The Baldwin Library
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GEORGE STEPHENSON'S HOME
THE STORY OF THE STEPHENSONS,
FATHER AND SON.
H. 0. KNIGHT,
AUTHOR OF "THE STORY OF SA1MUEL BUDGETT" ETC.
LONDON: THOMAS NELSON AND SONS.
EDINBURGH AND NEW YORK.
BRIEF book for the boys. God gives
you work to do in the world. He
gives you honourable work. There is
much done that is mean and dishonour-
able. Depend upon it, that is not His.
In the beginning of your work, char-
acter grows out of it; as you go on, your char-
acter goes into it. Therefore the Bible declares
that "God, without respect of persons, judgeth
according to every man's work." We judge in
the same way. This little book will show you
how much the practice of the virtues, the humbler
virtues, has to do with making good work.
But keep ever in mind that these virtues, how-
ever useful and important for your work in this
world, have no saving power in them-they form
no plea for the favour of God; the key which
unlocks the door of Heaven is not found among
them. Like the young man in the Gospel, you
may have the loveliness of every natural virtue,
and yet be lost.
As sinners in the sight of God, you need the
atoning blood of the Redeemer; you need re-
pentance and faith in that blood. Make Jesus
Christ, therefore, the corner-stone of your char-
acter; on that foundation build your character.
Cultivate the graces of the Gospel. Baptize the
virtues with your Saviour's love. A noble Chris-
tian manhood can only be attained by the slow
and steady endeavours of a heart fixed on God,
and a hand diligent and delighting in the work
He has given it to do.
I. LIFE AMONG THE COAL PITS, ... ... ....... ... 9
II. MENDING AND MAKING-LITTLE BOB, ... ... ... 18
III. WHO BEGAN RAILROADS?-" PUFFING BILLY," ... ... 30
IV. TWO CITIES THAT WANTED TO GET NEAR EACH OTHER-A
NEW FRIEND, ... ...... .. ... ... ... 38
V. HUNTING UP HIS OWN WORK-AN ENTERPRISING QUAKER
-WHAT WAS THE RESULT? ... ... ... ... 46
VI. THE TWO CITIES TRYING AGAIN-BUGBEARS, ... ... 5S
VII. GRAPPLING WITH DIFFICULTIES-THE BOG-A PUZZLE-
THE PRIZE OFFER, ... ...... ... ... 73
VIII. ROBERT'S RETURN-A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER-THE PRIZE
ENGINE, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 87
IX. OPENING OF THE NEW ROAD-DIFFICULTIES VANISH-A
NEW ERA, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 103
THE OCKE T.
LIFE AMONG THE COAL PITS.
SHAT useful little fellow is this, carry-
ing his father's dinner to him at the
coal-pit? He takes care, also, of his
little brothers and sisters, keeping
"them clear of the coal-waggons, which
run to and fro before the cottage door. Then he
is seen tending a neighbour's cows. Now, he is
moulding mud engines, putting in hemlock sticks
for blow-pipes; besides cutting many a good
caper, and uttering all sorts of drolleries for the
benefit of other little boys, who like himself
swarm round, too poor to go to school, if school
there were-but schools there were none.
10 EARLY WORK.
The boys call him Geordie Steve."
A lad is wanted to shut the coal-yard gates
after work is over. Geordie offers his services
and gets the post, earning by it twopence a day.
A neighbour hires him to hoe turnips at four-
pence. He is thankful to earn a bit, for his
.. .... .. .. ,
parents are poor, and every little helps. He sees
work ahead, however, more to his taste. What?
He longs to be big enough to go and work at the
coal-pits with his father. For the home of this
little fellow, as you already perceive, is in a coal
A COAL PIT. 11
region. It is in the coal district of Newcastle, in
the north-eastern part of England.
I suppose you never visited a colliery? Coal
is found in beds and veins underground. Deep
holes are made, down which the miners go and
dig it out; it is hoisted out by means of steam-
engines. These holes are called shafts. The
pit-men have two enemies to encounter down in
the coal-pits-water, and a kind of gas which
explodes on touching the flame of a candle. The
water has to be pumped out; and miners are now
provided with a lamp, called a safety-lamp, which
is covered with a fine wire gauze to keep the gas
away from the flame.
The coal is brought up from the pit in baskets,
loaded on waggons running on tram-roads, and
sent to the sheds. Tram-roads were a sort of
wooden railway. A colliery is a busy and odd-
Geordie's family lived in one room-father,
mother, four boys, and two girls. Snug quarters,
one would think; but the working-men of England
at that time had smaller wages and poorer homes
than they now have-for Geordie was born in 1781,
in the little village of Wylam, seven miles from
Newcastle, and his full name is George Stephenson.
12 STEPHENSON AND THE BIRDS.
James, an elder brother, is "picker;" and by-
and-by George is old enough to be picker too,
going with his father and brother to their daily
tasks, like a man. To clear the coal of stones and
dross, is their business. There are a number of
pits around, and each one has a name,-" Dolly
Pit," Water-run Pit," and so on.
I do not know how long he was picker, but we
next find him driving a gin-horse, at a pit two
miles off, across the fields. Away he goes in the
early morning, gladdened all along by many bird
songs. George and the birds are fast friends.
He knows where their nests are in the hedgerows,
and watches over them with fatherly affection.
At home he has tame birds, whose pretty, know-
ing ways, are the wonder of the neighbourhood.
For many years a tame blackbird was as much
one of the family as George himself, coming and
going at pleasure, and roosting at night over his
head. Sometimes it spent the summer in the
woods, but was sure to come back with cold
weather, to share his care and crumbs through the
George, too, had a famous breed of rabbits; and
as for his dog, it was one of the most accomplished
and faithful creatures in the district. In fact,
ASSISTANT FIREMAN. 13
the boy had an insight into dumb-brute nature, as
we shall find he had into other things, that gave
him power over it-a power which he never
abused, but used kindly and well.
George next rose to be assistant fireman with
his father, at a shilling a day. He was fourteen,
but so small of his age that he used to hide when
the inspector came round, lest he should be thought
too small for his wages. If small in body, he was
large in heart, intent in all things to do his best.
And this made his work so well done, that it
could not escape the notice of his employers.
When he went to the office on Saturday night to
receive his wages, double pay was given him-
twelve instead of six shillings! George could
scarcely believe in his good luck. When he found
it was really no mistake, he took the money and
rushed out of the office, exclaiming, "I am now a
made man for life!"
George rapidly shot ahead of his father, a kind
old man, who always stayed fireman, while his
boy climbed one round after another up the ladder
of promotion. At seventeen, we find him plug-
man. What duty is that? A plugman has charge
of a pumping-engine, and when the water in the
pit is below the suction-holes, he goes down the
14 LEISURE MOMENTS.
shaft and ,plugs the tube, in order to make the
pump more easily draw. The post required more
skill and knowledge of machinery than any he had
filled before, and he proved himself equal to it.
Indeed, he loves his engine as he loves his
birds. It is a pet with him. He keeps it in
prime order. He takes it to pieces, and cleans it,
and studies it; pries into the whys and where-
fores, and is never satisfied until he understands
every spring and cog of the machinery, and gets
the mastery of it. You never find him idling
away his time. In leisure moments he is at his
old kink, moulding clay engines, and putting new
thoughts into them.
He wished to know the history of engines, and
how they were thought out at first. Somebody
told him about Watt, the father of steam-power,
and that there were books which would satisfy
his curiosity. Books! What good would books
do poor George? He cannot read. Not read ? No.
He is eighteen, and hardly knows his letters. Few
of the colliers did. They were generally an igno-
rant, hard-working, clannish set of men, whose pay-
day was a holiday, when their hard-won earnings
were squandered at cock-fights and in ale-houses.
If one was found who did read, what a centre
THE EVENING SCHOOL. 15
of light was he! At night the men and boys
gathered around him, when, by the light of his
engine fire, he would give them the news from an
old newspaper, or a scrap of knowledge from some
stray magazine, or a wild story from an odd
volume; and on these occasions no one listened
with more profound attention than George.
Oh! it was so wonderful to read, he thought.
It was to open the gates into great fields of know-
ledge. Read he must. The desire grew upon
him stronger and stronger. In the neighboring
hamlet of Welbottle, old Robin Cowens taught an
"I'll go," cried George.
"And I too," echoed Tommy Musgrove, a
fellow-workman, quite carried away by George's
Now they went to Robin's school three evenings
a week. I do not know how it was with Tommy,
but old Robin never had a better scholar than
George; indeed, he soon out-learned his master.
His schooling cost him threepence a week, and,
poor as it was, put into his hand the two keys of
knowledge, reading and writing.
These mastered, he longs to use them. Andrew
Robertson opens an evening school nearer than
16 LEARNING ARITHMETIC.
WelKottle, and Andrew proposes to teach arith-
ill o' .
| ( I----
Welbottle, and Andrew proposes to teach arith-
metic, a branch George is anxious to grapple with
next. "And he took to figurin' wonderful," said
Master Andrew, speaking of his new scholar, who
soon left his classmates far behind. And no wonder.
Every spare moment to George was more precious
than gold dust, and was used accordingly. When
not on duty, he sits by his engine and works out
WHAT IS A BRAKEMAN ? 17
his sums. No beer-shop ever enticed him to its
cups; no cock-fight ever tempted him to be its
spectator. He hated everything low and vulgar.
Andrew was proud of his pupil, and when
George removed to another pit, the old school-
master shifted his quarters and followed him.
His books did not damage his interest in business.
Was the plugman going to stay plugman? No.
Bill Coe, a friend of his advanced to a brakeman,
offered to show George. The other workmen
objected. And one in particular stopped the
working of the engine when George took hold
of it; "For," he cried angrily, Stephenson can't
brake, and is too clumsy ever to learn."
