Sunday, May 24, 2009

"I once killed birds in my wantonness - God forgive me! - merely to test my skill with the rifle. But I received a bitter lesson.

While once passing through the woods I carlelessly fired at a bird, caring only to discharge my gun, so as to make my next fire sure. I wounded a bird which sat upon the fence. I felt guilt stricken at once, and tried to catch it. Failing in that, I thought it would be humanity to shoot it. Before I could load my rifle, it fluttered across the field, where I followed it, and found the panting sufferer at its nest, and the blood dripping upon its young. My cruelty flashed upon me in all its nakedness, and I cringed under my reflections like a guilty butcher as I was." Animal World.

When I was a boy, something like this happened to me and it was not long before I lost interest in hunting. Now I don't condone the animal worship that oozes here in the West. We spend far more on our pets than we do on the orphans or widows; but suffice to say; cruelty in any form is evil in its fullness.

While looking for a picture to go with this post I found the following piece on the Four Stages of Cruelty. I think it pretty much covers the issue --

Hogarth's Modern Moral Series: The Four Stages of Cruelty.
Hogarth tells us that the images ‘were done in the hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor Animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than any thing what ever, the very describing of which gives pain’.

First Stage of Cruelty

This street scene shows a group of youths, almost all of whom are participating in or encouraging the abuse of animals and birds. Boys are seen tying a bone to a dog’s tail, cauterising the eyes of a bird, stringing up kittens from a signpost or cockfighting.
The worst abuse is being inflicted by Nero, who pushes an arrow into the anus of a terrified dog being restrained by two other boys. Another youth is distressed by what Nero is doing and attempts to stop him by offering a tart. To the left of Nero, a boy draws a hanged man on the wall and points at him, underlining the inevitable: that Nero’s behaviour will deteriorate further and cost him his life.

Second Stage of Cruelty

This scene suggests that the abuse of animals is widespread in the streets of London. On the left Nero (now grown-up) beats his horse, the poor creature having collapsed under the strain of the cart. This is overladen with four lawyers, who are too penny-pinching to hire two carts and insensitive to the suffering they are causing.
On the left a poster displayed near the door of ‘Thavies Inn Coffee House’ advertises ‘Broughton’s Amphitheatre’, a well-known venue for boxing. ‘James Field’ and ‘George Taylor’, named below, were celebrated pugilists.
Importantly, Field was hanged for highway robbery eleven days before Hogarth’s print was published, thus establishing an interrelationship between violent sports, entertainments and criminality.

Cruelty in Perfection - Third stage of cruelty

Nero has embarked on a life of highway robbery. He is seen here being apprehended after committing a murder in the dead of night.
As with Tom Idle in Industry and Idleness, Hogarth underlines that the reality of being a highwayman is far from the glamorous, romantic existence presented by popular heroes such as Captain Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera.
Indeed, Nero’s grotesque appearance conveys the inherent viciousness of his character and brutalising way of life. His victim, Ann Gill, his lover and partner-in-crime, lies prostrate on the floor, her throat slit. Her swollen stomach makes it clear that she was pregnant.

The Reward of Cruelty - Fourth stage of cruelty.

As a piece of propaganda, this macabre image was calculated to deromanticise criminality and its consequences. It takes place in the Cutlerian theatre near Newgate prison.
Nero has been hanged at Tyburn and, as was the case with other executed criminals, his body is being dissected for the purpose of studying anatomy. The chief surgeon sits in the centre on a high-backed chair with the royal coat of arms hanging above, thus resembling a high court judge. This neatly represents the official process of judgement and punishment, which in the case of hanged criminals could extend beyond death itself.
The skeletons of dissected criminals were usually refused a Christian burial and subsequently displayed as specimens, as can be seen in the niches to the left and right.


Mel said...

Hi Fred,

Okay, this post was gut-wrenching to read. Truly gut-wrenching. What does, what can, a person do to stop this vicious, cruel cycle? In the last paragraph when it talks about the bodies of criminals being displayed, it reminded me of so many different parts of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" when strong and courageous Indian chiefs were murdered, and then their bodies (or parts thereof) were displayed as trophies. God help us all. How horrid we can be.

Thanks for posting this. It's important for us to meditate on these truths from time to time.

God bless you, Fred!

Trudy said...

How very horrible indeed. This is an interesting post Fred...hard to imagine these things happening, but unfortunately they do, and worse! Very disturbing photos.

As Mel said, it is important to be reminded of the cruelties taking place all around us. I myself don't even like to see flies suffer!

God bless!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred:)

Very distressing post.

I can see two important lessons emerging from this.

Firstly, we have to see that our children don't engage in such cruel sports. It is our responsibility to stop them and make them understand the evil in it. Children are innocent and they will do anything to make them happy without understanding the harm it causes to animals or birds. But if they are not stopped the cruel sport will increase and as they grow up they will start attacking human beings without thinking of the harm they are going to cause others and eventually to themselves.

Secondly, it is our conscience. Our conscience is the good angel given to us by God to protect ourselves from evil. But the devil, who successfully made our first parents to sin against God, is active all the time to seduce and capture damned souls for hell. This is the bad angel. This bad angel continuously keep telling us that cruelty is a great sport and will bring us immense happiness. Both the good angel and bad angel continuously keep telling us what to do and most times we end up listening to the bad angel because it offers immediate gratification, thrill and satisfies our ego. This is how we commit sins.

I enjoyed this post and photos immensely. Many thanks for sharing.

The moral of the story: DON'T LISTEN TO THE BAD ANGEL.

Have a lovely day Fred:)

FCB said...

Hi Mel,
This is a ghastly post, and I wish it were only a rare and occasional case, but if you stop and consider what man has done to man it is so over whelming, that one can scarcely reflect on the topic for long. I thought this had some merit and I think in most cases the parents lack of investment in their children is to blame but how does one answer to the madness we see in the world? It's beyond me.
God bless,

Hi Trudy,
Nice to have you back.
These pictures are graphic and make me uneasy, but I remember a scene in the movie Hotel Rwanda where thousands were slain by machete. That image has haunted me since and whenever I think of cruelty I flash back to that. But like you said, cruelties are all around us; human trafficking must be the most insidious evil man perpetrates on man, and when it is children… there are no words.
May we be part of the change,

Hi Joseph,
You are so right, rearing children to be sensitive to what they are doing is so important. Even if it were a fly, and I caught my kids tearing the wings off of it, they would find that a "learning session" they wouldn't soon forget. Now if they swatted it with a fly swatter I wouldn't care but cruelty to anything is the darkest part of us, like you said, it is the devil plying his nature to influence us.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments,