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effect of punishment. The student of the history of human progress can find, all along the tedious road, landmarks of great significance—such as the Roman lex talionis and our
odern expression “the vengeance of the law”—which indicate the primitive necessity, common to us and animals, for resisting wrong, oppression, and violence. While these terms remain on our statute books, and are daily in the mouths of our judges, it may be well to reflect how closely our morality was once comparable to that of the higher animals, and also to that of the lowest savages, from whom we in England are removed by at most twenty centuries. When, then, a dog bites a man who has beaten him without sufficient cause, he must have a perception of the necessity for self-protection in the first place, and a sense of the injustice of the act stirring, however feebly, in his breast: that is to say, he experiences that sense of disproportion or disturbance of right relationships which we ourselves feel. If so, it is absurd to deny him a moral sense when we claim it for ourselves.
I should not have ventured to inflict this metaphysical disquisition on the indulgent reader had I not been able to offer
case in point, given me by a gentleman-Mr. J. A. Gibbs-on whose accuracy of statement I can, from personal acquaintance, fully rely. The dog was an extremely quiet animal, devoted to the family, the playmate of the children, and particularly attached to the infant, beside whose cradle he would lie for hours, almost disregarding his master's invitation to go for a walk. “Some years ago,” writes Mr. Gibbs, “I had a married sister living at Sudbury, near Harrow, whose husband was a breeder of horses and had an establishment for the purpose adjoining his house. He contemplated some alterations in the premises, and wished to borrow my black retriever, Carlo, owing to the number of workmen about the place. The dog and I had been, in a sense, inseparables, and I did not altogether like lending him. For the first time, as a daily habit, Carlo found himself chained up, being released
when the men left off work, to have the run of the outbuildings for the night. One day, when the dog was on the chain, a young groom named Jessop persistently irritated the dog by pushing his paunch towards him and pulling it away again with a broom, until at length he refused to eat, and lay down sullenly in his kennel. When he was at length released in the evening, he somehow managed to get out of the premises, probably by jumping the paddock gate. Later on, my brother-in-law was told by a visitor that one of his men had been dreadfully bitten and half killed by a ferocious dog. An eye-witness, describing the occurrence, said that Jessop and he and two or three friends were drinking in “The Chequers,' a public house near the station, when the door was pushed open, and a dog looked in and forthwith flew upon Jessop, who was completely unable to defend himself, and savagely tore him about the hands, face, and inside of the thigh, the last being a terrible wound. It was with great difficulty that he was got off and immediately shot. My brother-in-law had to pay a bill of £25 and £50 compensation, as nervous prostration ensued. When the facts of the case became known, it was said by a beerhouse keeper at Harrow that during the evening he saw Carlo—whom he knew-look in at the tap-room and subsequently run out, evidently in search of someone, and accurately estimating the likeliest kind of place to find his enemy. He was a most docile creature, and I deeply deplore what I considered at the time little less than his assassination.”
At first, one would be apt to consider the provocation here quite inadequate to bring about such serious consequences; but do we not all know what vast proportions a wrong brooded over assumed when we were children ? Children of tender years have frequently gone out, smarting under the sense of injustice, and drowned or hanged themselves, or set fire to the house, and others have committed murder when labouring under an exaggerated and distorted impression of the conduct of some playmate.
Conscience is, perhaps, the highest expression of the moral sense, and if it does not exist in animals, it is impossible to account for some of their actions. Darwin says: “Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities which in us would be called moral; and I agree with Agassiz, that dogs possess something like a conscience.” In this connection I cannot refrain from quoting an instance from a delightful article “On the Moral Advantages of Keeping a Dog,” by Colonel R. D. Osborn, published in a weekly periodical now out of print. Master Jock Elliott was the name given to a black wiry-haired terrier who had taken up his quarters, unbidden, in Colonel Osborn's family. “Until his domiciling with us," he says, “ his life had been predatory, and his notions as to property, and the distinction between meum and tuum, exceedingly lax; he became aware of a new law of life when he got his dinner regularly at a fixed hour every day. At this stage of his career a psychologist would have found in him an admirable subject of study. There might be discerned the perception of an external law gradually transforming itself into a law of the conscience, which Jock Elliott, unfamiliar with philosophical abstraction, assumed to be innate to the dog nature; at any rate, the fact that he had become the possessor of a conscience revealed itself to Jock in this wise. We had been at supper, and there had been left a small piece of cold tongue. Jock saw and coveted this piece of tongue; in his predatory days he would have effected its appropriation without any other sensations than those of enjoyment and contentment; wherefore should he feel otherwise now ? So, I doubt not, Jock reasoned within himself, not knowing what manner of dog he had become. At any rate, when we had left the supper-room, Jock stole back, intent upon devouring that relict of the cold tongue. He ascended the table; he got the tongue into his mouth, when his newly developed conscience suddenly asserted its presence. He was overwhelmed by the enormity of his crime. He could neither eat the tongue nor drop it. And so, in extreme perturbation of spirit, he
came into the sitting-room, deposited it at the feet of his mistress, and crawled off, the most dejected and remorsestricken dog it was possible to imagine.”
