Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

failed to explain the moral significance of the universe, because they all, Plato and Kant equally with Paul and Augustine, begin with the virtues. And all vices are summed up in the one great root evil, the will to exist, as all virtues are but forms of the will not to exist. The method of virtue is the method of the Buddhists, and that of the Trappists. It is by self-renunciation and the mortification of all desires and powers. Master Eckart and the German Theologians are the Christian writers who came the nearest to a correct theory of the matter, because they are the nearest to Buddhism. Other Christian mystics fall short, by their disposition to emphasize the idea of a larger life in God to be attained through their asceticism. That is their delusion. Mortification for its own sake, is the true, the Buddhist theory.

“ In Schopenhauer's view, man, as being the union of intelligent with sentient being, is the only form of life which is capable of salvation, through forming and cherishing the will not to exist. But he is, at the same time and for the same reason, the basest of all sentient beings. His egotism, the necessary consequence of his intelligence, makes him a viler beast than any that walk on four legs. He more than exhausts the whole gamut of animal vice and ferocity. “O for an Asmodeus of morality, who should enable his favorites to see through, not merely roofs and walls, but through the veil of misrepresentation, falsehood, hypocrisy, grimace, lies, and deceit, which is spread over everything, and to discover how little real honesty there is in the world, and how often, even where we least expect it, dishonesty sits at the helm, behind the virtuous outworks, hidden in the inmost recess! Hence the frequency of friendships with four-legged creatures among men of the better sort; for, indeed, how should we make our escape from the endless misrepresentation, falsehood, and malice of men, if there were no dogs, into whose honest faces we might look without distrust ? Our civilized world, what is it but merely a huge masquerade? We meet there knights, parsons, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, priests, philosophers, and what not! But they are not what they pretend to be; they are mere masks, under which, as a ruler, are hidden moneymakers. . . .

". Man is at bottom a horrible wild beast. We know it only in the state of restraint and domestication, which we call civilization ; therefore we are frightened at the occasional outbreaks of its nature. · But wherever and whenever the padlocks and chains of civil order are removed, and anarchy finds an entrance, then he shows what he is. Whoever, in the meantime, cares to be enlightened without waiting for such an occasion, can derive from a hundred old and new accounts, the conviction that man is behind no tiger or hyena in cruelty and implacability.

“ There nestles, first of all, in each of us a colossal egotism, which overleaps with greatest ease the bounds of right. . ... With this boundless egotism of our nature there is also associated, and in every man more or less present, a store of hatred, wrath, envy, rancor, and wickedness, gathered like the poison in the snake's fang, and only waiting its opportunity to find a vent, and to run wild and rage like an unfettered demon. ....

Gobineau, in Des Races Humaines, calls man l'animal méchant par excellence, which gives offence because it hits home. But he is right, for man is the only animal which inflicts pain upon others for its own sake, and without any further purpose. The other animals never do it, save to satisfy their hunger, or in the rage of conAict. . ... No beast ever inflicts torture for torture's sake; but man does so, and it is this which constitutes the devilish in character, which is far worse than the merely bestial. . .:. Therefore it is that all the animals have an instinctive fear of the sight, or even the trace of man, the animal méchant par excellence, for man alone makes chase after wild things which are neither useful to him when caught nor hurtful when at large.

“There actually lies, then, in the heart of each of us an untamed beast, which only waits its opportunity to run wild and mad, whilst it would inflict pain upon others, and, if they blocked its way,destroy them. It is just this that is the source of all delight in conflict and in war. It is this, too, which Intelligence, having been assigned to it as its keeper, has plenty to do to put it under bonds, and hold it in some degree of restraint. People may call it, if they please, the Radical Evil, which serves the purpose of those for whom a name is as good as an explanation. But I say it is the Will to Live, which, more and niore embittered by the ceaseless misery of existence, seeks to alleviate its own torment by tormenting others. But in this line of development it attains by degrees to an especial wickedness and cruelty. And we may add that as, according to Kant, matter exists through the antagonism of the forces of expan

sion and contraction, so human society exists only through hate or wrath and fear. For the hatred implanted in our nature would probably make each of us a murderer some day, had we not received a suitable dose of fear to keep in bounds; and this fear again would make it the jest and sport of every rogue, were it not for the rage which lies in wait in it and keeps guard. ...'.

"Elsewhere he depicts the happier and more virtuous lot of his four footed friends.

"The animals are much more satisfied than we with mere existence. . . . . Consequently, their lives embrace less suffering, but also fewer enjoyments than ours, and that especially, because, on the one hand, it is free from care and anxiety, with their torments; and on the other, from hope in the proper sense of that word. ... The animal is the incarnation of the present' .... while the human horizon embraces the whole of human life, and even extends beyond it. But for this very reason the animals, when compared with us, appear in one regard really sensible, that is to say, in their peaceful untroubled enjoyment of the present. The apparent quiet of mind, of which they are partakers, often shames our own estate, since this is one of unrest and discontentment through thought and care. ....

