Sir,—On Tuesday next, the annual meeting of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, founded 31 years ago as an Anti-Plumage-Wearing League, will be held…. It is sincerely hoped that the outcome of that meeting will bring such pressure of public opinion to bear on our legislators as to urge them to spare an hour of their valuable time to pass a Bill which has already passed through Committee and was only dropped at the outbreak of war in 1914. Mr Hobhouse’s Bill prohibited the importation of the plumage of all wild birds. In 1917 the Board of Trade prohibited such importation, but relaxed its restrictions in September of last year. A Bill, therefore, has again been drafted, and only awaits the will of Parliament to give it force. Of course, if the women of Great Britain would impose a self-denying ordinance upon themselves a Bill would not be necessary; but they are either too ignorant of the facts of the “murderous millinery” they encourage, or too careless of the joy of bird life on earth for future generations, and nothing but an Act of Parliament can stop the scandal. Prohibition laws exist in America, Australia, and India, but London is the greatest feather market in the world. The number of skins imported annually has been reckoned at 35,000,000. The British public does not appear to realize the savage cruelty exercised in the trade. For example, nests of young egrets are left to die under a tropical sun, because, for the sake of the nuptial feathers which have been torn from their mothers’ wings, the bodies of those mothers lie festering on the ground beneath the nests; 150,000 albatrosses are left to die of haemorrhage because their glorious wings have been cut off by one band of raiders. What troubles us is not only the mixture of silliness and wickedness that goes hand in hand; it is the abominable catering for vanity at the price of innocent blood. What causes us deep indignation is that several of the most beautiful species of bird-life on earth have already been wiped out. Many of the loveliest living jewels God ever sent on earth to our eyes delight and our hearts reverence have been quenched in the double darkness of the trade’s greed and selfish fashion.
(Times, 16 March 1920, p. 12)