like Cornelius a Lapide, offer the poor animal amende
honorable. Speculating upon the part assigned by nature
to the brute creation in the great drama of life, he says:
"The aim of all creatures is the service of man. Hence,
together with him (their master) they are waiting for their renovation"--cum
homine renovationem suam expectant.4 "Serving" man, surely cannot mean being tortured,
killed, uselessly shot and otherwise misused; while
it is almost needless to explain the word "renovation."
Christians understand by it the renovation of bodies after the
second coming of Christ; and limit it to man, to
the exclusion of animals. The students of the Secret Doctrine
explain it by the successive renovation and perfection of forms
on the scale of objective and subjective being, and in
a long series of evolutionary transformations from animal to man, and upward. . . .
This will, of course, be again rejected by Christians
with indignation. We shall be told that it is not thus
that the Bible was explained to them, nor can it ever mean
that. It is useless to insist upon it. Many and
sad in their results were the erroneous interpretations of that
which people are pleased to call the "Word of God."
The sentence "cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants
shall he be unto his brethren" (Gen. IX,
25),--generated centuries of misery and undeserved woe
for the wretched slaves--the negroes. It is the clergy
of the United States who were their bitterest enemies in the anti-slavery
question, which question they opposed Bible in hand. Yet slavery is proved to have been the cause of the natural
decay of every country; and even proud Rome fell because
"the majority in the ancient world were slaves,"
as Geyer justly remarks. But so terribly imbued at all
times were the best, the most intellectual Christians with
those many erroneous interpretations of the Bible, that
even one of their grandest poets, while defending the right
of man to freedom, allots no such portion to the poor animal.
God gave us
only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over man
He made not lord; such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free
But, like murder, error "will out,"
and incongruity must unavoidably occur whenever erroneous conclusions
are supported either against or in favour of a prejudged question.
The opponents of Eastern philozoism thus offer their critics
a formidable weapon to upset their ablest arguments by such incongruity
between premises and conclusions, facts postulated and
It is the purpose of the present Essay to throw a ray of light
upon this most serious and interesting subject. Roman Catholic
writers in order to support the genuineness of the many miraculous
resurrections of animals produced by their saints, have
made them the subject of endless debates. The "soul
in animals" is, in the opinion of Bossuet,
"the most difficult as the most important of all philosophical
Confronted with the doctrine of the Church that animals,
though not soulless, have no permanent or immortal
soul in them, and that the principle which animates them
dies with the body, it becomes interesting to learn how
the school-men and the Church divines reconcile this statement
with that other claim that animals may be and have been frequently
and miraculously resurrected
Though but a feeble attempt--one more elaborate would require
volumes--the present Essay, by showing the inconsistency
of the scholastic and theological interpretations of the Bible,
aims at convincing people of the great criminality of taking--especially
in sport and vivisection--animal life. Its object,
at any rate, is to show that however absurd the notion
that either man or brute can be resurrected after the life-principle
has fled from the body forever, such resurrections--if
they were true--would not be more impossible in the case of a
dumb brute than in that of a man; for either both are endowed
by nature with what is so loosely called by us "soul,"
or neither the one nor the other is so endowed.
What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos, what a subject
of contradiction! a professed judge of all things, and
yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depository and guardian
of truth, and yet ad mere huddle of uncertainty!
the glory and the scandal of the universe!
We shall now proceed to see what are the views
of the Christian Church as to the nature of the soul in the brute,
to examine how she reconciles the discrepancy between the resurrection
of a dead animal and the assumption that its soul dies with it,
and to notice some miracles in connection with animals.
Before the final and decisive blow is dealt to that selfish doctrine,
which has become so pregnant with cruel and merciless practices
toward the poor animal world, the reader must be made acquainted
with the early hesitations of the Fathers of the Patristic age
themselves, as to the right interpretation of the words
spoken with reference to that question by St. Paul.
It is amusing to note how the Karma of two of the most indefatigable
defenders of the Latin Church--Messrs. Des. Mousseaux
and De Mirville, in whose works the record of the few miracles
here noted are found--led both of them to furnish the weapons
now used against their own sincere but very erroneous views.5
The great battle of the Future having to be fought out between
the "Creationists" or the Christians, as all
the believers in a special creation and a personal god,
and the Evolutionists or the Hindus, Buddhists,
all the Free-thinkers and last, though not least,
most of the men of science, a recapitulation of their respective
positions is advisable.
1. The Christian world postulates its right over animal
life: (a) on the afore-quoted Biblical texts and
the later scholastic interpretations; (b) on the
assumed absence of anything like divine or human soul in animals.
