April 30th, 1867.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
ONE of the most praiseworthy institutions in New York, and one which must plead eloquently for it when its wickedness shall call down the anger of the gods, is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Its office is located on the corner of Twelfth street and Broadway, and its affairs are conducted by humane men who take a genuine interest in their work, and who have got worldly wealth enough to make it unnecessary for them to busy themselves about anything else. They have already put a potent check upon the brutality of draymen and others to their horses, and in future will draw a still tighter reign upon such abuses, a late law of the Legislature having quadrupled their powers, and distinctly marked and specified them. You seldom see a horse beaten or otherwise cruelly used in New York now, so much has the society made itself feared and respected. Its members promptly secure the arrest of guilty parties and relentlessly prosecute them.
The new law gives the Society power to designate an adequate number of agents in every county, and these are appointed by the Sheriff, but work independently of all other branches of the civil organization. They can make arrests of guilty persons on the spot, without calling upon the regular police, and what is better, they can compel a man to stop abusing his horse, his dog, or any other animal, at a moment's warning. The object of the Society, as its name implies, is to prevent cruelty to animals, rather than punish men for being guilty of it.
They are going to put up hydrants and water tanks at convenient distances all over the city, for drinking places for men, horses and dogs.
Mr. Bergh, the President of the Society, is a sort of enthusiast on the subject of cruelty to animals - or perhaps it would do him better justice to say he is full of honest earnestness upon the subject. Nothing that concerns the happiness of a brute is a trifling matter with him - no brute of whatever position or standing, however plebeian or insignificant, is beneath the range of his merciful interest. I have in my mind an example of his kindly solicitude for his dumb and helpless friends.
He went to see the dramatic version of "Griffith Gaunt" at Wallack's Theatre. The next morning he entered the manager's office and the following conversation took place:
Mr. Bergh - "Are you the manager of this theatre?"
Manager -"I am, sir. What can I do for you?"
Mr. B. - "I am President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and I have come to remonstrate against your treatment of that pig in the last act of the play last night. It is cruel and wrong, and I beg that you will leave the pig out in future." "That is impossible! The pig is necessary to the play."
"But it is cruel, and you could alter the play in some way so as to leave the pig out."
"It cannot possibly be done, and besides I do not see anything wrong about it at all. What is it you complain of?"
"Why, it is plain enough. They punch the pig with sticks, and chase him and harass him, and contrive all manner of means to make him unhappy. The poor thing runs about in its distress, and tries to escape, but is met at every turn by its tormentors and its hopes blighted. The pig does not understand it. If the pig understood it, it might be well enough, but the pig does not know it is a play, but takes it all as reality, and is frightened and bewildered by the crowd of people and the glare of the lights, and yet no time is given it for reflection - no time is given it to arrive at a just appreciation of its circumstances - but its persecutors constantly assail it and keep its mind in such a chaotic state that it can form no opinion upon any point in the case. And besides, the pig is cast in the play without its consent, is forced to conduct itself in a manner which cannot but be humiliating to it, and leaves that stage every night with a conviction that it would rather die than take a character in a theatrical performance again. Pigs are not fitted for the stage; they have no dramatic talent; all their inclinations are toward a retired and unostentatious career in the humblest walks of life, and "
Manager - "Say no more, sir. The pig is yours. I meant to have educated him for tragedy and made him a blessing to mankind and an ornament to his species, but I am convinced, now, that I ought not to do this in the face of his marked opposition to the stage, and so I present him to you, who will treat him well, I am amply satisfied. I am the more willing to part with him, since the play he performs in was taken off the stage last night, and I could not conveniently arrange a part for him in the one we shall run for the next three weeks, which is Richard III."
Mr. Bergh does everything in the behest of the Society with the very best of intentions and the most honest motives. He makes mistakes, sometimes, like all other men. He complained against a Jewish butcher, and required his arrest, for cutting the throat of an ox instead of knocking it on the head; said he was cruelly slow about terminating the animal's life. Of course, people smiled, because the religious law which compels Jewish butchers to slaughter with a consecrated knife is as old as the Pyramids of Egypt, and Mr. Bergh would have to over throw the Pentateuch itself to accomplish his point.
THE MIDNIGHT MISSION
This is peculiarly New Yorkish. The Midnight Mission is composed of sincere and zealous religious men who, in a good work, are ironclad against jeers and insult, and they go about these streets at dead of night, trying to rope in the prostitutes that infest the alleys and byways of this teeming hive of humanity, and bring them back to the walk of virtue. Talk about courage! I had rather face the guns of Fortress Monroe than brave the tongues of those foul-mouthed she-dragons. Such dauntless intrepidity smacks of the crusading days of Coeur de Lion and his mailed legions.
