The Peaceable Table

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith

The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith
 in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a Peace-full diet

Vol. 9, Number 4
May, 2012

In this issue...

  • Editor's Corner Guest Essay:
    Your Secret Hideaway is Calling
  • News Notes: Kindness is a "Beaver Deceiver"
  • Unset Gems: Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Letters: Michele Louise Mitchell
  • Book Review:  The Better Angels of Our Nature
  • Recipes: Stuffed Cabbage Balls with Mushroom Gravy
  • Pioneer: John Howard
  • Poetry: Paul Lawrence Dunbar
  • << Home

Editor's Corner Guest Essay: 
Your Secret Hideaway is Calling

By Will Tuttle

So Much Need, So Little Time
Everyone says that time seems to be speeding up.  In our efforts to help spread the message of compassion to all living beings, we may find that our lives become more and more computer-centered.  We may neglect to treat in a humane manner the beings that we are, driving ourselves into frustration and unhappiness by the sheer amount of work we try to do, and the emotional load we attempt to carry.  The sins of our culture are so vast, and when we open to them, we may become disconnected from the natural joyfulness of our true nature.

Because so many people are in denial about the violence our culture routinely metes out to nonhuman animals, those of us who make an effort to be aware of it, understand it, and take responsibility for it can easily feel not just overwhelmed but also rejected by most people.  They absolutely do not want to hear about or be aware of the massive violence toward animals that is going on behind the curtain of our cultural denial.

So!! I've found that it is wonderfully inspiring and healing to take time in nature, and to connect with the beauty of our Earth.   From this connection, our efforts to protect life naturally flow and we avoid burnout.   It reliably freshens my heart, relaxes my mind, and nourishes my spirit to spend time alone in a secret hideaway in nature.   Inner peace, joy, gratitude, and deeper understanding flow more easily when I’m surrounded by the silent benevolence of trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, and wildflowers and when my closest neighbors are birds, deer, squirrels, fish, and dragonflies.    I feel connected to the green Earth and to the stars and moon, and the vastness of the sky.

An Unusual Way
I admit that my spouse Madeleine and I have an unusual life that affords some unique opportunities. We’re now in our seventeenth year living full-time in a 220 square foot “rolling home,” slowly traveling around North America spreading a message.  Living together in this tiny home on wheels  has its advantages.  It has a tiny ecofootprint.  The view and yard change every couple of days, and there’s little need for either air conditioning or heating, since we head south in the autumn and north in the spring.  It encourages being organized, inventive and aware; also, it tends to build patience, sensitivity, and humility to share a small space with another.  And it also urges us to step into the beckoning arms of the beautiful and ever-changing natural world outside our door.

While on one hand we’re busy as heck, traveling and presenting about 150 events annually, we also take time every day to meditate and to connect with nature.  The weekends usually find us camping in more urban or suburban environs, and during the week we like to head for the state parks and other wilder lands where the natural world still dances, sings, and whispers her secrets to anyone who appreciates her enough to stop and listen.

But no matter what, wherever we happen to be, I am drawn every day, for at least a little while, to find a spot of forest, beach, or stream where I can tune in to the natural world and listen for the whispering of the ancient living cycles in which my life is embedded.  I’ve found that it’s far too easy today to be beguiled by the pressures of outer events and the tyranny of apparent obligations.  We have, I believe, a deeper obligation—to honor and respect the yearnings of our heart to grow beyond the confining delusions that define our culture and our programming, and to make a leap—every day—out of the civilized world into the beckoning mystery that surrounds us in the play of light, wind, trees, and streams, and birds, clouds, and sky.

Shutting Ourselves Out . . . Letting Ourselves In
If we do not make an effort to connect authentically with this Earth and our fellow passengers here, the nonhuman animals, we will never grow to love them, we’ll consequently never understand them, and we’ll condemn ourselves to being exploitive outsiders, miserable in our clever domination, and lost in the enslaving delusion that we are separate from and superior to the natural world. And if we do make the effort to listen deeply and love this living web in which we abide, and to understand, serve, enjoy, appreciate, and celebrate it, we will be rewarded with gifts that will propel us forward in our evolution and awakening, and that will inspire and guide us to fulfill our heart’s mission on this Earth.

