International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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4th International Congress 1897
London, England

from The Vegetarian (London), September 25th, 1897:

International Vegetarian Congress

Wednesday's Proceedings.

Mrs. Frances Boult, President of the Ivy Leaf Society, occupied the chair during the morning session of Wednesday, when papers were read by Mr. J. S. Herron and by Sydney H. Beard.


Vegetarianism, Mr. Beard thought, was insufficiently regarded as a religious service. A flesh and blood diet must inevitably strengthen man's carnality and if a man's carnal appetites were not subdued the weaknesses of the flesh must hamper the operations of the divine free-will of the spirit. To leaven the world's sordidness something immediately bearing upon practical matters was needed. A greater dynamic force lay in moral suasion than in intellectual persuasion, and the moral forces of psychic power were incompatible with the daily unnecessary slaughter of that host of gentle and beautiful creatures whom the Divine wisdom had ordained as our earth-fellows. The time had now come when the lust for beefsteak should no longer tyrannize over the soul of a man. It should be understood that Vegetarianism sought to strike at the root of drunkeness and sensualism, and that these noxious growths could not be so readily or completely destroyed by other methods.


Mrs. Boult then gave a very short, very unrhetorical and exceedingly interesting account of the formation and functions of of the Ivy Leaf Society, with which her name is now so inseparably connected. Vegetarian propaganda among the young was, as she told her audience, no new feature in the movement. The work of the Manchester Daisy Society and the London Bands of Love were well known, besides which earnest efforts were being made in connection with the children attending the Board Schools, but the work of the Ivy Society, which differed slightly from these efforts, was rather to supplement and to unite these varied and energetic attempts.

The isolation of the children of Vegetarians was a thing which she had noticed and which, she had always thought, it was most necessary to obviate, for it was sad to think of children suffering from loneliness or misunderstanding, bad for them to be particularized from the rest of their social environment, and was, moreover, a position fraught with danger, for they, unlike their parents had not adopted Vegetarianism from principle or for conveniencem and might, on arrival at maturity, discard a system of life which they had found irksome and isolating in their own homes. Nothing was so hateful to a child, or in a child, as a conscious-sense of peculiarity.


It was at a Christmas party that Mrs. Boult first disclosed her plan. In January she had eighteen names, in February a plan of work. But in this plan Mrs. Boult, with the wisdom of a Froebel, allowed herself to be guided by the children and refrained from being their guide. The children thought of, and then voted upon, the name by which their society was to be known, and it was a satisfaction to her that they did not propose names derived from eating and drinking, with which some Vegetarian children's minds are, unfortunately, too much worried. The majority of votes decided in favour of the Ivy title, for children have a natural love of symbolism, and, as they had pointed out, the qualities of ivy are its evergreenness, its cleanliness, its capacities for growing upwards, and for spreading, and its universality and seasonableness. The ivy-leaf, as a later speaker added, also typifies constant friendship.

The Ivy Society was based upon absolute human brotherhood, all children were suffered to enter, no class distinctions were allowed to make any differences of treatment or to form the ground for any exclusions, the children being required only to be clean.

After the hard day's work compressed into the Morning Session, the interruption occasioned by the Garden Party given at Monkhams by Mr. A. F. Hills had about it almost the suggestive air of a half-holiday looked forward to and well deserved.


The day itself might indeed, have been more brilliant, but no atmospheric effect could have more perfectly harmonized with the character of the willow-fringed pathway leading from Woodford Station, with glimpses of trees beyond the pond which Corot would have loved for their faint colour, "sicklied o'er" by the pale grey cast of sky, and which Ferdinand Knoppfe could scarcely have endowed with a greater mysticism. In the grounds immediately environing the house, games of tennis and croquet were played and watched by our own compatriots and the foreigners respectively; a photographic group was taken of
the assembled visitors and a fairly realistic copy of a military band discoursed music with an evident good will, which even rain could not damp. The refreshment marquee narrowly escaped presenting a likeness to Klondike owing to an altogether unexpectedly large outside population whom reports had presumably attracted to the scene. However the difficulties of providing for all those present were overcome before the speeches - which were brief and pithy - had come to an end.

From the tea tables out of doors the party emigrated into the house to pass away the time with a little music

"Till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent green, unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw,"

so that it was possible to illuminate the playing fountains with very wonderful irredescent effects before the guests returned to town.