« PreviousContinue »
tinction of the mice is concerned) with the unwhipped urchin who would make a gala of drowning them in a pail of water; but the feeling under which the old woman acts, has conduced to the bringing up that urchin to years of mischief; and the feeling under which he acts, (unless repressed by castigation,) is by no means an unlikely one to conduct him to the gallows.
And the propensity, let it be observed, is quite sui generis, which leads to these inflictions of premeditated torture upon living animals. Crowds run to witness an execution; but they are only spectators of the horrible scene, not contrivers of, or contributors to it. There is hardly a man whose vulgar curiosity has brought him four or five miles to see how his fellow-creature can die, (for this is the true foundation of the impulse,) who would not go back nine times in ten with the loss of the spectacle, if the granting a reprieve depended upon himself?
It is a totally different taste and appetite by which those individuals must be guided, who pay their money, expressly, to purchase the protracted agony of a helpless, and unoffending
And, to the displays of " animal fighting," against which Mr Martin's bill is directed, there is this especial circumstance of objection, that the spirit of cruelty, in which they begin, is aggravated a hundred fold, nay, often to a height scarcely credible, by the lust of gambling, and the spirit of pecuniary gain. It is not possible to imagine a spectacle during which all the damnable passions of the human heart are called into more venomous activity, than during one of these "pit matches," as they are called-say, for instance, between two bull-dogs-at which, from two to three hundred persons, of all classes, will assemble to deprave themselves. Of course we may take it for granted-such a contest lasts, not only until all chance of victory, but all possibility of it on one side, is physically at an end. While there is life there is hope; twenty guineas are depending; and, therefore, until the failing combatant is motionless, we must not talk about cessation. But the thing goes beyond this. There is a ceremony very familiar to cock-fighters, called "pounding"-which signifies the laying, or taking, heavy odds upon any improbable event. When the losing bird is beaten, according to the laws of the game, ten to one may still be betted that he cannot possibly win ; and, after that, we go on ad internecionem, until one fowl or the other is entirely destroyed. The dog-fighters, in hope of clearing one bet by another, frequently resort to a hedge" of this same description. I happened once to witness an instance, where two dogs of great power and courage had been matched against each other. The animal that lost, in this case, failed from want of teeth, which had been destroyed by age and previous combats. After the fight had lasted three-quarters of an hour, and when he was lying quite defenceless in the ring, a butcher called out to "take him away."-" He'll be killed in another three minutes." "Five to two he is not killed in fifteen," was the proprietor of the animal's reply. The bet was accepted, and the issue tried. The beaten dog, lying on his back, and quite unable to move, was deliberately torn to pieces by the victor; the only difficulty to winning the wager, arising from the unwillingness of the latter to attack his foe after he entirely ceased to make resistance.
Mr Martin's story of the French surgeon, Dr Magendie-I hope that some part of Mr Martin's statements as to that affair were incorrect. It casts heavy imputation upon Dr Magendie-one which he should by all means contradict or explain away, if he can do so; and one which the letter of Dr Shiel has by no means (in my view) entirely got rid of. For, if there be a latitude to be allowed, so there must be a limit set, to the rights of philosophical research. A man who should feel very decidedly, and very sincerely, that some new and important principle in science would be developed by the experiment attributed to Dr Magendie-such a man might be justified in executing it, (though, even then, I doubt whether I could make that man my friend;) but if there were any good reason to believe that a view to profit, or to notoriety, had contributed to the commission of the act, I confess I should say that both the individual who performed, and the spectators who permitted it, would deserve little better than to be excluded from honest society for ever.
It is too "liberal" an argument, when scenes of equal atrocity with this are occurring every day, to tell me, that, in the common course of life, our cruelties are eternal. I desire only to do by one vicious practice that which is already done by a hundred others; we know that we cannot eradicate, but we will not allow the making a trade, or a matter of public exhibition, of them. Who is there, when he votes for shutting up a gaming-house, that imagines he can thereby get rid of gaming? But he discountenances the practice, nevertheless, and removes the ready temptation toit. What a fact it is, that we should apprehend a set of men as vagrants who exhibited a comedy in a shed, or a back kitchen; but that the public morals are held perfectly secure, so long as they confine themselves to the impaling cats upon the spits, or red-hot pokers!
