regards the lower animals: "The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."
This tyrannical mandate is not mitigated by any intimation of the merciful manner in which the human autocrat should treat the creatures thus subjected to his capricious will. On the contrary, the only thing that he is positively commanded to do with reference to them is to eat them. They are to be regarded by him simply as food, having no more rights and deserving no more consideration as means of sating his appetite than a grain of corn or a blade of grass.
The practical working of this decree has been summed up by Shelley, with his wonted force and succinctness, when he says, "The supremacy of man is, like Satan's, a supremacy of pain." Burns regrets the fatal effect of the sovereignty thus conferred upon the human race in destroying the mutual sympathy and confidence which should exist between the lord of creation and the lower animals in the lines addressed To a Mouse, on turning her up in her Nest with the Plow, November, 1785:
"I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
In the subsequent annals of the world we have ample commentaries on this primitive code written in the blood of helpless, innocent, and confiding creatures, which, although called dumb and incapable of recording their sufferings, yet
". . . have long tradition and swift speech.
Can tell with touches and sharp-darting cries
Whole histories of timid races taught
To breathe in terror by red-handed man."
Indeed, ever since Abel's firstlings of the flock were more acceptable than Cain's bloodless offerings of the fruits of the fields, priests have performed the functions of butchers, converting sacred shrines into shambles in their endeavors to pander to the gross appetites of cruel and carnivorous gods. Cain's offering was rejected, says Dr. Kitto, because "he declined to enter into the sacrificial institution." In other words, he would not shed the blood of beasts to gratify the Lord—a refusal which we