A daily excerpt from a a historical edition of Punch – the greatest satirical magazine in history

Category: Religion

Manchester: the unlikely birthplace of vegetarianism

The Vegetarians in the North.

The Vegetarians have been consuming a quantity of green stuff in public at the Town Hall of Salford. We shall expect soon to hear of a variety of Extraordinary Feats performed by geniuses of the Vegetarian class, such as swallowing turnips whole, demolishing spinach by the sieve, onions by the rope, and cabbages by the cartload.

Here’s an interesting fact. There were more vegetarian restaurants in Manchester in 1880 than 1980. Unlikely as it seems, industrial Manchester, and particularly Salford, were host to the birth of the modern vegetarian movement.

It started in 1809, when a charismatic preacher, reading Genesis 9.3 (“And God said, Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb I have given you all things, but the flesh, with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”) encouraged his congregation to abstain from meat. “Meat-eating is unnatural. If God had meant us to eat meat, then it would have come to us in edible form, as is the ripened fruit”.

The next year, he published this poem, arguing that God is in all moving things.

Hold, daring man! thy hand restrain –
God is the life in all;
To smite at God, when flesh is slain –
Can crime like this be small?

His influential successors came to found the vegetarian society. All of the founding members came from Salford.

Why Salford? Who can tell. Perhaps it was a reaction against the dark satanic mills; a need for purity amongst the grime. Perhaps it was Manchester’s position as far from the reaches of the established church in London that lead to the flourishing of these fringe beliefs. Or perhaps it was simply a very charismatic individual.

Nonetheless, the movement was popular and successful. In Fountain Street in the heart of Manchester there was a vegetarian establishment which boasted two dining halls, a lecture theatre, and billiard, smoke and reading rooms. It had a full-time staff of 21 and spawned a satellite restaurant nearby. There were also the Smallman’s Restaurants, founded by Frederick Smallman a health food pioneer and vegetarian. He set up business in 1876 and his establishment grew to eight in the city.

For more info, see this great article by Derek Antrobus.




Your Handy Guide to Clerical Beards #9. The Niagara

The Niagara is unusual, but in a few cases finds favour ; it is formed by shaving away all hirsute append-ages above an ideal line drawn across the face from the tip of one ear to that of the other, and allowing all below the line to grow in perpendicular freedom. It becomes clerical gents of a middle age who still rejoice in hirsute privileges on the lower part of the coun-tenance, and is an assertion of vigorous manhood, especially be-coming when the upper sphere of the cranium has been divested of  its capillary attractions.

Well, that’s the final one in this series, which we began on the 9th July (today for me, obviously!) I will leave you with Punch’s final words on clerical beards.

These are the principal beards that adorn our pulpits ; they admit of many subdivisions which it would be tedious to particularise. No doubt they greatly strengthen the Establishment by increasing the respect in which the clergy are held. Dissent came in with the razor; LATIMER, CRANMER, and RIDLEY, of course had beards, and it was the beard that awed the rebellious Puritan till the days of LAUD. The Roundheads clipped their locks in mockery of a shaven clergy. The beard alone is want-ing to restore unity and piety to the land; it is a sure intimation that the clergy are above the poor vanities of the world allow Nature to assert her privileges and are too much taken up with higher duties to attend to the adornments ol their persons.

Mr. Punch concludes by suggesting that as they permit their hair to grow ” like eagle’s feathers,” they should suffer their ” nails to grow like birds’ claws,” the effect of such a conjunction in the pulpit
would be irresistible.

(5th March 1864)

Your Handy Guide to Clerical Beards #8. The Lynx

The Lynx is most appropriate for preachers of the Boanerges class. It is easily achieved, but requires attention : the eye-brows must be gummed up at the corners, the moustache properly turned up secured with gum, and the chin be cleanly shaved with a semicircular line each side. A good Lynx terrifies evil-doers, particularly of the female class.

The Lynx, of course, was famously sported by wolverine of the X-men.

(5th March 1864)

Your Handy Guide to Clerical Beards #7. The Gibbon

We next have the Gibbon, a very becoming fringe, suggested by that amiable species of ape. It is a straight fringe round the face: it only requires frequent brushing to keep it stiff and straight, gum may be required, and Mr. Punch does not object to a tint of cosmetic if the hair be turning grey.

(5th March 1864)

Your Handy Guide to Clerical Beards #6. The Turkeycock

The animal creation affords us some lessons on this subject which we may improve, and of which the clergy have taken very proper advantage. For instance, the Turkeycock affords us a hint for a very charming arrangement of pilosity. In this case we allow neither beard nor moustache, but a very simple development of the whisker. It is brought down in the shape of a turkeycock’s jowls, the scizzors, curling-tongs, with gum, and if needful a horsehair centre, will bring this admired form to perfection.

(5th March 1864)

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