| 7 ST. SIMONâ€™S
â€œ| SUNDAY SCHOOL.
Le oo ta ic MAA CM ie Ae
a. Ma. bf Ghd i. Conshach
REY. F. BALDEY, 2)
The Baldwin Library
HS dtet a
THE STORY OF THE STEPHENSONS,
FATHER AND SON.
i Book FOR Poyrs.
Br H. C. KNIGHT.
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
eh i 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-
â€˜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 â€œGod, without respect of persons, judgeth
according to every manâ€™s work.â€ 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 themâ€”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 repen-
tance 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 Saviourâ€™s love. A noble
Christian 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.
LIFE AMONG THE COAL-PITS, ... es es Sy see
MENDING AND MAKINGâ€”LITTLE BOB, oe a
WHO BEGAN RAILROADS ?â€” â€œ PUFFING BILLY,â€
TWO CITIES THAT WANTED TO GET NEAR EACH OTHERâ€”A
NEW FRIEND, ~~... eee 8s ss ees
HUNTING UP HIS OWN WORKâ€”AN ENTERPRISING QUAKER
â€”WHAT WAS THE RESULT? ee ee
THE TWO CITIES TRYING AGAINâ€”BUGBEARS,
GRAPPLING WITH DIFFICULTIESâ€”THE BOGâ€”-A PUZZLE-â€”
THE PRIZE OFFER, SH sens ee
ROBERTâ€™S RETURNâ€”A CURIOUS ENCOUNTERâ€”THE PRIZE
OPENING OF THE NEW ROADâ€”DIFFICULTIES VANISH-â€”A
NEW ERA, ... i a ae es Se: Fes
LIFE AMONG THE COAL-PITS,
"HAT useful little fellow is this, carry-
* ing his fatherâ€™s dinner to him at the
coal-pit? He takes care, also, of his
little brothers and sisters, keeping
a them clear of the coal-waggons, which
run to and fro before the cottage door. Then he
is seen tending a neighbourâ€™s cows. Now, he is
moulding mud engines, sticking 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 wereâ€”but schools there were none.
10 EARLY WORK.
The boys call him â€œ Geordie Steve.â€
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 thankâ€œnl to earn a hit, 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. ll
region. It is in the coal district of Newcastle,
in the north-eastern part of England.
â€œI 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-pitsâ€”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 them on tram-roads,
and sent to the sheds. Tram-roads were a sort
of wooden railway. A colliery is a busy and
:Geordieâ€™s family lived in one roomâ€”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 theynow haveâ€”for Geordie was born in1781,
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 â€œpicker ;â€ 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,â€”â€”
â€œDolly Pit,â€ â€œ Water-run Pit,â€ and so on.
I do not know how long he was picker, but
we next find him driving a gin-horse, at a pit
â€˜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, knowing ways. are the wonder of the
neighbourhood. For many years a tame black-
bird was as much one of the family as George
himself, coming and going at pleasure, and roost-
ing 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 winter.
George, too, had a famous breed of rabbits ;
and as for his dog, it was one of the most accom-
plished and faithful creatures in the district. In
ASSISTANT FIREMAN, 13
fact, the boy had an insight into dumb-brute
nature, as we shall find he had into other things,
that gave him power over itâ€”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,
and 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 himâ€”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, exclaim-
ing, â€œI am now a made man for life!â€
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, goes down
14 LEISURE MOMENTS.
the 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 loved his engine as he loved 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; prys 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 he knew 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. Notread? No.
He is eighteen, and hardly knows his letters.
Few of the colliers could. They were generally an
ignorant, hard-working, clannish set of men, whose
pay-day was a holiday, when their hard-won earn-
ings were squandered at cock-fights and 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
knowledge. Read he must. The desire grew
upon him stronger and stronger. In the neigh-
bouring hamlet of Welbottle, old Robin Cowens
taught an evening school.
â€œTl go,â€ cried George.
