Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Animals' Rights

Nature, Volume 47 Number 1206, 8 December 1892

I AM not surprised that you should find my essay on “Animals’ Rights” an “absolutely useless” one, for I certainly did not design it to be a congenial hand-book for the apologists of Vivisection. Nor do I the least object to your drawing what conclusions you like from the premises laid down by me, even though you seek your justification of vivisection from the very definition that seems to me to be most clearly condemnatory of it. But, as a matter of fact, and not of personal opinion, I beg to point out that you have utterly misrepresented the leading principle of the book, and that the two contradictory definitions of animals’ rights, which you attribute to my confusion of mind, are in reality the phantom creation of your own. On p. 9, in referring to Herbert Spencer's definition of human rights, I claim for animals a “due measure” (not an equal amount) of the same “restricted freedom” a claim which by no means prohibits all use and employment of animals, as you conveniently assume. On p. 28 I give, not a second definition, but a repetition and amplification of the one given on p. 9; and the “due measure of restricted freedom” is explained as being “a life which permits of the individual development, subject to the limitations imposed by the permanent needs and interests of the community.” Surely this is intelligible enough; yet the reviewer has utterly failed to understand it.

H. S. Salt
38, Gloucester Road, London