Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Thunderer Thunders

The reports of the condemnation of preserved meats at Portsmouth concluded with the slightly melancholy implication that the Times' mole had been neutralised.
    The examination into the preserved meats at the Royal
Clarence Yard was resumed this morning, we believe with
the same revolting results as already published by us, but
we can furnish no definite report upon the subject, the
Admiralty, ashamed of their responsibility in the matter,
having deprived us and the press generally of obtaining
authentic information. But the horse being now stolen,
their Lordships lock their Augean stable door too late.

Yes, the cat was well and truly out of the bag and the Times was already living up to its nickname the Thunderer having already begun the series of fulminating editorials reproduced below.

The reply printed in the Observer (and reproduced in the Times the next day) clearly derives from an establishment source with privileged access to authoritative information so it may well be an official, although unattributable, statement.

It is worth noting that the Times directs most of its scalding attack towards the Admiralty, not on the contractor, Stephan Goldner.

The Times does make one tiny concession, noting the information that improper contents were found only in a very small proportion of cans may allow the possibility of a slightly reduced level of criminality than originally suggested.

Nothing is made of Goldners background at this stage, although that would change during the parliamentary debate on February 12th 1852.

The newspapers of the day didn't go in for shouty headlines like they do now so, in the interest of my own, and hopefully the readers, amusement, they are my own composition. 

    It is the pleasure of the department of our Go-
vernment which presides over our navy to do all
things for itself. While the less maritime Powers of
Europe are well content to receive vessels of all
descriptions from the yards of our private ship-
builders, the Admiralty has so much confidence in
its skill, economy, and vigilance that it takes upon
itself the duty of building and rigging our fleets.
Undeterred by the uniform experience which has
proved, over and over again, how badly this duty
is discharged, unwarned by the fact that while
one-third of our naval estimates defrays the ex-
penses of the effective service two-thirds are swal-
lowed up in the bottomless sink of dockyard pro-
fusion and corruption, we stick to this losing
trade, and lavish our millions in the con-
tinuance of an experiment which practice and
theory alike condemn. So far do we carry our
desire to do everything for ourselves that we have
turned biscuit manufacturers as well as ship-
builders, not being able to trust the composition
of that most simple edible to any bakers but our
own. With a singular inconsistency, however, we
have not taken upon ourselves the manufacture of
preserved meats for the use of the navy. "One
"must draw a line somewhere," and the line in this
instance has been drawn between the baking of bis-
cuits and the preparation of meat. It possibly
might have been thought that if Government is to
embark in any trade at all, the preparation of meat
would have been the most suitable to which its
energies could have been directed. Hermetical
sealing is required in order to effect the preservation,
and the only test which can be applied is the open-
ing of several cases taken at random. The pur-
chaser of such an article is always liable to be
more or less imposed on - a strong reason for be-
coming the manufacturer oneself. As, however, the
Admiralty has thought fit to trust this de-
partment to contractors, we had a right to ex-
pect that the proceedings of such persons would
be watched with infinite jealousy by a Government
department so little disposed to let anything out of
its own hands. How far this reasonable anticipa-
tion is well-founded what has recently been passing
at Portsmouth will best prove. For several days a
Board of Examination delegated by the authorities
have been engaged in the disgusting task of exa-
mining "preserved" meats intended for the use of
HER MAJESTY'S ships of war. These preserved
meats are contained in canisters holding about ten
pounds each. Out of upwards of three thousand
of these which have been examined up to the pre-
sent time, scarcely one-fifteenth has been found fit
for human use, and even that, we apprehend, cannot
be considered as very excellent, since it has been
distributed among the poor of the town. "If any-
"thing," says JOHN GIRDER, "is totally uneatable,
"let it be given to the poor." The remaining four-
teen parts were not merely uneatable, as consisting
of the refuse parts of animals, intestines, ligaments,
and coagulated blood, but emitted a stench so in-
tolerable that the Board, after availing themselves
copiously of Sir WILLIAM BURNETT'S disinfecting
fluid, were constantly obliged to desist from their
labour, from the well-grounded fear of pestilence,
and did not deem themselves safe from infection
till the noisome cargo was fairly thrown overboard
at Spithead.
    This is an extremely serious business, and must

