Railway Adventures and Anecdotes - extending over more than fifty years
Author: Various
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Alla California, 1868.


"This your boy, ma'am?" inquired a collector of a country woman, "he's too big for a 'alf ticket." "Oh, is he?" replied the mother. "Well, perhaps he is now, mister; but he wasn't when he started. The train is ever so much behind time—has been so long on the road—and he's a growing lad!"


Attempts to defraud railway companies by means of forged tickets are seldom made, and still more seldom successful. In 1870, a man who lived in a toll-house near Dudley, and who rented a large number of tolls on the different turnpikes, in almost every part of the country, devised a plan for travelling cheaply. He set up a complete fount of type, composing stick, and every requisite for printing tickets, and provided himself with coloured papers, colours, and paints to paint them, and plain cards on which to paste them; and he prepared tickets for journeys of great length, and available to and from different stations on the London and North-Western, Great Western, and Midland lines. On arriving one day at the ticket platform at Derby, he presented a ticket from Masbro' to Smethwick. The collector, who had been many years in the service of the company, thought there was something unusual in the ticket. On examination he found it to be a forgery, and when the train arrived at the platform gave the passenger into custody. On searching his house, upwards of a thousand railway tickets were discovered in a drawer in his bedroom, and the apparatus with which the forgeries were accomplished was also secured. On the prisoner himself was the sum of 199 pounds 10s., and it appeared that he came to be present at the annual letting of the tolls on the different roads leading out of Derby. The punishment he received was sufficiently condign to serve as a warning to all who might be inclined to emulate such attempts after cheap locomotion.

—Williams's Midland Railway.


A horny-handed old farmer entered the offices of one of the railroad companies, and inquired for the man who settled for hosses which was killed by locomotives. They referred him to the company's counsel, whom, having found, he thus addressed:—

"Mister, I was driving home one evening last week—"

"Been drinking?" sententiously questioned the lawyer.

"I'm centre pole of the local Tent of Rechabites," said the farmer.

"That doesn't answer my question," replied the man of law; "I saw a man who was drunk vote for the prohibition ticket last year."

"Hadn't tasted liquor since the big flood of 1846," said the old man.

"Go ahead."

"I will, 'Squire. And when I came to the crossing of your line—it was pretty dark, and—zip! along came your train, no bells rung, no whistles tooted, contrary to the statutes in such cases made and provided, and—whoop! away went my off-hoss over the telegraph wires. When I had dug myself out'n a swamp some distance off and pacified the other critter, I found that thar off-hoss was dead, nothing valuable about him but his shoes, which mout have brought, say, a penny for old iron. Well—"

"Well, you want pay for that 'ere off-hoss?" said the lawyer, with a scarcely repressed sneer.

"I should, you see," replied the farmer, frankly; "and I don't care about going to law about it, though possibly I'd get a verdict, for juries out in our town is mostly made up of farmers, and they help each other as a matter of principle in these cases of stock killed by railroads."

"And this 'ere off-hoss," said the counsel, mockingly, "was well bred, wasn't he? He was rising four years, as he had been several seasons past. And you had been offered 500 pounds for him the day he was killed, but wouldn't take it because you were going to win all the prizes in the next race with him? Oh, I've heard of that off-horse before."

"I guess there's a mistake somewhere," said the old farmer, with an air of surprise; "my hoss was got by old man Butt's roan-pacing hoss, Pride of Lemont, out'n a wall-eyed no account mare of my own, and, now that he's dead, I may say that he was twenty-nine next grass. Trot? Why, Fred Erby's hoss that he was fined for furious driving of was old Dexter alongside of him! Five hundred pounds! Bless your soul, do you think I'm a fool, or anyone else? It is true I was made an offer for him the last time I was in town, and, for the man looked kinder simple, and you know how it is yourself with hoss trading, I asked the cuss mor'n the animal might have been worth. I asked him forty pounds, but I'd have taken thirty."

"Forty?" gasped the lawyer; "forty?"

"Yes," replied the farmer, meekly and apologetically; "it kinder looks a big sum, I know, for an old hoss; but that 'ere off-hoss could pull a mighty good load, considering. Then I was kinder shook up, and the pole of my waggon was busted, and I had to get the harness fixed, and there's my loss of time, and all that counts. Say fifty pounds, and it's about square."

The lawyer whispered softly to himself, "Well, I'll be hanged!" and filled out a cheque for fifty pounds.

"Sir," said he, covering the old man's hand, "you are the first honest man I have met in the course of a legal experience of twenty-three years; the first farmer whose dead horse was worth less than a thousand pounds, and could trot better without training. Here, also, is a free pass for yourself and your male heirs in a direct line for three generations; and if you have a young boy to spare we will teach him telegraphing, and find him steady and lucrative employment."

The honest old farmer took the cheque, and departed, smiting his brawny leg with his horny hand in triumph as he did so, with the remark—

"I knew I'd ketch him on the honest tack! Last hoss I had killed I swore was a trotter, and all I got was thirty pounds and interest. Honesty is the best policy."

Once a Week.


The Irish mail leaving London at shortly after seven A.M., it was timed in 1868 to make the distance to Chester, one hundred and sixty-six miles, in four hours and eighteen minutes; from Chester to Holyhead is eighty-five miles, for running which the space of one hundred and twenty-five minutes was allowed. Abergele is a point on the seacoast in North Wales, nearly midway between these two places. On the 20th of August, 1868, the Irish mail left Chester as usual. It was made up of thirteen carriages in all, which were occupied—as the carriages of that train usually were—by a large number of persons whose names, at least, were widely known. Among these, on this particular occasion, were the Duchess of Abercorn, wife of the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with five children. Under the running arrangements of the London and North-Western line a goods train left Chester half-an-hour before the mail, and was placed upon the siding at Llanddulas, a station about a mile-and-a-half beyond Abergele, to allow the mail to pass. From Abergele to Llanddulas the track ascended by a gradient of some sixty feet to the mile. On the day of the accident it chanced that certain wagons between the engine and the rear end of the goods train had to be taken out to be left at Llanddulas, and, in doing this, it became necessary to separate the train and to leave five or six of the last wagons in it standing on the main line, while those which were to be left were backed on to a siding. The employe whose duty it was to have done so, neglected to set the brake on the wagons thus left standing, and consequently when the engine and the rest of the train returned for them, the moment they were touched, and before a coupling could be effected, the jar set them in motion down the incline toward Abergele. They started so slowly that a brakeman of the train ran after them, fully expecting to catch and stop them, but as they went down the grade they soon outstripped him, and it became clear that there was nothing to check them until they should meet the Irish mail, then almost due. It also chanced that the wagons thus loosened were oil wagons.

The mail train was coming up the line at a speed of about thirty miles an hour, when its engine-driver suddenly perceived the loose wagons coming down upon it around the curve, and then but a few yards off. Seeing that they were oil wagons, he almost instinctively sprang from his engine, and was thrown down by the impetus and rolled to the side of the road-bed. Picking himself up, bruised but not seriously hurt, he saw that the collision had already taken place, that the tender had ridden directly over the engine, that the colliding wagons were demolished, and that the front carriages of the train were already on fire. Running quickly to the rear of the train, he succeeded in uncoupling six carriages and a van, which were drawn away from the rest before the flames extended to them by an engine which most fortunately was following the train. All the other carriages were utterly destroyed, and every person in them perished.

The Abergele was probably a solitary instance, in the record of railway accidents, in which but one single survivor sustained any injury. There was no maiming. It was death or entire escape. The collision was not a particularly severe one, and the engine driver of the mail train especially stated that at the moment it occurred the loose wagons were still moving so slowly that he would not have sprung from his engine had he not seen that they were loaded with oil. The very instant the collision took place, however, the fluid seemed to ignite and to flash along the train like lightning, so that it was impossible to approach a carriage when once it caught fire. The fact was that the oil in vast quantities was spilled upon the track and ignited by the fire of the locomotive, and then the impetus of the mail train forced all of its leading carriages into the dense mass of smoke and flame. All those who were present concurred in positively stating that not a cry, nor a moan, nor a sound of any description was heard from the burning carriages, nor did any one in them apparently make an effort to escape.

