While looking through William Hogarth's drawings, I was startled to find in his "Four Stages of Cruelty" of 1751 what must be the first reference in English to a link between cruelty to animals in childhood and murderous adults. The FBI has included a history of animal abuse in their analyses at least since the 1970s, and one of the first formal studies by Arnold Arluke, Jack Levin and others of 153 criminals found animal abusers much more likely to commit violent crimes against people, and crimes against property, than neighbors with a similar background but without a record of animal cruelty.
"The 'Four Stages of Cruelty'," Hogarth wrote, "were done in the hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than anything what ever, the very describing of which gives pain. But it could not be done in too strong a manner, as the most stony hearts were meant to be affected by them."
While various Scenes of sportive Woe
The infant Race employ,
And tortur’d Victims bleeding show
The Tyrant in the Boy.
Behold! a Youth of gentler Heart,
To spare the Creature’s pain
O take, he cries—take all my Tart,
But Tears and Tart are rain.
Learn from this fair Example—You
Whom savage Sports delight,
How Cruelty disgusts the view
While Pity charms the sight.
Hogarth's villain, Tom Nero, is shown graduating from torturing a dog to abusing his horse to abuse and eventual murder of his pregnant mistress, Ann Gill. In the final cartoon, Nero body is taken from the gallows and symbolically drawn and quartered by an anatomy class. His eye is taken out just as the horse's was, and a dog feeds on his heart.