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situations upon the earth, which do not belong to them, nor were ever intended for their habitation. The folly and wickedness of mankind, and necessities proceeding from these causes, have driven multitudes of the species to seek a refuge amongst burning sands, whilst countries, blessed with hospitable skies, and with the most fertile soils, remain almost without a human tenant. We invade the territories of wild beasts and venomous reptiles, and then complain that we are infested by their bites and stings. Some accounts of Africa place this observation in a strong point of view. "The deserts," says Adanson, " are entirely barren, except where they are found to produce serpents: and in such quantities, that some extensive plains are almost entirely covered with them." These are the natures appropriated to the situation. Let them enjoy their existence; let them have their country. Surface enough will be left to man, though his numbers were increased a hundred-fold, and left to him, where he might live, exempt from these annoyances.
The Second Case, viz. that of animals devouring one another, furnishes a consideration of much larger extent. To judge whether, as a general provision, this can be deemed an evil, even so far as we understand its consequences, which, probably, is a partial understanding, the following reflections are fit to be attended to.
I. Immortality upon this earth is out of the question. Without death there could be no generation, no sexes, no parental relation, i. e. as things are constituted, no animal happiness. The particular duration of life, assigned to different animals, can form no part of the objection; because, whatever that duration be, whilst it remains finite and limited, it may always be asked, why it is no longer. The natural age of different animals varies, from a single day
to a century of years. No account can
^bexgiven of this; nor could any be given, whatever other proportion of life had obtained amongst them.
The term then of life in different animals being the same as it is, the question is, what mode of taking it away is the best even for the animal itself.
Now, according to the established order of nature (which we must suppose to prevail, or we cannot reason at all upon the subject,) the three methods by which life is usually put an end to, are acute diseases, decay, and violence. The simple and natural life cf brutes, is not often visited by
acute distempers; nor could it be deemed an improvement of their lot, if they were. Let it be considered, therefore, in what a condition of suffering and misery a brute animal is placed, which is left to perish by decay. In human sickness or infirmity, there is the assistance of man's rational fellow-creatures, if not to alleviate his pains, at least to minister to his necessities, and to supply the place of his own activity. A brute, in his wild and natural state, does every thing for himself. When his strength, therefore, or his speed, or his limbs, or his senses fail him, he is delivered over, either to absolute famine, or to the protracted wretchedness of a life slowly wasted by the scarcity of food. Is it then to see the world filled with drooping, superannuated, half starved, helpless, and unhelped animals, that you would alter the present system of pursuit and prey 1
2. Which system is also to them the spring of motion and activity on both sides. The pursuit of its prey, forms the employment, and appears to constitute the pleasure, of a considerable part of the animal creation. The using of the means of defence, or flight, or precaution, forms also the business of another part. And even of this latter tribe, we have no reason to suppose, that their happiness is much molested by their fears. Their danger exists continually; and in some cases they stem to be so far sensible of it as to provide, in the best manner they can, against it; but it is only when the attack is actually made upon them, that they appear to suffer from it.' To contemplate the insecurity of their condition with anxiety and dread, requires a degree of reflection, which (happily for themselves) they do not possess. A hare, notwithstanding the number of its dangers and its enemies, is as playful an animal as any other.
3. But, to do justice to the question, the system of animal destruction ought always to be considered in strict connection with another property of animal nature, viz. superfecundity. They are countervailing qualities. One subsists by the correction of the other. In treating, therefore, of the subject under this view (which is, I believe, the true one,) our business will be, first, to point out the advantages which are gained by the powers in nature of a superabundant multiplication; and, then to show, that these advantages are so many reasons for appointing that system of national hostilities, which we are endeavouring to account for.