Though the collision took place before one o'clock, in spite of the efforts of a large gang of men who were kept throwing water on the line, the perfect sea of flame which covered the line for a distance of some forty or fifty yards could not be extinguished until nearly eight o'clock in the evening, for the petroleum had flowed down into the ballasting of the road, and the rails were red-hot. It was, therefore, small occasion for surprise that when the fire was at last gotten under, the remains of those who lost their lives were in some cases wholly undistinguishable, and in others almost so. Among the thirty-three victims of the disaster, the body of no single one retained any traces of individuality; the faces of all were wholly destroyed, and in no case were there found feet or legs or anything approaching to a perfect head. Ten corpses were finally identified as those of males, and thirteen as those of females, while the sex of ten others could not be determined. The body of one passenger, Lord Farnham, was identified by the crest on his watch, and, indeed, no better evidence of the wealth and social position of the victims of this accident could have been asked for than the collection of articles found on its site. It included diamonds of great size and singular brilliancy; rubies, opals, emeralds; gold tops of smelling bottles, twenty-four watches—of which but two or three were not gold—chains, clasps of bags, and very many bundles of keys. Of these, the diamonds alone had successfully resisted the intense heat of the flame; the settings were nearly all destroyed.


One obvious means of hampering the military operations of the Germans was the cutting of railroads, so as to interrupt and overthrow on-coming trains. This method was resorted to by bands of volunteers, calling themselves "The Wild Boars of Ardennes," and "Railway Destroyers." Here again the invaders incurred great odium by announcing that, on the departure of a train in the disaffected districts, the mayor and principal inhabitants should be made to take their places on the engine, so that if the peasants chose to upset the conveyance, their surest victims would be their own compatriots.

Annual Register, 1870.


A driver, not on duty, had been drinking, and was, in company with his fireman, walking in the vicinity of the Edgware Road, when he suddenly started violently, and seizing his mate's arm, shouted—

"Hold hard, mate—hold hard!"

"What's the matter?" cried the fireman.

"Matter!" roared the driver, "why, you're a-running by the red light;" and he pointed to the crimson glare which streamed through a glass bottle in a chemist's window.

"Come along; that's nothing," said the fireman, trying to drag him on.

"What, run by the red light, and go afore Dannel in the morning?" retorted the driver, and no persuasion could or did get him to pass the shop. He was a Great Western man, and the "Dannel" whom he held in such wholesome awe was the celebrated engineer, now Sir Daniel Gooch, and chairman of that line. He was then the locomotive chief, and renowned above all other things for maintaining discipline among his staff, while they cherished a feeling for him very much akin to what we hear of the clannish enthusiasm of the ancient Scotch.


August 27, 1875. The Metropolitan magistrates have had before them a case which seems likely to show how some, at least, of the robberies at railway stations are accomplished. Some ingenious persons, it appears, have devised a way by which a trunk can be made to steal a trunk, and a portmanteau to annex a portmanteau. The thieves lay a trunk artfully contrived on a smaller trunk; the latter clings to the former, and the owner of the larger carries both away. The decoy trunk is said to be fitted with a false bottom, which goes up when it is laid on a smaller trunk, and with mechanism inside which does for the innocent trunk what Polonius recommended Laertes to do for his friend, and grapples it to its heart with hooks of steel. In fact, the decoy duck—we do not know how better to describe it—is made to perform an office like that of certain flowers, which suddenly close at the pressure of a fly or other insect within their cup and imprison him there.

Annual Register, 1875.


There are now two lines crossing the American continent. The western section of the new route goes through on the thirty-parallel—far enough south from the Rocky Mountains for the current of the train's own motion to be acceptable even in December, and to be a grateful relief in June. Beginning at San Francisco, the additional line runs south through California to Fort Yuma on the Colorado river; thence along the southern border of the territories of Arizona and New Mexico, and across the centre of Kansas, until it joins the lines connecting the Southern States with New York. The undertaking is a vast one, and has been one of some difficulty; but its completion has been the occasion of very little display. Never was a great project of any kind brought to a successful result with so much of active work and so little of actual talk. A cable message a line in length told the story a month ago to European readers, and none of the American papers appear to have dealt with the matter as anything out of the ordinary run of daily events.

Far otherwise was it with the finishing touch twelve years ago to the other Transcontinental line. The whole world heard of what was then done. All the bells in all the great cities of the United States rang out jubilant peals as the last stroke sent home the last spike on the last rail of the new highway of travel. The news was flashed by telegraph everywhere throughout the Union, and that there might be no delay in its transmission and no hindrance to its simultaneous reception, a certain pre-arranged signal was given and all the wires were for the time being kept free of other business. There were cases in which, to save time in ringing out the glad news, the message was conveyed on special wires right up to the bell towers; and everywhere there was a feeling that a great victory had been won. Preceding the consummation, there had been some wonderful feats in railroad construction. From the Missouri river on the one side and from the Sacramento on the other, the two companies—the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific—advanced against each other in friendly rivalry. The popular idea was that the length of the line of each company would be measured to the point at which it joined rails with the other. This was hardly the case; but an arrangement was come to after the completion of the work which has given this notion the strength of a tradition. The greater part of the Union Pacific route was over comparatively even ground, and it was not until the Salt Lake region was being approached that any serious constructive difficulties presented themselves. It was otherwise with the company advancing eastward. The line had to be carried over the Sierra Nevada, the ascent beginning almost from the starting point, and rising seven thousand feet in a hundred miles. On the other side of the mountain range, the descent was in turn formidable. Over this part of the road it was impossible to proceed rapidly. The work was surrounded with difficulties, and there were competent engineers who had no confidence that it could be carried out. Progress could only be made at the outset at the rate of about twenty miles each year; but in this slow work there was time to profit by experience, so that eventually, when it became a question simply of many hands, the platelayer went forward with the swing of an army on the march. Then it was that the two companies went vigorously into the race of construction. In one day, in 1868, the Union men were able to inform the Central men by telegraph that they had laid as many as six miles since morning. A few days afterwards the response came from the Central men that they had just finished as their day's work a stretch of seven miles. Spurred to fresh activity by this display, the Union men next reported to the other side a complete stretch for a day's work of seven and a half miles! The answer came back in the extraordinary announcement that the workers for the Central Company were prepared to lay ten miles in one day! The Union people were inclined to regard this as mere boasting, and the Vice-President of the company implied as much when he made an offer to bet ten thousand dollars that in one day such a stretch of railroad could not be well and truly laid. It is not on record that the bet was taken up. But the fact remains that it was made, that the Central army of workers heard of it, and that they determined to make good the pledge given in their name. So a day was fixed for the attempt. From the Union side men came to take note of the work and to measure it, and their verdict at the close of the day's toil was that not only had the promised ten miles been constructed, but that the measurement showed two hundred feet over! And this, on the words of an authority, is how it was done:—When the car loaded with rails came to the end of the track, the two outer rails on either side were seized with iron nippers, hauled forward off the car, and laid on the ties by four men who attended exclusively to this work. Over these rails the cars were pushed forward and the process repeated. Then came a gang of men who half-drove the spikes and screwed on the fish-plates on the dropped rails. At a short interval behind these came a gang of Chinamen, who drove home the spikes already inserted and added the rest. A second squad of Chinamen followed, two deep, on each side of the single track, the inner men carrying shovels and the outer men wielding picks, their duty being to ballast the track. Every movement was thus carefully arranged, and there was no loss of time. The average rate of speed at which the work was done was 1 min. 47.5 secs. to every 240 feet of perfected track. There was, of course, an army of disciplined helpers, whose duty it was to bring up the materials. In this great feat of construction more than four thousand men found employment in various capacities. When they had carried their line four miles further east, the Central and the Union men met each other, the point of connection being known as Promontory. Afterwards the two companies made an arrangement whereby the Union Pacific relinquished fifty-three miles of road to the Central, thus fixing on Ogden as the western terminus of the one line and the eastern terminus of the other. The popular belief is that the fifty-three miles were obtained by the Central Pacific directors as an acknowledgement of the greater engineering difficulties they had to overcome in laying their part of the track, and that they served a handicapping purpose at the end of this wonderful railroad competition.

The placing of the final tie on the Pacific lines, as has been hinted, was a ceremonious undertaking. The event took place on Monday, March 10th, 1869. Representatives were present from almost every part of the Union, and the construction parties, not yet wholly dispersed, made up a greater crowd than had been seen at Promontory before or is likely ever to be seen there again—for, with the fixing of the termini at another point, the glory of the place has departed. The connecting tie had been made of California laurel. It was beautifully polished, and bore a series of inscribed silver plates. The tie was carefully placed, and over it the rails were laid by picked men on behalf of each company. The spikes were then inserted—one of gold, silver, and iron, from Arizona; another of silver, from Nevada; and a third of gold, from California. President Stanford, of the Central Pacific, armed with a hammer of solid silver, drove the last spike, the blow falling precisely at noon, and the news of the completion of the road being flashed abroad as it fell. Then the two locomotives, one from the west and the other from the east, drew up to each other on the single line, coming into gentle collision, that they in their way, in the pleasing conceit of their drivers, might symbolise the fraternisation that went on. It does not spoil the story of the ceremony to state that the laurel tie, with its inscriptions and its magnificent mountings, was only formally laid, and that it became from that day a relic to be officially cherished; and it should be added that the more serviceable tie which replaced it was cut into fragments by men eager to have some memento of the occasion. Other ties for a time shared the same fate, until splinters of what was claimed to be "the last tie laid" became as common as pieces of the Wellington boots the great commander is said to have left behind him at Waterloo.

