Imatges de pàgina
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if he 'likes animals' he answers cheerily, 'Oh, dear me, yes. Poor creatures, why not?' But it does not disturb him that the horse in the hansom cab which he has called to take him to the City has weals all over its loins and a bit that fills its mouth with blood and foam, nor does he notice the overdriven and half-starved condition of a herd of cattle being taken from Cannon Street to Smithfield, but only curses them heartily for blocking the traffic.

He eats a capon, drives behind a gelding, warms himself at a hearth of which the coal has been procured by untold sufferings of man and beast, has his fish crimped and his lobsters scalded to death in his kitchens, relishes the green fat cut from a living turtle, reads with approbation his head keeper's account of the last pair of owls on his estate having been successfully trapped, writes to that worthy to turn down two thousand more young pheasants for the autumn shooting, orders his agent to have his young cattle on his home-farm dishorned, and buys as a present for his daughters a card case made from the shell of a tortoise which was roasted alive, turned on its back on the fire to give the ruddy glow to its shell. Why not? His favourite preacher and his popular scientist alike assure him that all the subject races are properly sacrificed to man. It is obviously wholly impossible to convince such a person that he is cruel: he merely studies his own convenience, and he has divine and scientific authority for considering that he is perfectly right in doing so.

He is quite comfortable, both for time and for eternity. It were easier to change the burglar of the slums, the brigand of the hills, than to change this self-complacent and pachydermatous householder who represents ninetenths of the ruling classes.

Let us not mistake; he is not personally a cruel man; he would not himself hurt anything, except in sport which he thinks is legitimate, and in science which he is told is praiseworthy; he is amiable, good-natured, perhaps benevolent, but he is wrapped up in habits, customs, facts, egotisms, tyrannies which all seem to him to be good, indeed to be essential. His horse is a thing to him like his mail phaeton; his dog is a dummy, like his umbrella stand ; his cattle are wealth-producing stores, like his timber or wheat; he uses them all as he requires, as he uses his hats and gloves. He sees no more unkindness in doing away with any of them than in discarding his old boots, and he passes the most atrocious laws and by-laws for animal torment as cheerfully as he signs a cheque payable to self.

His ears are wadded by prejudice, his eyes are blinded by formula, his character is steeped in egotism ; you might as well try, I repeat, to touch the heart of the Sicilian robber or the London crib-cracker as to alter his views and opinions; you would speak to him in a language which is as unintelligible to his world as Etruscan to the philologist.

The majority of his friends, like himself, lead their short, bustling,

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bumptious, and frequently wholly useless lives, purblind always and entirely deaf where anything except their own interests is concerned. They think but very rarely of anything except themselves, and the competitions, ambitions, or jealousies which occupy them. But in their pastimes cruelty is to them acceptable; it is an outlet for the barbarian who sleeps in them, heavily drugged but not dead sight of blood titillates agreeably their own slow circulation.

Between them and the cad who breaks the back of the bagged rabbit there is no difference except in the degree of power to indulge the slaughter-lust.

Alas! it were easier to quarry the granite rock with razors than to touch the feelings of such as this man or this woman where their vanities, or their more sheep-like love of doing as others do, are in question. Princesses wear osprey tufts and lophophorus wings, and so society wears them too, and cares not a straw by what violence and wickedness they are procured; as the ladies, who attend their State Concerts, sleep none the worse when in their country houses because the rabbit screams in the steel gins and the hawk struggles in the pole trap in the woods about their ancestral houses, and have no less appetite for luncheon amongst the bracken or the heather because shot and bleeding creatures lie half dead in the game bags around, or because the stag often is stretched in his dead majesty before their eyes. Why, then, should they care because in far distant lands little feathered creatures, lovely as flowers, innocent as the dew and the honey they feed on, are killed by the thousand and tens of thousands because a vulgar and depraved taste demands their tender bodies ?

What does it matter to them that through their demands the bird of paradise has become so rare that, unless stringent measures be taken at once, it will become totally extinct, and the golden glory of its plumes will gleam no more in tropical sunlight?

nlight? What does it matter to them that the herons in all their various kinds, the osprey, the egret, the crane, the ibis, are scarcely seen now in the southern and middle States of America, and, when seen, are no longer together in confident colonies, as of yore, but nesting singly and in feår? * Practically all our heronries are deserted. The birds have been slaughtered for their plumes,' writes a physician · dwelling in the Delaware valley. • What were common birds in their season half a century ago are now rarely seen. The struggle for existence has been a violent one and the herons have been worsted. Scarcely a word of protest has been heard, and none that has been effectual.' Women of the world know this, or at least have been told it fifty times; but it makes no impression on them. They will wear ospreyaigrettes as long as any are left in commerce, and think a humming bird looks so pretty in their hair. That their example is copied by the women of the middle classes 3 Charles Conrad Abbott, M.D.

with swallows and warblers, and by the servant girl and factory girl with dyed sparrows and finches, makes no impression on them; if the fact be noticed to them they say that the common people always will be ridiculous, and stop their carriage in Bond Street to buy fire screens made of owls or an electric lamp hung in the beak of a stuffed flamingo.