In almost all cases, nature produces her supplies with profusion. A single cod-fish spawns, in one season, a greater number of eggs, than all the inhabitants of England amount to. A thousand other instances of prolific generation might be stated, which) though not equal to this, would carry on the increase of the species with a rapidity which outruns calculation, and to an immeasurable extent. The advantages of such a constitution are two: first, that it tends to keep the world always full; whilst, secondly, it allows the proportion between the several species of animals to be differently modified, as different purposes require, or as different situations may afford for them room and food. Where this vast fecundity meets with a vacancy fitted to receive the species, there it operates with its whole effect; there it pours in its numbers, and replenishes the waste. We complain of what we call the exorbitant multiplication of some troublesome insects; not reflecting, that large portions of nature might be left void without it. If the accounts of travellers may be depended upon, immense tracts of forest in North America would be nearly lost to sensitive existence, if it were not for gnats. "In the thinly inhabited regions of America, in which the waters stagnate and the climate is warm, the whole air is filled with crowds of these insects." Thus it is, that where we looked for solitude and death-like silence, we meet with animation, activity, enjoyment; with a busy, a happy, and a peopled world. Again; hosts of mice are reckoned amongst the plagues of the north-east part of Europe; whereas vast plains in Siberia, as we learn from good authority, would be lifeless without them. The Caspian deserts are converted by their presence into crowded warrens. Between the Volga and the Yaik, and in the country of Hyrcania, the ground, says Pallas, is in many places covered with little hills, raised by the earth cast out in forming the burrows. Do we so envy these blissful abodes, as to pronounce the fecundity by which they are supplied with inhabitants, to be an evil; a subject of complaint, and not of praise? Farther; by virtue of this same superfecundity, what we term destruction, becomes almost instantly the parent of life. What we call blights, are, oftentimes, legions of animated beings, claiming their portion in the bounty of nature. What corrupts the produce of the earth to us, prepares it for them. And it is by means of their rapid multiplication, that they take possession of
their pasture; a slow propagation would not meet the opportunity.
But in conjunction with the occasional use of this fruitfulness, we observe, also, that it allows the proportion between the several species of animals to be differently modified, as different purposes of utility may require. When the forests of America come to be cleared, and the swamps drained, our gnats will give place to other inhabitants. If the population of Europe should spread to the north and the east, the mice will retire before the husbandman and the shepherd, and yield their station to herds and flocks. In what concernsthe human species, it may be a part of the scheme of Providence, that the earth should be inhabited by a shifting, or perhaps a circulating population. In this economy, it is possible that there may be the following advantages: When old countries are become exceedingly corrupt, simpler modes of life, purer morals, and better institutions, may rise up in new ones, whilst fresh soils reward the cultivator with more plentiful returns. Thus the different portions of the globe come into use in succession as the residence of man; and, in his absence, entertain other guests, which, by their sudden multiplication, fill the chasm. In domesticated animals, we find the effect of their fecundity to be, that we can always command numbers: we can always have as many of any particular species as we please, or as we can support. Nor do we complain of its excess; it being much more easy to regulate abundance, than to supply scarcity.
But then this superfecunility, though of great occasional use and importance, exceeds the ordinary capacity of nature to receive or support its progeny. All superabundance supposes destruction, or must destroy itself. Perhaps there is no species of terrestrial animals whatever, which would not overrun the earth, if it were permitted to multiply in perfect safety; or of fish, which would not fill the ocean: at least, if any single species were left to their natural increase without disturbance or restraint, the food of other species would be exhausted by their maintenance. It is necessary, therefore, that the effects of such prolific faculties be curtailed. In conjunction with other checks and limits, all subservient to the same purpose, are the thinnings which take place among animals, by their action upon one another. In some instances we ourselves experience, very directly, the use of these hostilities. One species of insects rids us of another species; or reduces their ranks. A third species, pernaps, keeps the second within bounds: and birds or lizards are a fence against the inordinate increase by which even these last might infest us. In other, more numerous, and possibly more important, instances, this disposition of things, although less necessary or useful to us, and of course less observed by us, may be necessary and useful to certain other species: or even for the preventing of the loss of certain species from the universe: a misfortune which seems to be studiously guarded against. Though there may be the appearance of failure in some of the details of Nature's works, in her great purposes there never are. Her species never fail. The provision which was originally made for continuing the replenishment of the world, has proved itself to be effectual through a long succession of ages.
What farther shows, that the system of destruction amongst animals holds an express relation to the system of fecundity; that they are parts indeed of one compensatory scheme; is, that, in each species, the fecundity bears a proportion to the smallness of the animal, to the weakness, to the shortness of its natural term of life, and to the dangers and enemies by which it is surrounded. An elephant produces but one calf; a butterfly lays six hundred eggs. Birds of prey seldom produce more than two eggs : the sparrow tribe, and the duck tribe, frequently sit upon a dozen. In the rivers, we meet with a thousand minnows for one pike; in the sea, a million of herrings for a single shark. Compensation obtains throughout. Defencelessness and devastation are repaired by fecundity.
We have dwelt the longer on these considerations, because the subject to which they apply, namely, that of animals devouring one another, forms the chief, if not the only instance, in the works of the Deity, of an economy, stamped by marks of design, in which the character of utility can be called in question. The case of venemous animals is of much inferior consequence to the case of prey, and, in some degree, is also included under it. To both cases it is probable that many more reasons belong, than those of which we are in possession.
Our First Proposition, and that which we have hitherto been defending, was, "that, in a vast plurality of instances, in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial."
