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CORNELIUS O'DOWD UPON MEN AND WOMEN, AND OTHER THINGS
SECURITY ON THE “RAIL."
From what I can gather from the tion to carry gunpowder, explosive newspapers, the Railway Boards in shells, detonating-bombs, or suchEngland are showing no very zeal- like, by our passenger trains ; but yet ous desire to co-operate with the if any traveller fills his portmanBoard of Trade in the adoption of teau with Congreve rockets instead measures of security against ruffi- of linsey-woolsey, we have no help anly travellers. They would seem for it. to imply that their whole concern The carpet-bag you have just is in the transit of the man or the kicked back into its place under the trunk committed to their charge; opposite seat may be choke-full of that they are no more responsible the most inflammable and explosive for the morals than for the good ingredients, so that it was little manners of those they convey. short of a miracle that you, and all
They argue briefly thus : The in- the others in your compartment, dividual is to us a mere parcel of were not blown to the height of St merchandise, for whose transport Paul's. Was it ever suggested, howto a certain place we alone contract. ever, that all luggage should be He may be a heaven-born conversa- carefully rifled and examined before tionalist, or the most foul-tongued a train started, and that astute and blackguard and blasphemer ; we intelligent practical chemists should have no possible means of ascertain be engaged to determine the coning to which category he belongs. tents of any suspicious phial or There are no tests known to us by mysterious-looking powder, carewhich he can be analysed; nor, if fully investigating so-called hairthere were, is there in the rapid pro- washes and pretended shavingcess of railway despatch the time to soaps ? I am afraid the practice apply them.
would but ill conduce to that We do not, for instance, condi- rapidity of transit for whose sake
VOL. XCVI.-NO. DLXXXVIII.
we start with a train in front and dual may have a colleague, appara train behind, and a bewildered ently unacquainted with him-a station-master and a stupid signal- Pal, as the slang would call himman. In good sooth, no one would ready to depose in his favour, and endure it; and yet apply the diffi- so to confuse testimony, that if the culties of the luggage to the men, guard were not astute as Baron and you have at once all the em- Martin, and as much master of the barrassments under which these Law of Evidence, he might most Boards of Direction are now labour- excusably be puzzled which side to ing.
believe, and hesitate to determine There is not, in one word, any whether the lady.complainant was possible mode of ascertaining what an injured innocence or an outraged sort of person is about to be con- and offended Dido. Indeed, one veyed from London to Exeter, any has only to imagine for a moment more than what may be the contents the power of a restless, capricious, of his valise or his writing-desk. irritable passenger to summon to
It would be perfectly charming his or her aid a railway-guard at if there was any diagnostic process any instant to adjudicate upon some by which passengers could be sorted supposed grievance, to make railand distributed, and the care by road travel the most refined species which the small box marked fragile of mental torture ever conceived by is separated from the rude contact man. Fancy a police-court, with of some coarse material applied to the chance of a collision and a humanity.
smash—and certainly the prospect Unhappily this is not so, and the is not enticing; and yet this is most delicately - fashioned organ- exactly what we should have. The isations are now obliged to take timorous invalid in the double their chance in juxtaposition with blanket yonder, is alarmed that his all that is coarse, ill - bred, and vis-à-vis has a leather case slung brutal. But what an Elysium would round him that may contain a telethe rail be if this great discovery scope, but not impossibly may hold could be effected! Imagine the a revolver. He does not like his station - master calling out, “The look ; his eye is cold and stern; gentleman with the brown mustache he is abrupt of speech, and has a here with these ladies; the stout short, sharp way of replying when gentleman next compartment with addressed. The other passengers the parties for Stockport. This have got out, and he is alone with way, ma'am ; there is the nursery- this stranger, who has now divested train. Not there, sir, if you please; himself of his overcoat and thrown the rowdies are in that carriage his gloves into his hat-preparayonder.” This, I regret to say, tions, and for what? The terrified cannot be; and so long as goats rings at once to summon the guard, can afford the fare, they are free to and to whisper his fears—fears so travel with sheep, and even with palpably expressed, and so plainly lambs.
acknowledged, that the stranger It is clear enough, so far as pre- cannot for a moment doubt he is vention goes, the railway folk are regarded as a murderer. Meanpowerless ; and yet prevention is while the uneasy virtue in the next the great desideratum ; because, no carriage is screaming for aid, bematter what amount of surveillance cause a bagman has stuck a glass in you establish—what rapid commu- his eye, and is emulating the admirnication with the guard—what co- ing stare of Lord Dundreary. operation with passengers in the The incessant and frivolous apadjoining carriage,-a row in a com- peals of silly, unreasonable, and partment will always be a most affected travellers would soon deunpleasant incident, and its due in- monstrate that the worst miseries vestigation a matter of no small of the rail are not the physical difficulty. The aggressive indivi- perils, but all the varying moods
and capricious humours of a vexed mands his ticket at the pay-office, humanity.
