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OUR LONDON LETTER., Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
OUR LONDON LETTER.
ANGLO-COLONIAL NOTES. London, April 5. Some mails back I mentioned to you a new " food preservative " which was about to be elaborately boomed in the and from which the patentees and a syndicate consisting of some particularly cute Yankees expected great things. Well, last week this syndicate, which now calls itself the Food Preservation Company, gave a smart lunch at the Hotel Continental, at which all sorts of viands alleged to be preserved by this process were presented, and to which we Press men were invited. I didn't go, for the simple reason I felt that eating a good lunch at the Hotel Continental would not in any way convince me of the virtues of the preservative. Besides, I have a horror of food doctored up by chemical process, and I felt it would be worse if the meats were as aged as they pretended to be than if they weren't. Reading of the lunch subsequently, however, roused my curiosity, and this week I determined to look into the new preservative process thoroughly. The result has startled me agood bit. One scarcely likes to risk an obiter dictum on such a subject; but really, unless Mr Daniells, of Chicago, is having a game with the great B.P. and deceiving us in some extraordinary and wholly inexplicable manner a wonderful discovery has been made, and one thatnmst in time totally revolutionise trade in all perishable products. Mr Daniells'a process is at once simple and inexpensive. All that the future pre•erver of meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables will require will be an air-tight chamber and some of Mr Daniells's patent powder, composed (so he avers) of sugar, sulphur, sassafras, nitrate of potassium, and cinnamon. This powder is placed at the top of the airtight chamber, in which your meat, etc., is hung, and ignited. It at once evolves a heavy gas, which falls to the bottom of the chamber and destroys the oxygen. The meat, or fruit, or milk (or whatever you wish to preserve) is left in the chamber several hours. On being taken out it can be exposed to tho atmosphere for weeks, or even months, without any sign of decay. Why this is scientists don't seem to be able to say, but that it is so they oannot deny. The office of the company presents an extraordinary appearance. It is hung with joints of meat which sceptics have brought to be treated, and subsequently attached to hooks by tape, sealing the latter with their signets to ensure their not being tampered with. Amongst the "show" preserves were a leg of beef, a sheep's carcass, and some joints of pork, which had been fumigated before Christmas, and hangjrwin the nffinfl ever ninn« : Th? 7 ul'y, but there was no smell coming from them whatever.
The secretary is particularly proud of a Jhmi-rotten pine, which Solomon 9, the fruiterer, brought to the company, cynically observing if they could stop thai decaying they could stop anything. The pine was fumigated on February 26, and is to-day neither better nor worse than it was then. The rotten part of course remains rotten, but the sonnd is perfectly sweet and good. The fumigation appears to have no sort of deleterious effect on such delicately flavored produce as grapes, apples, tomatoes, and oranges, save to preserve them. I tasted samples, and could detect nothing at all unusual in their flavors. Water which has been fumigated never goes Btale, and will preserve fish fresh for any reasonable length of time. Just think what the effect of this will be on the fish trade alone. Water which has been fumigated turns a trifle yellow, and has a just perceptible (but by no means unpleasant) acid flavor. Sir Francis Dillon Bell and Mr Kennaway are both immensely impressed with the importance of the new discovery ; and so is Sir Charles Clifford, who has tested it in every possible manner, having meat, etc., fumigated, and then taking it home and locking it up in his own larder. This is the course I am pursuing with a chicken and a leg of mutton I have sent to be treated. My faith in the company's bona fides is complete; but in describing the experiment (if successful) it will be more Bitisfactory to be able to say I have kept the meat under my own eye for three months. The syndicate have not decided yet what Oiurse to take re their patent. Probably, however, they will sub-let it to preserving companies as they arise. Refrigeration and refrigerating companies are, of course, doomed. Within two years Daniells's process will have superseded every other mode of preserving fresh meat, etc. But more on this point in my next. THE ARKTOS REFRIGERATOR. The Agents-General, Sir A. Bly th, Sir W. Buller, the Nelsons, and a bevy of Anglocolonial journalists and gentlemen interested in the frozen meat trade, inspected on Wednesday