First published as a pamphlet in 1907
Transcribed for the Internet by the Revolutionary Communist Group, 1998
Mirrored by the Marxists Internet Archive, 1999
The following history has been written to give the people of Greenock and other towns in Britain an accurate though brief statement of the recent scandalously lax and unscrupulous method of supervising the slaughter-house of Greenock; the events that led up to the final exposure; the treatment meted out to Mr. James Houston; and the duty that yet devolves upon the citizens of finding work for this genuine man who by his efforts has done much to rid the community of a most pernicious traffic in unwholesome flesh.
As the whole narrative circles round the person of Mr. Houston, it is but appropriate to give the reader one or two facts in connection with him, so that a clear comprehension of the events as they arise may be possible.
In the employment of R. Rasmsay & and Co., Ltd., Hide and Skin Brokers, Glasgow, for 31 years, Mr. Houston spent the last 18 at the Greenock Slaughter-House. Whilst there from day to day he witnessed the violation of the law by the cow-butchers, who were regularly engaged in selling diseased meat and vile sausages for large profits, although they well knew that the poor who had to purchase these articles were liable to that deadliest of working-class maladies -- consumption.
This slaughter-house is owned by the Town Council, and is managed by a committee which, prior to April, 1907, employed a Mr. Ballantine to inspect, amongst other duties, all carcases taken out of the premises. Every carcase showing traces of disease ought to have been detained by him until thoroughly examined by a competent veterinary surgeon, Mr. Pottie. Upon the shoulders of the latter rested the responsibility of deciding whether an animal was or was not fit for human food. All carcases condemned by him were taken to a neighbouring chemical work, where they could be boiled down and made into several preparations.
On frequent occasions Mr. Houston noticed that Inspector Ballantine let out diseased cows without calling in the services of the veterinary surgeon. The entrails of these bad carcases were sent over to the chemical works along with carcases wholly condemned. The manager permitted this to go on for some time, but at last he refused to accept entrails unless in conjunction with the accompanying carcases, as in themselves they were of very little use to him. But the Inspector had to get rid of them somehow. Can you imagine what he did?
He actually sent these diseased entrails to Glasgow in bags labelled "Tripe"! Mr. Houston, now tortured by the thought that the poor of Glasgow were being poisoned instead of being fed, at length wrote to the Glasgow Sanitary authorities, telling them where these "tripe" bags were to be found. They were found in the place specified in the letter sent. Thereupon Glasgow's head Meat Inspector, Mr. Trotter, visited Greenock to complain about this base system of deceiving the people of Glasgow, and from that date the contemptible business ceased. However, to Houston's chagrin, the Council made no attempt to ferret the matter to the bottom and root out the pernicious traffic -- the smuggling out of diseased carcases went on as merrily as before.
Still some other means then, had to be devised to dispose of the entrails that could no longer he packed off to Glasgow as "tripe". They were now burned in the slaughter-house fire. Unfortunately for the culprits, the smell of the burning entrails was too unlike the sweet odour of summer's blossom to please the occupants of houses in the neighbourhood, and thus again for the third time had the conspirators to resort to other devices to evade the keen eye of the Sanitary Inspector.
The cow-fleshers in unison clamoured for the purchase of a digester by all in the trade, so that all carcases and entrails could be boiled down. The plea advanced by these innocents was the profit that would accrue from the bones, fat, etc., left over after the boiling process had been completed. Naturally, these "practical" business men did not deem it necessary to inform their unsuspecting colleagues that they were specially interested in the disappearance of the tell-tale entrails, discovery of which might have applied the closure to their malicious trade and inflated profits.
As may be observed from the above remarks, the charges specified by me are not brought to the door of all butchers in Greenock, but solely to that of those almost exclusively dealing in cow-flesh. And it is to be particularly noted that of all bovines used for human food cows are most frequently found suffering from that deadly disease -- tuberculosis. This malady, being more commonly found amongst cows, placed greater temptation in the way of the cow-fleshers who did not fail to make the best of their opportunities.
