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1st International Congress 1889
Cologne, Germany

From The Vegetarian (London), September 28, 1889:

"International Congress" at Cologne

THE English delegates all arrived in Cologne on Tuesday, the 14th inst. They were thirteen all told, the party consisting of Professor Mayor, Rev. T. Clarke, and Mr. Alfred Tongue, of the Manchester Society; Mr. Lloyd, of Norwich; Mr. Marshall, Blandford, Dorset; and Mr. Sullivan, Mrs. Hawkins, Miss Harding, Mr. Kibblewhite, Mr. David-son, Mr. and Mrs. Boult, and your representative, all from the London Society. Under the conductorship of Herr Von Seefeld, and accompanied by Herr Kuhn and Herr Winkler, we started on Wednesday morning for the Rhine excursion which had been arranged for us by our German hosts. I need not give you any detailed account of this trip-two days of laugh-ter, sunshine, skies of blue, mountains, castles, vineyards, beautiful churches, quaint towns, disappointments ending in merriment--now loiter-ing, now rushing, climbing, sailing, rowing-forests, rocks, valleys-and through all, as the leading thought in a fugue, now lost, now found, the great broadly sweeping, majestic river.

It does not admit of detail ; it passed leaving a never-to-be-forgotten flavour of exuberant pleasure. The grapes were dearer than they are at home in London; I dare say we were slightly cheated-but even so, what then? The beds and dinners were of the camping-out order-but we were camping out. No school-girls ever laughed so much as we did. On the river steam-boats people wondered why we laughed so much; we laughed because life and health which only Vegetarians know the meaning of, was and is ours. The passengers of those Rhine boats are a curious study. There are tired, forlorn-look-ing Yankees, who have made money and are try-ing to enjoy themselves; flash young men, and rather more flash young women; German family parties, stolid, respectable; staid, priggish Ger-man boys; spooney-looking couples, evidently on their honeymoon; people snoozing and boozing; bright, handsome-looking young men; English girls, in sailor hats; and, flitting up and down through all, the ubiquitous German waiter. Of course German waiters ought to he there-but where is the German waiter not ?

Grander than all mountains, more beautiful than anything else, stately grace itself, towering up into the heavens, is Der Dom. zu Cöln. Seen in the evening sunshine from the river, it is never to be forgotten. It rises there in the midst of a great plain, far, far above every-thing, in its serene arid perfect beauty express-ing for all time the truth that the highest and best thoughts of man are godward. "Like some tall cliff"-but you have no space for quotations, and I have no time for them -in-deed, I hear Herr Weidner ringing his bell for Herr Weidner has a bell, and he rings it with great energy. And so for the Congress.

On Friday night there was a public reception of the delegates in the Volkemburg; there everybody made his or her bow to everybody else; the proceedings were delightfully informal. On Saturday morning the first session took place, when an address of welcome, written by President E. Hering, was circulated. Here are some extracts.

"And of what nature is the work awaiting you? Does it concern the welfare of a certain class, the authority and social position of a profession? Did we meet here to discuss religious or political party opinions? Nothing of the kind! Our work concerns the whole people, humanity at large; it is of an international character, entirely devoid of selfish interests. No title, no cross of any order, no social position of high account, is to be gained here, and any one seeking for such will be disappointed. The welfare of the whole people, of the entire population in all its classes, nay, of all mankind, is to be the only and single object of our work here; and therefore we call upon all, to whatever class or nation they may belong, to grant us their assistance and co-operation.

"We feel especially gratified to see in our midst a number of dear friends and fellow labourers from our neighbouring country, England. We welcome you proudly and joyfully, with heartfelt thanks for your kind presence at this meeting. We trust many a golden grain from the rich treasure of your experience will benefit us and wish most sincerely that you may in years to come be able to witness in this country the fruitful results of your present labours. But you may too, respected friends, when returning to your own country, take back with you the conviction that you were here surrounded by sympathising friends, pursuing the same objects, working with an equal firmness of purpose towards the fulfilment of the great idea, i.e. to lead man back into the path of Nature, to do away with the ever-growing excrescences of civilisation ; that its blessing might be enjoyed so much more purely, and that Nature might become reconciled to Culture. Though the labourers in this field be yet but few, they are untiring in their efforts ; and we hope that this Congress, with your help, dear friends, may cause a considerable increase to the number of our adherents. This hope is not so vain as our adversaries so often triumphantly proclaim ; a short retrospect of past times proves this."