I spent five years writing The World Peace Diet as we traveled in our rolling home, and much of the writing was done in a little tent.  I’d go off for a while somewhere to write, receive, and reflect—in the woods of Maine, in the Florida Everglades, by the shores of Lake Huron, in the Mojave Desert, by a solitary lake high in the Cascade mountains, by the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, and countless other sacred and secret hideaways—and so the book is not so much a product of a separate mind, but is more a manifestation of a process of opening to and exploring the natural world, purifying my mind and co-creating with nature  . . .  By taking time to open to and experience the spiritual gifts nature bestows upon us, we find that our love for the Earth and all beings grows; what we love, we can begin to actually understand; and what we love and understand, we will protect.

Now more than ever, we are all called to love and protect this Earth and her living web, and this is the essence of the world peace diet, of vegan living, and of the cultural transformation we know in our bones is coming closer with every passing day.  I invite you to look out your window and see the leaves, trees, sky, and light, and also to take time to go out into nature to find your secret hideaways.   Let them speak to you, and your love for yourself and the world, and all living beings, will grow. You will become a greater force for healing and protecting our sacred Earth and all life. There is no greater joy than this: to understand and live the truth that ultimately, all is one.

Reprinted from One Green Planet with the permission of the author.

Will Tuttle is an educator, pianist, and composer, and uthor of the acclaimed best-seller The World Peace Diet,   With Judy Carman, he co-founded the Circle of Compassion Ministry, an online group for daily prayer affirmation on behalf of animals.  See Circle of Compassion.

News Notes

Young Steer Escapes Slaughterhell
A brave half-grown calf broke out of a slaughterhell the night of April 10 in Paterson, New Jersey, and ran in terror through the streets, pursued by police.  They struck him with a vehicle and inflicted rather deep wounds, but fortunately broke no bones.  Police arrested and took the youngster to another slaughterhell, but thanks to the quick action of Mike Stura of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York, he now has a safe stall and a job as ambassador to humans.  See Escape.
--Contributed by Karen Borch and Lorena Mucke

Respect for Chickens Month
United Poultry Concerns has designated May as International Respect for Chickens Month.  Let's remember and speak up for our much-despised feathered friends!  Christians will recall that in Luke 13 and Matthew 23, Jesus, speaking as a prophet, compares God to a mother hen caring for her baby chicks.
See also Carol J. Adams' essay "Under Her Wings" in PT 77

Kindness is a "Beaver Deceiver"
 The administrators of Camp Selah, a church-run organization in Virginia, had a problem:  beavers who built a dam that flooded a portion of their road.  But instead of immediately thinking "kill" as so many people do, they, refreshingly, sought a peaceful solution.  HSUS experts helped them achieve it with a special flexible hose through the dam that lowered the lake without harming the furry architects or their masterpiece.  See Beaver
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux

Unset Gems

“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

The story of vegetaianism has long been one of persecution, suppression and ridicule because vegetarianism is not simply a criticism of meat-eating but a criticism of power.
--Colin Spencer

Letters:  Michele Louise Mitchell

Dear Peaceable Friends,
I was touched by your family's practice (mentioned in the March editor's corner essay) of sacralizing a major purchase with a gift to a good cause.  It reminded me . . . . of the Lenten fast as a sort of sacralizing of the dietary way as a living offering for good.  Many may not know that an important part of the Lenten fast that some practice is the "carne-out" of the diet . . .The practice may lead to being vegan year-round,  a year-round preparation of a living way for the resurrection and Christ's appearing.

At other times of the year, as a vegan, I give up other foods as an expression of unity with my vegan brothers and sisters who do not eat those items . . . .

