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genius of the people from whom they sprang, we would rather bare their simple names descend to posterity unadorned, than disguised and hidden under any unmeaning title borrowed from the middle ages.
As respects the immense advantages of railways to mankind, there cannot be two opinions. They exhibit, probably, the grandest organisation of capital and labour that the world has yet seen. Although they have unhappily occasioned great loss to many, the loss has been that of individuals: whilst, as a national system, the gain has already been enormous. As tending to multiply and spread abroad the conveniences of life, opening up new fields of industry, bringing nations nearer to each other, and thus promoting the great ends of civilisation, the founding of the railway system by George Stephenson must be regarded as one of the most important events, if not the very greatest, in the first half of this nineteenth century.
RAILWAY SYSTEM AND ITS RESULTS.
Br ROBERT STEPHENSON, Esq., M.P.
[As a fitting conclusion to the Life of George Stephenson, we append the following resumi of the Railway system and its results, as delivered by his distinguished son before the Institution of Civil Engineers, on taking the chair after his election as their President, in January, 1856, and which we republish from the Minutes of Proceedings of that Institution, by permission of the Council.]
Oub British Railways present a fertile theme for observation, and in considering them, in their varied relations, my chief object will be to suggest topics for communications and discussion at the meetings over which I hope to have the honour of presiding.
The general extent and scheme of the network of railways stretching from beyond Aberdeen in the north, to Portsmouth in the south; and between Yarmouth and Milford Haven on the east and west of the United Kingdom, are well known to you. To these must be added the Irish lines, now becoming very extensive, and exercising the most beneficial influence on that portion of the Empire.
Let us look, in the first instance, to the length of these railways. At the end of 1854 the total length of the lines authorised by Parliament was 13,983 miles; but as 1,177 miles had been abandoned, and there still remained about 4,752 miles to be constructed, the aggregate length of railways opened in Great Britain and Ireland at that time measured about 8,054 miles,— about the diameter of the globe, and nearly 500 miles more than the united lengths of the Thames, the Seine, the Rhone, the Ebro, the Tagus, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Vistula, the Dnieper, and the Danube, or the ten chief rivers of Europe.
Of these 8,054 miles completed, 1,962 miles are single lines. Taking double and single lines together the total length of railway in the kingdom is, therefore, 14,146 miles.
To this must be added the very considerable extent of rails laid for sidings, which, on an average, may be said to be equal in length to one-third of the total mileage. Add, then, say 4,000 miles for sidings, and there is a total of 18,000 miles of railway in Great Britain and Ireland.
These 18,000 miles have been the work of only twenty-five years, and in that short space of time there have been laid rails within these islands, far more than are sufficient to " put a girdle round about the earth!"
It will naturally be asked, what amount of Capital has been required for the construction of these vast works? The amount authorised by Parliament to be raised for railway works amounted at the end of 1854, to £368,000,000. Of that amount £286,000,000 has absolutely been raised. It is diflicult to realise to the imagination what is 286,000,000 sterling. Let us try to test the importance of the amount by some familiar comparisons. It is more than four times the amount of the annual value of all the real property of Great Britain. It is more than one-third of the entire amount of the National Debt. We have, indeed, already spent nearly a third of this sum, in two years, in the prosecution of the war in which this country is engaged; but it is impossible not to reflect that if nearly £100,000,000 expended by the State has only gained for us the advantage of occupying one side of the city, which the valour of England and of France has doomed to destruction*, the expenditure of £286,000,000 by the people has secured to us the advantages of internal communication all but perfect,— of progress in science and arts unexampled at any period of the
* When this Address was delivered, the south side of Sebastopol had been taken possession of by the allied armies.