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ing all the subsequent record, as would an omission like that of the life of Oliver Cromwell, or Elizabeth, or Napoleon, confuse the later political hislories of England and France.
George Hudson was the son of a farmer of Yorkshire, in England, with an ancestry that appears not to have materially changed its condition during a period of two centuries, through which its residence could be traced upon the estate of Howsham. His first business, to which he was apprenticed, and in which he became a master, and realized, it would seem, a respectable fortune, was the same as that of the immortal John Gilpin, viz., "a linendraper;" like the hero of Cowper's undying ballad, he left his employment for an adventure, with the leading locomotive power of his time; Gilpin lived in an age when the Horse had undisputed pre-eminence over all the agents of combined speed and strength subdued by man—the most useful locomotive power in the possession of society. When Hudson, a century Jater, left his counter for the recreation of another pursuit, the horse had lost his supremacy, and the linen-draper sprang upon a steam engine for his ride. The world wondered, as it did in the case of the journey from "famous London town” toward Edmonton; and what was of more concern yet, the adventurous rider, still following the friend of Tom Callender, " went farther than he meant,” but, unlike him, did not have the good fortune to get safe back again. A still more material difference was, that the pleasure of a whole nation, instead of that of a single very small family, was attempted in the ride of the “Railway King,” and well would it have been if the catastrophe thereof had caused 'no more serious discomfort than the mischance of the “train-band captain.”
Mr. Hudson appears in his first public capacity as a member of the Board of Health of the city of York, in 1832. In 1833, he was a member of the lower branch of the council of that city, and was soon after appointed a member of the chamber of aldermen. He next received the highest honor which the city could bostow, becoming its Lord Mayor in 1837. ministration was, of course, energetic, and the evidence of its wisdom is in the promotion of the prosperity of the city during and in consequence of the measures carried out in that period.
His first prominence in connection with Railways was in 1833, at the time of his being a member of the Board of Health. The ten per cent dividend of the Liverpool and Manchester road, and the projection of the Leeds and Selby, in their own neighborhood, had led some bold spirits in York to the idea of a line from thence to certain portions of the West Riding. But the project seemed so vast and momentous that, except by the few harebrained, as they were considered, it was little favored. The expenses of construction and working would be so enormous, it was feared it would never be made to pay. This was in 1832. The next year the scheme was brought more prominently before the public, through the energy of Mr. Hudson, now in its lead. Meetings were held and committees appointed, surveys made and the usual preliminary steps taken amid an opposition that might well have discouraged a less enthusiastic mind. Before any route had been indicated, Mr. Hudson, at one of the meetings, with the boldness which characterized his whole career, placed his name down, which was almost alone on the subscription list, for several hundred shares. He then accompanied the engineer, Mr. Rennie, in his surveys for the road, devoting himself with the utmost assiduity to the exploration of the neighboring districts, examining and estimating the value of the land, ascertaining the sentiments of the proprietors, and endeavoring to influence the undecided or hostile by argument, promises, or otherwise. In the latter part of this self-assumed task, he was especially happy, having a peculiar facility in eliciting the real feelings of other men, discovering their weak points, and applying just those particular kinds of argument in each case, which were best suited to make the impression desired. He had indeed a very remarkable aptitude in convincing men, against their own first inclinations, of the channel in which their interest was to be sought. The great aim and the result of his power was that of combining-to bring men of opposite views, if not to one way of thinking, at least to one way of acting—and it will be found throughout his whole career, when he came to deal with companies and associations, as he had before with individuals, that it was his great effort to unite and combine their energies in a common interest, proportioned to the magnitude of the union, to discountenance as far as possible all separate action, and to resolutely suppress, so far as could be done, the waste of strength in competition.
Mr. Hudson's triumph in the York railroad affair was not immediate. The opposition was too strong--the alarm too great. It was impossible to get through Parliament. He recommended, accordingly, a delay, showing therein that it was not a blind devotion to purpose which urged him on, but that he was possessed of discretion, did not overrate his own energies, nor underrate those of the opposition. There was, moreover, exhibited in this act, that sagacity which knew how to bide its time, and perceived that a little patience only was required to secure the object. It is seldom, indeed, that men of so energetic character have that calmness of view, and are able to effect that wise self-restraint here displayed. Men so constituted are the fittest to conduct all great enterprises, whether in war, government, Commerce, religion, or any other possible field-indeed, none others, we may say, are at all qualified for such services—and the mental characteristics exhibited in carrying their schemes into practice, will always be regarded as forming the highest order of human genius. Such men were all those who have acquired any lasting fame in any department of human action.
