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still a fireman, as he had been from the worthy as a workman, he obtained the first.
place of brakesman at the Dolly Pit, Black The engine-man's duty was to watch the Callerton, with wages varying from sevengine, correct a certain class of hitches in enteen and sixpence to a pound a week. its working, and when anything was wrong But wheat then cost nearly six pounds that he could not put right, to send word the quarter. to the chief engineer. George Stephenson George was ambitious to save a guinea fell in love with his engine, and was never or two, because he was in love with some tired of watching it. In leisure hours, thing better able to return his good will when his companions went to their sports, than a steam-engine. In leisure hours he took his machine to pieces, cleaned he turned his mechanical dexterity to the every part of it, and put it together again. business of mending the shoes of his felThus, he not only kept it in admirable low-workmen, and advanced from mending working order, but became intimately ac to the making both of shoes and lasts. quainted with all its parts, and knew their This addition to his daily twelve hour's use. He acquired credit for devotion to labor at the colliery, made some little adhis work, and really was devoted to it; at dition to his weekly earnings. It enabled the same time he acquired a kind of knowl- him to save his first guinea, and encouredge that would help him to get an inch aged him to think the more of marrying higher in the world.
Fanny Henderson, a pretty servant in a But there was another kind of knowl- neighboring farm-house, sweet-tempered, edge necessary. At the age of eighteen sensible, and good. He once had shoes he could not read ; he could not write his of hers to mend, and as he carried them name. His father had been too poor to to her one Sunday evening, with a friend. afford any schooling to the children. He he could not help pulling them out of his was then getting his friend Coe to teach pocket every now and then to admire him, the mystery of braking, that he them because they were hers, and to bid might, when opportunity occurred, advance his companion observe what a capital job to the post of brakesman, next above that he had made of them. which he held. He became curious also George Stephenson still enjoyed exerto know definitely something about the cise in feats of agility and strength; still famous engines that were in those days spent a part of each idle afternoon on the planned by Watt and Bolton. The desire pay Saturday in taking his engine to for knowledge taught him the necessity pieces; cleaning it and pondering over the of learning to read books.
uses and values of its parts. He was a The brave young man resolved, there- model workman in the eyes of his emfore, to learn his letters and make pot- ployers ; never missing a day's wages hooks at a night-school among a few col- through idleness or indiscretion ; spending liers' sons, who paid three pence a week none of his evenings in public houses, each to a poor teacher at Welbottle. At avoiding the dog-fights, and cock-fights, the age of nineteen he could write his and man n-fights in which pitmen delighted. name. A night-school was set up by a Once, indeed, being insulted by Ned NelScotchman within a few minutes' walk of son, the bully of the pit, young StephenJolly's Close ; and to this George Ste- son disdained to quail before him, though phenson removed himself. The Scotch- he was a great fighter, and a man with man had much credit for his mastery of whom it was considered dangerous to arithmetic. He knew as far as reduction. quarrel. Nelson challenged him to a George fastened upon arithmetic with an pitched battle, and the challenge was especial zeal, and was more apt than any accepted. Everybody said Stephenson other pupil for the study. In no very would be killed. The young men and long time he had worked out all that boys came round him with awe to ask could be yielded to him by the dominie. whether it was true that he was “ goin' to While thús engaged the young man was feight Nelson.” “ Ay,” he said, getting lessons from his friend Coe in fear for me; I'll feight him.” Nelson braking, and, with Coe's help, persisting went off work to go into training. Stein them against dogged opposition from phenson worked on as usual ; went from some of the old hands. At the age of a day's labor to the field of battle, and, on twenty, being perfectly steady and trust the appointed evening, and with his strong
muscle and hard bone, put down the bully, had been invited by the owners of a colas he never for a moment doubted that he liery near Montrose to superintend the would.
