« VorigeDoorgaan »
and the wergild of my son, all killed, and none to inherit but me. Is our law not so?'
'It is truly so, lady.'
And my service of thirty years since the Night of the Danube, that is due to me.
'It is so.'
The gold of this house is mine by
'I know where it is all hidden, and I will share it all with you by the morning light, if you will guard this house, and my gold, and my slaves, and all that is mine, so long as I ask.' 'We will.'
'I pledge you each one third.'
'We pledge you your third.'
'Stand there one each side of the door, and see that none go in or out,' and they took their places. And I will guard the door.' And Frithagund stood in the broken doorway, in the flaming light of a burning house, with the red sword uplifted. And as the drops of blood rolled down she licked off one, and another, and another; and between each she said, 'The blood of Rufus-The Night of the Danube-Have I not been true to my man!-The blood of Junius-My son, my son!'
W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE.
ANIMALS IN THEIR RELATION TO
What is the Flag of England? Winds of the World declare! I THINK it is now admitted by all that in the progress and development of recent years the Empire has outgrown in many directions its old organisation. In no phase of life is this fact more apparent than in its relation to animals. It is being slowly but surely recognised that in this instance the balance of justice towards them in our dependencies is not yet fair, and that the theme is a legitimate one which requires further working out, and the adoption of a wider standpoint.
In the procession of the generations leading up to such a view of the situation, there were none who could have foreseen the new features which present themselves to-day. Conditions change, ideas change, and the standpoint changes with them; and in each case there is a fresh departure differing from the preceding stage but ever marking a new advance. Every decade adds to the sum of human achievements, and God has given to man the wonderful prerogative of taking up His works and carrying them on to stages nearer perfection.
Ours is the standpoint of a new generation which has accepted the doctrine of humanity, but has not yet recognised it in its fullest meaning, though the general outcome is a distinct advance in knowledge and right feeling.
We know that the Empire exists by commerce and by selfdefence, and at the present moment England owes her position as second to none among the Great Powers of the world to her trade and her wealth. That commerce and that wealth are the results of the united action of her people, and as the ceaseless labour of the animals is an indispensable condition of this prosperity-especially in far distant lands, where mechanical draught power is practically non-existent each animal by its share in contributing to so great a whole becomes a humble asset of Empire. If the Empire is to live it must be consolidated in commerce as well as in defence, and we must now depend upon it as a whole to keep the position once held by England alone.
In maintaining that supremacy these wageless workers will contribute their invaluable share, with that mute patience which
is their sad birthright and only heritage. In the strenuous years to come, even among the nations of mighty armies, our Empire must maintain its pride of place, but it can never continue to do so without the service and sufferings of animals.
I have seen the Empire in many lands, and I have known many of the men of this generation who have helped to make it, and many of those who are helping to keep it, and I have noticed among them an ever-growing recognition of the principle of mercy, particularly in regard to the due protection of animals.
In the roll-call of historic statesmen and soldiers whose deeds have won for us our great possessions there are names which are household words to all of us; but, raising this subject with confidence and hope to its highest plane, I feel sure that the names of the men of the future, by whose action they must be kept, will be greater still, for they will possess a higher ideal of the power of humanity in its relation to Empire. Humanity is one of the foundation stones of a great dominion, and to treat with indifference the manifold sufferings of millions of animals, whose toil makes for Britain's greatness, would be to drag down our proud morality to the level of prehistoric barbarism. Civilisation on many points in this connexion often shows itself only skin deep even in our enlightened land, and this fact should bring home to us the urgent necessity of upholding in wider fields those precepts of humanity which enter into all that right-thinking men hold dear in life.
I have recently returned home after making a journey to inquire into the conditions of animal life prevailing in India, such conditions being carefully noted everywhere from Southern India to Rangoon and the Khyber, and I believe that no such extended travels, with the object in view of trying to ameliorate the often cruel conditions of life and labour of the animals of our territories in the East, have ever been undertaken before. I hope that there will be other journeys in the future of a similar nature made by individuals equally interested in this great question; for there is in such a scheme the element of a vast reform in bringing to the light of day, and consequently to that of public opinion, legal anomalies, barbarous customs, and forms of grave ill-usage unknown at home, which it is strange should so long have been tolerated by administrations emanating from the most humane. country in the world.