morning a new ammonia process for refrigeration called the "Arktos." Its chief merits are simplicity and economy. The apparatus consists of three connected wrought iron tubes devoid of valves, cocks, taps, moving parts, or machinery. These duly charged with suitable chemicals constitute the " Arktos." Heat applied at one end of the " Arktos" (by or gasburner) for a certain period initiates the phenomena of cold and ice at the other, and hj maintained continuous by periodic applications, at intervals varying from a day to a week, dependent on requirements and insulation. Some doubt exists whether the motion of a Bhip rolling or pitching would not upset the " Arktos's " internal economy and mix things up a bit. it is, therefore, to be tried on board a yacht in the Channel whilst en | route to Paris Exhibition. INTERVIEW WITH MR E. S. DAWES. I had a very pleasant talk on Wed nesday with Mr E. S. Dawes, the millionaire shipowner, whose acquirement of Sir William Pearce's interests in the New Zealand Shipping Company has created such a atir in Anglo-Australian city circles. Sir William had a mortgage of L 250.000 on the company's steamers and 10,000 shares, for which he gave LBO.OOO. Mr Barnwell, his executor, offered these to Mr Dawes, who asked for a fortnight's grace to think over the nntter. Ultimately, however, he purchased the interests for L 300.000. The New Zealand Shipping Company's directors profess to oonsider themselves injured because Mr Barnwell failed to give the company the option of buying up the mortgage, etc. This, however, is a little " thin," as 'tis perfectly well known they couldn't have availed themselves of the offer had it been made. Ab a matter of faot, indeed, had Mr Dawes not purchased the shares, etc., they would have been being hawked about the city now. When the news of Mr Dawes's purchase leaked out, general consternation prevailed, it being supposed that he meant to wreck the company, or attempt an amalgamation with Shaw, Savill's. A financial paper came out with statements to the effect that Tyaere were to be Backed, Strick-
land reinstated as manager, and negotiations at once opened with Shaw, Savill. Mr Dawes assures me there is not a word of truth in these statements. Instead of inaugurating a wrecking policy he meaus to do his best to recover the company's good name and make it pay. The frozen meat trade, more especially, Mr Dawes means to force as powerfully as he can; and should the Imperial and Colonial Trading Company come to anything, the N.Z.S. Company will throw down the gauntlet and challenge them at every point. Mr Strickland has certainly been reinstated as manager, but Tysers are retained as the company's brokers, and will be so retained whilst they act fair and square. Mr Dawes haß of course taken a seat ont he Board, and will, no doubt, henceforward be the moving spirit in the company's affairs. With Shaw, Savill he proposes to work amicably ; but no thought of amalgamation ever entered his head. That Mr Dawes's connection with the cSmpany bodes good to the shareholders is to be seen from the rise in the prico of N.Z.S. stock, which has jumped from 45s to 65s since the facts leaked out. Personally, I am inclined to believe in Mr Dawes. There is a practical vigor and force about the man that is contagious. The one mistake he has made, city people think, is the reinstatement of Mr Strickland, whom ti.auy consider, with the late Mr Coster, first got the company into difficulty. THE IMPERIAL AND COLONIAL COMPANY. The conferences of the directors of the Imperial and Colonial Trading Company ! during the past three weeks have, I learn on good authority, been not altogether plain aailing. The Messrs M'lver, many of the more practical and far-seeing members of the Board consider, place an altogether unreasonable value on their services as managers. They want to be paid by commissions on every conceivable thing—so much per cent, on every carcass shipped from New Zealand, so much per cent, on every ton of freight, so much per cent, on every voyage completed, and so on, and so on—a formidable list. Sir Walter Buller, and another director with a turn for statistics, worked out these percentages, and found that if the company did any sort of a business they would amount to a prodigious sum. "If we pay our managers at this rate, what shall we have left for the shareholders ?" they asked one another dismally. The Messrs M'lver furthermore insist on their engagement as managers being for a period of at least ten years. They themselves are to be at liberty to shunt the company at any time at three mouths' notice ; but the shareholders (come weal, come woe—come crying neglect or gross mismanagement) are to be tied down to the Messrs M'lver for ten long years. Sir Walter Buller has very properly protested against this unjust arrangement, and argues that at any time