They were remarkably fortunate, besides, because Bailie Andrew, smart lawyer though he be, exercised the utmost laxity whilst so long Convener of the Slaughter-House Committee. This gentleman, be it carefully noted, visited the premises only seven or eight times during his long term of office. Could you, gentle reader, conceive of a better opportunity offered to those anxious to practise double-dealing ?
And bear in mind that it was this smart gentleman who did everything possible to cover up the misdeeds of the cow-fleshers whilst doing his utmost to foil the efforts made by Houston to save the people from peril. But more of him hereafter.
In course of time the agitation for the digester culminated successfully, and the agitators were now able with easy minds to transform those troublesome entrails. So lax thereafter became the inspection of carcases at the slaughter-house that for years Greenock became the dumping ground for old dead and dying cows within a radius of twenty miles. If a cow turned sick and showed signs of dying then off to Greenock was it sent, there to be killed and sold as wholesome food! Even cows have been carted from Paisley to be slaughtered and sent out to adorn the tables of the working-class of Greenock; and many a time have aninials died going to or from the station and have had to be carted to the slaughter-house. The usual price for cows in this condition was 17/6, and for their hides Houston frequently paid from 23/- to 25/-. On one occasion a flesher got ten cows for £10; but on expressing the opinion that this charge was excessive, he got another thrown into the bargain! We can very well imagine the highly nutritive food these animals would supply!
The following throws a search-light on the insatiable rapacity of the unscrupulous gang who were determined to make money by fair means or foul. Many of the cows killed were in calf. The calves were taken away from the dead carcases of their mothers and stored away out of sight, until sent out with their mothers or sold separately for 1/- or 1/6. Houston saw hundreds of such calves sold for human food. Those without hair were simply boiled down unskinned to make potted head; those with hair were skinned so that the skins might realise 4d.! Compare this price with the 3/10 paid for the skins of new-born calves!
A still more shocking method of making "profit" was resorted to by a few who no doubt posed as philanthropists for selling to the people "cheap" sausages. All the filth of the slaughter-house was put into a large bucket stowed away in a dark corner until sold for the feeding of pigs. Many a time Houston saw the contents taken to fleshers to make potted head and cheap sausages! One man especially told him that as he passed the shop of a butcher on his way home with this feeding for his pigs, the latter would stop him to select the best portions to cater for the wants of the people. This divulges the secret of his ability to sell sausages at 3d. per lb.! Houston warned the Inspector that these despicable practices ought to be put a stop to, but he seemed utterly regardless of his duty to the people.
Convinced that the continued sale of putrid flesh was bound to undermine the constitutions of those upon whom it was being imposed, Houston nevertheless carried out in a successful manner an experiment which conclusively proved the relationship that exists between bovine tuberculosis and human consumption. He took two young healthy cats into his office and with the utmost care fed and tended them until they grew sleek and fat. He thereupon began to feed one of them solely on tuberculous flesh similar to that sold for food. Very soon it began to look sickly, become thin, and cast its hair. At last it could scarcely stand on its legs, so weak aud puny did it become. At this stage Mr. Ballantine consented to kill it, and make a post-mortem examination of its remains; and just as expected, it was found that the lungs were completely rotten, and its digestive organs had almost gone. Tuberculosis had been doing its deadly work. Mr. Houston hinted that he intended to show the carcase to to the veterinary surgeon as an object lesson, and for that purpose he covered it up, and left it in his office till the vet's arrival. When he did arrive, the body was gone. The reader, no doubt, could guess who had been at the bottom of this theft of the cat's body. Mr. McFarlane, the vet. at that time, felt sorry that he had not seen it, as he intended to base on it an address to be delivered before one of the Meat Inspectors' Conferences.
Haunted more than ever now by the thought that the poor were not only being mercilessly cheated and defrauded, but also were threatened by consumption, Houston cautiously dropped hints here and there, where he thought they would be effective and lead to an inquiry or a stricter supervision of the slaughter-house. By this proccss rumours did actually circulate about town, and more than once the Health Committee made investigations, but failed to find specific information. Houston at this time thought it inadvisable to make a statement of what he saw going on, lest he might lose his job. That, of course, is the position of the wage slave who has a wife and family to maintain.
