The Enduring Soul
It would be exceedingly interesting and valuable were there place in a little volume of this nature to relate numbers of incidents and stories in connection with the lives of various animals—
incidents and stories showing their devotion to those to whom they have become attached and whom they love, their intelligence, their powers of memory, their discernment and reason.
Many is the time that an animal, perhaps the dog especially, has thrown itself into danger to warn from danger or to save the life of a human being, owner, friend, or stranger, without any apparent thought of its own safety or life.
It was but a few weeks ago that I noticed among the news items on the editorial page of my daily paper, that on a Swiss eminence a monument is to be erected to Bary, that splendid St Bernard dog who during his life saved the lives of some forty persons.
And there are other monuments that I know of, erected to commemorate the fidelity or the sacrificial service of animals. But how many thousands of monuments, bathed at times with grateful tears and hallowed by loving memories, have taken form in the minds and hearts of those into whose lives various animals have come.
And when we look into its eyes and see the soul of the animal look out upon us, with all its love and its fear, its warmth of feeling, its confidence, wherever possible,
as well as its strange questionings, is it possible for us longer to remain among that company who feel that there is a great gulf fixed, eternally fixed, between man and the animal, many of whom live far more consistent and honest lives than we at times live ourselves.
Personally I believe that their endeavour to live true to their various natures and to their highest, even if at times they fall short of it as we do, is something that will be just as enduring in their lives as in ours, and that they are destined to a continually higher life, the same as each and every one of us.
The common Father of us all, of the animal as of ourselves, caused no one of His creatures to be brought into existence in vain, or for a mere temporary time. Where there is a soul, be it in animal or in human form, it is destined to endure as such, even though the form, the body with
which it is clothed upon, and through which it manifests on any particular plane of existence, changes, and in time falls away, to give place to a new type of body better adapted to the environment into which it goes.
In order to be as concrete as possible, we have been considering concrete cases of carelessness and abuse and torture to the animal world from our hands.
But I think we have seen sufficiently clearly already that whenever and every time we sin against or do violence to these, our fellow-creatures, we ourselves, in some form or another, reap of the kind that we sow.
This is inevitably and invariably true, and there is no escape from it. And so, instead of being their arch-enemy, let the children, above all, be taught to become friends to, and to care for and protect, these, their fellow-creatures.
Let them be taught to give them always kind words, and kind thoughts as well. Some animals are most sensitively organized. They feel and are influenced by our thoughts and our emotions far more generally than we realize, and in some cases even more than many people are.
And why should we not recognize and speak to the horse as we pass him in the same way as we do to a fellow human being? While he may not get our exact words, he nevertheless gets and is influenced by the nature of the thought that is behind, and that is the spirit of the words. Let them be taught to become friends in this way.
Let them be taught, even though young, to raise the hand against all misuse, abuse, and cruelty. Let them be taught that the horse,
for example, when tired, or when its load is heavy, needs encouragement just as a man or a woman needs it, and that the whip is not necessary, except, indeed, in cases where he has not been taught to respond to words, but only to the whip.
The whip is now used ninety-nine cases out of a hundred where it is not only unnecessary, but entirely uncalled for.
An American traveller, when riding one day with Tolstoi, noticed that he never made use of a whip when driving, and remarked to him to that effect. ” No,” he replied, with a slight spirit of disdain, ” I talk to my horses. I do not beat them.
” Let us be taught by and let us carry to he children the example of this Christ-like man.”
Were I an educator, I would endeavour to make my influence along the lines of humane, heart-training my chief service to my pupils. The rules and principles and even facts that are taught them will, nine-tenths of them at least, by-and-by be forgotten, but by bringing into their lives this higher influence, at once the root and the flower of all that is worthy of the name education,”
I would give them something that would place them at once in the ranks of the noblest of the race. I would give not only special attention and time to this humane education, but I would introduce it into and cause it to permeate all of my work. A teacher with a little insight will be able to find opportunities on every hand.
M. de Sailly, an eminent French teacher, who for a number of years has been giving systematic humane instruction in his school, says :
“I have long been convinced that kindness to animals produces great results, and that it is not only a powerful cause of material prosperity, but also the beginning of moral prosperity.” My manner of teaching it does not disturb the routine of the school. Two days in the week all our lessons are conducted with reference to this subject. In the reading class I choose a book upon animals, and always give useful instruction and advice.
My copies for writing are facts in natural history, and ideas of justice and kindness to animals. I prove that by not overworking them, and by keeping them in clean and roomy stables, feeding them well, and treating them kindly and gently, a greater profit and larger crops may be obtained. I also speak of birds and certain small animals which are very useful to farmers.
" The results are exceedingly satisfactory. The children are less disorderly, and more gentle and affectionate to each other. They feel more and more kindly to the animals and have ceased to rob nests and kill birds. They are touched by the suffering of animals, and the pain they feel when they see them cruelly used moves others to pity and compassion."
Mr George T. Angell, President of the
American Humane Education Society, has said :
“Standing before you as the advocate of the lower races, I declare what I believe cannot be gainsaid,—that just so soon and so far as we pour into all our schools the songs, the poems, and literature of mercy towards these lower creatures, just so soon and so far shall we reach the roots, not only of cruelty, but of crime. . . .
” A thousand cases of cruelty can be prevented by kind words and humane education for every one that can be prevented by prosecution.”