A brakeman has charge of an engine for raising
coal from a pit. The speed of the ascending coal,
brought up in large hazel-wood baskets, is regu-
lated by a powerful wooden brake, acting on the
rim of the fly-wheel, which must be stopped just
when the baskets reach the settle-board where
they are to be emptied. Brakemen were generally
chosen from experienced engine-men of steady
habits; and in spite of the grumbling of older
colliers, envious perhaps at his rise, it was not
long before George learned, and was appointed
brakeman at the Dolly Pit. This was in 1801.
*, ....It. -
MENDING AND MAKING-LITTLE BOB.
-EORGE was now twenty-sober, faithful,
Sand expert. Finding a little spare
Time on his hands, he took to cobbling
to increase his gains, and from this
source contrived to save his first guinea.
To this greater diligence he was urged by his love
for Fanny Henderson, a fine sweet-tempered girl,
whom he shortly married, and began housekeeping
in the upper room of a small cottage in Wellington,
six miles from Newcastle. Happy were they in
each other, and in their simple, industrious, and
frugal habits; and when a little son was born to
them, George, who loved birds, rabbits, and dogs
so well, welcomed with all the tenderness of a
father's heart the little Bobby.
Robert he was named, after the old fireman his
Accidents, they say, will happen in the best-
regulated families. Fanny's family was not an
exception. One day the cottage chimney got on
fire, and the neighbours, with friendly zeal, not
only poured water enough down the chimney to
put out a much bigger and more alarming fire,
but enough to deluge the poor little home of the
brakeman with soot and water, making a pitiful
sight to the young husband when he reached it.
His eight-day clock, the choicest bit of furniture
the young couple had, was completely smothered
by ashes. What was to be done? Sending it
to a clock-maker for repairs was quite out of the
question-it would cost too much.
"I'll try my own hand on it," said George.
After righting everything else, he attacked the
clock, took it to pieces, carefully cleaned it, put
it together, set it, and it ticked--ticking on as
faithfully and soberly as ever. The astonished
neighbours sent him their clocks, and George be-
came one of the most famous clock doctors there-
The young man's reputation for business soon
won him a situation in Killingworth, the best and
largest colliery in the region. But his brightened
worldly prospects were soon clouded by a dark
MENDING THE CLOCK.
sorrow-the death of his young wife, after three
happy years of married life. Poor George felt it
deeply, which was perhaps one reason for accept-
ing a situation in Scotland, hoping in a change
of scene to change the mournful current of his
Leaving his little boy in kind hands, he set off
to the north with his pack on his back, afoot and
IIOE ONCE MORE. 21
alone, for Montrose-a long journey in those days.
Good wages he received, and good friends he no
doubt made, for everybody loved his honest and
generous character; yet by the end of the year he
yearned to get back to the friends and scenes of
his early days. It was not home in Scotland; for
it is only home where the heart is. With his
savings in his pocket-twenty-eight pounds-
back he trudged to Killingworth; and not before
his friendly presence was greatly needed to com-
fort his aged parents, plunged in debt and afflic-
tion. By a terrible accident his father had lost
his eyesight. No longer able to work, and receiv-
ing little or no help from his other children, who
were barely able to maintain themselves, the old
couple had a hard battle with life. But George
is back again; all will be righted. He paid off
their debts, and removed them to comfortable
lodgings beside his own. He has father, mother,
and Bobby to look after, and is thankful and
happy in doing it.
Those were dark days, however, for the work-
ing men of England. War was draining the
country of men and money. Taxes were high,
wages low, bread scarce, and able-bodied men
were liable at any time to be impressed for the
22 DARK DAYS.
army or naval service. George himself was drawn,
and go he must, or find a substitute. He found
one; but it cost all he had to hire him.
Poor George was in straits. His spirits were
much damped by the prospect of things around
and before him. All business was in a discourag-
ing condition. Some of his friends were about to
emigrate to America, and he at one time nearly
concluded to join them. It was a sore trial to the
young man. He loved his English home; and
bitter tears did he in secret shed as he visited old
haunts-the fields and lanes and scenes of his boy-
hood-feeling and fearing that all too soon the
wide Atlantic might roll between him and them.
But the necessary funds for such an enterprise
were not forthcoming. George gave it up, there-
fore, and went to work for what wages the times
would allow. Better times would come.
The thing nearest his heart was to afford his
little son an education. Keenly alive to his own
early deficiencies and disadvantages, he determined
to make them up in Robert. Every spare moment
was of twofold value to him ; and all the work he
could pick up he cheerfully did. Besides tinkering
old clocks and cobbling old shoes, he took to cut-
ting out the pitmen's clothes. Never was there
DROWNED OUT. 23
such a fit; for George acted fully up to the prin-
ciple that everything which was worth doing was
worth doing well.
Busy as were his hands, his mind was no less
busy, catching up and using every scrap of know-
ledge which came in his way. And it was a
perpetual surprise to his fellow-workmen to see
what a knack he had at bettering things. Every-
thing improved in his hands. There was always
progress on his track.
A new pit was opened at one of the collieries.
Streams of water rushed in, which the most vigor-
ous strokes of the pump could not lower. On
the engine went, pumping, pumping, pumping for
a year, and the water continued to flow in, until
it was nearly concluded to give up the pit as a
failure. George's curiosity and interest were
much excited, and always, on seeing the men, he
asked how matters were coming on.
"Drowned out-drowned out," was the one
and the same answer.
Over he went to the poor pit, as often as he
could, to see for himself; and over he turned in
his mind again and again the whys and where-
fores of the failure.
"Weel, George," said his friend Kit one day,
24 THE DISABLED ENGINE.
'what do you mak' o' her? Do you think you
could doctor her ?"
Man," answered George, "in a week's time I
could send you to the bottom."
The regular engineers were in high dudgeon
with the forth-putting brakeman. What right
had he to know how to cure an evil that had
baffled them? His words, however, were re-
ported at head-quarters; and the contractor was
not long in hastening over to see if he could
make his words good.
"Well, George," he said, "they tell me you
think you can put that engine to rights."
"Yes, sir," replied the young man modestly;
"I think I can."
As matters could be no worse, Mr. Dodds was
ready to let him try; and George agreed, on
condition that he should choose his own men to
help him. The old hands were highly indignant;
but there was no help for it. So they were
ordered off, and George with his gang went on.
The engine was taken to pieces, examined,
righted, and put together again. It was set to
work. Did it go? Many a looker-on shook his
head doubtfully, and prophesied in his inmost
heart, "No go." It pumped and pumped. The
AN ENGINEERING EXPLOIT. 25
obstinate water found it had an antagonist that
could master it. In less than two days it disap-
peared from the pit, and workmen were sent to
the bottom. Who could gainsay George's skill ?
Mr. Dodds, of course, was delighted. Over and
above his wages he put a ten-pound note into the
young man's hand, and engaged him to superin-
tend his works for the future.
A profitable job was this.
The fame of this engineering exploit spread far
and wide. As an engine doctor he took the lead,
and many a wheezy old thing was brought him to
cure. Envious engineers tried to put him down.
But real merit cannot be put down. It is stern
George's cottage showed the bent of his tastes.
It was like an old curiosity shop, full of models
of engines, complete or in parts, hanging and
standing round; for busy as he had need to be,
eking out his means by engineering, by clocks, and
by coats, the construction and improvement of ma-
chinery for the collieries was his hobby.
Likeness of taste drew a young farmer often to
the cottage-John Wigham-who spent most of
his evenings in George's society. John had a
smattering of chemistry and philosophy, and a
26 A PROUD DAY.
superior knowledge of mathematics, which made
him a desirable companion. George put himself
under his tuition, and again took to "figuring."
Tasks set him in the evening were worked out
among the rough toils of the day. And so much
honest purpose did not fail to secure progress.
Drawing was another new line of effort. Sheets
of plans and sections gave his rude desk the air of
mind-work somewhere. Thus their winter even-
ings passed away.
Bobby was growing up in a little thought-world
by himself; for he could not fail to be interested
in all that interested his father-that father al-
ways making his son the companion of his studies,
and early introducing him into the curious and
cunning power of machinery.
Ah, that was a proud day when little Bob was
old enough, and knew enough, to be sent to the
academy at Newcastle. He was thirteen. His
father's means had happily been increased. The
old engine-wright of the colliery having died,
George Stephenson was promoted to the post,
on the salary of a hundred pounds a year. This
was in 1812.
The new office relieving him from incessant
hard work, and the necessity of earning a shilling
A RICI STOREHOUSE. 27
by extra labours, he had more time for study and
for verifying his plans of practical improvement;
and the consequence was very considerable im-
provement in the machinery of the colliery to
which he was attached.
Meanwhile Robert's education went on apace.
The boy was hungry for knowledge, not only for
himself, but to satisfy the voracious appetite of
his father, and the no less keen one of John
Robert joined a literary and philosophical society
at Newcastle, whose fine library opened a rich
storehouse of material. Here the boy spent most
of his time out of school, storing his mind with
principles, facts, and illustrations, to carry home on
Saturday afternoon. Books also. The Edinburgh
Encyclopedia" was at his command. A volume
of that at the cottage unfolded a world of won-
ders. But the library had some books too choice
to be trusted away. How was Robert to get the
gist of these home? His father had often said
that a "good drawing and a well-executed plan
would always explain itself;" and many a time he
had placed a rough sketch of machinery before his
son, and told him to describe it. Robert, therefore,
when he could do no better, put his drilling to the
28 WEEKLY DISCUSSIONS.
test, and copied diagrams and drew pictures, thus
taking many an important and perhaps rare
specimen of machinery and science to Killing-
worth, for his father's benefit.
1[ ,, .
Lhv -.';I' '. ,
We can well imagine Saturday afternoon was
as much a holiday to father as to son. Robert's
coming was hailed with delight. John did not
lag far behind. Some of the neighbours dropped
in to listen to discussions which made the little
room a spot of lively interest and earnest toil.