At length appeared Upton Sinclair's "Jungle", containing a graphic account of the Tinned Beef factories of Chicago. Fired now with an intensified desire to expose the still grosser evils of the beef trade of Greenock, he determined to speak out against the next irregularity that might come under his notice. He had not long to wait. On August 31st, and on September 4th, 1906, two carcases, bad with tuberculosis, were let out. He at once informed Ballantine that he was going to report to the Sanitary Inspector. The same night he called at Mr. Devine's house, and let him know what had been going on for years. That gentleman rubbed his eyes on hearing this astounding news, but, nevertheless, reported it to the Health Committee.
The latter would have dropped the matter had not Houston made clear to Mr. Devine and ex-Bailie Baxter, convener of the Health Committee, that he would communicate with the Local Government Board if the Council failed to do its duty in the matter. It must in justice be here stated that these two gentlemen were as anxious as Houston to get the matter probed to the bottom, but were, till this moment, thwarted by the obstinacy of their colleagues. Now that they had to move in the matter, the Town Council appointed a Committee of Inquiry.
In due course Houston received a request from the Town Clerk to give his evidence before this Committee. This he rightly refused to do unless all witnesses were summoned, put on oath, and gave evidence in public; for the Committee sat in private, and allowed voluntary witnesses to appear and give evidence without oath. Of course, the Committee was appointed unwillingly, and was itself unwilling to sift the case to the bottom. Houston clearly saw that the procedure adopted by the Committee reduced its efforts to a farce, and that whatever he said would have no weight at all. What he foresaw actually happened, and fully justified his refusal to countenance the Committee by his presence.
All who could be relied upon to deny Houson's allegations, and to hush the matter up by telling lies were induced to give evidence; all others were discouraged. In fact, Mr. Ballantine was permitted to select his own witnesses, and naturally chose three operatives, who worked under his charge, were subservient to him, and were willing to state whatever he wished. Here is the proof. On the day prior to their giving evidence they were taken to the Town Clerk's office, and drilled up in the questions likely to be put to them, and the replies expected from them. Immediately after the inquiry, one of the three admitted he had deliberately told lies, as he was not under oath, and confessed that his reward was half-a-crown. This suffices to confute the Town Clerk, who had written Houston that evidence would be taken on oath.
Contrast the above with the fact that one man was actually told he was not asked to give evidence because he was sure to tell the truth. What a happy state of affairs!
But the following series of facts proves up to the hilt that Houston was correct when he asserted that the meat inspection was extremely lax, and the Inquiry an unscrupulous attempt to cover up the corruption disclosed by him.
During the first eight months of 1906 the total nunber of carcases condemned was 46, or an average of less than 6 per month. During the months of September, October, and November, immediately after Houston had complained to the Sanitary Inspector, and whilst the Committee of Inquiry was investigating, the number rose to 53, or an average of almost 18 per month. In other words, the number per month was actually trebled.
However, for the next three months -- December, January, and February, 1907 -- the number fell to 27, or an average of 8. This sudden decrease resulted from a hint dropped by a friend of the cow-dealers on the Inqiry Committee, who always hastened to the Slaughter-House after each sitting to acquaint his friends of the day's proceedings. As the consequence of this hint, it soon got noised abroad that the Committee's Report was going to exonerate Mr. Ballantine and the cow-dealers, and to prove that Houston was entirely wrong in his assertions. Even a letter on this aspect of affairs appeared in the Telegraph.
On getting the hint from a "friend at Court", Mr. Ballantine returned to his old practices in December, with the result already stated. Houston, observing the turn events now took, kept a strict watch on all diseased animals let out during these three months, and found that 27 were let pass. Had these been condemned the total would have been 54 instead of the 27 actually condemned, thus raising the number to a level similar to that for the three preceding months.