I have already observed, that people feel something surprised at the quarter from which the successful opposition to Mr Martin's bill-that is to the principle of it-has proceeded; and the more so on account of some intimations which have lately come from pretty nearly the same authority upon the subject of prize-fighting. For my self, I think (always under correction) that the peculiar hardihood for which the English are distinguished, does arise, in great measure, out of their early taste for boxing-a taste which these prize-contests probably contribute something to the fostering and keeping up; but, under any circumstances, I cannot understand the humanity of being shocked at seeing two sane and sober men pommel each other, for sums of money, until either thinks it convenient to leave off; and, the next moment, feeling no aversion to witness and assist in the most abominable tortures inflicted upon two unfortunate quadrupeds, who are neither interested in the result of their own warfare, nor even free agents as to the limit of its continuance!
It is said, that we must wait with patience, and let the effects of education correct these errors which we seek to curb. I think, looking at what education has already done, that it is going a little too far to talk of gracing the common people of England, by licencing them to throw at cocks, or be delighted with the sufferings of
bears and badgers. Why should a man of fortune affirm, that the carpenter who works in his house is incapable of any other enjoyments than those which are coarse and unintellectual; and what public diversions have the higher orders in England from which the lower orders are shut out, or into which they do not fully enter? As regards the question of taste, the novels of Sir Walter Scott are read as eagerly in garrets as in drawing-rooms-as much thumbed by the meanest artisans, as dogs-eared by the finest ladies of London. As regards the question of cost, these bear-baiting entertainments which are charged upon the lower orders, (but to which I doubt if they are much more deeply given than their betters,) are among the most expensive, in the way of public exhibition, of any which the town affords. The people who fill the galleries at Covent-Garden and DruryLane theatres, are as well entertained, (and very nearly as well accommodated,) for their shilling, as those who pay seven shillings to go into the boxes. Nine in ten of the public exhibitions of London are to be seen for the payment of a shilling; four in five of them-all the theatres, except the Italian Opera-House-are accessible for the cost of sixpence; while from eighteenpence to three shillings is the common fee for looking at two knaves in the Fives-Court, who gather halfpence and affect to bruise one another; or for setting a terrier on to worry a miserable ape in a cellar, kept by some returned transport of Tottenham-Court-Road, or Tothill-Fields.
I am at a loss to conceive how, practically, any beneficial result can be expected, from accustoming men to resist those common feelings of our nature which impel us to relieve misery, at least wherever it is present to us. Unless humanity be a vice, and one which should be got rid of, there is mischief in accustoming the community to look lightly, and still more to look as a matter of entertainment, upon pain and suffering in any shape. I ask for no interference with private right; all I wish is, to get rid of the profit which accrues out of public exhibition. I do not say punish ine (unless as common disturbers) every two blackguards who set their dogs to fighting in the streets; but I saystop the trading-hinder the outcasts
of society from making an idle liveli hood, by using the people to displays of bloodshed and brutality.
For the argument, that, should we abolish these practices, others of equal cruelty will necessarily remain, it might as justly be said, because, in defiance of all law, there will still be fraudulent traders, and fraudulent debtors, we should make no law against burglary, or against the public picking of pockets.
I do look upon the plea, that the lower classes of the people are especially interested in this question, as little else than an insult to the persons whom it professes to support. The lower classes in any country, and at any period, would be morally degraded by the acceptance of such a boon as is offered to them; and I am strongly of opinion, that the great proportion of those of England need only see the gift in its proper light to have as little desire for it as they have necessity.
to ill treatment of a coach-horse; but the law has passed upon that subject, and is found to work perfectly well. In the performance of the remaining duty, that of forbidding, as an incentive to low gambling, and a matter of public display, the practice of those inhumanities, which, in the business of life, we have already taken steps to check, no practical difficulty whatver, I should conceive, could arise. I am quite sure that the enactment, during twenty years, of such a law as Mr Martin proposes, would render its continuance after that time entirely unnecessary. The people need only get out of the habit of ill-treating even brutes, to feel very speedily the cruel injustice and impropriety of it. Such a change might be accomplished, without the slightest loss or inconvenience arising to any living creature. And the attainment of it would, I believe, go very far to rid the tempers of the people by degrees of that touch of ferocity, which is one of the few blemishes that, compared with the habits of our neighbours, have too long sullied the English character.