THE SUN-DIAL. 29
A wide-awake mind allows nothing stagnant
Among the borrowed books of the day was
Ferguson's "Astronomy," which put father and
son to calculating and constructing a sun-dial for
the latitude of Killingworth. It was wrought in
stone, and fixed over the cottage door, and there
it is still, with its date, August 11, 1816-a year
or two before Robert left school-a fair specimen
of the drift of his boyish tastes.
J /. -
WHO BEGAN RAILROADS 1--" PUFFING BILLY."
"'AMILIAR as it has become to us, who
does not stop to look with interest at the
9 puffing, snorting, screaming steam-horse?
SAnd who does not rejoice in the iron-rail,
which binds together, with its slender
threads, the north and the south, and makes
neighbours of the east and the west ?
"Who began railroads?" ask the boys again
The first idea of the modern railroad had its
birth at a colliery nearly two hundred years ago.
In order to lighten the labour of the horses, the
colliers laid straight pieces of wood into the road
leading from the pit to the river, where the coal
was discharged; and the ,ai._'., were found to
run so much easier that one horse could draw
four or five chaldrons. As wood quickly wore
out, and moreover was liable to rot, the next
step was nailing plates of iron on the wooden rails,
which gave them for a time the name of "plate-
way roads." A Mr. Outram making still further
improvements, they were called "Outram roads,"
or, for shortness' sake, "tram-roads;" and tram-
roads came into general use at the English col-
"There's mischief in those tram-roads," said a
large canal owner, foreseeing they would one day
drive canal stock quite out of the market.
Improvements thus far had centred on the
roads. To convey heavy loads easier and faster
was the point aimed at. Nobody had yet thought
of self-going teams. Watt, the father of steam-
engines, said steam-carriages might be built. He,
however, never tried one, but rather left the idea
to sprout in the brain of an old pupil of his,
William Murdock, who did construct a very small
one, running on thin wheels and heated by a lamp.
It was a curious success in its way, and set other
One of these was a tin-miner of Cornwall,
Captain Trovethick, a friend of Murdock, who
joined a cousin of his in getting a patent for
building a steam-carriage. It was built, and an
32 THE AFFRIGIITED TOLL-MAN.
odd piece of machinery it was. It ran on four
wheels over a common road, looked like a stage-
coach, and delighted both the inventor and his
They determined to exhibit it at London. While
on its journey, driving it one day at the top of its
speed, they saw a toll-gate in the distance. Not
being able to check it in time, bump it went
against the gate, which flew open in a trice, leav-
ing the affrighted toll-man, in answer to their
inquiry, "How much to pay ?" only able to gasp
out, "No-noth-ing to pay! Drive off as fast
as you can Nothing to pay !"
It reached London in safety, and was some time
on exhibition. Multitudes flocked to see it, and
some called it a fiery dragon.
"Ah," said Sir Humphrey Davy, very much
interested in the invention, "I hope to see the
captain's dragons on all the roads of England yet."
But the captain exhibited it only as a curiosity,
the unevenness of the roads rendering it for all
practical purposes a failure; and he had neither
pluck nor genius enough to lay or clear a track
for it himself. This was in 1803.
The idea, however, was in England, lodging
itself here and there in busy brains; until, at last,
"BLACK BILLY." 33
a colliery owner in Newcastle, seeing the great
advantage of having a locomotive on his tram-
roads, determined to try what he could do. Accord-
ingly, he had one built after the Cornish captain's
model. It burst up at starting. Noways baffled,
he tried again. The engine proved a clumsy affair,
moved at a snail's pace, often got off the rails, and
at length, voted by the workmen a perfect plague,"
it was taken off. The unsuccessful inventor was
called a fool by his neighbours, and his efforts an
apt illustration that the fool and his money are
soon parted." In spite of failure, Mr. Blackett
had faith that the thing could be done. He built
a third, and ran it on the tram-road that passed
by old Bob Stephenson's cottage door. And
George at his colliery, seven miles off, as you may
suppose, listened to every account of it with pro-
found interest. Over he went, as often as he
could, to see "Black Billy," as the locomotive
was called-a rough specimen of machinery at
best, doing very little service beyond what a good
horse could do.
George carried Black Billy" back in his mind
to Killingworth, studying its defects, and laying
plans to improve it. I do not know how long he
was in coming to it, but he at length gave it as his
34 A NEW ENGINE.
opinion that he could make a better "travelling
engine than that.
Tidings came to Killingworth about this time
that the trial of a new engine was to take place
on a certain day at Leeds, and George did not lose
the chance of being present. Though the engine
moved no faster than three miles an hour, its con-
structor counted it a success. It proved, however,
unsteady and unreliable, and at last blew up,
which was the end of it.
What did George think then? He more than
ever wanted to try his hand at the business. Lord
Ravensworth, knowing enough of Stephenson to
have faith in him, hearing of this, advanced means
for the enterprise. Good tools and good workmen
were alike wanting; but after much labour, altera-
tion, and anxiety, in ten months' time the engine
was completed and put on the railway, July 25,
Although the best yet made, it was awkward
and slow. It carried eight loaded waggons of
thirty tons weight at a speed not above four miles
an hour. The want of springs occasioned a vast
deal of jolting, which damaged the machinery, and
at the close of a year's trial, it was found about as
costly as horse-power.
HARD AT WORK. 35
How to increase the power of his engine? that
was the puzzling question which George studied
to answer. He wrestled with it day and night,
and at length determined to try again. In due
time another was built, "Puffing Billy," which
most persons looked upon as a marvel; but, shak-
ing their heads, theyprophesied it would make a ter-
GEORGE STEPHENSON'S FIRST ENGINE.
rible blow-up some day. "Puffing Billy," however,
went to work, and worked steadily on, a vast
advance on all preceding attempts. It attracted
little or no attention outside the narrow circle of
the collieries. The great men of England did not
know that, in a far-off nook of the realm, there
was slowly generating a power, under the per-
36 "PUFFING BILLY."
sistent thought of an humble working-man, which
before many years would revolutionize the trade
of the kingdom, and create a new source of
"Puffing Billy," in fact, humble as its preten-
5. L ._ .., l -i .
sions were, has proved to have been the type cf
all locomotives since.
Had George Stephenson satisfied himself? No
His evenings were chiefly spent at home with his
son Robert, now under him in the colliery, study-
ing and discussing together how to evoke the
hidden power yet pent up in "Puffing Billy."
ROBERT AT EDINBURGH. 37
The son was even more sanguine than his father,
and many an amendment had "Billy" to undergo
to satisfy the quick intellect and practical judg-
ment of the youth.
Mr. Stephenson, delighted with Robert's scien-
tific tastes and skill, and ever alive to the de-
ficiencies of his own education, was anxious to
give him still further advantages. For this pur-
pose he took him from a promising post at the
colliery, and sent him to the University of Edin-
Here he enjoyed a six months' course of study;
and so well prepared was he for it by his well-
formed habits of application and thinking, that he
gained in six months as much as many a student
did in three years. Certain it was his father felt
amply repaid for the draft it made on his purse,
when Robert reappeared at the cottage, in the
spring, with a prize for successful scholarship in
mathematics. He was eighteen then.
-- ; -.
TWO CITIES THAT WANTED TO GET NEAR EACH OTHER-
A NEW FRIEND.
I--T'iT ANCHESTER, thirty miles south-east of
S' Liverpool, is the great centre of the
cotton trade in England. Its cloths
-: h,.i are found in every market of the world.
Cotton coming to Liverpool is sent to
the Manchester mills, and the goods
which the mills turn out are returned to Liverpool
to be shipped. The two cities, therefore, are
intimately connected by constant intercourse and
Two water communications existed between
them; one by the rivers Mersey and Irwell, the
other by the famous Bridgewater Canal, which
did an immense business at an enormous profit.
But the Manchester mills were fast outgrowing
these slow and cumbersome modes of travel.
THE DEMANDS OF TRADE. 39
Liverpool warehouses were piled with bales of
cotton waiting to go, and the mills at Manchester
had often to stop because it did not come. Goods
also found as much difficulty in getting back.
Merchants and manufacturers both grumbled.
Business was in straits. What was to be done?
Carting was quite out of the question. Canal
owners were besought to enlarge their water-
power. No, they would do nothing. They
were satisfied with things as they were. Their
dividends were sure.
But want demands supply; need creates re-
sources. Something must be done to facilitate
the transit of goods between the two cities.
What? Build a tram-road, or a rail-road. No-
body, however, but a very fast man would risk
his good sense by seriously advising a rail-road.
Solid men would certainly shun him. A tram-
road was a better understood thing. The col-
lieries had used small pieces of them for years.
A tram-road then. Business men put their heads
together and began earnestly to talk of a tram-
William James, a rich and enterprising man,
entered heartily into the project, and undertook
to make surveys for a suitable route. And not
40 THE SURVEYORS.
long after a party of surveyors was seen in the
fields near Liverpool. Their instruments and
movements excited attention. People eyed them
with anxiety; suspicions were roused; the in-
habitants became alarmed. Who were they,
making such mysterious measurements and calcu-
lations on other people's land? A mob gradually
gathered, whose angry tones and threatening
gestures warned the surveyors of a storm brewing
over their heads. Wisely considering that flight
was better than fight, they took themselves off,
and by-and-by turned up farther on.
The landowners, who might be supposed to
have known better, told the farmers to drive
them off; and the farmers, with their hands, were
only too ready to obey. They stationed themselves
at the field gates and bars with pitch-forks, rakes,
shovels, and sticks, and dared the surveyors to come
on. A poor chain-man, not quite so nimble as
his pursuers, made his leap over a fence quick-
ened by a pitch-fork from behind! Even women
and children joined the hue and cry, pelting the
strangers with stones and dirt whenever they had
a chance. The colliers were not behind the farmers
in their foolish hostility. A stray surveyor was
caught and thrown into a pit.