The Midnight Mission flourishes, and accomplishes actual results. It has reclaimed many girls, and set them to earning honest livings, as servants in respectable families and in other capacities. It seems wonderful, and very improbable, too, but it is true, nevertheless. The office of the Mission is in the same building as the Cruelty Society I have been talking about, and I visited both on the same day. I had some notion of joining the Mission, but then I thought I had better continue to hold on to my position as a Sandwich Island Missionary and let these people worry along the best way they can. I wish them well, though. Their main depot is next door to one of the largest houses of ill fame in the city, and so you can see they mean business.
Considering the gigantic war the country has just passed through, I am constantly surprised at the utter absence of military beggars. I fully expected to find legless heroes begging their bread at every corner. I haven't seen the very first one so occupied yet - not one. I see a cripple with a soldier-coat on occasionally, but always working for a living - never begging. We import our beggars chiefly. By some wonderful process or other, the soldiers of both armies have been quietly and mysteriously absorbed into civil life, and can no more be distinguished from the children of peace. It is hard even for an American to under stand this. But it is a toiling, thinking, determined nation, this of ours, and little given to dreaming. It appreciates the fact that the moment one thing is ended, it must be crossed out and dropped, and something else begun. Our Alexanders do not sit down and cry because there are no more worlds to conquer, but snatch off their coats and fall to shinning around and raising corn and cotton, and improving sewing machines.
A Herald's war correspondent told me he was in Richmond when the rebel forces were disbanded, and that a party of Confederate officers discarded their uniforms and got up a great express company within twenty-four hours afterward; and that three days only had transpired when he saw rebel Colonels, Majors and Captains, connected with the new express enterprise, helping the porters handle heavy boxes and barrels, and with their coats off and sleeves rolled up, too! He said that sort of thing came easy enough in America, and could occur in France, but that an English Colonel could not come down to such a thing as that without many a heart-ache and many a twinge of wounded pride.
I saw this harmless old humbug in Broadway yesterday. His knee-breeches are gone, his black velvet coat is seedy, his long white hair waves in the wind all guiltless of powder or queue, his cocked hat has given place to a battered plug, from head to foot he is seedy and dilapidated, and his ancient self-complacency has departed out of his countenance, and age and weariness and a sort of dreary sadness reign there instead. Poor old fellow, it made me feel sorry when I contrasted his desolate figure of yesterday with the gay and gorgeous Washington II of San Francisco, so picturesque in his faultless legs and his benignant dignity.
Old Uncle Freddy has outlived the day of his pride, outlived his usefulness, outlived all those whom he cared for or who cared for him - and today he stands solitary and alone, in the midst of this unpitying city, a helpless, hopeless, melancholy old man.
"The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has pressed
In their bloom;
And the names he loved to hear,
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb."
He still goes about in an absent sort of way, tracking up Tom Maguire, and proclaiming, as formerly, that Maguire owes him forty thousand dollars; but I fear me that death will soothe away all his sorrows and bring peace to his troubled spirit be fore many months shall pass away.
Webb has gotten up my "Jumping Frog" book in excellent style, and it is selling rapidly. A lot of copies will go to San Francisco per this steamer. I hope my friends will all buy a few copies each, and more especially am I anxious to see the book in all the Sunday School Libraries in the land. I don't know that it would instruct youth much, but it would make them laugh anyway, and therefore no Sunday School Library can be complete without the "Jumping Frog." But candidly, now, joking aside, it is really a very handsome book, and you know yourself that it is a very readable one. I have sent a copy to Honolulu for my old friend, Father Damon.
Our ship in which we are to sail for the Holy Land, is to be furnished with a battery of guns for firing salutes, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Seward has addressed a letter to all foreign powers, requesting that every attention be shown General Sherman and his party. We have got a piano and a parlor organ in the cabin, and a snare drummer, a base drummer and a fifer, and the passengers are instructed to fetch along all their old guitars, fiddles, Hutes and sheet music. If they have a choir in that ship I mean to run it. I have got a handsome state room on the upper deck and a regular brick for a room mate. We have got the pleasantest and jolliest party of passengers that ever sailed out of New York, and among them a good many young ladies and a couple of preachers, but we don't mind them. Young ladies are well enough anywhere, and preachers are always pleasant company when they are off duty. We sail the 8th of June, positively.
I am to lecture here, at the Cooper Institute, next Monday evening.
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