â€œAnd I too,â€™ echoed Tommy Musgrove, a
fellow-workman, quite carried away by Georgeâ€™s
Now they went to Robinâ€™s school three even-
ings 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 knowledgeâ€”reading and writing.
These mastered, he longs to use them. Andrew
Robertson opens an evening school nearer than
16 LEARNING ARITHMETIC.
Welbottle, and Andrew proposes to teach arith-
metic, a branch George is anxious to grapple with
| next. â€˜And he took to figurinâ€™ wonderful,â€ 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
WHAT IS A BRAKEMAN ! 17
out his sums. No beer-shop ever enticed him to
its cupsâ€™; no cock-fight ever tempted him to be its
spectator. He hates 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
â€˜objected. And one in particular stopped the
working of the engine when George took hold of
it; â€œFor,â€ he cried angrily, â€œ Stephenson canâ€™t
brake, and is too clumsy ever to learn.â€
A brakeman has charge of an engine for rais-
ing coal from a pit. The speed of the ascending
coal, brought up in large hazel-wood baskets, was
regulated by a powerful wooden -brake; acting on
â€˜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
Ider colliers, envious perhaps at his rise, it was
ot long before George learned, and was appointed
brakeman at the Dolly Pit. This was in 1801.
MENDING AND MAKINGâ€”LITTLE BOB.
EORGE was now twentyâ€”sober, faithful,
Â¢, and 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 tine sweet-
tempered girl, whom he shortly married, and began
housekeeping in the upper room of a small cot-
tage 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 fatherâ€™s heart the little Bobby.
Robert he was named, after the old fireman his
Accidents, they say, will happen in the best-
regulated families. Fannyâ€™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 clockmaker for repairs was quite out of the
questionâ€”it would cost too much.
â€œTl try my own hand on it,â€ said George.
After righting everything else, he attacked the
â€œclock, took it to pieces, carefully cleancd it, put
it together, set it, and it tickedâ€”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 manâ€™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
20 _ BEREAVEMENT.
MENDING THE CLOCK.
by a dark sorrowâ€”the death of his young wife,
after three happy years of married life. Poor
George felt it deeply, which was perhaps one
reason for accepting a situation in Scotland,
hoping in a change of scene to change the
mournful current of his thoughts.
Leaving his little boy in kind hands, he set
off to the north with his pack on his back, afoot
HOME ONCE MORE. 21
and alone, for Montroseâ€”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 pocketâ€”twenty-eight
poundsâ€”back he trudged to Killingworth ; and
not before his friendly presence was greatly
needed to comfort his aged parents, plunged in
debt and affliction, By a terrible accident his
father had lost his eyesight. No longer able to
work, and receiving 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 moved
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
emigrating 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 hauntsâ€”the fields and lanes and scenes of his
boyhoodâ€”feeling and fearing that all too soon
the wide Atlantic might roll between him and
them. But the necessary funds for such an enter-
prise were not forthcoming. George gave it up,
therefore, and went to work for what. wages the
times would allow. Better times would come.
The thing nearest his heart was affording his
little son an education. Keenly alive to his own
early deficiencies and disadvantages, he determined
to make them up in Robert. Every spare mo-
ment was of twofold value to him; and all the
work he could pick up he cheerfully did. Besides
tinkering old clocks and ecbbling old shoes, he
took to cutting out the pitmenâ€™s clothes. Never
DROWNED OUT. 23
_ was there such a fit; for George acted fully up to
the principle 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 if, which the most vig-
orous 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
they nearly concluded to give up the pit as a
failure. - Georgeâ€™s curiosity and interest were
much excited, and always, on seeing the men, he
asked how matters were coming on.
â€œ Drowned outâ€”drowned out,â€™ 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.
â€œ Weel, George,â€ said his friend Kit one day,
24 THE DISABLED ENGINE.
â€œwhat do you makâ€™ oâ€™ her? Do you think you
could doctor her ?â€
â€œMan,â€ answered George, â€œin a weekâ€™s time I
could send you to the bottom.â€
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.