A "NEW THING." 41
At a sight of the theodolite their fury knew no
bounds. That unoffending instrument they seemed
to regard as the very Sebastopol of the enemy, to
seize and destroy which was to win the day.
The surveyors, therefore, were obliged to hire a
noted boxer to carry it, who could make good his
threats on the enemy. A famous fighter among
the colliers, determined not to be outdone, marched
up to the theodolite to capture it. A fist-and-fist
fight took place; the collier was sorely beaten,
but the rabble, taking his part against the poor
instrument, pelted it with stones and smashed it
You may well suppose that surveying under
such circumstances was no light matter. What
was the gist of the hostility ? It is hard to tell.
The canal owners might have had a hand in
scattering these wild fears; fears of what, how-
ever, it is not so easy to find out. There was
nothing in a simple horse rail-road, or tram-road,
as it is called, to provoke an opposition so bitter
from the people. It was a new thing; and new
things, great improvements though they may be
on old ones, often stir up a thousand doubts and
fears among the ignorant and unthinking.
Nor did the project generally take among those
42 THE TIME NOT COME.
who would be most benefited by it. Mr. James
and his friends held public meetings in all the
towns and villages along the way; enterprising
men in Liverpool and Manchester talked it up,
and tried to create a public interest; but there
was a holding back, which, while it checked all
actual progress in the enterprise, did not cause
it to be altogether given up. The time had not
come; that was all.
Mr. James had a secret leaning towards the
use of steam on the new road. He would have
immediately and unhesitatingly advocated a rail-
road run by locomotives. But that was out of
the question. The public were far behind that
point, and to have openly advocated it would
have risked his judgment and good sense in the
opinion of the best men. Therefore Mr. James
wisely held his tongue. But hearing of the
Killingworth locomotives, and of a collier who had
astonished the natives by his genius, he deter-
mined to make a journey to Newcastle, and see
the "lions for himself.
Stephenson was not at home. "Puffing Billy"
was; and "Billy" puffed in a way that took Mr.
James's heart at once. He seemed to see at
a glance "Billy's" remarkable power, and was
A VISIT TO PUFFING BILLY." 43
struck with admiration and delight. "Here is
an engine," he exclaimed, "that is destined before
long to work a complete revolution in society."
The image of "Puffing Billy" followed him
"Why," he wrote to Stephenson's partner in
the patent, "it is the greatest wonder of the
age, and the forerunner, I believe, of most im-
portant changes in the modes of travel in the
A few weeks later he made another visit to
Killingworth, taking his two sons with him.
"Puffing Billy was at work, as usual.
The boys were frightened at the sight of the
snorting monster; but Stephenson encouraged
them to mount, with their father, and see how
harmless and manageable the monster was.
The second visit was even more gratifying than
"Mr. Stephenson," said James, "is the greatest
practical genius of the age. His fame will rank
with that of Watt."
Mr. James lost all hesitation now about speak-
ing his mind. "Puffing Billy" had driven the
backwardness out of him, and he was willing, at
all hazards, boldly to advocate rail-roads and the
44 A ZEALOUS ADVOCATE.
TIE VISIT TO "PUFFING BILLY."
steam-horse. No more tram-roads; steam ornothing.
This was in 1821.
Mr. James entered heart and soul into the new
idea of the age. On his return to Liverpool, it
was everywhere his theme; and wherever he had
influence, he tried to stir up men's minds to the
benefits and blessings puffing out in "Puffing
Stephenson rejoiced in such a friend. It was
just what he and "Billy" most needed-some-
body to introduce them into the great world.
And Stephenson and his partner offered him a
PUBLIC OPINION. 45
share in the profits of whatever business he could
secure to them.
But what can one man, or a few men, do in an
enterprise like this, depending upon the verdict
of that important power, Public Opinion? And
Public Opinion had not yet made up its mind
A thousand difficulties bristled in the way;
there were both the indifference of friends and
the opposition of enemies at home. In addition
to this, a violent opposition was foreseen in Par-
liament, which it needed all the strength and
courage of a united constituency to meet.
Under these discouraging circumstances, there
were not enough men of pluck to push the matter
So everything about the new road went by the
board. It was laid on the shelf, at least for the
present, and Liverpool and Manchester trade jogged
on as before.
HUNTING UP HIS OWN WORK-AN ENTERPRISING QUAKER
"-WHAT WAS THE RESULT?
and experiment to do it. Nothing looks
4 easier to prepare than the straight, smooth
track of a railway, such as we now see in use; and
yet it was only arrived at by slow steps through
two hundred years.
In pondering upon the powers of "Puffing
Billy," George Stephenson saw that the efficiency
of locomotives must, in a great measure, depend
on what kind of roads they had to run upon.
*Many were sanguine that steam-carriages would
some day come into use on common roads. After
a long series of experiments, George Stephenson
said, "No; the thing wouldn't pay." For a rough
said, No; the thing wouldn't pay." For a rough
SLOW PROGRESS. 47
surface seriously impairs the powers of a locomo-
tive; sand scattered upon the rails is sufficient to
slacken, and even stop an engine. The least pos-
sible friction is desirable, and this is found on the
Could they ever be laid uphill, or on ascend-
ing gradients," as the scientific term is? No; as
nearly level as possible, Stephenson's experiments
showed, was the best economy of power. Then
how to get rid of the jolts and jars and breakages
of the rails as they were then laid. He studied
and experimented upon both chairs and sleepers,
and finally embodied all his improvements in the
"Puffing Billy" was in every respect a most
remarkable piece of machinery, and its constructer
one of the most sagacious and persistent of men.
But how was the public, ever slow in discovering
true merit or accepting real benefits, to discover
and appreciate them ? Neither influence, educa-
tion, nor patronage had Stephenson to command
mind and means, or to drive his engine through
prejudice, indifference, and opposition, to profit
But what he could not do, other men could do,
and did do. Find a hook, and there is an eye to
48 EDWARD PEASE.
fit it somewhere Yes; there were already men
of property and standing alive with the new idea.
While he worked, they talked. As yet unknown
to one another, but each by himself clearing the
track for a grand junction.
One of these men was Edward Pease, a rich
Quaker of Darlington, who, his friends said, "could
look a hundred miles ahead." He needed a quicker
and easier transit for his coals from the collieries
north of Darlington to Stockton, where they were
shipped; and Mr. Pease began to agitate, in his
mind, a railroad. A company for this purpose
was formed, chiefly of his own friends, whom
he fairly talked into it. Scarcely twenty shares
were taken by the merchants and shipowners of
Stockton, whose eyes were not open to the advan-
tage it would by-and-by be to them. A survey
of the proposed road was made, when to the indif-
ference of the many was added the opposition
of the few. A duke was afraid for his foxes!
Shareholders in the turnpikes declared it would
ruin their stock. Timid men said it was a new
thing, and that it was best to let new things alone.
The world would never improve much under
such counsel. Edward Pease was hampered on
all sides. Nobody convinced him that his first
A VISIT TO DARLINGTON. 49
plan was not the right one by all odds; but what
can a man do in any public enterprise without
supporters ? So he reluctantly was obliged to
give up his rail-road, and ask Parliament for
liberty to build a tram-road-horse-power instead
of steam-power: he could seem to do no better,
and even this was gotten only after long delay
and at considerable cost.
Among the thousands who carelessly read in
the newspapers the passage through Parliament
of the Stockton and Darlington Act, there was
one humble man whose eye kindled as he read it.
In his bosom it awakened a profound interest.
He went to bed and got up brooding over it.
He was hungry to have a hand in it; until at
last, yearning with an irrepressible desire to do
his own work in the world, he felt he must go
forth to seek it.
One night a couple of strangers knocked at the
door of Edward Pease's house in Darlington, and
introduced themselves as two Killingworth colliers.
One of them handed the master of the mansion a
letter of introduction from a gentleman of New-
castle, recommending him as a man who might
prove useful in carrying out his contemplated
50 THE TWO STRANGERS.
To support the application, a friend accompanied
The man was George Stephenson, and his friend
.-I \ ^* ^l X
_.,' "' h irll 1
THE TWO STRANGERS.
was Nicholas Wood. It did not take long for
Edward Pease to see that Stephenson was precisely
the man he wanted.
"A railway and not a tram-road," said Stephen-
son, when the subject was fairly and fully
"A horse railway ?" asked Pease.
TIE WORK BEGUN. 51
"A locomotive engine is worth fifty horses," ex-
claimed Stephenson; and once on the track, he
launched out boldly in its behalf.
Come over to Killingworth and see my' Puffing
Billy,'" said George; "seeing is believing." And
Mr. Pease, as you may suppose, was quite anxious
to see a machine that would outride the fleetest
horse. Yet he did not need "Puffing Billy" to
convince him that its constructer knew what he
was advocating, and could make good his pledges.
The good Quaker's courage rapidly rose. He took
a new start, and the consequence was that all other
plans and men were thrown aside, and Stephen-
son was engaged to put the road through much in
his own way.
The first thing to be done was to make an
accurate survey of the proposed route. Taking
Robert with him, who had just come from college,
and who entered as heartily into the enterprise as
his father, with two other tried men, they began
work in good earnest. From daylight till night
the surveyors were on duty. One of the men
going to Darlington to sleep one night, four miles
off, "Now, you must not start from Darlington at
daybreak," said Stephenson, "but be here, ready
to begin work, at daybreak." He and Robert
52 BILLY'S" PERFORMANCE.
used to make their home at the farm-houses along
the way, where his good-humour and friendliness
made him a great favourite. The children loved
him dearly. The dogs wagged their approving
tails at his approach. The birds had a delighted
listener to their morning songs, and every dumb
creature had a kind glance from his friendly
But George was not quite satisfied. He wished
Mr. Pease to go to Killingworth to see "Puffing
Billy," and become convinced of its economical
habits by an examination of the colliery accounts.
