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

The Nation, July 9, 1896

Animals’ Rights, considered in relation to Social Progress. With a Bibliographical Appendix. By Henry  S. Salt. Also, An Essay on Vivisection in America. By Albert Leffingwell, M.D. New York: Macmillan.

THAT animals’ rights include the right to live and to enjoy life without pain and death at the hands of man, is the fundamental idea in this work. The author advocates the application of the Golden Rule in man’s treatment of the lower animals. He makes a vigorous, temperate, readable, and in the main very practical discussion of the subject. He recognizes conditions as they exist, and, while fully believing in a complete and radical change, placing man’s injury to himself by the cruelty and inhumanity in strong relief, he is very judicious in his recommendations. As education appeals with effect only to such as are predisposed to its reception, he concedes that it, as well as legislation, must in a measure be secondary to the awakening of the humane instincts. He writes for those who realize that decrease of cruelty and increase in humanity measure advances in civilization, “that man, to be truly man, must cease to abnegate his common fellowship with all living nature, and that the coming realization of human rights will inevitably bring after it the tardier but not the less certain realization of the rights of the lower races.” Before accepting as final his conclusion that mankind should entirely adopt vegetable food, many of his more conservative readers will inquire whether experiments have sufficiently demonstrated that our race can retain its rank and progress as well without meat; whether, in fact, without access to the “fleshpots” it would not have remained in the groves with the orangs and gorillas.

Dr. Leffingwell’s essay on vivisection is of prime interest to America educators, among whom, no doubt, there are few who will not at least agree that much of the imitative vivisection practised in schools is deplorable in its effect both on victim and on audience.