[Extracts from Liverpool satirical journal The Porcupine]
25 August 1869
THE Isle of Man Steam-packet Company has not been fined for overcrowding. Everything that the police could do-everything that the bench could do-everything that Mr. Davies, the prosecutor on behalf of the police, could doeverything that boorishness, vulgarity, and impertinence could import into the case-everything that would in any way assist to bring the admistration of the law into contempt failed to secure a conviction. And yet the sapient magistrates-we beg pardon, the bench, a far more progressive name were of opinion that the company was guilty.! The decision was in everything worthy of the mode in which the case was heard The language, tone, and manner of Mr. Livingston towards Mr. Segar, the barrister, was in every.respect utterly unbecoming and undignified and this helped, in no small degree, to enccourage Mr. Davies in the adoption of a course, now becoming with him habitual, which is as incompatible with the proper discharge of his onerous duties as it is derogatory to his profession. Here was an educated gentleman, a trained lawyer of acknowledged ability, courteous, deferential, and considerate, treated by the bench with a degree of rudeness, and interrupted with a display of petulance, which we never saw excelled, Mr. Segar, no doubt, remembered the proverb, that you should never quarrel with a sweep. for you are sure to be soiled whichever side you fall; and did not, therefore, much to his credit, afford Messrs. Livingston and Bland all the opportunities they so evidently sought for displaying their contempt for education or gentlemanly demeanour.
The case afforded another illustration of the case in which justice is placed by allowing the protectors of the police to preside on such occasions. Mr Livingston is the Vice-Chairman of the Watch Committee, and, in common with all the members of that body, he feels bound to defend and support the force under all circumstances. All they say and do is right; everyone who contradicts them is wrong. Mr. Livingston condemns the Steam-packet Company's system of check as imperfect, and extolls that of the police as perfect, yet both are alike so far as the counting of passengers going on board is concerned. Still, with a consistency that was refreshing, the bench would not allow Mr. Segar to inspect the dirty card handed up by the Inspector Berrin, upon which the perfect system of police check was displayed. We never saw this man Kerrin at court before; nor did we ever see, even amongst the most eminent professors of " the swearing school," a man give his evidence in a more bitterly vindictive tone. He seemed to gnash his teeth in a manner calculated to make justice weep, and his ignorance respecting the precautions taken against pick-pockets and card-sharpers on board the boats showed how clearly he understood what he came to court for.
But while we think that the Isle of Man Company, in this case, were perfectly free from all blame, and were spitefully used and ill-treated, we are by no means satisfied that their conduct towards the public, who patronise them so largely, is what it ought to be. The inconsideration and indifference which the company manifest towards passengers are most reprehensible. The boats are good, swift, and carefully guided; the captains and officers are cautions and obliging; but there praise must end. Mank Greed now steps in, and every possible means by which a shilling can be saved or gained is resorted to. We will at a future time deal with the shabbiness of the company, or, as some think, their extortion on ship-board, or the miserable pay they give to sailors and firemen, &c., and now 'confine ourselves to the treatment passengers receive at Douglas. The landing there at low water is not only disgraceful, but it is demoralising; and the conduct and language of the ruffianly fellows in charge of the boats are, in some instances, disgusting. Last Monday the Tynwald, with 700 passengers, arrived at Douglas at 6 15. It was drawing towards eight o'clock before the passengers were landed. The small boats were crowded to such an extent as to become positively dangerous, and if men, women, and children could not squeeze themselves into impossible positions, their eyes and limbs were threatened in language which was vicious, blasphemous, and horrible to listen to. To remonstrate with the coarse creatures on the boats was simply to call down upon your head an avalanche of profanity; and even to the voice of the Captain of the steamer, who never fails to exercise his influence, the ruffians were deaf, of course it would be derogatory to the grace, manly , bearing, and dignity of the agent of the company, in Douglas the great J. J. Goldsmith to interfere in such a matter. It may be all very well for "rude fellows of the baser sort;" agents of low degree, to consider the safety and comfort of passengers in going on board and coming ashore; and it may suit paltry people, such as those entrusted with the management of the Mersey Dock and Harbour Board to see that the limbs and lives of all classes landing or embarking in Liverpool are not unnecessarily endangered; but the Douglas agent, and the company he represents, are the great ones of the earth, and are not to be judged of or spoken of as ordinary men. Passengers to the Isle of Man Steam. packet Company represent not human lives, but so much money; only that and nothing more. But a day of retribution is surely at hand. This bloated company, which has waxed fat and now kicks, will have to submit to depletion. The marvel is that the monopoly has been so long endured; and that the Islanders, who make any pretensions to fair dealing, intelligence, or business aptitude, have not, for their own sake, striven to place some check upon the narrowmindedness and vulgar greediness which has characterised the Steam-packet Company in its treatment of visitors. The island is becoming year by year more dependant upon England and the English for its very existence. It is in vain that English agents exercise their ingenuity or ability to secure a supply of visitors upon whom or by whom the islanders may live, if the arrangements made for their reception at Douglas are such as would disgrace the Cannibal Islands, or cast a reflection upon the management of a Cats' Meat Manufactory.