â€œWell, George,â€ he said, â€œ they tell me you
think you can put that engine to rights.â€
â€œ Yes, sir,â€ replied the young man modestly ;
â€œTI think I can.â€
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, â€œVo go.â€ 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 Georgeâ€™s skill ?
Mr. Dodds, of course, was delighted. Over and
above his wages he put a ten-pound note into the
young manâ€™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 â€˜cure. Envious engineers tried to put him
down. But real merit cannot be put down. It
is stern stuff.
Georgeâ€™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, clocks, and
coats, the â€˜construction and improvement of ma-
chinery for the collieries was his hobby.
Likeness of taste drew a young farmer often to
the cottageâ€”John Wighamâ€”who spent most of
his evenings in Georgeâ€™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 â€œ figuring.â€
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. Â°
Bobby was growing up in a little thought-worid
by himself; for he could not fail to be interested
in all that interested his fatherâ€”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
fatherâ€™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
The new office relieving him from incessant
hard work, and the necessity of earning a shilling
A RICH STOREHOUSE. 27
by extra labours, he had more time for study and
fur 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 Robertâ€™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 so-
ciety 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
â€œ Edinburgh Encyclopedia â€ was at his command.
A volume of that at the cottage unfolded a world
of wonders. 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 â€œgood drawing and a well-executed
plan would always explain itself;â€ ahd 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,
28 WEEKLY DISCUSSIONS.
put his drilling to the test, and copied diagrams
and drew pictures, thus taking many an import-
ant and perhaps rare specimen of machinery and
science to Killingworth, for his fatherâ€™s benefit.
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
Fergusonâ€™s â€œ Astronomy,â€ which put father and
son to calculating and constructing a sun-dial for
the latitude of Killingworth. It was wrought in
stone, and fixed on the cottage door, and there
stands still, with its date, August 11, 1816â€”a
year or two before. Robert left schoolâ€”a fair
specimen of the drift of his boyish tastes,
WHO BEGAN RAILROADS !â€”â€œ PUFFING BILLY.â€
SSuAAMILIAR as it has become to us, who
xa /, does not stop to look with interest at the
} puffing, snorting, screaming steam-horse ?
And who does not rejoice in the iron-
Spe rail, which binds together, with its slen-
der threads, the north and the south, and makes
neighbours of the east and the west ?
â€œWho began railroads?â€ 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 waggons 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 â€œ plate-
way roads.â€ A Mr. Outram making still further
improvements, they were called â€œ Outram roads,â€
or, for shortnessâ€™ sake, â€œtram-roads;â€ and tram-
roads came into general use at the English col-
Â«â€œ Thereâ€™s mischief in those tram-roads,â€ said a
large canal owner, foreseeing they would one day
shove 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 minds thinking.
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 AFFRIGHTED TOLLMAN.
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 dis-
tance. Not being able to check it in time, bump
it went against the gate, which flew open in a
trice, leaving the affrighted tollman, in answer to
their inquiries, â€œHow much to pay?â€ only able
to gasp out, â€œ Noâ€”noth-ing to pay! Drive off
as fast as you can! Nothing to pay!â€
It reached London in safety, and was some
time on exhibition. Multitudes flocked to see it,
and some called it a fiery dragon.
â€œAh,â€ said Sir Humphrey Davy, very much
interested in the invention, â€œI hope to see the
captainâ€™s dragons on all the roads of England yet.â€
But the captain exhibited it only as a curiosity,
the unevenness of the roads rendering it for all
practical purposes a failure; and the captain 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,
â€œ BLACK BILLY.â€ 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 captainâ€™s
model. It burst up at starting. Noways baffled,
he tried again. The engine proved a clumsy affair,
moved at a snailâ€™s pace, often got off the rails, and
at lenoth, voted by the workmen a â€œperfect plague,â€
it was taken off. The unsuccessful inventor was
called a fool by his neighbours, and his efforts an
apt illustration that â€œthe fool and his money are
soon parted.â€ 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 Stephensonâ€™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 â€œBlack Billy,â€ as the locomotive
was called-â€”a rough specimen of machinery at
best, doing very little service beyond what a good
horse could do.
