Whether, in some cases, Government should not be called on to assist in their construction, is a question on which, although deserving of the most serious consideration, we will not now enter. Certainly, however, no wise or prudent Government would throw any unnecessary impediment in the way of their formation, or increase the enormous expenses which, even under favourable circumstances, are incurred in obtaining an Act of Parliament, by any opposition on account of mere technical objections, or the influence of individuals.* We must, however, now conclude this brief paper. Although much too feeble for the importance of its subject, it has been written in all sincerity of purpose, and with a full conviction of the amazing advantages that must result to the whole population of the kingdom, by the increased facility of communication which will be obtained if a perfect * system of Railways be established throughout the country. The anticipation alone, of such a consummation, fills us with delight: nor, indeed, can we contemplate unmoved the glorious prospect which will be opened to the world, if merely the vast and important works now in progress (works with which the useless Egyptian pyramids, or the justly vaunted remnants of old Rome’s ,magnificence, will not be able to endure comparison) be carried into execution. The length of our lives, so far as regards the power of acquiring information and disseminating knowledge, will be doubled ; and the whole world will speedily become as one great family speaking one language, governed in unity and harmony by like laws, and adoring one GOD.
* It may not be out of place here, to allude to the course oftentimes pursued by those individuals who have property likely to be required for a projected improvement, with a view to enhance the value of their assent, and so to extort a greater price for their land ; and one cannot observe without regret, that the higher the rank or influence of the proprietor, the more exorbitant, usually, is the demand, because of the greater power his wealth, rank, and consequent influence, give him to enforce the demand. Every individual should be paid liberally for that which he is compelled to sell ; but surely it is beneath the character of a gentleman to use his position in society, and his power through its influence, as a means to extort money.
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!]