working of one of Bolton and Watt's enAs a brakesman George Stephenson gines. For this work he received rather had been removed to Willington Ballast high wages; and after a year's absence Quay, when, at the age of twenty-one, he he marched back again, on foot, to Kilsigned his name in the register of New- lingworth, with twenty-eight pounds in burn Church as the husband of Fanny his pocket. During his absence a bad Henderson; and, seating her beside him accident had happened to his father. The on a pillion upon a stout farm-horse bor steam-blast had been inadvertently let in rowed from her sister's master, with the upon him when he was inside an engine. sister as bridesmaid and a friend as brides- It struck him in the face, and blinded him man, he went first to his father and for the remainder of his life. George mother, who were growing old, and strug- coming home from Scotland, paid the old gling against poverty in Jolly's Close, man's debts, removed his parents to a and, having paid his duty as a son to them, comfortable cottage near his own place jolted across country and through the of work at Killingworth, for he was streets of Newcastle, upon a ride home- again taken on as brakesman at the West ward of fifteen miles. An upper room in Moor Pit, and worked for them during the a small cottage at Willington Quay was remainder of their lives. At this time the home to which George took his bride. there were distress and riot among laborThirteen months afterward, his only ers. George was drawn for the militia, son, Robert, was born there. The ex and spent the remainder of his savings on ercise of his mechanical skill, prompted the payment of a substitute. He was so sometimes by bold speculations of his much disabled in fortune that he thought own, amused the young husband, and the of emigrating to America, as one of his wife doubtless, of an evening. He was sisters was then doing in company with at work on the problem of perpetual mo- her husband, but he could not raise money tion. He had acquired reputation as a enough to take him out of it. To a friend shoemaker. Accident gave rise to a yet he afterward said of his sorrow at this more profitable exercise of ingenuity. | time : “ You know the road from my house Alarm of a chimney on fire caused his at the West Moor to Killingworth. I reroom to be one day flooded with soot and member, when I went along that road, I water by good-natured friends. His most wept bitterly, for I knew not where my valuable piece of furniture, the clock, was lot would be cast." seriously injured. He could not afford to It was a slight advance in independence, send it to a clock-maker, and resolved to although no advance in fortune, when Stetry his own hand on the works; took phenson, at the age of twenty-seven, them to pieces, studied them, and so put joined two other brakesmen in taking a them together as to cure his clock in a small contract under the lesses for brakway marvelous to all the village. Heing the engines at the West Moor pit. was soon asked to cure a neighbor's The profits did not always bring him in a clock, and gradually made his title good pound a week. His little son, Robert, to great fame as a clock-curer throughout was growing up, and he was bent on give the district.
ing him what he himself had lacked-the After having lived three years as brakes- utmost attainable benefit of education in man at Willington Quay, George Ste- his boyhood. Therefore George spent phenson removed to Killingworth, where his nights in mending clocks and watches he was made brakesman at the West for his neighbors, mended and made shoes, Moor Colliery. From the high ground cut out lasts, even cut out the pitmen's of Killingworth the spires of Newcastle, clothes for their wives to make up, and seven miles distant, are visible, weather worked at their embroidery. He turned and smoke permitting. At Killingworth, every spare minute to account, and so when they had been but two or three wrung, from a stubborn fortune, power to years married, George Stephenson's wife, give the first rudiments of education to Fanny, died. Soon after her death, leay- his son, ing his little boy in charge of a neighbor, At last there came a day when all the he marched on foot into Scotland; for he cleaning and dissecting of his engines
turned to profit, and the clock-doctor won had begun to find his way across the borthe more important character of engine- ders of the engineer's profession. To all doctor. He had on various occasions the wheezy engines in the neighborhood suggested to the owners small contriv- he was called in as a professional adviser. ances which had saved wear and tear of The regular men called him a quack; but material, or otherwise improved the work the quack perfectly understood the coning of his pit. When he was twenty-nine stitution of an engine, and worked mirayears old a new pit was sunk at Killing- cles of healing. One day, as he passed a worth, now known as the Killingworth drowned quarry, on his way from work, High Pit, over which a Newcomen engine at which a windmill worked an inefficient was fixed for the purpose of pumping wa pump, he told the men "he would set up ter from the shaft. For some reason the for them an engine no bigger than a kailengine failed; as one of the workmen en pot that would clear them out in a week." gaged on it tells the case, “ She couldn't And he fulfilled his promise. keep her jack-head in water; all the en A
year after his triumph at the High gine-men in the neighborhood were tried, Pit the engine-wright at Killingworth was as well as Crowther of the Ouseburn, but killed by an accident, and George Stethey were clean bet.” The engine pumped phenson, on Mr. Dods's recommendation, to no purpose for nearly twelve months. was promoted to his place by the lessees. Stephenson had observed, when he saw it He was appointed engine-wright to the built, that if there was much water in the colliery at a salary of one hundred pounds mine that engine wouldn't keep it under, a yeat. but to the opinion of a common brakesman At this time of his life Stephenson was no heed had been paid. He used often to associating with John Wigham, a farmer's inquire as to "how she was getting on," son, who understood the rule of three, and the answer always was, that the men who had acquired some little knowledge were still drowned out. One Saturday of chemistry and natural philosophy, and afternoon George went to the High Pit, who possessed a volume of Ferguson's and made a close examination of the whole lectures on Mechanics. With John Wigmachine. Kit Heppel, sinker at the pit, ham Stephenson spent many leisure hours said to him when he had done :
in study and experiment, learning all John “Weel, George, what do you mak'o' could teach, and able to teach not a little her? Do you think you could do anything out of his own thoughts in exchange for to improve her ?"
