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A TALE OF IRELAND FIFTY YEARS AGO.
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TALES OF THE TRAINS; BEING SOME CHAPTERS OF RAILROAD ROMANCE.
BY TILBURY TRAMP, QUEEN'S MESSENGER.
NO. I. THE WHITE LACE BONNET.
LET no enthusiast of the pastoral or romantic school, no fair reader, with eyes "deeply, darkly, beautifully blue," sneer at the title of my paper. I have written it after much and mature meditation.
It would be absurd to deny that the great and material changes, which our progress in civilization and the arts effect, should not impress literature, as well as manners; that the tone of our thoughts, as much as the temper of our actions, should not sympathize with the giant strides of inventive genius. We have but to look abroad, and confess the fact. The facilities of travel, which our day confers, have given a new and a different impulse to the human mind-the man is no longer deemed a wonder, who has journeyed some hundred miles from home-the miracle will soon be he, who has not been every where.
To persist, therefore, in dwelling on the same features, the same fortunes, and the same characters of mankind, while all around us is undergoing a great and a formidable revolution, appears to me as insane an effort, as though we should try to preserve our equilibrium during the shock of an earthquake.
The stage lost much of its fascination, when, by the diffusion of literature, men could read at home, what once they were obliged to go abroad to see. Historical novels, in the same way, failed to produce the same excitement, as the readers became more VOL. XXV.-No. 145.
conversant with the passages of history which suggested them. The battle and murder school, the raw-head and bloody-bones literature, pales before the commonest coroner's inquest in "The Times;" and even Boz can scarce stand competition with the "vie intime" of a union work-house. What, then, is to be done! Qua regio terræ remains to be explored? Have we not ransacked every clime and country, from the Russian to the Red Man? from the domestic habits of Sweden, to the wild life of the Prairies? have we not had kings and kaisers, popes, cardinals, and ministers to satiety? The land service and the sea service have furnished their quota of scenes; and I am not sure, but that the revenue and coast-guard may have been pressed into the service. Personalities have been a stock in trade to some-and coarse satires on wellknown characters of fashionable life, have made the reputation of others.
From the palace to the poor-house, from the forum to the factory, all has been searched and ransacked for a new view of life, or a new picture of manSome have even gone into the recesses of the earth, and investigated the arcana of a coal mine, in the hope of eliciting a novelty. Yet, all this time, the great reformer has been left to accomplish his operations without note or comment; and while thundering along the earth, or ploughing the sea, with giant speed and giant power, men have not endeavoured to track his
influence upon humanity, nor work out any evidences of those strange changes he is effecting over the whole surface of society. The steam-engine is not merely a power to turn the wheels of mechanism-it beats and throbs within the heart of a nation, and is felt in every fibre, and recognized in every sinew of civilized man.
How vain, to tell us now of the lover's bark skimming the midnight sea, or speak of a felucca, and its pirate crew, stealing stealthily across the waters. A suitor would come to seek his mistress in the Iron Duke, of three hundred horse-power; and a smuggler would have no chance, if he had not a smoking galley, with Watts' patent boilers!
What absurdity, to speak of a runaway couple, in vain pursued by an angry parent on the road to Gretnagreen-an express engine, with a stoker and a driver, would make the deserted father overtake them in no time!
Instead of the characters of a story remaining stupidly in one place, the novelist now can conduct his tale to the tune of thirty miles an hour, and start his company in the first class of the Great Western. No difficulty to preserve the unities! Here he journeys with bag and baggage, and can bring twenty or more families along with him, if he like. Not limiting the description of scenery to one place, or spot, he whisks his reader through a dozen counties in a chapter, and gives him a bird's-eye glance of half England as he goes; thus, how original the breaks which would arise from an occasional halt, what an afflicting interruption to a love story, the cry of the guard, "Coventry, Coventry, Coventry;" or any gentleman, "Tring, Tring, Tring," with the more agreeable interjection of "tea, or coffee, sir-one brandy and soda-water-Times, Chronicle, or Globe."
How would the great realties of life flash upon the reader's mind, and how insensibly would he amalgamate fact with fiction! And lastly, think, reflect, what new catastrophe would open upon an author's vision; for, while to the gentler novelist, like Mrs. Gore, an eternal separation might ensue from starting with the wrong train-the bloody-minded school would revel in explosions and concussions-rent boilers, insane luggage trains, flattening the
old gentlemen like buffers. Here is a vista for imagination-here is scope for at least fifty years to come. I do not wish to allude to the accessary consequences of this new literary school, though I am certain music and the fine arts would both benefit by its introduction, and one of the popular melodies of the day would be-“ We met, 'twas in a tunnel." I hope my literary brethren will appreciate the candour and generosity with which I point out to them this new and unclaimed spot in Parnassus. No petty jealousies no miserable self-interests, have weighed with me-I am willing to give them a share in my discovered country, well aware that there is space and settlement for us all-locations for every fancy-allotments for every quality of genius; for myself I reserve nothing-satisfied with the fame of a Columbus, I can look forward to a glorious future, and endure all the neglect and indifference of present ingratitude. Meanwhile, less with
the hope of amusing the reader than illustrating my theory, I shall jot down some of my own experiences, and give them a short series of the "Romance of a railroad."
But, ere I begin, let me make one explanation for the benefit of the reader and myself.
The class of literature which I am now about to introduce to the public, unhappily debars me from the employment of the habitual tone and the
ordinary aids to interest, prescriptive right has conferred on the novelist. I can neither commence with" It was late in the winter of 1754, as three travellers," &c. &c. ; or, "The sun was setting;" or, The moon was rising;" or, "The stars were twinkling;" or, " On the 15th Feb., 1573, a figure, attired in the costume of northern Italy, was seen to blow his nose;" or, in fact, is there a single limit to the mode in which I may please to open my tale; my way lies in a country where there are no roads, and there is no one to cry out, "keep your own side of the way." Now, then, for
"THE WHITE LACE BONNET." IT is about two years since I was one of that strange and busy mob of some five hundred people, who were assembled on the platform in the Eustonsquare station a few minutes previous