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simple rivalry that, if one got a charter, the other might also. But here, where the Committee might have given both, they gave neither. In another instance, two lines were projected through a barren country, and the Committee gave the one which afforded the least accommodation to the public. In another, where two lines were projected to run, merely to shorten the time by a few minutes, leading through a mountainous country, the Committee gave both. So that, where the Committee might have given both, they gave neither, and where they should have given neither, they gave both.” The frightful waste of money in conducting railway proceedings, before and after they reached the parliamentary committees, was matter of notoriety. An instance has been mentioned of an utterly impracticable line, which never got so far as the House of Commons, where the solicitor's bill for projecting and conducting the scheme amounted to 82,000l. It was estimated by Mr. Laing of the Board of Trade, and the estimate was confirmed by Mr. Stephenson, that the competition for new lines, many of which were sanctioned by Parliament under the delusion that railway travelling would be thereby cheapened, had led to the expenditure of about three hundred millions sterling, of which seventy millions had been completely thrown away in constructing unnecessary duplicate lines. But Mr. Stephenson further expressed himself of opinion, that this loss of seventy millions very inadequately represented the actual loss in point of convenience, economy, and other circumstances connected with traffic, which the public has sustained from the carelessness of Parliament in railway legislation. The total cost of obtaining one act amounted to 436,2231. Another company expended 480,000l. on parliamentary contests in nine years. In another case, 57,000l. was expended in one session upon six counsel and twenty solicitors. One
chap. xxxi.] ILL EFFECTS OF THE MANIA. 445
barrister, in good practice before the committees, pocketed 38,000l. in a single session.
Amongst the many ill effects of the mania, one of the worst was that it introduced a low tone of morality into railway transactions. The bad spirit which had been evoked by it unhappily extended to the commercial classes; and many of the most flagrant swindles of recent times had their origin in the year 1845. Those who had suddenly gained large sums without labour, and also without honour, were too ready to enter upon courses of the wildest extravagance; and a false style of living shortly arose, the poisonous influence of which extended through all classes. Men began to look upon railways as instruments to job with ; and they soon became as overrun with jobbers as London charities. Persons, sometimes possessing information respecting railways, but more frequently possessing none, got upon boards for the purpose of promoting their individual objects, often in a very unscrupulous manner; landowners, to promote branch lines through their property; speculators in shares, to trade upon the exclusive information which they obtained; whilst some directors were appointed through the influence mainly of solicitors, contractors, or engineers, who used them as tools to serve their own ends. In this way the unfortunate proprietors were, in many cases, betrayed, and their property was shamefully squandered, greatly to the discredit of the railway system.
CHAP. XXXII. MR. STEPHENSON'S CONNECTION WITH MR. HUDSON.
AMONGST the most prominent railway men of the day with whom Mr. Stephenson was necessarily brought into frequent and close connection,-more especially with reference to the completion of the East Coast route from London to Edinburgh, was Mr. George Hudson of York, afterwards known to the public as “The Railway King.” Mr. Stephenson, at the dinner which followed the opening of the York and Scarborough line, in June, 1845, thus described his first introduction to Mr. Hudson: –“I happened,” said he, “to be visiting Whitby ; and whilst I was conversing with a gentleman of that town as to what might be done with regard to the formation of a line from Leeds to York, a few of the Whitby gentlemen came up to introduce me to Mr. Hudson and several York gentlemen. At that time Mr. Hudson was not to be led into a rapid movement with respect to railway speculations. He then looked very coolly at those undertakings; but in time he became so thoroughly convinced of the certainty of great results from improved railway communication, that he stretched out his gigantic arms, and was prepared to go north, south, east, or west, wherever a line could be pointed out as being calculated to confer benefit upon the public and the proprietors of railways.” When the first line from Leeds to York was projected, chap xxxii.] MR. HUDSON's RAILWAY CAREER. 447
Mr. Hudson was a respectable draper in the latter place. He was esteemed as a shrewd, practical man of business, had accumulated property, was a member of the corporation, and an active politician. As one of the managing directors of the Union Bank, he exercised considerable influence on the commercial affairs of his district. When a provisional committee was formed at York to promote a Leeds line, Mr. Hudson was requested to act as the deputy chairman, Mr. Alderman Meek being the chairman. The reputation which Mr. Stephenson had by this time acquired as a successful railway engineer induced the committee to invite him to act as their engineer. His report in favour of the line connecting York with the Midland system was adopted, and the act was obtained in 1835. When the railway was opened in 1839, Mr. Hudson had become Lord Mayor of York, and was shortly after elected the chairman of the Company. Mr. Hudson's views with respect to railways were at first extremely moderate, and his intentions were most honourable and praiseworthy. The York and North Midland line was only about thirty miles long; and he interested himself in it chiefly for the purpose of securing for York the advantages of the new system of communication which Mr. Stephenson had devised, and placing it in the most favourable position with reference to any future extension of the main line of railway, north and south. Viewed in this light, Mr. Hudson was one of the greatest local benefactors that the city of York had ever known, and was entitled to the gratitude and respect of his fellow-citizens. The railway was not very prosperous at first; and during the years 1840 and 1841 its shares had greatly sunk in value. But Mr. Hudson, when chairman of the Company, somehow contrived to pay improved dividends to the proprietors, who asked no questions. He very soon exhibited a desire to extend the field of his operations, and proceeded to lease the Leeds and Selby Railway at five per cent. That line had been a losing concern; so its owners struck a bargain with Mr. Hudson, and sounded his praises in all directions. He increased the dividends on the York and North Midland shares to ten per cent., and began to be cited as the model of a railway chairman. He next interested himself in the North Midland Railway, where he appeared in the character of a reformer of abuses. By this time he had secured the friendship of Mr. Stephenson, who had a high opinion of his practical qualities—his indefatigable industry and shrewdness in matters of business. He had abundance of pluck, and was exceedingly self-reliant. The North Midland shares had also gone to a great discount; and the shareholders were very willing to give Mr. Hudson an opportunity of reforming their railway. They elected him a director. His bustling, pushing, persevering character soon gave him an influential position at the board; and he shortly pushed the old directors from their stools. He laboured hard, at much personal inconvenience, to help the concern out of its difficulties; and he succeeded. The new directors recognised his power, and elected him their chairman. He had thus conquered an important and influential position as a railway man. Railway affairs generally revived in 1842; and public confidence in them as profitable investments steadily increased. Mr. Hudson had the benefit of this growing prosperity. The dividends in his lines improved, and the shares rose in value. The Lord Mayor of York began to be quoted as one of the most capable of railway directors. Stimulated by his success and encouraged by his followers, he struck out or supported many new projects—a line to Scarborough, a line to Bradford, lines in the Midland districts, and lines to connect York with Newcastle and Edinburgh. He was elected chairman of the Newcastle and Darlington Railway; and when—in order to complete