Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Joseph Brotherton M.P. for Salford - Vegetarian Society 1847

Joseph Brotherton created a Vegetarian Society in 1847 in Ramsgate by popular demand.  He was a Member of Parliament for Salford and a vegetarian for 42 years (in 1851).

[Fact: Joseph Brotherton was born in Whittington, nr Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1783;
he married Miss H Harvey in Whittington in March 1806; 
William Harvey is his brother-in-law and partner in Brotherton, Harvey and Co. ]

The following are notes from an French article that appears in: The International Magazine of literature, art, and science - Vol. 4, Aug-Dec 1851  (The article itself is from the Paris Journal des Debats - so bear in mind the tone is from a Frenchman in the 19th century observing vegetarians... :-) ...)

The Meeting of the Vegetarians in 1851

Joseph Brotherton is the president of the society.  There were about 400 people present.  Equal numbers of men and women.  Many children.  Many Quakers.  There was a banquet of Vegetarians.

Banquet included:    Little pies of mushrooms, Toasted bread and parsley, Rice cakes, blanc mange, cheese tarts, and all sorts of pastry.
Desert composed of raspberries, cherries, and preserves.
With Tea, milk, coffee, and iced water.

After dinner.. speeches.

The president of the Vegetarians, then, quoted Genesis ("and god said - Behold I have given you every fruit-bearing seed.." and so on ... which can be countered by following verse 28... anyway)...

Then on to Economy and Health... politics... according to the 'Vegetarians', society will not be regenerated until all men shall live on parsley and tapioca : "a reform in eating and drinking shall precede all others.  For", said Brotherton, "a man who, from conscientious motives, shall abstain from the slaughter of animals, will not be guilty of murder of his fellow creatures."

Economy... the Vegetarians are decided free-traders - decided partisans of direct exchange... (umbrella schemes alive in 1851...)  The Vegetarians call for the abolition of intermediaries and for direct consumption.

As for health... the advantages of the Vegetable System [related to Sir John Hill's book of the same name?, z] are presented to us under the most encouraging colours.

The chairman of the Vegetarians, Mr Brotherton... is a living proof of the healthiness of vegetarianism "and he affirms that it suits him."  There was also in the meeting an American [I know this is Charles H De Wolfe, z]... from Philadelphia and who had belonged to the fraternity for 40 years - who had 21 grandchildren none of whom could be made to eat meat...  There is a magistrate, there is an alderman, there are 21 medical men (there for the sake of experiment), 10 members of the clergy, ... and 50 lawyers, 26 merchants, 11 fundholders, 371 workmen, .. in all 718 ... 512 men and 205 women...