Punch,  52 (1867), 86.

A Block on the Line



Poetry, Drollery


Government, Politics, Controversy, Railways, Transport

    Exploiting an analogy between the Reform Bill and a railway locomotive, the poet begins by lamenting the fact that the 'five-million-horse-power [a possible reference to the adult male population of England and Wales] Engine / Called "Reform" is off the rails' and describing the way this is hindering oncoming trains and sparking 'bad language' between those engineers [the statesmen] trying to rectify the situation. Proceeds to criticize these disputes and urges statesmen to pull together. Points out that it is better for the locomotive to 'blow off' large quantities of steam rather than 'blow up'. Urges the railway engineers who talk about 'schemes and skills' to 'work, or else your chalks be walking' and to stop wasting time 'in squabble sore'. Concludes by giving each of the engineers—identified as John Russell (1st Earl Russell), John Bright, Robert Lowe, William E Gladstone, and Benjamin Disraeli—instructions for restoring the train to its tracks.

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