Animals’ Rights

Animals’ Rights

ANIMALS’ RIGHTS by H. S. Salt. G. Bell and Sons, London, 1892.

In a book of some 160 pages Mr. Henry S. Salt argues and pleads for the Rights of Animals. Throughout the work there is no single trace of wholesome condemnation of social customs and scientific practices which entail suffering to the animal creation even while serving, immediately or prospectively, the supposed needs of the human race. All Mr. Salt’s arguments are searching, critical, and conclusive, and only condemnatory of prevailing abuses upon the logical grounds of their double invasion of Animals’ Rights and Human Privileges.

Excusing himself for the use of “animal” as a distinctive mark for creatures other than human, the author protests against the fallacious use of such terms as “dumb animals,” “brute beasts,” etc., as the first infringement of the Rights of the race of beings; for not only are they naturally gifted with language and reason of their own order, suited to all the exigencies of their lives, but the claim to superiority in the human race does not uniformly lie in the superior, or even the right, use of those facilities which they have in common.

One of the strongest arguments for the recognition of Animals’ Rights is that made from the philosophical conclusion of the common destiny of men and animals.

Among the many humane movements of the present age, none is more significant than the growing inclination, noticeable both in scientific circles and in religious, to believe that mankind and the lower animals have the same destiny before them, whether that destiny be for immortality or for annihilation.

While admitting that the obstacles in the way of animal enfranchisement are immense—yet only in proportion to the lack of those sympathies which alone can raise humanity to a distinctive level—the author takes the optimistic yet safe ground of all past reforms and liberating movements, showing that—

When once the sense of affinity is awakened, the knell of tyranny is sounded, and the ultimate concession of “rights” is simply a matter of time.

The futility of requiring, at the very outset of a reform so great as this must be when completed, a full detail of the means to be adopted and the results which may be looked for in the end, receives its answer; and questions of dress and food reform, social security against animal encroachment, and other “bogies” of senile conversationalists and interested partizans are dealt with in a frank, uncompromising spirit, without shirking the fact that a concession of Animals’ Rights will mean giving up by us of many an ill-gotten luxury.

Mr. Salt does not spare the fallacious logic of those who seek to excuse vivisection on the grounds of future utility either to humanity or the victimized race itself, and the problematical value of experimental butchery is not allowed for one instant to weigh against the present consciousness of its cruelty and immorality.

Mr. Salt does not condescend to a plea for “mercy” on behalf of the poor creatures “whose sole criminality consists in not belonging to the noble family of homo sapiens”; but, as he says, his book

Is addressed rather to those who see and feel that, as has been well said, “the great advancement of the world, throughout all ages, is to be measured by the increase of humanity and the decrease of cruelty”—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 less certain realization of the rights of the lower races.

A useful bibliographic appendix is added to the book, making it extremely useful to those who would give this subject the earnest study it merits.

W. R. O.

Lucifer, 1892, p. 426