Page images
PDF
EPUB

HISTORY AND OBJECTS.

I.

Prior to the enactment of the statute intituled “An Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle” (July, 1822), introduced by the late highly-esteemed Mr. Martin, the general treatment of animals in this country was inhuman. Whether from ignorance, thoughtlessness, heedlessness, or wanton brutality, animals were subjected to extreme pain and torture, and their condition failed to excite the commiseration of the public. The most reckless and savage punishment, and the most disgusting disregard to the bodily sufferings of animals, were exhibited unconcealed in the highways and streets daily ; festering sores, discharging wounds, ex cruciating lameness, and lottering infirmity called not forth modern devices to evade public reprobation, and without disguise the lash and goad worked their bloody inflictions. The uncombined efforts of a few benevolent indi. viduals were no check to these evils; and hence it became necessary to establish a society which should assemble and unite the friends of dumb animal creatures.

The founders of this Society met on the 16th of June, 1824, and inaugurated the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals appointed a Committee, and conceived the following plan of operations :

The circulation of suitable tracts gratuitously, or by cheap sale, particularly

among persons intrusted with cattle, such as coachmen, carters, and drovers. 2. The introduction into schools of books calculated to impress on youth the duty of

humanity to inferior animals. 3. Frequent appeals to the public through the press, awakening more general atten

tion to a subject so interesting, though too much neglected. 4. The periodical delivery of discourses from the pulpit. 5. The employment of constables in the markets and streets; and 6. The prosecution of persons guilty of flagrant acts of cruelty, with publicity to

the proceedings, and announcement of results. Steadily working by the above means, bravely bearing contumely, and overcoming difficulties, the founders became stronger year after year : subscribers and co workers gradually joined their ranks; and a marked improvement slowly manifested itself in the treatment of animals. Then followed the distinguished patronage of her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen. Her Royal Highness the late Duchess of Kent, the Nobility, and many distinguished Members of both Houses of Parliament; and in 1840, by command of Her Majesty, the Society was honoured with the prefix of “Royal.” Since that period its progress has been regular, and its achievements encouraging, and now it is regarded as a permanently

In

[ocr errors][merged small]

established institution, which has outlived ridicule, and secured for its founders the esteem of good and practical men of this and succeeding generations.

During many years the Committee advocated the removal and enlargement of Smithfield Market. Owing to its agency, bull-baiting, bull-running, cock-fighting, badger baiting, and other wicked sports of a barbarous age have been prohibited by legal enactments. 1835 the Society obtained an amendment of Martin's Act; in 1845 an amendment of the law for regulating Knackers' Yards; in 1849 a new and much improved Act for the more effectual Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and in 1854 an Act prohibiting the use of dogs as beasts of draught or burden throughout England; and recently many other Acts of Parliament.

Upwards of Sixty-seven Thousand Convictions against offenders in cases of cruelty have been obtained by means of the Society's officers : and more than 4,000 persons were convicted last year.

It is governed by a Committee of noblemen and gentlemen; assisted in the literature and education departments by a Committee of Ladies. In reference to the latter body it is stated in a prospectus

“ The Society, though actively engaged for many years past in the prosecution of offenders, has not hitherto sufficiently devoted its energies and funds to the promotion of humane education It will be sufficient to state generally that the Ladies' Committee purpose extending their operations beyond London by means of Provincial Branches, which will be formed upon receipt of an approved application to that effect. Such branches will find abundance of work adapted to the taste of its various members. They will cull and forward to the Central Board humane literature suitable for leaflets, or for THE ANIMAL World, and suggest means for circulating that Journal. They will introduce humane principles at Penny Readings and Lectures, and induce clergymen to advocate the same in the Pulpit. They will subsidise Tract Distributors, Sunday School Teachers, Scripture Readers, District Visitors, Newspaper and Magazine Writers. They will carry papers into schools, village libraries, clubs, reading rooms, public-houses, railway stations, hospitals, workhouses, prisons, and cottages; so that butchers, drovers, carmen, grooms, coachmen, farm servants, railway servants, domestic servants, and especially mothers and fathers and children of all classes, may be reached. Or they will collect money in support of the general operations of the Institution.”

Many hundred thousands of small publications have been circu- . lated ; lectures have been delivered to cabmen, servants, children, and others : sermons and addresses preached; notices issued by placards throughout the nation; schools visited, and books, tending to cultivate tenderness and compassion to animals, given to children after suitable addresses and examinations; and Her Majesty's Inspectors, who visit nearly all the large schools in England, have been elected Honorary Members of the Committee (under the sanction of the Committee of Council on Education). It has recently taken charge of and organized the Band of Mercy Movement, which consists of Societies of children and young persons who meet monthly to receive instruction relating to the claims of animals on mankind, and to read literature bearing on the objects of the Society.