George carried â€œ Black Billyâ€ back in his mind
to Killingworth, studying its defects, and laying
plans to improve it. I do not know how long he
was coming to it, but he at length gave it as his
34 A NEW ENGINE.
opinion that he could make a better â€œtravelling
engineâ€ 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 monthsâ€™ 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 yearâ€™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, â€œ Puffing Billy,â€™ which
most persons looked upon as a marvel; but, shak-
ing their heads, prophesied it would make a ter-
GEORGE STEPHENSONâ€™S FIRST ENGINE.
rible blow-up some day. â€˜â€˜ Puffing Billy,â€ 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 â€œ PUFFING BILLY.â€
sistent thought of an humble working man, which
before many years would revolutionize the trade
of the kingdom, and create a new source of
Â« Puffing Billy,â€ in fact, humble as its preten-
sions were, has proved to have been the type of
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 â€œ Puffing Billy.â€
ROBERT AT EDINBURGH. 37
The son was even more sanguine than his father,
and many an amendment had â€œ Billyâ€ to under-
go to satisfy the quick intellect and practical
judgment of the youth.
Mr. Stephenson, delighted with Robertâ€™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 monthsâ€™ 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 mathe-
matics. He was eighteen then.
â€˜TWO CITIES THAT WANTED TO GET NEAR EACH OTHERâ€”-
A NEW FRIEND.
7 ANCHESTER, thirty miles south-east of
*%, Liverpool, is the great centre of the
2-<. cotton trade in England. Its cloths
ov are found in every market in the world.
ae Cotton coming to Liverpool is sent to
- the Manchester mills, and the goods
-which the mills turn out are returned to Liver-
pool to be shipped elsewhere. The two cities,
therefore, are intimately connected by constant
â€˜intercourse and mutual interest.
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 railroad. No-
' body, however, but a very fast man would risk
his good sense by seriously advising a railroad.
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-
Edward 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 were 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 peopleâ€™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 further 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 them-
selves at the field-gates and bars with pitchforks,
rakes, shovels, sticks, and dared the surveyors to
come on. A poor chain-man, not quite as spry
as his pursuers, made his leap over a fence quick-
ened by a pitchfork from behind. Even women
and children joined the hue and cry, pelting the
strangers with stones and dirt whenever they had
achance. The colliers were not behind the farmers
in their foolish hostility. A stray surveyor was
caught and thrown into a pit.
A â€œNEW THING.â€ 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 railroad, 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 as they may be on old
ones, often scare 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 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. â€œPuffing Billyâ€
was; and â€œBillyâ€ puffed in a way that took Mr.
Jamesâ€™s heart at once. He seemed to see at
a glance â€œ Billyâ€™sâ€ remarkable power, and was
A VISIT TO â€œâ€˜ PUFFING BILLY.â€ 43
struck with admiration and delight. â€œHere is
an engine,â€ he exclaimed, â€œthat is destined before
long to work a complete revolution in society.â€
The image of â€œ Puffing Billyâ€ followed him
â€œWhy,â€ he wrote to Stephensonâ€™s partner in
the patent, â€œit 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.
â€œ Puffing Billy â€ 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
â€œMr. Stephenson,â€ said James, â€œis the greatest
practical genius of the age. His fame will rank
with that of Watt.â€
Mr. James lost all hesitation now about speak-
ing his mind. â€œPuffing Billyâ€ had driven the
backwardness out of him, and he was willing, at
all hazards, boldly to advocate railroads and the
44 A ZEALOUS ADVOCATE.
THE VISIT TO â€˜â€˜ PUFFING BILLY.â€
steam-horse. No more tram-roads; steam or no-
thing. 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 menâ€™s minds to
the benefits and blessings puffing out in â€œ Puffing
Stephenson rejoiced in such a friend. It was
just what he and â€œ Billyâ€ most neededâ€”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 ver-
dict of that important power, Public Opinion ?
