13 SEPTEMBER 1873, Page 2

In Zadkiel's strange astrological jargon, when Saturn is square to

the Moon, and Aquarius ascending, or some such nonsense, all sorts of mischiefs from water and steam may be predicted, and amongst them, we believe, railway accidents. Certainly that unintelligible arrangement,—whatever it be, —of the heavenly bodies which is a sign of railway accidents might be observable just now, for they appear to happen in little lots every day, though, to be sure, a visible cause is generally assigned, such as a fish train being " square" to an ex- cursion train, as in the Retford accident, or a bullock " square " to the passenger train, as in the fatal Guildford accident of this week. Some of them, moreover, seem to be really due to no entirely preventable cause. The Wigan inquest has termi- nated in a verdict of accidental death, the evidence going to show that the accident was due to a wheel getting on the wrong side of the facing-points, but without showing that this was due to anybody's neglect. The only fault found was with the practice of ever letting trains pass at full speed through such a station as Wigan. At Guildford, the accident, which caused the death of three people and serious injuries to some nine more, was due, as we have said, to the collision with a cow, showing that Stephenson's famous reply to some timid person who, before railways were set on foot, asked him whether it would not be a very serious thing for a train to come into collision with a cow,—" a varra serious thing for the coo,"—did not really refute the questioner, who has now been posthumously justified. If, however, our trains were fitted with the American cow- catcher, there would be no danger of such a practical comment on Stephenson's joke.