[Here the address shows how enormous has been the increase in Vegetarianism within the last few years in Germany, and goes on to ask, How may the cause be further advanced? making the two following suggestions:]

"A great many Vegetarians of the present time have gone through a course of practical study at one of our institutions for the natural cure of disease; there they have learned what may constitute a Vegetarian diet, and have experienced in their own persons what is best for the human organism ; these institutions have been until now the most prominent nurseries of Vegetarianism. But they lead towards our cause only such persons whose bodies have suffered more or less from disease, and who, as they do not always regain a healthy appearance, endanger in a certain way the reputation of the movement. Nevertheless, such institutions will always afford the best opportunities for the propagation of our cause, and we cannot but express our unconditional approbation to their proprietors, who devote all their time to their patients, and try to teach them the way of a better and healthier life on earth. I may, however, be allowed to express the wish, on this occasion, that all institutions for the natural cure of disease which have adopted the Vegetarian diet for the treatment of their patients, should publish frequent statistic reports about the successful results obtained by their system. Facts speak loudest, and people want to see success before they are convinced.

"Vegetarian eating-houses are another training-school for intending Vegetarians, and it absolutely necessary to increase their number, -if the cause of Vegetarianism is to progress -satisfactorily. I believe, in this respect more than in any other, we are behindhand in Ger-many, and might learn a good deal from our English friends. Our principal endeavour ought therefore to be directed towards supplying this want. We recommend to any of our Vegetarian friends, feeling an inclination to open well-regulated eating-houses, to go about it quickly and resolutely. It is not only a noble task, but, as proved by experience, also profitable in a worldly sense. These eating-houses will at the same time serve as meeting-places for Vegetarians, and we may congratulate ourselves when everywhere congregations of convinced and prudent fellow-thinkers will be found, commanding, by their very manner and person-al appearance, universal respect and consideration, and proving, by what they accomplish in their individual calling, that they are men of sterling value and capacity. It was fortunate indeed for me to have met with such high- minded Vegetarians, when first I began my investigations; who knows if, but for this circumstance, I should not have lost the inclination to pursue the matter and to make a trial with the new mode of living. This leads me once more to a point which I mentioned before. The advancement of Vegetarianism must be brought about not by the effects of our work in first line, but by the influence of our own individuality ; and therefore it is our duty, more than that of any other class, to work with all energy towards our moral and physical perfection. We have often heard the reproach, very likely not without cause, that a great many curious characters are to be met within our ranks. Can we wonder, if it is so? Must not every vegetarian feel inclined to keep more and more aloof from a society in which Vegetarianism is so little understood? Singular people are, as a rule, firm characters, just the kind to be of use to any cause ; still, they only succeed in very exceptional cases in making new converts to Vegetarianism."

The address concluded with the hope that "the change of ideas to which this Congress will once more give the impulse may find a fruitful soil - and may be the whole people will be benefited by the blessings arising from it!"

Herr Weidner, in a hearty speech, welcomed all friends - especially, he was good enough to say, English friends. He dwelt at length on the necessity and usefulness of these Conferences, and showed how much they might help on the work of making know the blessings of Vegetarianism far and wide, which of all things it was their bounden duty to do.

Much regret was felt on all hands that many well-known Vegetarians were unavoidably absent ; but all, Germans and English alike, especially regretted the absence of Mr. A. F. Hills, President of the London Vegetarian Society, who is known everywhere not only as the greatest living worker in the cause of vegetarianism, but also in every cause undertaken for the benefit of humanity. The following letter from him was read:-

"Buckhurst Hill
"12th September, 1889

"My dear Sir,
"I write to ask you to express to all Vegetarian friends now assembled in Congress at Cologne my sincere regret that I am unable to be present and to take part in their councils. Unfortunately, heavy pressure of business makes it impossible for me to leave London ; but, though absent in body, I shall be present with you all in spirit.

"I am not, however, writing so much to make apologies for my own absence as to tender, on behalf of the London Vegetarian Societies, a most cordial invitation to all Vegetarians - especially to those now conferring at Cologne - that they should hold their Congress next year in London, when we will do our best to make the visit pleasant to all friends who will honour us with their company. For my own part, I am of opinion that it will be well to transform the precedent of this year's Inter-national Congress into an annual institution. The old maxim, that 'union is strength,' applies with special force to all movements of Social Reform ; and when we see delegates from all countries hurrying to hold International Conferences on labour questions, it is high time that the Vegetarians of the World should do the same.

"I hope that this year's Congress will take into consideration the best means of united action, whereby the interests of Vegetarianism may advance even more swiftly. There is need for the best suggestions of the best minds. The battle with the forces of false tradition and cruel custom is waxing fierce; and therefore I rejoice that this International Congress is meeting, for I believe that from its counsels shall spring strength and wisdom for all.

"I send you my heartiest good wishes for the success of your meeting, and remain, - Yours very truly,
"President London Vegetarian Society."