With the junction of the two lines, it became possible to make safely in one week an overland journey that not many years before required months in its execution, and was attended by many hardships and dangers. It was, however, a route better known even in the days when the legend of the pilgrims over it was "Pike's Peak or bust!" than is the region crossed by the new southern line. This line opens up what is practically an undiscovered and an unsettled country, but the region traversed has been ascertained to be so rich in resources as to fully justify the heavy expenditure involved in the construction of the line. In another year the line will become a powerful agent in the development of the Union, for it will then be connected with the lines that run through Texas into Louisiana, and New Orleans and San Francisco will be brought into direct communication with each other. This, in fact, has been a prominent object in the undertaking. The effect of it will be to cheapen the tariff on goods from the Pacific Coast to Europe, and will, it is believed, have the effect of controlling a large share of the Asiatic trade.

Leeds Mercury, April 23rd, 1881.


Marriage would not seem to have any close connection with railroad traffic, but we find an officer of an East Indian railroad company explaining a falling off in the passenger receipts of the year (1874) by the fact that it was a "twelfth year," which is regarded by the Hindoos as so unfavourable to marriage that no one, or scarcely any one, is married. And, as weddings are the great occasions in Hindoo life when there is great pomp and a general gathering together of friends, they cause a great deal of travelling.


A civil engineer, of long experience in connection with railways, gives some reassuring statements as to the precautions taken in keeping the lines in order. The majority of accidents occur, not from defects in the line, but from imperfections in the living agents who have charge of the signals and other arrangements of trains in transit. The engineer says:—"To begin at the bottom, we have the ganger of the 'beat,' a man selected from the waymen after several years' service for his aptitude and steadiness, whose duty it is to patrol his length of two or three miles every morning, and to make good fastenings, etc., afterwards superintending his gang in packing, replacing rails, sleepers, and other necessary repairs. Over the ganger is the inspector of permanent way, responsible for the gangers doing their duty, who generally goes over all his district once a day on the engine, and walks one or more gangers' beats. The inspectors, again, are under the district superintendent or engineer, who makes frequent inspections both by walking and on the engine. The ganger, if in want of men or materials, reports to his inspector, who, if they are required, sends a requisition to the engineer, keeping a small stock at his head-quarters to supply urgent demands. The engineer in his turn keeps the whole in harmony, sanctioning the employment of the necessary men, and ordering the materials, the only check upon the number of men or quantity of materials being the total half-yearly expenditure. Directors never within my experience grudge an outlay necessary to keep the line in good order; but, should they limit the expenditure from financial motives, it would then clearly be the duty of the engineer to recommend a reduction of speed to a safe point. Occasionally, idle gangers are met with, who are always asking for more men, and as naturally meeting with refusal.


Lord Lymington, M.P., relates the following amusing tale of his experience with an inquiring and hospitable gentleman in Arkansas:—"He introduced himself to me very kindly on learning that I was a traveller and an Englishman, and offered me the hospitalities of the town. It was very obliging of him, but unfortunately I could not stay, so we had a chat while I was waiting for the train. During this chat his eye fell on a portmanteau of mine which I had caused to be marked, for convenience sake and easy identification, with the cabalistic figures 120. This he scanned for some time with ill-concealed curiosity, and finally, turning to me, said rather abruptly, 'If I am not mistaken, you are a nobleman, are you not?' I admitted that such was my unhappy lot. 'Then,' he said, 'I presume that number there on your valise is what they call in the nobility armorial bearings, is it not—in fact, your crest?' 'Hardly that,' I modestly replied. 'A number is only borne as a crest, I believe, by much more illustrious persons—for example, the Beast in the Apocalypse.' 'Oh!' he replied, and then, after meditating a moment or two, asked, 'Have your family been long in England?' 'Yes,' I said, 'they have been there for some time. But why do you ask?' 'Perhaps the number refers,' he replied, 'to the number of generations, just as they recite them in the Old Testament, you know?' 'Yes,' I unhesitatingly and with prompt mendacity replied, 'that is exactly it, and I don't see how you hit it so cleverly.' He smiled all over with delight as the train rushed up, and waved kind farewells to me as long as we were in sight."


But the regulator once in his hand, the engine-driver has only begun his experience. He goes through an apprenticeship with different varieties of engines. He must pick up what knowledge he can himself, and he must always be on the alert to benefit from the experience of others. The locomotive in its varying "moods" must be his constant study, and he must work it so that he shall not infringe more than an average share of a multiplicity of rules and regulations. The best position in the service, apart from that of superintendence, is in the driving of an express engine, and the greatest honour that can be conferred on an engine-driver is to select him to take charge of the locomotive on a Royal train. Only the best men are picked out to drive the Queen, and the best engine on the road is detailed for the Royal service; and although on those occasions railway officials, who are the superiors of the driver, get on the foot-boards, the latter is for the time being master of the situation. Should the locomotive superintendent dictate to him, it would be to confess that the driver was unworthy of his high trust, and so the superintendent is content to look on; but it is the contentment born of the conviction that he has chosen for the task a driver whose experience is great, and whose watchfulness and care and knowledge of enginery have given him a claim to the chief service his company has for him. Not that there is any more risk in running the Queen's train than in running an ordinary passenger express. In fact, the risk is reduced to a minimum. A pilot engine has gone before to keep the way clear. The pilot engine is fifteen minutes in advance of the Royal carriages at every station, and the space travelled over in that fifteen minutes is kept free and unobstructed. The speed of the train is carefully regulated, and amongst other provisions for security the siding points are for the moment spiked. Every crossing gate is guarded from the time of the passage of the advance engine until the train follows in its wake. Everything is done to make the Royal journey over a railroad a safe one. Such arrangements, however, if they add to the responsibility, heighten also the pride a man feels in being the Queen's driver.

So far as the companies are concerned, it may be said that there is a fair field and no favour all the way from the fire-box in the cleaning-shed up to the footboard on the locomotive that takes Her Majesty from Windsor to Ballater. Promotion comes practically as a result of competitive examination. The mistake of a weak appointment is soon rectified, and the precautions taken to test a man's capacity in one grade before raising him to another are an absolute barrier to incompetence. But there are circumstances under which a man's chances are weakened. His responsibilities make him liable for the faults of others, and mistakes of this kind go to his discredit. Then if he is not companionable, or is over-confident, tricks may be played which will prevent his going forward as rapidly as he otherwise would. Mr. Reynolds tells the story of a driver who had come to a dead stop on a journey because he was short of steam. The cause was a mystery. There appeared to be nothing wrong with the engine or the fire, and apparently the boiler was also in trim. It was eventually found that some one had put soft soap in the tender, and the water there being hot, the soap was gradually dissolved and introduced into the boiler, with the result that the grease covered the tubes, and together with the suds prevented the transmission of heat to the water. An enemy had done this, but under the rules the driver was responsible for his engine, and he was suspended; only, however, to be reinstated when once the mischief was traced to the perpetrator. Even an act which to the ordinary spectator is a marvellous example of presence of mind may, interpreted by the company's rules, be an offence on the part of the engine-driver. An engine attached to a train broke from the tender in the course of its journey, and became separated. Noticing the mishap, the driver slackened speed, allowed the tender and carriages to come up, and while the train was still in motion he and the fireman adroitly secured the runaway, and no harm was done. The men interested did not think it advisable to report the occurrence. But the clever management of the engine had been noticed by a peasant in a field, and Hodge, in his wonderment, began to talk about the affair all round the country-side. Then the story found its way to a station master, and thence to headquarters, and an inquiry brought the matter to light, and ended in the two men being advised not to do the same thing again. It was held that under the circumstances the train should have been stopped.


