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Henry Salt
Born September 20, 1851(1851-09-20)
India
Died April 19, 1939 (aged 87)
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Occupation Writer, teacher, social reformer
Known for Animal rights advocacy, founded the Humanitarian League
Spouse(s) Catherine (Kate) Joynes

Henry Stephens Salt (20 September 1851–19 April 1939) was an English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions, and the treatment of animals. He was a noted ethical vegetarian,[1] anti-vivisectionist,[2] socialist,[3] and pacifist, and was well known as a literary critic, biographer, classical scholar and naturalist. It was Salt who first introduced Mahatma Gandhi to the influential works of Henry David Thoreau.

Salt is credited with being the first writer to argue explicitly that animals ought to have rights, as opposed to better treatment,[4] writing in 1894 that, "If we are ever going to do justice to the lower races, we must get rid of the antiquated notion of a 'great gulf' fixed between them and mankind, and must recognize the common bond of humanity that unites all living beings in one universal brotherhood."[5]

Contents

Early life

The son of a British army colonel, Salt was born in India in 1851 but returned with his family to England in 1852, while still an infant. He studied at Eton College, then graduated from Cambridge University in 1875.

Career

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Teaching

After Cambridge, Salt returned to Eton as an assistant schoolmaster to teach classics. Four years later, in 1879, he married Catherine (Kate) Joynes, the daughter of a fellow master at Eton. He remained at Eton until 1884, when, inspired by classic ideals and disgusted by his fellow masters' meat-eating habits and reliance on servants, he and Kate moved to a small cottage at Tilford, Surrey where they grew their own vegetables and lived very simply, sustained by a small pension Salt had built up. Salt engrossed himself in writing and began work on the pioneering Humanitarian League.

Writing and influence

During his lifetime Salt wrote almost 40 books.[6] His first, A Plea for Vegetarianism, was published by the Vegetarian Society in 1886 and in 1890, he produced an acclaimed biography of philosopher Henry David Thoreau, two interests that later led to a friendship with Mahatma Gandhi. He also wrote about the need for nature conservation to protect the natural beauty of the British countryside from commercial vandalism.[7]

His circle of friends included many notable figures from late 19th and early 20th century literary and political life, including writers Algernon Swinburne, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Havelock Ellis, Count Leo Tolstoy,William Morris, Peter Kropotkin,Ouida, George Bernard Shaw and Robert Cunninghame-Graham, Labour leader James Keir Hardie and Fabian Society co-founders Hubert Bland and Annie Besant.[8]

Activism

1891: Animal welfare and the Humanitarian League

In 1891, Salt formed the Humanitarian League. Its objectives included the banning of hunting as a sport (in this respect it can be regarded as a fore-runner of the League Against Cruel Sports). In 1914 The League published a whole volume of essays on Killing for Sport, the preface was written by George Bernard Shaw. The book formed in summary form the Humanitarian League's arraignment of blood-sports.[6]

1894: Animal rights

Keith Tester writes that, in 1894, Salt created an "epistemological break," by being the first writer to consider the issue of animal rights explicitly, as opposed to better animal welfare.[4] In Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress, Salt wrote that he wanted to "set the principle of animals' rights on a consistent and intelligible footing, [and] to show that this principle underlies the various efforts of humanitarian reformers ...":

Even the leading advocates of animal rights seem to have shrunk from basing their claim on the only argument which can ultimately be held to be a really sufficient one—the assertion that animals, as well as men, though, of course, to a far less extent than men, are possessed of a distinctive individuality, and, therefore, are in justice entitled to live their lives with a due measure of that 'restricted freedom' to which Herbert Spencer alludes.[5]

He wrote that there is no point in claiming rights for animals if we subordinate their rights to human interests, and he argued against the presumption that a human life necessarily has more value than a nonhuman one:

[The] notion of the life of an animal having 'no moral purpose,' belongs to a class of ideas which cannot possibly be accepted by the advanced humanitarian thought of the present day—it is a purely arbitrary assumption, at variance with our best instincts, at variance with our best science, and absolutely fatal (if the subject be clearly thought out) to any full realization of animals' rights. If we are ever going to do justice to the lower races, we must get rid of the antiquated notion of a 'great gulf' fixed between them and mankind, and must recognize the common bond of humanity that unites all living beings in one universal brotherhood."[5]

