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CHAPTER II.

GOING TO GLASGOW.
Blackstone's Judgement overruled_Past and Present Per-
formances—Long Waggons, Machines, and Flying Coaches--
James the First's Progress—The Northern Diligence-Rail-
roads versus Snail-roads-Dick Turpin outdone-Trite Reflec-
tions—The Fogey, the Poet, and the Practical Man-The

Nine Express' from King's Cross-A Magical Ticket-
From London to the North, and Glimpses by the Way-
Cathedrals and Castles.

VHERE any arrangement, saith Blackstone, “in

W cludes an impossibility, that arrangement is null and void.' And in order to make this argument clear to the dullest comprehension, he brings forward an unusually striking example. He supposes that great A would arrange with that other fabulous letter of the alphabet, bouncing B, to travel from London to York in a single day : when the latter letter would find himself deceived, and the arrangement would fall to the ground, because it was manifestly impossible that the undertaking could be carried out. For, as every one knew, six days were consumed on the journey; and, therefore, any arrangement that should pretend to bring London and York within twenty-four hours' distance would include an impossibility.

Now, what would this learned Lawyer of the Past say to the possible performance of the Present, when a man can breakfast in France, lunch in England, and take a late dinner in Scotland, within the limits of a

PAST AND PRESENT PERFORMANCES.

11

single day's travel ? How little did he dream that, within half a century from that time when the manifest impossibility was propounded, the renowned Dick Turpin would be the only exception to prove his rule (by the astonishing and convincing alibi won for him by his Black Bess gallop), until those palmy days should come when the modern Jehu should reach to the height of his glory, and when, by the help of that famous North Road, the well-horsed and well-appointed Highflyers, and Quicksilvers, and Comets should accomplish their coach journey of two hundred miles from London to York in the short space of twenty hours! Above all, how little did the learned Commentator dream of Dick Turpin, and Black Bess, and Comet coaches, and the great North Road itself, so quickly being surpassed and put out of date by the iron roads and the steam steeds that should reduce the impossible Blackstonian feat to a mere five hours' trip between breakfast and lunch ! and, even as I write, we are promised that this five hours shall be further shrunk in their dimensions to four.

But times are alter'd ; trade's unfeeling train

Usurps the land — says Goldsmith (though without the final 8 to the last verb), and with its usurpation has brought countless blessings :

The land is covered with a net of iron,
Upon whose spider-like, far-stretching lines,

The trains are rushing. Since the present century dawned, invention has donned his seven-leagued boots, and advanced with giant strides; and, within the last twenty years, rapidity and ease of transit bave so wonderfully increased, that, looking at the immediate Present, and glancing back to nò very distant Past, we seem to be removed by many ag from those days when Stow's “long-waggon' crawle from London to York; when Roderick Random, ar Strap, and Captain Weazle and his lady, consumed fortnight in the journey; when the machine (in shaj like to a distiller's vat, or violoncello case*), with i lumbering basket, just as we see it in Hogarth’s pictu: of the Country Inn Yard, so improved the rate of spee as to accomplish four miles within the hour; when tl Flying Coaches so belied their name, that the coachme in vain whipped on his horses in a desperate attempt : overtake the absent-minded Parson Adams, striding ( with his crabstick, and making the exasperated coac) man assure Mrs. Slipslop, that he might as well stri to catch a greyhound ;-all these crawling performanc of a short time past seem to be centuries remove from the whirling transit of the time present.

But, if the journey from London to York was n within the possibilities of the twenty-four hours, wh must be said of the journey from London to Edil burgh? It cost James I. of England, and Sixth Scotland, a month of his precious time (and who ca tell how much bruising of his precious bones ?) to trav from the one capital to the other. But he was a kin and enjoyed all the facilities that attend upon royalty one of his subjects would have been almost as lor again upon the journey. In the days of Waverleynow, how many more than • Sixty years since ?'—tl ways and means of travelling had so far progressed, th the Northern Diligence was enabled to complete t] distance within three weeks. But, the age of Progre was still in its infancy; and, less than a century sinc there was but one coach between London and Edi

* See Tales of an Antiquary.

TRITE REFLECTIONS.

13

burgh. It was twelve days on the road, and only made the journey once a month; and prudent Scotchmen were wont to make their wills before they undertook the perilous dangers of this overland route. Only seventy years since, it was a five days' post from London to Glasgow, places now separated by fourteen hours; and only twenty-seven years ago, it was gravely proclaimed in the House of Commons, that the swiftest transit of the locomotive engine could not exceed four miles an hour, and would be less rapid than the passage of the canal boats, which were abundantly sufficient for all our purposes of commerce.

These reflections may be sufficiently trite, and of equal novelty with the news of the decease of Queen Anne; but, when a man breakfasts in Belgravia, at no untimely hour, and with that morning's "Times' in its wonted place upon his table, and can reach Edinburgh sufficiently early to hear the “Trovatore' by the Operatic company who may possibly be starring' at the Queen's Theatre, --who that does this—more especially when he does it for the first time--can accomplish his journey without some passing thoughts on the marvellous system that can transport him from one kingdom to another, with a celerity and ease that will not break his drowsy slumbers, or interfere with that waking dream of pleasure with which “ Adam Bede' or Tennyson's “Idylls' beguile the way ? One cannot altogether avoid some such reflections. There is the same thought and fancy, although it may assume protean shapes. The Old Fogey says, “Wonderful thing, this steam, sir!' and then, satisfied with the originality of the observation, leaves you to controvert it as best you may, and placidly sinks into a stertorous sleep. The Pedant settles himself into an attitude betokening determined speech to the head, but has got no further than the invention of the locomo. tive may justly be regarded as the greatest discovery ir this age of mechanical invention,' when the providen tial plunge into a screaming tunnel cuts short hi address in its very exordium, and enables you, silently and swiftly, to change your seat to the other end of th carriage. The wild-eyed and wild-haired Poet who sit opposite to you pshaw-ing over the ‘Idylls,' and thinking them very inferior to certain Lyrics that have not me with the success they deserve, may perhaps talk to you of the rapid journey reminding him of Southey's Car o Miracle, when

Steady and swift, the self-moved chariot went;

and may, perhaps, spout the whole passage for you benefit, until he betakes himself to a brooding silence in which he may labour out another of those lyrics whic it is to be feared will one day be added to the pearls tha he has so lavishly thrown to the swinish multitude. Th Practical Man may check off the train's time by his watcl and say, 'Four hundred miles in eleven hours; not ba work, sir! but, we shall do it quicker before long. Wh sir, we are now building twelve engines on the Gres Northern, at the cost of six thousand per engine, th: will do the distance in little more than eight hours. wonder what our fathers would say to that, sir!' Ye: we may all vary the phrase, and dress it up in some ne shape ; but, there it is, masquerade it how we may : ar Poet, Pedant, Practical Man, and Old Fogey alike, a testify to the same truth, and, with varying expressio strike the chords of wonder and admiration that swell t] chorus in praise of the railway system of the present.

Now, of all the trains, and of all the railways in t] kingdom, however admirable they may be, there is n

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