Our New President: Mr. Ernest Bell

Our New President: Mr. Ernest Bell

At the Annual General Meeting of the Vegetarian Society, held in Manchester, its headquarters, on December 12th, 1914, Mr. Ernest Bell, M.A., of London, was duly elected to be President of the Society.

We fell happy in having secured Mr. Bell’s acceptance of this office. He has been associated, not only with the Vegetarian movement, but with nearly all kindred movements which make for the spread of kindness, love and high-living consideration for man and beast and the general uplifting of the race.

Mr. Bell was born in London in 1851, of Yorkshire parents, his father, George Bell, being founder of the well-known publishing firm now styled G. Bell & Sons Ltd. He was educated at St. Paul’s School, where he gained a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. There he took his degree in mathematics in 1873.

He afterwards spent a year at Dresden to acquire the German language, with the idea of becoming a schoolmaster. On returning to England, however, he entered his father’s business, which has been managed by his brother and himself since their father’s death until recently, when it was made into a company and they remained as senior directors.

His interest in our cause dates from the year 1874, when he became a Vegetarian. His attention was first drawn to the subject by a review in the Spectator of Dr. T. L. Nichols’ little book, “How to live on Six-pence a Day,” which interested him sufficiently to make him read further on the subject, and he became a member of our Society, a constant reader of the VEGETARIAN MESSENGER, and has been a consistent follower of the practice ever since. Mr. Bell was elected a Vice-President of the Vegetarian Society in 1886.

His first introduction to the humane work for animals, in which he is well known, was in that same year, 1874, when he joined a local Society for P.C.A. at Hampstead and afterwards became Hon. Sec., a position which he filled for 30 years, when he resigned. But he still remains with the Society as its Treasurer. In 1878 he became a member of the Committee of Miss F. P. Cobbe’s Anti-Vivisection Society, and on the death of Lord Shaftesbury, the first President, he became Chairman of Committee. Mr. Bell still holds that position in the National Anti-Vivisection Society, which is now under the direction of the Hon. Stephen Coleridge.

Of the Humanitarian League, which he also joined within a few months of its foundation by Mr. H. S. Salt, he has been Chairman of Committee and Treasurer for over 20 years.

Mr. Bell is also a member of the Council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. When Mr. Allen, the founder of the Anti-Bearing Rein Association, died, his work fell on Mr. Bell, who has acted as Hon. Sec. Until the present time, when the Association is to be united with the National Equine Defence League, of which he is already the Treasure. The National Canine Defence League also claims him as a member of Committee, and he is Treasurer of the Performing Animals’ Defence Committee and Vice President of the London Institution of Homeless Cats.

His chief interest and work has, however, been in connection with the Animals’ Friend Society and its magazine, of which he is the editor. This magazine pleads the cause of the animals, consistently speaking out boldly against all forms of cruelty and advocating Vegetarianism.

His many contributions to literature, as might be expected from the above, have been mainly of a humanitarian nature and comprise a variety of pamphlets and leaflets ranging from “An after Life for Animals” to the use of “Tortoiseshell.” We had the pleasure of reviewing the former of these pamphlets in a recent number of the VEGETARIAN MESSENGER [Sept. 1914, p. 323], from which it will be seen that Mr. Bell makes out a very good case for the claims of animals to eternal bliss—as good a case, in fact, as can be advance for the average man. We should perhaps mention his translation of Lessing’s Plays in Bohn’s Library, previously untranslated, and his influence on the publications of his firm may be seen in the All England Series of Athletic Sports, of which he will till recently the editor; the Higher Thought Series, containing the works of Mr. Trine and Professor Howard Moore; the “Life and Light Books,” “Animal Life Readers,” Humane Pictures for Schools, “The Humane Quarterly Review,” etc.

We ought not to forget the little brochure, “Just How to Dance,” as all Summer Scholars know that dancing is a special hobby of our President, which he regards not only as a social amusement, but as an athletic sport and a healthy form of exercise, which deserves to be cultivated much more than it is. Mr. Bell has taken a great interest in the Vegetarian Society’s Summer Schools. He has visited them nearly every year since their establishment, and his genial rule as Head Master has been of great value and highly appreciated. Who would have expected the old talent, lain dormant so long, to have come out for our benefit? To think what generations of potential scholars have missed!

It will be seen from the forgoing that Mr. Bell’s advocacy of Vegetarianism is based upon broad humanitarian grounds, but he is personally also a good example of how physical fitness can be attained and maintained on a Vegetarian regime. The portrait we have pleasure in reproducing is from a recent photograph by Messrs. Elliott & Fry, and is printed by their permission.

The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review, January 1915, pp. 23-25

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