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History of Vegetarianism - Europe: The Middle Ages to the 18th Century
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)

Irish poet, dramatist and novelist. His works include the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the poem The Deserted Village (1770), and the comedy She Stoops to Conquer (1773)

The Hermit

Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.

No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by the power that pities me,
I learn to pity them.

But from the mountain's grassy side,
A guiltless feast I bring,
A serip with herbs and fruit supplied,
And water from the spring.

Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego,
All earth-born cares are wrong;
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long.

- - - - -

The better sort here pretend to the utmost compassion for animals of every kind; to hear them speak, a stranger would be apt to imagine they could hardly hurt the gnat that stung them. They seem so tender, and so full of pity, that one would take them for the harmless friends of the whole creation, the protectors of the meanest insect or reptile that was privileged with existence. And yet (would you believe it?) I have seen the very men who thus boasted of their tenderness, at the same time devour the flesh of six different animals tossed up in a fricasee. Strange contrariety of conduct. They pity, and they eat the objects of their compassion . . .

Man was born to live with innocence and compassion, but he has deviated from nature; he was born to share the bounties of heaven, but he has monopolised them; he was born to govern the 'brute creation', but he has become their tyrant. Hail, O ye simple, honest Brahmins of the East! Ye inoffensive friends of all that were born to happiness as well as you! You never sought a short-lived pleasure from the miseries of other creatures! You never studied the tormenting arts of ingenious refinement; you never surfeited upon a guilty meal! How much more purified and refined are all your sensations than ours!
- Letter to the Public Ledger, No.XV