And Public Opinion had not yet made up its
mind to it.
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 WORKâ€”AN ENTERPRISING QUAKER
â€”WHAT WAS THE RESULT 1
QPoT appears strange to us that so simple a
A =, thing as the laying of a rail seems to be
ge should have taken years of thought and
â€œ experiment to do it. Nothing looks
â€˜ easier to have done 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 â€œ Puffing
Billy,â€ George Stephenson saw that the efficiency
of locomotives must, in a great measure, depend
upon 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, â€œNo; the thing wouldn't pay.â€ For a
SLOW PROGRESS. 47
rough surface seriously impairs the powers of a
locomotive ; sand scattered upon the rails is suf-
ficient to slacken, and even stop an engine. The
least possible friction is desirable, and this is
found on the smooth rail. Â°
Could they ever be laid uphill, or on â€œ ascend-
ing gradients,â€ as the scientific term is? No; as
nearly level as possible, Stephensonâ€™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,
andâ€˜finally embodied all his improvements in the
â€œ Puffing Billyâ€ was in every respect a most
remarkable piece of machinery, and its constructor
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, or 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 each other, but each by himself clearing the
track for a grand junction.
One of these live men was Edward Pease, a
rich Quaker of Darlington, who, his friends said,
â€œcould look a hundred miles ahead.â€ He needed
a quicker and easier transit for his coal 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.
Ycarcely twenty shares were taken by the mer-
chants and shipowners of Stockton, whose eyes
were not open to the advantage it would by-and-
by be to them. A survey of the proposed road
was made, when to the indifference 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 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 con-
A VISIT TO DARLINGTON. 49
vineed him that his first plan was not the right
one by all odds; but what can a man do in any
public enterprise without supporters? So he re-
luctantly was obliged to give up his railroad, and
ask Parliament for liberty to build a tram-road
â€”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 Peaseâ€™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 Newcastle, recommending him as a man who
might prove useful in carrying out his contem-
50 â€” THE TWO STRANGERS.
To support the application, a friend accom-
panied him. :
The man was George Stephenson, and his
: Â«| J),
if q j â€˜sp | i i â€”" 7 1
Â¥ wll Ms ! | fi iE
Hid a AU
THE TWO STRANGERS.
friend was Nicholas Wood. It did not take long
for Edward Pease to see that Stephenson was
precisely the man he wanted.
â€œ A railway and not a tram-road,â€ said Stephen-
son, when the subject was fairly and fully
â€œA horse-railway ?â€ asked Pease.
THE WORK BEGUN. 51
â€œA locomotive engine is worth fifty horses,â€
exclaimed Stephenson; and once on the track,
he launched out boldly in its behalf.
â€œCome over to Killingworth and see my
â€˜Puffing Billy,â€™â€ said George; â€œseeing is believ-
ing.â€™ And Mr. Pease, as you may suppose, was
quite anxious to see a machine that would out-
ride the fleetest horse. Yet he did not need
â€œ Puffing Billyâ€ to convince him that its con-
structor knew what he was advocating, and could
make good his pledges. The good Quakerâ€™s
courage rapidly rose. He took a new start, and
the consequence was that all other plans and men
were thrown aside, and Stephenson 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, â€œNow, you must not start from Dar-
lington at daybreak,â€ said Stephenson, â€œbut be
here, ready to begin work, at daybreak.â€ He
2 â€œ BILLY'S â€ PERFORMANCE.
and Robert 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 eye.
But George was not satisfied until Mr. Pease
came to Killingworth to see â€œ Puffing Billy,â€ and
become convinced of its economical habits by an
examination of the colliery accounts. He pro-
mised, therefore, to follow George hither, bring-
ing with him a large stockholder ; and over they
went in the summer of 1822.
