Previous to the establishment of the Railway from Liverpool to Manchester, various political circumstances had concurred to induce the retention of much capital the country was unsettled, and public confidence shaken. When the agitation had somewhat subsided, capitalists eagerly sought employment for their money, and the projects for Railways offering at the time ready means, they immediately entered into them. The card turned up well ; the price of shares was speedily raised, either by natural or artificial causes, and much money was made by the original holders. Many more were, therefore, induced to speculate, thinking nothing of the ultimate advantage, or otherwise, of the undertaking caring only for a rise in the price of shares, of which they might avail themselves ; and up to this moment, it is to be feared, the same motive, in the greater number of instances, is the prevailing one. This, however, is not the description of support which should be given to works promising national, nay, universal advantages of such vast importance, as these must do to every thinking mind. Those who have bought shares merely to sell again, will presently be anxious to apply their money to other and, perhaps, more immediately profitable schemes ; the shares will come into the market, possibly at a reduced price, and, unless means be taken to rouse the public attention, these undertakings, on the success of which, we feel convinced, depends so much the future prosperity of England, her power to retain the superiority that her improved machinery has, to this time, given her over the foreigner will be numbered by the multitude with the South Sea scheme, the Mexican Mines, and other bubbles of past time ; and the mighty advance which they would enable us to make, the improvement that would be effected, through their means, in the condition of every individual of the state, will be for a time prevented. True, it would be so only for a time ; for if this age be not sufficiently awakened to comprehend the advantage of such improved means of communication as Railways afford, and to aid the contemplated stride onwards, it will, most surely, reasoning from analogy, be effected by the next.
George Godwin, Jun., An Appeal To The Public, On The Subject Of Railways 1837
[full text is available from the LSE at
although it is an inconveniently large PDF file!]
Victorian London - Publications - Humour - Punch - The March of Speculation
"This is the young Gent as takes my Business, Mem.
I'm agoin' into the Railway-Director Line myself."
[note it is a Cat's Meat Man, with meat on skewers in cart, ed.]
Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1845
Victorian London - Publications - Humour - Punch - The Momentous Question
"TELL ME, OH TELL ME, DEAREST ALBERT,
HAVE YOU ANY RAILWAY SHARES?"
[note this is Victoria and Albert!, ed.]
Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1845