The announcement that Mr. Ernest Bell, after many years of public service as proprietor, publisher, and editor of the Animals’ Friend, contemplated its withdrawal, and that a little secret plot was in hand to show some mark of appreciation, love, and esteem to its editor, brought a goodly crowd to the Central Hall, Westminster, on Saturday, October 26th, 1929. The Vegetarian Society was represented by Mr. Ernest Axon (Hon. Secretary) and Mr. J. H. Brazdenale (Hon. Treasurer).
No one present could fail to have been impressed by the united and spontaneous feeling of friendliness and goodwill which prevailed, and though not a few of the company had made special journeys from places as far distant as Cardiff, Manchester, Bath, etc., not to mention the nearer suburbs, there still remains that great bulk of readers unable to be there who will be interested to know some details of the afternoon’s “celebration.”
It was all perfectly simple and informal; there were no speeches. Lady Cory, who presided, said she was there to ask Mr. Bell’s acceptance of a very special kind of hand-wrought album prepared on vegetable vellum and bound with a cover in blue and gold which looked like leather but which was innocent of any animal’s skin. In its preliminary pages was inscribed the following address, which she read aloud:—
To Ernest Bell,
The Animals’ Friend.
Of all the titles of nobility none is more highly esteemed among us than that of “The Animals’ Friend.” It is a title of high honour and emprise which has been yours these many years, and by it you are known among your fellow men. Upon you it has been conferred spontaneously by friends of justice and lovers of animals the wide world over, but not until this day have the letters patent of your title been inscribed. Within this book they are recorded—penned not in precise and formal phrase, but in terms of affection and esteem by those who know you, your record and your worth.
Thirty-two years have passed since you gave to the magazine which ever since has enshrined your ideas and championed without fear or favour the cause of justice to animals the title which has become your own. During these years the hospitality of its pages has been given generously to every society that has worked to secure recognition of the rights of animals or the removal of any one the innumerable abuses to which mankind has submitted these sub-personalities who share with us the mystery of life and mind, and who claim kinship with us in many delightful ways. In their emancipation you have spent your life and substance. Your imagination and thought, your advocacy and aid, have been potent and indispensable factors in being and promoting their development and growth. Some of these to which you are thus linked in a special bond have achieved their goal and dissolved, while others, such as
The Performing and Captive Animals’ Defence League,
The League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports,
The Pit Ponies’ Protection Society, and the
Cats’ Protection League,
who have yet to achieve, are among the many societies that have been honoured by an invitation—which they have eagerly accepted—to co-operate in the production of this tribute to Ernest Bell, “The Animals’ Friend.”
More than any other you are in a position to appreciate the degree of admiration and warmth of affection inspired by your life and work—which happily remain with us to be yet more completely fulfilled—registered by the fact that so many societies are unified around your personality.
“By their fruits ye shall know them.”
In yours you have made good your title of nobility, for has it not been said, and who shall gainsay it:
“The nobler a soul, the more objects of compassion it hath.”—R.S.
This is followed by twenty-two pages, each containing a tribute or message from as many societies working for animals, signed personally by their respective secretaries and committee members.
The following was included from The Vegetarian Society:—
The Vegetarian Society is please to have the opportunity of joining in the chorus of well-merited praise to its beloved President. We deeply regret the withdrawal from publication of the remarkably effective journal which has been for so long a time associated with your name. Vegetarianism is linked with all that is best in life and we are happy in knowing that your great work for animals had its beginning when you became a vegetarian over fifty years ago. We congratulate you on the outstanding part you have played in gaining for animals a recognition of their rights and are delighted that it is given to you to see a fruition of your labours. That you may have health and strength through the coming years to continue your noble work in our sincere wish.”
The very last page is charming—a message of love and greeting to Mr. Bell from all
Who read and love the Little Animals’ Friend, illustrated, in silhouette, by children with their animal friends and signifying “We are following on.”
After the book had passed into Mr. Bell’s hands, he said:—
“I thank you all heartily for the very kind way in which you have spoken and written of my work for the animals’ cause. That it has had your sympathy and approval is a great satisfaction and source of pleasure to me. I wish also to thank you for all the earnest work which you are all doing for the good cause.
“I have long felt that in working for the animals we are working also for the benefit of our fellow men and women. The reason why we, whether individuals or nations, behave so badly to each other can only be that our senses of justice and sympathy are still in a very undeveloped condition, and these are just the qualities which are cultivated and developed by our work for the animals, especially amongst our young members. The next generation will be much in advance of us in this matter and I think we may well pat each other on the back for the good work done which is bearing fruit on all sides.”
Miss Jessey Wade, the secretary, read several letters, selected from a pile of others like unto them, protesting against the threatened withdrawal of the greatly valued Animals’ Friend. She said that these letters had made a deep impression upon the editor, and hopes were entertained that an attempt might be made to carry it on, possibly in different conditions, which promise contributed not a little to raise the spirits of the audience, which resolved itself into a friendly and animated tea party, chatting together, inspecting humane literature, and interesting themselves a great deal in the beautiful specimens of fabric furs which were displayed at a specially reserved table.
The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review, Vol. 22 No. 1, December 1929