Monkeys are diverting creatures; and if you saw their fun and frolic where they have liberty among the boughs of a tree, you would not know how to leave off laughing. It is a different thing, however, to see them also chained, and beaten, and with their limbs confined in unnatural clothing, forced by fear, and hunger, and pain, to play the antics which they would do of their own accord if treated differently. I never could understand how people can be amused by any thing that causes pain to the creature doing it. They must either be very stupid, or very hard-hearted. Want of thought is a great cause of needless cruelty, I know; and I am trying to put some kind thoughts into your heads, which you may be thankful for when you are older. I can tell you one thing, which is, that it is impossible for a cruel man to be happy: it is entirely impossible. He may laugh and shout, and sing, and dance, and tell you that he is very happy; but it is not so. There is in his heart something always whispering, “Your turn will come. The great God, the holy, just, merciful God, whose creatures you now torment, sees it all, knows it all; and he will punish you. Every one of us must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of the things done in the body; and you will be forced to own all your cruelties, before angels and men: and then what follows? ’He shall have judgment without mercy who hath shown no mercy!’” A bad man will never confess to you that such is his feeling: for bad men always will try to make you as bad as themselves: but now, mind, after what I have told you, if you have not the same terror of God’s vengeance coming over you when you do a cruel thing. If not, it is because you are already hardened by Satan; but I should grieve to think it was so with you. Oh! remember that the blessed Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil; and pray to him now to deliver you from the power of that evil one. He will hear, and help, and save.
Even as to animals that we may destroy when they injure us, we should not forget the good they also do: as an instance, the rat may be mentioned. It is, indeed, a very troublesome and sometimes dangerous creature: it will kill and carry off young chickens, pigeons, and other defenceless things; besides making sad havoc among the grain and eatables of every sort. It is often more than a match for a grown kitten, or even a weak cat: and where they are in numbers, they have been known to overpower a man. I confess, the rat is a very disagreeable enemy, whom we may fairly get rid of when we can. But when it is necessary to kill them, we should do it mercifully; do not put them to needless pain. Why should you? Is it manly? Is it generous? Is it what you think God will approve? Will it make you wiser, or better, or happier to feel that you are giving pain to a poor creature?