We have been out of touch with the life-energy possibilities and meanings of the angels of the plants; by means of austerities we may renew some of the interesting energies that vegans' "Live Food" diets evoke. . . . . I have enjoyed trying a variety of vegan diets, as a sacralizing practice.  I feel it is safe to vary and change our diets within vegan parameters, which is what the Lenten fast also does.  To do so is to be as harmless as doves.

Thank you for your work and efforts to end suffering . . . .
--M. L. M

Book Review: The Better Angels of Our Nature

Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Viking, 2011. $40.00 hardcover.  xviii + 696 + 106 pp. of notes.

This important and much-discussed book offers a significant riposte to the complaint oft-heard today, that things are bad and getting worse, what with wars, moral decline, street violence, and widespread poverty and hunger.

Actually, although I spoke of that indictment as common today, it would probably be hard to pinpoint any particular year in times past when it was not heard. There is what I like to call “the myth of the pious past,” frequently invoked by preachers and moralists, a myth that purports to showcase a  present-day decline in religion and ethics against a better past.  From today's perspective, that might be the 1950s, or the Victorian age, or even Bible times.  But only a glance at the books and newspapers or chronicles will reveal not only remarkable depravity back then, but will also display American revivalists, medieval bishops, or Hebrew prophets decrying present degeneracy in contrast to a godly age sometime before.  In fact, however, our present rates of crime, child abuse, poverty, racism, slavery, prostitution--almost any social evil one can name--are far less than what can be documented for the days of the Old Queen.  For the 'Fifties, see the notorious Kinsey Report or the files of newspapers and newsmagazines in that heyday of print--not to mention the speciesist, racist, and sexist violence that remained largely out of sight.

Pinker, in The Better Angels of Our Nature, is concerned with this phenomenon of improvement particularly in relation to violence. When we read of a vicious war here or there, or a particularly shocking crime, we are likely to say, “What is this world coming to?” But in fact, as he demonstrates with numerous examples and figures, we are probably living in the most peaceful era in our species' history, with less war since 1945 than ever before, or at least since the advent of "civilization" (for one take on its deleterious effect see the following review) as well as declining crime rates in many developed and developing countries. Such wars as have made headlines after World War II have been essentially localized, not world wars involving major powers on the scale of the dreadful trench combat of 1914-18 or the blitzkriegs, sea battles, and A-bombs of the second universal conflict.  Furthermore, overall the world seems determined to keep it that way.   This in no way minimizes the horror  of the violence that does continue or the importance of Quakerly and other anti-war efforts, but rather gives us reason for hope, suggesting we are finally on the right side of history.  

We cannot here deal with the whole of Pinker's nearly 700 pages of argument and evidence, though the entire book is recommended. For readers of The Peaceable Table I would particularly like to refer to a section on pp. 454-474 entitled, “Animal Rights and the Decline of Cruelty to Animals.” As in other cases, the author is aware that appalled observers of current evils, such as those of today's vast factory farms and slaughterhells, will find it hard to credence that animal abuse has declined.  In terms of sheer numbers, and the increased suffering brought by close confinement and breakneck killing-line speeds, it has not. But Pinker provides painful but significant evidence that agricultural and other human practice toward animals has always been more or less on the instrumental factory farm level, and that what have changed in recent decades have been attitude toward human-on-animal brutality. What was once generally taken for granted is now challenged, and changes in practice are slowly occurring. Pinker writes, “Whether you call it animal liberation, animal welfare, or the animal movement, the decades since 1975 in Western culture have seen a growing intolerance of violence toward animals. Changes are visible in at least half a dozen ways.” (p. 465)  He mentions efforts toward protection of animals in laboratories, the outlawing of certain blood sports, the decline of hunting and fishing, and the increase of vegetarianism in the U.S. and U.K., including the burgeoning of “faux-meat” offerings in supermarkets. The writer asks, “Will our 22nd-century descendants be as horrified that we ate meat as we are that our ancestors kept slaves?” (p. 473)

