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Yorkshire have yet to play their return matches with Middlesex, Surrey, and Sussex; Kent have still to meet Surrey at the Oval, Essex at Leyton, and Middlesex at Lord's; while Middlesex have to visit the Oval. In these seven matches much may happen. I do not see how Yorkshire at this stage of the season are to be deprived of their position, though such a deprivation is quite possible on paper. As a purely personal opinion I may say that I consider Kent the best team of the year, with Sussex-with the Jam Sahib and C. B. Fry playing-bracketed second equal with Surrey, then Yorkshire, Middlesex, and Worcestershire next. Not a single player I have met who has played against Yorkshire regards them as the best team of the season, and such absolute unanimity must be respected, wrong though the opinion it implies may be. At the same time the idea is very general in cricket circles that the season has been rather a moderate one on the whole. Several facts might be marshalled to prove this, but the sight of Hayward striving so late as June 30th to score his thousandth run, while so late as the morning of August Bank Holiday only fifteen others had followed his example, and takers of 100 wickets numbered only eight on the same date, must suffice. Tall scoring and the taking of a large number of wickets must of necessity be taken as weathercocks to the form of a season as a whole, to however pernicious a pitch the making and breaking of records may have been carried.
E. H. D. SEWELL.
THE GOOD MOMENT.
Here are the heights and spaces-here, in view
Of love and death, the silence and the sky,
We are content to put contentment by
And work our sad salvation out anew :
Here all mean ways of living, all untrue
Measures of life, are done with you and I
Can gauge our deeds by God's eternity,
And find the right a simple thing to do.
But when the uplifting moment passes-when
The pitiful happenings of every day
Encompass us, and windy words of men,
Will not the years beset, perhaps betray?
--Now, 'tis not hard to plan the perfect way ;
Will it be easy to walk in it then?
ENGLISH RAILWAYS AND SUMMER HOLIDAYS.
A GOOD deal of unreasonable criticism may usually be heard while a business firm is in course of realising that some familiar source of revenue has come to an end, and that it must look out for another. Numerous English railways, for instance, have admitted this year a serious falling off in passengers and earnings; a long catalogue of such decreases would not be interesting, especially as the yearly reports will be within the memory of anyone interested in the subject, but it may be recalled that at a recent general meeting of the Great Eastern Railway, Lord Claud Hamilton announced & decrease of over 6,000,000 passengers, and one or two other companies show hardly less startling figures. The suburban traffic, which accounts for a large portion of this decrease, is, we may take it, irrecoverable under present conditions; and the railway managers, however unwilling to listen to criticism and ready to allege that they know their own business best, are paid to do it, and mean to do it without uninvited help, really might take a little friendly advice just now as to improvements and new sources of revenue.
English railways are not, in spite of some wrathful assertions to the contrary, much behind those of France in the matter of comfort, speed, punctuality, and enterprise. In fact, exceptional trains, such as the North-Western, Great Northern, and Midland expresses to Edinburgh, the “ Cornish Riviera " express on the Great Western, the (summer) “ Norfolk Coast express of the Great Eastern, and the Sunday “ Pullman Limited” to Brighton, are quite equal in the matter of speed and comfort to the Mediterranean expresses on the Paris-Lyons-Mediterranean Railway or the Sud Express to Biarritz and Madrid.
Personally I am one of those people who find real rest and pleasure in a long railway journey. I take my place in the Marseilles rapide at the Gare de Lyon, or in the Scotch express at Euston, with book of travels, a novel, a monthly review, and four newspapers, prepared to enjoy every minute of the next eight or ten hours. Every stopping place is interesting, whether it is Crewe Junction or Dijon; no one can telephone to you; the dullest person could not look out of the window for ten minutes without being charmed or amused by something, --a sunset over the Lake of Geneva, an old English Cathedral, a bank of spring flowers, or a lengthy series of sailors' street-fights in Marseilles; and a man must be a very sickly or hypochondriacal person who is seriously affected by the noise or vibration of a modern French, English, or Italian express. I should be a lenient critic of railway mismanagement except in so far as falling dividends suggest the possibility of discomfort. In this article, however, I want chiefly to suggest a new source of revenue to the railway companies. VOL. LXXXIV. N.S.
To speak of the English coasts as a new source of railway revenue sounds as if one's facts were wrong somewhere, but that is not so.