a majority, consisting of at least two-thirds of the shareholders, should have pewer to dismiss their managers. There are unfortunately several precedents for the ten years' engagement arrangement. It was so in the case of Ismays and the White Star Company, of Anderson Andersons and the Orient Company, and lastly of the M'lvcrs themselves and the Cunard Company. But in none of these cases (as was caustically pointed out at last week's conference) can the result be said to have proved satisfactory. The managers certainly have grown rich; but do the shareholders receive substantial dividends? The auswer is "Ten thousand times, no !" The Orient shareholders are always grumbling, and so are the Cunard. The latter concern, indeed, as a public company, is one of tho greatest disappointments of modern times, Tho M'lvers having made a good thing out of the line for themselves as a private concern, it was naturally expected they would be ablo to make a good thing out of it for the shareholders. But somehow they have not done so. With regard to the Imperial and Colonial Trading Company, I understand that if the Messrs M'lver insist on the terms I have mentioned the Board will have to be reconstructed, as several of the present directors would in that case retire. Meanwhile, I learn that an invitation has been sent to a most influential financial magnate at Wellington to join the Board and act as company's representative in Wellington. Since writing the foregoing I have heard that Sir Walter Buller has withdrawn absolutely from the provisional board of the Imperial and Colonial Trading Company, and that Sir Joseph Lee will probably withdraw. A well-informed city friend writes: —" I hear that Messrs W. and C. M'lver, who stipulate for a ten-years' engagement as managing agents with seats on the Board, will receive at the very least L 15,000 per annum in commissions whether the company pays or not, and everything else is cast on the same liberal scale. Already several of the gentlemen who were invited to take seats on the Board have raised their protest against this extravagant mode of dealing with the shareholders' money. The only ono who has absolutely withdrawn his name from the provisional board is Sir Walter Buller, but I hear that Mr H. R. Russell is very dissatisfied with some of the proposals, and may follow his example. Sir Joseph Lee, of Manchester, who has not absolutely withdrawn, says that his engagement with the Manchester Canal Company, where he is superintending the expenditure of four millions sterling, will prevent his joining the Board for the present; but I strongly suspect that this is a polite way of telling the Messrs M'lver that he does not choose to be mado use of in the manner pro posed. One thing is certain, however, that the Liverpool scheme has stimulated the activity of the other shipping companies, which are adding to the number of their boats and increasing the facilities for freezing and shipping. Whatever happens, therefore, the result to the colony of this keen competition is likely to be a lowering of and increase in the price of mutton for the English market. THE AFFAIRS OF W. L. RKES. Mr Rees's Colonisation Company is, I 'ear, completely " up a tree"—if, indeed, it was ever anything else. I called at the offices of the company, in Victoria street, on Tuesday morning and found the secretary, Mr Cracknell, in a most dolorous frame of mind. At first he would give no information whatever, but I softened his heart by my solicitude for his obvious anxiety, and presently out came the whole story. Throughout his mission, it appears, Mr Rees has never really achieved any practical success. All sorts and conditions of men, from the Marquis of Lome downwards, listened respectfully to the New Zealander, and were "very much interestajdj^in his schemes, but he has never be'en>'uble to "enthuse" people sufficiently to induce them to put their hands into their pockets. Had be begun with a small settlement scheme, requiring a moderate amount of money, it is possible (more particularly at first) he might have got it; but his proposals were so vast, so vague, and so expensive they scared practical men. A few weeks ago Mr Rees went North, jubilantly confident (said Mr Cracknell) that he would be able to persuade the canny Scotch Co - operative Societies to invest at least L 25.000 in his company. Well, he has failed. "These societies," Mr Rees writes to Mr Cracknell, " received me most hospitably, and my meetings were crowded. All ths speakers expressed themselves very much interested in my proposals. I fear, though, it will be impossible to persuade them to take any practical step." The failure of this tour Mr Cracknell seemed to regard as giving the final coup de grace to Rees'o projects. " He will have to leave the country," he said significantly ; and then, catching himself up as if