He promised, therefore, to follow George thither,
along with a large stockholder; and over they
went in the summer of 1822.
Inquiring for Stephenson, they were directed
to the cottage with a sun-dial over the door.
George drove his locomotive up, hoisted in the
gentlemen, harnessed on a heavy load, and away
they went. George no doubt showed "Billy" off
to the best advantage. "Billy" performed ad-
mirably; and the two wondering stockholders
went home enthusiastic believers in locomotive
A good many things had to be settled by the
Darlington project. One was the width of the
HOPE AND FEAR. 53
gauge-that is, the distance between the rails.
How wide apart should they be ? Stephenson
said the space between the cart and waggon
wheels of a common road was a good criterion.
The tram-roads had been laid down by this gauge
-four feet and eight inches-and he thought it
about right for the railway; so this gauge was
One thing which hampered Stephenson not a
little was the want of the right sort of workmen
-quick-minded, skilful mechanics, who could put
his ideas into the right shape. The labour of
originating so much we can never know. He
had nothing to copy from, and nobody's experi-
ence to go by. Happily he proved equal to his
task. We can readily imagine his anxiety as the
work progressed. Hope and fear must have in
turn raised and depressed him. Not that he had
any doubts in regard to the final issue of the
grand experiment of railroads. They must go !
Dining one day at a small inn with Robert, and
John Dixon, after walking over the route, then
nearly completed-" Lads," he said, "I think you
will live to see the day when railroads will be the
great highway for the king and all his subjects.
The time is coming when it will be cheaper for
64 BIG DIFFICULTIES."
A TALK ABOUT RAILWAYS.
a working-man to travel on a railway than to
walk on foot. There are big difficulties in the
way, I know; but it will surely come to pass.
WORKING ALONE 55
I can hardly hope to live and see that day, much
as I should like to do so; for I know how slow
all human progress is, and how hard it is to make
men believe in the locomotive, even after our ten
years' success in Killingworth."
While the father roughed it through, Robert's
health failed. His close application to business
made sad inroads upon a frame naturally more
delicate than his father's; and an offer to go out
and superintend some mining operations in South
America was thankfully accepted, in the hope that
a sea-voyage and less exciting labours might re-
Robert shortly sailed; and his father pushed on
alone, with that brave spirit which carried him
through many a darker hour.
On the 27th of September, the Stockton and
Darlington Railway was finished and opened. A
great many came to see the new mode of travel-
ling, which had proved a fruitful subject of talk,
far and near, for many months;-some to rejoice;
some to see the bubble burst; some with wonder,
not knowing what to think; some with deter-
mined hostility. The opposition was strong: old
England against young England; the counter
currents of old and new ideas.
56 THE STOCKTON RAILROAD.
The road ran from Stockton to Darlington, a
distance of twelve miles, and thence to the Etherly
collieries-in all, thirty-two miles.
Four steam-engines were employed, and two
stationary engines to hoist the train over two hills
on the route. The locomotives were of six-horse
power, and went at the rate of five or six miles an
hour. Slow as this was, it was regarded with
wonder. A "travelling engine" seemed almost a
miracle. One day a race came off between a loco-
motive and a coach running on the common high-
way; and it was regarded as a great triumph that
the former reached Stockton first, leaving the
coach one hundred yards behind.
The road was built for a freight road, to con-
vey lime, coal, and bricks from the mines and
kilns in the interior to the sea-board, for ship-
ment abroad. Carrying passengers was not
thought of. Enterprise, however, in this direc-
tion- took a new start. A company was soon
formed to run two coaches on the rails between
Darlington and Stockton by horse-power. Each
coach accommodated six inside passengers, and
from fifteen to twenty outside; was drawn by
one horse, and went at the rate of nine miles an
SMALL BEGINNINGS. 57
"We seated ourselves," said a traveller of those
days, "on the top of the 'Defence' coach, and
started from Stockton highly interested with the
novelty of the scene and of this new and extra-
ordinary conveyance. Nothing could be more
surprising than the rapidity and smoothness of
the motion." Yet the coach was without springs,
and jerked and jolted over the joints of the rails
with a noise like the clinking of a mill-hopper.
"Such is the first great attempt to establish the
use of railways," writes a delighted editor, "for
the general purposes of travelling; and such is its
success, that the traffic is already great, and con-
sidering that there was formerly no coach at all
on either of the roads along which the railroad runs,
quite wonderful. A trade and intercourse have
arisen out of nothing, and nobody knows how."
Such was their small and imperfect beginning,
we should say, now that railroads, improved and
perfected, have fulfilled Stephenson's prediction
uttered in the little inn, and have become the
great highways of the civilized world.
THE TWO CITIES TRYING AGAIN-BUGBEARS.
NE, two, three years passed by, and the
Liverpool and Manchester project started
up again.- It was not dead, it had only
slept; and the three years had almost
worn out the patience of both merchants
and manufacturers. Trade between the two cities
must have speedier and easier transit. Trade is
one of the great progressive elements in the world.
It goes ahead; it will have the right of way; it
will have the right way-the best, safest, cheapest
way of doing its business. Yet it is not selfish;
its object is the comfort and well-being of men.
To do this, it breaks down many a wall which
selfishness has built up, it cuts through prejudices,
it rides over a thousand "can't be's" of timid and
learned men; for learned men are not always prac-
tical. They sometimes say things cannot be done,
LEARNED OBJECTIONS. 59
when it only needs a little stout trying to over-
come difficulties and do them.
A learned man once said that crossing the
Atlantic by steam was impossible.
"For the good of the race, we must have
something truer than wind and tougher than
sails," said Trade. And it was not many years
before ships steamed into every port.
"Carriages travelling at twelve, sixteen, eight-
een, twenty miles an hour! Such gross exag-
gerations of the power of a locomotive we scout
It can never be!" cries a sober Quarterly.
"You may scout it as much as you please,"
rejoins Trade; "but just as soon as people need
a cheaper, pleasanter, swifter mode of travel, it
will be done." And now the railway carriages
thread the land in their arrowy flight.
"The magnetic telegraph! a miserable chimera,"
cries a knowing statesman. "Nobody who does
not read outlandish jargon can understand what a
"You will soon find out," answers Trade. And
now it buys pork by the hundred barrels, and sells
grain by the thousand bushels; while armies march
and fleets sail at its bidding. Treaties are signed at
its word; and the telegraph girdles the world.
60 RAILWAYS ErBSUS CANALS.
You see trade is a civilizer; and Christian
civilization makes all the difference in the world
between Arabs and Englishmen.
Liverpool merchants were now fairly awake.
"What is to be done ?" was the question. Some-
thing. Could there be a third water-line between
the two cities ? No; there was not water enough
Would the Bridgewater Canal increase its power
and reduce its charges ? No.
A tram-road or rail-road, then. There was no
Mr. James, who was so much interested before,
had failed and left the country. When he left,
he said to his friends, "When you build a road,
build a railroad, and get George Stephenson to
The Darlington and Stockton enterprise could
not fail to be known at Liverpool; and a drift
of opinion gradually began to set in strongly in
favour of the railway. People talked about it in
"A railway!" cried the canal owners. "It is
absurd-it is only got up to frighten us-it will
slump through, as it did before." They were easy.
"Let us go to Darlington and Killingworth and
FUNDS SUBSCRIBED. 61
see for ourselves," said the merchants; and four
gentlemen were sent on a visit of inquiry. They
went first to Darlington, where the works were
"in -vigorous progress, though not done. It was
in 1824, the year before they were finished.
Here they met Stephenson. He took them to
Killingworth to see "Puffing Billy."
Seeing was believing. "Billy's" astonishing
feats won them completely over; and they went
back to Liverpool warm for a railroad. Their
clear and candid report convinced merchants,
bankers, and manufacturers, who gave a verdict
in its favour. Public opinion was now coming
Books were opened for funds. There was no
lack of subscribers. Money was ready. To be
sure of the safety of locomotive power; a second
deputation was sent to. Killingworth, taking with
them a practical mechanic, better able to judge
about it than themselves. The man had sense
enough to see and to own that while he could
not insure safety over nine or ten miles an hour,
there was nothing to be afraid of slower than that.
Then a third body went. The enterprise required
caution, they thought.
Yes, it did
62 THE RIGHT MAN.
Having decided upon steam-power, the next
thing was to secure the right sort of man to carry
on the work. Stephenson was that man. His
energy and ability were indispensable. Before
trying to get a charter from Parliament, the route
needed to be surveyed again, and a careful esti-
mate of expenses made.
The Stockton road done, Stephenson was free to
engage in this new enterprise; his success in that
proving his principles true on a larger scale.
The canal owners now took alarm. They saw
there was a dangerous rival, and they came for-
ward in the most civil and conciliatory manner,
professing a wish to oblige, and offering to put
steam-power on their canals. It was too late.
Their day had gone by.
You know the violent opposition made to a
former survey. How would it be again? Did
three years scatter the ignorance out of which it
grew? Ah, no. There was little if any im-
provement. The surveyors were watched and
dogged by night and by day. Boys hooted at
them, and gangs of turbulent men threatened
them with violence. Mr. Stephenson barely
escaped duckings, and. his unfortunate instru-
ments capture and destruction. Indeed, he had
THE SURVEYOR'S TROUBLES. 63
to take with him a body-guard to defend them.
Much of the surveying had to be done by stealth,
when people were at dinner, or with a dark lan-
tern at night.
When dukes and lords headed the hostility,
SURVEYING AT NIGHT.
you cannot wonder that their dependants carried
it on. One gentleman declared that'he would
rather meet a highwayman or see a burglar on his
premises than an engineer; and of the two
he thought the former the more respectable!
