Sympathy With The Lower Animals -- By: Mattoon M. Curtis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 054:213 (Jan 1897)
Article: Sympathy With The Lower Animals
Author: Mattoon M. Curtis


Sympathy With The Lower Animals

Prof. Mattoon M. Curtis

As we survey the manifestations of the altruistic spirit in our own times, we see that the organization and rapid extension of humane societies occupy a prominent position as regards the attitude of man toward the lower animals. The father of the humane movement in America was Henry Bergh, who, on the nineteenth of April, 1866, secured from the New York Legislature the first law enacted for the protection of animals. On the twenty-second of April of the same year the first Humane Society was organized in Clinton Hall, New York City, and to-day there are about one hundred and eighty similar organizations in North America. In our larger cities the work of these societies has grown to great dimensions and has enlisted the active sympathy and support of all good citizens.

It is with special reference to man’s sympathetic relations to the lower animals that I am to write. I am not aware that this subject has been looked upon from the historical point of view, and, as this standpoint is well fitted to furnish us with both information and direction, I shall use it to set forth the general grounds of sympathy between man and beast which have been recognized in the past and which seem to commend themselves to the various dispositions of mind which obtain at the present time.

In the Oriental countries of antiquity, and in some of them to-day, man’s sympathetic attitude toward the lower animals is striking and in certain instances grotesque. So

far from finding exhibitions of cruelty toward the animal kingdom beyond that of necessary defense and the demands of religious rites, we see everywhere among ancient peoples a disposition to preserve and enhance their welfare. In India and China it was regarded as evidence of “a good and virtuous heart, and as meriting good fortune from the gods,” to refrain from killing or maiming animal life, and to support certain animals as long as they live. In Egypt, India, and China, hospitals were established for certain injured and superannuated animals. Kindness is a part of the moral code of Mena, and in the Buddhist story we are told how “Sakka, the Great King of the Gods,” when worsted in his fight with the Titans and fleeing in his famous “Chariot of Glory,” turned aside, at the risk of falling into the hands of his foes, when the cry of young birds in distress smote upon his ears. “Let not these creatures,” he said, “suffer on our account; let us not for the sake of our safety and supremacy put the living to pain.” The orthodox Burmese will not kill even a wild animal; nor will he dig, except in sand, for fear of injuring or destroying life. But while animal life in antiquity was enjo...

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