July 31st 1940
Wednesday July 31st
We caught a toad this evening: such a jolly little fellow, who was great faking at being captured by human beings. He put his funny parodies of hands over his eyes, with the fingers spread out to “protect” himself from us.
It was that rather heart-breaking and - from our point of view - quite futile gesture that made me ponder the problem of cruelty and mercy. Personally I find the instruction to kill or inflict pain utterly incomprehensible! I cannot see into, or have any part in, a mind that cannot be touched and softened by a weak confiding little gesture like that of the toad, whether it is in man or beast.
I will never, by word or deed, pretend an admiration for those who abuse their strength to hurt the weak. I prefer Shakespeare’s almost divine sympathy that even entered into the feeling of a snail “Whose tender horns being hit, shrinks backwards in his shelly cave with pain, and there all smothered up in shade doth sit, long fearing to peep forth again!”*
He was a nice toad.
240 enemy planes have been brought down this month by our ground defences and the RAF.
*From the poem Venus and Adonis.