the result of John's reading. George “Man," said George,“ I could alter her Stephenson, at the age of thirty-three, had and make her drav In a week's time saved a hundred guineas; and his son from this I could send you to the bottom." Robert, then taken from a village school,
The conversation was reported to Ralph was sent to Bruce's academy, at NewDods, the head viewer. George was castle. known to be an ingenious and determined The father had built with his own hand fellow, and, as Dods said, “ the engineers three rooms and an oven, in addition to hereabouts are all bet." The brakes-the one room and a garret up a step-ladman, therefore, was at once allowed to der that had been taken for his home at try his skill; he could not make matters Killingworth. He had a little garden, in worse than they were, and he might mend which he devoted part of his energy to the them. He was set to work at once, growth of monster leeks and cabbages. picked his own men to carry out the alter- In the garden was a mechanical scareations he thought necessary, took the crow of his own invention. The garden whole engine to pieces, reconstructed it, door was fastened by a lock of his conand really did, in a week's time after his trivance, that none but himself could open. talk with Heppel, clear the pit of water. The house was a curiosity-shop of modThis achievement brought him fame as a els and mechanical ideas. He amused pump-eurer. Dods made him a present people with a lamp that would burn under of ten pounds, and he was appointed en water, attached an alarm to the watchgine-man on good wages at the pit he had men's clock, and showed women how to redeemed, until the work of sinking was make a smoke-jack rock the baby's cradle. completed. The job lasted about a year. He was full of vigorous life. Kit Heppel Thus, at the age of thirty, Stephenson I one day challenged him to leap from the
top of one high wall to the top of another, many improvements in the collieries. there being a deep gap between. To his Lord Ravensworth, the principal partner, dismay he was taken at his word instantly. therefore authorized him to fulfill his wish; Stephenson cleared the eleven feet at a and with the greatest difficulty making bound, exactly measuring his distance. workmen of some of the colliery hands,
As engine-wright Stephenson had op- and having the colliery blacksmith for his portunities of carrying still further his head assistant, he built his first locomotive study of the engine, as well as of turning in the workshops at Westmoor, and called to account the knowledge he already pos- it “My Lord.” It was the first engine sessed. His ingenuity soon caused a re constructed with smooth wheels; for duction of the number of horses employed Stephenson never admitted the prevailing in the colliery from a hundred to fifteen notion that contrivances were necessary or sixteen ; and he had access not only to to secure adhesion. “My Lord” was the mine at Killingworth, but to all col called “Blucher" by the people round lieries belonging to Lord Ravensworth about. It was first placed on the Kiland his partners, a firm that had been lingworth Railway on the twenty-fifth of named the Grand Allies. The locomotive July, 1814, and, though a cumbrous maengine was then known to the world as a chine, was the most successful that had, new toy, curious and costly. Stepenson up to that date, been constructed. had a perception of what might be done At the end of a year it was found that with it, and was beginning to make it the the work done by Blucher cost about as subject of his thoughts. From the aluca- much as the same work would have cost tion of his son, Robert, he was now deriv- if done by horses. Then it occurred to ing knowledge for himself. The father Stephenson to turn the steam-pipe into entered him as a member of the Newcastle the chimney, and carry the smoke up with Literary and Philosophical Institution, the draught of a steam-blast. That would and toiled with him over books of science add to the intensity of the fire and to the borrowed from its library. Mechanical rapidity with which steam could be genplans he read at sight, never requiring to erated. The power of the engine was, refer to the description ; “a good plan," by this expedient, doubled. he said, “should always explain itself.” At about the same time some frightful One of the secretaries of the Newcastle accidents, caused by explosion in the pits Institution watched with lively interest of his district, set Stephenson to exercise the studies of both father and son, and his ingenuity for the discovery of a miner's helped them freely to the use of books and safety lamp. By a mechanical theory of instruments, while he assisted their en his own, tested by experiments made deavors with his counsels.
