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4th International Vegetarian Congress
London, England, 1897

From The Vegetarian Messenger, Manchester, October 1897:


The International Vegetarian Congress, held in London last month, was memorable in many ways, chiefly, perhaps, for the great wave of enthusiasm it called forth, and which will remain with all vegetarians who were present , and to be to them a consuming fire, giving them no rest until our high ideals are realised.

Our space is too limited to give other than a brief survey of the events of the week, referring our readers to the Vegetarian and Vegetarian Review for fuller accounts of the proceedings.

There were delegates present from several foreign countries, and from a large number of British societies. The first event of the programme was the opening of the Vegetarian Exhibition, and the great variety of exhibits made a great impression on the public, and also on the press. Of the Exhibition, The Queen said it "afforded an instructive object lesson in the practical application of the requirements of daily life of the priciples so ably advocated by the different speakers at the Congress. The more notable among the various articles exhibited included, in addition to a remarkably fine display of vegetables, fruits, and cereals, and of pulverised and condensed pulses, prepared foods of every imaginable variety and disguising appelation such a 'Melton Mowbnray pies,' 'vegetable sausages,' 'macaroni chops,' &c. ; some especially tempting looking samples of the 'N.R. fruit and nut bread' (forming, when eaten with juicy fruits or vegetables, a perfect diet) ; of Cyclone whole-meal flour in the shape of pastry, cakes, and biscuits; of Nucoline butter ( a purely vegetable, fatty product obtained from nuts, and invaluable for confectionery and frying purposes) ; of 'Albene,' also a pure vegetable fat, superior to lard, butter, or any animal fat for all cooking and medical needs ; of 'Vegetable cod-liver oil;' and lastly, but worthy of the highest commendation, of the delicious ' Nizam' vegetable curries, specially prepared by the renownded Indian chef, 'Veerasawmy,' for the delectation of visitors to the Congress, and of which each guest - if so disposed - was requested to partake. In this unique collection of Vegetarian exhibits food products, however, by no means enjoyed a monopoly ; for here were also to be seen boots and shoes composed of vegetable material, including gentlemen's stout walking boots in the semblance of polished calf, ladies' delicate Oxford shoes apparently of fine morocco, and others in plain hygienic undyed fibre, or of unbleached linen fashioned in the similitude of Greek sandals ; while gloves of divers colours, in useful and dressy variety, shared in claiming the interested attention of the visitor."

Then followed the speech of the President (Mr. A. F. HIlls). I could not get into the room, the crowd was so great, and what I heard was only a faint echo of the voice of the speaker. But from what I hear, Mr. Hills never spoke better than at that meeting, which is saying a great deal.

At the conversazione following this meeting, there were more speeches from Mrs. Mc Douall, the President, and the Rev. James Clark, and beautiful music. A pleasant feature of this gathering was the exquisite violincello solo rendered by Miss Theobald, of whose high musical attainment vegetarians everywhere are justly proud.

Tuesday morning found us listening to papers from Madame Veigelé, Miss May Yates, and Miss Isobel Whitfield. In the afternoon, papers by Mr. W. E. A. Axon, Mr. Chas. W. Forward, and the Rev. A. Bodington were read. At six o'clock, there was an experience meeting in the Board-room of the Memorial Hall, Major Richardson in the chair. There were present 63 persons, representing 695 years of Vegetarian practice, an average of eleven years' abstinence for each person. There were six life Vegetarians, and the oldest was 60 years.

At St. Martin's Town Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Beard were receiving friends from six o'clock to 7.30, and the meeting which followed the reception gave a high tone to the remainder of the gatherings.

On Wednesday morning we again made our way to the Memorial Hall, the Conference being opened by Mrs. Boult, who presided. Mr. Sidney H. Beard read a paper on the "Religious Aspect of Vegetarianism," and it was followed by an earnest and vigorous discussion, in the main agreeing with the paper. The Rev. James Clark said he was glad that emphasis was being laid upon the higher aspects of the vegetarian movement. He referred to a Daily News leader which stated that vegetarians had invented no dish which would tempt anyone to say. "Come, now, let us make a night of it." They produced dishes, however, that were as palatable to flesh-eaters as flesh itself, and far less injurious. Vegetarianism did not merely mean a healthy and adequate diet - though science proved it to be both - but it involved humane and higher considerations.

Mrs. Boult then advocated the children's interests, pleading in glowing and eloquent words for these who were the future hope of the movement. She delighted all the friends by the story of the "Ivy Society," and the children's methods of working. Mrs. Boult is anxious for a central, independent, children's society to be formed, with a paper of its own. We trust that her hopes may be realised. Immediately after lunch we started for the garden party at Woodford, where with characteristic hospitality Mr. Hills entertained 350 guests. Games, music, and a pleasant repast in a tent under the trees, were followd by speeches by the Rev. James Clark, Mrs McDouall, Fraulein Koefel, and Mr. Hills to whom were accorded hearty cheers for his generous hospitality and kindness. After watching the play of the beuatiful illuminated fountains the friends took their way home.

Thursday was set apart for the Crystal Palace celebration, which was also a distinct success. The catering was excellent, as were also the speeches by Mr. Hills, Mr. Sidney H. Beard, and Rev. James Clark. There was also a public meeting in the theatre of the palace, which was well attended. Speeches by Miss Yates, Mr. J. M. Skinner, Mr. Forward and Mr. Broadbent, and music made an interesting programme.

Friday was the closing day of the Congress, and the effort to attend a many meetings was as wearying as it was dleightful. There were papers in the morning by the Hon. Mrs. F. J. Bruce, the Rev. Francis Wood, and Mrs. C. L. H. Wallace, and in the afternoon by Mr. W. A. McDonald, and Mr. G. W. Smith. At 5-30 o'clock the Ivies had a meeting from which many of us reluctantly came away, and at 8 o'clock the visitors were invited to take supper with our eloquent friend Mrs. McDouall. Two very happy hours were spent, friendly greetings, pleasant speeches full of bright hope, and graceful tribute to our hostess were the rule.

On Saturday and Sunday, Oriolet Hosiptal was visited, and the visits were greatly enjoyed by all who went. Of praise there was much, to the President of the Federal Union, the Committee and Mr. Oldfield, for their efforts and labours in the Congress arrangements, and the praise was thoroughly deserved. - A.B. [almost certainly Albert Broadbent, Secretary of the Vegetarian Society, Manchester]