Who among us cannot remember a period in our own childhood when our moral sense was less highly developed than that of humble Jock Elliott ? Who cannot call to mind occasions when, with fingers in the sugar basin or jam pot, we ate of the forbidden fruit stealthily, undeterred by any selfreproaches that ought to have stirred within us?
How is it that a dog, when well treated, so seldom steals food, even when it is constantly within his reach? The cat seldom or never refrains, and will bide its time with all the patience of the savage for a raid upon the table or the cage of the pet canary. One of my retrievers once committed an act of petty larceny, of which, I trust, he sincerely repented. Hector and Carlo used to wait in the breakfast-room while I finished dressing. One morning I came down and found them both, as usual, expecting me. The landlady came in to set the table, and, on looking into a low cupboard, the door of which was open, exclaimed, “Why, good gracious! the dogs have had the beef: here's the empty dish. The meat was there ten minutes ago, when I poked the fire, and nearly a whole 21b. tin of that beautiful Australian corned beef that I turned out for your
breakfast yesterday has gone." Which was the culprit ? There was nothing in the manner of either to arouse suspicion. I made them both sit down in front of the cupboard, held the empty dish before them, and lectured them seriously on their wickedness. Just a slight tremor in Hector's massive frame, and an inclination to avert his eyes from the cupboard, then became “ confirmation strong as proofs of holy writ”; while Carlo wagged his tail, and looked innocently from the dish to my face. I sat down by the fire, took up the newspaper, and waited for the frying of a couple of eggs in place of the lost beef. In a few minutes Hector stole out of the room unnoticed, and from the passage came that unearthly sound which accompanies the regurgitation of food from a
dog's stomach. I more in sorrow than in anger, to ascertain the cause. There sat Hector, gloomily gazing at a heap of undigested meat on the oilcloth in front of him: the veritable Australian corned beef! Was it, think you, the “still small voice” of conscience that brought his crime to light; or, haply, was it the irritating effect on his stomach of the salt in the meat? That secret lies buried with the noble old doggie in his grave under the spreading chestnut tree at Hendon. Requiescat in pace!
Have dogs a sense of humour ? I have not been able to discover any sign of it; but my own dogs have all belonged to the retrieving profession, and were duly impressed with the gravity and sense of responsibility of their calling. The late Dr. John Brown, of immortal memory, said: “I have a notion that dogs have humour, and are perceptive of a joke. In the north a shepherd, having sold his sheep at market, was asked by the buyer to lend him his dog to take them home. “By a' manner o' means; tak' Birkie, and when ye're done wi' him just play so (making a movement with his arm), and he'll be hame in a jiffy.' Birkie was so clever, and useful, and gay, that the borrower coveted him; and on getting home to his farm, shut him up, intending to keep him. Birkie, however, escaped during the night, and took the entire hirsel (flock) back to his own master.” own part I am not so fortunate as the Scottish judge, who cogitated all night on a joke he heard in Court, and when the point of it suddenly broke upon him at dawn, ejaculated with solemn satisfaction: “I hae ye noo!” Possibly the considerable infusion of Scottish blood in my own veins blunts my perception of humour.
Bacon thought, or affected to think, wit and the sense of humour no very great ornament to the human mind, or evidence of intellect, so that I am not much concerned at the lack of it in my dog. There have been few keener observers of the character of animals than James Hogg—"the Ettrick Shepherd "--and I am therefore well content to let him lead