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him the immortality of all animals appeared in harmony with the analogy of nature, rational, benevolent, and beautiful. The poet Rogers could hardly persuade himself that there is no compensation in a future existence for the sufferings of animals in the present life. On the other hand, the poet Montgomery thought there was no foundation for this notion, that injustice is done to animals, unless they find retribution in another life for their sufferings here. Their sufferings, he says, are not mental, but physical, and are considerably less than we are at first induced to imagine ; and the animals that do suffer in an extraordinary way, like the post-horse, and some others, form a very inconsiderable portion of the general mass; and even among these there are very few, if any, which have not a much greater quota of enjoyment than of suffering. Those lambs, for instance, that are frisking by our side, are rearing for the butcher; they will suffer death, but death to them will be only a momentary pang. According to Wollaston, the loss of life is no great hardship to animals; he thinks it is really no loss at all. In “ The Religion of Nature" he declares that “ they perceive by moments without reflection upon past or future, upon causes, circumstances, &c. Time and life without thinking are next neighbors to nothing, to no-time and no-life. And therefore to kill a brute is to deprive him of a life or a remainder of time that is equal to little more than nothing.” This is certainly a very ingenious statement; but the logic of it would scarcely prove satisfactory to all minds. We have taken the opinion of some of the poets on the subject of the brute world, and we find in this connection some expressions of Pope's which lead us to think that this argument of Wollaston would not have been received with much favor by him.
“I shall be very glad,” said Spence to the poet, “ to see Dr. Hales, and always love to see him, he is so worthy and good a man."
Pope. “ Yes, he is a very good man; only I'm sorry he has his hands so much imbrued in blood.”
Spence. « What! he cuts up rats?”.
Pope. “Ay, and dogs too !” (“ With what emphasis and concern,” says the relator," he spoke it.”) “Indeed, he commits most of those barbarities with the thought of being of use to man; but how do we know that we have a right to kill creatures that we are so little above as dogs, for our curiosity, or even for some use to us?”
Spence. “I used to carry it too far ; I thought they had reason as well as we.”
Pope. “So they have, to be sure. All our disputes about that are only disputes about words. Man has reason enough only to know what is necessary for him to know, and dogs have just that too."
Spence. “But then they have souls too, as imperishable in their nature as ours ?”
Pope. 6 And what harm would that be to us?”
This is a very striking instance of a sensitive regard for animals in the light of our fellow-creatures. Mrs. Jameson, in her “ Commonplace Book,” remarks upon the general lack of sympathy manifested among. Christian nations for the lower animals. With the Mahometans and Brahminical races, humanity to animals, and the sacredness of life in all its forms, is much more of a religious principle than among ourselves ; and in accounting for this strange fact, she says it would seem 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.
The lower animals know nothing of the misery which man experiences in contemplating what may happen in the future. They live in the present moment, and the objects immediately before them seem to supersede the consideration of all things else. In illustration of this fact, Sir B. C. Brodie, in the second part of his Psychological Inquiries, mentions the following anecdote, which was related to him by a gentleman who was an eyewitness of the circumstance to which it relates: “In a hunt, the hounds had very nearly reached the fox, when a rabbit crossed his path. Apparently forgetting his own danger, the fox turned on one side to catch the rabbit, and was soon afterwards himself seized by the dogs, with the rabbit in his mouth.”
It is undoubtedly true that there is very much more happiness than suffering in the animal world. The ox browsing in the shade is the picture of contentment; though sometimes severely tasked, he never quarrels with his lot; he never pines with regret for the past; and he takes no thought for the morrow. The squirrel in the tree was never known to have a melancholy day. His little heart has sometimes beat hard with the agonizing sensation of fear; but this fear is only sufficient for the animal's preservation, and the purpose of the pain that attends it proves a benevolent one. Animals suffer from heat and cold; but the suffering in the same manner serves to keep them safe from perils which might else destroy. They taste some poisonous plant, and some painful sensation proclaims the unfitness of the thing for their use. If a condition of their existence is violated, if an instinct is denied its gratification, the attendant pain forces them to resort to the course of action suited to their natures. To some animals, the loss of their mates, or of their young, is a source of suffering ; but this suffering is only sufficient, with the attending fear of loss, to secure for these objects of their solicitude the same care and protection they themselves have received, or still enjoy. And so with almost all the forms of pain which we meet with in the animal world, — the pain the animal suffers all tends to its own general welfare. But there are exceptional cases of pain and misery for which the sufferer does not seem to reap any compensation in this life, and so must find it in another life, if at all. Analogy perhaps leads to the inference that this exceptional suffering is not wholly, an evil; —
“that somehow good Will be the final goal of ill."
