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One of the chief pleasures of his latter days was to hold out a helping hand to poor inventors who deserved assistance. He was a true man to the last, whom failure never drove to despair; whom success never elated to folly. Inch by inch he made his ground good in the world and for the world. A year before his death, in 1848, somebody, about to dedicate a book to him, asked him what were his “ornamental initials.” His reply was, “I have to state that I have no flourishes to my name, either before or after; and I think it will be as well if you merely say, George Stephenson.”
THE MAIL-COACH AND THE RAIL. The modern modes of travelling cannot compare with the old mail-coach system in grandeur and power. They boast of more velocity, not, however, as a consciousness, but as a fact of our lifeless knowledge, resting upon alien evidence; as, for instance, because somebody says that we have gone fifty miles in the hour, though we are far from feeling it as a personal experience, but upon the evidence of a result, as that actually we find ourselves in York four hours after leaving London. Apart from such an assertion, or such a result, I myself am little aware of the pace. But, seated on the old mail-coach, we needed no evidence out of ourselves to indicate the velocity. The vital experience of the glad animal sensibilities made doubts impossible on the question of our speed; we heard our speed, we saw it, we felt it as a thrilling sensation; and this speed was not the product of blind insensate agencies, that had no sympathy to give, but was incarnated in the fiery eyeballs of the noblest amongst brutes, in his dilated nostril, spasmodic muscles, and thunder-beating hoofs. The sensibility of the horse, uttering itself in the maniac light of his eye, might be the last vibration of such a movement; the glory of Salamanca might be the first. But the intervening links that connected them, that spread the earthquake of battle into the eyeball of the horse, were the heart of man and its electric thrillings-kindling in the rapture of the fiery strife, and then propagating its own tumults by contagious shouts and gestures to the heart of his servant, the horse.
But now, on the new system of travelling, iron tubes and boilers have disconnected man's heart from the ministers of his locomotion Nile nor Trafalgar has power to raise an extra bubble in a steam-kettle. The galvanic cycle is broken up for ever; man's imperial nature no longer sends itself forward through the electric sensibility of the horse; the inter-agencies are gone in the mode of communication between the horse and his master, out of which grew so many aspects of sublimity under accidents of mists that hid, or sudden blazes that revealed, of mobs that agitated, or midnight solitudes that awed. Tidings, fitted to convulse all nations, must henceforward travel by culinary process; and the trumpet that once announced from afar the laurelled mail, heart-shaking, when heard screaming on the wind, and proclaiming itself through the darkness to every village or solitary house on its route, has now given way for ever to the pot-wallopings of the boiler.
Thus have perished multiform openings for public expressions of interest, scenical yet natural, in great national tidings, for revelations of faces and groups that could not offer themselves amongst the fluctuating mobs of a railway station. The gatherings of gazers about a laurelled mail had one centre, and acknowledged one sole interest. But the crowds attending at a railway station have as little unity as running water, and own as many centres as there are separate carriages in the train.
THROUGH the mould and through the clay,
Splashing ! flashing !
Hollow bill — Jumping-bumpingRocking-roaring
Like forty thousand giants snoring !
O’er the aqueduct and bog,
Now a crossway-now a bridge--
Glimpse of lonely hut and mansion,
And a roll!
See how yon flaming herald treads
The ridged and rolling waves,
She bows her surly slaves !
She rends the clinging sea,
Beneath her hissing lee.
The morning spray, like sea-born flowers,
With heap'd and glistening bells,
With every wave that swells;
In lurid fringes thrown,
Along her flashing zone.
With clashing wheel, and lifting keel,
And smoking torch on high,
She thunders foaming by;
With even beam she glides, The sunshine glimmering through the green
That skirts her gleaming sides.
Now, like a wild nymph, far apart,
She veils her shadowy form, The beating of her restless heart
Still sounding through the storm;
The reddening surges o'er,
The Pharos of the shore.
To-night yon pilot shall not sleep,
Who trims his narrow'd sail :
Her broad breast to the gale;
Shall break from yard and stay,
The rising mist of day.
Hark! hark! I hear yon whistling shroud,
I see yon quivering mast;
Is panting forth the blast!
The giant surge shall filing
White as the sea-bird's wing !
Yet rest, ye wanderers of the deep:
Nor wind nor wave shall tire
With floods of living fire;
Streams o'er the shining bay,
Shall never wake in day!
MONKEYS. The whole family of those amusing and interesting animals, usually denominated monkeys, stands conspicuous in the catalogue of animals. I shall at once divide it into four distinct departments, without any reference to subdivisions, and this plan will be quite sufficient for the instruction of young naturalists, I would wish to impress upon their minds that, notwithstanding what ancient and modern philosophers have written to the contrary, monkeys are inhabitants of trees alone, when left in their own freedom; that, like the sloth, they are produced, and live