Of Mr Martin's plan, taken in its full extent, the difficult part is already accomplished. It did seem to be a nice question what should amount
LETTERS OF TIMOTHY TICKLER, ESQ. TO EMINENT LITERARY CHARACTERS. No. XXI.
To Malachi Mullion, Esq. M.D. F.R.S. Sec. of C. North, Esq. E.B.M.
MY DEAR DOCTOR,
I AM pretty certain that the Westminster Review will not do; and I confess I am rather sorry for it. I have done my best to gain for it notoriety, by writing as much about it as I possibly can, but I fear in vain. It sells wretchedly. But that old Bentham, Mill, and one or two others, pay the deficit, Baldwin would not publish it another day. It is now a Review, supported, like other charitable or uncharitable institutions, by voluntary subscription. How long this will last, is more than I can say; not know ing how far the rage of proselytizing may carry the pursers of the concern. One of their reviewers made a most admirable observation some numbers ago, that, in periodical literature, every unpaid contributor is an ass. How thrice double an ass, then, must that contributor be, who is not only unpaid, but out of pocket by his articles! No
doubt it must require some bribe to have Jerry Bentham's writings inserted anywhere; he used to pay the Morning Chronicle sometimes to let him jargonize in their columns; and it must be only fair to Bowring, that he should get some additional fee for putting Jerry's language into English. A page of Benthamic would ruin the Review; and therefore Bowring, being translator-general of all horrible and unheard-of dialects, is properly selected to do the Jeremiads into a readable tongue. He succeeds tolerably well. We can see the ferocity and insolence of the old Jacobin expressed in a clear and intelligible style.
You may ask why I am sorry that a Review, for the principles of which I must have so thorough a detestation, should be unsuccessful. For this reason, then.-I acknowledge no system of governing the country-of directing its energies-of guiding its population
-as being sound and pure-but this one. I disclaim every system, no matter how plausibly devised, or by what men of talent supported, which does not recognize the perfect safety of the monarchical principle, as defined at the Revolution of 1688; or, better still, by the constant working of government ever since the firm acknowledgment of an aristocratical body to poise the democratic branch of the conatitution-and the establishment of a regular church. You, who know me, will not for a moment imagine, that because I do not add to these bases of government a proviso for a fair representation of the people in the House of Commons a perfectly upright, and rigidly impartial system of judicature -and a code of laws, equal in protection to all-that I mean to exclude these important branches from my beau ideal of a government for England. Far from it, indeed. If a terrible day should come, in which the prince on the throne should dare to invade these our rights, my side should be chosen-my feeble efforts added to those who would vote the throne vacant, and endeavour to fill it by a monarch who would better know the duties of his high office. I have not set them down here explicitly, because the party whose opinions I am now discussing, do not differ with me in these particulars. The only quarrel we should have, would be about the King, the Lords, and the Church. Now, Doctor, holding these institutions as integral parts of our system, firmly believing them of vital importance to the happiness and good government of the nation, and knowing, from experience, that any attempt to overthrow them would open a scene of blood, plunder, and misery of all kinds-ĺ look on every one who wages war against them as an enemy to his country, or one who would seek his own personal aggrandizement, or follow out his own peculiar views of politics, without any regard to consequences. These enemies are of two kinds-(I pass the minor subdivisions)-the Whigs and the Radicals. The latter party has, within these few years, lost their greatest support in losing the mob. Plenty-(which we, who know what has been taught by all the records of history, always said, in contradiction to the flimsy and raw school of
the mock science of Political Economy, must follow peace)-has arrived at the time when we said it would arrivethe accidental fillip which the cause of Radicalism got by the assistance of the unfortunate Queen, has passed away with that unhappy lady's life-and John Bull is content. Having, therefore, lost the brute strength which buoyed them up, they have now invaded with rude foot the fields of literature, which, while they had the voices of the multitude in their favour, they contemptuously had left to the Whigs. Here, then, we literary Tories can meet them-this is an arena in which we can contend without being liable to be refuted by the knock-down argument of a brick-bat.
