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I have heard a child of three months old call for the breast by a distinct and peculiar note. Knowledge must therefore spring up and increase. Arts would be invented, and man would call his ingenuity in aid of his physical force. The pride of reason and the wantonness of power would extend his dominion, engender artificial wants, and make him the enemy and the tyrant of his more feeble and less crafty companions.. No society of men has been observed in which the procuring and preparation of food has not been a work of some degree of skill and ingenuity. The savage, the pastoral, and the agricultural states comprehend the principal forms of society under which men are found to live.
The energies of the savage are almost wholly absorbed in the search of food; the chase, and such vegetables as grow spontaneously being his sole dependence. The materials which support life being very scanty, population must be proportionally limited; and war seems necessary to secure to him the undivided possession of his precarious means of subsistence. His mind is congenial to his situation; the hostile and furious passions have uncontrolled possession of his soul; he delights in the infliction of wounds and death; he is a stranger to remorse, to compassion, and to sympathy; he knows not the charms of benevolence; even love in his obdurate bosom is but a transient spark. This state is, by those who have not very definite ideas of things, confounded with the imaginary state of nature; and some have concluded, from the vices of the savage state, that man is naturally cruel, ferocious, and malevolent. But this state is totally distinct from what must be supposed to be the state of nature. It is one in which instinct is the most completely annihilated, and reason is the most feeble. The qualities of the savage are the direct result of situation and mode of life. If the proper nature of man is to be improvable without limit, by the force of intellect, the condition of the savage, so far from being natural, is that which recedes the farthest from the state of nature.
The period of individual existence appears in this state to be short. So many are cut off by violence (for their wars are indiscriminate massacres, in which neither age nor sex are spared), that it is impossible to conjecture what proportion would reach old age. But we are assured by a faithful observer of the northern tribes, that among them a woman is old and wrinkled at thirty.
By the simple arts of fencing in the land, and preserving a portion of the natural herbage for winter fodder, man became enabled to domesticate some tribes of animals. By a regular supply of food, the number of these animals is greatly increased, so that they form a portion of the artificial population of cultivated countries. Over these tribes, he has assumed despotic power; he uses their labor, and applies both their milk and their flesh to his own sustenance. Man then became a shepherd, and by this transition he very much improved his condition. Food being more abundant, population increased; and from an increased sense of security, manners would become less ferocious. Still civilization would be very iinperfect. All the hordes of barbarians, who have desolated kingdoms and. subverted empires, were pastoral tribes, drawing their chief subsistence from their flocks and herds.
Nor is it certain that by giving life to these new tribes of animals, man has conferred upon them any real blessing. One fact alone may make us hesitate on this subject. It appears impossible to keep the domestic animals in a state of subjection without mutilating the males, excepting a few who are preserved for the purpose of propagation. It may fairly be inquired whether this shocking outrage on the common rights of nature, this cutting asunder of the link which connects the individual with his common species, does not more than counter-, balance all the pleasures which any being may be supposed to derive from the mere enjoyment of animal life.
The cultivation of the earth, and the direct application of its various productions to human subsistence, seems to be the limit of improvement in the arts essential to the support of life. By the exercise of this beneficial art, myriads of human beings are called into life who could otherwise have never existed. Br its introduction, a great revolution was commenced in the relations of neighboring communities. The cultivator being directly interested in the preservation of public tranquillity, and the causes which fostered hostility and rancor being removed, mations became disposed to suspend their animosities, and rather to contribute to the promotion of their mutual welfare, which became to all a common source of prosperity. Internal order became, too, as necessary as external security. Thus, peace and the empire of the law would succeed to strife, violence, and anarchy. It seems no visionary or romantic speculation to conjecture that if all mankind confined themselves for their support to the productions supplied by the culture of the earth, war, with its attendant misery and horrors, might cease to be one of the scourges of the human race.
Nor are the effects of agriculture less favorable to private
tappiness than to public prosperity. Probably there is not one of the real wants of life which may not be supplied directly from the soil: food, clothing, light, heat, the materials of houses, and the instruments needful for their construction. By its means, not only is population increased to an indefinite extent, but the happiness of each individual is greatly augmented. It multiplies enjoyments by presenting to the organs an infinite variety of new and agreeable impressions, which are of themselves, to an unvitiated palate, abundantly sufficient for the gratifications of sense. Indeed, every taste, that is truly exquisite, is afforded by the vegetable kingdom. In a wretched state of perversion must be the digesting organs and palate of the man who has lost his relish for these pure, simple, and innocent delights. Agriculture disseminates man over the surface of the soil ; it diffuses health, prosperity, joy, society, benevolence; from it spring all the charities of life, and it makes a common family of the whole human race. If those who confine themselves to its precious gifts cannot, without other precautions, escape diseases, these are at least more mild in their form, and more slow in their progress; longevity is promoted, the final stroke is received with tranquillity, and death is disarmed of its terrors.
