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when, in 1836, the London and Greenwich Railway was the only railway running out of London, that country people were admitted to the London terminus at the charge of a penny each to see the train start. On my way to school, when a boy thirteen years old, I was taken to see this grand sight, and in the evening to see one which pleased me much more, which was the start ng of the night mail coaches to all parts of England from the General Post Office.

dertaking as regards success was almost certain. The contest excited as much or more attention as the Thirlmere Lake Waterworks scheme of the Corporation of Manchester in 1878-79, or that of the Manchester Ship Canal during the past two years.

The London and York Railway, now the Great Northern Railway (as another rival undertaking occupying the same country was merged in the same scheme), was one of the most bona-fide schemes The London and Birminghamn Rail- ever put before Parliament, as well as way, opened in 1838, was the wonder of the most carefully prepared and matured, the London world, but the system grad- and the best engineers, lawyers, and ually spread without much tuck of drum surveyors were retained all through the or blast of trumpet, and at the time of work. It was stated at the time, and the railway mania of 1845 the railway has since been found to be true, that the service in England and Scotland was preliminary cost of obtaining the Act pretty much as follows-namely, with amounted to four hundred and fifty the exception of about thirty miles of thousand pounds. The money would railway connecting Dundee, Arbroath, soon melt away. The surveying and and Forfar, the only railways in Scot- levelling 186 miles of country, with land were connecting lines of railway every obstacle thrown in the promoters' from Berwick-on-Tweed, skirting, or way by rival companies, landowners, inrather in the same direction as, the habitants, and others, who could not shores of the Firth of Forth to Edin- see that the iron horse was an inevitable burgh, thence to Glasgow, Greenock, necessity, must have put the Company Saltcoats, Troon, and Ayr, opening the to an enormous expense, to say nothing North Sea to the Irish Channel. Dur- of the requirements by Parliament in ham was the farthest point of the North those times (until the year 1846), that country which boasted a network of notice should be served personally, not railways. The Maryport and Carlisle by post, on every owner, lessee, and ocRailway connected the Irish seaboard cupier whose land or property might be and that of the North Sea between Sol- taken; so that if any one of the above way Firth and Sunderland. From Sun- class of proprietor was in the United derland there was a connecting chain of Kingdom, and if the owner or lessee of railway communication by a somewhat a house situated in London, for instance, devious route, and, with several changes no matter how humble, had his usual of railway, westward as far as Exeter, place of abode at John o' Groat's House the extreme point in the West of Eng- or the Land's End, the notice would land where a railway existed. And on have had to be personally served on the seaboard of England the principal, him, wherever he was, or left at his if not all the places of importance to usual place of abode. which the railway system was extended, working round the coast from northwest to northeast, were Liverpool, Bristol, Portsmouth, Southampton, Brighton, Dover, London, Great Yarmouth (to Norwich only), Hull, Whitby, Stockton, Hartlepool, Sunderland, and Shields.

The probable cause of the mania for railway speculation was occasioned by the successful application for a direct railway from London to York in 1845. Though the final Act was not passed until 1846, the ultimate fate of the unNEW SERIES.-VOL. XLV., No. 2

The London and York Railway was the excitement in the Parliamentary world; the Committee of the House of Commons which sat through a great part of the Session of 1845 passed the Bill, and its importance was so great that the Bill was read a third time in the Commons in 1845, and by some arrangement it went pro forma only through the Commons in 1846, and was sent up for consideration by the Lords.

The speculation on the Stock Exchange about this celebrated railway was very great. The principal feature was


in one of the earlier stages, on the inquiry by the House of Commons, in 1845, into the correctness of the preliminary proceedings with reference to compliance with the Standing Orders of Parliament. The opposition was very severe and the inquiry lasted many days, and when at last the decision was to be given, the excitement was tremendous; -as, if the decision was adverse, the Bill was dead; if favorable, there was a fair prospect of its being eventually passed.

On the important day when its fate was to be decided by the Standing Orders Committee the lobbies of the House were crammed, and crowds of people were outside waiting for the verdict, including express boys on horseback, and messengers with carrier pigeons; in fact, every device, in the absence of a telegraph, was resorted to for getting the news earliest to the City. Some know ing speculator hit upon a scheme, possibly derived from one adopted in the time of James II., for announcing the verdict after the trial of the seven bishops, which, as Macaulay tells us, was done by gunpowder. There was a man posted on each of Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars, and Southwark bridges, with an old-fashioned blunderbuss, well charged with powder, under his coat, and on London Bridge a man on horseback was waiting for the signal from Southwark. Directly the office was given to the fugleman at Westminster, bang went the old weapon, which was answered by the man on Waterloo, and so on to Southwark, and the news arrived first by that means at the Stock Exchange.