the clerk is enabled at once to asI repeat, therefore, the Direction sign him his suitable and approprican do very little. They can es- ate place in the train. A very few tablish a periodical inspection, and initial letters, whose signification send a guard down the train at may be immediately acquired, will intervals to peep into the cages serve every purpose of indication. and see that the beasts are not Thus, a gentleman asking a firsttearing each other; or if they be, class for Chester, hands in his card that they are tearing the animal marked “P. S.," and is at once that was the first to spring on the recognised to be Perfectly Safe. others : beyond this they are power- Another, with a mere “S.” (Safe), less. What is then to be done will be accepted as one with a I have thought much over the sub- somewhat inferior amount of surety; ject, and, I grieve to say, without “H." would imply Hazardous, and any great light having broken in demand a certain amount of preupon me. At last, however, an caution; while “D, T.,” no longer expedient did present itself to my symbolic of spirituous insanity, mind, which, if not capable of would inspire an extreme watchfulmeeting all the difficulties of the ness, as signifying Dangerous in a case, certainly will serve to lighten Tunnel. and diminish many of the ills which You will say, however, that no now render English railroads some man would willingly carry about thing worse than Hounslow and with him a written and authorised Bagshot in the days of Dick Turpin. disparagement of his character, that
This is the age of qualifications. he never would expose to public To enable a man to be one thing, he gaze a declaration that pronounced must first of all show that he has him a “D. L.” (not Deputy-Lieutenbeen something else, albeit occa- ant, however, but Dangerous to sionally very different. To be a Ladies); but there you would be " Commissioner" anywhere, you wrong, since, in default of even must have been a barrister of six this qualified amount of character, years' standing ; though what the he would be obliged to travel in aforesaid six years represented, a certain compartment called the except idleness, bitter beer, news- “Unqualified Car,” where every paper reporting, and cigars, I never species of unwarranted rascal and met the man who could tell me. To vagabond entered without question. be a tide-waiter, or a police con- Better a thousand times the meekest stable, or a gauger, or a Foreign- voucher for a man's good behaviour, Office clerk, you must not only the mildest assurance of possible undergo examination in Ollendorf good-conduct, than this complete and Colenso, but be a proficient outlawry ! in a variety of things that the day What immense facilities would after your appointment you will the system offer to travel! The sweep from your brain as so much timid elderly gentleman or the unprofitable rubbish.
nervous lady, by a very small addiNow let us apply this system to tion to her fare, could journey with the rail. Let every man who tra a company warranted “S. R.” (Safe vels, and who does not sometimes, and Respectable); while harder orprovide himself with a certificate ganisations would practise a couraas to character, signed by two geous economy by entering the householders, and countersigned by compartment labelled “G, C.” (Gea physician. They need be neither nerally Correct); and a still bolder long-winded nor diffuse ; indeed, class, trusting to self - protection, brevity, which is the soul of wit, would step into the smokingis the quintessence of wisdom. By van, where “ Latakia” was perproducing this a small piece of mitted, and ladies came “if they card, we shall say-when he de- liked it.”
MOUNTAINEERS AND BALLOONERS.
I like harmless associations. I resulted from your union. You have am always pleased to bear of “ An- gone up to the Grands-Mulets or the tiquarian Societies;” “Horticultural Col du Géant, and you have come Unions," and even Clubs for the down again-two events interestCollection of Beetles and Butter- ing doubtless to yourself, but of no flies, find favour with me; and one more moment to the world to which of the chief reasons of my esteem you publish them than the name for them is, that they are usually and birthplace of the peasant who modest and unobtrusive. Your col- made your alpenstock. Now I do lector is ordinarily a peaceful, retir- not object to this mode of passing your ing, self-contained man; his coin, or time, only provided that you are not his manuscript,orbis fragment of ma. Vainglorious enough to write letters jolica completely engross him; and, about it in the newspapers. Be if they render him indifferent to the pleased to bear in mind that if every great interests and events around one was to record some remarkable him, they also serve to make him incident in life, simply because it very tolerant of others who take a possessed a great interest for himdifferent view of life and its duties. self, we should have our newspapers
Besides this, they now and then filled with details more personal emerge from the dark recesses of than pleasing. One gentleman their lucubrations, and contribute a would have to record his having noticeable fact or two to the mass drunk twenty-one tumblers of of our knowledge. There is, how. whisky - punch at a sitting; anever, one Society whose members other his having eaten six pounds are constantly thrusting themselves of beef-steak at a meal,-feats just as before public attention, inviting curious and fully as perilous as the observation as to their doings, and ascent of Mont Blanc Climb your asking interest for their exploits, mountain, in God's name; go up which has ever appeared to me the eight or ten thousand feet above most absurd, the most uninteresting, the sea, and take your fill of frostand the most barren of all useful bites and ophthalmia and embarresults, of all known associations. rassed respiration, and come down I mean the “ Alpine Club."