Inquiring for Stephenson, they were directed
\toâ€™ the cottage with a stone 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 â€œ Billyâ€ off
to the best advantage. â€œBillyâ€ 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
gaugeâ€”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
â€”four feet and eight inchesâ€”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
â€”dquick-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 nobodyâ€™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 completedâ€”â€œ Lads,â€ he said, â€œI 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
54 â€œBIG DIFFICULTIES.â€
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
yearsâ€™ success in Killingworth.â€
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 fatherâ€™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 monthsâ€”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
collieriesâ€”in all, thirty-two miles.
Four steam-engines were employed, and two
stationary engines to hoist the trains 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
most a miracle. One day a race came off between
a locomotive and a coach running on the common
highway; 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
â€œWe seated ourselves,â€ said a traveller of those
days, â€œon the top of the â€˜Defenceâ€™ 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.â€ 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.
â€œSuch is the first great attempt to establish the
use of railways,â€™ writes a delighted editor, â€œfor
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.â€
Such was their small and imperfect beginning,
we should say, now that railroads, improved and
perfected, have fulfilled Stephensonâ€™s prediction
uttered in the little inn, and have become the
great highways of the civilized world.
THE TWO CITIES TRYING AGAINâ€”-BUGBEARS.
BNE , two, three years passed by, and the
; â€˜ Cae and Manchester project started
up again. It was not dead, it had only
slept; and the three years had almost
4 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 wayâ€”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 â€œcanâ€™t beâ€™sâ€ of timid and
learned men ; for learned men are not always prac-
tical. They sometimes say things cannot be done,
LEARNED OBJECTIONS. 59Â°
when it only needs a little stout trying to over-
come difficulties and do them.
A learned man once said crossing the Atlantic
by steam was impossible.
â€œFor the good of the race, we must have
something truer than wind and tougher than
sails,â€ said Trade. And it was not many years
before ships steamed into every port.
â€œCarriages travelling at twelve, sixteen, eight-
een, twenty miles an hour! Such gross exag-
gerations of the power of a locomotive we scout.
â€™ It can never be!â€ cries a sober quarterly.
â€œYou may scout it as much as you please,â€
rejoins Trade; â€œbut just as soon as people need
cheaper, pleasanter, swifter modes of travel, it
will be done.â€â€™ And now the railroad threads
the land in its arrowy flight.
â€œThe magnetic telegraph! a miserable chimera,â€
cries a knowing statesman. â€œNobody who does
not read outlandish jargon can understand what
a telegraph means.â€
â€œYou will soon find out,â€ 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 VERSUS CANALS.
You see trade is a civilizer; and Christian
civilization makes all the difference in the world
between Arabs and Englishmen.
Liverpogl merchants were now fairly awake.
â€œWhat is to be done?â€ 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 railroad, 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, â€œWhen you build a road,
build a railroad, and get George Stephenson to do
The Darlington and Stockton enterprise could
not fail to be known at Liverpool; and a drift
of opinion gradually began to set strongly in
favour of the railway. People talked about it in
â€œA railway!â€ cried the canal owners. â€˜It is
absurdâ€”it is only got up to frighten usâ€”it will
slump through, as it did before.â€™â€â€™â€ They were easy.
â€œ Let us go to Darlington and Killingworth and
FUNDS SUBSCRIBED. 61
see for ourselves,â€ 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 â€œ Puffing Billy.â€
Seeing was believing. â€œBillyâ€™sâ€ 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 SURVEYORâ€™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 dependents carried
it on. One gentleman declared he would rather
meet a highwayman or see a burglar on his pre-
mises than an engineer; and of the two classes
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 stories 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.
- But 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
â€œWho can believe what is so notoriously in
the teeth of all experience?â€ cried the opposi-
tion; â€˜the witness is a madman!â€
~ 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. â€œNo engineer in
his senses,â€ cried one, â€œwould think of going
through Chat Moss. No carriage could stand on
the Moss short of the bottom.â€
â€œTt is absurd to hold out the notion that loco-
motives can travel twice as fast as stage-coaches,â€
says another; â€œone might as soon trust himself
to a rocket, as to the mercy of a machine going at
â€œCarriages cannot go at anything like that â€”
speed,â€ added another; â€œif driven to it, the
wheels would only spin on their axles like a top,
and the carriages would stand stock-still !â€
So much for learned arguments against it.