be fully cleared up and explained. We do not
quarrel with the purchasing of meat for the navy
from Galatz, in Moldavia, or anywhere else where
it can be had cheap and good, though this mis-
carriage will doubtless be a source of immense
triumph to some of our Protectionist contempo-
raries. But we want to know whose duty it was
to examine this meat, and what amount of ex-
amination it actually underwent. This is not
the case of a few defective canisters here and there;
the staple of the purchase was altogether bad. We
bargained for wholesome meat, and we bought
putrid garbage. The slightest examination, the
most superficial scrutiny, would have detected this
at once. It is fifteen to one that any case which
had been opened would have been found not merely
uneatable but absolutely pestilential. The meat has
been supplied for fourteen months, and it is therefore
quite evident that it has been received without any
examination at all. The contractors said it was
good, and the naval authorities who purchase it
took their word for the fact. Does this proceed
from gross negligence or corruption ?
    Possibly the amount of culpability is not much
varied either way. Whether an officer intrusted
with a duty so important to the comfort or even
the existence of so many hundreds of helpless persons
has suffered his vigilance to be put to sleep by a
bribe, or has neglected his duty through callous
and self-indulgent inertness, is but of little moment,
compared with the effects which may arise from
such a breach of duty. Upon these supplies
may depend hundreds of valuable lives, and
the success of the most important operations.
It would be gratifying at any rate, to be in-
formed - and we trust the public will be informed
without loss of time - whether the six thousand
canisters now under examination are the whole
of our unfortunate Moldavian purchase, and if
not, what has become of the remainder. What
guarantee have we that the same infamous negli-
gence may not have loaded the ships of our Arctic
voyagers with tons of hermetically sealed corrup-
tion ? What security is there that these brave
men may not have found from the negligence of
our Government that destruction which they
dreaded only from the adverse powers of terrible
and secluded nature ? It is not probable that
this is the only instance of such neglect, nor the
only case in which officials thus accustomed to
rely on the good faith of contractors have been
deceived. We shudder to think of the shipwrecked
crews who may have perished by a slow and
lingering death, of the wind-bound which may
be enduring all the agonies of famine, simply
because some official is too indolent or too corrupt
to investigate the state of the provisions on the
soundness of which sailors unhesitatingly risked
their lives. Our humane legislation forces
every merchant ship to carry with her the re-
medies against scurvy, and subjects the con-
veyance of the poorest outcast of society to sani-
tary regulation, while nobody can be found to take
the trouble of securing the crews of our ships-of-
war against provisions which carry with them the
double evil of famine and pestilence.
    We have had occasion to remark lately on the
absurdities of our military system, and to point
out how sedulously our soldiers are unfitted for the
discharge of the duties required from them. As
far as we can provide by aimless muskets and scar-
let coats, "they always miss and they are never
"missed." But what an insight does such
an occurrence as this of the provisions afford
into the management of the sister service of
the navy ! Can any one the least acquainted
with human nature believe that this scandalous
neglect is confined to the single case of pre-
served meats? Is it not perfectly clear that the
same carelessness of inspection, the same laxity and
listlesshess which have rendered such a thing possible,
must be daily and hourly rendering possible other
omissions and commissions equally ruinous, if not
equally revolting? Can a department convicted of
the enormous default of providing provisions for
the navy the very sight of which is infection be
reasonably supposed to be administering with the
most common care and diligence the millions
which pass through its hands for the purposes of
building and equipping our navy? What better
proof do we ask of the ruinous extravagance which
we are so constantly told prevails in our dock-
yards than such a case as this? Such a thing
could never have happened in a well-managed
department, and we have a perfect right to
reason from the abuses which we know to those
we cannot trace. The height of negligence,
like the height of vice, is not reached at once.
Such an occurrence is but the natural climax of a
long series of neglect permitted and encouraged.
A sound system of management does not bring
forth such rotten results as those which have
been poisoning the air of Portsmouth. The
case of the soldier is hard enough; he is ex-
pected to fight and conquer with tools unfitted
for the purpose, and of which he is never
thoroughly taught the use. But the case of the
sailor is still harder. He is expected to contend
with the rage of the elements as well as the broad-
sides of the enemy; but in order to conquer he
must live, and those to whom a grateful country
delegates the care of his subsistence are content to
leave that subsistence to blind chance or interested