An able writer upon railway topics remarks:—"I have alluded to a driver's coolness and resolution in an accident, but no chronicle ever has or ever will be written which will tell one tithe of the accidents which the courage and presence of mind of these men have averted. A railway ran over a river—indeed, it might be called an arm of the sea: as it was the inlet to an important harbour, provision was obliged to be made for the shipping, and so the piece of line which crossed the water, at a height of seventy feet, was, in fact, a bridge which swung round when large vessels had to pass. I need hardly say that such a point was carefully guarded. At each end, at a fitting distance, a man was placed specially to indicate whether the bridge was open or shut. One day, as the express was tearing along on its up journey, the driver received the usual 'all right' signal; but to his horror, on coming in full sight of the bridge, he found it was wide open, and a gulf of fatal depth yawning before him. He sounded his brake-whistle, that deep-toned scream which signals the guard, and he and his fireman held on, as before described, to the brake and regulator. The speed of the train was, of course, checked; but so short was the interval, so great had been the impetus, that it seemed almost impossible to prevent the whole train from going over into the chasm. Had the rails been in the least degree slippery, any of the brakes out of order, or the driver less determined, there would then have occurred the most fearful railway accident ever known in England; but by dint of quick decision and cool courage the danger was averted; the train was brought to a standstill when the buffers of the engine absolutely and literally overhung the chasm. Three yards more, and a different result might have had to be chronicled.

"Some of my readers may remember an incident in railway history which dates back to our first great Exhibition. I mention it here for its singularity, and for my having known the driver whose coolness was so marked. In ascending a very long gradient, the hindmost carriages of the train snapped their couplings when at the top; the engine rattled on with the remainder, while these ran down the slope, which was several miles in length, with a velocity which, of course, increased every moment. To make matters worse, the next train on the same line was comparatively close behind, and, in fact, shortly came in sight. The driver of this second train, a watchful and experienced hand, saw the carriages rushing towards him, and divined that they were on the same line. If he continued steaming on, of course, in a couple of minutes he would come into direct collision with them, while, on the other hand, if he ran back, the carriages would probably gather such way that they would leap from the bank. So, with great presence of mind and wonderful judgment of speed, he ran back at a pace not quite as fast as the carriages were approaching, so that eventually they overtook him, and struck his moving engine with a blow that was scarcely more perceptible than the jar usually communicated by coupling on a fresh carriage. When this was done, all the rest was easy; he resumed his down journey, and pushed the frightened passengers safely before him until they reached their destination, where the officials, as may readily be supposed, were in a state of frantic despair at the loss of half the train."


A singular adaptation of the locomotive has just been made in Russia. Information having been given to the authorities at Alexandrovo, on the Polish frontier, that the locomotive of the express leaving that station for Warsaw had been ingeniously converted into a receptacle for smuggled goods, it was carefully examined during its sojourn at the station. Though nothing was found wrong, it was deemed advisable that a custom-house official should accompany the train to its destination, when the engine furnace and boiler were emptied and deliberately taken to pieces. In the interior was discovered a secret compartment containing one hundred and twenty-three pounds of foreign cigars and several parcels of valuable silk. Several arrests were made, including that of the driver; but his astonishment at finding the engine to which he had been so long accustomed converted into a hardened offender against the laws was so genuine that he was released and allowed to return to his duties.


An English lady accustomed to travelling abroad, and able to converse fluently in the languages of the countries she visited, recently found herself alone in a railway carriage in Germany, when two foreigners entered with pipes in their mouths, smoking strong tobacco furiously. She quietly told them in their own language that it was not a smoking carriage, but they persisted in continuing to smoke, remarking that it was "the custom of the country," upon which the lady took from her pocket a pair of gloves and commenced cleaning them with benzoline. Her fellow-passengers expressed their disgust at the nauseous effluvium, when she remarked that it was the custom of her country. She was soon left in the sole possession of the carriage.



Mark Twain in his interesting work "A Tramp Abroad," thus refers to a railroad incident:—"We left Turin at 10 the next morning by a railway, which was profusely decorated with tunnels. We forgot to take a lantern along, consequently we missed all the scenery. Our compartment was full. A ponderous, tow-headed, Swiss woman, who put on many fine-lady airs, but was evidently more used to washing linen than wearing it, sat in a corner seat and put her legs across into the opposite one, propping them intermediately with her up-ended valise. In the seat thus pirated sat two Americans, greatly incommoded by that woman's majestic coffin-clad feet. One of them begged her, politely, to remove them. She opened her wide eyes and gave him a stare, but answered nothing. By-and-by he preferred his request again, with great respectfulness. She said, in good English, and in a deeply offended tone, that she had paid her passage and was not going to be bullied out of her 'rights' by ill-bred foreigners, even if she was alone and unprotected.

"'But I have rights also, madam. My ticket entitles me to a seat, but you are occupying half of it.'

"'I will not talk with you, sir. What right have you to speak to me? I do not know you. One would know that you come from a land where there are no gentlemen. No gentleman would treat a lady as you have treated me.'

"'I come from a land where a lady would hardly give me the same provocation.'

"'You have insulted me, sir! You have intimated that I am not a lady—and I hope I am not one, after the pattern of your country.'

"'I beg that you will give yourself no alarm on that head, madam but at the same time I must insist—always respectfully—that you let me have my seat.'

"Here the fragile laundress burst into tears and sobs.

"'I never was so insulted before! Never, never! It is shameful, it is brutal, it is base, to bully and abuse an unprotected lady who has lost the use of her limbs and cannot put her feet to the floor without agony!'

"'Good heavens, madam, why didn't you say that at first! I offer a thousand pardons. And I offer them most sincerely. I did not know—I could not know—that anything was the matter. You are most welcome to the seat, and would have been from the first if I had only known. I am truly sorry it all happened, I do assure you.'

"But he couldn't get a word of forgiveness out of her. She simply sobbed and snuffled in a subdued but wholly unappeasable way for two long hours, meantime crowding the man more than ever with her undertaker-furniture, and paying no sort of attention to his frequent and humble little efforts to do something for her comfort. Then the train halted at the Italian line, and she hopped up and marched out of the car with as firm a leg as any washerwoman of all her tribe! And how sick I was to see how she had fooled me!"


Any one wanting a fair and yet amusing account of what really occurs to a person travelling in America should read G. A. Sala's book called America Revisited. He speaks of a gentleman from the Eastern States whom he met in the train across the continent, and who thus held forth upon the difference between reality and guide-books:—

"There ain't no bottling up of things about me. This overland journey's a fraud, and you oughter know it. Don't tell me. It's a fraud. This Ring must be busted up. Where are your buffalers? Perhaps you'll tell me that them cows is buffalers. They ain't. Where are your prairie dogs? They ain't dogs to begin with, they're squirrels. Ain't you ashamed to call the mean little cusses dogs? But where are they? There ain't none. Where are your grizzlies? You might have imported a few grizzlies to keep up the name of your railroad. Where are your herds of antelopes scudding before the advancing train? Nary an antelope have you got for to scud. Rocky Mountains, sir? They ain't rocky at all—they're as flat as my hand. Where are your savage gorges? I can't see none. Where are your wild injuns? Do you call them loafing tramps in dirty blankets, injuns? My belief is that they are greasers looking out for an engagement as song and dance men. They're 'beats,' sir, 'dead beats,' they're 'pudcocks,' and you oughter be told so."

Another passenger in the train with Mr. Sala was of a poetic mind, and he softly sang to himself during the whole journey over the Rocky Mountains the following effusion:—

Beautiful snow, Beautiful snow, B-e-e-e-eautiful snow, How I'd like to have a revolver and go For the beast that wrote about beautiful snow.


The following is a verbatim copy of a notice exhibited at Welsh railway station. It is, perhaps, only a little more incomprehensible than Bradshaw. "List of Booking: You passengers must careful. For have them level money for ticket and to apply at once for asking tickets when will booking window open. No tickets to have after the departure of the trains."


A writer in the Leisure Hour remarks:—"It is no joke when a town like New York or London is blocked up for a few hours by snow. Both labour and capital have then to submit to a strike from nature; but it is a more serious matter when a man is snowed up in the middle of the Pacific Railway. He is not then kept at home, but kept away from it; he is not in the midst of comforts, but most unpleasantly out of their reach. He may, too, have to endure his privations and annoyances for a week, or even a month. . . Avalanches, in spite of snow-sheds and galleries, spring into ravines which the trains have to cross. . . . It was, however, with some little alarm that the writer found himself caverned for a considerable time under one of these dark snow-sheds. The difficulty of running through the snow impediments had so exhausted the fuel that it was necessary to go to a wood-station in the mountains. As it was the favourite resort of avalanches, the prudent conductor of our train directed the pilot to back the carriages into a snow-shed, and then be off the more quickly with engine and tender for a supply of fuel. It was bitterly cold and in the dead of night. The snow was piled up around the gallery, and had in many places penetrated through the crevices. The silence was profound. The sense of utter loneliness and desolation was complete. The return of the engine after a lengthened absence was a relief, like the spring sun following an arctic winter.