Man survives death, the brute does not.
2. The Eastern Evolutionists, basing their deductions
upon their great philosophical systems, maintain it is
a sin against nature's work and progress to kill any living being--for
reasons given in the preceding pages.
3. The Western Evolutionists, armed with the latest
discoveries of science, heed neither Christians nor Heathens.
Some scientific men believe in Evolution, others do not.
They agree, nevertheless, upon one point:
namely, that physical, exact research offers no
grounds for the presumption that man is endowed with an immortal,
divine soul, any more than his dog.
Thus, while the Asiatic Evolutionists behave toward animals
consistently with their scientific and religious views,
neither the church nor the materialistic school of science is
logical in the practical applications of their respective theories.
The former, teaching that every living thing is created
singly and specially by God, as any human babe may be,
and that it finds itself from birth to death under the watchful
care of a wise and kind Providence, allows the inferior
creation at the same time only a temporary soul. The latter,
regarding both man and animal as the soulless production of some
hitherto undiscovered forces in nature, yet practically
creates an abyss between the two. A man of science,
the most determined materialist, one who proceeds to vivisect
a living animal with the utmost coolness, would yet shudder
at the thought of laming--not to speak of torturing to death--his
fellow man. Nor does one find among those great materialists
who were religiously inclined men any who have shown themselves
consistent and logical in defining the true moral status of the
animal on this earth and the rights of man over it.
Some instances must now be brought to prove the charges stated.
Appealing to serious and cultured minds it must be postulated
that the views of the various authorities here cited are not unfamiliar
to the reader. It will suffice therefore simply to give
short epitomes of some of the conclusions they have arrived at--beginning
with the Churchmen.
As already stated, the Church exacts belief in the
miracles performed by her great Saints. Among the various
prodigies accomplished we shall choose for the present only those
that bear directly upon our subject--namely, the miraculous
resurrections of dead animals. Now one who credits man
with an immortal soul independent of the body it animates can
easily believe that by some divine miracle the soul can be recalled
and forced back into the tabernacle it deserts apparently for
ever. But how can one accept the same possibility in the
case of an animal, since his faith teaches him that the
animal has no independent soul, since it is annihilated
with the body? For over two hundred years, ever since Thomas
of Aquinas, the Church has authoritatively taught that
the soul of the brute dies with its organism. What then
is recalled back into the clay to reanimate it? It is at this
juncture that scholasticism steps in, and--taking the difficulty
in hand--reconciles the irreconcilable.
It premises by saying that the miracles of the Resurrection of
animals are numberless and as well authenticated as "the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ."6 The Bollandists give instances without number. As Father
Burigny, a hagiographer of the 17th century, pleasantly
remarks concerning the bustards resuscitated by St.
Remi--"I may be told, no doubt, that I am a goose myself to give credence to such 'blue bird' tales.
I shall answer the joker, in such a case, by saying
that, if he disputes this point, then must he also
strike out from the life of St. Isidore of Spain the statement
that he resuscitated from death his master's horse; from
the biography of St. Nicolas of Tolentino--that he brought
back to life a partridge, instead of eating it;
from that of St. Francis--that he recovered from the blazing
coals of an oven, where it was baking, the body
of a lamb, which he forthwith resurrected; and that
he also made boiled fishes, which he resuscitated, swim in their sauce; etc., etc. Above
all he, the sceptic, will have to charge more than
100,000 eye-witnesses--among whom at least a few ought
to be allowed some common sense--with being either liars or dupes."
A far higher authority than Father Burigny, namely,
Pope Benedict (Benoit) XIV, corroborates and affirms the
above evidence. The names, moreover, as eye-witnesses
to the resurrections, of Saint Sylvestrus, Francois de Paule, Severin of Cracow and a host of others are all
mentioned in the Bollandists. "Only he adds"--says
Cardinal de Ventura who quotes him--"that, as resurrection,
however, to deserve the name requires the identical and numerical reproduction of the form,7 as much as of the material of the dead creature;
and as that form (or soul) of the brute is always annihilated with its body according to St. Thomas' doctrine,
God, in every such case finds himself obliged to create
for the purpose of the miracle a new form for the resurrected
animal; from which it follows that the resurrected brute
was not altogether identical with what it had been
before its death (non idem omnino esse.)"8
Now this looks terribly like one of the mayas of magic.
However, although the difficulty is not absolutely explained,
the following is made clear: the principle, that
animated the animal during its life,. and which is termed
soul, being dead or dissipated after the death of the body,
another soul--"a kind of an informal soul"--as
the Pope and the Cardinal tell us--is created for the purpose
of miracle by God; a soul, moreover, which
is distinct from that of man, which is "an independent,
ethereal and ever lasting entity."