Then came the dangers of it. The dumb
animals would never recover from the sight of a
locomotive; cows would not give their milk;
cattle could not graze, or horses be driven along
the track, cried the opposition.
â€œAs to that,â€™ said Stephenson, â€œcome to
â€˜AN AWKWARD CIRCUMSTANCE. 67
Killingworth and see. More quiet and sensible
beasts cannot be found in the kingdom. The
farmers there never complain.â€
â€œWell,â€ asked one of them, â€œsuppose, 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?â€
â€œYes,â€ answered Stephenson, with a droll
twinkle in his eye; â€œvery awkward indeedâ€”/or
the coo !â€
The fellow, as you may suppose, backed off
The danger in other respects was thus dwelt
on: â€œIn 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,â€
asked an honourable member, â€œâ€˜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
68 ABUSE OF STEPHENSON.
be 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.â€
Not content with belittling his engine, they
could not stop short of abusing Stephenson him-
self. â€œHe is more fit for Bedlam than anywhere
else,â€ they cried; â€œhe never had a planâ€”he is
not capable of making one. Whenever a: diffi-
culty 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.â€
â€œWe protest,â€ they said, â€œagainst 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.â€
What had the friends of locomotive power to
â€œWe beseech you,â€ they pleaded to the com-
mittee, â€œnot 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 im-
plore you not to blast the hopes that this power-
ful agent, steam, may be called in aid for the
purpose of land communication; only let it have
a fair trial, and these little objections and private
prejudices will be done away.â€
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 their necks ?
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 â€œNEVER GIVE UP.â€
had waited long for the triumph of his engine, and
he could wait â€˜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 on their feet. â€œNever give upâ€ 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 againâ€”to try at the next session of Parlia-
â€œ Parliament must, in the end, grant you an
act,â€ he said, â€œif you are determined to have it.â€
And try they determined to, for a horse railroad
For this purpose another and more careful
survey had to be made.
Stephenson was left out. A known man must
be had. They meant to get surveyors and engi-
neers with well-established reputations 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 background? 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 by 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 on faith. Nothing done, nothing
GRAPPLING WITH DIFFICULTIESâ€”-THE BOGâ€”-A PUZZLEâ€”
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, they
74 CHAT MOSS.
chose him, and the result proved the wisdom of
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
erected, 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, both tools
and men had to be made; and Stephenson had to
The great quagmire was first grappled with.
â€œNo man in his senses would undertake to make
a road over Chat Moss,â€ opposers said in Parlia-
ment; â€œthat was to undertake the impossible.â€
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, and 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,â€”the greedy
bog only cried out for more.
Stephensonâ€™s men began to have their doubts.
76 â€œGO AHEAD.â€
The opposition might have judged more correctly
after all. They asked him what he thought.
â€œGo ahead!â€ 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 everything else. Stephenson lost
not a whit of his courage. â€œGo ahead!â€ 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
rail to Manchester.
Another tough job was tunnelling Liverpoolâ€”
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 his tools. All their 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.
gencies 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 Stephensonâ€™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, boysâ€” for we sometimes
despise little particulars and the day of small
thingsâ€”â€”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 their 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
â€”a ride long enough to whet the appetite for a
tempting breakfast, one would think. But no-
thing tempts him from his frugal habits: he eats
â€œcrowdieâ€â€”and that made by himselfâ€”which is
nothing more or less than oat-meal 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.
