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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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How to Inculcate Kindness to Animals

by Mrs. Wood
Volume 4, 1893/94, pgs. 359-360


ALL Good laws spring from true philosophy; therefore, the law of Kindness to Animals must have its foundations laid deep down in the philosophical kinship of the soul of man to the soul of his beast.

The Prophet who would teach this holy law must take the hand of the little child and lead him, back over the hills of time, to that spot where man and beast began their life in happy unison. There, in Eden's garden, he shall see the lion and the kid, side by side on the green pastures; the wolf eating straw with by the ox; the leopard reposing at the feet of the gentle woman, who caresses his beautiful hide and calls him sweetly by his name. The child must know that this is no vanished glory, but that it is a true picture of the new earth to be when He is King who shall save both man and beast. The next step will be to introduce the little philosopher to animal life as it is now under altered conditions. The rural scenes around homes--natural and artificial--menagerie or zoological gardens, even the busy Cattle Mart, all will be instructive.

Then, when it is apparent that the circumstances of animal life are strangely altered, it will be time to show how this change has been brought about by man's rebellion against the law of love. Tell the old story of the one sad day in Eden and how, after man's fall, the earth began to bring forth briars and thistles, the serpent to crawl in the dust, and the most gentle creatures became fierce and treacherous and bloodthirsty. The still sadder tale must follow, of how our gentle animals had to shed their blood through long ages, to teach man's hard heart that God would indeed provide Himself a Lamb. Let the child know that innocent animals had to struggle and perish in the waters of man's flood, that the shelter of the Ark was shared by man and beast alike, and that nature's resurrection was hailed first by happy birds. Show how animals share he families and diseases and accidents of our disordered life; how, unable to complain, they partake of our daily toil and suffering, and have to endure at our hands whatever we choose to lay upon them. In this way the sense of the close relationship between man and beast may be fixed in the young mind. What child's heart will not go forth in sympathy towards lives thus interwoven with his own destiny. This theoretical part of the training will be nourished and developed by intimacy with the poetry and prose bearing on this tender subject. The exquisite poems of Mary Howitt--so rich in natural history--should form a real part of every child's education. Mrs. Gatty's "Parables from Nature," and Mrs. Barbauld's "Earth's many Voices," cannot fail to deepen loving sympathies. Aesop's "Fables" afford a rich fund of wisdom. Wordsworth's "Pet Lamb" breathes the very essence of child-tenderness. Many poems of Blake flow from the same sweet source. A series of stories entitled "Our Dumb Companions" will be found helpful.

Perhaps the most inspiring kind of reading is a life of an ardent naturalist such as that of Thomas Edwards, or Lord Waterton. White's "Selbourne" is another inspiring volume. But animal life must be studied from Nature herself. Parents must visit her with their children as much as possible. Many a lesson of heroic virtue may be learnt from watching the habits of the most ordinary animals. In the care of domestic animals children may learn invaluable lessons. Dr. Johnson said that a man who performed one duty day to day regularly for a year, deserved the respect of his fellows. In duly attending to dumb creatures this quality of remitting perseverance is secured. It is wholesome for a child to be in contact with humble and lowly service of animals. He will involuntarily respect the kindly woman who so cheerfully plunges through the snow to take a warm meal to her fowls. He will honor the simple farm-boy who rises from his warm bed to minister to a suffering creature under his care--or, who faces the bitter wind and blinding storm to seek some poor sheep lost in the snow drift.

Happy is the child who is thus trained to a life of sympathy with Nature and Nature's children.