The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973


Animals & Ethics:
A Report of the Working Party
convened by Edward Carpenter
(Watkins Press)

From the former journal of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, Animal Welfare (October 1980 edition):

Reviewed by John Pitt

In moments of acute indecision, it has commonly been observed that cats determinedly wash themselves.

And it appears that humans form committees.

One of the lesser-known recent variations on this particular theme is that which was convened between 1977 and 1979 by The Very Rev. Dr. Edward Carpenter, the present Dean of Westminster who, as chairman, got down with a mixed bag of veterinarians – including Dr. Michael Brambell Committee fame, and other ecclesiastics, including the Rt. Rev. Dr. Hugh Montefiore, Bishop of Birmingham (but not the subject of the well-known limerick) and the Rev. Andrew Linzey, who has been an anti-vivisectionist since he abandoned short trousers.

And the book they produced between them isAnimals & Ethicswhich has the rare distinction of encapsulating a whole lot of etheric-ery (sic) into a mere 44 pages, which explains why it costs only a modest £2.00 instead of the £9.00 demanded of a similarly directed, if diametrically opposed book written by only one author and which I reviewed in the last issue.

“This outstanding study of great practical relevance by scientists, vets, theologians and others is urgently needed by people working in the animal field and by citizens grappling with the complexities of change. It offers constructive proposals as a way forward on each of the main issues and, it is hoped, gives firmer ground for getting to grips with the problems on a world-wide basis”.


Not my words but those of an anonymous blurb-writer – but I’ll go along with them. Even though this book has, I understand, been roundly condemned for containing more water than wine by a large segment of the non-secular, I – as an agnostic – do not find the tonic too diluted at all. It is, perhaps like such beverages as Lachrymi Christi, not sufficiently full-bodied to give the imbiber high blood pressure, nor so ethereal to go too far up his nose.

I particularly like the suggestion: “In complex situations where no authoritative judgement can be made, the animals should be given the benefit of the doubt: they cannot speak for themselves”.

Mind you, upon reading the publisher’s imprint, and discovering it to be Watkins “(London office at Watkins Bookshop, 21 Cecil Road, London WC2N 4HB)”, and well remembering how I used to sell a large number of review copies to the original Mr. Watkins – who claimed to have had his brain picked consistently over the years by Denis Wheatley, and with whom I used with some mutual amusement to discuss Aleister Crowley and other antic occultists, I am beginning to have doubts of another kind.

Could it be that this product of twelve active minds will be regarded within the animal welfare movement as a true spell-binder?

Reproduced with thanks.

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