CHAPTER XX
MR. CREWE: AN APPRECIATION1

IT is given to some rare mortals with whom fame precedes grey hairs or baldness to read, while still on the rising tide of their efforts, that portion of their lives which has already been inscribed on the scroll of history -- or something like it. Mr. Crewe in kilts at five; and (prophetic picture!) with a train of cars which -- so the family tradition runs -- was afterwards demolished; Mr. Crewe at fourteen, in delicate health; this picture was taken abroad, with a long-suffering tutor who could speak feel- ingly, if he would, of embryo geniuses. Even at this early period Humphrey Crewe's thirst for knowledge was insatiable: he cared little, the biography tells us, for galleries and churches and ruins, but his comments upon foreign methods of doing business were astonishingly precocious. He recommended to amazed clerks in provincial banks the use of cheques, ridiculed to speechless station-masters the side-entrance railway carriage with its want of room, and the size of the goods trucks. He is said to have been the first to suggest that soda-water fountains might be run at a large profit in London.

In college, in addition to keeping up his classical courses, he found time to make an exhaustive study of the railroads of the United States, embodying these ideas in a pamphlet published shortly after graduation. This pamphlet is now, unfortunately, very rare, but the anonymous biographer managed to get one and quote from it. If Mr. Crewe's suggestions had been carried out, seventyfive per cent of the railroad accidents might have been

____________________
1
Paul Pardriff, Ripton. Sent post free, on application, to voters and others.

-332-

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