Probably the most clinching argument in support of Mr. Houston's position is the return for the September-November period during the preceding nine years:- 15, 12, 13, 16, 15, 14, 11, 10, and 23. All these figures fall far short of 53.
Why this remarkable increase during the early stages of the Inquiry, if all was fair and above-board? It would take a better lawyer than Bailie Andrew to explain away that sudden leap.
During the November Election (1907) ex-Bailie Baxter stated in public that, although the cows now admitted to the slaughter- house were much superior to those admitted before, more condemnations took place on some days than on any average month for the last ten years.
Had the Committee been conscientious in its work, what conclusion could it alone have come to? What conclusion have you come to, my level-headed reader? Surely none other than that Houston was entirely right in his hints and manly statements?
And yet here is the Report issued by the Committee, and presented to the Corporation on 19th February, after having met once or twice in November, and then not again till 21st January:
"As the result of their investigations, the Committee (Dean of Guild Baxter dissenting) find that the charge alleged to have been made by Mr. Houston has not been substantiated, and beg to report accordingly."
Our lawyer friend, Bailie Andrew, in moving the Report, said the Committee were justified in carrying on their investigations privately, that Houston in an apology to a certain flesher had practically withdrawn his statements, that Houston was actuated by malicious motives, and that the longer the Committee "sat prosecuting investigations, it became more evident that they were pursuing a shadow instead of a charge".
As Bailie Andrew, like a cute lawyer, made the best of Houston's apology to a certain flesher, and has since tried to assert and hint that he apologised for the charge made by him to Mr. Devine on 4th September, so that his own actions and conclusions in connection with the Inquiry might be justified, an explanation of what led up to the apology is necessary.
Immediately after the charge made on 4th September, Houston was set upon by some of the fleshers at the slaughter-house. The argument naturally became heated, and angry words were exchanged. Houston in his anger made statements which were perfectly true, but which could not be supported by other witnesses. His opponents seized their opportunity and sent him a lawyer's letter demanding an immediate apology or proceedings would be taken against him for libel. Not wishing to lose trade or job, he wrote the following apology:--
11 Dempster Street,Mr. R. MURRAY.
10th October, 1906.
Dear Sir,--With reference to the statements which have been in circulation that I have made certain imputations, and used threats against certain members of the Association, or made complaints regarding the management and supervision at the slaughter-house, I beg to state that such is not the case, either directly or indirectly have I done so (except on one occasion on 4th September last, I admit I complained to Mr. Devine.) I admit I may, in the heat of the argument, have used expressions towards certain members which in my calmer moments I would not have done. And if in doing so I have reflected upon the character or business of any of them, I withdraw the expressions, and regret that they should have caused the present feeling to arise between us. I am desirous that all such feeling should be removed, and am open to renew my business relations with them in the same friendly spirit as formerly existed.--I am, yours respectfully,
(Signed) JAMES HOUSTON
Here is what Houston says in the Greenock Telegraph, 20th December, 1906, anent this apology when used against him in a treacherous manner at the Private Inquiry, made public of course when anything against Houston could be raised:--
"Sir,--In answer to 'Anxious Enquirer' as to me sending a letter of apology to the Committee of Inquiry in connection with the slaughter-house, it is absolutely untrue; I never sent any letter to said Committee, and also, this is the first and only letter I have written or sent to any newspaper on the above subject. --I am, yours,
One can easily understand the eagerness of Lawyer Andrew to catch at anything which would tell against Houston and thus enable him to clear his friends the cow-fleshers. He was responsible for the holding of the Inquiry in private, and he was responsible for the printing of only one copy of the evidence gathered. This copy was supposed to lie in the Town Clerk's office for the use of all the Councillors, but was found to be lying at Bailie Andrew's office. Why this hiding of the evidence? Because the whole business was meant to be a fiasco, and everything was intended to go on as before, after Houston had been thoroughly discredited.