Besides the natural objection to such a proceeding being called
a "miracle" produced by the saint, for it is
simply God behind his back who "creates" for the purpose
of his glorification an entirely new soul as well as a new body,
the whole of the Thomasian doctrine is open to objection.
For, as Descartes very reasonably remarks: "if
the soul of the animal is so distinct (in its immateriality) from
its body, we believe it hardly possible to avoid recognizing
it as a spiritual principle, hence--an intelligent one."
The reader need hardly be reminded that Descartes held the living
animal as being simply an automaton, a "well wound
up clock-work," according to Malebranche. One,
therefore, who adopts the Cartesian theory about the animal
would do as well to accept at once the views of the modern materialists.
For, since that automaton is capable of feelings,
such as love, gratitude, etc., and is endowed
as undeniably with memory, all such attributes must be
as materialism teaches us "properties of matter."
But if the animal is an "automaton," why not
Man? Exact science-- anatomy, physiology, etc.,--finds
not the smallest difference between the bodies of the two;
and who knows justly enquires Solomon--whether the spirit of man
"goeth upward" any more than that of the beast? Thus
we find metaphysical Descartes as inconsistent as any one.
But what does St. Thomas say to this? Allowing a soul (anima)
to the brute, and declaring it immaterial, he
refuses it at the same time the qualification of spiritual. Because, he says: "it would in such case
imply intelligence, a virtue and a special operation
reserved only for the human soul." But as at the fourth
Council of Lateran it had been decided that "God had created
two distinct substances, the corporeal (mundanam) and
the spiritual (spiritualem), and that something incorporeal must be of necessity spiritual St. Thomas had
to resort to a kind of compromise, which can avoid being
called a subterfuge only when performed by a saint. He says:
"This soul of the brute is neither spirit, nor body;
it is of a middle nature."9 This is a very
unfortunate statement. For elsewhere, St.
Thomas says that "all the souls--even those of plants--have
the substantial form of their bodies," and if this
is true of plants, why not of animals? It is certainly
neither "spirit" nor pure matter, but of that
essence which St. Thomas calls "a middle nature."
But why, once on the right path, deny it survivance--let
alone immortality? The contradiction is so flagrant that De Mirville
in despair exclaims, "Here we are, in the presence
of three substances, instead of the two, as decreed
by the Lateran Council!", and proceeds forthwith to
contradict, as much as he dares, the "Angelic
The great Bossuet in his Traité de la Connaissance de
Dieu et de soi même analyses and compares the system
of Descartes with that of St. Thomas. No one can
find fault with him for giving the preference in the matter of
logic to Descartes. He finds the Cartesian "invention"--that
of the automaton,--as "getting better out of the difficulty"
than that of St. Thomas, accepted fully by the Catholic
Church; for which Father Ventura feels indignant against
Bossuet for accepting "such a miserable and puerile error."
And, though allowing the animals a soul with all its qualities
of affection and sense, true to his master St. Thomas,
he too refuses them intelligence and reasoning powers.
"Bossuet," he says, "is the more
to be blamed, since he himself has said: 'I foresee
that a great war is being prepared against the Church under the
name of Cartesian philosophy'." He is right there,
for out of the "sentient matter" of the brain of the
brute animal comes out quite naturally Locke's thinking matter, and out of the latter all the materialistic schools of our
century. But when he fails, it is through supporting
St. Thomas' doctrine, which is full of flaws and
evident contradictions. For, if the soul of the
animal is, as the Roman Church teaches, an informal,
immaterial principle, then it becomes evident that,
being independent of physical organism, it cannot "die
with the animal" any more than in the case of man.
If we admit that it subsists and survives, in what respect
does it differ from the soul of man? And that it is eternal--once
we accept St. Thomas' authority on any subject--though
he contradicts himself elsewhere. "The soul of man
is immortal, and the soul of the animal perishes,"
he says (Summa, Vol. V. p.
164),--this, after having queried in Vol.
II of the same grand work (p. 256) "are there any
beings that re-emerge into nothingness?" and answered himself:--"No,
for in the Ecclesiastes it is said: (iii. 14) Whatsoever
GOD doeth, it shall be for ever. With God there is no variableness (James I. 17)."
"Therefore," goes on St. Thomas,
"neither in the natural order of things, nor by means
of miracles, is there any creature that re-emerges into
nothingness (is annihilated); there is naught in the
creature that is annihilated, for that which shows
with the greatest radiance divine goodness is the perpetual conservation
of the creatures."l0
This sentence is commented upon and confirmed in the annotation
by the Abbé Drioux, his translator. "No,"
he remarks--"nothing is annihilated; it is a principle
that has become with modern science a kind of axiom."