The answer is not yet in; Pinker acknowledges that the giving up of meat has not yet reached the tipping point. The discussion will not appear ground-breaking to those of us involved in the movement; e.g., he seems unaware of the serious limitations of applying animal experimentation to humans, assuming that without it the progress of health knowledge will stop.  He also makes the woefully common mistake of referring to Hitler as a vegetarian, drawing mistaken conclusions therefrom.  (See Berry, review of Rynn Berry's Hitler: Neither Vegetarian nor Animal Lover.)  What is significant for us now is the way Pinker positions animal rights and vegetarianism alongside all the rest as signs of an overall decline of violence and far-reaching modification of human consciousness in a peaceable direction. It is wonderful to be part of such a epochal shift in world history.

Of course, the choice is always ours. We, or any one of us, can reject the more peaceful future; we can refuse to open the door to a new kind of human life, with increased animal-human coexistence, that clearly now stands before us. History is not on automatic pilot; it always depends on the collective decisions of millions, and those choices are always as frail as human nature. But, if Pinker is right, the flow and the momentum are out there; it is up to us to make the change happen.

--Robert S. Ellwood

Did You Miss This One?: The Recovery of Culture

Henry Bailey Stevens, The Recovery of Culture. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1949. 247 pp.

This is a book which has long intrigued me.  I first came across it around 1970, when I was investigating new religious and spiritual movements in the Los Angeles area, and found it to be basic to a fascinating group called Feraferia, a nature- and cosmos-oriented group given to beautiful dance-like outdoor rituals and vegetarianism.

Stevens' idealistic view of history makes human life up until quite recently, by paleontological standards, look like Feraferia. Making comparisons with primates and the archaeological evidence as he sees it, Stevens argued that humankind was vegetarian and lived mainly from the fruit of trees and other plants up until the ice age.  He believed that some forms of gardening go back much farther than ordinarily thought, well into the paleolithic era.  Found tools like the ax and mattock, for example, usually considered by bloody-minded anthropologists to be hunting gear, could just as well or better have been employed in planting, harvesting, and wood-cutting on a peaceful garden-planet.

This serene estate lasted until the ice ages forced people in northern climates, when plant-based food was greatly diminished in the endless cold, to commence hunting.  Then came herding, and with it routine meat-eating. Next came war, for Stevens (like many more recent anthropologists) points out there is no real evidence of organized warfare among humans until after the invention of agriculture, the great population explosion it enabled, and the establishment of sedentary communities with treasuries worth raiding.  For Stevens, eating meat was also a crucial part of this dismal downturn. The taste of meat was the real taste of forbidden fruit, and its consumption was the fall into sin.

However, humans retained memories of their paradisal world before that fall, perpetuated in myths of garden-worlds of the blessed: Hesperides, Avalon, Horai, Eden before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was violated. Mighty trees, once the mainstay of life, continued to be venerated: Yggdrasil, the holy oak of the Druids, the pine of the shaman's ascent. The temple, Stevens contends, was originally a sacred grove.

Back in the 1940s, well before such awareness was as widespread as today, Stevens was able to document the health-related, ecological, and humanitarian evils connected with meat. The latter part of the book makes that case. To counter them, Stevens calls for a new world religion based on the very old values he has presents, and proposes it be introduced through the then-recent example of Mohandas K. Gandhi and his struggles.  Not only was the Mahatma conspicuously vegetarian, but he fought in a non-violent way, the only kind of combat consistent with the ideal of recovering true culture by returning humanity to the paradise before meat and war, when the world was a garden. 