It is, therefore, an educational and punitive agency. It disseminates in schools, and among persons having the care of dumb brutes, its Monthly Journals, The Animal World and Band of Mercy, and other papers and pamphlets, which inculcate the duty and profitableness of kindness to animals; and by its officers, who are engaged in all parts of the kingdom, it cautions and punishes persons guilty of offences. Thus, while its primary object is the protection of creatures who minister to man's wants, it is obvious that in no less degree it seeks to elevate human nature.

By increasing the number of constables, by a more liberal circulation of the publications of this Society, by sermons and by lectures, much greater results may be achieved. To curtail the functions of the Society, or to arrest its growing strength, would ensure the most disastrous results; for though instances of wanton cruelty are not so frequently witnessed as heretofore, and the pains and penalties inflicted upon offenders have undoubtedly mitigated the sufferings of poor animals, it is obvious that were it not for the check of this Society, the worst brutalities would reappear, and the ruffians who delight in torment to dumb creatures would multiply a thousandfold.

Cruelty has now to be followed to be detected; it exists, but not openly; to subdue it, and overtake the offender, requires the promptest vigilance. The Committee invite attention to the following means to prevent it.

Children at home and at school should be practised in acts of kindness to animals, should be discouraged in amusements which inflict pain on any creature having life; should be led into a thoughtful consideration of the ordinary treatment of surrounding animals.

Servants should not merely be admonished when inflicting pain, but should be taught how frequently from ignorance and by habit they disregard the comfort and happiness of living creatures placed under their charge ; how often their thoughtlessness entails actual torment; and how certainly their own interests are involved in a careful study and protection of the animals under their direction and management.

A rebuke should be given to Costermongers, Donkey-keepers, and goatdrivers, whose wretched animals undergo much fatigue and endure much suffering; to Drovers, to slaughtering Butchers and market Poulterers, some of whom were their habits known to the world, would be branded as savages ; to Carmen who overdrive and overload their horses; to Horsekeepers and drivers who cruelly starve and abuse their animals; and, not least, to the Omnibus Proprietors and Cabdrivers, whose illconditioned quadrupeds drag through a series of tortures until raw wounds, blindness, lameness, or deformity consigns them to toil after sunset or in secret places, were no eye of pity can follow them. A rebuke in

season should be given to each of these—a kind word to the unthoughtful, a remonstrance to the heedless, a threat to the abandoned, and a refusal to employ a cab or ride in an omnibus drawn by animals unfit for work.

Exhortations from the pulpit should be offered, addresses from the platform, easy and enticing lessons in the school-room, counsel by visitors to the poor, rewards by the wealthy for kind treatment of animals; and, above all, exhibition before mankind of a kind concern for all living creatures.

A union should be established with a Society which combines and directs all the above means; which is sanctioned by Royalty, supported by the nobility, and advocated by the right reverend dignitaries of the Church; which educates, cautions, and punishes. Co-operation in this work is of the utmost importance—far beyond the accumulation of a central fund. Individual effort thereby is concentred, and the influence of the whole is diffused throughout the body to each member, to whose voice is given the persuasion of a missionary, or a power which strikes evil doers with terror.

To continue this work, and to extend it, increased assistance is absolutely necessary ; for, without new members and donors, an abridgment of opera. tions will be inevitable. Its activity, impartiality and success, have induced the public to look to this Society generally as the agent for the suppression of cruelty throughout the kingdom ; hence its labours are ever being en larged. The Committee would shrink from curtailing the efficiency of this Institution so long as cruelty abounds, and good may be accomplished; but it is their duty to state frankly that they need much greater assistance, and that unless additional support be extended to them, this most righteous cause of humanity must suffer from insufficiency of means.

Persons witnessing acts of cruelty are desired to forward full particulars promptly to the Secretary. Letters and information are strictly “private when desired. Anonymous communications are placed in the waste-paper basket.

[ocr errors]

Post Office orders, drafts, or other remittances, made payable to the

, Secretary (crossed " Account of the R.S.P.C.A., Messrs. Coutts & Co.");

“ should be forwarded to the address underneath, upon which an official receipt will be returned, with the grateful acknowledgments of the Secretary on behalf of the Committee.

All communications relating to the business of the Society, should be addressed to

JOHN COLAM, Secretary. 105, Jermyn Street, St. James's, London, S.W..

« EelmineJätka »