The reading of letters from other absent friends, and the presentation of credentials by the delegates, concluded the morning's business. In the afternoon it was debated whether or not the Congress should be held annually and it was decided that it should be annual; the next meeting to be in London, the London Society to make the necessary arrangements. A strong committee was appointed to organise a great International Union between all Food Reform, Temperance, and Natural Living Societies ; a union which it was hoped would be sufficiently strong to carry special legislation when desired. The lines on which this union might be effected were suggested, but it was finally left to the committee to draw up a well considered scheme of union.

In the evening Professor Mayor read his paper, "Why am I a Vegetarian?" which we shall print in extenso in our next number. We were all very pleased that the Germans paid us the compliment of electing Professor Mayor to fill the post of President of the Congress, a post for which he is admirably fitted, by his vast linguistic scholarship (he speaks German with rare fluency and faultless accent, the Germans said), and also by his extreme courtesy of manner. In the way of interpreters we were very fortunate ; for, besides Prof. Mayor and Herr Von Seefeld, we had Mrs. Boult, who speaks German so well that it was said she might easily pass as a native. Dr Aderholdt, of whom I give a short life - read his paper, andthis concluded Saturday's business.

The organiser of the Congress was Herr Weidner, of Köln. A gentleman of military training, of vast perseverance, and of that true, uncon-querable stuff which does not know what it is to be beaten, he is an invaluable worker in the cause of food reform. "For the last five years," he said, "I have worked, almost always, eight hours a day for Vegetarianism, writing letters, seeing people, and doing all that had to be done." By profession Herr Weidner is Director of the Municipal Gymnasium at Köln, a position of great responsibility, as very properly in Germany all public school-boys have to pass through the gymnasium. It is often urged against the Vegetarian diet that an athlete could not train on it - the objection of course only coming from people who know nothing of the subject - but it is none the less a seemingly plausible one. In his own person, Herr Weidner is a complete and perfect answer to this objection ; by profession a highly skilled athlete, wiry, lithe, of great muscular development, he is the very ideal of a man in perfect training. With such a worker as Herr Weidner we are confident that food reform will make rapid progress in his native country.

Born 24th August, 1825, in Berlin, educated at Hanover, in which city he is head of a publishing firm, this gentleman is a leading German Vegetarian, and also a prominent member of various societies having as their object the prevention of cruelty to animals and kindred subjects. Herr Von Seefeld is perhaps rather more a man of letters than a publisher ; of wide reading, high culture, a first-rate linguist, much travelled, curteous, of a singularly winning manner. No one could have better acted as host and guide to the English delegates than he did. For not alone did he accompany us up the Rhine, but at every turn and on all occasions he was hand and foot at our service. He has written and published much on food reform ; he has also founded a flourishing society at Hanover.

Edward August Aderholdt was born on the 2nd December, 1828, at Nordhausen, where his father was a merchant. He attended the "gymnasium" school in his native town, and distinguished himself early through his talent for poetry, as well as through his capacity for mathematics in a remarkable degree. In the autumn of 1848, he moved t the University of Bonn, to study mathematics and natural science, and devoted himself at the same time specially to chemistry. In 1852 he obtained his doctor's degree, and passed the higher examinations with honours ; upon which he went to reside in Göttingen, where he was engaged for a year as assistant to Wöhler. In consequence of an appointment to the Muster School at Frankfort, he gave up his intention of establishing himself at Göttingen as a professor in the University, though after some years he relinquished the post and lived successfully at Jena, Weimar, Fresden, Carlsruhe, Moscow, Berlin and Cassel, teaching and giving instruction, till, in 1876, he finally took up his abode in Paris. He had one daughter by his first wife, whom he married in Frankfort, but who unfortunately was an invalid, and after her death Dr. Aderholdt married a Parisian lady, in 1884. From his pen have appeared various poetic, mathematical, chemical and philosophic works, to which have been added, in the last eight years, other papers on the art of natural living. He adopted this system himself, in 1874, after having made a trial of it for some weeks, originally with the object of opposing it ; and his friendship with Edward Baltzer, whose portrait we give, and an account of whose life we shall present to our readers in an early number, which had dated back from 1847, became through this more closely cemented. When Baltzer found his powers failing, he handed over to Dr. Aderholdt the work of editing the journal of the Natural Living Society, which up to the end of last year he had attended to himself He was nominated an honorary member of the Vegetarian Societies in Manchester and Munich, and also of the German Natural Living Society ; and he conducted the annual meetings in Frankfort and Cassel, in addition to giving discourses for the furtherance of the principles in Frankfort, Nürnberg, Munich, and Cassel.