     If disasters are destined for this country in its
military and naval operations, they will, at least,
not arrive without warning. The visitations of
the last year have been absolutely ominous. As if
to show us the futility of the resources on which
we are relying, our ships have broken down, our
stores have been condemned, our firearms have
proved useless, and our soldiers are found incapaci-
tated by their equipments from encountering half
their number of naked savages. It would be hard
to overlook such tokens of evil, if, with all our
vaunted wealth and skill, we cannot send reinforce-
ments to the Cape without miscarriages, or victual
our vessels without peril of pestilence, what is to
become of us in the face of such hostilities as men
now living can well remember, and may see again?
    The war at the Cape is, or at least was, reputed
to be almost beneath the dignity of so powerful a
State as Great Britain. It was a mere colonial em-
broilment manufactured between Lord GREY, the
settlers, and the Caffres. Even as things are now
going, we have but 10,000 men there, and, though
this is a prodigious force for its presumptive
duties, yet it is not a large army to feed with men and
munitions. The detachments sent to Sir
HARRY SMITH are not above 600 or 700 strong,
and these are only forwarded at intervals of some
months. Certainly such duties ought not to
weigh oppressively on "establishments" like ours.
We have been at a monstrous expense to create
a "steam navy" of the highest character and
power. Year after year, when the estimates pro-
voked the expostulations of even reasonable re-
formers, we were met by the assertion, that the
element of steam was altogether new, and that the
whole work had to be done from the beginning.
We built new steam docks, new steam factories,
and new steam yards. We built steamers of wood
and steamers of iron, and lavished enormous sums
on experimentalising with engines, funnels, swivel
guns, and fuel. At last we were told that the
outlay was approaching its close, and that we had
fairly established a splendid steam marine. We have
now put this marine to a trial, and under circumstances
of the easiest kind. As we are at peace with all
the world except native Africans, our transport
ships are not incumbered with any means of de-
fence or compelled to assemble in convoys. We
want only a single steamer at a time, to carry about
two-thirds of the living load for which she is nomi-
nally constructed, and for this purpose she might
disembark those heavy guns which were invariably
made the scapegoats of Admiralty mishaps. These
are no very arduous duties, but, such as they are,
they cannot be properly performed. It will be
said, perhaps, that we are making rather too much
of an accident. If the Megaera did break
down on Saturday, she was fit for sea
again by Wednesday; and what is there
outrageous in a casualty like this? The remark
might have some force if the failure of the Megaera
was the only failure, or if it had manifestly pro-
ceeded from nothing but the violence of the
weather. But the Vulcan fared no better, and
with such difficulty, after all, did she make her
voyage that, as the reader will remember, rumours
were actually current of her total loss. Moreover
the condition of the Megaera at starting has been
described by eye witnesses as such that what oc-
curred might almost have been matter of predic-
tion. As if, even in this time of peace
our navy were too small for the exigencies of
the service, the steamer in question was made
a store ship as well as a troop ship; and
all the space which should have been devoted
to the accommodation and security of the soldiers
was bespoken for heavy stores despatched by the
Ordnance. The vessel, in consequence, was so
overladen and incumbered as to exhibit a scene of
the most perfect confusion, notwithstanding the
excellent discipline of the corps, and if she en-
counter such weather as seems most probable, it
may be necessary to throw the cargo overboard for
the sake of the crew. Such is our "steam navy."
One steamer is charged with the work of two, and