[4 September 1869]
Last week we alluded to the meanness of the Isle of Man Steam-packet Company, and to their indifference to the comfort and conconvenienceof the visitors they carry to the island, as manifested by the disgraceful arrangements made by them at Douglas for the landing of passengers. A. gentleman-a frequent passenger by the x steamers-has this week given us another illustration of the greediness of the company as follows :
When you were speaking of the greed of the Manx Steam Packet Company you should have called public attention to the way in which passengers are treated during the voyage. In former years there used to be a very good warm dinner provided for passengers, many of whom like myself come off a railway journey direct to the steamer. The captain generally presided at the table and saw that proper attention was shown to all who sat down. Now I find that the warm dinner is given up, and a cold lurch substituted, the charge for which is two shillings. Upon inquiry I find that the captains of the steamers I used to have the charge of the cabin, and the supplying of all consumed therein. Now the company have taken this into their own hands, adding a little to the captain's salary by way of compensation. As you justly say, they grab at a shilling or a pound whenever they can get it, irrespective of all other considerations but the one of getting the money and keeping it. Now, I would not complain so much about the joints a being cold, if they were at all times good, and the et ceteras were anything like decent. But I have sat down to table on board the steamer at which a. joint was placed, the stench from which was positively sickening, and the removal of this fragrant dainty had to be insisted upon before people around could eat anything. So that, besides being cold, the food is not what it ought to be. The other morning, on the passage to Liverpool, I saw a man pay two shillings for two cups of cold tea and a slice of cold meat the size of a small gingerbread cake. You'll say that people can please themselves whether or not they take dinner or breakfast, and therefore can have.nothing to complain of. This is in part true. A man rushing from the train to the pier, having taken his breakfast at seven or eight o'clock in the morning, is likely to want something to eat before he reaches the Isle of Man. If so, he must submit to the charges of the company for victuals, or starve. He cannot please himself in such a case. He has to submit to an e obnoxious tax, whichever way he resolves. Thus, it is seen, that this rich company as it- gets a richer becomes shabbier, and its greediness really appears unbounded. "The way the firemen and crews are treated by the Manx Company may not be of so much interest to the travelling public; yet there are people who go to and from the Isle of Man who would not like to purchase their pleasure at such a cost. The boats have been lately on many days making double trips, and the firemen and sailors have in consequence to do double duty. The firemen receive the munificent wages of 23s. per week, and out of this have to find their own food and food for their families, and for every extra trip the immense sum- `of 2s. is paid. The sailors, I was told, received the same large increase to their P wages for the extra trips. This, to put the finest point upon it, is wearing out human life at a low it figure. People may say that if these men would not do it hundreds of others would ; but the li question is, ought a company to be encouraged in such a course of conduct ? !' With you and many more I am in hopes that another season. will not be allowed to pass over without a strong and powerful opposition being organised against this monopoly."