Widows complained of damaged corn-fields, and
gardeners of their violated strawberry-beds; and
though Stephenson well knew that in many cases
not a whit of damage had been done, he paid
them for fancied injuries in the hope of stopping
A survey made under such circumstances must
needs have been imperfect; but it was as good
as could be made. And no time was lost in taking
measures to get a Bill before Parliament.
A storm of opposition against railways sud-
denly arose, and spread over every corner of the
kingdom. Newspapers and pamphlets swarmed
with articles crying them down. Canal and turn-
pike owners spared no pains to crush them. The
most extraordinary store were set afloat con-
cerning their dangers. Boilers would burst, and
passengers be blown to atoms; houses along the
way would be burned; the air would become
black with smoke and poisoned by cinders; and
property on the road be stripped of its value.
The Liverpool and Manchester Bill, however,
got into Parliament, and went before a Committee
of the House of Commons to decide upon it, in
First, its friends had to show the necessity of
some new mode of travel between the two cities;
and that it was not difficult to do.
SBut when it came to asking for liberty to build
a railway and run a locomotive, the matter was
THE CHIEF WITNESS. 65
more difficult to manage. And to face the tre-
mendous opposition rallied against it, the pluck of
its friends was severely tried.
The battle had to be fought inch by inch.
Stephenson, of course, was the chief witness
for locomotives. But what headway could he, an
uneducated Northumbrian mechanic, make against
members of Parliament, backed by all the chief
engineers of the kingdom ? For very few had
faith in him; but those few had strong faith.
He was examined and cross-examined. They
tried to bully him, to puzzle him, to frighten him.
On the subject of locomotives his answers were
clear. He declared he could drive an engine, and
drive it safely, at the rate of twelve miles an
Who can believe what is so notoriously in the
teeth of all experience ?" cried the opposition;
"the witness is a madman!"
Famous engineers were called on the stand.
What had they to say ? One declared the. scheme
a most wild one. He had no confidence in
locomotives. They were affected by the wind,
the weather; with difficulty were kept on the
track, and were liable to constant accidents; in-
deed, a gale of wind would render it impossible
66 LEARNED ARGUMENTS.
to start a locomotive, either by poking the fire or
keeping up the steam till the boiler should burst:
they could never be relied on.
The proposed route had to cross an ugly quag-
mire, several miles in extent, called Chat Moss, a
very shaky piece of land, no doubt; and here the
opposition took a strong stand. "No engineer in
his senses," cried one, "would think of going
through Chat Moss. No carriage could stand on
the Moss short of the bottom."
"It is absurd to hold out the notion that loco-
motives can travel twice as fast as stage-coaches,'
said another; one might as soon trust himself to
a rocket, as to the mercy of a machine going at
"Carriages cannot go at anything like that
speed," added another; if driven to it, the wheels
would only spin on their axles like a top, and the
carriages would stand stock-still!"
So much for learned arguments against it.
Then came the dangers of it. "The dumb animals
would never recover from the sight of a loco-
motive; cows would not give their milk; cattle
could not graze, nor horses be driven along the
track," cried the opposition.
"As to that," said Stephenson, "come to Killing-
AN AWKWARD CIRCUMSTANCE. 67
worth and see. More quiet and sensible beasts
cannot be found in the kingdom. The farmers
there never complain."
"Well," asked one, "suppose, now, one of those
engines to be going along a railroad at the rate
of nine or ten miles an hour, and that a cow
were to stray upon the line and get in the way
of the engine; would not that, think you, be a
very awkward circumstance ?"
"Yes," answered Stephenson, with a droll
twinkle in his eye; "very awkward indeed-for
the coo !"
The fellow, as you may suppose, backed off.
The danger in other respects was thus dwelt
on: "In addition to the smoke and the noise,
the hiss and the whirl, which locomotive engines
make, going at the rate of ten or twelve miles an
hour, and filling the cattle with dismay, what,"
asked an honourable member, is to be done with
all those who have advanced money in making
and mending turnpikes ? What with those who
may still wish to travel in their own or hired
carriages, after the fashion of their forefathers?
What is to become of coach-makers and harness-
makers, coach-masters and workmen, inn-keepers,
horse-breeders, and horse-dealers ? Iron would be
68 ABUSE OF STEPHENSON.
raised one hundred per cent., or more probably
exhausted altogether! The price of coal would
be ruinous. Why, a railroad would be the greatest
nuisance, the biggest disturbance of quiet and
comfort, in all parts of the kingdom, that the
ingenuity of man could invent."
Not content with belittling his engine, they
could not stop short of abusing Stephenson him-
self. "He is more fit for Bedlam than anywhere
else," they cried; "he never had a plan-he is not
capable of making one. Whenever a difficulty
is pressed, as in the case of a tunnel, he gets out of
it at one end; and when you try to catch him at
that, he gets out at the other."
"We protest," they said, "against a measure
supported by such evidence and founded upon
such calculations. We protest against the Ex-
change of Liverpool striding across the land of
this country. It is despotism itself."
What had the friends of locomotive power to
"We beseech you," they pleaded to the Com-
mittee, "not to crush it in its infancy. Let not
this country have the disgrace of putting a stop
to that which, if cherished, may in the end prove
of the greatest advantage to our trade and com-
THE BILL LOST. 69
merce. We appeal to you in the name of the two
largest towns in England; we appeal to you in
the name of the country at large; and we implore
you not to blast the hopes that this powerful agent,
Steam, may be called in for the purpose of aiding
land communication; only let it have a fair trial,
and these little objections and private prejudices
will be done away."
Flaws were picked in the surveys, and the
estimate of costs based on them. The surveys,
quite likely, were imperfect; indeed, how could
they be otherwise, when every mile of the line
had to be done at the risk of life ?
The battle lasted two months, and a very ex-
citing one it was. It was skilfully and power-
fully carried on. Who beat ?
The opposition. The Bill was lost.
Matters looked dark enough. Judging from
appearances, the enterprise was laid on the shelf,
and the day of railways long put off. As for
poor Stephenson, his short day of favour seemed
about gone. His being called a madman, and
regarded as a fool, as he had been by the oppo
sition, was not without its effect upon his newly-
made friends. Their faith in him sensibly cooled.
But he did not lose faith in himself, not he. He
70 NEVER GIVE UP."
had waited long for the triumph of his engine, and
he could wait longer. A great blessing to the
nation was locked up in it, he well knew; and
the nation would have it some time, in spite of
"Was the enterprise a second time to be aban-
doned ? No, no. Taking breath, its friends again
started to their feet. "Never give up," was.
their motto, for they were in earnest. They
rallied, and met in London to consult what to do
Mr. Huskisson, a member of Parliament for
Liverpool, came into the meeting and urged them
to try again-to try at the next session of Parlia-
"Parliament must, in the end, grant you an
Act," he said, "if you are determined to have it."
And try they determined to, for a horse railroad
For this purpose another and more careful sur-
vey had to be made.
Stephenson was left out. A known man must
be had. They meant to get surveyors and en-
gineers with well-established reputation to back
them up. Stephenson was too little known. He
had no fame beyond a little circle in one corner
A NEW BILL. 71
of the kingdom. How did he feel to be thus
thrown in the back ground ? George was not a
man to grumble; he was too noble to complain.
In fact, you see, he was ahead of the times; too
far ahead to be understood and appreciated. He
could afford to wait.
Two brothers of the name of Rennie were
appointed in his stead. In time the new survey
was finished; the plans drawn, and the expenses
reckoned up. Changes were made in the route.
Ill-tempered landowners were left on one side,
and every ground of complaint avoided that could
The new Bill was then carried to Parliament,
and went before the Committee in March the next
year. The opposition was strong indeed, but less
furious. Much of its bitterness was gone. It
made a great show of fears, which the advocates
of the Bill felt it was not worth while to waste
words in answering. They left it to the road to
answer them. Build it, and see.
Mr. Huskisson and others supported it in a
strong and manly tone; and after a third reading,
the Bill passed in the House of Commons. So
far, so good. It then had to go to the House of
Lords. What would befall it there? The same
array of evidence on both sides was put forward.
The poor locomotive engine, which had proved
such a bugbear in the House of Commons, was re-
garded as quite a harmless affair by most of the
lords; and the opposition made such poor work in
showing off its dangers, that no plea in its behalf
was called for. They were satisfied, they said, and
the Bill passed almost unanimously. Victory!
The victory cost more than twenty thousand
pounds! For a first cost it looked large. But
nothing worth doing can be done without effort,
and effort made in faith. Nothing done, nothing
GRAPPLING WITH DIFFICULTIES-THE BOG--A PUZZLE-
THE PRIZE OFFER.
HE real work was now to be done. Hopes
and fears had yet to be verified.
At the first meeting of the directors
a man to put the enterprise through
was to be chosen. Who? The Rennies
were anxious to get the appointment. They
naturally expected it. They had made the survey,
and their name had had weight in getting the Act
of Parliament. But they could not superintend
the details of the work. They had other enter-
prises on foot.
Stephenson, no doubt, was the man. The
directors felt him to be so. No one could long
be with him without feeling his power. Besides,
what he had done had been ably done. At the
risk of offending the Rennies and their friends,
74 CHAT MOSS.
they chose him, and the result proved the wisdom
of their choice.
On receiving the appointment, he immediately
moved to Liverpool, and the work began in good
earnest. It was a stupendous undertaking for
those days. Chat Moss had to be filled in, sixty-
three bridges built, excavations made, tunnels
cut, and all the practical details carried out,
with very little past experience to profit by.
Neither was the kind of labour well understood,
nor was there that division of labour between
contractors and engineers which relieves one man
of too heavy a responsibility. In fact, tools and
men had to be made; and Stephenson had to make
The great quagmire was first grappled with.
