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The returns which the justices made show that the offence of keeping an alehouse without a license was a very common one in those days.
The English of the Elizabethan era ate beef-steaks for breakfast, and naturally required a good draught of two-year ale to wash down the substantial meal. We have all heard how the ladies of the Court had each her daily allowance of breakfast ale left at her door in the morning.
In Langland's day, as we have seen, and throughout the fourteenth century, the best ale cost 4d. the gallon. The ordinary drink, seasoned with pepper and garlick, was everywhere retailed at id. a gallon, and “penny ale” must have been as familiar an order as is “ four ale” now a days. Pudding ale, “the cheapest and worst,” was hardly drinkable unless diluted with some of the penny quality of liquor. The archives of the town of Seaford, in Sussex, record that in the sixteenth century the standard prices of ale, "according to the king's statutes,” were as follows :—When under the sieve (i.e. wort), 11d. ; when “stale,” or kept for a short period, itd.; and when “in the huff,” that is, fermented and arrived at maturity, 2d. per gallon. Stale ale was more appreciated than its name would lead us to suppose, for an old proverb says :
Beerum si sit cleerum est sincerum,
Alum si sit stalum non est malum. I will conclude by calling attention to an old song written in praise of some long-forgotten brewster's ale. It is at least as old as Elizabeth's reign, for the books of the Stationers' Company show that a certain John Danter“ entered for his copy a ballad entitled Jone's ale is newe,” on the 26th of October, 1594. This entry quite disposes of the opinion expressed in a head-note to a version of the song printed in the Percy Society's Tracts, that it belonged to the period of the Commonwealth. I have frequently heard the song sung in Cumberland, set to a lively air :
The first that came in was a soldier,
THOMAS H. B. GRAHAM.
The fiat's gone forth that the giants of yore,
I TOW are the mighty fallen !” The Broad Gauge is a thing of
IT the past. From the evening of May 20, 1892, till the morning of Monday (23rd), the Great Western line from Exeter to Penzance, a distance of 134 miles, together with all the broad gauge branches, was closed for traffic, to allow of the alteration of the gauge to the standard one of this country, viz., 4:8} inches.
The conversion had no doubt been kept in abeyance during the lifetime of the late chairman of the Great Western Railway, Sir Daniel Gooch, who was a pupil of Stephenson, and in 1837 was appointed locomotive superintendent to the Great Western. He was a staunch supporter of, and worked harmoniously with Brunel, winning lasting fame by his celebrated 8-foot "singles,” which were first built in 1846, and, to quote Acworth :
No traveller upon the line (unless, perhaps, he should happen to be a shareholder) will see without a pang the stately “Iron Duke," the wandering “Tartar," or the swift-flying “Swallow” disappear from the road that has known them for over forty years.
No engines in the world have so long and as famous a history as these old engines of Sir Daniel Gooch. Save that they have lost the sentry-box at the back of the tender, from which the guard used to keep watch to see that his train was daly following, they look to-day, with their great 8-foot driving wheels and their old world brass dome and brass wheel covers, just as they must have looked more than forty years ago, when our fathers gaped open-mouthed at the tale of their achievements. And, indeed, their achievements were in sober earnest remarkable enough.
Of what narrow gauge engines can the same be said? We look
in vain for any built at that time in work to-day, while Gooch's worked the broad gauge expresses to time to the last.
We propose giving a short history of the broad gauge, from its conception by that great master of gigantic engineering feats—Isambard Kingdom Brunel-through the “ Battle of the Gauges ”—which, fifty years ago, agitated the public mind as much as Home Rule and the Eight Hours Day do at present—a question on which Parliamentary candidates were elected or rejected by the several constituencies they wooed ; when Brunel's word was as much applauded or reviled as Lord Salisbury's and Mr. Gladstone's are to-day by the various politicians. Alas ! to-day but few have heard of such a battle, and perchance they conjecture some Homeric poem in which to find a description of it.
Following its history from the time it stood first, far ahead of all other lines for speed and comfort in travelling and personal safety to its patrons, till it was crushed by its competitor, which, from the fact that it was first in the field, and had taken a deep root in our soil, and not because it was in any way superior to the broad gauge, till in 1868 the first section (Princes Risborough to Aylesbury) was converted to the narrow gauge (which process has been going on little by little ever since), until now, the last section (till now exclusively broad gauge) has been converted, and another of Brunel's giants is to slide into oblivion, besides his Great Eastern steamship, “ Atmospheric Railway,” and “Thames Tunnel.” Acworth, in his “Railways of England," commences his chapter on the “Great Western" in a most happy vein as follows :
It would be more than a fanciful conceit if we were to compare the great “ Battle of the Gauges,” which raged with such sury more than forty years ago, to the yet more ancient strise between the Britons and English. Like the Britons, the champions of the broad gauge, under the leadership of their king Arthur, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, performed prodigies of skill and valour ; like them, they have been worsted in the struggle ; like them, they have retired, defeated but not disgraced, to Cornwall, where they have hitherto been left in almost undisputed possession. But though nowadays the fact may be well-nigh forgotten, at one time the victory was trembling in the balance. Not only to Exeter and Plymouth, but to Hereford and Wolverhampton, to Milford and to Weymouth, the broad gauge metals ran. Even in the Metropolis itself, Moorgate Street and Victoria were broad gauge outposts. We might, indeed, carry our simile further, and draw a comparison between the insusion of British blood, deepening as we pass westward through Somerset into Devon, and on through Devon to Cornwall, and the proportion which the broad gauge traffic bears to the narrow at the present day over the different sections of the Great Western, as we journey farther and farther west from London. Or, again, we might point out that, just as the invading English were wont to seize and fortify positions on the coast of their enemy's country, so the narrow gauge at Bodmin and Wadebrilge, that for over
half a century has remained contentedly isolated from all its neighbours, was one of the very earliest railways in England ; and even the West Cornwall, originally narrow gauge, and the solitary example of a line once narrow, which has since been adapted to the broad gauge, ran from sea to sea, from Hoyle, on the north coast, through Camborne and Redruth, to Newham, on the Fal River below Truro, years before ever Brunel had spanned the Tamar with the wondrous arches of Saltash Bridge. But whatever the broad gauge may have in common with the Britons of old, it at least does not share the alleged distinction of their modern representatives, who know not when they are beaten.
