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she was so quick in pouncing on a disengaged coach, so quick in darting out of it, producing her money, seizing her ticket, and diving into the train, that she was borne along the arches spanning the land of coal-pits past and present as if she had been caught up in a cloud and whirled away

Mrs. Sparsit's impromptu train journeys in this episode show the degree to which local as well as national travel had been speeded by the vast growth of the railways in the first half of the nineteenth century. Throughout this chapter, the plot of Mrs. Sparsit's pursuit of Louisa depends on the frequent availability of fast local transit.

A mid-nineteenth-century map drawn by J. Bartholomew, Jr., "Railway Map of the British Isles exhibiting all the Railways & Canals in England, Scotland & Ireland completed or in progress with their respective stations," shows the extent of the railway network in Britain at around the time Hard Times was writte

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The following detail from the same map shows the extent of the local railways surrounding Manchester.

A few years before the writing of Hard Times, on April 15, 1848, the Illustrated London News printed an illustration of the railway network in the same region, extending from Liverpool and Manchester to Sheffield to Lincolnshire.

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the electric wires which ruled a colossal strip of music-paper out of the evening sky

Electric wires lined the railways as far north as Glasgow by 1840; after the mid-1840s, telegraph poles became more and more common as well. Thus electrical lines were a common sight from train windows at the time of the novel's composition.

The national dustmen

That is, Members of Parliament. For more on the comparison of Parliamentary work to dust-heaps, see note above.



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