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"An Act for Compensating the Families of
Persons killed by Accidents." The one good
reason assigned for it in its preamble was, that
no action at law had been maintainable against
a person who by his wrongful act, neglect, or
default, had caused the death of another person,
although it was oftentimes right and
expedient that the wrong-doer in such case should
be answerable in damages for the injury so
caused by him. Therefore it enacted in six

1. That in case of every such death, where, if
the party injured had recovered, he could have
maintained an action and recovered damages,
the person liable was to remain liable notwithstanding
the death; and although the death
should have been caused under such
circumstances as would amount in law to felony.

2. That every such action should be brought
by the executor or administrator of the person
deceased, for the benefit of that person's wife,
husband, parent, or child; that the jury should
award damages proportionate to the injury
resulting from the death to those on whose behalf
the action was brought, and that the amount
was to be distributed in shares apportioned by
the jury.

3. That there should only be one action in
each case, and that it was to be brought within
twelve months after the death.

4. That the defendant or his attorney should
have full particulars of the claim made and the
persons claiming.

5. The fifth clause explained the terms of the
act, so that they should include the liability of
companies and bodies corporate; and here also
the word parent was defined to include father
and mother, and grandfather and grandmother,
and stepfather and stepmother; child to include
son and daughter, and grandson and
granddaughter, and stepson and stepdaughter.

6. The last clause gave the act immediate
operation, and excluded Scotland from its

That is the whole act. The liability it creates
is not confined to railway companies; is not, in
that respect, in any way whatever circumscribed.
Where the killed man contributed to his own
destruction, damages are not recovered.
Neither is the wounded heart of the widow or child
to be considered in awarding compensation for
the loss of husband or father. It is only
required, that in proportion to the worldly loss
inflicted by the death on those and on those only
who were by nature dependent on or interested
in the person killed by fault of another, shall be
the claim for a worldly repair of the hurt done.
The claim, too, is one that can be made only on
behalf of those between whom the relation of
dependence is the closest; between husband and
wife, parent and child, or, at the remotest,
grand-parent and grandchild. A niece wholly
dependent on an uncle could claim no compensation
for his loss even by the most atrocious
recklessness of railway management. Obviously,
therefore, Lord Campbell's Act, instead of pressing
too harshly upon, the railway companies,
allows some only of the claims that ought to be
held good against them. Finally, let it be
observed that the claim is dependent altogether
upon proof that the accident which caused death
was preventable.

The railway companies may say, That is no
consolation to us, because ninety-nine in a
hundred of our great accidents happen through fault
in some of our servants. But the public only
replies, Why do you not prevent the ninety-nine
accidents in a hundred by being on the safe side
in all your regulations, and compelling along
your whole line, as you are morally bound to do,
where life and limb depend on it, minute
obedience to your orders? Very rarely, indeed
never, perhapshas it been the uncontrollable
fault of a single servant that led to a general

In the two cases that have lately fixed
attention, no jury could lay the whole blame on
the signalmen immediately concerned. In the
Brighton accident three trains had been hurled
quickly one after another from a main terminus,
not one true to its time. In the Kentish-town
accident the disaster befel an excursion train
which had no fixed time for running, and for
which, by people who were not expecting it, the
way had to be cleared as it ran. The break-
down also arose from the failure of a boy of
nineteen, at fourteen shillings a week wages,
working, under no proper oversight, fifteen
hours and a half and ten hours on alternate
days, to perform the duties of a too responsible
position. In either case the responsibility for
shameful laxity of management is not to be
got rid of by a censure of some humble
servant of the company. And when has it
been otherwise? Knowing how to prevent
risks, the companies, even in spite of Lord
Campbell's Act, are tempted to believe it best
economy to run them. The act, however, has
by this time taught some sharp lessons on the
value of life to the railway boards. Impatient
of these, they rose at last in rebellion against
it, as we have said, about two months ago.

The occasion of the rebellion was as follows.
In April of last year a gentleman from
Hertfordshire, having a wife and nine children, and
an unencumbered income of almost four thousand
a year, was killed at the Hatfield crossing.
Now this accident being caused by the snapping
in two of a rail, and it being shown that the rail
which broke was an old rail that, although
cracked at each end, had been doctored and
refitted with the unworn side upwards, the fault
of the company was clearly proved. The jury
then had to consider its award of compensation
to the family. It was shown that the killed man
died at the age of forty-one without a will. His
eldest child was thirteen, and the youngest only
two months old. The eldest son received by
the father's dying intestate the bulk of the
property; the widow had a jointure of a thousand a
year; the eight younger children had each a
hundred a year during the mother's life, but at
her death all passed to the eldest son. Clearly,
therefore, the death deprived the younger

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