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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From The Vegetarian (London), December 21, 1889:

The Vegetarian Federal Union
[ extracts from a very lengthy article by Mr. A. F. Hills, Chairman of the VFU and proprietor of The Vegetarian. The article began with a quote of eight verses from Tennyson, ending: "Set in all lights by many minds / To close the interests of all."]

A. F. Hills, Esq., Chairman of the Vegetarian Federal Union.

W. E. A. Axon, Esq., Vice-Chairman of the Vegetarian Federal Union.

Of all the many social developments of the past year, none is likely to prove more fruitful in far-reaching influences than the establishment of the VEGETARIAN FEDERAL UNION. The work wrought in a short two hours conference by the assembled representatives of English Vegetarian Societies, on Tuesday, October 6th 1889 [the previous report gave it as October 1], will I believe mark an epoch, not only in the history of Vegetarian advance, but also in the annals of political evolution.

The first suggestion for this splendid concentration of our scattered isolated, forces, came from one of our most capable workers, Mr. Charles Forward, who developed, in a paper read at our [LVS] second Quarterly Conference, a scheme for the further organisation of Vegetarian activity ; and the present Constitution of the Federal Union, after passing through the furnace of criticism, has been hammered into shape by the representatives of all our English Vegetarian Societies. It stands, therefore, as the expression of our best minds - the ripe fruit of our wisest heads. "In the multitude of councillors there is wisdom" - so runs the time honoured proverb ; and the history of the Federal Union, we may well hope, will prove that constructive constitutional capacity has not been wholly wanting in the founders of its fortunes and the writers of its laws.

What, then are the possibilities of the VEGETARIAN FEDERAL UNION? There is no limit to which we can place them. When once the power of the individual purpose is strengthened with all resources and confidence of Union, then is there set in motion a moral force whose momentum shall overthrow the kingdom of darkness , with all its works. The triumphs of nineteenth-century civilisation are but mulitpied proofs of the irresistible might of combination. The boundaries of Time and Space have alike vanished before the steam engine and the electric telegraph. At each great centre of population may be felt the pulsing heart-throbs of the world. "Who is my neighbour?" said the Pharisee of old ; and the answer rings for all of us - Humanity! There is no child of Adam born upon the earth but comes under the subtle influences of modern thought. The Schoolmaster is abroad, and education makes the tiniest scholar of today the heir of all the ages of culture and knowledge. Cheap literature, a cheap press, cheap communications, make knowledge the inheritance of all ; and, as the sum of the world's wisdom widens, so does its promise and its power pass to larger use. But, just in proportion as the nations of the world become neighbours and near friends, so are the possibilities of Vegetarian progress made large. What is learnt in London today will be taught in Melbourne and New York tomorrow ; and so the union of our English Vegetarian Societies, for common work and counsel, is but the presage of that larger federation, whereof all nations are the units, and whereof creation is the sum.It may be well briefly to consider the several clauses of the Constitution, and the principles which they embody and express.

[there then followed a very long repetition of the constituion with somewhat rambling comments about each clause....]

Thus the work of the VEGETARIAN FEDERAL UNION has begun. It needs "a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together" to make its progress something better than phenomenal. Who can look back across the history of the last few years, and not thank God and take courage? The divisions and misconceptions of half-knowledge are fleeing like mists before the sun ; the dangers of schisms and separations are passing away. As Vegetarians meet oftener, as they learn to know each other better, as they all join hands in common work - so will the purpose of the Vegetarian Federal Union be realised - so will the power of Vegetarian doctrine be strong. Let us, then, be up and doing, knowing that the day is spent, and the night cometh, when no man can work.