Wednesday, 2 May 2012

"Cursing" a Magistrate by a Clergyman [at a station]

Occasionally, I just search nineteenth century newspapers on-line to see what interesting stories come out. Indeed, when I came across this one from 1852 I just had to reproduce it.

'A most extraordinary, novel, and exciting scene was witnessed at the Flordon Station on Saturday evening. When the five o'clock train from Norwich arrived there, the passengers were much surprised at seeing the Rev. Mr Moore, the curate of the parish, standing in the passage of the station-house, dressed in his canonicals. It was, however, soon understood that he was waiting there to "curse" a neighbouring magistrate, who was expected by the train; and who had given him some presumed offence. When the individual alluded to was giving up his ticket to the station porter, the rev. gentleman thus addressed him:- "I inflict a curse upon this man. I curse you; I curse your wife; I curse your children; I curse all you have - may your children be fatherless and vagabonds and beg their bread," &c.; and thus he went until the "cursed man" drove off. We understand that the matter has been laid before the Bishop; and that the rev. gentleman, in default of finding sureties to keep the peace, was committed to the Castle, by Edward Howes esq.'[1]

On first reading, I considered it didn't actually have much to do with the railways, and had more to do with one man's gripe against another. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it actually said something about how Victorian society was transformed by the railways' arrival. Twenty years before this event the clergyman wouldn't have known precisely what time the magistrate would be due to arrive in town, and probably would have had to wait until it was confirmed he had arrived to conduct his bazaar act. Yet, with the invention of the railways, the timetable showed precisely the time the magistrate was due to arrive, and the clergyman would only have to turn up to meet the train. Therefore, in some respects the railways regimented Victorian society, making the clock the master.


[1] Caledonian Mercury, Thursday, April 1, 1852

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