"The first parties snowed up were wholly unprepared. They had had their dollar meal at the last station, and were far enough from the next when fixed in the bank. It was, however, a rare harvest for the nearest store. The necessity of some was the opportunity of others. Food of inferior quality brought fabulous prices. A dispute, involving a heavy wager, arose about one article of fare. Was it antelope or not? The vendor admitted that a very lean old cow had been sacrificed on the pressing occasion.

"For a little while some fun was got out of the trouble of snowed-up trains. Delicate attentions were tendered by gentlemen as cooks' mates to the ladies. Oyster-cans were converted into culinary utensils, and telegraph wire proved excellent material for gridirons. Many a joke was passed in the train kitchen, and hearty was the appetite for the rude viands thus rudely dressed. But when the food grew more difficult to obtain, and the wood supply became less and less, the mirth was considerably slackened. It is true that despatches were sent off for help, and cargoes of provisions were steamed up as near as the snow would permit; but it was hard work to carry over the snow, and insufficient was the supply. Frightful growlings arose from the men and sad lamentations from the women. Short allowance of food, with intense cold, could not be positively enjoyed any time; but to be cooped up within snow walls in such a desolate region, far from expecting friends or urgent business, was most annoying. One spoke of absolute necessity to be at his office within the week, as heavy bills had to be prepared for. Another was going about an important speculation, which would utterly break down if he were detained three days. Alas! he was there above three weeks.

"The sorrows of the heart were worse. A mother was there hastening to nurse a sick daughter. A father had been summoned to the dying bed of his son. A husband was hoping to clasp again a wife from whom a long voyage had separated him. One poor fellow was an especial object of sympathy. He was hastening to an anxiously waiting bride. He had to cool the ardour of his passion in the snow-bound car, and pass the day appointed for his wedding in shivering reflections. In one of the snow depths was detained an interesting couple who had casually met on the western side and were obeying the mandate of the heart and of friends in proceeding to the east to effect their happy union. The three weeks they were compelled to pass together, under these cold and trying circumstances, must have given them a famous insight into each other's character, and this before the knot was tied.

"The story is told of one resolute man who, though but newly married, had been compelled to take a business journey. He was most impatient to return home, and was awhile confounded with his unfortunate imprisonment. When he found that little chance existed for an early escape, his heart prompted him to a bold enterprise. He was still two hundred miles from home. He had no guide before him but the telegraph posts. He could expect little provision on the way, as the stations were frozen up; but, sustained by conjugal affection, the good fellow set off on his lonely walk over the snow. Notwithstanding terrible sufferings, and some free fighting with wolves, he did his march in five days only. What a greeting he deserved!

"Those who had not his courage and strength were compelled to endure the cars. Americans are not folks to whine about a trouble; they succeed so often that their faith is strong. Though the most luxurious of people, the men—and the women too—can bear reverses nobly. But they never dream of Oriental submissiveness. They struggle hard to rise, and make the best of things till a change comes. So with those in the cars. They soon found amusements; they chatted and laughed, played games and sang; the best jokes were recollected and repeated, and the liveliest tales were told; charades were acted; a judge and jury scene afforded much amusement; lectures were given to approving assemblies. The Sundays were decently observed, and services were held morning and evening; reading was dispensed with, and the sermons were extempore perforce.

"The worst part of their sufferings came when for forty-eight hours they were under a snow-shed without light, and with the stoves empty. As, for the maintenance of warmth, every crevice in the cars was stopped, the misery of close and unwholesome atmosphere was added to their sorrows. The writer, as an old traveller, has had some experience of odd sleeping dens, and has been obliged at times to inhale a pestiferous air, though he has never endured so much from this discomfort as in his winter passage on the Pacific Railway. For hours in the long nights, as well as in the day, he preferred standing outside on the platform, with the thermometer from fifteen to twenty-five below zero, rather than encounter the foul atmosphere and stifling heat within.

"Meanwhile the brave Chinamen were summoned to the rescue. They are capital fellows to withstand the cold, and work with a will to clear a passage. For a distance of two hundred miles the blockade existed, and several trains were thus caught on the way. Eight hundred freight wagons were detained at Cheyenne. At one period the cold was 30 degrees below zero. The worst part of the road was toward Sherman, 8,252 feet above the sea. Wyoming and West Nebraska were the coldest regions.

"In this great blockade, strange to say, the mortality was but small. Three died during the imprisonment, and two in consequence of cold. But an interesting compensation was made, for five births took place in this season of trial. The principal sufferers were those in the second-class carriages. Room, however, was made for the more delicate in the already crowded first-class cars."


The Indianapolis News is responsible for the following story. A railroad official of Indianapolis had, among other passes, one purporting to carry him freely over the Warren and Tonawanda Narrow-Gauge Railway. Happening to be near Warren, he thought he would use this pass. Now, it appears that some enterprising citizens of Pennsylvania once proposed to lay a pipe-line for petroleum between Warren and Tonawanda. The Legislature having refused to sanction their scheme, they "engineered" a bill for building a narrow-gauge line, which passed, the oil capitalists not conceiving that they had any interest in opposing it. It is needless to say the narrow-gauge line was the "desiderated pipe-line." The enterprising citizens carried their joke so far as to issue annual passes over the road, receiving others in return. When the traveller sought for the Warren station on this line he found a chimney, and for the narrow-gauge an iron-lined hole in the ground. It is hardly surprising that now he is moved to anger at the slightest reference to the "Warren and Tonawanda Narrow Gauge."


It is rather a serious matter that our public companies, and especially our railway companies, are doing their best to degrade our language. I am not going to be squeamish and object strongly to the use of the word Metropolitan, though I think it indefensible. Still, it is too bad of them to persist in using the word bye-laws for by-laws—so establishing solidly a shocking error. The word bye has no existence in England except as short for be with you, in the phrase Good-bye. The so called by-laws are simple laws by the other laws, and have nothing to do with any form of salutation. In a bill of the Great Western Railway I find the announcement that tickets obtained in London on any day from December 20th to 24th will be available for use on either of those days—this either meaning the five days from the 20th December to the 24th inclusive. Either of five! After this I am not surprised that, in a contribution of my own to a daily paper, the editor gravely altered the phrase the last-named, applied to one of three people, to latter. In a railway advertisement I read a day or two ago, "From whence." Now, what is the good of such fine words as whence and thence if they are thus to be ill-used? Surely the railway companies might have some one capable of seeing that their grammar has some pretence to correctness.

Gentleman's Magazine.


Some time ago a railway collision on one of the roads leading out of New York killed, among others, a passenger living in an interior town. His remains were sent home, and a few days after the funeral the attorney of the road called upon the widow to effect a settlement. She placed her figures at twenty thousand dollars. "Oh! that sum is unreasonable," replied the attorney. "Your husband was nearly fifty years old." "Yes, sir." "And lame?" "Yes." "And his general health was poor?" "Quite poor." "And he probably would not have lived over five years?" "Probably not, sir." "Then it seems to me that two or three thousand dollars would be a fair compensation." "Two or three thousand!" she echoed. "Why, sir, I courted that man for ten years, run after him for ten more, and then had to chase him down with a shotgun to get him before a preacher! Do you suppose that I'm going to settle for the bare cost of shoe leather and ammunition?"


The following scene occurred at the high-level Crystal Palace line:—"A newspaper correspondent was amused at the indignation of a lady against the porters who interfered to prevent her taking her dog into the carriage. The lady argued that Parliament had compelled the companies to find separate carriages for smokers, and they ought to be further compelled to have a separate carriage for ladies with lap-dogs, and it was perfectly scandalous that they should be separated, and a valuable dog, worth perhaps thirty or forty guineas, should be put into a dog compartment. I have some of the B stock of the railway, upon which not a penny has ever been paid, and I could not help comparing my experience of this particular line of railway with that of my fellow-traveller, and wondering what sort of a train that would be which would provide accommodation for all the wants and wishes of railway travellers."


A gentleman removing took with him on the Great Western railway articles consisting of six pairs of blankets, six pairs of sheets, and six counterpanes, valued at 16 pounds, belonging to his household furniture. They were in a box, which was put in the luggage van and lost. The question at law was whether these articles came within the definition, "ordinary passengers' luggage," for which, if lost, the passenger could claim damages from the Company.

The judges of the Court of Queen's Bench sitting in Banco have decided that such is not personal luggage.

"Now," (said the Lord Chief Justice) "although we are far from saying that a pair of sheets or the like taken by a passenger for his use on a journey might not fairly be considered as personal luggage, it appears to us that a quantity of articles of that description intended, not for the use of the traveller on the journey, but for the use of his household, when permanently settled, cannot be held to be so."

Herepath's Railway Journal, Jan. 10, 1871.