again when you've had enough of Why men should form them- them ; all I ask is, don't ask me selves into a club to climb moun to read about you don't swagger tains, has no more common sense down into Chamouni with the little in it than that they should unite band in front of you, as if you were to bave their hair cut or their teeth a hero, and had done something beextracted in common.
yond blistering your feet and inA Whist Club, a Driving Club, a flaming your eyelids. For all that Cricket Club, has its significance. is useful in human nature, you are You want co-operation, and you not a whit better than a dancing derunite to secure that amount of com- vish. He, like you, puts himself panionship which your pursuit re- out of the pale of society and quires ; but what division of wit Windsor soap for a period, and I what reciprocity of skill-is there never knew any one that liked his in tramping over a glacier ? What company the better for it. you need is a guide and a pair of Now, let it not be supposed that strong shoes. But why associate I who write this am one who hold yourself with others for this? You cheap manly exercises and athcannot affect to say that a single letic pursuits. A late critic-he fact in science-a single useful or was a Cockney, to be sure—in noticeven curious observation-has ever ing a volume of these lucubrations,
describes me as a laudator temporis Chamouni, and could plainly hear acti, and consequently would per- the salute of guns with which they suade the world that I am, as re- welcomed our appearance on the gards muscular Christianity, on the summit” ? retired list. To this I beg to answer, I never read one of these descripthat I am ready to row, ride, tions without envying the inhaswim, spar, or pitch a sledge with bitants of Holland, and thinking him to-morrow; and that I pledge what a blessing it must be to live myself, if he be the better man, to where there are no Alps, and congive him all the honour of his sequently no bores to climb them. victory in a future page.
But there is another objection to Your pleasant men are, besides, this sort of fraternity. The great very rarely pedestrians. Horse- mass of men cannot afford to do men and yachting-men are almost anything extraordinary or uncomalways companionable. The pur- mon without becoming positively suit that exacts too much physical insupportable. We all of us have labour, is an enemy to that re- some experiences of the creature who pose of mind so essential to agree has been up the Nile, and talked ability. The strain on the tendons sphinxes and pelicans till we is felt on the intellect; and the wished him under the Great Pyrafellow, weighted with hobnailed mid. Your Alps walker is, howshoes and shrouded with a blue ever, a greater infliction again, for gauze veil, is not in the condition he insists on dashing his explorings favourable to easy genial talk, and with a touch of personal heroism. that light gossip that are so enjoy. It was he who did or did not do able. Mind that I distinguish the something but for which the whole Mountaineer, the man of glaciers party would have been precipitated, and crevasses, here, from the plea- or engulfed, or swept away, heasant fellow who strolls with you ven knows how or where. after breakfast through the planta- There is but one condition on tions, talking of everything, from which I could forgive these mounthe poet Tennyson to Piedmont tain-climbers—which is, that they ese truffles. There is a certain busi- would not come down again. ness-like preoccupied air in your Next to these in order of utter regular walker, that gives him a uselessness are the people who go strong resemblance to the penny- up in balloons, and who come down postman. You see that he has a to tell us of the temperature, the number of distinct places to visit, air-currents, the shape of the clouds, and that he is conning over in his and amount of atmospheric presmind his “ addresses” as he goes. sure in a region where nobody
Take all the pleasantest men of wants to go, nor has the slightest your acquaintance, and tell me interest to hear about. frankly how few are there Moun- Is there any one, I ask, who taineers amongst them; and did you couldn't write a balloon ascent just ever meet an Alpine Clubbist that as amusing as those we read of you didn't wish at the top of the every week in the papers ? Righi ?
You start with the account of all Is there not an intolerable same- the cubic feet of gas employed in ness in all their talk? Is it not the inflation, and then you proceed always the same story of the “steps to describe how all Kent or Surrey, cut with the hatchet," and of “the or wherever it was, lay beneath you rope that was too short”? Have like a map, and “we could see the you not the brave bold guide and Thames meandering for miles like the bad stupid one as regularly as a silver thread.” Then come clouds, Hogarth's two apprentices; and and a smart shower of rain, and are you not heartily sick-I am- two loud claps, “louder than any of “We were distinctly seen from thunder, made by the sudden col