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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

ANNUAL REPORT 1897

SOUTH-WEST PROVINCE.

AGAIN we are summoned to give an account of our stewardship in the Province committed to our care, and we do so with feelings of pleasure, for our record in the South-West has been one of increasing strength and expansion. The grains of truth so humbly planted, here a little and there a little, have tillered abundantly. It is not given to everyone to see the fruit of his labours, but our experience herein is one to rejoice at. In the Societies under our charge the year just passed has been one of great activity. The usual official work has been sustained and the interest increased. Members have been added to the roll and the funds augmented. Fresh centres of activity have been founded, and new workers impressed into the good fight. Long is the list of successes we could set out did space admit. From Sussex in our East, the extreme of Wilts to Devon and Cornwall in the West every Vegetarian, nominal or real, has been canvassed and set to work for the glory of the cause and so far as means would permit no opportunity has been lost of advancing the triumph of Vegetarianism.

Libraries have been founded and their contents well patronized. thousands of pamphlets and other free literature have been wisely distributed. Work among the little ones has been initiated and pressed by devoted followers. Temperance, Social Science, Literary, Debating, Scientific and Political Societies, Bands of Hope and of Mercy, Wesley Guilds and Templar Lodges, all have opened their doors to our call and given us earnest listeners and oft times zealous converts. Our appeals in this direction have brought us far more openings than we have speakers to fill, hence there is room, abundant room, for fellow-workers in this harvest field. The Press, are freely inserted, sometimes running to several as of old, has been generous, reports both long and short of our length. We have added fresh sets of slides to our repertoire, and our lime-light lectures always command large and attentive audiences.

The result of all this activity is plainly seen in the manner of those we have to deal with. Their tone is apologetic, they deprecate all resistance and freely admit the justice of our claims. Their spirits are more than willing and their flesh is just as weak. Gratitude reminds us of the boundless debt we owe to the unstinted labours of our colleagues in the West. In season and out of season, in fair weather, as the most inclement, they have never failed to respond promptly to our call. Prodigal of time, of energy and means, their devotion is unbounded, and, but for their unselfish toil our record would be shorn of many a boasted victory.

Thus much for the past, what now of the future? The future is with the Vegetarians if they to themselves will be true. Above all, it is deeply graven in our mind that the day of large centralized societies is past, the present and the future lies with the multitude of small local centres springing into existence all round. Full of fervent zeal, perfectly free and independent, yet linked for mutual aid and guidance into a wise and effective Union. This is the only method by which we can retain and utilize our strength - our young men and women. This is the only way in which we can employ them in work suitable to their power and understanding - fitted to bring into full and active play each fibre of their generous enthusiasm.

We cannot longer afford to leave the interest of our cause in the hands of simply passive. Vegetarians - those easy-going folk whose counsel of perfection is to keep things quiet and as they are. "I would that you were either hot or cold." We dare not risk the fate of the lukewarm. We cannot afford to be quiet. We hunger for progress, and hence would unlock the fiery zeal and stir up the enthusiastic to energetic and continued effort. The strength of the enemy is broken. Ignorance, abuse and misrepresentation have done their worst but cease to avail him. Knowledge grows from day to day, prejudice is passing hence, and the minds of men are expanding in the growing light of truth. Numbers are already within the gates. Thousands more are treading the narrow path thereto, yet myriads crave for the truth but know no one to point them the way. Dare we then keep cold and apathetic when victory seems within our reach ? Nay, rather should it influence us to redoubled zeal, spur the indifferent to fall in line and inspire the loyal to further vigilance, so that vigorous, united, progressive, triumphant, we hasten the day when all shall proclaim the beauty and power of Vegetarianism.

R. E. O'CALLAGHAN,
Provincial Secretary for South-West Province.

Vegetarian Federal Union index | 1897 Annual Report index