The conversion of the gauge on the South Wales section of the Great Western railway in 1872 was of the heaviest description, the period of labour lasting from seventeen to eighteen hours a day for several successive days. It was the greatest work of its kind, and nothing exactly like it will ever be done in England again. The lines of rail to be connected would have made about 400 miles in single length, the number of men employed was about 1500; and the time taken was two weeks nearly. Oatmeal and barley water was made into a thin gruel and given to the men as required. It was the only drink taken during the day. I had not a single case of drunkenness or illness. I have often heard these men speak with great approbation of the supporting power of oatmeal drink.

J. W. Armstrong, C.E.


At a banquet in Paris attended by Americans in celebration of the late Fourth of July, Mr. Walker's speech in reply to the toast of the material prosperity of the United States and France, and the establishment of closer commercial relations between them, was especially striking and interesting. He remarked, "In 1870 the cost of transporting food and merchandise between the Western and Eastern States was from a cent-and-a-half to two cents a ton a mile. I well remember a conversation which I had in 1870 or 1871 with Mr. William B. Ogden, of Chicago, one of the modest railway kings of that primitive period. In a vein of sanguine prophecy, Mr. Ogden exclaimed to me, 'Mr. Walker, you will live to see freight brought from Chicago to New York at a cent a ton a mile!' 'Perhaps so,' I replied; 'but I fear this result will not be reached in my time.' In 1877 or 1878 the cost had fallen to three-eighths of a cent a ton a mile, and although this price was not remunerative, I was told by one of the highest authorities in railway matters that five-eighths of a cent would be perfectly satisfactory. The effect of this reduction in the cost of transportation is precisely as though the unexhaustible grain fields and pastures across the Mississippi had been moved bodily eastward to the longitude of Ohio and Western New York. It is estimated that it takes a quarter of a ton of bread and meat to feed a grown man in Massachusetts for a year. The bread and meat come to him from the far west, and I have no doubt that it will astonish you to be told, as it lately astonished me, that a single day of this man's labour, even if it be of the commonest sort, will pay for transporting his year's subsistence for a thousand miles."


Dec. 28, 1879. A fearful disaster occurred in Scotland. As the train from Edinburgh to Dundee was crossing the bridge, two miles in length, which spans the mouth of the Tay, a terrible hurricane struck the bridge, about four hundred yards of which was, with the train, dashed into the sea below. About seventy persons were in the train, of whom not one escaped, nor, when the divers were able to descend, could a single body be found in the carriages, or among the bridge girders, and some days elapsed before any were recovered. No conclusive evidence could be produced to show whether the train was blown off the rails and so dragged the girders down, or whether the bridge was blown away and the train ran into the chasm thus made. The night was intensely dark, and the wind more violent than had ever been known in the country.

Annual Register, 1879.


The following is a translation from the Norwegian newspaper Morgenbledet, dated Feb. 20th:—"By private letter from Utsue, an island on the western coast of Norway, is communicated to Dapposten the intelligence that on the 12th inst. some fishermen pulled on the Firth to haul their nets, and had hardly finished their labour when they sighted an extraordinary object some distance further out. The superstitious fears of sea monsters which have been written a good deal about lately held them back for some time, but their curiosity made them approach the supposed sea monster, and, to their great surprise, they found that it was something like a building. As the sea was calm they immediately commenced to tow it to shore, where it was hauled up on the beach, and was then found to be a damaged railway wagon. The wheels were off, the windows smashed, and one door hanging on its hinges. By the name on it, "Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway," it was at once surmised that it must have been one of the wagons separated from the train which met with the disaster on the Tay Bridge. In the carriage was a portmanteau containing garments, some of them marked 'P.B.' The wagon was sent, on the 14th, to Hangesund, to be forwarded thence to Bergen."


A railway pointsman, caught napping at his post and convicted of wilful negligence, said to the gaoler who was about to lock him up, "I always supposed that the safety of a railroad depended on the soundness of its sleepers?" "So it does," replied the gaoler, "but such sleepers are never safe unless they are bolted in."


The following incident is said to have occurred on the North London Railway:—Some time ago a passenger remarked, in the hearing of one of the company's servants, how easy it was to "do" the company, and said, "I often travel from Broad Street to Dalston Junction without a ticket—anyone can do it—I did it yesterday." When he alighted he was followed by the official, who asked him how it was done. For a consideration he agreed to tell him. This being given, "Now," said the inquirer, "how did you go from Broad Street to Dalston Junction yesterday without a ticket?" "Oh," was the reply, "I walked."


The following is rather a good story from the Emerald Isle:—A doctor and his wife got into a train near—well, we will not say where. In the same carriage with the doctor were two strange officers. The doctor's wife got into another compartment of the same train, the doctor not having seen his wife in the hurry, neither knew that they were travelling by the same train until both had got into different carriages. Said one of the officers to his companion, "That is the ugliest woman I ever saw." "She is," replied the Son of Mars. "I should not like to be obliged to kiss her," responded the first speaker. "I should not mind doing it," sullenly said the doctor. "You never would, sir, think of such a thing," said the officer. "I'll bet you a sovereign I will," answered the man of "pills and potions." "Done," said the officer. So when they all got out at the station, the doctor went forward and kissed his wife, and won his sovereign—the easiest-earned fee he had ever received. The officers looked rather astonished when he presented his wife to them.


Mr. Merewether, Q.C., got into the train one morning with a whole batch of briefs and a talkative companion. He wanted to go through his briefs, but his companion would not let him work. He tried silence, he tried grunting, he tried sarcasm. At length, when they came to Hanwell, the gossip hit upon the unfortunate remark, "How well the asylum looks from the railway!" "Pray, sir," replied Mr. Merewether, "how does the railway look from the asylum?" The man was silent.


An American contemporary says:—"John Bull, of Galion (Ohio), ought to have his name recorded in an enduring way, for few have ever behaved so nobly as that engine driver of the New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio railroad. As he was driving a passenger train last month he found that, through somebody's blunder, a freight train was approaching on the same track, and a collision was inevitable. He could have saved his own life by leaping from the engine, but, dismissing all thoughts of himself, he resolved to try and save the passengers committed to his care. So he reversed the engine and set the air-brakes, and then put on full steam, started the locomotive ahead, broke the coupling attached to the train, and dashed on to receive the shock of the collision. The passengers escaped all injury, while the brave engineer was so badly hurt that he died in a few hours. Such heroism as this should not go unnoticed." The Cincinnati Inquirer says: "He remained in the car until the engine leaped into the air and was dashed into the ditch, when he attempted to spring to the ground, but had his foot caught between the frames of the engine and tender, striking his head on the ground and causing the fatal injuries. Railroad men say that the act of detaching the engine as he did, not even derailing the baggage car with his engine at the high rate of speed, and all in 150 feet, is without parallel in railroading. A purse of 500 dollars was raised by the grateful passengers. The body has been shipped to Galion for burial."


In noticing the "Life of the Rt. Rev. Samuel Wilberforce, D.D., Lord Bishop of Oxford, and afterwards of Winchester," a writer in the Athenaeum remarks:—"Busy he was, both in Oxford and in London, and his correspondence with all kinds of people was unusually large. A large proportion of his letters were written in the railway train, and dated from 'near' this town, or 'between' this and that. We remember to have heard from one who was his companion in a railway carriage that before the journey was half-finished the adjoining seat was littered with envelopes of letters which he had read, and with the answers he had written since he started. All this undeniably shows energy and determination, and power to work."


Some days since, the trains of the North London Railway were all late, and consequently every platform was crowded. At one of the stations an unfortunate passenger attempted to enter an already over-crowded first-class compartment, but one of the occupants stoutly resisted the intrusion. Thereupon, the unfortunate one said, "I will soon settle this," and called the guard to the carriage door. He then requested the official to ask two of the occupants to produce their tickets, which proved to be third-class ones. In spite of the delinquents protesting there was no room in the train elsewhere, they were ejected, and the unfortunate one took their place. The other passengers were naturally rather indignant; and, seeing this, the successful intruder quietly said, "I am very sorry to have had to turn those two gentlemen out, especially as I have heard them say they were already late for an important engagement in the city; and I am all the more sorry, seeing that I only hold a third-class ticket myself."



Mr. Frank Buckland had been in France and was returning via Southampton, with an overcoat stuffed with natural history specimens of all sorts, dead and alive. Among them was a monkey, which was domiciled in a large inside breast-pocket. As Buckland was taking his ticket, Jocko thrust up his head and attracted the attention of the booking-clerk, who immediately—and very properly—said, "You must take a ticket for that dog, if it's going with you." "Dog," said Buckland, "it's no dog, it's a monkey." "It is a dog," replied the clerk. "It's a monkey," retorted Buckland, and proceeded to show the whole animal, but without convincing the clerk, who insisted on five shillings for the dog-ticket to London. Nettled at this, Buckland plunged his hand into another pocket and produced a tortoise, and laying it on the sill of the ticket window said, "Perhaps you'll call that a dog too." The clerk inspected the tortoise. "No," said he, "we make no charge for them—they're insects."