The opportunity for which Mr. Hudson postponed his darling scheme, was not long coming. He had waited in the belief that by uniting with some other project, when one should arise with which such alliance could be beneficially effected, a line might be obtained, not with the West Riding only, but with the South of England. In 1835, while he was in the council of York, a railway was proposed from Leeds to Derby, and another, called the Midland Counties, to Rugby. The hour had arrived. The York scheme was revived, a union was effected with the North Midland, under the name of the York and North Midland Railway Company, and, in virtue of his large subscription, Mr. Hudson was placed on the provisional committee. Here he labored as before; convincing by logic, or by indirect pecuniary argument, where either was possible, and fighting with the most determined energy those who could not be gained. Among the latter was a powerful canal proprietary, whose attacks upon his project he triumphantly repelled.
In 1837, during Mr. Hudson's mayoralty parliament granted an act to the York and North Midland Company, with a capital of £446,666. This was in the period of the second railway mania of England. Mr. Hudson was appointed by the directors chairman of the company. The onerous duties of his magisterial station did not abate his zeal in his railway labors.
He managed the negotiations with the landholders with the most consummate tact, and it was certainly in great part due to his abilities, that while men of capital in York had estimated the cost of the road at more than £7,000 a mile, and while the North Midland actually cost, for land, £5,000 a mile, the cost for land on Mr. Hudson's line, averaged 'only £1,750. The result of this extraordinary vigor was, that the road, its length being twentythree-and-a-half miles, was opened on the 29th May, 1839; and on the 1st of July, 1840, steam communication was fully established between York and the metropolis. It was a proud day for Hudson. He stood confessed, by all of his associates, and by all who had noticed his efforts and achievement, a man of extraordinary power.
About this time he retired from the mayoralty, in the enjoyment of a high popularity, the award of his judicious political administration, conjoined with the admiration of his skill and vigor in effecting the railway, and a just appreciation of the benefits which he had thus conferred upon the city. A testimonial acknowledging in warm terms the advantages derived from his official and other labors, was presented him, signed by the inhabitants of the town, and also by the nobility of the county.
The next effort of Mr. Hudson was for a railway from York to Scarborough, an attempt in which Sir John Rennie had failed, being unable to obtain the required capital. Mr. Hudson obtained the grant of £500 for the survey of a route, but the road was not at that time constructed. His next step, in 1840, was a bold one—it was the lease, in which he was aided by a few of his colleagues at the directors' board of the York and North Midland, of the entire Leeds and Selby line, for thirty-one years, at £17,000 per annum.
The object was to avert the competition of the latter with the former, for the Leeds and York traffic. The bargain was made on the sole responsibility of Hudson and his associates. A meeting was called to consider the negotiation, and the company were so well satisfied of its policy, that it was unanimously approved, and the chairman warmly commended for effecting the arrangement. It proved highly beneficial to the company.
The next project of Mr. Hudson was to assist the Great North of England company through with their road. The company had been chartered in 1836, with a capital of £1,330,000, and an intended length of seventy-six miles. They had stuck in the work, unable to reach Newcastle. Mr. Hudson undertook to effect the object by a combination of companies. At his call, the delegates of six railroad companies convened in September, 1841, and his scheme was laid before them. Nothing definite was, however, decided at this time. He then pressed it on the attention of his own company, the York and North Midland, now in a very prosperous state, and not having then acquired the power to control the whole money market, he recommended that the requisite sum, £500,000, should be raised by several companies, leasing the Great North of England road for ten years, the shares to be divided proportionally to tho rent they guarantied. The Board of Trade granted its approval of the scheme, and it was effected. In connection with this, the Newcastle and Darlington, designed to open an eastern communication with Edinburgh, was projected, and Mr. Hudson was elected chairman of the company. It was incorporated by act, in June, 1842. In this road, Mr. Hudson subscribed five times as much as any other director, and to prevent any delay, took upon himself a responsibility from which most men would have shrunk appalled, taking the entire risk of the proposed six per cent guaranty, upon one of the companies engaged in the affair declining to be a party thereto.
In this grand undertaking, Mr. Hudson was opposed by the dean and chapter of Durham, with all the force the church could command. But their opponent was not daunted by their power. The victory was his, and so complete was their defeat, that they were forced to the very mortifying issue of selling their land for the uses of the road, to Mr. Hudson, at about one-fourth of the price they had demanded.
