Punch,  50 (1866), 96.

The Railway Despots





Railways, Transport, Environmentalism, Commerce, Politics

Institutions mentioned:

Houses of Parliament

    Written from the perspective of a railway company director, who boasts about the undisputed 'progress' of railway despots and their destruction of peace, and the fact that the 'mercantile men' of railways can build lines, whether the public wants them or not, wherever they like because they are 'out of legality's reach'. Relishes the possibility of replacing homely cottage retreats with 'the Asylum of youth', and the amount of 'silver and gold' to be made from shattering the peace of 'Lone valleys and rocks' where 'the sound of the train-starting bell' was 'never heard'. Continues to boast about the power of railway directors to destroy homesteads, because of their 'many and mighty' parliamentary friends have helped them secure the land rights of others. Savours the destruction of the view of St Paul's Cathedral and wonders if the people of 'a neighbouring land' would put up with their 'doings'. Concludes by noting the hostile 'swarm round our ears' and their need to 'repair' their damage to the 'dispossessed' labouring class, but believes money 'Gives Railway, oppression a grace, / And reconciles men to—what not?'.

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