Country towns whose inhabitants had either felt the ruinous depression occasioned by the abandonment of the road, or had heard of it, began to think that the time was come when the iron horse must win, and from north to south, and from east to west, the cry arose for railway communication. Hopes were entertained that the Government would take the subject up, but Sir Robert Peel, who was then Prime Minister, was strongly of opinion that the matter should be left to private enterprise entirely in the United Kingdom; and that State assistance, if any, should be reserved for our colonies. In 1847, when out of office,

Sir Robert Peel accepted the chairmanship of the Committee on Indian Railways, and devoted his undivided attention to the subject, to the great advantage of the commercial world.

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Reverting to the immense cost of the preliminary steps for floating the London and York Railway, which was done with money honestly subscribed, the madness of incurring similar great costs on mere speculation ought to have been apparent to the world at the time; but, as experience shows us every day, there are no bounds to popular mania. The new movement naturally found favor with speculators on the Stock Exchange, and there arose a new class of people, Promoters of Railways,' whose occupation seemed to be that and nothing else. They sprang up, as it were, out of the earth. of the earth. All England, Scotland, and Ireland were mapped out early in the autumn of 1845, and there was not a country town where the seeds of speculation did not take root. Meetings were held, provisional directors appointed; prospectus writing became a regular trade, as did traffic-taking; and, as the traffic was taken by cunning agents on market days, noblemen and country gentlemen and tradespeople persuaded themselves that a railway must be selfsupporting. Probably not one in a hundred had the remotest idea of the cost of a line when they gave in their names as provisional directors, nor dreamt of any personal liability. They put the case to themselves in a twofold manner, and fancied if the railway was sanctioned their fortunes would be made, and, vice versa, if the railway failed, the risk would be at an end, and the expenses would be a flea-bite divided among the numberlss subscribers. 'O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas !'' The "promoters of railways" who visited the provinces baited the trap well; always travelling with four horses, liberal in their payment of hotel-keepers' postboys, waiters, etc., and ready to stand a champagne lunch on the slightest provocation.


All classes applied readily for shares ; if a hundred thousand pounds was required, ten times the amount would be applied for; the whole talk was of stock or scrip, which was dealt in as freely as bank-notes. Applicants gave undertak


ings to pay the deposit and sign subscription contracts and subscribers' agreements previously to receiving their shares, and signed away as cheerfully as a young cornet in a cavalry regiment would write his name across a bill for half its value in ready money, after deducting six months' interest.

These subscribers' agreements, which few people read, were practically power of attorneys to the provisional directors to do what they pleased in prosecuting a Bill in the present or any future session of Parliament.

London solicitors who had oldfashioned businesses looked askance at undertaking railway enterprises, but plenty of others arose who did not do so; and many a quiet office would be removed to a large house and an increased staff be retained for the new mania. Engineers, and those who called themselves so, surveyors' clerks, and the commonest tracers of plans, found employment at absurd salaries. Quiet rural districts were invaded by a regular army of surveyors and levellers; keepers and paid watchers were planted to keep them off the ground, and many a free-fight occurred, as some of the invaders took a small detachment of roughs under the guise of chaining or carrying theodolites and levels, to divert the enemy while they prosecuted the work. Those who turn to the pages of "Punch,' especially the numbers for the years 1845 and 1846, will find the history of railways most amusingly recorded, for even Thackeray's "Jeames of Buckley Square" was founded on fact.

At last the day for depositing the plans at the Board of Trade, and the Parliamentary offices, with Clerks of the Peace, parish clerks and others in other places, arrived, and it happened to be on a Sunday. Railway companies would not grant special trains for any promoters of rival lines; post-horses were forestalled in many districts, and in some places large sums were paid for retaining them in the stables until wanted. Such prices as were paid in olden times by runaway couples for horses on'' to Gretna Green were nothing compared with those which were paid on this special emergency. It was frequently stated, and generally


believed at the time, that some promoters who found their path blocked put their plans and documents in a coffin and ran it' as a funeral, and the documents were brought up in ignorance by a rival company. For weeks in Parliament Street and Great George Street, at private houses which had been engaged at enormous sums as offices, the gas never was put out, and one or two taverns in the neighborhood realized enormous sums by having a double set of servants and keeping open night and day, and furnishing or sending out meals at all hours of the night.