Mr. Mitchell moved as an amendment to the adoption of the Report the following :--"That the evidence be printed and circulated among the members of the Corporation, and that consideration of the present Report be deferred till a future meeting". Here is what he said. "The Inquiry was a mockery and a sham." "The evidence did not agree at all with the verdict of the Committee." Mr. McCallum, in seconding him, said--"If the report was printed and circulated among the members of the Corporation, they might come to a different conclusion from the members of the sub-committee."
Dean of Guild Baxter, in supporting them, stated--"It was a fact that irregularities had been found".
Despite statements such as these, and the knowledge of the entrails being sent to Glasgow and of the diseased carcase which had been seized in a shop in Port-Glasgow unattended by a prosecution, the Report was adopted by 16 votes to 7. It is but fair to the people to let them know exactly those who voted for the Report, so that they may give these estimable gentlemen repose from public office when next they seek re-election. They are as follows:--Provost Denholm, Bailies Andrew, Williamson, Bailey, Bennett, and Shankland; Treasurer Brown; Messrs. McInnes, MacOnie, Robinson, Taylor, Smith, Forbes, Arch. Brown, Shearer and Swan.
Alas for Bailie Andrew! But four days after his masterly defence of corruption -- on 23rd February -- Mr. Devine seized a very badly diseased carcase in a shop, and afterwards found the entrails, simply putrid, in the digester at the slaughter-house. He consulted Dr. Cook, who, after examination, admitted that this was the worst case he had ever seen. No prosecution followed this seizure, although Bailie Andrew had all along been loudly asserting that he would at once take action if a specific case were brought under his notice. When challenged by Houston why he did not prosecute in this case he stated that he could not; because two small parts of the entrails were amissing! A weighty reason, forsooth! The case was clearly one for prosecution, since the regulations of the Local Government Board clearly point out that Inspectors can seize carcases from which "pleura" has been cut away. In this case it was cut off both sides. And yet there was no prosecution, despite the confession of the butcher implicated.
How anxious Bailie Andrew was to hush up this "affair" is evidenced by his motion in the Council on 19th March, over which he presided in the absence of the Provost, to adopt the Law and Finance Committee minutes, containing Dr. Cook's report on the slaughter-house and the resignation of Mr. Ballantine, who meantime had been requested to do so.
Again Mr. Mitchell came to the fore by honourably demanding that the Corporation apply to the Local Government Board to institute a special inquiry into the alleged irregularities at the slaughter-house in connection with the disposal of unsound carcases. Had Bailie Andrew actually wished to get light on the subject, would he have been afraid of such a sensible proposal? Would he not have withdrawn his motion and let the amendment be carried? If he were a disinterested party, would he not have gladly embraced this opportunity of proving or disproving the ominous whispers that were now public property?
As might be expected, he pressed his resolution, which was carried by 16 votes to 7. Here are those who stand honoured on this occasion:-- Bailies Williamson and Lemmon; Messrs. McCallum, McMillan, A. M. Chalmers, Dunn and Mitchell.
These gentlemen, to their credit, were so bent on having an impartial investigation, that they at once petitioned the Local Government Board to institute an inquiry. This was immediately done, and on 2nd April Dr. Dittmar arrived from Edinburgh to see and find out what he could. What an irrefutable proof of the allegations made by Houston!
On 9th April he issued his report. What a contrast with that issued by the Committee of Inquiry! In a day or two an utter stranger discovered more than the Committee did in five months! The figures quoted above were taken from this Report, which would have been here reprinted had space permitted. However, here are two samples of what is contained therein:--
"The circumstances narrated above appear to me to warrant the conclusion that recently there has been excessive laxity in the methods of meat inspection at the Greenock slaughter~house. No sooner was attention more or less publicly directed to the matter than the number of condemnations increased, to be reduced when public suspicion seemed to be allayed. As soon, however, as a carcase extensively affected with tuberculosis had been seized in the town by the Sanitary Inspector (one that had admittedly been passed at the Slaughter-house) the vigilance observed there seems to have increased again, as is shown by the number of carcases condemned during March. But the figures for the ten years 1897-1906 show, I think, more conclusively than any inquiry could now do, that not only recently, but for years past, the inspection of meat at the public slaughter-house in Greenock has been inadequate."
