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(p. 61)



            IS it morally lawful for cultivated and refined persons to impose upon a whole class of the population a disgusting, brutalising, and unwholesome occupation, which is scientifically and experimentally demonstrable to be not merely entirely needless, but absolutely inimical to the best interests of the human race?

            Butchers are the Pariahs of the western world; the very name itself of their trade has become a synonym for barbarity, and is used as a term of reproach in speaking of persons notorious for brutality, coarseness, of love of bloodshed. The common exclamation, “What a butcher is So-and-so!” in reference to such men, betrays the horror and reprobation with which are instinctively regarded the followers of a trade created and patronized chiefly by the “refined” classes!

            In the report of a “diseased meat” case given in the Leeds Mercury of 6th March 1880, the ensuing passage occurs: –

            “Mr. J. Ellis, President of the Leeds Butchers’ Association, stated that there was no disease about the lungs of the animal at all. Blood had probably been forced into them by some person jumping on the animal’s body after it had been felled.

            “Mr. Bruce: Is it a common practice when a beast in dying for a person to jump upon it to force the blood out of it?

            “Witness: Yes.”

            In the course of the celebrated Tichborne case a certain metropolitan butcher was called to testify to the claimant’s identity. This man averred that employés in slaughter-houses habitually make use of clogs to avoid soaking their feet in the pools of blood which continually inundate the pavements of these places. Really, when one thinks of these unfortunate and brutalised men, thus condemned by modern “civilisation” – Heaven save the mark! – to pass their days in the midst of

(p. 62)

spectacles and practices so foul and loathsome, taking part daily in wholesome massacres, and living only to take away life, it is impossible not to conclude that such men are deprived of all chance of becoming themselves civilised, and are consequently disinherited of their human rights and defrauded of their human dignity. And not only the slaughterers themselves, but all those who are directly of indirectly associated with this abominable traffic – cattle-drivers and dealers, meat-salesmen, their apprentices and clerks – all these live in familiar, if not exclusive, contact with practices and sights of the vilest and most hideous kind; all these are condemned to the degradation or suppression of the most characteristic features of Humanity.

            With people in general, the very look and touch of raw flesh excite a disgust which only a special education can overcome. So that in the butchers and cook persons are condemned to work which their employers deem altogether repulsive. It is absurd to suppose that if kreophagy were really natural to mankind, the sentiment in regard to butchers and their trade, to which allusion has been made, would find such spontaneous and universal expression among us. The true carnivora and omnivora have no horror of dead bodies; the sight of blood, the smell of raw flesh, inspires them with no manner of disgust. If all of us, men and women alike, were compelled to dispense with the offices of a paid slaughterer an to immolate our victims with our own hands, the penchant for flesh would not long survive in polite society. It would be indeed hard to find a man or woman of the upper or middle classes who would willingly consent to undertake the butcher’s duties, and go the cattle-yard armed with pole-axe or knife to fell an ox or to slit the throat of a sheep or lamb, or even of a rabbit, for the morrow’s repast. On the other hand, there is no one, however delicately bred or refined, who would not readily take a basket and gather apples in an orchard or peaches in a garden, or who, if need should arise, would object to make a cake or an omelette.

            It would, alas! require many long pages to cite the innumerable cruelties and sufferings which the gluttony and luxury of flesh-eating man impose on the innocent herb-feeders – sufferings which, whatever may be said to the contrary, are absolutely inevitable and inseparable from modern European habits of diet. Sufferings by sea and land, in transit

(p. 63)

from different ports, by rail and by road, sufferings in the live-stock markets, in the pens of the slaughter-houses while waiting their turn for death, sufferings by thirst, blows, terror, apprehension, exhaustion, neglect, to say nothing of the wanton barbarity to which they are too often subjected, such, under the present hateful and unnatural system, is the woeful lot of the patient, gentle, laborious creatures who should be ploughing our fields, and yielding us, not their flesh and blood, but milk and wool and the fruits of their willing toil. (1)





(61:1) From The Prefect Way in Diet, by Anna Kingsford (New Edition, 1897, pp. 61-64). See Biographical Preface, p. 42, ante.

(63:1) Here follow harrowing details, given by various ewe-witnesses, of cruelties and sufferings connected with and inseparable from the cattle-traffic and the slaughter-house.

            An Act consolidating and amending the law as to cruelty to animals has recently been passed. By section I of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, provision is made for the punishment of persons who shall be convicted of certain acts of cruelty, therein specified, to domestic or captive animals, as therein defined, but the same section contains a proviso in favour of (inter alia) “the destruction, or preparation for destruction, of any animal as food for mankind”: and in favour of coursing and hunting captive animals, and in favour of legalized vivisection. The effect of this Act is to enlarge the class of legally protected animals, but, unless a more liberal and humane construction is put upon it than was put upon the former Act – the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1849 – which also was passed with the object of protecting certain animals against cruelty and ill-treatment, it will be but a poor protection: for, the judges, having decided that the former Act was direct against only unnecessary abuse, that is, abuse which flesh-eaters would consider to be unnecessary – held, that an act such as the branding of the lambs on nose with a hot iron for the purpose of their identification, was not cruel: and, while the very painful operation of dishorning cattle by sawing off their horns close to their heads for the purpose of slightly increasing their value, and for convenience in feeding and packing, was held by an English judge to be unnecessary and cruel, and therefore unjustifiable; judges in Scotland and Ireland declined to follow such holding, and decided that dishorning cattle was not an offence! It was urged, on behalf of the practice of dishorning cattle, that it made them graze better and fatten more quickly. When, in the first instance, this case came before the justices, they found that the farmer who had dishorned the cattle had “acted under the belief that the operation was for the benefit of the animals themselves as well as for his own benefit as grazer.” It was held, under the old Act, that a painful operation performed on an animal, benefiting the owner by increasing the values of the animal, was not legally cruel, even though the operation was in fact unnecessary and useless (e.g. the operation of spaying sows). Such was the construction put by flesh-eating judges on an Act passed for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals! It will be observed that all these cruelties were done for and on behalf of the flesh-eaters as such. For how long is this state of things to continue? So degraded has this nation of England become under a regime of flesh, that such wantonly cruel and heartless acts as the following can be openly perpetrated without remonstrance of fear of punishment, and without adverse comment in a daily paper giving publicity to them. The Daily Express, of 2nd November 1911, without a word of condemnation or disapprobation, says: “A seal was seen in the Thames yesterday [All Saints Day] and chased into the Higham Canal, which joins the river at Gravesend. It was pelted with stones and finally shot.” – S.H.H.



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