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.

Homo Rapiens, and Other Verses

Times Literary Supplement, December 23, 1926

HOMO RAPIENS, and Other Verses. By Henry S. Salt. Watts.

Mr. Salt confidently commends the title “Homo Rapiens” to the notice of scientific men as a more accurate term than the too flattering “Sapiens” which they have prematurely bestowed upon mankind, and incidentally upon themselves; and he goes on to attack the meat-eater, war-makers, fox-hunters, and vivisectors whom he has already pilloried so effectively in his “Seventy Years Among Savages,” with a certainty of aim which must delight every true lover of the humane. Perhaps he is at times too absolute in his demands. He does not spare, for example, the botanist and even the “gentle Walton” becomes

The saint, who fixed his frog upon the hook
As if he loved him, and with tender look
The writhing worm would prayerfully impale!

But Mr. Salt’s humour is the best proof that he is really humane, that he is not, in fact, a superior person exploiting from the standpoint of a barren sanity the brutal stupidity of mankind. It is a stinging humour which pierces every mask of self-interested and predatory hypocrisy, but generally it rises above personal bitterness and it is verbally very accomplished. “Magna est Feritas (the Good Old Creed)” is a typical example

Great is Brute Force and will prevail;
Our faith is in the strong-mailed fish;
We worship Might that make men quail;
We’re Fascist, we’re Imperialist,
In Power we trust—all else will pass—
In Thought we don’t believe one wee bit:
Not Veritas, but Feritas
Magna est et Praevalebit.