An engineer on a locomotive going across the western prairie day after day, saw a little child come out in front of a cabin and wave to him, so he got in the habit of waving back to the child, and it was the day's joy to see this little one come out in front of the cabin door and wave to him while he answered back. One day the train was belated, and it came on to the dusk of the evening. As the engineer stood at his post he saw by the headlight that little girl on the track, wondering why the train did not come, looking for the train, knowing nothing of her peril. A great horror seized upon the engineer. He reversed the engine. He gave it in charge of the other man, and then he climbed over the engine, and he came down on the cowcatcher. He said though he had reversed the engine, it seemed as though it were going at lightning speed, faster and faster, though it was really slowing up, and with almost supernatural clutch he caught the child by the hair and lifted it up, and when the train stopped, and the passengers gathered around to see what was the matter, there the old engineer lay, fainted dead away, the little child alive and in his swarthy arms.


There was a time when American women prided themselves on their fragility. To be healthy, strong or plump was thought to be the height of vulgarity, and refinement was held to be inseparable from leanness and consumption. These views still obtain—so it is said—in Boston, and especially in Bostonian literary circles; but elsewhere the American woman is growing plump and healthy, and is actually proud of it. While wise men are heartily glad of this change in female sentiment and tissue, it must be admitted that there is one form of feminine fragility which has its value. There is a rare condition of the bony system in which the bones are so fragile that the slightest blow is sufficient to break them. A baby thus afflicted cannot be handled, even by the most experienced mother, without danger; and a man with fragile bones is so liable to be broken, that there is sometimes no safety for him outside of a glass case. The late Mrs. Baker—for that was her latest name—was not so fragile that she could not be handled by a careful man, but still a very light blow would usually break her. She did not share the Bostonian opinion of the vulgarity of strength, but she was, nevertheless, very proud of her fragility, and by its aid her husband managed to amass a comfortable fortune within three years after their marriage. She is perhaps the only fragile woman on record of whom it can be said that her whole value consisted in her fragility, but, as her story shows, her fragility was the sole capital invested in her husband's business. In January, 1870, Mrs. Baker—then a single woman, as to whose maiden name there is some uncertainty—was married to Mr. Wheelwright—James G. Wheelwright, of Worcester, Mass. Her husband married her on account of her well-known fragility, but he treated her with such kindness that in the whole course of their married life he never once broke her, even by accident. In February, 1870, the Wheelwrights removed to Utica, N.Y., and one day Mr. Wheelwright took his wife to the railway station, and had her break her leg in a small hole on the platform. He at once sued the railway company for 10,000 dols., being the value set by himself on his wife's leg, and ten days afterwards accepted 5,000 dols. as a compromise, and withdrew the suit The Wheelwrights left Utica in June, 1870, and in the following August the dutiful Mrs. Wheelwright, who now called herself Mrs. Thomas, broke her other leg in a hole in the platform of the railway station at Pittsburg. Again her husband sued the railway company for 15,000 dols., and compromised for 6,500 dols. The leg was mended successfully, and in July, 1871, we find the Thomases, now passing under the name of Mr. and Mrs. Smiley, at Cincinnati, where Mr. Smiley, after long searching, discovered a piece of ragged and uneven sidewalk, upon which his wife made a point of falling and breaking her right arm. This time the city was sued for 15,000 dols., and Mr. Smiley proved that his wife was a school teacher by profession, and that the breaking of her arm rendered it impossible for her to teach, for there as on that she could not wield a rod or even a slipper. The city paid the 15,000 dols. and the Smileys, having by honest industry thus made 26,500 dols., removed to Chicago, and entered their names on the hotel register as Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis, of Portland, Me. On the second day after their arrival at the hotel, Mr. McGinnis found an eligible place on the piazza for Mrs. McGinnis to break another leg, which that excellent woman promptly did. The usual suit of 15,000 dols. was brought, and the hotel-keeper, fearing that the notoriety of the suit would injure his hotel, was glad to compromise by paying 8,000 dols. By this time, it is understood, Mrs. McGinnis was willing to retire from business, but her husband had set his heart on making 50,000 dols., and like a good wife she consented to break some more bones. It should be said that there was very little pain attending a fracture of any one of the lady's bones, and that she did not in the least mind the monotony of lying in bed while the broken bones knitted themselves together. There can, therefore, be no charge of cruelty brought against her husband. Indeed, she herself entered with a hearty goodwill into the scheme of making a living with her bones, and would go out to break a leg with as much cheerfulness as if she was going to a theatre. In March, 1872, Mrs. Wilkins—hitherto known as Mr. McGinnis—walked into an open trench in a street in St. Louis and broke another leg. This time the suit brought by Mr. Wilkins against the city did not succeed, and the inquiries which were put on foot as to the antecedents of the Wilkinses fairly frightened them out of the city. They turned up a month later in Detroit, where the weather was still cold, and much snow had recently fallen. There were still 16,000 dollars to be made before the industrious pair would have the whole of their desired 50,000 dollars, and it was decided that Mrs. Wilkins—who had changed her name to Mrs. Baker—should fall on the icy pavement and break both arms. This, it was estimated, would be worth at least 8,000 dols., and it was hoped that the subsequent judicious breakage of two legs on the premises of a Canadian railway would bring in 8,000 dols. more, after which the Bakers intended to retire from business. Early one morning Mr. Baker took his wife out and had her fall on a nice piece of ice, where she broke both arms. Unfortunately, she fell more heavily than was necessary, and, in addition, broke her neck and instantly expired. The grief of Mr. Baker naturally knew no bounds, and he sued for 25,000 dols., all of which he recovered. He had thus made 59,500 dols. by the aid of his fragile wife, and demonstrated that as a source of steady income a woman who breaks easily is almost priceless. Still, nothing could console him for the loss of his beloved partner, and he is to-day a lonely and unhappy man.

New York Times.


A guard of a railway train, upon the late occasion of a hitch, which detained the passengers for some time, gave himself so much importance in commanding them, that one old gentleman took the wind out of his sails by calling him to the carriage door, and saying, "May I take the liberty, sir, of asking you what occupation you filled previous to being a railway guard?"


On a certain railway, the following notice appeared:—"Hereafter, when trains moving in opposite directions are approaching each other on separate lines, conductors and engineers will be required to bring their respective trains to a dead halt before the point of meeting, and be very careful not to proceed till each train has passed the other."


My vocations led me to travel almost daily on one of the Great Eastern lines—the Woodford Branch. Every one knows that Muller perpetrated his detestable act on the North London Railway, close by. The English middle class, of which I am myself a feeble unit, travel on the Woodford branch in large numbers. Well, the demoralization of our class,—which (the newspapers are constantly saying it, so I may repeat it without vanity) has done all the great things which have ever been done in England,—the demoralization of our class caused, I say, by the Bow tragedy, was something bewildering. Myself a transcendentalist (as the Saturday Review knows), I escaped the infection; and day after day I used to ply my agitated fellow-travellers with all the consolations which my transcendentalism and my turn for French would naturally suggest to me. I reminded them how Julius Caesar refused to take precautions against assassination, because life was not worth having at the price of an ignoble solicitude for it. I reminded them what insignificant atoms we all are in the life of the world. Suppose the worse to happen, I said, addressing a portly jeweller from Cheapside,—suppose even yourself to be the victim, il n'y a pas d'homme necessaire. We should miss you for a day or two on the Woodford Branch; but the great mundane movement would still go on, the gravel walks of your villa would still be rolled, dividends would still be paid at the bank, omnibuses would still run, there would still be the old crush at the corner of Fenchurch street. All was of no avail. Nothing could moderate in the bosom of the great English middle class their passionate, absorbing, almost blood-thirsty clinging to life.

—Matthew Arnold's Essays in Criticism.


