Page images


SMALL as are the numbers embraced by our organisation, there is perhaps scarce any other that can boast of so varied and yet so harmonious a constituency. Few, indeed, are the "isms" of theological, and the shades of political opinion, which have not amongst us their representatives. This, however, is not merely a non-objectionable, but, seeing that it is a proof of the strength of our uniting bond, is even a most gratifying feature. But there are other diversities amongst us which, inasmuch as we see in them a source of loss of strength and energy, have by no means the same aspect. We now allude to the numerous divergencies which exist in our individual views concerning the one question upon which our alliance is based, and to the consequent differences in our forms of statement and modes of attack and defence. The result of this is, that arguments which should occupy but a secondary or tertiary position are advanced to a primary one. Hence the cause suffers from being presented in its less commanding aspects, and attention is attracted to its weaker defences. To us it appears that one of our present chief needs, and one from the supply of which great advantages may be expected to accrue, is the recognition of one common basis of action-the exaltation of one argument to the position of chief. This, we are perfectly aware, can never be the result of official advice or legislative action; nor, were it thus possible, would it be desirable. If brought about at all, it must be by the presentation of a proposed ground-argument in so prominent and forcible a manner that its superior claims shall obtain, as a result of consequent discussion, general acknowledgment.

After a careful consideration of the present position of our movement, and of the various arguments advanced in its advocacy, we are of decided opinion that the one named at the head of this paper is the only one whose claims to this proud preeminence are indisputable. In it, however, we think that we find all that is needed to give increased unity of action and augmented earnestness in propagation. In support of this view, we proceed to give a brief statement of the source of its importance, and to remark upon the various advantages which may be anticipated from its full recognition.


The superior importance and consequent advantages of this argument, as compared with others employed by the Vegetarian advocate, arise from the fact that instead of making the question a subject of physiological dispute, it at once enables us to appeal to the moral sense. We then find its best approval in the teaching, and its best defence in the sanction, of the soul's native humanity. What it is that we here allude to will be best shown by the quotation of a beautiful incident from the life of Theodore Parker," than which," sys he, "no event in my life has made a deeper impression on me." Here it is in his own words:"A little boy in petticoats, in my fourth year, my father sent me from the field home. A spotted tortoise, in shallow water, at the foot of a rhodora, caught my sight. I lifted by stick to strike it, when a voice within said, 'It is wrong.' I stood with lifted stick in wonder at the new emotion, till rhodora and tortoise vanished from my sight. I hastened home, and asked my mother what it was that told me it was wrong. Wiping a tear with her apron, and taking me into her arms, she said, 'Some men call it Conscience; but I prefer to call it the voice of God in the soul of man. If you listen to it and obey it, then it will speak clearer and clearer, and always guide you right. But if you turn a deaf ear and disobey, then it will fade out, little by little, and leave you in the dark without a guide.""

This story at once forcibly exhibits the reality, the power, and the divinity of Natural Humanity. Now, we believe that the voice which spoke to young Theodore speaks also to us, saying, "Kill not needlessly at all." Thus Vegetarianism obtains its authority from this voice in the soul. Hence we are enabled, by means of this argument, to claim a moral-yea, a religious-character for our movement. And it is ouly when a cause has such support-such authority,—that it becomes influential ou society. Only when it becomes a matter of faith does it quicken the life-blood and arouse the energies. Until this be done, state your arguments, physiological, economical, and other, as ably as you may, they are no more potent than astronomical speculations or chemical theories. No word of truth, written or oral, out of a man has power over him. Not until the voice in the man answers to the voice without, does the truth affect his lite. Therefore, if we would make our views really operative, we can only do so by finding for them some such authority as this. Before this is recognised no argument can produce a satisfactorily permanent result; but when this has been done, then all other arguments fall into their proper place. Then the declaration of the Hebrew Scriptures that the gist of “every seed-bearing herb and every fruit-producing tree" was man's first alimentative grant is confirmed by the yet-enduring instincts of our nature. Then, also, physiology shows us, written in our bodies, the self-same dietetic law which God has recorded in his Word, and engraven on our souls.

The advantages which we anticipate from the full recognition and forceful proclamation of this subjective argument are neither few nor small. We notice two or three of the more prominent ones.

It affords us a universal argument. One for the appreciation of which neither superior intelligence nor education is required, for it appeals to what is common in man. The simplest rustic, the youngest child, find on their hearts the handwriting of the Creator, which forbids them to injure any of his defenceless creatures. Nay, they will find, moreover, if rightly guided, sympathies that not merely restrain from cruelty, but that prompt to kindness. These, if fitly educed, will surely lead them to join with ourselves in longing for the advent of the day when

"Avenging passions shall have ceased

To feed disease, and fear, and madness;
And dwellers of the earth and air
Shall throng around our steps in gladness,
Seeking their food or refuge there."

