C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain,
New York 1962. Cited in Matt Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature through History,
New Haven 1993.
Christian and Marxist shook hands over this deal. Cartmill reports that in the 1930s 'some Marxist thinkers . . .urged that it was time to put an end to nature and that animals and plants that serve no human purpose ought to be exterminated.'
The historian Geoffrey de Ste. Croix declared that he was not aware of any general Christian condemnation of slavery before the petition of the Mennonites of Germantown in Pennsylvania in 1688, and the Mennonites were founded by a sixteenth-century Anabaptist, whose attitude to property was communist in outlook.
See G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.
'Presumption is our natural and original malady. The most vulnerable and frail of all creatures is man, and at the same time the most arrogant. He feels and sees himself lodged here, among the mire and dung of the world, nailed and riveted to the worst, the deadest and most stagnant part of the universe, on the lowest story of the house and the farthest from the vault of heaven, with the animals of the worst condition of the three [i.e. those that walk, fly and swim], and in his imagination he goes planting himself above the circle of the moon, and bringing the sky down beneath his feet.
It is by the vanity of this same imagination that he equals himself to God, attributes to himself divine characteristics, picks himself out and separates himself from the horde of other creatures, carves out their shares to his fellows and companions the animals, and distributes among them such portions of faculties and powers as he sees fit. How does he know, by the force of his intelligence, the secret internal stirrings of animals? By what comparison between them and us does he infer the stupidity that he attributes to them?'
Amplifying his essays a few years later, Montaigne added after the passage just quoted, the famous sentence:
'When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?'
From 'Apology for Raymond Sebond,' The Complete Essays of Montaigne,
translated by Donald M. Frame, Stanford 1965.
By the mid sixteenth century Giovanni Battista Gelli, a Florentine scholar, was writing Circe, a dialogue in which the enchantress of the title tells Ulysses she will restore the animals she transmogrified back into his original crew, so long as he can secure their agreement. The animals remain unpersuaded. You men, the doe replies to Ulysses's invitation to resume the form of a woman, 'make mere slaves and servants out of us. . .Among animals, any animals you want to name, the female partakes equally with the male in his pleasures and diversions.' Only one, an elephant, makes the return journey and shouts triumphantly, 'What a marvelous sensation it is to be a man!' But he was a philosopher. R. Adams, ed., The Circe of Signior Giovanni Battista Gelli, Ithaca 1991. Cited in Matt Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning.
Sir Thomas More, Utopia, edited by Edward Sturz, Yale 1964. Keith Thomas discusses the legend of jury exclusion of butchers in Man and the Natural World.
Quoted in Animal Factories
by Jim Mason and Peter Singer, New York 1990.
See Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning
. This concept of eighteenth-century promotion was resumed by a French biologist, Charles Bonnet, who thought that man would eventually move on 'to another dwelling place, more suitable to the superiority of his faculties', and then the beasts would be elevated accordingly: 'In this universal restoration of animals, there may be found a Leibniz or a Newton among the monkeys or the elephants, a Perrault or a Vauban among the beavers.'
Christians were deeply involved in the development of the human slave trade between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, since enslavement could be the prelude to conversion, just as the 'beef Christian' Indians of the Californian ranchos run by the Franciscans took on board spiritual grace along with their ribeye. The vaqueros
tending these Western herds could maybe trace some of their skills in part back through Andalucian and Marisman herders to the West African Fulani of the pre-Columbian era, some of whom may have been taken as slaves to Spain. See Terry Jordan, North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers,
Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900,
See Terry Jordan, North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers
. Jordan suggests this in the context of his estimate that cowboys of African descent were extremely uncommon on the western cattle frontiers.
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, New York 1945.
Donald Worster, An Unsettled Country. Changing Landscapes of the American West,
Albuquerque 1994. See particularly the chapter, 'Other People, Other Lives.' Seton's calculations, cited below, are discussed by Worster.
See Alexander Cockburn, 'Grisly Fate of Ursus horribilis'
, The Nation, July 1995.
See Worster, An Unsettled Country
Edward Everett Dale, The Range Cattle Industry. Ranching on the Great Plains from 1865 to 1925
, Norman 1960.
Massimo Montanari, The Culture of Food
, Oxford 1994.
Siegfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command
, New York 1948.
Cited in William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis. Chicago and the Great West
, New York 1991. Cronon's chapter, 'Annihilating Space: Meat' is a spectacular piece of work.
'One native son, from over in the neighbourhood of Licking Hills, started the yarn about the efficiency of the Cincinnati packers.
'Speaking of sausage,' said this humourous neighbor, 'those connecting links between hog and dog almost remind me of an affecting incident that occurred some years ago at a brisk village below the mouth of Deer Creek on the Ohio called Cincinnati. An ancient maiden friend of ours was taking a stroll on the outskirts of town one pleasant summer morning, accompanied by a favorite black poodle dog — her only protector.