And let us hear another sentence or two from another educator, a superintendent of schools in one of our New England States, —a sentence or two from an appeal to his fellows in connection with humane education :
” Fellow-teachers, let us make our teaching stronger and richer. Let us give our pupils something varied and inviting. Let us reach out more. Let us reach out for and take in humane education. Too much so-called teaching is unskilled labour.
Too many of us are buried in our text-books— are mechanical hearers of lessons, are mere word-jugglers, fact-pedlers, and mind-stuffers. Let us put away all these things and teach. Let us put brains and heart into our work.
Let us become character-builders. Such work will compel people to realize the grandly important truth that teaching is the profoundest science, the highest art, the noblest profession.”
Then, were I a mother, I would infuse this same humane influence into all phases of the child’s life and growth. Quietly and indirectly I would make all things speak to him in this language. I would put into his hands books such as “Black Beauty,” “Beautiful Joe,” and others of a kindred nature.
I would form in my own village or part of the city, were there not one there already, a Band of Mercy, into which my own and neighbors’ children would be called; and thus I would open up another little fountain of humanity for the healing of our troubled times.
We have recently been at war with another nation. There is to-day much unrest and uncertainty in connection with our foreign relations and policies.
These matters, vital as they are, are of but small import compared with the questions and the conflict in connection with the social situation within our own borders that we shall be compelled squarely to face within the coming few years; the beginning of this time is indeed already at our very doors.
The state of affairs referred to, as also its rapidly increasing proportions, is sufficiently well-known to all to make it unnecessary for more to be said in regard to it. Many who will have a hand in the solution and adjustment of these matters are now in our schools and on our streets, and we are educating them.
We can educate them to patience, kindness, equity, and reason, or to hot – headedness, rashness, cruelty, and anarchy. And if these questions are not adjusted peaceably and through the influence of the former qualities, then they will be precipitated, through conflict and a terrific destruction of life and property, at the hands of those of the latter qualities.
We have now such agencies as will, in the hands of a small body of hot-headed, heartless men, burn half a city in a single night. Though one is a wealthy parent, his son may be the poor man and the anarchist. Though another parent is poor, his son may be the millionaire, and one of such a type as to be hated by the great toiling classes. Time has a strange method of changing conditions.
Both need to be humanely educated, the one equally with the other; and upon how thoroughly they are so educated will depend the orderly adjustment and peaceable solution of this rapidly coming time.
One of the most beautiful and valuable features of the kindergarten education, which comes nearer the true education than any we have yet seen, is the constantly recurring lesson of love, sympathy, kindness, and care for the animal world. All fellowships thus fostered, and the humane sentiments thus inculcated, will return to soften and enrich the child’s, and later the man’s or the woman’s life, a thousand or a million fold; for we must always bear in mind that every kindness shown, every service done, to either a fellow human being or a so-called dumb fellow-creature, does us more good than the one for whom or that for which we do it.
The joy that comes from this open-hearted fellowship with all living creatures is something too precious and valuable to be given up when once experienced. To feel and to realize the essential oneness of all life is a steep, up which the world is now rapidly coming.
Through it ethics is being broadened and deepened, and even region is being enriched and vitalized. Many, in all parts of the world, whose thoughts and sympathies have reached this higher plane, are giving abundantly of their time to push forward this much-belated humane element in human life.
Others are giving abundantly of their treasure, through which many thousands of humane publications are being circulated,
homes for animals are being established, humane education is being fostered, and the work of the various humane organizations is being enlarged in its scope and possibilities.
The strongest and noblest types of men and women are never devoid of this tender, humane sympathy,
which is ever quick to manifest itself in kindness and care for every living creature.
There is a little incident in the life of Lincoln which I found a few days ago in a most valuable little book recently published, entitled “Songs of Happy Life ” :
” In the early pioneer days, when he was a practicing attorney and ‘rode the circuit,’ as was the custom at that time, he made one of a party of horsemen, lawyers like himself, who were on their way one spring morning from one court town to another. Their course lay across the prairies and through the timber; and as they passed by a little grove where the birds were singing merrily, they noticed a little fledgling which had fallen from the nest and was fluttering by the roadside.
After they had ridden a short distance, Mr Lincoln stopped and, wheeling his horse, said, ‘Wait for me a moment. I will soon rejoin you’; and as the party halted and watched him they saw Mr Lincoln return to the place where the little bird lay helpless on the ground, saw him tenderly take it up and set it carefully on a limb near the nest.
When he joined his companions one of them laughingly said, ‘ Why, Lincoln, what did you bother yourself and delay us for, with such a trifle as that ?’ The reply deserves to be remembered, and it is for this that I have told the story. ‘ My friend,’ said Mr Lincoln, *! can only say this, that I feel better for it.'”
Let us go from this to one other incident in his life. During that famous series of public debates in Illinois with Stephen A, Douglas in 1858, Mr Douglas at one place said, ” I care not whether slavery in the Territories be voted up or whether it be voted down, it makes not a particle of difference with me.”
Mr Lincoln, speaking from the fulness of his great sympathetic heart, replied with emotion: ” I am sorry to perceive that my friend Judge Douglas is so constituted that he does not feel the lash the least bit when it is laid upon another man’s back.”
Such are the strong, the valiant, the royal men and women, those with this tender soul-pathos, loving, caring, feeling for, sympathizing with, both their fellow human beings and their so-called dumb fellow-creatures; recognizing that we are all parts of the one great whole, all different forms of the manifestation of the Spirit of Infinite Life, Love, and Power that is back of all, working in and through all,—the life of all
Every Living Creature by Ralph W. Trine Published 1899