Aggregate of Animal Enjoyment increased, and that of Pain diminished, by the existence of Carnivorous Races.
BEFORE we proceed to consider the evidences of design, discoverable in the structure of the extinct carnivorous races, which inhabited our planet during former periods of its history; we may briefly examine the nature of that universal dispensation, whereby a system of perpetual destruction, followed by continual renovation, has at all times tended to increase the aggregate of animal enjoyment, over the entire surface of the terraqueous globe.
Some of the most important provisions which will be presented to us in the anatomy of these ancient animals, are found in the organs with which they were furnished for the purpose of capturing and killing their prey; and as contrivances exhibited in instruments formed expressly for destruction, may at first sight, seem inconsistent with the dispensations of a creation founded in benevolence, and tending to produce the greatest amount of enjoyment to
[130 CARNIVOROUS RACES] the greatest number of individuals; it may be proper to premise a few words upon this subject, before we enter on the history of that large portion of the animals of a former world, whose office was to effect the destruction of life.
The law of universal mortality being the established condition, on which it has pleased the Creator to give being to every creature upon earth, it is a dispensation of kindness to make the end of life to each individual as easy as possible. The most easy death is, proverbially, that which is the least expected; and though, for moral reasons peculiar to our own species, we deprecate the sudden termination of our mortal life; yet, in the case of every inferior animal, such a termination of existence is obviously the most desirable. The pains of sickness, and decrepitude of age, are the usual precursors of death, resulting from gradual decay: these, in the human race alone, are susceptible of alleviation from internal sources of hope and consolation; and give exercise to some of the highest charities, and most tender sympathies of humanity. But, throughout the whole creation of inferior animals, no such symnpathies exist; there is no affection or regard for the feeble and aged; no alleviating care to relieve the sick and the extension of life through lingering stages of decay and of old age, would to each individual be a scene of protracted misery. Under such a
[131 BENEFICIAL TO THE HEBIVOROUS.] system, the natural world would present a mass of daily suffering, bearing a large proportion to the total amount of animal enjoyment. By the existing dispensations of sudden destruction and rapid succession, the feeble and disabled are speedily relieved from suffering, and the world is at all times crowded with myriads of sentient and happy beings; and though to many individuals their allotted share of life be often short, it is usually a period of uninterrupted gratification; whilst the momentary pain of sudden and unexpected death is an evil infinitely small, in comparison with the enjoyments of which it is the termination.
The inhabitants of the earth have ever been divided into two great classes, the one herbivorous, the other carnivorous; and though the ex istence of the latter may, at first sight, seem calculated to increase the amount of animal pain; yet, when considered in its full extent, it will be found materially to diminish it.
To the mind which looks not to general results in the economy of Nature, the earth may seem to present a scene of perpetual warfare, and incessant carnage: but the more enlarged view, while it regards individuals in their conjoint relations to the general benefit of their own species, and that of other species with which they are associated in the great family of Nature, resolves each apparent case of individual
[132 CARNIVOROUS RACES] evil, into an example of subserviency to universal good.
Under the existing system, not only is the aggregate amount of animal enjoyment much increased, by adding to the stock of life all the races which are carnivorous, but these are also highly beneficial even to the herbivorous races, that are subject to their dominion.
Besides the desirable relief of speedy death on the approach of debility or age, the carnivora confer a further benefit on the species which form their prey, as they control their excessive increase, by the destruction of many individuals in youth and health. Without this salutary check, each species would soon multiply to an extent, exceeding in a fatal degree their supply of food, and the whole class of herbivora would ever be so nearly on the verge of starvation, that multitudes would daily be consigned to lingering and painful death by famine. All these evils are superseded by the establishment of a controlling Power in the carnivora; by their agency the numbers of each species are maintained in due proportioll to one another — the sick, the lame, the aged, and the supernumeraries, are consigned to speedy death; and while each suffering individual is soon relieved from pain, it contributes its enfeebled carcase to the support of its carnivorous benefactor, and leaves more room
[133 BENEFICIAL TO THE HERBIVOROUS.] for the comfortable existence of the healthy survivors of its own species.
The same " police of Nature," which is thus beneficial to the great family of the inhabitants of the land, is established with equal advantage among the tenants of the sea.. Of these also, there is one large division that lives on vegetables, and supplies the basis of food to the other division that is carnivorous. Here again we see, that in the absence of carnivora, the uncontrolled herbivora would multiply indefinitely, until the lack of food brought them also to the verge of starvation; and the sea would be crowded with creatures under the endurance of universal pain from hunger, while death by famine would be the termination of ill fed and miserable lives.
The appointment of death by the agency of carnivora, as the ordinary termination of animal existence, appears therefore in its main results to be a dispensation of benevolence; it deducts much from the aggregate amount of the pain of universal death; it abridges, and almost annihilates, throughout the brute creation, the misery of disease, and accidental injuries, and lingering decay; and imposes such salutary restraint upon excessive increase of numbers, that the supply of food maintains perpetually a due ratio to the demand. The result is, that the surface of the land and depths of the
[134 CARNIVOROUS RACES.] waters are ever crowded with myriads of animated beings, the pleasures of whose life are co-extensive with its duration; and which, throughout the little day of existence that is allotted to them, fulfil with joy the functions for which they were created. Life to each individual is a scene of continued feasting, in a region of plenty; and when unexpected death arrests its course, it repays with small interest the large debt, which it has contracted to the common fund of animal nutrition, from whence the materials of its body have been derived. Thus the great drama of universal life is perpetually sustained; and though the individual actors undergo continual change, the same parts are ever filled by another and another generation; renewing the face of the earth, and the bosom of the deep, with endless successions of life and happiness.