"No man in his senses would undertake to make
a road over Chat Moss," opposers said in Parlia-
ment; "that was to undertake the impossible."
Stephenson, however, meant to try. Formidable
it certainly was. Cattle ploughing on farms
bordering the bog, where it ran underneath the
tilled land, had to wear flat-soled boots in order
to keep their hoofs from sinking down into the
The proposed route ran four miles across it,
THE GREEDY BOG. 75
and the way had to be drained and filled in with
sand and gravel. The drainage tasked their
ingenuity to the utmost, and almost baffled the
workmen. After that was in some degree accom-
plished, waggon after waggon full of earth was
thrown on for weeks and weeks; but it only
sank into the mire and disappeared: not an inch
of solid footing seemed gained; and on they went,
filling and filling, without apparently having made
the least impression on the Moss,-the greedy
bog only cried out for more.
Stephenson's men began to have their doubts.
76 "GO AHEAD."
The opposition might have judged more correctly
after all. They asked him what he thought.
"Go ahead!" was his answer. By-and-by the
directors began to have their fears. It looked to
them like a very unpromising job. So it was.
After waiting and waiting in vain for signs of
progress, they called a meeting on the edge of the
Moss, to see if it were not best to give up. The
bog, they were afraid, might swallow up all their
funds, as it had done everything else. Stephenson
"ost not a whit of his courage. Go ahead!" was
his counsel. He never for a moment doubted of
final success. And considering the great outlay
already made, they wisely gave in to him.
Monstrous stories were afloat of the terrible
accidents taking place there. Every now and
then the stage drivers brought into Manchester
the astonishing news of men, horses, carts, and
Stephenson himself, submerged and sunk for ever
in the insatiable quagmire! Time corrected one
only to publish another. Newsmongers were
kept in a state of delightful excitement, and tea-
table gossip was spiced to suit the most credulous
and marvel-loving taste, until the Moss was con-
quered, as conquered it was acknowledged to be,
when, six months after the directors had met to
DANGERS OF TUNNELLING. 77
vote to leave it to its original unproductiveness,
they were driven over it on a smooth and secure
z'ail to Manchester.
Another tough job was tunnelling Liverpool-
excavating a mile and a third of road through
solid rock. Night and day the boring, blasting,
and hewing were kept in vigorous execution.
Sometimes the miners were deluged with water,
sometimes they were in danger of being over-
whelmed by heavy falls of wet sand from over-
head. Once, when Stephenson was gone from
town, a mass of loose earth came tumbling on
the heads of the workmen, frightening them, if
nothing more. On his return they were in a
most refractory state, complaining of the dangers,
and stoutly refusing to go back to work. Wast-
ing no time on words, Stephenson shouldered a
pick-axe, and called for recruits to follow. Into
the tunnel he marched, and the whole gang after
him. Nothing more was heard of fears, and the
work went bravely on.
Besides laying out all the work, Stephenson
had to make the tools. All the waggons, trucks,
carriages, switches, crosses, signals, were planned
and manufactured under his superintendence, be-
sides meeting and providing for a thousand exi-
78 IMPORTANCE OF DETAIL.
agencies constantly occurring in a new enterprise
like this, giving full scope to all the sagacity, in-
vention, and good-humour which naturally be-
longed to him.
The expenses of the road were heavy, and
money was not always forthcoming. If the
works lagged in consequence of it, the hopes of
the directors fell; so that Stephenson's energies
were taxed to the utmost during the four years
of the work; and he showed, what observation
and history both teach us, that efficient men are
men of detail as well as men of great plans.
Remember this, boys for we sometimes
despise little particulars and the day of small
things-that the secret of effective doing lies not
only in making wise plans, but in filling up the
minutest parts with promptness and fidelity.
There must be detail, to achieve any great and
good work. If you would possess the fruits of
learning, you must get them by the toil of daily.
drudgery. If you undertake to become rich, you
must not despise the small gains and little
economies by which a fortune is made. If you
would obtain a noble Christian manhood, you
must not neglect hourly self-restraint, watchful-
ness, and prayer, or the daily exercise of those
LATE AND EARLY. 79
humbler virtues and godly industries which make
the woof of character.
Stephenson strikingly illustrated the practical
force of this principle. The minutest detail of
every plan in this new enterprise was thought
out and carried on by himself, or under his
direct supervision. Both in summer and winter
he rose early. Before breakfast you might find
him on a morning round, visiting the extensive
workshops where the machines and tools were
made; or perhaps Bobby is brought to the door,
and mounted on this his favourite horse, he is off
fifteen miles to inspect the progress of a viaduct
-a ride long enough to whet the appetite for a
tempting breakfast, one would think. But noth-
ing tempts him from his frugal habits: he eats
"crowdie "-and that made by himself-which is
nothing more or less than oatmeal hasty-pudding
and milk. Again he is off, inspecting the labours
of his men all along the line from point to point,
pushing the works here, advising there, and in-
spiring everywhere. Bobby is a living witness
that one beast, at least, is not to be scared by a
locomotive. -He can face the snorting monster
without so much as a shy step, or a prick of the
ears. He afraid! not Bobby.
S0 LEARN FOR YOURSELVES.
Returning home, pay-rolls are to be examined
perhaps, when every item of expense must be
accounted for; or drawings are to be made, or
directions given, or letters written.
Several young men were received into his
family to be trained for engineers. A second
wife-frugal, gentle, and friendly-superintended
his household.' Their evenings were passed in
study and conversation, brightened by the genial
humour of the remarkable man whose genius
drew them together, and whose good-tempered
pleasantries relieved the heavier tasks of mind
and body. The compendium of all his instruction
was,-Learn for yourselves, think for yourselves,
master principles, persevere, be industrious, and
there is no fear for you. It is an indication of
the value of these instructions, that every young
man trained under him rose to eminent useful-
ness. "Ah," he sometimes said, on relating a
bit of his own early history, "you don't know
what work is in these days." And yet work is
work all the world over.
In spite of the best Stephenson could do, the
directors, looking at their unproductive capital,
and not fully comprehending all the difficulties to
be overcome, sometimes urged greater despatch.
READY FOR THE ENGINE. 81
"Now, George," said Friend Cropper one day,
"thou must get on with the railway; thou must
really have it opened by the first of January
"Consider the heavy nature of the works, sir,"
rejoined George, "and how much we have been
delayed by want of money, to say nothing of the
bad weather. The thing is impossible."
"Impossible!" cried Cropper. "I wish I could
get Napoleon to thee; he would tell thee there is
no such word as 'impossible.'"
"Tush!" exclaimed George, "don't tell me
about Napoleon. Give me men, money, and
material, and I'll do what Napoleon couldn't do-
drive a railroad over Chat Moss."
He might have retorted more significantly by
asking the directors what they meant to do; for
Liverpool was tunnelled and Chat Moss railed
before they could agree what kind of power to
put on it. There were some who insisted upon
using horse-power; but the majority thought that
was out of the question. Meeting after meeting
was held, debate followed debate, and the whole
body became more and more puzzled as the road
itself neared completion
Some kind of machine; but what ?-ah, that
82 AN ENGINE ORDERED.
was the question. You would naturally have
thought, a locomotive, of course. But no; since
Parliament opposition raged against it, steam had
lost ground in the public estimation, and it was
very slow in getting back to favour. Locomo-
tives, or travelling engines, as they were called,
were hid in a cloud of doubts,-and more than
ever since the Parliament debates. They were
dangerous, they were frightful, "they could
never go fast enough,"-their utmost speed would
not be ten miles an hour. Some of the most
distinguished engineers would give no opinion of
them at all. They had none. It was certainly
hard to patronize them in spite of their indiffer-
ence, and possibly their sneers. Certainly, if the
poor locomotive depended on their verdict, its fate
One stanch friend remained. Stephenson
stood faithfully by "Puffing Billy," puffing away
in -his far-off Northumberland home. He never
flinched advocating its principles, and urged the
directors to try one on the road. They at last
ordered one to be built,--one that would be of
service to the company, and no great nuisance to
the public. It was built, and excellent service it
did, drawing marl from the cuttings and excava-
VARIOUS PROJECTS. 83
tions to fill up the bogs and hollows. Neverthe-
less it settled nothing, and convinced nobody not
Meanwhile the directors were deluged with
projects, plans, and advice for running their road.
Scheme upon scheme was let loose upon them.
Some engines to go by water-power, some by gas,
some by cog-wheels. All the engineering science
in the kingdom was ready to engineer for them in
its own-way; but who among all could pronounce
the best way, and upon the whole decide which-
was the right motive power ?
84 STILL UNDECIDED.
A deputation was despatched to Darlington
and Stockton to inspect the fixed and locomotive
engines employed on that road; but the deputa-
tion came back differing so among themselves,
that the directors were more puzzled than ever.
Two professional engineers of high reputation
were then sent, who, on their return, reported
in favour of fixed engines-for safety, speed,
economy, and convenience, fixed engines by all
odds; reiterating again and again all the frightful
stories of danger and annoyance charged upon
steam. They proposed dividing the road into
nineteen stages, of a mile and a half in length,
and having twenty-one stationary engines at dif-
ferent points to push and draw the trains along.
The plan was carefully matured.
Poor Stephenson! how did- he feel? "Well,"
he said, with the calm earnestness of a man of
faith, "one thing I know, that before many years,
railroads will become the great highways of the
Could the directors accept the project without
consulting him. Again they met. What had he
to say concerning it? Fight it he did. He
dwelt upon its complicated nature, the liability of
the ropes and tackling to get out of order, the
"TRY IT." 85
failure of one engine retarding and damaging and
stopping the whole line; a phase of the matter
which did not fail to make an impression. The
directors were moved. The rich Quaker, Cropper,
however, headed the stationary-engine party, and
insisted upon adopting it. "But," answered the
others, "ought we to make such an outlay of
money without first giving the locomotive a fair
trial ?" 'And Stephenson pleaded powerfully, as
you may suppose, in its behalf. "Try it, try
it," he urged; "for speed and safety there is
nothing like it." And the words of a man with
strong faith are strong words. "Besides," he
said, "the locomotive is capable of great improve-
ments. It is young yet; its capacities have
never been thoroughly tested. When proper in-
ducements are held out, a superior article will be
offered to the public."