breaks down under the trial.
    Our "establishments" are even worse - worse
in cost and worse in returns. Some person or persons,
not having the fear of the "First Lord" before
their eyes, have been "indiscreet" enough to cer-
tify that a very large consignment of provisions,
stowed away in our victualling stores, was abso-
lutely unfit for human consumption. Matters
have even proceeded so far that the fact is proved
beyond denial, and 6,000 canisters of "preserved"
meats, Laid up for the sustenance of our sailors in
time of need, are found to be nothing but so
many cases of the most horrible garbage. No
doubt the unlucky officer who made this discovery
will forfeit all "claim to confidence" and be held
incapable of future employment. But after
the Admiralty has pronounced its own sentence
the public at Large will pronounce theirs, and
they will demand an inquiry upon those officials
through whose neglect, incapacity, or corruption
such an abominable fraud was successfully per-
petrated. Who advised or sanctioned the pur-
chase of this "meat ?" Who received it, ex-
amined it, and sent it into the stores ? Is there
any officer whose duty it is to see that biscuit is
biscuit and beef is beef?  Who compared the
consignment with the samples ? and on whose
report did the "contractor" receive good money
for his garbage ? The answer to these questions
must be given without evasion or delay.
    And now that the "indiscretion" of this ex-
posure has been actually committed, we must take
the liberty of suggesting that the warning is too
signal to be lost. Who is to certify that in our
enormous accumulation of stores there are no other
provisions or materials in the same state of "pre-
"servation" as these delectable "meats?"  Who
will stand surety for our flour, our tea, our coffee,
our sugar, our rice, our cocoa, our beef, our pork,
or any of those goods which the "Commissioners
"for executing the office of Lord High Admiral"
periodically lay in by contract? For the value of
these stores we do not see that we have any other
security than that which has just been tested
in the case of "GOLDNER'S preserves," and
we insist, therefore, that an examination of
the most rigorous kind shall be instituted in
the track of that which has now produced such
startling results. This is not a subject on which
we can afford to be tender with official dignitaries.
It may involve the very salvation of the country,
for when the time of need arrives - a time which
by making these very provisions we profess to an-
ticipate - there may be little opportunity of
amending an error or replacing a loss. At the
present moment a stock of 100,000lb. of meat is
not absolutely indispensable to the efficiency of our
fleet, but it might possibly have supplied the only
stores of this kind at hand for a squadron proceeding
to sea. Let us make the best of our warning, and
ascertain forthwith, by unsparing scrutiny, the
actual state of our "establishments" in all par-
ticulars. Nobody can doubt, it will be said, the
merits of our superintendents. Very likely not;
but nobody doubted, till the other day, that Mr.
GOLNER'S canisters contained sweet and wholesome
    Now that the suspicions of the country have
been fairly aroused, they must be met by a prompt
and rigorous investigation. Perhaps it will be no
easy matter to discover why our Government
steamers are often unseaworthy and always
slow; why they always break down, and
invariably are twice as long as they should
be on their voyages; but we may at any rate
assure ourselves that all the articles we have
bought and paid for are what they pretend to be.
Not a day must be lost in extending to every
department of Admiralty and Ordnance stores the
inquiry which has proved so fruitful at the Ports-
mouth Victualling-office during the past week.
Let us know our position without further uncer-
tainty or disguise. If all is as it ought to be, well
and good; if not, let us right ourselves while
there is yet time, let us punish the guilty, and
exercise a greater vigilance for the future.


