Punch,  47 (1864), 83.

How to Know When Parliament is Up



Introduction; Reportage, Spoof


Railways, Accidents, Engineering, Progress, Charlatanry, Observation, Commerce

    Reports that a railway engine on the 'new portion of the Great Southern and Northern Railway' fell into a street in Clerkenwell after a railway bridge collapsed. Parodying the grave tone adopted in serious reports of railway accidents, the report begins by hailing with 'not an unreasonable pleasure' 'every extension' of 'our Railway System', but stresses the 'drawbacks which, though they cannot be regarded as blemishes upon a noble invention, are not unfrequently productive of serious mischief'. Proceeds to describe the 'boon' which the 'auxiliary branch of the Great Southern and Northern Railway' has proved to the local area, but regards the accident to be an 'exception' to the 'rule' that the railway has not caused any casualties. Noting the uncertainty over the precise time of the accident, the author describes the 'extraordinary excitement' caused by the incident and points out that the only casualties were 'a large number of herrings and apples' belonging to a costermonger. Notes the sympathy expressed for the costermonger and the uncertainty as to the 'proximate cause of the accident', but points out that several local inhabitants did not think the bridge looked strong enough 'to bear the weight that constantly passed over it'. Concludes by adding more information concerning the identity of the train: according to a crossing-sweeper, its name began with an '"F", probably the Fly or the Phantom'.

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