A second most important benefit will be the insurance of increased stability. Scarce anything is a greater occasion for regret than that men should, after having been for a few years hearty in our cause, on some slight plea leave it. This never could be the case if they had adopted it from other than secondary reasons. We have no hesitancy in saying that the vast majority of those thus forsaking us never gave prominence to the Humanitarian aspect of their practice; and we are convinced that by its regnancy in the advocacy of our system, secessions will be greatly diminished. If a man be a dietetic follower of Pythagoras from motives of economy, the likelihood is that, should his income increase, he will be only too glad to be able to procure the fancied luxury which he before denied himself. If another adopt it as a remedy or palliative to some disease, there exist none but prudential motives to deter him from carnivorous practices. As he is solely influenced by expediency, he will, should some eminent medicus give his dictum in favour of some contrary course, not hesitate to abandon us. If, again, a third ground his practice

primarily upon the physiological argument, even he, though he occupy a higher position, must at times be disturbed by the conflicting views of scientific authorities. He will be liable to numerous perplexities, and will need some firmer footing than this affords. Even with him the matter is not of the conscience. Should his wife and relatives assert "their right to have a judgment for him," he may be induced to yield for the sake of domestic happiness, although he “believe that his life may be shortened by it." But the argument which we advocate, when really embodied in the life, strengthens a man against all these things. It makes his practice a high duty. It gives a faith which is secure from all the doubts that may arise. Secure in its own consciousness of the right, the soul heeds not for a moment the perplexities of various kinds that demand solution. It knows that an abnormal state has succeeded the first reign of order. It knows that many things must therefore have become obscured. But it recognises in itself the primeval law, and faithful to that, it holds its way through all steadfast and unmoved. Thus is our cause

"Placed below the tides of war,

Based on the crystalline sea
Of thought and its eternity."

A third advantage must obviously result from this. The voice that has spoken within the man, that has confirmed and strengthened him, will speak out from him. The question becomes no longer one of a personal, selfish nature. It concerns the race. The truth, because the recognition of it will be followed by the supression of cruelty and injustice, not merely may, but must, be outspoken-aye, and confidently and earnestly spoken. This gives us what we so much need, viz., a spirit of religious earnestness. Under the influence of this truth we must rise above our present position. Now, what are we in the eyes of the world but a little despised "ism" of crotchetty people? We may no longer be this. We must feel that we have a high, a merciful mission; and, strong in this our religious element, we must demand and obtain a higher status than has yet been given to us.

We are aware that there will be great need for a wise caution. We must ever bear in mind that, if we believe ourselves to possess and follow higher truth than others, there is in this no possible ground for self-exaltation. We may glory in the truth, but never in ourselves. Then, again, we must not seek to force our opinions upon others, but must strive to recall to their remembrance the accents of forgotten voices that witnessed for universal love and mercy, and invite them to listen to them once again. Thus proclaimed in the broad spirit of brotherhood and sympathy, without pride, and with a fervour void of harsh reproach, we confidently predict that a greater influence shall attend our efforts and a greater permanence mark their results. W. S.


"The end of animal appetite is not animal pleasure, but manly development; the end of paternal instinct is not its own indulgence, but the highest good of offspring."--E. H. ŜEARS.

THE deplorable results arising from the uncontrolled exercise of the parental instinct are very manifest, and will be generally admitted. With the instinct itself no one will quarrel, but by common consent it will be admitted to be a wise provision of the Creator for the preservation of His creatures; and an example of His love, which makes it a delight to fulfil this purpose of His providence.

When the parental instinct is abused by over indulgence, the consequences of this sin are perceived in the production of spoiled, wilful, passionate, ignorant children.

Weaknesses, instead of being reproved, are passed over with palliating remarks; faults are negatived by mental blindness, which ought to be affectionately rebuked; grave errors are excused as natural, which ought to form the subject of serious admonition. The fruits of such a training are perfected in manhood in blighted hopes, reckless behaviour, unrestrained passions, weak perceptions of right, selfishness, and violence.

The perversion of the animal appetite is productive of consequences equally disastrous, though assuming other forms which correspond to the kind of wrong committed; as, for instance, in the appetite for food, where it induces various diseases. Hence, indigestion lays its hand upon one class of persons; scurvy afflicts another; apoplexy is courted and won by a third; gout becomes the faithful companion of a fourth; in others a complication of diseases rob life of many charms, whilst numbers bear the burden of hereditary diseases from the cradle to the grave. Truly it may be said, the great majority of the human family

Perish through their evil ways,

And scarcely live out half their days.