  The following explanation of the circumstances under which pre-
served meats were issued to sea-going ships, and likewise of the
causes which led to the recent condemnation of those meats, which
had been contracted for by the Admiralty at Portsmouth, demands
attention, as much for the temperate and judicious manner in which
the subject is treated, and for the great information displayed, as
for the authoritative quarter from which it emanates. It will be per-
ceived that in no case are ships at sea or on foreign stations confined to
those preserved meats for more than one day per week; and it does not
appear, since 1850, when they came into extended use, that there have
been any serious complaints made of them. At all events, the wrong
that has been done is the work of the contractor, upon whom, doubtless,
the full penalty of breach of contract will be levied; and it does not seem
that the Admiralty are in the slightest degree to blame in the matter.
  It is well known to every one conversant with the practice of yacht
owners, that noblemen and gentlemen, who have all the means of
luxury at their command, and who are their own masters, never go to
sea without a supply of those provisions.
  The subjoined statement will go far to place the question in a just and
proper light before the public, and to simplify and facilitate those fur-
ther proceedings, which the Government is fully prepared to take.

  Much misunderstanding appears to have arisen respecting the con-
demnation of preserved meat at the Clarence Yard.
  The preserved meat is supplied in tin canisters of a certain dimension
and strength, hermetically sealed. The supply is obtained by contract,
and subject to examination - any canister once opened, becomes unser-
viceable within twenty-four hours - it is, therefore, impossible to examine
every canister, but a certain proportion, about five per cent, is usually
opened. In this examination it can be ascertained, in the canisters
actually opened, whether improper parts of the animal have been
used; but where the proportion of improper meat in the whole supply
is very small, it must happen that on some occasions breaches of the
contract in this respect will escape notice, from the impossibility of
examining every canister; but this is not the usual cause of the meat
becoming unserviceable.
  If the air has penetrated into the canister, or was not originally
entirely exhausted, or if there was a defect in the original curing, meat
which on examination appears perfectly good and is properly passed,
would corrupt and become unserviceable.
  Preserved meat was first issued to the navy as an article of comfort
for the sick in the year 1815.
  It was also supplied in a limited quantity to Captain Parry on his
Arctic voyage in 1819, and again to Captain Trotter's ships in the Niger
expedition in 1840.
  The reports in these instances were favourable; still as the article,
from its comparative scarcity and cost, could only be considered as one
of luxury, its general use in the, navy was not then contemplated.
  In 1840 a patent for preserved meat was taken out by Mr. Goldner,
and from this time considerable improvement was made in the art of
manufacture, and in the cost at, which it could be supplied, and in con-
sequence of this the Board of Admiralty were induced in 1846 to
authorize the issue of preserved meat experimentally on a more ex-
tensive. scale.
  The trial thus made appearing to be successful, the Board of Admiralty,
by a circular of the 29th of April, 1847, directed that preserved meat
should be introduced as an article of victualling into the navy, and issued
to ships on, foreign stations one day in each week, with preserved
potatoes, in lieu of a salt beef ration.
About the end of 1848, or in the beginning of 1849, it was reported
to the Admiralty that, in addition to such occasional condemnations of
preserved meat as are common to salted provisions, parts of the
animal not fit for use had, in a few instances, been found mixed with
the meat, and immediate steps were ait once taken to remedy the evil.
  In the following year (1850) a new contract was entered into with Mr.
Goldner, and in 1851, increased quantities of preserved meat being
required for the navy, a further contract was made with that gentleman
for a large additional supply. It was in the course of examining the
first deliveries under this contract that an improper substance was dis-
covered in one of the canisters, and upon this the whole quantity under
delivery, amounting to 22,325lb., was at once rejected; and complaints
at the same time reached the Admiralty of the nature and quality of the
preserved meat then being served out in ships abroad, orders were
immediately sent to the commanders-in-chief on foreign stations to
stop the issue of such provisions, and to return the supply into store.
  The contract with Mr. Goldner was then immediately cancelled; and,
in order that the exact amount of penalty to which he as contractor is
liable may be ascertained, every canister in store, as well as those
returned from ships abroad, is now being subjected to examination.
  In justice to the contractor, however blameable his conduct, we are
bound to state that a very small proportion of the canisters examined is
objectionable on the ground that improper parts of the animal have
been employed. The principal proportion of those condemned may
have become unserviceable from the other causes before stated.
  It appears, therefore, that the use of preserved meat generally was
adopted after much experience - that on the first complaints immediate
measures were taken to supply a remedy; and that this last extensive
examination and condemnation has been occasioned by the determina-
tion of the Admiralty not to permit improper meat to be supplied for
the use of the navy.
  It is much to be regretted that this failure of the proper supply should
have taken place; and in issuing the preserved meat the Admiralty
were not swayed by any motive of economy, but were desirous of
substituting a change for the salt meat ration - a change which those
only who have served long at sea can sufficiently value.
  The supply was obtained by contract - a mode which is generally pre-
ferred - but such instances as the one now under consideration show
some of the inconveniences to which the system of contract is liable.

