Shrieking Engines

punchPick of Punch 11. This area of the blog offers a selection of interesting quotes from Punch magazine. The following is from 10th March 1866, and is an excerpt from a report on the week in Parliament, concerning the dangers posed by railways.

Lord Westmeath actually made a sensible little speech, complaining of the now recognised practice of running over people in the streets. He declared that “the majority of what were called accidents were murders, caused by the recklessness and heartlessness of persons who did not care a button for the lives of others, provided their own trumpery traffic went on.” But Lord Westmeath, as a legislator, should know that the Saxon spirit of our laws has always held property as more valuable than human life. What signifies the killing a few people compared to the early delivery of goods by railway van?…

Mr. Lyster O’Beirne asked, very reasonably, whether the Board of Trade would do nothing to obviate the danger to which persons on horseback and in carriages are exposed by the railway-engines which now run shrieking across thoroughfares and terrifying horses. Mr. Milner Gibson replied that if the authorities complained, the Board would act, but that private persons had no right to complain of being smashed. Never mind, gentlemen Railwaymen, Juries will take notice of such answers, and, we trust, continue to give Howling Damages whenever an action is brought for the slaughter of such contemptible creatures as private individuals. The Jury Box is our only protection against you.

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Britain, Crime, History, Magazines, Pick of Punch, Politics, Punch, Punch Magazine, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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