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2nd International Congress 1890
London, England

From The Vegetarian (London), September 20, 1890 (also reprinted in The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester) October, 1890, pp294-297) :

The International Vegetarian Congress

THIS age is an age of meetings for good, bad and indiferent objects - meetins national and international, and the reason herefor is that we have learned the wisdom of conferring with our similarly minded brethren ; an application of the old saying that two heads are better than one. If any subject is ripe for conference, it is the Vegetarian cause, and, therefore, the second International Congress we have just celebrated is likely to be fraught with far reaching consequences for good, the extent of which but few of us can as yet appreciate.

The proceeding commenced on Thursday morning last when the London Vegetarian Society gave a breakfast to the foreign and provincial delegates, in the Salon of the Charing Cross Vegetarian Hotel, Strand, when some 80 guests partook of an excellent repast served in the Hotel Company's best style. Mr. A. F. Hills, President of the London Vegetarian Society presided, supported by Professor J. E. B. Mayor, Dr. Wynter Blyth, Herr A. von Seefeld (Hanover), and an influential reception committee. The Chairman, in the name of the Federal Union welcomed the foreign and provincial delegates, and was followed by Professor Mayor ; Herr A. von Seefeld suitably responded for the visitors.

At 11.00 o'clock the delegates assembled at the Memorial Hall for the Conference. Mr. A. F. Hills again presided and there was a large attendance. Letters and warm greetings were read from some of the leading Vegetarians from all parts of the world who were unable to be present in person.

The first paper read was that contributed by Elder Evans, chief of the Shaker Community, at Mount Lebanon, U.S., and as the whole of the papers read will be published in the transactions of the Congress, we give here simply the gist of the most interesting ones. Elder Evans began by stating that Vegetarianism in America had not found congenial soil in which to take root until it was planted in the Shaker Order at Mount Lebanon. Fifty-eight years ago a few members of the community became Vegetarians, and they had remained so up to the present, the number increasing until the whole family became vegetarians. The reason that Vegetarianism succeeded among the Shakers was this, that it was a theological, scientific, and religious basis in the Shaker system itself.

The Rev. Henry S. Clubb, chairman of the Vegetarian Society of America, sent over a short paper, in which he stated that Vegetarianism was receving support from persons connected with many of the various religious denominations of the country, proving that it was in no way sectarian in its character.

The Secretary read a paper forwarded by Dr. W. L. Holbrook, of New York. In this Dr. Holbrook stated that Vegetarianism is the United States was not at present a very potent force. A great deal of seed had been planted, but most of this had fallen by the wayside or in rocky places, where it had produced little fruit. The medical men, with rare exceptions, were against Vegetarianism, the clergy were opposed to it, men of science were not in its favour, and even temperance advocates passed it by on one side, stating that one reform was enough for them. In conclusion, he congratulated English friends upon having engaged in a reform of the greatest importance to humanity, and one which he believed in a not distant future would compel men to work for its advancement with the same earnestness that they now worked for the temperance and the rights of men.

Elder Aitken had personally said he was convinced that the Rev. Clubb had innaugurated a movement in America that would be for the benefit of the masses, as it had been for the Shakers. He spoke as a Vegetarian and a total abstainer for 50 years. John Davie, the well-known Vegetarian, was ninety years of age, and was as vigorous and lively in the cause as a boy (Cheers).

Mdlle. Louise Michel expressed her views on Vegetarianism. The eating of flesh meant misery to the animals, and she held that it was impossible for men to be happy while animals were miserable.

A paper by Mr. Edmund J. Baillie, on the "Cultivation of Fruit," was next discussed.

The Chairman submitted for approval a petition to be presented to Parliament in favour of the importation of dead cattle instead of live, and the abolition of private slaughterhouses, and the substitution of public abbatoirs.

The form of petition was agreed to, and the chairman undertook to seethat it was presented to the House of Commons next session.

Miss Yates gave a verbal report of some Food Reform work in France and Belgium.

Herr Schlemm presented a capital little paper which was read by Prof. Mayor on the state of the Vegetarian movement in Germany, setting out clearly and concisely the facts and figures of German Food Reform.

Considerable discussion then ensued upon where the next sitting of the Congress should be held, Paris and Brussels having an equal number of supporters. Utimately Brussels was selected and the Congress adjourned for luncheon.

At three o'clock the delegates reassembled, and visited in small parties some of the London sights. At six o'clock and Invitation Dinner was given to the delegates and visitors by the London Vegetarian Society in the Central Restaurant, St. Bride-street.

The day's proceedings were closed by a Concert and Conversazione in the Library of the Memorial Hall. The programme which has already appeared in the Vegetarian being carried out in a charming way, so that a most enjoyable social evening was spent together by the many friends who had come to London. The refreshments of fruits, cakes, etc, were supplied by the Central.

In the evening of Friday, at the Thames Iron Works, was produced the opera "Patience," and when it is said that the natural mode of criticism which the rendering of it suggested, was to treat the company as a professional one, it can be readily understood how excellent was the whole get up ; and what an amount of loving labour must have been spent by the actors (all, we believe, drawn from the employés of Thames Iron Works and their sisters or daughters).

Where the whole was evidently the result of such careful study, that not only did not a hitch occur throughout the entire performance, but the same high level of finished acting was apparent to the very end, it would be wrong to mention any one alone, but it would be equally wrong not to pay a tribute of praise to Blunthorne, who had thoroughly caught the spirit of his part, to the Ladies Angela and Saphir, who acted as the chief love-sick ones with a graceful power both in their prose and in their songs, and to the young lady who so prettily impersonated the milk-maid Patience.

It is only owing to the great pressure on our space that we do not deal more fully with what was so deserving of the highest praise in every way.

VM added: (Two interesting papers were also read by Herr von Seefeld, and paper by Dr. E. Densmore.)