Do let that poor

fellow go to bed," a solicitor remarked to an engineer whose assistant was sleeping in an arm-chair, with his head on his chest, utterly worn out, at four o'clock in the morning. Go to bed, my dear fellow," was the reply; "if I let him go between the sheets he would not wake for a week."

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On Sunday, November 30, 1845, the whole neighborhood of Westminster was like a fair; cabs, carriages-and-four, with horses in a lather, kept on arriving with documents for inspection and deposit, and from eight o'clock till midnight the Board of Trade was besieged; and when the clock struck twelve the exasperated crowd of depositors threw the plans through the windows, through which they were as quickly returned.

Mr. George Hudson, M. P. for Sunderland, was then the railway king. If a whisper was raised that he was about to take up a line the shares went up to a premium. To show what the wild spirit of speculation actually was, an offer of twenty pounds down was made, in the writer's hearing, in two places at once, to a gentleman at a dinner party, for his chance of getting an allotment of shares in a railway company with which King Hudson was connected, and for which shares he had written.

Some of the papers warned the speculators of the risks they were running, but in vain. The offices looked so imposing, and the staff of clerks so business-like, that the vulgarity of some of the new directors who arrived in broughams, with dispatch boxes, was overlooked, and they were set down as good business men, whose gaudy watchchains and diamond rings were regarded as the natural outcome of sudden pros

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Nasty whispers occasionally arose about the liabilities of provisional directors and shareholders who had bound themselves and their heirs by subscription contracts and subscribers' agreements, and in business matters oldfashioned solicitors, almost under their voice, asked-and meant to have an answer too-whether A, or B, or C was a provisional railway director. A little sensation was created by a prosecution of two men at the Old Bailey for fictitiously signing two deeds of subscription, but the speculators insisted on its being an exceptional case occurring through gross negligence.

The fears were not unfounded, as history proved afterward, as the fact came out that behind the scenes a new race called stags" had sprung up who would sign any deed for half-a-crown, or even a shilling, per signature. The object of gamblers was to get an allotment letter, which was salable, and was often obtained in a fictitious name to a fictitious and grand address. A was afraid to sign, B bought the allotment of him for a trifle and paid deposit if scrip was at a premium, and paid C, the stag," to sign. Cautious men began to get out as opportunities occurred, but the liability attached to the deeds which they had signed remained.

Parliament met at the usual time-it was the year of the Corn Bill, and in the political world excitement was quite as rife as in the railway world. Members of all politics and of both Houses set loyally to work to meet the pressure, but .never was such a chaos. Parliament was sitting in temporary houses; some of the public offices were outside the building the Private Bill Office was at the top of Parliament Street; temporary committee-rooms were run up with skirting boards in the lobbies; it was impossible almost to find anything or anybody. Witnesses, to prove compliance with the orders of Parliament, were brought up from all parts of the United Kingdom, no affidavits being then allowed; many of them were of the agri

cultural class-shepherds to prove parish boundaries; occupiers of cottages to prove that they had not received notice, and the like. Some were enticed away by the opponents, some who had been hocussed came into the room stupidly confused with beer. There was little order known in those days, as no such rush was ever anticipated. To make confusion worse confounded, all witnesses in the Lords had to be sworn at the Bar of the House, and the lobbies were fairly mobbed. The leading Parliamentary counsel, whose profits were enormous, hardly ever went to bed; they were consulting till midnight, and at it again at five or six o'clock next morning. Lawyers, engineers, Parliamentary agents, and their confidential assistants scarcely remembered what a real night's sleep was; they might get a few hurried hours between the sheets, starting up three or four times, fancying they were at chambers or in a committeeroom, and turning round again, only to find that it was time to get up, just as tired as they went to bed.