    We published yesterday from a weekly contem-
porary a statement, purporting to "emanate
"from an authoritative quarter," respecting the
edifying disclosures at the Gosport Victualling-
yard. This official apology we have perused
with great attention, and we have now to state
our opinion that in the parts where it is not
superfluous it is wholly insufficient. No excuse
was needed for the introduction, under pro-
per circumstances, of "preserved" meat into
the provision-list of the navy. As sailors require
animal food, and cattle cannot be pastured at sea,
it becomes necessary to preserve dead meats by
artificial methods. Salting is only one of those
methods, and has been hitherto adopted exclu-
sively for no other reason than that it seemed
the most reliable. But salt provisions, even
with the corrective of lime-juice, are, as is
well known, unwholesome for a long con-
tinuance, and if therefore any means were dis-
covered of keeping provisions without salt it was
not only optional with the Admiralty, but became
their bounden duty, to give the navy the benefit of
the invention. The simple question is whe-
ther the invention itself was generally practicable, and whe-
ther, in such case, due precautions were used in
laying in supplies.
    In the explanation now, as our neighbours would
term it, "communicated," we are informed that
"preserved meat was introduced as an article of
"naval victualling" in the month of April, 1847,
it being directed that vessels on foreign stations
should be served with a weekly ration of such food
in lieu of salt beef. We are next told that towards
the beginning of 1849 reports were made, not
only of the occasional condemnation of these
meats, but of the discovery of improper substances
in the tins. Immediate steps, it is said, "were
"taken to remedy this evil," but the nature of
the measures remains to be learnt. It is not
stated, otherwise than by implication, of whom
these meats were purchased, but, as we learn that
in 1850 a "new," and in 1851 a " further"
contract, was entered into with Mr. GOLDNER, we
presume "this gentleman" was also the contractor
for the original supplies. "It was in the course,"
proceeds the apology, "of examining the first
"deliveries under this contract (of 1851) that
"an improper substance was first discovered
"in one of the canisters," on which the
whole quantity then under delivery was at
once rejected, and, "complaints at the same time
"reaching home from ships abroad," orders were
given to stop the issue of these provisions, to can-
cel the contract with Mr.GOLDNER, and to examine
every canister in store, that the amount of his
liabilities in the way of penalty might be ascer-
tained. Such is the Admiralty defence.
    Now, we must first remark, that as far as can
be inferred from this not very perspicuous state-
ment, every supply obtained from Mr. GOLDNER,
without exception, appears to have been suspi-
ciously constituted. The "reports" which reached
"the Admiralty" about the end of 1848, or begin-
ning of 1849, must necessarily have referred to
the meats which were issued under the circular of
1847, and these reports distinctly specified the ad-
mixture of "improper substances" - a fact pointing
not to accident or oversight, but to direct and unmis-
takeable fraud. Nevertheless, a "new contract" was
made in 1850, and a "further contract" in 1851;
and while the meats furnished under the latter were
being condemned by the authorities themselves,
complaints arrived at the same moment from abroad
which could only have reference to earlier supplies,
and, as we imagine, those of 1850. Thus all the
dealings on the part of the contractor appear to
have furnished matter for complaint.
    But we have now to ascertain some points which
are not elucidated in the statement before us. Pray,
under what contract or contracts were those
6,000 particular canisters supplied which have
been found so atrociously bad ? The first delivery
of 1851, we learn, was wholly rejected, and the
"contract," meaning, we suppose, that of 1851,
immediately cancelled. None of these meats, there-
fore, found their way into the warehouses. What,
then, were those meats now discovered? They
must have passed the ordeal of Government in-
spection, for they were actually in store - that
is to say, they had been approved and laid
up for use. Now, we desire to know
under what contract these were taken,
when and by whom they were tested,
and what report was made upon the sub-
ject ? Further, the defence of the Admiralty seems
to insinuate that the examination at last instituted
into the quality of the "stores" was the result of
suspicions conceived from the character of the first
delivery of 1851. Was this the case? or were
the authorities roused to action by a somewhat