Else is the benevolent purpose of the Creator attained ? Are the brutes, too, fallen creatures, that they should suffer ? Has some Adam of the race of horses nibbled at the forbidden fruit, that this poor animal in the dray should be overtasked all his days by some brutal driver? The good Father Malebranche had some such notion as this; for it is related that, when pressed in conversation by some of his friends with objections to the justice of God drawn from the sufferings of the brutes, he replied: Apparemment ils ont mangé du foin défendu. If he had then been acquainted with the mechanical theory of Descartes, he would not have been driven to this curious invention. In view of the easy solution this theory affords of the apparent sufferings to which the lower animals are subject, Baillet tells us that the great Pascal esteemed it the most valuable part of the Cartesian philosophy.
Father Bougeaut finds a ready explanation for the sufferings of animals in his hypothesis that their souls are reprobate spirits. If he is told that the poor beasts are doomed to suffer excessive evils, he has no pity at all for them; but rather he admires the goodness of the Creator for giving him so many little devils to serve and amuse him; and he admires, too, the justice of the sentence God has passed upon them for their guilt; at any rate, he is not going to be troubled about the consequences of this dreadful decree, for he had no manner of share in giving it.
These theories and conjectures attest the difficulty men have experienced in finding an explanation of the sufferings of animals. This is indeed a theme for our reflection ; though perhaps we may not in the end determine anything. Here we follow the dubious light of analogy; we see imperfectly the purposes of God; and we may be obliged to submit to the feeling that we cannot wholly solve the mystery.
The want of a self-conscious personality on the part of all unintelligent animals is a most important fact bearing upon the question of their immortality. We speak of the existence of this want as an established fact; but it may be asked, what we know about their consciousness. True, as far as our remembrance goes, we never resided in the head of any brute animal, that we should know just what the nature of his mind and the modes of its operation are. But we seem to be able to make out, from our observation of the methods and results of the mental processes of animals, enough to satisfy us that their consciousness is different from our own, or in a different stage of development. It is not, therefore, solely in the hardihood of ignorance that we assert that the consciousness of self forms a most vital distinction between the nature of intelligent and unintelligent beings.
Consciousness does not consist merely in the mind's recognition of the various confluent streams of sensation ; but the recognition of them as states or modifications of self, as contradistinguished from an objective world. This consciousness implies both memory and thought. A being without the power of remembering and reflecting upon the objects of its sensation would feel certain impressions from them all; but upon a change of these objects, they would be to him as if they had never existed ; and probably, as he would have no means of comparing different effects by means of placing them together in the mind, he would have no clear perception of their diversity, as separate objects; much less would he consciously separate himself from the world about him. Every change to him would be a change of feeling only, and he would never be conscious of even this change as a modification of self. That there really are animals with this low degree of consciousness seems most probable. But most animals seem to have a certain power of retaining and associating together the impressions made upon their organs of sense. They in some measure separate the various objects of perception one from another, and recognize a likeness or unlikeness between them. The impressions once made may spontaneously recur upon the happening of any of the circumstances under which they were originally excited, so that the sight of a certain object may suggest an imagination of the feelings or impressions with which the sight of the object was attended at a former time. In this association of impressions there is no conscious knowledge that these impressions are the same that occurred on a former occasion; they are not set apart and made objects of conscious thought; nor can they be recalled by any effort of the will. This is a very imperfect and partial kind of consciousness. In true consciousness the mind, independently of the presence of the object, and without any association of place or time, abstracts and carries with itself the leading attributes of the object, and by these alone can reproduce the image of it at will, and can consciously recognize it when it is presented to the senses at another time. In such an act of consciousness the mind perceives itself to be the continuous subject of these successive modifications that come from objects from without; it recogVOL. LXXIV. — 5TH S. VOL. XII. NO. II.