« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
got through and made its report. Because then it was seen very clearly that the horrible thing wasn't a “murder” at all, but had happened just by accident.
However, I was not altogether pleased at the way this committee worded its report. I had tried to give out to the public that the accident had been caused by the spring rains, and by the softening of the road-bed, due to the winter's frost coming out of the ground, causing the rails to spread under the weight of the engine. But the coroner's report said that the accident was due to the rotten condition of the rails. It said that an inspection of the track at that point had showed that some of the rails had been used so long that they were worn to...rags. This increased the public clamour. The investigation went on further and dug up unpleasant points in connection with my management of the road.
The truth is, I had been obliged for some time back to scrimp expenses on the road-bed. The superintendent of that department had been pestering me for a long time back, because of the "worn-out and rotten condition of the rails,” as he put it. He was a faithful fellow, one who took the welfare of the road very
much to heart. But he was for improvements, no matter what the cost. I had the financial end to look after. New rails for five hundred miles of road-bed cost a sum of money which track foremen
haven't big enough minds to grasp. I was constantly more put to it than the Erie workmen had · any idea of, to keep the road even in as good a condition as it was. It is true that I had got the directors of the road several times to vote to borrow money for buying steel rails to replace the worn-out iron rails. But I had invariably found, as soon as the money was raised, that I needed it in my stockmarket operations. However, I wanted to keep the road up. As a matter of fact, I had told the
superintendent of road-beds to go ahead and order new rails — had given my full authority for the purchase. But, unfortunately, the manufacturer of rails sent the order back unhonoured - said that our last purchase hadn't been paid for as yet, and he wasn't going to send any more until we paid for those we already had. So, as the next best thing, I had got the old rails taken up and turned. A train wears out the inside of the rail more than the outside, because the flange of the wheel rubs against the inside edge. I figured that to have the rails turned was the next best thing to getting new rails altogether.
That's the long and short of the whole thing. I got lots of blame at the time for the killing of those poor people, and for their burning alive in that sleeping car. So I want to state my side of the case. The New York Advocate was
very considerate and charitable towards me, But Harper's Weekly
came out against me and my
of the road without any charity at all:
“The directors of the Erie Railway,” it said, “deserve the moral reprobation of the community. Had they been in any degree as solicitous for the proper condition of their road and for the safety of the passengers whom they entrapped into their trains, as they have shown themselves for the sonal advantages that might arise from speculating in the stock, this horrible catastrophe would not have happened. The Legislature is in session, and we hope that it will do something to protect the public against the mingled rapacity and neglect of the Erie Railway management; let it decide that travellers shall not be recklessly massacred.”
But I didn't care what the papers said. No matter
I what you do, people are sure to put a wrong construction upon it. The best way is to be boilerplated, so to speak, and not mind what the papers say. A bare-footed conscience would suffer considerably in treading among thorns. For instance, there was old Enoch Crosby. I guess I've wrote about him in these papers somewhere. He's the one that was a spy during the Revolutionary War, and now lies up in the Old Gilead Burying Lot at Carmel. That man, when he was working as a spy for the patriot troops in the war, had to tell stories now and then that didn't just square with the truth. Well, he was that prickly in his conscience that, after
the war was over, he wouldn't join the church, because of those fibs he had been forced to tell. He was always present at meeting time. He was even treasurer of the church. But, for
year, he wouldn't apply for membership, because he worried so much over those little lies he had told while he was a Revolutionary spy. People told him he
a was good enough to join any church. But he wouldn't hear to it. This lasted going on thirty year. All that time he was interested in the church and a worker for her. Finally, when he had got to be an old man, he up and said he would unite with the church if they were willing to take him in. Which they did. So he became a member. This was when I was a boy in Carmel. The people then were all talking about how Enoch Crosby had finally got into the church.
What I'm saying is, Crosby ought not to have been so thin-skinned. Those little fibs he told were when he was in active business. If he had told the gospel truth every time, he wouldn't have been so good a spy. He had to stretch the truth now and then, in order to get his work done. He was a fool to think that just because he had had to do that sort of thing in his business life, he couldn't get into the church. The church isn't so skittish as that. Some folks think she is. But she isn't. She's not squeamish in such matters. She takes a practical view of things every time. Why, there was that preacher I have wrote about, who got me to give the money for Drew Seminary. He didn't stickle over what my enemies were saying about me. He used to tell the story of the founding of the school, like this:
It was rumoured that Daniel Drew was disposed to found, as a thank-offering to God, a Theological School in or near New York. We were appointed by our denomination a committee to wait upon Mr. Drew and ascertain his position. I shall never forget the pleasant interview which we had with Mr. Drew in his home. With the utmost simplicity of manner he informed us that it was his wish to devote a quarter of a million dollars to the founding of a Theological School. Let me pause for a moment to give my impression of this remarkable man. To me he was one of the pleasantest figures in our fold. Reticent, no doubt, but loyal to his church, and sensible to his obligations to our denomination for building up in him the traits that had led to his prosperity. He delighted to think of the way he had been led on. For my part, I am glad this school bears his name.
If Enoch Crosby had been able to do his day's work, and always tell the full truth, then of course he should. But there are times when it isn't so easy. A business man has got to get along somehow. Better that my hog should come dirty home, than no hog at all.