Read carefully this second extract:--
"In the year 1904, 2007 bovine carcases, or 4.62 per cent. of the total number of cattle slaughtered, were wholly and partially condemned as unfit for human food by the officials responsible for meat inspection in the public slaughter-house of Glasgow. During 1905 the percentage of bovine carcases wholly and partially condemned on account of tuberculosis in the Glasgow slaughter-house was 5.13. Compare these facts with facts for Greenock! Only home animals are slaughtered in Greenock, and I am afraid that a considerable proportion of these are cows. During eight of the ten years -- 1897-1906 inclusive -- less than one per cent. of the carcases were condemned for all causes! Comment is needless. The conclusion to be drawn from the figures seems to be that the inspection of carcases at Greenock slaughter-house has been extremely lax during the last ten years."
Could evidence more conclusive be brought forward than is given expression to in the passages just quoted? Could indictment be stronger?
The Doctor, in his concluding remarks, suggests that a fully-qualified inspector of meat, aided by an assistant, should be engaged to supervise the slaughter-house. From April, since the appointment of the new inspector, the number of condemnations has risen very rapidly. But how long will this last seeing that Houston has been driven out of his job and that Mr. Banks, the cow-flesher, though defeated in the Fourth Ward at the November election last (1907), was appointed by the Town Council to fill a vacancy in the Fifth over the head of the defeated candidate for that Ward?
So long as profit can be made out of the sale of diseased carcases, just so long shall these be sold. This is just as true as the statement so persistently uttered by those of us who are Social Democrats, that so long as the present class ownership of the factories, ships, mines, land, etc., lasts, just so long shall the working class be robbed of at least two-thirds of the wealth they produce.
As Social Democracy is the only organisation of industry able to stop this robbery, so Municipal supply of beef, provisions, and milk will alone lead to the ending of this capitalist infamy of adulteration. If the people of Greenock are wise, they will bestir themselves and never rest till the beef and other food-stuffs are sold for the benefit of the consumers and not for the enrichment of a few privileged merchants. If a Municipal slaughter-house, why not Municipal cattle and Municipal flesher-shops?
Here is a prosecution, to prove that with all the changes at the slaughter-house the same old selling of bad flesh goes on as cheerily as ever. On 6th January, 1908, John Gordon, 61 Vennel, was fined £10 or 30 days for having in his possession on 5th December the carcase of a calf unfit for human food. It is well known that only once in a while are such irregularities discovered. We can therefore, with safety, conclude that the end of corruption has not arrived, and will not come until the Municipality undertake the supply of wholesome food for the people. This can only be thoroughly accomplished when the agriculture of the country is organised by the nation acting through the County Councils. Then the counties can rear healthy animals, which shall be slaughtered and sold by the Town Councils. That is quite practical, and can be accomplished when the people are alive to their best financial and physical interests, and are determined to dispense with the public services of their "Bailie Andrews". This exposure of the Beef Scandal of Greenock will have been useless unless it has added another to the many apparent facts of everyday life, proving that only when property is owned by the people and used by the people to create those things necessary for life and happiness, shall we have swept away for ever poverty, adulteration, and the multitude of attendant evils of Capitalism. The only hope of the masses of mankind lies in Socialism. Individual initiative and incentive in the beef trade are bad for the people; social initiative and incentive alone make for justice.
We cannot close without further reference to the hero of this tragedy, Mr. Houston, who has had to suffer for his action in this affair. He has now been out of employment eight months, compelled to resign after 31 years' service under the same employers. As a Socialist, Houston clearly comprehended the dangers his action would lead him into, and therefore for years he smothered his indignation, until at least his family had grown up. Once his duty towards them fulfilled, he risked his all to save the health of many of his class from disease and death. How can we refrain from admiration of the courage of one who so nobly plunged into the ranks of the enemy single-handed to rescue his dying comrades?