Perhaps it is not generally known that the Great Western Terminus was to be Euston Station, yet it is so.
The London and Birmingham and the London and Bristol Railways intended to have a joint terminus at Euston, but when Brunel got his Act passed, without the clause limiting the gauge, he boldly gave out that the London and Bristol would be constructed with a 7-foot gauge ; and as the Birmingham line was already being built with Stephenson's 4-foot 8-inch gauge, it was impossible for the idea of a common terminus to be carried out. So the Great Western struck out a new line from near Willesden to Paddington, The London and Bristol Bill was first presented to Parliament in 1834, and in that year a clause was inserted in all Railway Bills, limiting the gauge to 4 feet 8.inches. Through the opposition of Eton and Oxford the Bill was thrown out, and had the national seats of learning not been so violent in their opposition the Bill would have passed, and probably the broad gauge would never have been heard of. Smiles says :
The London and Bristol (afterwards the Great Western) Railway was vehemently opposed by the people of the towns through which the line was projected to pass ; and when the Bill was thrown out by the Lords--after £30,000 had been expended by the promoters—the inhabitants of Eton assembled, under the presidency of the Marquis of Chandos, to rejoice and congratulate themselves and the country upon its defeat.
Next year the Bill was again introduced into Parliament, and this time it contained no clause liiniting the gauge, and the Bill duly passed the two Houses. Brunel had as yet said nothing about the gauge of his line, but he had been educated at the École Polytechnique, and would not follow the lead of the English engineers, and went boldly in for a 7-foot gauge. We reproduce from Smiles's “Life of Stephenson” the contrast between the rival engineers :
In mentioning the name of Brunel we are reminded of him as the principal rival and competitor of Robert Stephenson. Both were the sons of distinguished men, and both inherited the fame, and followed in the footsteps, of their fathers. The Stephensons were inventive, practical, and sagacious; the Brunels ingenious, imaginative, and daring. The former were as thoroughly English ir their charac
teristics as the latter, perhaps, were as thoroughly French. The fathers and the sons were alike successful in their works, though not in the same degree. Measured by practical and profitable results, the Stephensons were unquestionably the safer men to follow. Robert Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel were destined often to come into collision in the course of their professional life. Their respective railway districts “marched” with each other, and it became their business to invade or defend those districts according as the policy of their respective boards might direct. The gauge of 7 feet fixed by Brunel for the Great Western Railway, so entirely different from that of 4 feet 8, inches adopted by the Stephensons on the Northern and Midland lines, was from the first a great cause of contention. But Brunel had always an aversion to follow any man's lead; and that another engineer had fixed the gauge of a railway, or built a bridge, or designed an engine in one way, was of itself often a sufficient reason with him for adopting an altogether different course. Mr. Brunel, however, determined that the Great Western should be a giant road, and that travelling should be conducted upon it at double speed. His ambition was to make the best road that imagination could devise ; whereas the main object of the Stephensons, both father and son, was to make a road that would pay. Although, tried by the Stephensons' test, Brunel's magnificent road was a failure, so far as the shareholders in the Great Western Company were concerned, the stimulus which his ambitious designs gave to mechanical invention proved a general good.
The first portion of the line, Paddington to Maidenhead, twentythree miles, was opened in 1838, when Brunel's bold idea of a skew bridge over the Thames was carried out successfully, and stands to the present day. Indeed, so great is the Great Western directors’ respect to the memory of its brilliant designer that, in carrying out the widening of the line from Maidenhead to Didcot, the company has decided to build a similar bridge to Brunel's famous one, parallel with it; and, to insure the quality of the work, instead of it being let to a contractor, as the rest of the widening is, the bridge is being built by the company, so as to make sure of good workmanship and unity of design. So far has the idea been carried out that, finding the original bridge has settled about an inch, the new one will not be built a true ellipse, but will be the same amount out of the correct form. Brunel's bridge consists of a central pier from which a main arch springs on either side, each of which is flanked by four smaller openings; the main arches are elliptical in form and of 130 feet span, with a rise of 24 feet; these two arches are longer and flatter than any others ever executed in brickwork. Both during the building and after the completion of the bridge doubts were freely expressed as to its stability, but “time proves all things,” and has proved Brunel right here, at any rate. Another remarkable engineering feat in connection with this line was the Hanwell embankment, built on a clay foundation with a treacherous subsoil, which latter gave way, and the embankment gradually sunk but rose again on either side of