Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/379

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

ation to all the wantonness of torture; and not only that, but to tortures that were sure to be inflicted, and were provided for by the limitations of the statute. Of the sufferings to which certain of the lower animals are subjected by the favorite English pastime of hunting them with hounds, which is freely permitted by law, we do not speak, but will only refer to some facts regarding the universal English sport of "shooting." It is well known that the British Parliament generally adjourns about the time that the partridges and grouse cease to be protected by the game-laws of the country; and no one who knows anything of the strength of British instincts for destructive field sports will consider the connection, in this case, as altogether fortuitous. Lords, Commoners, and everybody that can afford it, then seize their guns, and betake themselves to the fields and mountains wherever there is anything to be killed. It is the fashionable and the national thing. Those who own grounds range over them with their guests in quest of beasts and birds, and others hire the privilege of doing it for longer or shorter times. The whole matter is legally regulated. Licenses are issued to keep guns, and licenses to kill game. A few of all the multitudes who enter upon the sport are good shots, and kill a large portion of the creatures fired at. But the most of them are bad shots, and wound many more than they kill. When hit, if not captured, they escape with their bodies penetrated with leaden pellets—some of them to die; some to suffer miserably; and others to recover after experiencing various degrees of pain. A writer in Nature has gone into the statistics of shooting, with a view to estimate the probable numbers of creatures that thus suffer by wounding. He adopts as his basis the number of those who take out licenses, the duration of the season, and the days given to sport, and, by reckoning the number wounded per day that are not killed, he arrives at a proximate conclusion regarding the aggregate of animals that yearly suffer from this cause. The number of licenses issued is taken from government reports, which indicate, for example, that in the year 1873-'74 there were 132,036 holders of gun-licenses, and 65,846 holders of licenses to kill game. Assuming that each sportsman wounds three head of game per day, which are not taken, he finds that the total number of animals upon which pain is thus inflicted amounts to many millions annually. We cannot go into the details of his calculation, which is carefully and fairly made out, but will quote the concluding passage of his article:

"If we may trust our figures, here are the plain facts that acute pain of uncertain duration was, in the year ending March 31, 1874, inflicted upon over twenty-two million animals, and in the following year upon over twenty-three million and a half, in the British Islands. We are not aware that we possess any bias that would make us exaggerate our estimates to produce these results. Our only object is to attempt as near an approximation to the truth as we can. The figures stand for themselves, and if any one thinks he can furnish fairer averages let him give his data for them. We are, as it is, willing to guard against any unconscious exaggeration, and to knock off more than ten per cent, of our grand totals, so as to say roundly that only twenty millions have suffered in each year. But we would invite our readers to reflect on the proportion which even that number bears to the number of animals which during the same time have been subjected to experiment by the physiologists of this country. The latter have been by many excellent persons held up to obloquy as monsters of cruelty. If this has been done justly, what must they think of those who use the gun?"

From the point of view here presented, the state of the case has been pithily summed up by Mr. Lowe, in a recent able article in the Contemporary Review:

"According to present British law, as revised under the spur of the latest philanthropy, it appears that, while the man of