Ernest Bell is dead! a leader who was steadfast amid change, faithful amid ingratitude undismayed by assault, simple with the simplicity of greatness, and quiet with the strength of profound conviction. For half a century I have been his humble follower and reverent fellow worker; never in all those long years of service together, labouring to lessen the sufferings of God’s helpless animals, have I ever left his side, or has he ever failed me in any contest; never has a word passed between us to dim the light of a perfect sympathy or loosen the bond of the deep affection that bound me to him.
No one in the outside world knew the wide range of his ceaseless and beneficent acts of love to men and women fallen by the wayside in this troublesome world. Beneath that calm and seemingly unmoved manner there beat a heart quick to give itself in consolation without too curiously caring whether its objects were truly deserving or not. Sorrow was there, and he did not stop to discover whether it were not perhaps self created. Was not this to follow the most sacred of all examples, “neither do I condemn thee”?
But to animals, who know nothing of good and evil, who in suffering know of no throne to which they can bring their sorrows, who know only that man in whose hands they helplessly lie are returning their faith and love with cold cruelty, to these poor unoffending betrayed creatures the heart of Ernest Bell was for ever overflowing with infinite pity that years never lessened and age never touched. We may never again have with us such an unwavering, steadfast, peacefully indomitable leader. But he will remain in the minds and hearts of those who knew him and loved him an example to inspire them, going before them upwards, upon the great march to a better world.
“Follow his steps as ye go
Ye who till up our files
Strengthen the wavering line,
Stablish, continue our march
On, to the bound of the waste,
On, to the city of God.”
Hon. Stephen Coleridge
Published: The Times, September 16, 1933, p. 12