It goes without saying that, after more than sixty years, The Recovery of Culture is dated in some ways. In anthropology, since 1949 we have seen the rise and partial fall of the early man as hunter, warrior, and cannibal ideologies, only to come back to a view which--if not as idealistic as Stevens'--nonetheless emphasizes more the communal, artistic, and non-warlike nature of paleolithic communities. We also now highlight the importance of gathering alongside whatever the hunters did. This is a consequence of feminism in its post-1949 forms, for gathering fruits, nuts, and vegetables was significantly more likely to be the role of women.  And the economic role of women in all societies, as over against male prowess as hunters, heroes, or lords, was earlier likely to be glossed over in the mostly male scholarly community.

In any case, The Recovery of Culture is a fascinating read.  Whatever its technical inaccuracies, it present an inspiring vision of what human culture might have been, and could be again.  In the midst of our struggle for  compassionate justice, we need occasional views from the high ground of where we have been and where might be going. See if it's in your library or local used bookstore, or online.
--Robert S. Ellwood

The photo, taken at the first IVU Vegetarian Convention in the US in1949, shows Stevens (on the right) receiving a $1,000 award for humanitarian work.


Stuffed Cabbage Balls
Serves 4

1 small cabbage
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 small onion, chopped and sauteed in 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
    (use nonstick pan)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. "poultry" seasoning
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mushroom gravy (recipe follows)

Steam the whole cabbage 5-7 minutes; cool.  Meanwhile, mix the rice, sea salt, poultry seasoning, black pepper, almonds, sauteed onion and tomato.   Separate about 8 cabbage leaves from the head; put approximately 2 heaping tablespoons of rice mixture in the center of a leaf, amount depending on its size.  Pin the cabbage leaf shut into a ball or roll with long toothpicks.  Heat in a 350 degree F. oven about 20 minutes; serve with mushroom gravy.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood.

This unusual and tasty recipe is slightly modified from one in in my much--stained 1967 Complete Vegetarian Recipe Book by Ivan Baker, an English vegetarian chef whose earlier creations were in demand during the "meat"- rationing days in WW II Britain.  The original recipe just said "seasoning;" I used Lawry's Seasoned Salt. This updated version uses "poultry" seasoning.  Feel free to experiment and share your taste experiences.

Mushroom Gravy
makes about 1 cups

1 cube vegetable bouillon
(Edward & Sons low-salt is recommended)
1 1/3 cup water or vegetable broth
1/4 onion, finely chopped
3 T. whole grain flour
1 T. canola or olive oil (optional)
1 T.  soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids
3 medium mushrooms, chopped  

In a small pan, dissolve the bouillon cube in the 1 1/3 cups water or broth heated to boiling.  Meanwhile, in a medium size nonstick pan, place oil (if desired),  2 T. of the bouillon broth and the chopped onions; heat; add the flour a little at a time, stirring continually.  Flour and onions will clump together. Add the rest of the bouillon broth a little at a time, continuing to stir, until gravy is smooth; add the 1 T soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos and chopped mushrooms.  Heat again to cook mushrooms as desired, and serve immediately.
This low-fat gravy is really scrumptious.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood

This recipe is modified from an original by Mary McDougall.

Pioneer:  John Howard, 1726 - 1790

I first heard of the existence of John Howard in an 1804/2005 novel entitled The Watsons.  Author Merryn Williams, completing a fragment by Jane Austen,  gives Austen's male protagonist "Mr. Howard"  the first name John to allude to the sterling character of the then-famous prison reformer.  At one point "John Howard" remarks that he does not have the stature of his namesake.  But they do have similarities. The fictional Howard is a sensitive young clergyman, who helps a man suffering from gout, who teaches his nephew the evils of  the slave trade, who objects to sport hunting, and who tutors a frivolous young lord in hopes that he will do good in Parliament.   The historical Howard was a devout layman, a vegetarian, one who devoted his life to investigating the lot of those trapped in the hellish prisons of his day, and bringing his evidence to Parliament and the public. 