Walking leisurely along the flowery banks of Deer Creek, her cheek fanned by "gentle zephyrs laden with sweet perfume" , she at length came to the residence of a fat and furious German, which, it was hinted, had been the scene of many an inhuman butchery. At the front corner of the house she noticed a fresh pork hanging at the end of a large copper pipe which seemed to communicate with the interior of the house.
Her poodle made a jump at the treasure, but no sooner had he reached the spot than he was caught under the ear by a steel hook and suddenly disappeared from the sight of his doting mistress. She, poor soul, horror-stricken by the mysterious disappearance, rushed frantically into the house in search of him.
But alas! Like Distaffiana, she might have well exclaimed, "Oh wretched maide — O miserable fate. I've just arrived in time to be too late!" For by the time she had reached the back part of the premises, all that remained of her ill-fated poodle was a blue ribbon which she had tied around his neck, seventy-five links of fresh sausage, and a beautiful black woolly muff.'
T.D. Clark, 'Kentucky Yarn and Yarn Spinners', The Cincinnati Times-Star,
Centennial Edition, vol. 10, no. 100, 25 April 1940, 'Business, Industry, Kentucky Section', p. 6; from B.A. Botkin, ed., A Treasure of Mississippi River Folklore
, New York 1955.
This story is told by J. Frank Dobie, in The Longhorns
, Bramhall 1941, a vivid evocation of this breed. The pastorals included stories of escape. A steer called Table Cloth had dodged the shipping pens for over a decade:
'After returning from marketing the last fall shipment, the boss proposed that certain men take their Winchesters and bring in Table Cloth's hide and carcass. He thought he was offering an opportunity for big sport. He was surprised at the opposition that rolled up. 'Hadn't Table Cloth fairly won life and liberty? For fifteen years now the whole Shoe Sole outfit had been after him — and he was still free. He was getting old. He had never really tried to kill a man. He had simply outplayed his opponents. He could not be called mean. . .By God, he deserved to live among the cedars and canyons he loved so well — and the boss agreed.'
Dobie was a wonderful writer. His description of the Texas brush country in Chapter 17 is a particular gem of landscape literature. Worster writes:
'Domesticated creatures like cattle and sheep have. . .been vital to the western experience, and we have hundreds of books and articles on the industries that raised those animals for slaughter. The animals themselves have seldom if ever appeared in that literature as anything resembling Black Elk's "Four-legged people" . . .
The shining exception to the general cowlessness of the range histories is J. Frank Dobie's The Longhorns,
which gives a full, appreciative account of that breed's instinct, habits and psychology — an animal, Dobie writes, that refused to be 'dumb driven cattle' but insisted on following 'the law of the wild, the stark give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death law against tyranny', a behaviour that got them labeled 'outlaws' and replaced by more docile Herefords.
Worster adds, 'Even Dobie has trouble maintaining any interest in cows that are not so wild or so much a maverick.'
On anti-vivisection, see two entries from the Encyclopedia Britannica,
11th edition, 191011. The anti-vivisection movement was very strong at that time, and the editors felt it necessary to print a six-page, 9,000-word defence of vivisection, by Stephen Paget, frcs, Surgeon to the Throat and Ear Department of Middlesex hospital and honorary secretary of the Research Defence Society.
'It may be interesting to compare the pain, or death, or discomfort among 86,277 animals used for experiments in Great Britain in 1909, with the pain, or death, or discomfort of an equal number of the same kinds of animals, either in a state of nature, or kept for sport, or used for the service of human profit or amusement.
But it would be outside the purpose of this article to describe the cruelties which are inseparable from sport, and the killing of animals for food, and from fashion; neither is this the place to describe the millions of mutilations which are practised on domestic animals by farmers and breeders.
As one of the Royal Commissioners recently said, the farmyards, at certain times of the year, simply "seethe with vivisection". The number of animals wounded in sport, or in traps, cannot be guessed. Against this vast amount of suffering we have to put an estimate of the condition of 86,277 animals used for medical science.
Ninety-five per cent of them were used for inoculation. In many of these inoculations the result was negative: the animal did not take any disease, and thus did not suffer any pain.
In many more, e.g. cancer in mice, tubercle in guinea pigs, the pain or discomfort, if any, may fairly be called trivial or inconsiderable.
It could hardly be said that these small animals suffer much more than an equal number of the same kind of animals kept in little cages to amuse children. . .'
The equally lengthy essay on furs, by Walter Parker, deputy chairman of the fur section of the London Chamber of Commerce, had this detailing of sales at what was the headquarters of the fine fur market, the public auction sales in London. The figures are, for the year ending on 31 March 1906, total number of skins in each category:
The chief exceptions to this list were the Persian and Astrachan lambs, also ermine and Russian squirrels. These were processed and sold in Russia and Germany. All told, about 24 million creatures. The maximum from an elephant's tusk was eight ivory billiard balls, so in that same period, many thousands of the mighty pachyderm went down each year.