And, if so, why should there be an exception made
to this invariable rule in nature, recognized both by science
and theology,--only in the case of the soul of the animal?
Even though it had no intelligence, an assumption
from which every impartial thinker will ever and very strongly
Let us see, however, turning from scholastic philosophy
to natural sciences, what are the naturalist's objections
to the animal having an intelligent and therefore an independent
soul in him.
"Whatever that be, which thinks, which understands, which acts, it is something celestial and divine;
and upon that account must necessarily be eternal,"
wrote Cicero, nearly two millenniums ago. We should
understand well, Mr. Huxley contradicting the conclusion,--St.
Thomas of Aquinas, the "king of the metaphysicians,"
firmly believed in the miracles of resurrection performed by St.
Really, when such tremendous claims as the said miracles
are put forward and enforced by the Church upon the faithful,
her theologians should take more care that their highest authorities
at least should not contradict themselves, thus showing
ignorance upon questions raised nevertheless to a doctrine.
The animal, then, is debarred from progress and
immortality, because he is an automaton. According
to Descartes, he has no intelligence, agreeably
to mediæval scholasticism; nothing but instinct, the latter signifying involuntary impulses, as affirmed
by the materialists and denied by the Church.
Both Frederic and George Cuvier have discussed amply, however,
on the intelligence and the instinct in animals.l2 Their ideas upon the subject have been collected and edited by
Flourens, the learned Secretary of the Academy of Sciences.
This is what Frederic Cuvier, for thirty years the Director
of the Zoological Department and the Museum of Natural History
at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, wrote upon
the subject. "Descartes' mistake, or rather
the general mistake, lies in that no sufficient distinction
was ever made between intelligence and instinct. Buffon
himself had fallen into such an omission, and owing to
it every thing in his Zoological philosophy was contradictory.
Recognizing in the animal a feeling superior to our own,
as well as the consciousness of its actual existence, he
denied it at the same time thought, reflection,
and memory, consequently every possibility of having thoughts."
(Buffon, Discourse on the Nature of Animals, VII, p. 57.) But, as he could
hardly stop there, he admitted that the brute had a kind
of memory, active, extensive and more faithful than
our (human) memory (Id. Ibid., p.
77). Then, after having refused it any intelligence,
he nevertheless admitted that the animal "consulted its master,
interrogated him, and understood perfectly every sign of
his will." (Id. Ibid., Vol.
X, History of the Dog, p. 2.)
A more magnificent series of contradictory statements could hardly
have been expected from a great man of science.
The illustrious Cuvier is right therefore in remarking in his
turn, that "this new mechanism of Buffon is still
less intelligible than Descartes' automaton."l3
As remarked by the critic, a line of demarcation ought
to be traced between instinct and intelligence. The construction
of beehives by the bees, the raising of dams by the beaver
in the middle of the naturalist's dry floor as much as in the
river, are all the deeds and effects of instinct forever
unmodifiable and changeless, whereas the acts of intelligence
are to be found in actions evidently thought out by the animal,
where not instinct but reason comes into play, such as
its education and training calls forth and renders susceptible
of perfection and development. Man is endowed with reason,
the infant with instinct; and the young animal shows more
of both than the child.
Indeed, every one of the disputants knows as well as we
do that it is so. If any materialist avoid confessing it,
it is through pride. Refusing a soul to both man and beast,
he is unwilling to admit that the latter is endowed with intelligence
as well as himself, even though in an infinitely lesser
degree. In their turn the churchman, the religiously
inclined naturalist, the modern metaphysician, shrink
from avowing that man and animal are both endowed with soul and
faculties, if not equal in development and perfection,
at least the same in name and essence. Each of them knows,
or ought to know that instinct and intelligence are two faculties
completely opposed in their nature, two enemies confronting
each other in constant conflict; and that, if they
will not admit of two souls or principles, they have to
recognize, at any rate, the presence of two potencies
in the soul, each having a different seat in the brain,
the localization of each of which is well known to them,
since they can isolate and temporarily destroy them in turn--according
to the organ or part of the organs they happen to be torturing
during their terrible vivisections. What is it but human
pride that prompted Pope to say:
Ask for whose end the heavenly bodies shine;
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, 'Tis for mine.
For me kind nature wakes her genial power,
Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower.
For me the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies!
And it is the same unconscious pride that made Buffon utter his
paradoxical remarks with reference to the difference between man
and animal. That difference consisted in the "absence