Selected publications

  • A Shelley Primer (1887)
  • Life of Henry David Thoreau (1890; London: Walter Scott, 1896). Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-7028-6
  • Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress (1892). Reprinted, with a Preface by Peter Singer (Clarks Summit, PA: Society for Animal Rights, 1980). ISBN 0-9602632-0-9
  • Quotes & Excerpts from Henry Salt's Animals' Rights (1892)
  • Richard Jefferies: A Study (1894)
  • Selections from Thoreau (1895)
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley: Poet and Pioneer (1896)
  • Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideas (1905)
  • The Faith of Richard Jefferies (1906)
  • Cambrian and Cumbrian Hills: Pilgrimages to Snowdon and Scafell (1908)
  • The Humanities of Diet (1914) (two excerpts)
  • Seventy Years among Savages (1921)
  • Call of the Wildflower (1922)
  • The Story of My Cousins (1923)
  • Our Vanishing Wildflowers (1928)
  • Memories of Bygone Eton (1928)
  • The Heart of Socialism (1928)
  • Company I Have Kept (1930)
  • Cum Grano (1931)
  • The Creed of Kinship (1935)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Enrique Esteban Salt 1851-1939 Proyecto Filosofía en español (Spanish)
  2. ^ Iñigo Ongay, Los derechos de los animales y Enrique Salt en español El Catoblepas 9:8, 2002 (Spanish)
  3. ^ The Heart of Socialism by Salt,Independent Labour Party, 1928.
  4. ^ a b Tester, Keith (1991) cited in Taylor, Angus. Animals and Ethics. Broadview Press, 2003, p. 61.
  5. ^ a b c Salt, Henry S. Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress, Macmillan & Co., 1894, chapter 1. He cited Spencer's definition of rights: "Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal liberty of any other man ... Whoever admits that each man must have a certain restricted freedom, asserts that it is right he should have this restricted freedom.... And hence the several particular freedoms deducible may fitly be called, as they commonly are called, his rights."
  6. ^ a b Henry S. Salt - Biography by Simon Wild
  7. ^ On Cambrian and Cumbrian Hills, 1922.
  8. ^ Winsten, Stephen, Salt and His Circle, 1951.

Further reading

  • Hendrick, George. Henry Salt: Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters (1977)
  • Hendrick, George and Hendrick, Willene Hendrick. (eds.) The Savour of Salt: A Henry Salt Anthology. Centaur Press, 1989. ISBN 090000130-5

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Henry Stephens Salt (September 20, 1851 - April 19, 1939) was an influential English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions and the treatment of animals.

Contents

Sourced

  • I shall die ... as I have lived, rationalist, socialist, pacifist, and humanitarian.
    • As quoted in Henry Salt, Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters, George Hendrick, Illinois, 1977
  • Religion has never befriended the cause of humaneness. Its monstrous doctrine of eternal punishment and the torture of the damned underlies much of the barbarity with which man has treated man; and the deep division imagined by the Church between the human being, with his immortal soul, and the soulless "beasts", has been responsible for an incalculable sum of cruelty.
    • Seventy Years Among Savages
  • No League of Nations, or of individuals, can avail, without a change of heart. Reformers of all classes must recognize that it is useless to preach peace by itself, or socialism by itself, or anti-vivisection by itself, or vegetarianism by itself, or kindness to animals by itself. The cause of each and all of the evils that afflict the world is the same the general lack of humanity, the lack of the knowledge that all sentient life is akin, and that he who injures a fellow-being is in fact doing injury to himself. The prospects of a happier society are wrapped up in this despised and neglected truth, the very statement of which, at the present time, must (I well know) appear ridiculous to the accepted instructors of the people.
    • Seventy Years Among Savages

Unsourced

  • The emancipation of men from cruelty and injustice will bring with it in due course the emancipation of animals also. The two reforms are inseparably connected, and neither can be fully realized alone.

Quotes about Henry Salt

  • It was Mr. Salt's book, A Plea for Vegetarianism, which showed me why, apart from hereditary habit, and apart from my adherence to a vow administered to me by my mother, it was right to be a vegetarian. He showed me why it was a moral duty incumbent on vegetarians not to live upon fellow-animals.

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