he'd tripped, added: " I mean I should think he'd want to leave the country soon." For reasons which it is unnecessary to define, I think this very likely myself. THE NEW ZEALAND COURT AT THE PARIS EXHIBITION. The decoration of the New Zealand court at the Paris Exhibition is complete, and a clerk has gone to Marseilles to take charge of the 180 cases of exhibits expected from the Melbourne Exhibition. Sir F. D. Bell leaves for Paris to-day, and will spend some time there arranging the court. Everything is in a very forward state, and the decorations by Mr Purdon Clarke are much admired. THE DUNEDIN EXHIBITION. The Agent-General and Mr Kennaway complain that they are continually being badgered by idle querists and would-be
exhibitors unent tho Dunedin Exhibition, about which they know little and have received no instructions. Surely it would bfi well to appoint someone to look after the interests of the Exhibition in this country. TIIE MAORI FOOTBALLERS. Some mo9t unjust and untrue aspersions have been cast on the Maori footballers since they sailed last Friday. The ' Pall Mall Gazette' and certain provincial journal*, ignoring the assertions of the Rugby Union to the contrary, aver that at the last the team was "boycotted" in tho South of England, and that a decent Fifteen could with difficulty be raised to play the finol match against them. It adds that the scandalous conduct of the New Zealanders at the All England match was no doubt responsible for this, and opines that though they are smart players they leave an unpleasant impression behind them. I don't suppose these Bort of statements will carry any weight or do the team any real harm at your end of the world. The plain truth is there amongst Londoners a prejudice against the New Zealanders from the first. Absolutely beforo they ever arrived in England paragraphs (sent from Melbourne) appeared in the papers accusing them of rough play. The consequence was when the team debuted at Richmond everyone was on the qui vive for it, and ready to hurl the accusation at their heads upon the faintest opportunity. As a matter of fact, had the New Zealanders been less successful we should have heard precious little about their rough play. It was members of beaten teams who desired to discount their defeats who gave currency to these ill-natured stories. PERSONAL AND GENERAL. I hear that the subscribers' copies of 'The Birds of New Zealand' (volumes 1 and 2) have been shipped by the Ruapehu, those for each of the principal being packed in tin-lined cases. The whole edition of 1,000 copies is accounted for in the list published with the second volume; and the ' Ibis' of tho present month, commenting on this extraordinary fact, says:—" Few bird books, we believe, have ever met with a similar success." Sir Francis Bell starts this week for Paris, where he will remain, in connection with Exhibition matters, till the middle of May. His son (the Rev. C. Bell) is just now interesting himself in a small exhibition of curious for the entertainment and instruction of the poor people in his parish at Wimbledon.
Mr Douglas M'Lean, of Hawke's Bay (eon of the late Sir Donald M'Lean), has arrived In London, and is interesting himself in the New Zealand frozen meat trade. Mr Randal Johnston proposes returning to New Zealand next month, as it is his intention to be present at the next meeting of Parliament. Captain Biroh also proposes returning to the colony, leaving his family here for the present. Major-general Brett, formerly serving on the s'tal in New Zealand, has joined the Board of the Queen Charlotte Sound Gold Mining Company. New Zealand colonists in this country have expressed some surprise at the elevation of so young a practitioner as Mr Denniston to the Supreme Court Bench, over the heads, as it were, of so many other eligible men ; but all were agreed that the Government has shown wisdom in resisting the pressure for Mr Dudley Ward's appointment to the vacant Judgeship. The colonial Governorship which Sir George Bulen Powell covets, and may not improbably obtain, is, I am told on good authority, Western Australia. Does Lady Colin Campbell still contribute to the Sydney papers ? I know Mr Heaton remains one of her most ardent admirers. By the way Lady Colin is writing a novel of the clever, intellectual sort. She was inspired thereto by the example of her friend and neighbor Mrs Humphrey Ward, who lias just closed with an offer of LB.OOO for the copyright of the successor to ' Robert Elsmere.'
The second concert of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society this season waß notable for the enthusiastic welcome accorded to the conductor, Mr Cowen, who made his first appearance there since his return from Australia.
OUR LONDON LETTER., Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
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