The enlightened Christian, whilst believing these things proceed from Him "in whose hands are the issues of life and death,"—that an All-wise Providence directs all things for good-will not be deaf to the voice which seems to speak thence, in no metaphorical language, or indistinct tones, saying, "Why will ye die, O my people? Nay, even the mere philosopher, inquiring of inanimate things, learns that these are evils which are by no means inevitable, but may be avoided by the thoughtful and the prudent. To the thoughtful, we suggest that most of the calamities before mentioned may be altogether ascribed to a custom which is based upon the reversal of the truth with which we commenced, viz. :-That animal appetite should be subordinated to manly development; and the rest are in no small degree due to the same cause. The prudent will naturally seek to escape the consequences by avoiding the cause of so many evils.

It is not our present purpose to enter into scientific evidences in favour of the total abandonment of flesh diet; we seek to enforce a truth which, we think, sorely touches the consumer of animal food, and may also be profitably remembered by all classes of eaters. A person in good health, when he thinks of food, usually consults only his appetite, and that kind of food which will afford him most gratification in its consumption is generally selected. We submit that the inquiry ought to be,— What is best calculated to supply my present physical wants? What articles of diet will restore my strength, recruit my energies, preserve my health and the full enjoyment of my bodily powers? In brief-What is best adapted to maintain or produce manly development?

We cannot expect, nor is it necessary, that persons should enter upon such an inquiry as we have suggested every time they eat; but good health is so great a blessing, that we may claim at least one careful consideration of the subject we have on hand in the course of a lifetime. Unhappily the custom is to defer it until the enemy is in possession of the citadel, and we have only the power to propitiate him, instead of keeping him outside. In this way we experience a permanent and bitter visitation, which a little precaution and forethought would have averted.

How prevalent this custom is may be seen by the most superficial observer of the habits of society. An appetite for such articles as tobacco and mustard can only be formed with difficulty, yet, when once formed, it holds entire sway, unquestioned as to its authority. Such articles become almost necessaries of life, and the desire

for them alone is most commonly the only guide of the conduct. A pernicious and unnatural appetite holds the rein, and the reckless course is run which undermines the health, paralyses the brain, and renders the victim a public nuisance. In a similar manner a taste for alcoholic drinks and other unwholesome things is engendered and fostered, and allowed to dominate the judgment. These are examples in which an unnatural appetite becomes an oppressor of the body, from which the natural appetite would have protected it. Sufficient has been said, however, to show that natural appetite is not allowed to rule if a sensuous animal pleasure can be obtained by destroying it. On behalf of humanity we protest against such a baneful usurpation.

We admit that even the natural appetite alone cannot be accepted as an infallible guide, for all poisonous things are not disagreeable to the palate. Some are even attractive, and might readily deceive the appetite. Thus, also, the natural appetite may lead astray in things less destructive, but in their degree injurious, and proper to be avoided. Hence we cannot admit, even though a natural appetite for flesh be conceded, that in this case it is a sufficient guide. The higher powers do not coincide here, nor can they be easily silenced. Reason takes cognizance of the evils before enumerated, and in their name protests against the degradation of its tenement. Moreover, we contend that the feelings common to the race are not less natural than the appetite, and may demand to be heard against it. These may be silenced by appetite, but they remain unconvinced; and though they may have ceased to remonstrate, they are not dead. It does not affect our position that many who do not hear this voice are not conscious of having made an effort to subdue it, because education and custom may have been sufficient to effect the purpose. How powerful these twin agents are for evil may be apparent from an illustration, for which we are indebted to the late Rev. William Jay, of Bath. "I remember," he states, "Dr. Cogan saying he was once, when abroad, walking with a young Portuguese lady, and saw at a distance a fire surrounded by a number of persons, and when I was disposed to notice it, she pulled me on, saying, 'O, I suppose it is only the burning of a Jew!' Yet, said he, she was not wanting in humanity, yea, she was even tender and benevolent." Custom and education had such an influence in this case as to deaden one of the most common feelings of the heart; and, if we add that the same influences have produced the feeling of indifference which prevails regarding the sacrifice of animal life, we are not, therefore, accusing any of being deficient, in other respects, in tenderness or humanity. Both reason and natural feeling are opposed to the slaughter and consumption of the flesh of animals, and as separately either ought to counterbalance appetite, we submit that both furnish an unanswerable argument against it, which ought to be allowed its due influence.


He who misses his way in his search after truth has been compared to a traveller getting on to a wrong path. In each case the mistake may be attended with trouble and sorrow for a time, but it may prove an ultimate gain and advantage. The traveller may get to know the country in which he is travelling much better; and the searcher after truth may get to understand the subject of investigation more thoroughly and completely. Nevertheless, as time and energy need to be economised as much as possible in this busy age, it is very important that both the traveller and the student should obtain as full and accurate directions as possible. Both may

« PreviousContinue »