A correspondent, writing from Amelia les Bains, says:—A very singular blunder was committed the other day by the officials of a railway station between Prepignan and Toulon. A gentleman who had been spending the winter here with his family, left last week for Marseilles, taking with him the body of his mother-in-law, who died six weeks ago, and who had expressed a wish to be buried in the family vault at Marseilles. When he reached Marseilles and went with the commissioner of police—whose presence is required upon these occasions—to receive the body from the railway officials, he noticed to his great surprise that the coffin was of a different shape and construction from that which he had brought from here. It turned out upon further inquiry that a mistake had been committed by the officials, who had sent on to Toulon the coffin containing his mother-in-law's body, believing that it held the remains of a deceased admiral, which was to be embarked for interment in Algeria, while the coffin awaiting delivery was the one which should have been sent on. The gentleman who was placed in this awkward predicament, having requested the railway officials to communicate at once with Toulon by telegraph, proceeded thither himself with the coffin of the admiral, but the intimation had arrived too late. He ascertained when he got there that the first coffin had been duly received, taken on board, amid "the thunder of fort and of fleet," the state vessel which was waiting for it, and despatched to Algeria. He at once called upon the maritime prefect of Toulon, and explained the circumstances of the case, but though a despatch-boat was sent in pursuit, the other vessel was not overtaken. He is now at Toulon awaiting her return, and I believe that he declines to give up the coffin containing the deceased admiral until he regains possession of his mother-in-law's remains.


In July, 1877, a carrier-pigeon tried conclusions with a railway train. The bird was a Belgian voyageur, bred at Woolwich, and "homed" to a house in Cannon Street, City. The train was the Continental mail-express timed not to stop between Dover and Cannon Street Station. The pigeon, conveying an urgent message from the French police, was tossed through the railway carriage window as the train moved from the Admiralty Pier, the wind being west, the atmosphere hazy, but the sun shining. For more than a minute the bird circled round till it attained an altitude of about half-a-mile, and then it sailed away Londonwards. By this time the engine had got full steam on, and the train was tearing away at the rate of sixty miles an hour; but the carrier was more than a match for it. Taking a line midway between Maidstone and Sittingbourne, it reached home twenty minutes before the express dashed into the station; the train having accomplished seventy-six-and-a-half miles to the pigeon's seventy, but being badly beaten for all that.

All the Year Round.


Hans Hendrik, a native of Greenland, thus describes his first journey by rail in America:—"Then our train arrived and we took seats in it. When we had started and looked at the ground, it appeared like a river, making us dizzy, and the trembling of the carriage might give you headache. In this way we proceeded, and whenever we approached houses they gave warning by making big whistle sound, and on arriving at the houses they rung a bell and we stopped for a little while. By the way we entered a long cave through the earth, used as a road, and soon after we emerged from it again. At length we reached our goal, and entered a large mansion, in which numbers of people crowded together." He likens the people going out of the railway-station to a "crowd of church-goers, on account of their number."

Good Words, April, 1880.


Will bad table manners vitiate legal grounds of action? A collision recently occurred while an Italian commercial traveller was eating a Bologna sausage in a railway train. The shock of the collision drove the knife so violently against his mouth as to widen it. He brought suit for damages. The defence was that the injuries were caused by the knife; that the knife should never be carried to the mouth, and that the plaintiff, having injured himself by reason of his bad habit of eating, must take the consequences and pay his own doctor's bill. The case is not yet finally decided.

Echo, Oct. 1st., 1880.


On one of the seats in a railway train was a married lady with a little daughter; opposite, facing them, was another child, a son, and a coloured "lady" with a baby. The mother of these children was a beautiful matron with sparkling eyes, in exuberant health and vivacious spirits. Near her sat a young lieutenant, dressed to kill and seeking a victim. He scraped up an acquaintance with the mother by attentions to the children. It was not long before he was essaying to make himself very agreeable to her, and by the time the sun began to decline, one would have thought they were old familiar friends. The lieutenant felt that he had made an impression—his elation manifested it. The lady, dreaming of no wrong, suspecting no evil, was apparently pleased with her casual acquaintance. By-and-by the train approached a tunnel. The gay lieutenant leaned over and whispered something in the lady's ear. It was noticed that she appeared as thunderstruck, and her eyes immediately flamed with indignation. A moment more and a smile lighted up her features. What changes? That smile was not one of pleasure, but was sinister. It was unperceived by the lieutenant. She made him a reply which apparently rejoiced him very much. For the understanding properly this narrative, we must tell the reader what was whispered and what was replied. "I mean to kiss you when we get into the tunnel!" whispered the lieutenant. "It will be dark; who will see it?" replied the lady. Into earth's bowels—into the tunnel ran the train. Lady and coloured nurse quickly change seats. Gay lieutenant threw his arms around the lady sable, pressed her cheek to his, and fast and furious rained kisses on her lips. In a few moments the train came out into broad daylight. White lady looked amazed—coloured lady, bashful, blushing—gay lieutenant befogged. "Jane," said the white lady, "what have you been doing?" "Nothing!" responded the coloured lady. "Yes, you have," said the white lady, not in an undertone, but in a voice that attracted the attention of all in the carriage. "See how your collar is rumpled and your bonnet smashed." Jane, poor coloured beauty, hung her head for a moment, the "observed of all observers," and then, turning round to the lieutenant, replied: "This man kissed me in the tunnel!" Loud and long was the laugh that followed among the passengers. The white lady enjoyed the joke amazingly. Lieutenant looked like a sheep-stealing dog, left the carriage at the next station, and was seen no more.

Cape Argus.


The Midland Railway, on being extended to London, was the occasion of the removal of a vast amount of house property, also it interfered to a certain extent with the graveyard belonging to Old St. Pancras Church. The company had purchased a new piece of ground in which to re-inter the human remains discovered in the part they required. Amongst them was the corpse of a high dignitary of the French Romish Church. Orders were received for the transmission of the remains to his native land, and the delicate work of exhuming the corpse was entrusted to some clever gravediggers. On opening the ground they were surprised to find, not bones of one man, but of several. Three skulls and three sets of bones were yielded by the soil in which they had lain mouldering. The difficulty was how to identify the bones of a French ecclesiastic amid so many. After much discussion, the shrewdest gravedigger suggested that, being a Frenchman, the darkest coloured skull must be his. Acting upon this idea, the blackest bones were sorted and put together, until the requisite number of rights and lefts were obtained. These were reverently screwed up in a new coffin, conveyed to France, and buried with all the pomp and circumstance of the Roman Catholic Church.


An American correspondent writes:—"I have just finished reading a most amusing incident, and, as it occurs in a book not likely to fall into the hands of many of the members, I am tempted to relate it, although it might prove to be 'stale.' Well, to begin: It tells of a maiden lady, who, having arrived at the mature age of 51 without ever having seen a railway train, decides to visit New York. The all-important day having arrived, she seats herself calmly on the platform of the country station, and gazes with amazement as the train draws up, takes on its passengers, and pursues its journey. As she stares after it the stationmaster asks her why she did not get on if she wishes to go to New York. 'Get on,' says Miss Polly, in surprise, 'get on! Why, bless me, if I didn't think this whole concern went!' Being placed on the next train, she proceeds on her way, when, finally, having seen so many wonderful things, she concluded not to be astonished, whatever may happen. A collision occurs and the gentleman next to her is thrown to the end of the car among a heap of broken seats. She supposes it to be the usual manner of stopping, and quietly remarks: 'Ye fetch up rather sudden, don't ye?'"


The suit of William O'Connor against the Boston and Lowell Railroad at Lawrence has resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff in $10,000, one-half the amount sued for. This suit grew out of an accident which occurred August 27th, 1880. The plaintiff was the father of a child then between five and six years old. He and his brother, three years older, were crossing a private way maintained by the railroad for the Essex Company, and the younger boy, while walking backward, stepped between the rail and planking of the roadway inside and was unable to extricate his foot. At that moment the whistle of a train was heard within a few hundred feet and out of sight around a curve, and it appeared from the evidence that the older brother, finding himself unable to relieve his brother, ran down the track toward the train; but finding that he could not attract the attention of the trainmen to his brother's condition, and that he must be run over, ran back to him, and, telling him to lie down, pulled him outward and down and held him there until the train had passed. Both feet of the little fellow were cut off or mangled so that amputation was necessary. The theory of the defence was that the boy was not caught, but while running across the track, fell and was run over. But the testimony of the older brother was unshaken in every particular. It would be difficult to match the nerve, thoughtfulness, and disregard of self displayed by this boy, who at that time was less than nine years old.


An interesting application of the instantaneous method of photography was recently made by a firm of photographers at Henley-on-Thames. These artists were successful in photographing the Great Western Railway express train familiarly known as the "Flying Dutchman," while running through Twyford station at a speed of nearly sixty miles an hour. The definition of this lightning-like picture is truly wonderful, the details of the mechanism on the flying locomotive standing out as sharply as the immovable telegraph posts and palings beside the line. The photographers are now engaged, we believe, in constructing a swift shutter for their camera which will reduce the period of exposure of the photographic plate to 1-500th of a second. The same artists have also executed some charming pictures of the upper Thames, with floating swans and moving boats, which cannot but win the admiration of artists and all lovers of the picturesque.

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