This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
A CORRESPONDENT last month related the difficulties often experienced in the transport by railroads of packages of nursery trees. The case stated was a hard one, and not uncommon) it is a matter that requires immediate redress; we have no doubt when it is properly brought before the respective boards of management, they will give directions to their agents to sin no more. But this will not be sufficient to insure the proper care, if we may judge by what is daily seen on some of the most prosperous lines.
That railroad travel and transportation is yet in its infancy in America, must be true, for we cannot believe that a civilized people will forever bear the hardships which are imposed upon them by an irresponsible body of subordinate agents, (of course we do not intend to assert that there are no exceptions to this general condemnation - every traveller will remember some ; we speak of the mass - of those left in authority, while those who appointed them are out of the way,) to whose unblushing wilfulness, travellers and freight are constantly subjected. Duties are performed in a slovenly, careless manner; freight and baggage are treated as if utterly worthless, or as a nuisance, and hence the necessity of employing sub-agents or expresses, at a greatly increased cost. This is the case in the ocean steamers, the railroads, and the steamboats on our lakes and rivers. It would seem at the first sight of our heterogeneous methods of getting about - the pushing and jostling, the impertinence and deceptions of hack-men, cab-drivers, and most of the employed about our modern systems, that the human freight was looked upon as a drove of cattle.
We cannot always submit to this.
Remedy must come by degrees; stockholders must be impressed with the need of electing men as directors, who will attend to their duties; for this purpose they must not seek the wealthiest holder of stock, and ask him to merely fill a chair at the meetings and declare dividends; they must begin at the other end, and choose men who will see that dividends are earned. You should enter a railway car with as much certainty of cleanliness, civility, and safety, as when sitting down to your own table; if the present prices of travel are not sufficient to accomplish this, and to accomplish it thoroughly, raise the prices. Freight should be delivered with the certainty of a well-conducted post-office; till this is done, railroad profits will not meet the expectations of stockowners. Thousands of people now stay at home rather than encounter the numerous inconveniences which are more or less attendant upon every transit; higher prices, we say, by all means, and more comfort; better pay to officials, every rope in order, the wheels inspected and greased at every stop, the can clean, windows washed, a certainty of safety by years of impunity, and there is no telling the profits that would result.
The luxurious "sittings" of some Continental rail-oars would astonish our easily satisfied citizens, no less than it would gratify them. In Belgium, the works are owned by government; the employed have the badge of government, and if anything is amiss in their conduct, government corrects it; this cannot be here, but it is in our power to have a government of active and intelligent directors, paid for attending to the working of the road, and who are to be found when anything goes wrong, instead of being at their distant country seats, or engaged in business of their own, so large as to allow little time to that of others, who are thus subjected to inconvenience, untold discomforts, and death. It is a good practice in many insurance offices, banks, etc., etc., in London, that each director receives a guinea for a daily attendance at the office, to see after the company affairs; absent at the appointed hour he forfeits his pay.
Let us suppose that this practice prevailed in railway organizations, and that fire dollars a day each, or more if necessary, was paid to a number of Directors on a given route, provided they could prove that one at least was on the spot at the arrival and departure of every train at every station on the road, prepared to see that the time-tables were adhered to, and to hear complaints. There cannot be a doubt, that with well chosen men, the economy to the company would be immense. Sharks of all kinds, lurking about under any guise, would be detected. As it is now, when a man breakfasts in Massachusetts, dines in Pennsylvania, and lodges in Virginia, there is no authority to hear what he is subjected to, but on the contrary, it seems to be everybody's business to be out of the way; the traveller is soon out of hearing, and the consequence is that every official does just as pleases himself.
These paid Directors would be of a superior class ; to them appeals of all kinds could be made, and if not redressed they would be removed; they could inspect the character of the freight, designate the perishable, and if there was a preference necessary by reason of a surplus, order it forward, and see that it acent, or be themselves responsible.
There must and will be more attention paid to the public by these monopolies, for such they are apt to become by reason of their privileges, and till there is, good people, and those who value their lives and limbs, will stay at home a* much a* possible, have little to do with the murderous affairs, and risk no perishable freight on them when they can avoid it. We hope to live to see at least the same attention to the interests and comforts of those who employ railroads, as is paid by an individual to the customers who support him. Why is it otherwise ?