Our Second Proposition is, "that the Deity has added pleasure to animal seusa
tions, beyond what was necessary for any other purpose, or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary, might have been effected by the operation of pain."
This proposition may be thus explained; The capacities, which, according to the established course of nature, are necessary to the support or preservation of an animal, howevever manifestly they may be the result of an organization contrived for the purpose, can only be deemed an act or a part of the same will, as that which decreed the existence of the animal itself; because, whether the creation proceeded from a benevolent or a malevolent being, these capacities must have been given, if the animal existed at all. Animal properties, therefore, which fall under this description, do not strictly prove the goodness of God: they may prove the existence of the Deity; they may prove a high degree of power and intelligence: but they do not prove his goodness; forasmuch as they must have been found in any creation which was capable of continuance, although it is possible to suppose, that such a creation might have been produced by a being whose views rested upon misery.
But there is a class of properties, which may be said to be superadded from an intention expressly directed to happiness; an intention to give a happy existence distinct from the general intention of providing the means of existence ; and that is, of capacities for pleasure, in cases wherein, so far as the conservation of the individual or of the species is concerned, they were not wanted, or wherein the purpose might have been secured by the operation of pain. The provision which is made of a variety of objects, not necessary to life, and ministering only to our pleasures; and the properties given to the necessaries of life themselves, by which they contribute to pleasure as well as preservation; show a farther design, than that of giving existence.*
A single instance will make all this clear. Assuming the necessity of food for the support of animal life ; it is requisite, that the animal be provided with organs, fitted for the procuring, receiving, and digesting of its food. It may also be necessary, that the animal be impelled by its sensations to exert its organs. But the pain of hunger
* See this topic considered in Dr. Balguy's Treatise upon the Divine Benevolence. This excellent author first, I think, proposed it; and nearly in the terms in which it is here stated. Some othor observations also under this head arc taken from that treatise.
would do all this. Why add pleasure to the act of eating; sweetness and relish to food 1 why a new and appropriate sense for the perception of the pleasure? Why should the juice of a peach, applied to the palate, affect the part so differently from what it does when rubbed upon the palm of the liand? This is a constitution which, so far as appears to me, can be resolved into nothing but the pure benevolence of the Creator. Eating is necessary; but the pleasure attending it is not necessary: and that this pleasure depends, not only upon our being in possession of the sense of taste, which is different from every other, but upon a particular state of the organ in which it resides, a felicitous adaptation of the organ to the object, will be confessed by any one, who may happen to have experienced that vitiation of taste which frequently occurs in fevers, when every taste is irregular, and every one bad.
In mentioning the gratifications of the palate, it may be said that we have made choice of a trifling example. I am not of that opinion. They afford a share of enjoyment to man; but to brutes, I believe that they are of very great importance. A horse at liberty passes a great part of his waking hours in eating. To the ox, the sheep, the deer, and other ruminating animals, the pleasure is doubled. Their whole time almost is divided between browsing upon their pasture and chewing their cud. Whatever the pleasure be, it is spread over a large portion of their existence. If there be animals, such as the lupous fish, which swallow their prey whole, and at once, without any time, as it should seem, for either drawing out, or relishing, the taste in the mouth, is it an improbable conjecture, that the seat of taste with them is in the stomach; or, at least, that a sense of pleasure, whether it be taste or not, accompanies the dissolution of the food in that receptacle, which dissolution in general is earned on very slowly? If this opinion be right, they are more than repaid for the defect of palate. 1 he feast lasts as long as the digestion.
In seeking for argument, we need not stay to insist upon the comparative importance of our example; for the observation holds equally of all, or of three at least, of the other senses. The necessary purposes of hearing might have been answered without harmony; of smell, without fragrance; of vision, without beauty. Now, "if the Deity dad been indifferent about our happiness or misery, we must impute to our good
fortune (as all design by this supposition is excluded), both the capacity of our senses to receive pleasure, and the supply of external objects fitted to excite it." I allege these as two felicities, for they are different things, yet both necessary: the sense being formed, the objects, which were applied to it, might not have suited it; the objects Deing fixed, the sense might not have agreed with them. A coincidence is here required, which no accident can account for. There are three possible suppositions upon the subject, and no more. The first; that the sense, by its original constitution, was made to suit the object: The second; that the object, by its original constitution, was made to suit the sense: The third; that the sense is so constituted, as to be able, either univeisally, or within certain limits, by habit and familiarity, to render every object pleasant. Whichever of these suppositions we adopt, the effect evinces, on the part of the Author of nature, a studious benevolence. If the pleasures which we derive from any of our senses, depend upon an original congruity between the sense and the properties perceived by it, we know by experience, that the adjustment demanded, with respect to the qualities which were conferred upon the objects that surround us, not only choice and selection, out of a boundless variety of possible qualities with which these objects might have been endued, but a. proportioning also of degree, because an excess or defect of intensity spoils the perception, as much almost as an error in the kind and nature of the quality. Likewise the degree of dulness or acuteness in the sense itself, is no arbitrary thing, but, in order to preserve the congruity here spoken of, requires to be in an exact or near correspondency with the strength of the impression. The dulness of the senses forms the complaint of old age. Persons in fevers, and, I believe, in most maniacal cases, experience great torment from their preternatural acuteness. An increased, no less than an impaired sensibility, induces a state of disease and suffering.
