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carriage on almost any of our great lines, to
be conveyed without further care to the opposite
end of the kingdomand the unorganised
condition of affairs from which Mr. Edmondson
rescued us, whereby we should have been
compelled to shift ourselves and our luggage
from time to time, buying new tickets, waiting
while they were filled up, waiting at
almost every joint of the journey, and having
to do with divers Companies who had
nothing to do with each other but to find
fault and be jealous. If we remember
what the Railway Clearing House is, and
what it does; if we remember that what
it does is precisely what it saves travellers
and merchants the trouble of doing;
if we remember that the two hundred clerks
of that establishment dispose of above fifty
millions of matters of detail in the course of
a year, we shall see that Mr. Edmondson's
idea has saved a good deal of trouble to a
good many people besides himself.

It was thought a fine thing, and justly,
when one railway was complete, for a short
distance. It was thought a splendid thing
that railways should be opened in various
parts of the country; and when it was
arranged that some of them should meet at
certain points, people asked whether so grand
a thing was ever heard of before. But there
was something grander to come: a plan by
which a dozen Companies should unite to
carry a passenger and his carpet-bag as far as
he wanted to go, and save him the trouble of
dividing the fare among them by doing it
themselves. In the central spot at the Euston
Square Station where the Clearing House
may be found, the railway Companies have
their mutual charges computed and the
balances struck and cleared, day by day, from
the twelfth part of a schoolboy and his box
to the charges on "horses, carriages, and
corpses," which, the orders declare, "are not
to be included in the parcels" transmitted
during the day. It would be cruel to torture
the reader's imagination with a precise
account of what the business is that is
accomplished by that courageous bandthe two
hundred clerks of the Clearing House. It is
enough to say that they examine and record
the business of (we believe by this time) a
thousand stations, with all their complications.
Now, if we consider what these complications
arethat, for instance, for passengers alone,
without regarding the transmission of goods,
the changes on a single line of thirty stations
may amount to six thousand nine hundred
and sixty, we shall shrink from looking more
closely into the bewildering business of the
Clearing House. The letters received and
sent off amount to many thousands per day,
and there is a staff of lads whose business it is
to open and sort them.

Some of us who have travelled on very
short, or very insignificant out-of-the-way
lines may have seen, up to yesterday, paper
ticketsyellow, blue, or pinkprinted in
ordinary printing-presses. There are a few
such; but they are now quite exceptional.
The little cards blue, for the most part
which gentlemen stick in their hats and
ladies carry in their gloves, are Mr. Edmondson's
tickets; and they are now well-nigh
universal in the United Kingdom, and familiar
in France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland,
Italy, the West Indies, and Peru. It is
rather confounding to the imagination, in the
first instance, to see, as we did the other day
at the patentee's office in Dublin, the boxes
of cards that had arrived from Delarue's, to
be printed. A square deal box, such as
would nicely hold a lady's bonnet and be
light enough to be carried by the lady herself,
is, when packed with these cards, a heavy
load for a porter, and a fatiguing sight for
unaccustomed eyes. It is fatiguing to think
of the crowd that would be formed by the
railway passengers who will be transmitted
by means of this one boxful of cards. Assembled
in Hyde Park or on Salisbury Plain,
they would be very alarming in the eyes of
the Pope or Louis Napoleon. There are
cards of six colours; and of a few more
devices. It would be convenient to the
printers to have them all alike; and it is no
matter of rejoicing to them when any Company
fall in love with some parti-coloured device,
requiring double printing, or other special
management. There is so much convenience,
however, in certain cases, in the tickets being
distinguishable at a glanceas the Scotch
by a thistle at the back, and different Scotch
lines by a different grouping of the thistle
that the pattern-book of the patentee will
probably always have, as now, a few pages
filled with specimens of devices.

We are now to see these tickets printed.
But we have first to dispose of our surprise
at seeing how circumscribed and quiet is the
agency by which so vast a work is accomplished
as the providing of the passports of
all Ireland. We would not, for all the benefits
of travel, exchange our passport system for
that of any country on the continent. Here
is no staring in one's face, as if one were a
criminal, to note the colour of hair and eyes,
and the shape of one's visage. Here is no
dismal anticipation of future annoyances, of
bearded inspectors, of dirty-fisted hirelings,
who will turn over one's clothes in one's
trunks, and inspect a washing-bill, as if it
contained treason and insurrection. Here
we have a moderate-sized apartment, fitted
up with little besides the apparatus, and
tenanted by two neatly-dressed, cheerful-faced,
kind-spoken Friendsyoung brothers,
who quietly work out here the invention of
their honoured relative. It is in this one
room, and by that bright, clean, handsome
apparatus, that millions of railway passports
are prepared. There is a larger establishment
at Manchester; but here this modest
one is all-sufficient, as it is easy for one
pair of hands to print two hundred tickets