John Howard was born in London, England, in 1726, the son of a wealthy upholsterer of the same name; his mother, whose maiden name was Cholmley, died when he was five.  His father, much occupied with his business and a strict disciplinarian, sent him away from home to a property he owned in Bedfordshire.  Furthermore, the boy was described as  "a sickly child," with severe bronchial attacks, making for a bleak childhood.  He attended boarding schools for seven years, but claimed that he learned little; he was then apprenticed to wholesale grocers in Watling Street to learn business methods, but was unhappy there as well.   One bright area in his early years was friendship; a few friends he made in his youth, including his cousin Samuel Whitbread, were friends for life.

Going Veg, Getting Well
The death of his father when he was sixteen resulted in his inheriting a fortune.  His first expression of independence and liberty was to take a tour of France and Italy, after which he again settled quietly in London, apparently in modest lodgings.  During this time he became very sick for a long time with "nervous fever," and was devotedly nursed by his kindly landlady, Sarah Loidore.  He adoped "a strict regimen," which probably means that it was then he became a vegetarian, eating mainly vegetables, fruit, bread, and milk or tea.  He followed this regime all his life thereafter.  I have not been able to learn whether compassion for animals was part of his motivation, but judging from his character, it seems entirely possible.

Under this sound diet and his landlady's ministrations, he recovered.  Perhaps Mrs. Loidore saved his life; perhaps she was the first person in his memory to show him maternal tenderness; in any case, his gratitude was such that he married her, although he was twenty-five and she was fifty-two.  This unworldly union ended two years later with her death. Howard gave her few belongings to needy neighbors and set out again for the continent, this time Portugal.

A Grueling Adventure
During this journey something happened which was to powerfully affect the later course of his life: the packet ship Hanover on which he sailed was captured by a French privateer, and the passengers and crew were taken prisoner.  They were given no food or water during the 40-hour journey to Brest, and continued in severe deprivation for six days in a dungeon there.  After further imprisonment, eventually Howard was exchanged for a French officer.  The first thing he did as a free man was to go to authorities and take decisive action on behalf of his former fellow prisoners.

This traumatic plunge through no fault of his own into the underworld of a horribly abusive system did not at once launch his prison reform career.  He settled on the 200-acre estate at Cardington in Bedfordshire which he had inherited, and became a country gentleman.  He was not interested in fashionable clothes or large social events; he dressed simply and socialized only with his few close friends.  Two years later, in 1758,  he married again, to one Henrietta Leeds, also a compassionate person but this time his own age.  Howard's generous views did not include female equality, but he was a kind-hearted patriarch, and the marriage was happy and fulfilling.

Compassionate Country Gentleman
With Henrietta's full support he tried to make their estate a little Kingdom of God.  At that time, most workers were illiterate and lived wretchedly in dark, cramped cottages.  At considerable expense, Howard bought larger ones and remodeled them to make for decent housing.  He set up a school for the children (there was, of course, no public schooling for workers).  He was responsible for the workhouses for the homeless of Cardington, which at that time were usually terrible places; these he also reformed, and managed them well.  He was much loved by the poor whom he benefitted.  He also took time to do scientific work in meteorology, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

This sense of compassion and responsibility stemmed from his strong Christian convictions.  He was a "dissenter."  I have not found any particulars, but think it likely that he was a Baptist, judging from the fact that Howard (now Samford) College in Alabama, a Baptist institution, was named after him.  Howard was exceptionally broad-minded in his spirituality, quite willing to worship in churches of other denominations when there were none of his own available.

His happy married life was brief.  After only seven years,  Henrietta collapsed and died in his arms a few days after giving birth to a son, John III.  The child grew to become a difficult and unhappy person who spent the later years of his life in a mental asylum.  Howard, having lost his own mother and having received no paternal nurturance, made his father's mistake of sending his son away at a tender age--a factor that probably contributed to (though it doesn't explain) the son's disastrous life.  His friend Samuel Whitbread said that "young John was never an hour out of  his thoughts."