The lobby of the House of Commons at four o'clock was like a fair, every one hunting for some particular member who never seemed to come. Telegraph communication, compared with that of the present day, was almost nil, and toward the end of the day the correspondence, in the absence of shorthand writers, who were few, was a tremendous labor. Speaking in the first person as a witness who saw, and took a laboring oar in that busy session as a managing man in one of the mammoth firms, three things kept me alive and from going out of my mind through worry and anxiety, and they were as follows: first, a trip by steamer every evening to Greenwich or Chelsea at seven o'clock, and dining at some place where a decent chop or steak could be obtained before returning 'for a long night's work at nine o'clock; secondly, absolutely striking against any more work at six P. M. on Saturday, and going to the opera as regularly as Saturday came round; and, thirdly, a long walk on Sunday in any reasonable weather. weather. I was utterly debarred from any other amusement or pleasure, which was hard on a very young man.

The scenes in the committee-rooms were sometimes amusing. I saw old

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O'Connell sitting on an East Grinstead Railway Bill in a temporary committeeroom in the Cloisters on St. Patrick's Day, with a mass of shamrock the size of a cheese-plate at the side of his broad-brimmed hat, apparently asleep, and, suddenly opening his eyes, remarking to a counsel who was speaking somewhat at random, Mr. Blank, I always sleep with my ears open." I saw the late Mr. Beckett Denison sitting as chairman of a committee, in a room reeking with heat and steam, in his shirt sleeves. I saw old Lord Shaftesbury, the Chairman of Committees (and father of that Earl whose death men of all creeds and politics have regretted from the bottom of their hearts), told to go to the Devil for an old fool," for simply saying "I am Lord Shaftesbury" to a young clerk who was inquiring for the Chairman of the House, and who insisted that the real Earl was only a messenger, and not the Lord Chairman. I have seen old Colonel Sibthorpe standing on the steps of the House haranguing the little crowd of business men in the lobby on the rascality of railways and all connected with them; and I saw daily King Hudson bustling in and out with both arms full of petitions and papers, joking and laughing with every one, slapping noble lords on the back, and hailfellow-well-met with all. A few years later I saw his dethronement by those who truckled and pandered to him in his prosperity; and only some dozen years ago I read of his old friends making an annuity for him in his old age, and of the Carlton Club receiving him back and reinstating him in his old post as chairman of the smoking-room, thinking that his punishment had exceeded his peccadilloes as a speculator. I saw frequently Tommy Duncombe, the handsomest and best-dressed man in the House, pretending to be a Chartist, and the then Mr. Disraeli, afterward an Earl and Prime Minister, leading the Young England party. I have seen Lord George Bentinck, surrounded by Lincolnshire farmers, discussing one of the great drainage schemes in one of the lobbies of the House one day with as much enthusiasm as he would watch a horse at Ascot or Newmarket on the next day; arriving in a carriage and four from Epsom or Ascot in time to

speak on some question, the appearance of the horses and postboys giving pretty good evidence of what the pace must have been. I have seen Richard Cob-. den eating a bun at the refreshment bar, in the height of the Corn Bill mania, and a good-natured old Tory asking him if he did not feel the "tyranny of taxation" as he ate it. Politics were hot enough then, but members did behave like gentlemen as a rule, and there was room for a joke; and in the House the moment the Speaker rose to order men of all creeds and politics respected the Chair."


The great commercial event of that memorable year was the final passing of the London and York Railway, the heaviest enterprise of that era. It was a feather in the cap of all concerned, as it was breaking down the monopoly of the then Northern traffic. One of the mainstays of the few remaining band by whose exertions that victory was obtained after two years' fighting-Mr. Thomas Coates, the Parliamentary agent, who had the charge of it from start to finish, and who only died a year or two since, much respected, in a good old age-said, within a year of his death, in a facetious, semigrave way, to the writer, My sand is very nearly out; of course the world has forgotten it, but will you do me the favor -as you were almost a boy at the time, and are likely to outlive me-to remember that 1 passed the London and York Railway Bill through all stages in Parliament in 1845 and 1846; if one only who survives me remembers it I shall be lucky?"

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As Bills were withdrawn or rejected, creditors became clamorous. Those who had taken an active part began to look up the subscribers, and found that many of them had either disappeared or were men of straw, and when some creditor sued provisional directors of a company and got a verdict against him for personal liability, there was an exodus of all the heroes of the railway mania of 1845-46. The bubble had burst and chaos had arrived, and the welshers, as they are called on the turf, put the sea between themselves and their dupes. Numbers of men of honor had to go abroad on being wholly deserted by their colleagues, and made the best arrangements they could without


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