Franklin's three-year exploration of the northern coast of Canada in search of the Northwest Passage had ended in disaster amid accusations of murder and cannibalism, with 11 of the 20 members of the group killed and the survivors reduced to eating lichen, their own boots, and the remains of rotten carcasses abandoned by wolves.
From the late 1780s onward Wilberforce campaigned for limited parliamentary reform, such as the abolition of rotten boroughs and the redistribution of Commons seats to growing towns and cities, though by 1832, he feared that such measures went too far.
Often, the rotten boroughs were controlled by great aristocrats, whose nominees were invariably elected by the constituents—who were, most often, their tenants—especially since the secret ballot was not yet used in Parliamentary elections.
Unlike other parts of the prison that had been built from scratch in 1811, the Admiralty division—as well as the northern boundary wall, the dayroom, and the chapel—had been part of the old Borough gaol, and were considerably run down, the cells so rotten they were barely able to confine prisoners.
What no one knew in the home country, we knew - the SS-men who were beating us, told us that we build a camp for our rotten brothers from Poland, who today can still spend Easter uneventfully, without an inkling what awaits them.