After the complaint made on 4th September, as above narrated, fourteen cow-fleshers went to Houston's employer to seek his dismissal. They failed. They then requisitioned the Fleshers' Association to call a meeting for the boycott of Houston's firm. The secretary, a local lawyer, warned them that Houston would raise an action against them if this were done. Again foiled, they persuaded the fleshers individually to boycott Houston, but without success. Undeterred, they next plotted to get Houston imprisoned for theft. On 23rd May, 1907, two detectives asked him to lead them to his office, as they desired to examine it. They produced a warrant empowering them to break it open if need be. Accordingly he yielded. On the road the detectives admitted that four master fleshers were responsible for the investigation. Sure enough some stuff was found hidden away under a desk. It was taken to the police station, and a notice of prosecution was served out to Houston. The police authorities soon perceived that it was a crudely-designed conspiracy, and let the matter drop. Robert King and John Gordon (who was recently fined) interviewed the Superintendent and the Fiscal, but both refused to prosecute. Thereupon Mr. Banks visited Houston's employer to tell him about the dishonesty of his Greenock employee, but his visit proved a failure. A last attempt was made. Ramsey does a large trade over Scotland, so all the cow-fleshers were got to boycott him. This had the desired effect, and the unfortunate Mr. Houston was asked to resign. Here are his exact words:--"Owing to the misunderstandings which have arisen in my management of your business here, and the actions of certain parties therein concerned, I now resign the position which I have held in your employment.
"23rd July, 1907."
Shortly afterwards a testimonial was raised to requite Mr. Houston for the valuable services rendered by him. Again, his enemies were active to prevent the success of the testimonial, for they visited probable subscribers and represented him as a thief, an Anarchist, and a Socialist, who made himself a nuisance at Liberal meetings for the sake of notoriety, and not for the good of the people. However, a goodly number of appreciative citizens were found, and a meeting arranged for the occasion. He received a purse of sovereigns, a gold badge, and a silver-mounted biscuit box for his wife.
The following inscription is engraved on the badge:--"Presented to Mr. James Houston, along with a purse of sovereigns, and a silver-mounted biscuit box to Mrs. Houston, by many friends, for recognition of valuable services rendered to the community in exposing the base methods of meat inspection in Greenock Slaughter-House.--20th September, 1907."
Mr. Houston is very proud of this generous recognition of his services by those who have appreciated what he has sacrificed in acting as he has done. But he cannot but feel miserable, now that he has been unemployed for so long. Ought this to be, whilst Mr. Ballantine, the guilty Meat Inspector, is earning at least £2 per week by selling fodder for the cattle in the Slaughter-House? Why should the guilty one enjoy such a great privilege, while the innocent one must suffer the worries of unemployment, and the fears and forebodings accompanying the prospect of immediate financial ruin.
The purpose of this pamphlet will not have been completely accomplished until such times as the citizens of Greenock recognise in a more tangible form the respect they owe to one who so unselfishly sacrificed himself in the best interests of his fellow-beings. Without delay the Corporation of Greenock ought to provide him with a comfortable and well-remunerated position. If the Governments can and do reward the outstanding generals, admirals, and statesmen, for their supposed great services to the nation, surely Greenock is not so base and mean as to let suffer one who has nobly done his duty to the community at large.
We hope that the people will, with determination, agitate until this modicum of justice has been rendered to one so worthy of it. Those who have reduced him to the position he is in to-day, will certainly exert themselves to the uttermost to prevent him from making an honourable livelihood under the Corporation, or under a private employer, but if the class-conscious Trade Unionists and Socialists, who know the realities of victimisation, stand solid and steadfastly press forward the claims of Houston, nothing can prevent success. This is a subject for the Trades' Council, if ever there was one. It is to be hoped that someone will take the initiative and carry to success the negotiations obligatory under the conditions. For a certainty we Socialists have made up our minds that the matter is going to be fought out until victory is ours. Houston's unscrupulous enemies shall very soon regret the dastardly attack they have made on him, for if he is not placed in a position of financial security, we will single out individuals amongst them and treat them with their own methods of attack in an intensified form. They have money to lose; we have none!
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