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groans and pains during the performance of
this glorious pageant, had been so distressing,
as to bring tears into the eyes of spectators but
too well accustomed to scenes of suffering.
They were so dreadfully cold, that those who
could get near the fires were hard to be
restrained from thrusting their feet in among the
blazing coals. They were so horribly reduced,
that they were awful to look upon. Racked
with dysentery and blackened with scurvy, one
hundred and forty wretched men had been revived
with brandy and laid in bed.

My official friend Pangloss is lineally
descended from a learned doctor of that name,
who was once tutor to Candide, an ingenuous
young gentleman of some celebrity. In his
personal character, he is as humane and worthy a
gentleman as any I know; in his official capacity,
he unfortunately preaches the doctrines of
his renowned ancestor, by demonstrating on all
occasions that we live in the best of all possible
official worlds.

"In the name of Humanity," said I, " how
did the men fall into this deplorable state? Was
the ship well found in stores?"

"I am not here to asseverate that I know
the fact, of my own knowledge," answered
Pangloss, "but I have grounds for asserting
that the stores were the best of all possible

A medical officer laid before us, a handful of
rotten biscuit, and a handful of split peas. The
biscuit was a honey-combed heap of maggots,
and the excrement of maggots. The peas were
even harder than this filth. A similar handful
had been experimentally boiled, six hours, and
had shown no signs of softening. These were
the stores on which the soldiers had been fed.

"The beef——" I began, when Pangloss cut
me short.

"Was the best of all possible beef," said he.

But, behold, there was laid before us certain
evidence given at the Coroner's Inquest, holden
on some of the men (who had obstinately died
of their treatment), and from that evidence it
appeared that the beef was the worst of all
possible beef!

"Then I lay my hand upon my heart, and
take my stand," said Pangloss, "by the pork,
which was the best of all possible pork."

"But, look at this food before our eyes, if
one may so misuse the word," said I. "Would
any Inspector who did his duty, pass such

"It ought not to have been passed,"
Pangloss admitted.

"Then the authorities out there——" I began,
when Pangloss cut me short again.

"There would certainly seem to have been
something wrong somewhere," said he; " but I
am prepared to prove that the authorities out
there, are the best of all possible authorities."

I never heard of an impeached public
authority in my life, who was not the best public
authority in existence.

"We are told of these unfortunate men being
laid low by scurvy," said I. " Since lime-juice
has been regularly stored and served out in our
navy, surely that disease, which used to
devastate it, has almost disappeared. Was there
lime-juice aboard this transport?"

My official friend was beginning "the best of
all possible——" when an inconvenient medical
forefinger pointed out another passage in the
evidence, from which it appeared that the
lime-juice had been bad too. Not to mention that
the vinegar had been bad too, the vegetables
bad too, the cooking accommodation insufficient
(if there had been anything worth mentioning to
cook), the water supply exceedingly inadequate,
and the beer sour.

"Then, the men," said Pangloss, a little
irritated, "were the worst of all possible men."

"In what respect?" I asked.

"Oh! Habitual drunkards," said Pangloss.

But, again the same incorrigible medical
forefinger pointed out another passage in the
evidence, showing that the dead men had been
examined after death, and that they, at least,
could not possibly have been habitual drunkards,
because the organs within them which must have
shown traces of that habit, were perfectly sound.

"And besides," said the three doctors present,
one and all, "habitual drunkards brought as low
as these men have been, could not recover under
care and food, as the great majority of these men
are recovering. They would not have strength
of constitution to do it."

"Reckless and improvident dogs, then," said
Pangloss. "Always arenine times out of ten."

I turned to the master of the workhouse, and
asked him whether the men had any money?

"Money?" said he. " I have in my iron
safe, nearly four hundred pounds of theirs; the
agents have nearly a hundred pounds more;
and many of them have left money in Indian
banks besides."

"Hah!" said I to myself, as we went up-
stairs, "this is not the best of all possible stories,
I doubt!"

We went into a large ward, containing some
twenty or five-and-twenty beds. We went into
several such wards, one after another. I find it
very difficult to indicate what a shocking sight
I saw in them, without frightening the reader
from the perusal of these lines, and defeating my
object of making it known.

O the sunken eyes that turned to me as I
walked between the rows of beds, orworse
stillthat glazedly looked at the white ceiling,
and saw nothing and cared for nothing! Here,
lay the skeleton of a man, so lightly covered
with a thin unwholesome skin, that not a bone
in the anatomy was clothed, and I could clasp
the arm above the elbow, in my finger and
thumb. Here, lay a man with the black scurvy
eating his legs away, his gums gone, and his
teeth all gaunt and bare. This bed was empty,
because gangrene had set in, and the patient
had died but yesterday. That bed was a
hopeless one, because its occupant was sinking fast,
and could only be roused to turn the poor
pinched mask of face upon the pillow, with a
feeble moan. The awful thinness of the fallen