Have The Animals Souls? by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: Essay

“For that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; YEA, THEY HAVE ALL ONE BREATH; SO THAT A MAN HATH NO PRE-EMINENCE ABOVE A BEAST: for all is vanity.

“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the SPIRIT of the beast that goeth downward to the earth.” –Ecclesiastes iii., 19-21.

The surface of the earth, the air as high as we can study it, the depths of the sea, swarm with animal life.

The earth rolls around the sun bathed in its warm light. Millions of creatures die with every revolution of the little planet which is their home. And man “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it” rules the little animals and the big ones and calls himself sole heir of immortality. He says: “For ME this earth was made and balanced in its wonderful journey; for ME alone the marvels of future life are reserved.”

He digs up the strange creatures from the slimy depths of the ocean, studies and labels them.

He dissects one animal to study his own diseases. He skins another to cover his feet with leather. He eats one ox and hitches its brother to the plough. He uses nature’s explosive forces to bring down the bird on the wing. He sweeps the rivers with his nets.

The stomach of the well-fed man is the graveyard of the animal kingdom.

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When his dinner is finished, the man well fed strokes his stomach contentedly and says to himself:

All is well. For I have a soul and THEY have none. They have died to feed me. I am happy and they should be satisfied. —-

What is the nature of the spirit that directs our humble animal brothers and sisters? They cover the earth as long as we let them, give place to us as the human race increases, and, without any thought of organized resistance, die that we may live.


You have seen the bird grieving over the destruction of its nest.

You have studied the pathetic eyes of the lost dog, and the sad submission of the tired, beaten horse.

Is there not soul in those stricken creatures, and spiritual feeling deeper than that displayed by many men?

First came all ANIMAL life, as we know it, and then came MAN.

Science and religion agree on this point, at least.

All owe their being to the same eternal FORCE. On this point again religion and science agree.

Is the life in animals merely a passing dream, or does it express in its humble way the promise of life eternal?

In Italy a scientific villain experimented on a dog to ascertain the power of maternal affection.

The dog was most cruelly tortured. Its newborn puppy was beside it. Its nerves were racked, its spine injured, BUT WHENEVER PERMITTED TO DO SO, THE POOR TORTURED, ANIMAL MOTHER TURNED ITS HEAD TOWARD ITS WHINING CHILD AND LICKED IT AFFECTIONATELY.

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Until it died there was nothing that could overcome maternal love in the heart of that poor dumb mother.

Is there not soul in such love as that?

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