Why should they care, indeed—they who walk with the guns, even if they do not do more and secure a warm corner for their own shot; they who bring up their young sons to regard the cowardly and brutal sport of battue shooting as the supreme pleasure and privilege of youth, and see unmoved their beautiful autumnal woods turned into slaughter-places ?

One cannot but reflect how different might the world have been if women had been different, if, instead of their smiling, selfcomplacent, tittering approbation of brutality, they had shown scorn for and abhorrence of brutality. They clamour for electoral rights and leave all this vast field of influence unoccupied and untilled! They do little or nothing to soften the hearts or refine the feelings of the men who love them, or to bring up their children in any sympathy with animal life. Sport has become fashionable with them in the last twenty years, and the crack shot in the coverts of Chantilly this winter was a woman. Sporting clothes, breeches and gaiters, are now a recognised part of the fashionable woman's toilet.

I would not affirm (anomaly as it appears) that sport is incompatible with a love of animals, for I have known many sporting men and hunting men who were in a sense sincerely devoted to animals. But sport inevitably creates deadness of feeling. No one could take pleasure in it who was sensitive to suffering; and therefore its pursuit by women is much more to be regretted than its pursuit by men, because women pursue much more violently and recklessly what they pursue at all, and it is impossible for the sportswoman logically and effectively to exercise any influence on her young children which could incline them to mercy, such an influence as Lamartine's mother had on him to the day of his death.

There are two periods in the lives of a woman when she is almost omnipotent for good or ill. These are when men are in love with her, and when her children are young enough to be left entirely to her and to those whom she selects to control them. How many women in ten thousand use this unlimited power which they then possess to breathe the quality of mercy into the souls of those who for the time are as wax in their hands? They will crowd into the Speaker's box to applaud debates which concern them in no way. They will impertinently force their secondhand opinions on Jack and Jill in the village or in the City alleys. They will go on to platforms and sing comic songs, or repeat temperance platitudes, and think they are a great moral force in the improvement of the masses. This they will do, because it amuses them and makes them of importance. But alter their own lives, abandon their own favourite cruelties, risk the sneer of society, or lead their little children to the love of nature and the tenderness of pity: these they will never do. Mercy is not in them, nor humility, nor sympathy.

Can written words do much to teach the hearts of those who read ? I fear not.

On how many do written words, even dipped in the heart's blood and burning with the soul's fire, produce any'lasting effect? Is not the most eloquent voice doomed to cry without echo in the wilderness? And what wilderness is there so barren as the desert of human indifference and of human egotism?

Pity is only awakened in those who are already pitiful. We cannot sow mustard seed on granite. The whole tendency of the age is towards cynicism, indifference, self-engrossment. The small children sneer oftener than they smile.

From Plutarch to Voltaire, from Celsus to Sir Arthur Helps, the finest and most earnest pleading against cruelty has been made by the finest and most logical minds. But the world has not listened ; the majority of men and women are neither just nor generous, neither fine nor logical. In a few generations more there will probably be no room for animals on the earth : no need of them, no toleration of them. An immense agony will have then ceased, but with it there will also have passed away the last smile of the world's youth. For in the future the human race will have no tenderness for those of its own kind who are feeble or aged, and will consign to lethal chambers all those who weary it, obstruct it, or importune it, since the quality of mercy, will day by day be more derided, and less regarded as one of the moral attributes of mankind.

OUIDA.

A REAL MAHÂTMAN

Many times the question has been asked of late, What is a Mahâtman, and what is a Sannyâsin? Mahâtman is a very common Sanskrit word, and means literally great-souled, high-minded, noble. It is used as a complimentary term, much as we use noble or reverend; but it has been accepted also as a technical term, applied to what are called Sannyasins in the ancient language of India. Sannyasin means one who has surrendered and laid down everything—that is, who has abandoned all worldly affections. He is to be known as a Sannyasin,' we read in the Bhagavad-gitâ, v. 3, 'who does not hate and does not desire.' As the life of a Brâhman was, according to the laws of Manu, divided into four periods, or asramas—that of a pupil, of a householder, of a hermit, and of an independent sage—those who had reached the fourth stage were called Sannyâsins, a word difficult to render in English, but perfectly familiar to everybody in India. Another old name for these freedmen of the spirit is Avadhúta, literally one who has shaken off all attachment to worldly objects. These Avadhûtas also exist to the present day. They are sometimes called simply Sadhus, good people.

It has been denied that there are any Sannyâsins left in India, and in one sense this is true. If the scheme of life traced out by Manu was ever a reality, it has long since ceased to be so. Boys no longer remain in the house of a teacher till they are grown up. They do not serve their teachers, nor do they, as a rule, receive from them their daily lessons, to be learnt by heart and to be repeated day after day. Nor do they, when they have married and become householders, perform the sacrifices prescribed by Manu ; least of all do they think, when their hair turns grey, and when they have seen the children of their children, that the time has come for them to leave their home and retire to the forest, following the life of a hermit, performing penances, and devoting themselves to meditation. But though we hardly ever hear of a man ordering the three stages of his life according to the rules laid down by the ancient legislators, something like the life of a Sannyâsin has been kept up in India to the present day. It is true that, according to orthodox views, no one can be a Sannyâsin who has not spent the required number of years in the three antecedent

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