That much requires to be done for the amelioration of the lot of the lower creation in India is universally admitted; and it is a strange fact that in a country ruled by a nation which is in the van of every humane movement, and peopled so largely by the adherents of religions which specifically teach as a cardinal
doctrine the proper care of the animal kingdom, both law and public opinion are so lax as to allow the most atrocious cruelties and neglect to exist. Nothing is more obvious to the most casual observer of life and affairs in India than that the statutes which deal with this matter stand in urgent need of a wide extension.
India has its laws for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The principal enactment of this nature is Act XI. of 1890, which is an Enabling Act'; that is to say, it does not apply to any part of India as a matter of course, but its provisions are only in force in those presidencies, districts, or places where it has been adopted by Local Governments.
This Act can only be made applicable to any particular district by applying to the Local Government, which, if a consensus of opinion exists in that neighbourhood upon the subject, will then notify in the local Gazette that the Act is in force.
There is a long list of places in which the Act has been adopted, but on inspection it will be found that most of the localities named are in the province of Bengal.
Act XI. of 1890 is wide enough in its terms to cover and prevent all known forms of cruelty, but it is woefully defective in its application and powers of enforcement. The most important provisions only refer to acts of cruelty committed in any street, or in any other place, whether open or closed, to which the public have access, or within sight of any person in any street, or in any such other place. The legal position, therefore, is that any act of cruelty, no matter how atrocious or revolting, may be perpetrated upon any unfortunate animal as long as the door is closed and the public eye is not offended by the sight of such occurrences. Within the shelter of his own house a man may indulge without fear of consequences in many forms of savagery.
The existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Acts are thus powerless to prevent flagrant cases of cruelty to bullocks in enclosed oil-mills, such acts being often perpetrated in broad daylight, as these cases have been declared by the Commissioners of Police to be outside the pale of legislation.
The bullocks in the oil-mills of the Madras Presidency are known to be often worked eighteen hours at a time, and many are masses of sores, but these cases are not touchable by law, for, as has been shown, the Act has not taken within its jurisdiction the animals to be found in any enclosed place. A restricted application of this kind to a great extent renders the Act futile, and savours of hypocrisy in its terms. This restriction should be swept away and the statute should be made to apply to all acts of cruelty, whether public or private.
Another grave cruelty—which, owing to this defective wording of the Act, is practically unchecked—is the dreadful custom prevalent throughout Bengal of flaying goats alive to obtain longer measurements. In the trade these goat-skins are called 'longnecks' and command a higher price in the market on account of the extra length. The process is carried out by beginning the flaying at the eyes and mouth of the living animal, and working down to the neck; after which the throat is cut.
This practice is usually carried on behind closed doors with perfect impunity. One of these cases came under my notice in which the flaying had been partially carried out, and I saw the goat, which in a few days succumbed in misery to the agony it had endured. The initial act of torture was performed under the eye in the shape of a cut in the form of a St. Andrew's Cross, and the skin, torn away in flaps, fell down its neck.
These cruelties are always being carried on, and the revolting cases and the inadequate fines inflicted by magistrates are matters which should receive attention. The following is an extract from the Report of the Calcutta S.P.C.A. for 1910:
In the Calcutta police court yesterday a man who was convicted of the horrible atrocity of flaying a goat alive was allowed to depart with the infliction of a fine of Rs. 20. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (Act No. XI. of 1890) the penalty for killing an animal in an unnecessarily cruel manner may be a fine of Rs. 200, imprisonment up to six months, or both. It is known that this horrible practice of flaying goats alive exists to a large extent, but the difficulty lies in detecting individual cases. It seems monstrous that when a case is brought before the court and a conviction secured the offender should be let off with a light punishment.
Another unfortunate feature of Act XI of 1890 is that it gives the magistrates no power of detention of horses or bullocks, nor of their compulsory production for inspection; the importance of such omission will be readily understood when it is pointed out that it is a common practice for owners of lame or wounded animals to substitute sound ones when the trial comes off, and thus prosecutions often fail.
The old and decrepit which are arrested overnight are never seen before a magistrate, but are frequently re-arrested in some other part of the town. The owner pleads guilty, and has a tale of death, destruction, or the Pinjrapole, which story, when investigated, has never any foundation in fact. And these animals are driven and used until they fall in the streets, where they are often abandoned, and after days of starvation, thirst, and suffering, are put out of their misery. Here too, destruction, when an animal is obviously incapable of living and is enduring great pain, cannot be undertaken until the owner is found and communicated with, unless the risk is taken of an action for the value of the animal. Power should be given to constables if they find an