more forcible appeal ? We seem to recollect a re-
port that the stench issuing from the place in
which these meats were stored became so frightful
as to alarm the whole neighbourhood, and that it
was upon this summons, and not on any prede-
termined resolution, that the investigation took
    The apologist of the Admiralty sums up his case
with remarkable complacency. "It appears,"
says he, "that the use of preserved meats gene-
"rally was adopted after much experience; that on
"the first complaints immediate measures were
"taken to supply a remedy; and that this last
"extensive examination and condemnation has
"been occasioned by the determination of the
"Admiralty not to permit improper meat to be
"supplied for the use of the navy." We humbly
submit to the opinion of the public that no such
conclusions are warranted by the explanation sup-
plied. To us, on the contrary, "it appears"
that the contracts from first to last gave evidence
of improper dealing. By the showing of the Ad-
miralty itself complaints occurred on the very first
issue of these provisions, and continued without
intermission to the present moment. The "mea-
"sures taken to supply a remedy" are left to be
conjectured; but, whatever they were, they were
manifestly of not the slightest effect, for the com-
plaints got worse and worse, and when a thorough
inquiry was at length set on foot the state of
things proved more horrible than it was possible to
conceive. With what face can the Admiralty offi-
cials affirm that they "took immediate measures to
"remedy the evil" in 1849, when the evil is
proved to be more inveterate than ever in
1851 ?  Before 1849 the supplies were "oc-
"casionally" bad; in that year the authorities
"remedied the evil," and since that time they
have been so abominably foul that not 60 cases
out of 6,000 are fit for human consumption. Is
not this a strange sort of defence ?
    All this disclosure, however, it seems, "has
"been occasioned by the determination of the Ad-
"miralty not to permit improper meat to be sup-
"plied for the use of the navy." The navy is infi-
nitely obliged to them for their consideration, but
who permitted improper meat to be put into the
stores, there to be discovered or not, as ac-
cident might determine ? Who lodged in
the victualling-houses 6,000 canisters of meat
supplied by a contractor whose goods had
been previously so complained of ? Was this
stock, in the main, that furnished under the
"new contract" of 1850 ? and if, as we suspect, it
was so, how came such stuff to be passed after the
acknowledged warnings of 1849, and how came a
"further contract" to be made in 1851? No
wonder the "first deliveries" of this contract were
bad, considering what had previously passed
muster. The contractor introduces "improper
"substances" in 1847, in 1850 he supplies the
garbage which is now polluting the sea at
Spithead; and what wonder, then, when such
wares had found a good market, if he furnished a
still cheaper article in 1851 ? There never seems
to have been a period at which "complaints"
were not made of these preserved meats, and yet
the Admiralty continue their dealings with the
same contractor, and enlarge their orders every
successive year.
    The authorities, however, put in a word or two
for their old caterer, and "feel bound to state
"that a very small proportion of the canisters ex-
"amined" (we should like to hear what proportion)
"is objectionable on the ground that improper
"parts of the animal have been employed.
"The principal portion of those condemned may
"have become unserviceable from other causes."
These causes are premised to be defects in the
curing or the canister, by which meat, originally
good, might become corrupt. But these defects
though evincing, perhaps, less positive criminality
than the introduction of the filthy offal described
in our reports, are nevertheless iniquitous viola-
tions of a contract under which meats were to be
furnished consumable for a given number of years.
We do not choose, however, to enter upon the
discrimination suggested. Every person who pe-
ruses the accounts of the investigation now pending
must feel perfectly convinced that the contract was
so executed as to leave not the slightest room for
exculpation on the ground of accident. No casualty
or oversight could have brought about such results
as are now disclosed, and we again demand that a
scrutiny which has proved so unexpectedly fruitful
shall not stop at this point, but be extended,
while there is yet time for amendment, to every
branch of our "establishments."

No comments:

Post a comment

"This Hungarian Jew" - House of Commons, 12 February 1852

The clamour for answers could not be ignored, so in February 1852 experienced parliamentarian and member of the opposition Sir William...