The primeval command of the Deity to our first parents was, “Subdue the earth.” The labors of agriculture fulfill this first command, and men, in their providing for their own necessities, pay the homage of obedience to the divine will. The reflecting mind, upon contemplating the strict connection between the exercise of this art, and the well-being of human society, can hardly abstain from the inquiry, whether man can perform any act of religion more grateful to the Author of his existence.
We find, by looking on things as they really are, that in almost all societies of men, which have attained any tolerable degree of civilization, in a certain degree the arts of all the different stages of society continue to be practiced. Men hunt and fish, and live partly upon the produce, be it of their pleasure or their toil. They keep domestic animals, and they till the earth. Thus, in fact, the manners of savage, of pastoral, and agricultural life are blended together. And in the progress of the arts it has so happened that the things which, in a rude state of society, were the most plentiful, become the most scanty; and, inversely, things which could hardly be procured
in the first stages of society became gradually highly abun· dant, and of little relative value.
Thus, in the rude beginnings of human society, the flesh of
animals or fish is obtained with infinitely greater ease than tho grance of the earth. Sarages, and even early colonists, kill inimas ir iei fors or their hides, their flesh being often left z perse s 20 radne; and eren in advanced stages of civili
I sin of meat was either less or equal to that of reni Bas proportioa becomes gradually reversed.
3T Da Testiable productions become so abundant Nie bezoet win the reach of the mass of mankind, and che E SET of the other substances which are used as i dead, acconting to all the present experience of manEm im See oniries, regetable food increases with the demm. a beraase of population, so that this increase
But a cos tai the effect of increased population. All zoranasies er from an orer-abundance of people, apen in Errepena countries at least, to be visionary. Death SIIS TART MET, even in the poorest class of the people, *** Und normaT Seasons by a vant of food. Excess, me ze stase & the guts of Providence, is productive of much
NT EN It is not the parsimony of Nature which is the profie sme od rice and misery, but the wastefulness and prodi
et men, and the abuses resulting from an excessive me t in the distribution of wealth—a distribution which is
S S a zisartane to those who are raised above the due here those wbo are sunk below it. To use the energetie language of our sabime and virtuous poet, Milton
Iferery just man, that now pines with want,
Crams and blasphemes his Feeder." But to return to our argument. This relative dearness of animal food, compared to that of the most common vegetables, making its use a species of privilege confined to persons in easy circumstances the silly vanity of distinguishing themselves from the hand-working classes has conspired with the gratifications of the palate to make animal food to be esteemed by sueh persons one of the real necessaries of life. It is so habitual to them, that the greater part of such persons think it impossible
to live without it, and any proposal of the kind appears in their eyes either a monstrous barbarity or a ridiculous absurdity. They are tormented with imaginary terrors, and they conceive it to be an experiment full of danger; though in every period of history it has been known that vegetables alone are sufficient for the support of life, and though the bulk of mankind live upon them at this hour. So perverted are the judgments of men; since, really (I speak it not in the spirit of ridicule or of asperity, but as a deduction from the most simple survey of the progress of human manners) the adherence to the use of animal food is no more than a persistence in the gross customs of savage life, and evinces an insensibility to the progress of reason, and the operation of intellectual improverent. This habit must be considered to be one of the numerous relics of that ancient barbarism which has overspread the face of the globe, and which still taints the manners of civilized nations.
Where reason has interfered, and has exercised any influence on the manners of men, its voice has always been raised in favor of simple diet. Some ancient legislators are said to have confined the diet of the people to the fruits of the earth ; a report which is very credible by what we know of the institutions of Hindostan, and the remote antiquity to which they reach.
Many sects both in ancient and modern times have inculcated on their adherents the same abstinence as a duty of religion. The Romans, in the purer days of the republic, favored the same maxims: their Fannian and Licinian laws limited the allowance of animal food, while that of vegetable matter was unrestricted. But laws are forced to bend to the existing habits and prejudices of the people for whom they are made. A good man will reverence the laws of his country. But there is a law more sacred, to which he will make his own actions conform : the voice of the inward monitor, which informs him that he should act in all things of moment according to the dictates of right reason.
Can a practice be conformable to reason which stifles the best feelings of the human heart? By long habit and familiarity with scenes of blood, we have come to view them without emotion. But look at a young child who is told that the chicken which it has fed and played with is to be killed. Are not the tears it sheds, and the agonies it endures, the voice of nature itself crying within us and pleading the cause of humanity ? We cannot hear even a fly assailed by a spider without compassion—without wishing to relieve its distress, and to re