Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/771

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751
EDITOR'S TABLE.

ilization and enlightenment, men are yet very much barbarians, and the cruel instincts of the savage still animate many a nominal Christian. The humaner feelings are beginning to assert their influence; but they encounter fearful odds in the struggle with hereditary impulses to violence, and that artistic refinement of brutality which seeks enjoyment in the suffering of inferior creatures.

Yet, like every thing else, the kindly sentiments toward animals may be carried to extremes and run into absurdity. We live in a world, or at least in a stage of it, in which suffering is not to be escaped. By the constitution of things, it must be inflicted. Older than the Decalogue, older than man, as old as the earliest life, is the divine ordinance of Nature to kill or be killed. The necessity of mutual destruction was instituted in the nature and with the first appearance of living things. Not only was death the doom of all, but death by violence and mutual ruthless slaughter was the necessary and normal result of the arrangement. The world has advanced through agony, and, in its unfolding, the price of higher enjoyment has ever been intenser pain. As the nervous system of the animal series has become more voluminous, delicate, and complex, the capacity of suffering as well as pleasure is increased; and, in the most perfected being, the very flowering of genius opens new susceptibilities for painful emotion of which natures with lower gifts know nothing. Pain, therefore, is not to be escaped. Each sentient creature by the law of its being strives to avoid it, and it is incumbent upon all to lessen it as far as possible, but it is wrought into the inexorable economy of things, and not to recognize and deal with it as any other fact is irrational.

It hurts insects to be killed, but we must kill them in self-defense. We destroy the lower animals for our food, but there is a deeper reason for being rid of them, because, if suffered to multiply unchecked, they would put an end to us. It will therefore not do to yield in this matter to the pure dictates of sentiment. There is an infliction of pain that is reasonable and necessary, and one of the cases of it is afforded by the physiologist who makes painful experiments upon the lower animals to extend the knowledge of his science. As the exigencies of diet may require us to slay an ox, so the demands of scientific truth may require us to sacrifice a rabbit or a dog. In both cases the pain produced should be the least possible, but in both the ends are reasonably held to justify the infliction. Yet there have been many and earnest protests against vivisection, or experiments upon living animals, as an inexcusable cruelty; and physiologists have recently been the subjects of a fresh assault by sentimental writers in the London literary press. The arguments in favor of the practice are so convincingly stated, and the objections to it so well refuted, in a paper by Dr. Foster, of Cambridge, that we reproduce it in the present number of the Monthly. It will well repay perusal.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

English Psychology. Translated from the French of Theodore Ribot,[1] Professor of Philosophy in the Lycée at Laval. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 328 pp. Price, $1.50.

The study of the human mind is beyond all doubt one of the most sublime and important, as it is certainly one of the most difficult, of all studies. So great is its interest that it has fascinated philosophers for thousands of years, and so great is its difficulty that of all branches of inquiry it has proved least amenable to investigation, and has led to the most discordant conclusions. From the beginning of speculation it has been pursued by a method that has failed to

  1. Pronounced Rebo.