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RIDING THE WHIRLWIND.

MY railway carriage this night is not the
padded saloon with the six chocolate-coloured
cloth compartments, the blue and white binding,
the wicker hat-rail, the cauldron-shaped
oil-lamp (reminding us of the street lights of
our early childhood), the Scotch shawls, the
Templar caps, the sandwich-boxes, the wine-
flasks, the fur rugs, the light literature, the
latest newspaper, and the languid Corinthian
first-class passengers. It is not that worn,
dusty, drafty, bare wooden carriage, which
in winter is an ice refrigerator, chilblain
nourisher, and rheumatism cherisher, and which
in summer is an oven of baked varnish, whose
walls are decorated with that highest effort
of advertising artthe picture of the man
with the excruciating toothache, who would
not use the ointment of the Druids, and who
looks at you and your companions, the
commercial travellers, piteously through the long
hours of the night. It is not that large,
roomy carriage, with the high wooden sides
and the extremely narrow doorway, provided
by the thoughtful care of a paternal parliament,
at the rate of one penny per mile, in
which the agricultural body is conveyed from
place to place, smelling very strongly of beer,
of cheese, and onions, and from which the
agricultural face smiles curiously at every
station out of those small, high, barred
windows, which remind one of the travelling
caravan which contained the tigers, or a
private lunatic asylum of very severe aspect.
It is not that breezy, open truck, in which a
group of rough, cheerful, vocal navvies are
conveyed with pickaxes and shovels to and
from the scene of their daily labours. It is
not that large, red, saloon carriage,
emblazoned with the national arms, in which busy
men are always sorting letters, and sticking
them into pigeon-holes, and making up and
sealing leathern mail-bags. It is not that
large condemned cell, or travelling
warehouse-looking carriage, in which fat carpet-
bags, hat-boxes, tin cases, and corded
packages are all huddled together in close
companionship. My railway carriage to-night,
which is a compound of the coal-cellar, the
bakehouse oven, and the fiery dragon, is the
conductor, the ruler, the guardian, and the
leader of all theseit is the engine.

I have exchanged the comfortable warm
interior of my first-class carriagewith the
companionship of a German baron, looking
out from the depths of a cavernous cloak,
like a veritable Esquimaux, and an eminent
French banker indulging in moody memories
of the hateful seafor a position on the edge
of the coke-tender, sitting with one foot
upon the sand-box, and the other upon the
handle of the coke-shovel, — a position which
no money could purchase, comfortless as it
may seem, but for which I am indebted to
my esteemed friend, Mr. Smiles, who, honourably
known and distinguished in the ranks of
literature himself, is always ready to serve a
brother-labourer, without inquiring too
curiously into the motives of his eccentric whims
and fancies.

My companions are Tom Jones of Wolverton,
driver, and John Jones of Lambeth,
stoker; men not naturally taciturn, — but
whose occupation combining constant care,
vigilance, and attention, with the fact that,
on an engine in full motion, you cannot hear
a voice above the roar of wind and steam,
and the clatter of iron, — have made them
averse to conversation. The large clock at
the station is at the time for starting
half-past eight P.M.,— the carriage-doors are
finally slammed to, a sudden silence
pervades the place, the guard blows his shrill
whistle, Tom Jones answers it with a
responsive shriek from the engine, and we
start, slowly and gently from London, with
our mail express train for Dover. The
lights are just being extinguished at that
strange-looking Tooley Street Churchunion
of the ecclesiastical and the gas-works order
of architectureas we emerge from the iron
shelter of the station into the outer wind and
darkness. Not yet into the darkness, for in
front of us is a brilliant galaxy of red, green,
and white lights, looking like a railway
Vauxhalla display of fireworksan
illuminationa fĂȘte in honour of our departure,
or a large variegated orrery suspended in
mid air. Further on, as we leave the discs
and semaphores and outbuildings behind us,
passing the tan-yards, and branching out on
the network of rails into the country, about
New-Cross, we appear to chase a solitary
coloured lamp with lightning speed, and my
imagination pictures us running towards a

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