The doctrine of a specific congruity between animal senses and their objects, is strongly favoured by what is observed of insects in the election of their food. Some of these will feed upon one kind of plant or animal, and upon no other: some caterpillars upon the cabbage alone; some upon the black currant alone. The species of caterpillar which eats the vine, will starve upon the elder; nor will that which we find upon fennel, touch the rose-bush. Some insects confine themselves to two or three kinds of plants or animals. Some again show so strong a preference, as to afford reason to believe, that, though they may be driven by hunger to others, they are led by the pleasure of taste to a few particular plants alone: and all this, as it should seem, independently of habit or imitation.
But should we accept the third hypothesis, and even carry it so far, as to ascribe every thing which concerns the question to habit (as in certain species, the human species most particularly, there is reason to attribute something), we have then before us an animal capacity, not less perhaps to be admired than the native congruities which the other scheme adopts. It cannot be shown to result from any fixed necessity in nature, that what is frequently applied to the senses should of course become agreeable to them. It is, so far as it subsists, a power of accommodation provided in these senses by the Author of their structure, and forms a part of their perfection.
In whichever way we regard the senses, they appear to be specific gifts, ministering, not only to preservation, but to pleasure. But what we usually call the senses, are probably themselves far from being the only vehicles of enjoyment, or the whole of our constitution which is calculated for the same purpose. We have many internal sensations of the most agreeable kind, hardly referable to any of the five senses. Some physiologists have holden, that all secretion is pleasurable; and that the complacency which in health, without any external assignable object to excite it, we derive from life itself, is the effect of our secretions going on well within us. All this may be true: but if true, what reason can be assigned for it, except the will of the Creator? It may reasonably be asked, Why is any thing a pleasure 1 and I know no answer which can be returned to the question, but that which refers it to appointment.
We can give no account whatever of our pleasures in the simple and original perception ; and, even when physical sensations are assumed, we can seldom account for them in the secondary and complicated shapes, in which they take the name of diversions. I never yet met with a sports man. who could tell me in what the sport Consisted; who could resolve it into its principle, and state that principle. I have been a great follower of fishing myself, and in its cheerful solitude have passed some of
the happiest hours of a sufficiently happy life; but, to this moment, I could never trace out the source of the pleasure which it afforded me.
The "quantum in rebus inane!" whether applied to our amusements or to our graver pursuits (to which, in truth, it sometimes equally belongs), is always an unjust complaint. If trifles engage, and if trifles make us happy, the true reflection suggested by the experiment, is upon the tendency of nature to gratification and enjoyment; which is, in other words, the goodness of its Author towards his sensitive creation.
Rational natures also, as such, exhibit qualities which help to confirm the truth of our position. The degree of understanding found in mankind, is usually much greater than what is necessary for mere preservation. The pleasure of choosing for themselves, and of prosecuting the object of their choice, should seem to be an original source of enjoyment. The pleasures received from things, great, beautiful, or new, from imitation, or from the liberal arts, are, in some measure, not only superadded, but unmixed, gratifications, having no pains to balance them.*
I do not know whether our attachment to property be not something more than the mere dictate of reason, or even than the mere effect of association. Property communicates a charm to whatever is the object of it. It is the first of our abstract ideas: it cleaves to us the closest and the longest. It endears to the child its plaything, to the peasant his cottage, to the landholder his estate. It supplies the place of prospect and scenery. Instead of coveting the beauty of distant situations, it teaches every man to find it in his own. It gives boldness and grandeur to plains and fens, tinge and colouring to clays and fallows.
All these considerations come in aid of our second proposition. The reader will now bear in mind what our two propositions were. They were, firstly, that in a vast plurality of instances, in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial: secondly, that the Deity has added pleasure to animal sensations beyond what was necessary for any other purpose; or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary, might have been effected by the operation of pain.
Whilst these propositions can be maintained, we are authorized to ascribe to the Deity
• Balguy on the Divine Benevolence.