant imagination. It is impossible to find out the rights of the matter, partly because she cannot speak, and partly because he can. The question of 'Prince's' guilt remains open, or did till last week, when his present owner met his former master in the street. "How is 'Prince'?" said the latter. "Has he buried any more hens lately P " Hens and cats have no connection, and the incident has no direct bearing upon the case at issue, but cela donne ci penser nevertheless.