Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/229

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Feb. 13, 1864.]



title by setting themselves vigorously to work to improve the moral and social condition of the working man, than by adding envy and discontent to his other self-inflicted miseries.

But we are now in a large yard full of railway wheels of every variety of form and size.

"And how many of these do you turn out weekly?" I ask.

"When in full work, about a thousand pairs, and we send them to all parts of the world too. These are for the Madrid and Alicante, and these for Valparaiso; these are for Italy, and these again for India. That set of wheels is part of an order for a Russian railway, and as you will observe, though only intended for the trucks used in making the line, they are of wrought iron, and equal to many that are used in ordinary traffic. That," pointing to a wheel which, for elegance of finish as well as strength, might rival anything in Long Acre, is a specimen of a consignment for Rotterdam. The Dutch are very particular about their railways, and when I sent these wheels over they were on the point of condemning them as cast-iron impositions," adding, with justifiable pride, "they had never seen anything like them in the way of wrought iron before."

This brings us buck to our starting-point; so I thank my conductor for his kind attention, and take my departure. As I turn my back on the big chimneys, I cannot help entertaining a higher idea of manufacturing talent and energy. How many different nationalities are at this moment travelling on these same wheels! Railways are rapidly penetrating where railways ten years ago would have been thought the wildest dream. The steam-horse is startling the tiger and the elephant in the jungles and swamps of furthest India, as it may soon be startling the gorilla in inmost Africa. Surely, the fact of the energy and ability of one man contributing so largely to the comfort and security of the travelling portion of the human race, may invest with dignity and interest even so apparently simple an object as a railway wheel. Ixion.




walked down the well-known path to Bella Luce; she passed the half-way tree in perfect safety,—for there was no Beppo in the path to stop her passage now!—and slunk up stairs into her little chamber, undressedherself and got into bed; and the next morning, not having closed an eye during the intervening hours, she rose at the usual time, and set about her wonted work. But her mind rendered no account to itself of her occupation in all these things. She was only conscious of moving to and fro under such an overwhelming pressure of calamity and grief as seemed to have stunned her. She had betrayed Beppo to his enemies, and had done so under circumstances which must lead him to attribute her conduct to motives that it was agony to her to contemplate. Death appeared to her to be the only possible escape from a situation too dreadful to be borne. And, oh! how happily, how gratefully would she have closed her eyes with the knowledge that she should never open them more. If only Beppo could have been made to know that she had died to make it evident to him that he had been everything to her, and Corporal Tenda nothing, with what joy and gladness would she have met death!

But for all this it never entered into her head to commit suicide. With a quarter of the strength of despair and amount of motive to actuate her, a French girl would have taken her pan of charcoal as naturally and unhesitatingly as an Italian girl kneels to the Madonna! Under a less amount of misery many an English girl has taken the fatal leap from the bridge parapet into the darksome pool below! And yet the mind of the English girl has been used to dwell on thoughts of the invisible, on fears and awful doubts respecting that unknown world, to which she rushes in her hopelessness, which have never been present to the mind of the Italian. And it was not high religious principle, or even overpowering religious fear, that prevented Giulia from turning her thoughts towards suicide. She was religiously ignorant to a degree scarcely credible to those most acquainted with our own uneducated classes. And though her church deems self-murder as one, at least, of the most irremediable of sins, she had received no teaching upon that subject. And in truth an Italian pastor might be excused for thinking that to preach against suicide was not one of the most parts of his duty. No! It was not religious principle which prevented Giulia from turning her thoughts towards that most desperate of all remedies for human sorrows. It was because it was not in her nature to do