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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

God has been pleased to create numberless animals intended for our sustenance; and that they are so intended, the agreeable flavour of their flesh to our palates, and the wholesome nutriment which it administers to our stomachs, are sufficient proofs:  these, as they are formed for our use, propagated by our culture, and fed by our care, we have certainly a right to deprive of life, because it is given and preserved to them on that condition; but this should always be performed with all the tenderness and compassion which so disagreeable an office will permit; and no circumstances ought to be omitted, which can render their executions as quick and easy as possible.  For this Providence has wisely and benevolently provided, by forming them in such a manner that their flesh becomes rancid and unpalateable by a painful and lingering death; and has thus compelled us to be merciful without compassion, and cautious of their sufferings, for the sake of ourselves:  but, if there are any whose tastes are so vitiated, and whose hearts are so hardened, as to delight in such inhuman sacrifices, and to partake of them without remorse, they should be looked upon as demons in human shape, and expect a retaliation of those tortures which they have inflicted on the innocent, for the gratification of their own depraved and unnatural appetites.

So violent are the passions of anger and revenge in the human breast, that it is not wonderful that men should persecute their real or imaginary enemies with cruelty and malevolence; but that there should exist in nature a being who can receive pleasure from giving pain, would be totally incredible, if we were not convinced, by melancholy experience, that there are not only many, but that this unaccountable disposition is in some manner inherent in the nature of man; for, as he cannot be taught by example, nor led to it by temptation, or prompted to it by interest, it must be derived from his native constitution; and it is a remarkable confirmation of what revelation so frequently inculcates—­that he brings into the world with him an original depravity, the effects of a fallen and degenerate state; in proof of which we need only to observe, that the nearer he approaches to a state of nature, the more predominant this disposition appears, and the more violently it operates.  We see children laughing at the miseries which they inflict on every unfortunate animal which comes within their power; all savages are ingenious in contriving, and happy in executing, the most exquisite tortures; and the common people of all countries are delighted with nothing so much as bull-baitings, prize-fightings, executions, and all spectacles of cruelty and horror.  Though civilization may in some degree abate this native ferocity, it can never quite extirpate it; the most polished are not ashamed to be pleased with scenes of little less barbarity, and, to the disgrace of human nature, to dignify them with the name of sports.  They arm cocks with artificial weapons,

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