This is one reason why I wish to see such Reviews as the Westminster; the other is, that, hating the Radicals much, I hate the Whigs more. You will not ask me why; but if you print my letter, others may inquire. Briefly, then, the Whigs have some remains of power in their hands-the Radicals have none. The Whigs, carrying a mask of affection for institutions which they hate with a rabid ferocity, may, under this mask, impose on those whom the undisguised hatred of the Radicals could not deceive; for instance, there are few who would not recoil from the ravings of the brute who reviewed Washington Irving's Tales of a Traveller, while many would smile over the same infamies vented by the smirking and nambypamby mouth of Jeffrey; and lastly, we can see what the Radicals aim at, while the designs of the Whigs are muffled under cloaks, impenetrable to the eyes of those whose optics have not been rendered acute by long observation.
Moved by these considerations, I grieve that the Radical organ is not prospering; and am sorry to see it not able to meet that worn-out concern, the Edinburgh, in the market. It would give me sincere pleasure to see Blue and Yellow prostrated by its bloodier colleague. Wherever the Westminster men have taken Jeffrey's little people in hand, they have crushed them with a fillip. So far as writing is concerned, the Westminster is infinitely, beyond all compare, superior. As to what the people of that class call reasoning, it transcends them by a thousand de
grees. Compare, for instance, the fine jackanapes airy, jaunty, trashy, puppy article of Tom Macauly on the West Indies, in the last Edinburgh, with any of the straight-forward, coolheaded, and, I must add, cold-hearted diatribes of James Mill; or match poor little Jeffrey, prating and gabbling away, saying nothing at all, in thirty pages of close printing, with the deathdealing periods of his reviewer in the Westminster; or, in short, compare any two articles together, and you will see just the difference that exists between a cur and a bull-dog-animals equally disagreeable, and equally desirous to hurt and offend, but differing most materially in their powers of doing either.
As I wish, therefore, for the longevity of the Westminster, I shall give it a few gentle hints as to the causes of its acknowledged want of success. First, then, it is too full of politics too prosy-to be generally readable. We have politics enough in every newspaper. We have them served up hotand-hot in the Houses of Lords and Commons-we find them the staple commodity of every debating club in the empire; and though custom has rendered it necessary that every periodical should take a side, and, in consequence, now and then give us a manifesto of its principles, it is quite too much that such manifestos should occupy the entire work. Secondly, which, indeed, is only a branch of the first, it has not published any lite rary papers of any consequence, and therefore has no name in our literature. It has hardly condescended to give us even popular science. Now this is a most injudicious line of acting.
the interest of the Review, mark the time at which they have chosen to publish it. Just when ministers had found it consistent with the interest of the country to make changes in the management of certain parts of our affairs, which it would before have been inexpedient to attempt, then rise up these men to recommend them, after they have been done. For example, in the article on the Libel Laws, which opens this number of the Westminster, great stress is laid on packed Special Juries. Now, that they were so packed, is false-a direct, open falsehood; or, at best, a mere dream of the diseased brain of old Bentham. Well, sir, in the meantime Mr Peel, to put down the possibility of even this paltry objection, had presented to the House of Commons a bill, by which all possible chance of packing is prevented for ever; and the upright reviewer is obliged to put in a fly-leaf, to say that
Suppose we analyze the Number before us. We have the Law of LibelSchlegel's Political Opinions-the State of Italy-Exportation of Machinerythe Corn Laws!!!!-Prison Discipline-Emigration-and the Quarantine Laws-all politics, with the exception of the last, which is mixed with medical and scientific considerations. With these the bill of fare is made up by a paper on magnetism, much more in place in a scientific journal, as Brewster's; and one literary paper-a dull review of a stupid book about Kemble, which nobody has read or cares about. Is this attractive to anybody? As if this were not enough to damn
"Since our article on the Law of Libel was printed off, Mr Peel has come forward with his new measure concerning Special Juries. High as our opinion of the present ministers had previously been, this measure raises it far higher. Their commercial reforms, though of the greatest conceivable importance to the community, involved no sacrifice to themselves; as far as trade is concerned, the interest of rulers and that of the community are the same, and in serving the public, they were, at the same time, and to the same extent, serving themselves. But there is now exhibited a phenomenon scarcely paralleled in history-a government voluntarily giving up power, which (in spite of the assertions of the ignorant and the interested) was exercised, and, till very lately, most efficiently