“This peculiar capacity of giving themselves up to the present, contributes much to the enjoyment we find in our domestic animals. They are the personified present, and they enable us to appreciate the value of every unburdened and untroubled hour. . ... But this very property of the animals, to derive a greater satisfaction than we from mere existence, is often abused by selfish and heartless man, and often taken advantage of, since he grants them nothing, simply nothing, beyond a mere bare existence. The bird, whose organization fits it to roam over half the world, he shuts within a cubic foot of room, where it yearns and cries for death ; for l'uccello nella gabbia canta non di piacere, ma di rabbia. And his most faithful friend, the intelligent dog, he lays in chains! Never do I see one so treated without the keenest sympathy for him, and profound indignation against his master; and I think, with satisfaction, on the occurrence reported in The Times some years ago,—that a Lord, who kept a large dog thus chained, once, when passing his kennel in walking through the courtyard, tried to fondle the animal, whereupon the dog tore open his arm from shoulder to wrist. And justly; he meant to say, “ You are not my master, but my devil, since you convert my brief existence into a hell.” May every one who chains up dogs share the same fate!

“What a peculiar pleasure is furnished us by the sight of a free animal, when it exists without hindrance for itself alone, seeks its food, or cares for its young, or seeks the society of its fellows, and the like, being always just what it ought to be and can be. And, were it only a bird, I find it possible to gaze upon it with prolonged pleasure; yes, or a water-rat, or a frog, but, by preference a hedgehog, a weasel, a roe or a stag! That the sight of the animals gives us such delight, is chiefly due to the fact that it places before us our own nature so greatly simplified.

“There is in the world only one lying being ; it is man. Every other is truthful and honest, as it gives itself out without concealment as being just what it is, and expresses itself as it feels. An emblematic or allegorical expression of this fundamental difference is that all animals go about in their natural forms, which contributes so much to the pleasing impression we have at the sight of them, which, with me, makes my heart leap, especially when they are free animals,—while man is converted by his clothing into a caricature, a fright, whose very sight is repulsive,-an impression rendered all the deeper by his unnatural white complexion, and by the mischievous consequences of his consumption of flesh, spirituous liquors and tobacco,-excesses and disease. There he stands, a blot upon nature. The Greeks minimized their clothing, because they felt this.

" But enough of this humane and modern philosopher, from whose Parerga und Paralipomena I might quote to the utter exhaustion of your patience, similar tidbits of backhanded compliment to human kind,-similar eulogies of the bestial orders of life as our moral superiors. What I have alleged is enough for my purpose,-enough to illustrate the intimate philosophical connection existing between such ther iolatry as Schopenhauer's and the misanthropy of all haters and despisers of the human race. Into the vacuum of a heart emptied of all love and respect for man, there crowd these baser affections and admirations for the weasel and the hedghog, and especially for that four-footed viper, the dog!

"If I am right in ascribing this significance to Schopenhauer's speculation, then we shall find that wherever the misanthropic tendency makes its appearance in history, the theriolatric tendency appears with it. To pursue the evidences of this though the field of human history, would be too severe a draft upon your patience. Permit me, however, to call your attention to the simultaneous appearance of the two just at the time when Buddhist monasticism became naturalized in the Christian Church. The monasticism of those early ages at least, was both in principle and in effect misanthropic. As its motto, might be taken that saying which Schopenhauer loved to quote from A Kempis: Quoties inter homines fui, minus homo redii. The devotees of that first age fled from human society because the fellowship of mankind was inconsistent with the safety of their souls. What the monastic fury, which threatened the desolation of whole provinces, meant in cruelty and inhumanity to the kindred of those who were seized by it, its historians are not careful to tell us. Jerome alone has the candor to depict the Syrian youth, tearing himself by main force from his gray-haired father's restraining arms, leaping over the body of his aged mother, where she had laid herself across the doorway to prevent his exit, and flying to the desert from those to whom he had been given as the one support of their frail and declining years. Such was monasticism on its manward side ; such it has been in all lands and all ages in the cruel rending of human ties, and the repression of human affection. The students of life in Burmah describe it as inflicting just the same suffering upon its victims and their kindred, as in every Western land where it has taken root.

"And, as usual, the man who has fled from friends and kindred, seems to find friends and kindred among the beasts of the field. So marked are the traces of this unnatural alliance, that nearly every student of the subject has been struck by them. The Count de Montalembert, in his Moines de l'Occident, tells us that the early accounts of these Fathers of the Desert, • Show us the most fero. cious animals at the feet of such men as Antony, Pachomius, Macarius and Hilarion and those who copied them. At every page we see wild asses, crocodiles, hippopotami, hyaenas, and, above all, lions, transformed into respectful companions and docile servants of these models of society.' Doubtless they had learned, with Schopenhauer, to look into the honest faces of their fourfooted friends, to find there a moral. worth, which they had in vain sought in man, l'animal mechant par excellence !

« VorigeDoorgaan »