Several English railways are vaguely aware that a considerable number of people want to get to the sea, and to stay there for varying periods of time. Therefore they provide trains to take them, treating such trains and their passengers as the businesslike policeman treats à costermonger's donkey-cart, laden with Hampstead-bound passengers, which is wending its way among the traffic opposite the Mansion House. The idea of its mattering to any sane person whether the cart is comfortable or not, the donkey slow or otherwise, whether the whole conveyance arrives at Hampstead in one hour or two or three, and whether the costermonger and his party find the delights of Hampstead Heath to their taste or not, is one which never enters the policeman's head. Of course, there are exceptions to this railway indifference, but the immense majority of lines have no concern with the passenger traffic of their coast towns except to dispatch so many thousand tourists there on certain holidays, leave them there for a few hours or days to amuse themselves if they please and if they can, and then bring them home. The whole business is a chaos of dirt, discomfort, unpunctuality, and bad temper. For various reasons, chiefly financial, people have patronised England again this year, as last year, for their summer holidays instead of going abroad, and have enjoyed their holiday on the whole quite as much as the usual month in Switzerland or Brittany. But that train is a dreadful part of it. One cannot, of course, talk much about the discomforts of a journey which only lasts three or four hours. If I travel down to Ramsgate in a first-class carriage with eleven other people, ten of whom are third-class passengers and one of whom plays the concertina—the suggestion is not imaginary, but a horrid reminiscence—I would make no unreasonable fuss if the train ran reasonably up to time; and even as regards unpunctuality I would be politely tolerant if there were reasonable excuse for it. One knows that in the ill-constructed termini of English railways it is extremely difficult to get the trains away from or into the station, and that a little extra holiday or race traffic will reduce the whole staff of the station to helpless wrathful confusion.
But unpunctuality does not begin and end at the terminus. I am a very frequent passenger, for instance, to the seaside places on the South-Eastern and Brighton-and-South-Coast lines, and I can make & train arrive at its destination only five minutes late which is rarely less than twenty minutes late on other days. One afternoon this train will stop four minutes, and sometimes five, at each of half a dozen stations, while a solitary porter leisurely rolls out milk cans, the guard talks over the contents of a letter with another porter, and towards the middle of the time the station-master strolls in from the neighbouring public house, and tells the guard one or two funny stories which he has just heard there. When I want to arrive punctually I mention the fact somewhat emphatically to the guard
at my starting point, give him a shilling, and lean ostentatiously out of the window at each stopping-place with a pencil and piece of paper, taking elaborate notes of the proceedings. It is a trick which never fails in its effect. The milk cans come out of the van like a shower of hail-stones; the guard and the porter sadly defer their gossip and push luggage and passengers into the train; and when the station-master arrives it is to see the train disappearing rapidly out of the station, with the porters pointing myself out to him angrily as the cause of this unseemly fuss. After half a dozen experiences of this kind I listen a little sceptically to stories about
connections” being late at this or that junction, the breakdown of mythical goods trains just in front, or the pressure of racetraffic.
It must be remembered that it is not only in conveying passengers to and from these coast towns for & fortnight's holiday that punctuality and comfort matter. A visitor to Cromer wants to go over to Sheringham, Norwich, or the Broads; folk at Ramsgate want an occasional day in Canterbury, Dover, or Folkestone. Then, failing a motor-car, their choice lies between paying a guinea or two for a carriage, and going by a train whose proceedings resemble, and are as easy to foretell as, those of a damp cracker. This is not conducive to large excursion traffic and heavy dividends. If-which I disbelieve-the English railways are unable to help their coast towns in any other way, they might at least remedy this state of things. A few plain-clothes inspectors travelling for two or three hours a day in holiday trains, and taking note of the proceedings of the station officials, would provide a very effectual remedy for this nuisance, which has been endured year after year by past visitors to the Kent and Sussex coasts with a long-suffering patience which I am quite certain is unique in Europe. I have seen visitors from Dinard to Mont St. Michel, from Cannes and Nice to Monte Carlo, or from Brussels to Ostend, arriving very late, and the result almost equalled the recent remonstrance of the suburban residents of Paris at the unpunctuality of their trains. There seemed no apparent reason to expect that there would be any station left from which to go home again, or officials left to dispatch the trains. I do not speak, of course, of trains being seven or eight minutes late, but an hour, or an hour and a half, so that you must cut short your exploration of Canterbury or Chichester or Arundel before lunch, cut short your sketching, shopping, or sight-seeing afterwards, and even then arrive home an hour late, to find the hotel soup cold and the entrée
Is it any wonder that thousands of holiday folk disappear from this country every summer, and, when they must stay at home, demand of Heaven why such a desolate holiday land as England was ever made? It is not desolate. As the owners of motor-cars can and do discover, it is more full of beauty and amusement and excitement, and incomparably more healthy for holiday-making