On Euterpe’s voyage of 1879 the ship had to carry all the food for nearly 200 passengers and crew for many months at sea. Aside from the dry goods, which were stored in tins, sacks and barrels, they carried their meat live, on the hoof or claw, to be slaughtered on the way. Animals and poultry were housed on the deck in crates and pens and would have endured conditions which were uncomfortable and crowded. They were not always safe even there, not even the pets – one family in the saloon cabin lost their “fine Russian cat” overboard and their prize cock died during the voyage and was eaten by the occupants of No. 1 Mess – "a most beastly piece of business" said diarist Joshua Charlesworth with a shudder.
Three pigs that died unexpectedly six weeks after the ship left London were also eaten, apparently without anybody worrying unduly about the cause of death. They may simply have found shipboard life not to their liking. Two of the three pigs were dressed for the first-class passengers and the first edition of the ship's newspaper The Euterpe Times contained a poem about the tragedy entitled “The First to Fall”. The poet, who called himself “Euterpian” and was a frequent contributor of verse to the ship’s newspaper, made what he could of the phrase “latter end”, used in various ways to mean different things.
(Thanks to Mike Wood for the picture.)
THE FIRST TO FALL
Weep Euterpians, rent your grief
For Porker's dead, his life was brief
And sad was his latter end.
While in the dock his health seemed good
He grunted loud in cage of wood
Not knowing his latter end.
But fiends had marked him for their own
One fell disease soon brought him down
And nearer his latter end.
Another for fear he'd loose his prey
His tail did grip at close of day
And pulled at his latter end.
Stuck with the blade both sharp & keen
Porker gave up the ghost I ween
And meat was his latter end.
The pork would not have gained the prize
At Smithfield show for fat or size
For thin was his latter end.
That's all, for each Euterpian sinner
Knows how the Firsts had pork for dinner
And ate his latter end.