The affairs of the North Midland road having taken an unfortunate turn, the dividends diminishing, and the efforts of the directors to reduce the expenses, proportionately to the reduced revenue, failing, a meeting of stockholders appointed a committee, consisting of Mr. Hudson and six others, to effect a remedy, if possible. Mr. Hudson astounded them by the report that the expenses could and should be reduced from £40,000 to £22,000 annually. The men whose management was thus indirectly impeached, were of course tremendously incensed. A bitter contest arose. Mr. Hudson supported his report, showing the practicability of the reforms, and exhibiting his perfect understanding of all that related to railroads, from general principles down to the slightest minutiæ. He directed their attention to the affairs of his own peculiar road, the York and North Midland, of which he was still chairman, and which was in a very prosperous condition. What he proposed for the North Midland was simply what was in operation on his own line. The company sustained his propositions. Nine of the directors were recommended to resign; six of them complied with the advice, and Mr. Hudson and his colleagues of the committee took their places. In spite of all efforts of the former managers and their friends to embarrass his efforts, the reform was effected. In the first half-year, he saved £11,530 to the company, and yet the efficiency of the management was improved. The result was a great increase in the value of the shares.
The railway-clearing system, designed to obviate the inconvenience of transporting passengers and freight from one train to another, at the different junctions, was brought forward in 1841, suggested by Mr. Morison, and strongly supported by Mr. Glyn and others. Mr. Hudson came to its support, at a time when its sanction was most required, and when it would be most effectual. The system prevailed, and commenced operation upon two roads in January, 1842.
In 1843 he again turned his attention to a York and Scarborough line, and recommended the matter to the attention of the York and North Midland. A bill was soon after obtained and the road constructed.
Three competing lines centered in the town of Derby, and Mr. Hudson now undertook to carry out his anti-competition principles in regard to them. His coadjutors, from conviction or personal hostility, opposed the design, as did some of the leading proprietors. He found it difficult to get a committee to confer on the subject. However, he met the proprietors of each company in separate meeting, laid out his plan, and answered all objections. He assured them of a saving of expenses of £25,000 a year, by his plan, and an addition of £20,000 from extra traffic. A strong opposition was made, but by argument and good management, he carried his point. The three roads, bringing together a capital of above £5,000,000, were united, and Mr. Hudson became chairman to the united directory, and as such virtual chief of the Midlands Railway. The result of the union fully confirmed the wisdom of the scheme.
The next effort of Mr. Hudson, the same year, 1843, was to extend this Midlands' road north ward. As one part of this plan, he and Mr. George Stephenson, whom Mr. Hudson first met about 1833, purchased the Durham Junction Railway between them for £88,500. The rest of the scheme was soon effected, and on the 18th June, 1844, the line was opened to Newcastle, (a town on the extreme north of England,) an event which was celebrated by a grand ovation. The work had been long desired, but no one had been found until now competent to complete it. Members of parliament attended the meeting, and uttered panegyrics on Hudson in the finest styles of eloquence they could command. Delighted corporations of venerable cities sent in the most eulogistic addresses ; shareholders were wild in their praises. The obligations of the north of England to him were declared and universally felt to be incalculable, and his popularity in that region was therefore unbounded.
But his visicn northward did not stop at Newcastle. Edinburgh had been long in his eye, and he determined to reach the ancient capital of Scotland, at whatever effort. While engaged in the operations last described, he subscribed £50,000, in two thousand shares of £25 each, on his own responsibility, in a projected line between Newcastle and Berwick, which was in want of capital. These shares, from which, it is said, he might have realized £30,000, he gave to his favorite line, the York and North Midland, contented with the benefit to the company, and with the improved prospect of reaching Edinburgh. He also induced the Newcastle and Darlington Company to undertake the extension of their line, then building, to Berwick. The Newcastle and Darlington, in which he was also concerned, was completed in August, 1844, and Mr. Hudson had the satisfaction to announce, simultaneously with its opening, that all its heavy debts were discharged—a circumstance that was deemed very remarkable, and a novelty withal in railroad enterprise.
In 1844, a scheme was brought before parliament, intended to bring all the railroads in the kingdom under the direct and almost exclusive supervision of the government in regard to tolls, passenger accommodations, and the general management of affairs, and within fifteen years to transfer them entirely to the possession of the crown, by purchase. The railway proprietors became highly excited at what they regarded a most unjust and tyrannical attempt on the part of the government. A meeting immediately took place, in which nearly all the great railways were represented. Mr. Hudson, as chairman of the meeting, made a speech analytic of the bill, which he denounced as a measure that would depreciate railway property, and be injurious to the public welfare. Others followed in the same style, and a perfect harmony seemed to prevail amoug men and companies who had been at violent enmity before, all forgetting their quarrels in the common danger of their dividends. Parliament was flooded with petitions against the bill, and every possible effort was made to defeat it by Mr. Hudson and the leading men associated with him. Deputations waited upon the miuisters, one of these being the representatives of twenty-nine companies, haying capital to the amount of £50,000,000; and the spokesmen of this body, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Glyn, Mr. Russell, and others, used every art to persuade Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone to withdraw the bill. Mr. Hudson also wrote a long and able letter to Mr. Gladstone, endeavoring to convince the minister of the injustice and errors of the scheme. But it was in vain. Ministers recognized and felt the tremendous power of the leagued interest