Mr. White to Mr. Gresham.

No. 1006.]

Sir: I have the honor to acquaint you that Dr. Wray, the veterinary inspector stationed at this port by our Department of Agriculture, called here yesterday for the purpose of informing me that a new system of supervision in respect to cattle landed in this country from Canada has come into operation within the past few days at the foreign cattle wharves at Deptford (London), Liverpool, and Glasgow.

The animals are now, it appears, from the moment they are landed until they are slaughtered and the meat and carcasses have been passed as healthy by the British veterinary inspectors, closely watched, day and night, by members of the corps of commissioners, an independent organization, composed of old soldiers of good character, who perform services for the public of a varied and more or less trustworthy nature.

Dr. Wray appears to be under the impression that the system of supervision in question has been inaugurated with a view to the removal at no distant date of the restrictions which the board of agriculture found it necessary to impose upon the cattle trade between this country and Canada, in November last, as reported in my dispatch No. 826, of the 5th of that month; and he fears, when these restrictions shall have been removed—as he anticipates they will be toward the end of this summer—owing to the fact that no illness is likely to be found in cattle crossing the ocean during the prevalence of mild weather, that a similar system of supervision will be inaugurated with respect to cattle arriving from the United States, but not with the same results, as the season of the year at which it is likely to come into operation—the autumn or winter—is one prolific of storms at sea; and cargoes of American cattle arriving here during that period are frequently landed with one or more animals in an unhealthy condition, caused by the exposure which they have undergone during the voyage.

The surgeons employed by the British board of agriculture having always diagnosed cases of this character as pleuro-pneumonia, Dr. Wray is of the opinion that they are not likely to change their views, and he suggests that we should request Her Majesty’s Government to [Page 354]cause the same system of close supervision which has now gone into operation relative to Canadian cattle, to be at once applied to those arriving from the United States, in order that the latter may get the benefit of the summer voyages before undergoing it.

I deem it my duty to submit to you for the information of yourself and of the Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Wray’s view of the question, for such action, if any, which may be deemed advisable, but it occurs to me, as the cost of the commissioners employed to watch the Canadian cattle is, I am informed by him, borne by the British department of agriculture, that we could scarcely, without offering to defray it, request that a similar and probably greater outlay be incurred by Her Majesty’s Government in order to prove that which I do not believe—to put the case mildly—they are desirous to have demonstrated conclusively, namely, the absolute freedom of the United States from pleuro-pneumonia.

If I may venture to express a further opinion on the subject, I would add that the outlay in question would to my mind be without any return whatever, as the agricultural interest of this country, which neither of the great political parties can afford to disregard, believes, rightly or wrongly, that the admission of our cattle would be to its disadvantage; and unless we are able to bring some form of pressure or persuasion to bear upon Her Majesty’s Government, other than that contained in diplomatic notes asserting, and even demonstrating that pleuro-pneumonia has ceased to exist in our midst, I do not believe that the restrictions which are so injurious to our cattle trade with this country are likely for sometime to be removed.

I have the honor to inclose for your information a paragraph which has appeared in the newspapers relative to a block in Canadian cattle which has taken place at Glasgow, owing to an alleged delay in slaughtering them, as required by the regulations now in force, within a certain time of their being landed.

I have, etc.,

Henry White.