« PreviousContinue »
Humanity is the distinguishing attribute of the human species, yet how common is reckless and even studied barbarity! The cruelty of some of our pastimes is fitting our old English ancestors, the Goths, and Scythians ; does not the epicure even torture his fellow.animal, to pamper his voluptuous appetite ? People called civilized are still sanguinary, at the expense of all that is rational, humane, and religious. Here are seen children of various ages, engaged in different barbarous diversions; some solitary, some in groups. The wretch on the right-hand corner in front, is tying a bone to a dog's tail, in order to hurry it through the streets and enjoy its terror and pain ; this cruel act is heightened by the affectionate creature's turning round and innocently attempting to lick the boy's hand. Next to him is a lad setting two cocks to fight; a refined amusement practised also by full-grown children. On the left corner a dog is urged to worry and tear to pieces, one of the tabby kind, by a young master. Further back on the right of the plate is seen a fellow who is the hero of these plates, and was by Mr. Hogarth, named Nero, after the old Roman monster. He has deprived his dog of its ears, and is about cutting off its tail with his shears, one of his comrades securing and choaking the animal with a rope round its neck. A youth returning from school, intercedes in behalf of the maimed, suffering creature, and even offers the other a book as a present, if he will release the dog. This shows not only the necessity of general instruction, but also that general humanity should always be an essential con. stituent of education, without which, both boys and men would be little better than savages and brutes. Behind Nero, an arch lad has drawn on the wall a criminal hanging on a gallows: the probable destiny of Nero and some of his wicked companions. On the rear of the wall a young mob are sus. pending two cats together, and enjoying their agonies ; above these is an infant philosopher throwing a cat from a garret window in imitation of those adult sages, who connect useless animal suffering with experiments. [Additions to the plate are, the urchin who has robbed a bird's nest; the other swinging a buzzing insect impaled at the end of a string; and the poor, inoffensive, decrepit woman, insulted, hooted and pelted by a gang of mischievous children : for “Cruelty is the coward's vice."]
The spirit of inhumanity exhibited in the first plate as growing up in youth, is in this ripened in manhood. The hero of our piece has become a hackney coachman, a pro. fession which affords him an opportunity of displaying his brutal disposition. He is here shown cruelly beating one of his horses for not rising, though in its fall by oversetting the coach it has had the misfortune to break its leg. The lean, galled and starved appearance of the afflicted creature, is manifest proof of the habitual unkindness of its master. Pity it is, that such barbarous wretches should be suffered to live at large, or at all events, to have any control over sentient beings. However, his behaviour attracts the attention of a passer-by, who is taking the number of his coach in order to have him punished. The humane face of this man, opposed to the rigid one of other, affords a spirited contrast and in some measure brightens the scene. On the right is seen one of those inhuman wretches, who are so often permitted to drive cattle to and from the slaughter-house and market. He is beating a tender, over-driven lamb with a club-stick for not going on, and the poor, faint creature is dying with the fatigue and blows, with its entrails issuing from its mouth. Further back is a dray.man or cartman drunk, riding on the shafts of his cart, the wheels of which are run. ning over a child; while the contents of the casks he has in charge are being spilled; and for both of these accidents, occasioned by the criminal neglect of the cartman, the inno. nocent horse will, as usual, be half murdered by his guilty driver. Still further back is a lubberly fellow riding upon an ass, and as if the beast was not sufficiently burthened, he has taken up a porter with a load upon his back, behind him. The overladen animal is ready to sink under the weight; the foremost rider beating, of course, while the man (brute) behind is goading him with a pitch-fork. In the back ground is seen a mob baiting and worrying a bull to the great terror and danger of the passengers.
Continued acts of barbarity are found in time to divest men of their natural feelings ; for he that would not hesitate to torture and destroy a helpless, harmless animal, would not but through fear of the law, scruple to torture and murder a fellow creature. Nay, the laws themselves are not able to prevent such horrid crimes, as the next plate shows.
My conscience has a thousand several tongues,