When travelling with Dickens, Fitzgerald noticed that he often appeared uneasy during a train journey, especially if there was a sudden halt and even more so if the train "came to a stoppage in a tunnel".

After one such incident in Ireland in May 1869, he wrote to Dickens asking how he was feeling and received the reply:

rest and a little care immediately unshook the railway shaking

These reactions of course, stemmed from Dickens' experience in the Staplehurst rail crash of 9 June 1865.

Fitzgerald was one of a few intimates who was invited to Gads Hill immediately after the crash.

Staplehurst rail crash

Illustrated London News June 17 1865 p. 572 MAC local Studies Collection

Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald exhibition home page