Punch enters the fray!
Isle of Wight Observer September 25, 1858
ISLE OF WIGHT RAILWAY
The prospectus of the above project is not issued, and nothing has transpired during this week of a public nature to require chronicling. In the absence, therefore, of any information, we quote the opinion of Punch upon the question; which is one that demands the fullest investigation, and this can only be done by giving the opinions of all upon it.
It is notorious that Railway property is at present at a very high premium. Railway shares, we need hardly inform any fool, are paying cent per cent. Now is the time for Railway enterprise! For this reason, and for another presently to be mentioned, we propose that a line of rail – the need of which is much felt – should forthwith be laid down between Kensington and Bayswater. A journey that cannot now be performed in less than ten minutes would then be capable of being accomplished in two or three. For the sake of effecting this great saving of time, we recommend that a railway should be made through Kensington Gardens. Let no regard be paid to considerations of such small importance as the disturbance of their quiet and the diminution of their prettiness.
The other reason why we advocate this tasteful and promising speculation is, that if it is not effected, the enterprise of the Metropolis will be distanced and put to shame by provincial progress: unless indeed a set of Cockneys have only forgotten the maxim that enterprise, like charity, should begin at home. For certain adventurous gentlemen, in the expression of making their fortunes, have revived the splendid project, unfortunately cushioned some years ago, of making a railway across the Isle of Wight. Who but Cockneys would dream of such a thing? At least these projectors are not Isle of Wight people, inhabitants of the Garden of England, who would soon see a railway cut through that garden of theirs, as any slow individual who cares anything for scenery in comparison with steam, would behold that mark of modern improvement, the iron road, dividing his own private lawn, shrubbery, and flower beds. But what signifies what the Isle of Wight people like or dislike? Theirs are not the interests to be considered. Respectable lodging-house keepers, who do not make half the money they ought to make, notwithstanding all their endeavours to run up the highest bills that visitors will stand, medical men who want to kill more patients flying than they can at present, and impatient travellers desirous of saving a few minutes in getting to and from the back of the Island – these constitute the great public, to whose least convenience the nonsensical prejudice of the little public of the Isle of Wight ought to be sacrificed. And so ought those of the sentimentalists who resort thither to gratify a morbid liking for scenes of beauty and repose. Their antipathy to life and bustle is an offence to all progressive minds. Rout them up in the refuge to which they slink from the living world. Compel everybody to flare up and go a-head.
So, very properly, the Isle of Wight is to be scored with a Railway. A company of sharp speculators will trample on its natives’ feelings, as the navvies, beneath the iron-shod soles of their highlows, will crush its flowers. Hooray! especially for the cent.per cent. dividend which will reward so auspicious an undertaking. But still, before embarking in this precious scheme, Cockney capitalists may as well employ their money in improving their own especial neighbourhood, and invest a few millions of it in the Kensington and Bayswater line, which will probably not pay worse than a railway in the Isle of Wight.