An English locomotive looks decidedly unfinished; for, instead of our wedge-shaped cow-catcher, we see in front of it merely iron buffers (such as, also, exist at the end of every car), to lessen by huge springs the shock of a collision. How strangely comfortless appears the standing-place for engineer and fireman ! With us it is encased with glass and comfortably roofed; but the English stoker is often left to face the elements almost unprotected, being sometimes soaked to the skin and nearly blinded, as he whirls along at fifty miles an hour through the rain or snow.
"Why have you not more shelter from the weather?" I once asked an English stoker.
"Oh, well, Sir," was the reply, "it never 'as been done, Sir; and tho' it's pretty 'ard now and again, Sir, we get along quite well on the 'ole, Sir".
"It never has been done," - that is the secret of many strange discomforts in conservative Old England. Yet we can understand, at least, why English locomotives have no cowcatchers. They would be quite superfluous, since English engines have no chance to catch a cow or, for that matter, any moving obstacle. Throughout the whole of England no railway is allowed to cross a street at grade, and walls or fences keep out all intruders through every mile of its entire length. Moreover, the bridges and embankments, always made of stone, give one a feeling of security, which many railways in America, with their light wooden trestleworks, do not inspire.
Another feature in the English railway system, which sends through the American's soul a thrill of admiration, is the way in which his baggage is there treated. I gazed, at first, in blank astonishment to see my trunk lifted and carried by two men, as if it really had some value, instead of being dropped with a terrific crash upon a platform three or four feet below the baggage-car, or else hurled end over end by some relentless baggage-anarchist. Odd, is it not? England will not check baggage; America will not take proper care of it. In the one country it is often getting lost; in the other it is as often getting smashed.
An English Railway.
It was on a beautiful afternoon in May, soon after my first landing in Liverpool, that I caught sight of the old town of Chester on the river Dee. In the immediate foreground was a massive bridge built, by King Edward I., two hundred years before Columbus gazed upon the shores of the New World. As I look back upon it now, through a long vista lined with the more ancient monuments of Italy, Asia Minor, India, and Egypt, I wonder at the impression which this structure made upon me. But it was my first sight, then, of any genuine relic of past centuries; and the mere thought that these old arches had supported Queen Elizabeth, Charles I., Cromwell, and scores of other royal or distinguished characters gave me my first experience in realizing history, which is, perhaps, the greatest charm of foreign travel. But these impressions sank into comparative insignificance as, on our way to the hotel, we passed an ancient tower, carefully restored. Beside this monument, even the bridge of Edward I. seemed modern; since this once formed a part of the old walls of Chester, and its foundations are a relic of imperial Rome. Chester was, in fact, for four hundred years, a Roman stronghold of such value that, as its name denotes, it was called simply Cas-trum, or "The Camp," - much as old Rome herself was proudly named, as if that single title were sufficient, Urbs, "The City." We cannot, therefore, be surprised to learn that in its soil coins, inscriptions, altars, and mosaic pavements have been found, all dating from the time when a word uttered on the Palatine was obeyed in Britain, and Rome was still the mistress of the world.
Old Bridge At Chester.
Old Inn At Chester.
I know of nothing precisely like the walls of Chester. The Kremlin battlements in Moscow-may suggest them; but the old Russian towers have summits almost inaccessible, while these thick walls of Chester enclose the town in one continuous ring, and form a well-paved promenade, nearly two miles in circuit and in some places forty feet in height. How stirring are the memories which they suggest! Here, for centuries, while the young Christian Church with tears and prayers was burying its martyrs in the catacombs, the soldiers of the Caesars kept their watch and ward above the town below, till the eventful day when Rome's imperial legions were called back to Italy, to ward off the alarming blows struck by barbarians at the Empire's heart. Upon the surface of one of these turrets, also, I read the inscription: "Upon this tower, Sept. 27, 1645, stood King Charles I., and saw his army defeated on Rowton Moor." For Chester ("loyal Chester," it was then called) was the first English city to declare for Charles, and the last to yield to Cromwell; and it was with the bitter consciousness that the last gem was being taken from his coronet of faithful towns, that the unhappy monarch (himself so soon to suffer death) saw from this tower his gallant cavaliers borne down by the fierce squadrons of the Puritans.