8&0 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, â€˜A second
wifeâ€”frugal, gentle, and friendlyâ€”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,â€”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. â€œAh,â€ he sometimes said, on relating a
bit of his own early history, â€œyou donâ€™t know
what work is in these days.â€ 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
â€œNow, George,â€ said friend Cropper one day,
â€œthou must get on with the railway ; thou must
really have it opened by the first of January
â€œ Consider the heavy nature of the works, sir,â€
rejoined George, â€œand how much we have been
delayed by want of money, to say nothing of the
bad weather. The thing is impossible.â€
â€œImpossible!â€ cried Cropper. â€œI wish I>
could get Napoleon to thee ; he would tell thee
there is no such word as â€˜ impossible.â€™ â€
â€œTush!â€ exclaimed George, â€œdonâ€™t tell me
about Napoleon. Give me men, money, and
material, and I'll do what Napoleon couldnâ€™t do
â€”drive a railroad over Chat Moss.â€
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 ?â€”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,â€”and more than
ever since the Parliament debates. They were
dangerous, they were frightful, â€œthey could
never go fast enough,â€â€” 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 patronise them in spite of their indiffer-
ence, and possibly their sneers. Certainly, if the
poor locomotive depended on their verdict, its
fate was sealed. aoe
One stanch friend remained. Stephenson
stood faithfully by â€œ Puffing Billy,â€ 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,â€”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 pro-
nounce 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-â€”for safety, speed,
economy, and convenience, fixed engines by all
odds ; reiterating again and again all the fright-
ful 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? â€œ Well,â€
he said, with the calm earnestness of a man of
faith, â€œone thing I know, that before many years,
railroads will become the great highways of the
Could the directors accept a 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
â€œpry IT.â€ 85
failure of one engine retarding and damaging and
stopping the whole lineâ€”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. â€˜â€œ But,â€™ answered the
others, â€œought we to make such an outlay of
money without first giving the locomotive a fair
trial?â€ And Stephenson pleaded powerfully, as
you may suppose, in its behalfâ€™ â€œTry it, try
it,â€ he urged; â€œfor speed and safety there is
nothing like it.â€ And the words of a man with
strong faith are strong words. â€œ Besides,â€™ he
said, â€œthe 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
oftered to the public.â€
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,
Â« Wait; let us offer a prize for a new locomotive,
built to answer certain conditions, and see what
sort of engine we can get.â€
That was fair. It was right his engine should
86 A PRIZE OFFERED.
be properly tested. All agreed; and in a few
days proposalsiwere 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 hundred pounds. ;
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 and in-
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 RETURNâ€”â€”-A CURIOUS ENCOUNTERâ€”THE PRIZE
IN Stephenson thought. His beloved loco-
ARNE step forward; yes, a great one too,
â€œSA 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, and 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.
fatherâ€™s letter, 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
A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER,
two strangers, one evidently an Englishman, who
by his shabby appearance looked as if tie 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 â€œdragon,â€ as some people
ealled 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 reputationâ€”
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, and 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 his words.
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
wanted was 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 Mr. James, who, when the
new Liverpool and Manchester route was talked
of, was the first to discover and acknowledge
George Stephensonâ€™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 â€œ Puffing Billy,â€ and whose terrors
at the snorting monster were only soothed by a
AN IMPROVED 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 FIRST BOILER IN USE.
boiler in his hand, which Stephenson thinks it
may be worth his while to make trial of. â€œTry
it,â€™ exclaimed the young inventor, â€œtry it, and
there will be no limit to your speed. Think of
thirty miles an hour!â€
94 AN IMPROVED BOILER.
â€œ Donâ€™t speak of thirty miles an hour,â€ rejoined
Stephensonâ€™; â€œI should not dare talk about such
a thing aloud.â€ For I suppose he could hardly
forget how Parliament committees 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 Lalf 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
â€œTRY AGAIN.â€ 95
- 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 Stephensonâ€™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 leaking, 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 â€œ go ahead and try again!â€
The letter, moreover, suggested a remedy for the
disasterâ€”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.
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 pro-
bably understand much about machinery, will
not particularly interest you.
At last the new engine was finished. It
THE â€œâ€˜ ROCKETâ€ FINISHED. 97
weighed only four tons and a quarter, little less
than two tons under the weight required by the
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