Never were directors in a greater strait.
There was no withstanding Stephenson, for he
knew what he was talking about. All the rest
were schemers. At last one of the directors said,
" Wait; let us offer a prize for a new locomotive,
built to answer certain conditions, and see what
sort of engine we can get."
That was fair. It was right his engine should
86 A PRIZE OFFERED.
be properly tested. All agreed; and in a few
days proposals were issued for the building of
one. There were eight conditions, two of which
were that if the engine were of six tons weight,
it should be able to draw twenty tons, at a speed
as high as ten miles an hour. The prize was five
The offer excited a great deal of attention, and
many people made themselves merry at its ex-
pense. The conditions were absurd, they said;
nobody but a set of fools would have made them:
it had already been proved impossible to make a
locomotive-engine go at ten miles an hour. And
one gentleman in his heat even went so far as to
say that if it ever were done, he would undertake.
to eat a stewed engine-wheel for his breakfast!
As that condition was answered, it is to be hoped
he was generously relieved from his rash promise
and his indigestible dish.
More candid minds turned with interest to the
development of this new force struggling into
notice. Stephenson felt how much depended on
the issue; and the public generally concluded to
suspend its verdict upon the proper working of
railways, until time and talent gave them better
means of judging.
ROBERT'S RETURN-A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER-THE PRIZE
NE step forward; yes, a great bne too,
Stephenson thought. His beloved loco-
motive was to have a chance of being
properly introduced to the great English
public, and he felt that it needed only to
be known to be valued. The building of it was a
matter of no small moment, and he wanted, above
all things, a tried and skilful hand to superintend
and put into its construction every conceivable
improvement. It must be the best engine yet
Where should he find the right man? No one
would answer like his son Robert, so Robert he
determined to send for. Robert, you remember,
went to South America three years before. There
he had regained his health, and on receiving his
88 AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
father's letter, he made immediate preparations to
return to England.
On his way, at a poor little comfortless inn, in
a poor little comfortless sea-port. on the Gulf of
Darien, where he was waiting to take ship, he met
two strangers, one evidently an Englishman, who
by his shabby appearance looked as if the world
had gone hard with him. A fellow-feeling drew
the young man towards his poor countryman, and
on inquiry who should it prove to be but the old
WANTED, A STEAM-ENGINE. 89
Cornwall tin-miner, Captain Trovethick, whose
first steam-carriage awakened so much curiosity in
London nearly a quarter of a century before!
He had sown his idea to the winds. Others
had caught it up, cherished it, pondered over it,
examined it, dissected it, improved it, embodied
it, and by patient study and persistent endeavour
had reduced it to a practical force. And Robert
Stephenson was now on his way to inaugurate it
as one of the great commercial values of the king-
dom, and of the world. The poor inventor, what
had he done meanwhile? While others worked,
had he slept? Oh no. He had tried an easier
and shorter cut to fame and fortune. You re-
member he left his "dragon," as some people
called his locomotive, in London, quite careless
what became of it, and went scheming and specu-
lating in other things. Several years after, in a
shop window, it attracted the attention of a French
gentleman passing by. He was from Peru, and
had just come to England to get a steam-engine
for pumping water from some gold-diggings in the
New World. Delighted with the model, he bought
it for twenty guineas. Taking it with him to
Lima, an engine was built on the plan of it, which
worked admirably. The gentleman was then
90 STORY OF AN INVENTOR.
sent back to England to hunt up and bring out
the inventor himself. The captain was found,
and came forth from his obscurity into sudden
notice and demand. The gentleman engaged him
to make five pumping-engines according to his
model, which he did, and shipped them to Lima,
the captain himself soon following.
At Lima he was received with great honours
and a public rejoicing. A guard of honour was
appointed to wait on him; and, in view of the
wealth he was supposed to be able to engineer
from their mines, a massive silver statue of him,
as the benefactor of Peru, began to be talked of.
Of course poor Trovethick thought his fortune
made, and no doubt looked back with pity on his
humble English life. Friends at home spread the
news of his successes, and when they stated that
the smallest estimate of his yearly income
amounted to one hundred thousand pounds, no
wonder he was pronounced a success! Tardier
steps to fortune seemed tedious, and many of his
old associates perhaps sighed over the wholesome
toil of a slower-paced prosperity.
Years passed on, and the poor captain next
turns up at Cartagena, penniless and pitiable. In
crossing the country, he had lost everything.
FATHER AND SON. 91
Fording rivers, penetrating forests, and fighting
wild beasts, had left him little else than a desire
to reach England again; and Robert Stephenson
gave him fifty pounds to get home with. Sudden
fortunes are apt as suddenly to vanish, while
those accumulated by the careful husbandry of
economy, industry, and foresight, reward without
waste: so character is stronger than reputation-
for one is built on what we are, the other on what
we seem to be; and, like a shadow, reputation
may be longer or shorter, or only a distorted out-
line of character. One holds out because it is
real, the other often disappears because it is but a
Robert reached home in December 1827, right
heartily welcomed, we may well believe, by his
father, who was thankful to halve the burden of
responsibility with such a son. To build the
prize locomotive was his work.
Stephenson had long been a partner in a loco-
motive factory at Newcastle, which had hitherto
proved a losing concern to the owners. There
was little or no market for their article; but they
struggled on, year after year, waiting for better
times. Nobody saw better times but Stephenson.
He saw them ahead, shooting through the gloomy
92 THE NEW ENGINE.
clouds of indifference and prejudice. And now,
he calculated it was very near. So he sent Robert
to Newcastle to take charge of the works there,
and construct an engine that would make good all
It was a critical moment, but he had no fears
of the result. Robert often came to Liverpool to
consult with his father, and long and interesting
discussions took place between father and son con-
cerning the best modes of increasing and perfect-
ing the powers of the mechanism. One thing
wantedwas greater speed; and this could only be
gained by increasing the quantity and the quality
of the steam. For this effect a greater heating
surface was necessary, and mechanics had long
been experimenting to find the best and most
economical boiler for high-pressure engines.
Young James, son-of that Mr. James who, when
the new Liverpool and Manchester route was
talked of, was the first to discover and acknow-
ledge George Stephenson's genius, made the model
of an improved boiler, which he. showed to the
Stephensons. Perhaps he was one of the boys
who went to Killingworth with his father to see
the wonders of "Puffing Billy," and whose terrors
at the snorting monster were only soothed by a
AN IMPROVE BOILER. 93
pleasant and harmless ride on his back. Whether
this gave him a taste for steam-engines, we do not
know. At any rate he introduces himself to our
notice now, with a patented model of an improved
SECTION OF THE FIST BOILER IN USE.
boiler in his hand, which Stephenson thinks it
may be worth his while to make trial of. "Try
it," exclaimed the young inventor, "try it, and
there will be no limit to your speed. Think of
thirty miles an hour!"
94 AN IMPROVED BOILER.
"Don't speak of thirty miles an hour," rejoined
Stephenson; "I should not dare talk about such
a thing aloud." For I suppose he could hardly for-
get how Parliament committees had branded him
as a fool and a madman for broaching such beliefs.
The improved boiler was what is called a multi-
SECTION OF A TUBULAR BOILER.
tubular boiler. You do not understand that, I
-suppose. An iron boiler is cast, six feet long, and
three feet and a third in diameter. It is to be
filled half full of water. Through this lower half
there run twenty-five copper tubes, each about
three inches in diameter, opened at one end to the
fire, through which the heat passes to the chimney
at the other end. You see this would present a
great deal of heating surface to the water, causing
it to boil and steam off .with great rapidity. The
invention was not a sudden growth, as no inven-
tions are. Fire-tubes serving this use started in
several fertile minds about the same time, and-
several persons claimed the honour of the invention;
but it was Stephenson's practical mind which put
it into good working order, and made it available.
For he told Robert to try it in his new locomotive.
He did. The tubes were of copper, manufac-
tured by a Newcastle coppersmith, and carefully
inserted into the ends of the boiler by screws
Water was put into the boiler, and in order to be
sure there was no leakage, a pressure was put on
the water; when lo, the water squirted out at
every screw, and the factory floor was deluged.
Poor Robert was in despair. He sat down and
wrote his father that the whole thing was a failure.
A failure indeed! Back came a letter by the
next post telling him to go ahead and try again!"
The letter, moreover, suggested a remedy for the
disaster-fastening the tubes into the boiler by
fitting them snugly into holes bored for the pur-
pose, and soldering up the edges. And it proved
to be precisely what Robert himself had thought
of, after the first bitter wave of disappointment
had subsided. So he took heart and went to
96 SUCCESSFUL AT LAST.
work again. Success crowned his efforts. A
heavy pressure was put on the water, and not a
drop oozed out. The boiler was completely water-
This is precisely the kind of boiler now in use:
some have fifty tubes; the largest engines one
hundred and fifty.
Various other improvements were incorporated
into the new engine, which, as you do not prob-
ably understand much about machinery, would
not particularly interest you.
At last the new engine was finished. It
THE "ROCKET FINISHED. 97
weighed only four tons and a quarter, little less
than two tons under the weight required by the
__ tI'rh i'i
.- --. -. .
TUBES OF A MODERN ENGINE.
offer of the directors. The tender, shaped like a
waggon, carried the fuel in one end and the water
in the other.
It was forthwith put on the Killingworth
track, fired up, and started off. Robert must
have watched its operations with intense anxiety.
Nothing could have met his expectations like the