Champion of Prisoners
Not until age forty-seven did Howard find his primary calling.  In 1773, despite being a Dissenter, he was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire.  This was a merely titular position, with no duty but attending the Assizes.  In doing so, one of the first things he learned was that even when a prisoner was found innocent, he or she was returned to gaol (jail) if unable to pay the gaoler's fee, because gaolers received no salary.  To find out whether this crazy, unjust setup was limited to Bedfordshire, he set out to examine the other gaols of England, only to learn that it obtained everywhere.  Furthermore, he found that the gaols were nightmarish places, dark, reeking, and disease-ridden, with either no sanitary facilities, or inadequate, overflowing ones.  Howard made careful records of all he found.  For example, he describes the gaol at Oxfordshire as follows:
Two dirty day-rooms, and three offensive night-rooms: That for men eight feet square, one of the women's, nine by eight; the other four and a half feet square: the straw, worn to dust, swarmed with vermin: no court: no water accessible to prisoners.  The petty offenders were in irons: at my last visit, eight were women.
He presented his materials to Parliament, resulting in the passing of bills freeing prisoners held only for nonpayment of fees, authorizing salaries for gaolers, and dealing with some health problems. 

But Howard knew that passing legislation is one thing, whereas getting it enforced is another.  He continued his investigations, visiting gaols throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, many repeatedly.  Not satisfied with laboring for reform in his own country,he made a number of journeys to investigate prisons in Continental countries. 

In 1777 he published the first edition of his book The State of the Prisons, setting forth his detailed descriptions and statistics, and recommending various changes that would not only improve the lot of the prisoners, but also the security and order of the prisons.  The book established him as an authority throughout Europe.  Later he investigated "hulks" {prison ships} and "Lazarettos" (plague-infested ships), even taking a voyage on one of the latter, and later including this data in an expanded edition of his book.  After seventeen years of grueling travels, on a trip through what is now Ukraine in 1790, he caught typhus from a prisoner he was tending in Kherson, became ill, and died.  He was sixty-four.

Modest Hero
It would seem almost incredible to most that a childhood so beset with distress and illness should have issued in so robust a person.  He traveled many thousands of miles, usually on horseback to air out his clothes from the stink of the gaol he had recently visited (he preferred to change, but such was not always immediately possible).  He took heat, cold, and sleep deprivation in stride.  More than that, over and over to face walking through human wastes, fleas, lice, and contagion, moved by compassion for the sick, depressed, desperate, or violent prisoners there--whom he could not count on helping--shows remarkable psychological strength.  (One is reminded of the heroic work of undercover investigators in factory farms and slaughterhells.)  Howard credited his simple vegetarian diet with his ability to keep his health for so long, and there was surely much truth to this.  But there was also an extraordinary spiritual power in him, something of the saint.  His friends said he had an air of purpose, serenity and vigor that seemed to surround him like a magic cloak.  His own comment on his work was "I fear no evil." He was quoting Psalm 23, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

An admiring public, from commoners to royalty, heaped adulation on him, once raising funds for a statue in his honor, but he would have none of it.  Of course, he could not stop them after his death.  Besides the two examples pictured above, a large monument was constructed over his grave in the Ukraine, with an inscription that reads "Whosoever thou art, thou standest at the grave of thy friend." 
--Gracia Fay Ellwood

Books on John Howard's career are not readily available.  This essay is based on online sources, primarily "John Howard: Portrait of a Hero" by a member of the John Howard Society of Alberta.
Photo of the marble statue ( in St. Paul's Cathedral, London), is by George P. Landow; see Howard Marble .  Photo of the bronze statue, located in St. Paul's Square, Bedford,  is copyright by Rich Tea.  Licensed for reuse. 

Poetry: Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1907


I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till [his] blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!

--Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Dunbar was the son of escaped slaves. This poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899, and inspired the title of Maya Angelou's autobiography.

The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship, a non-profit, also known as the Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California. It is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1982 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we publish articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the June issue will be May 27. Send to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name and server are welcome.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia and Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Editors: Lorena Mucke and Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood
Copyright 2012 Vegetarian