boldly at the peril of his life, he arrived George Stephenson was thirty-two at the construction of a lamp less simple, years old, and, however little he may by though perhaps safer, than that of Sir that time have achieved, one sees that he Humphrey Davy, and with the same had accumulated in himself a store of method of defense. The practical man power that would inevitably carry him and the philosopher worked independently on, upon his own plan of inch by inch in the same year on the same problem. advance, to new successes. Various ex- Stephenson's solution was arrived at a periments had been made with the new few weeks earlier than Davy's, and upon locomotive engines. One had been tried this fact a great controversy afterward apon the Wylam tram-road, which went was founded.
One material result of it by the cottage in which Stephenson was was, that Stephenson eventually received born. George Stephenson brooded upon as public testimonial a thousand pounds, the subject, watched their failures, worked which he used later in life as capital for at the theory of their construction, and the founding at Newcastle of his famous made it his business to see one. He felt locomotive factory. At the Killingworth his way to the manufacture of a better pits the “Geordy” safety lamp is still in engine, and proceeded to bring the subject use, being there, of course, considered to under the notice of the lessees of the col- be better than the Davy. liery. He had acquired reputation not Locomotives had been used only on the only as an ingenious, but as a safe and tram-roads of the collieries, and by the prudent man. He had instituted already | time when Stephenson built his second
engine were generally abandoned as fail- at the door of Mr. Pease's house in Dar
Stephenson alone stayed in the lington, (Mr. Pease was the head promofield, and did not care who said that there ter of the railway between Darlington and would be at Killingworth “a terrible Stockton,) and the message was brought blow-up some day.” He had already to him that some persons from Killingmade up his mind that the perfection of a worth wanted to speak with him. They traveling engine would be half lost if it did were invited in ; on which one of the visnot run on a perfected rail. Engine and itors introduced himself as Nicholas rail he spoke of, even then, as “man and Wood, viewer at Killingworth, and then, wife,” and his contrivances for the im- turning to his companion, he introduced provement of the locomotive always went him as George Stephenson, of the same hand in hand with his contrivances for place.” George had also a letter of inthe improvement of the road on which it troduction from the manager at Killingran. We need not follow the mechanical worth, and came as a person who had had details. In his work at the rail and en- experience in the laying out of railways, gine he made progress in his own way, to offer his services. He had walked to inch by inch ; every new locomotive built Darlington, with here and there a lift upon by him contained improvements on its a coach, to see whether he could not get predecessor ; every time he laid down a for his locomotive a fair trial, and for fresh rail he added some new element of himself a step of advancement in life upon strength and firmness to it. The Killing Mr. Pease's line. He told his wish in worth Colliery Railway was the seed from the strong Northumbrian dialect of his which sprang the whole European, and district; as for himself, he said, he was now more than European, system of rail ‘only the engine-wright at Killingworth ; way intercourse. While systems and that's what he was." theories rose and fell round about, George Mr. Pease liked him, told him his plans, Stephenson kept his little line in working which were all founded on the use of order, made it pay, and slowly advanced horse-power, he being satisfied " that a in the improvement of the rails and en horse upon an iron road would draw ten gines used upon it. When it had been tons for one on a common road, and that five years at work the owners of the Het- before long the railway would become the ton Colliery, in the county of Durham, in- King's Highway." Stephenson boldly vited Stephenson to act as engineer for declared that his locomotive was worth them in laying down an equally efficient fifty horses, and that moving engines and much longer line. Its length was to would in course of time supersede al) be eight miles, and it would cross one of horse - power upon railroads. “ Come the highest hills in the district; Stephen- over," he said, " to Killingworth, and see son put his locomotive on the level ground, what my Blucher can do; seeing is beworked the inclines with stationary en- lieving, sir.” Mr. Pease went, saw, and begines, showed how full wagons descend- lieved. Stephenson was appointed engiing an incline might be used as a power neer to the company, at a salary of three for the drawing up of empty ones, and in hundred a year. The Darlington line was three years completed successfully a most constructed in accordance with his survey. interesting and novel series of works. His traveling engine ran upon it for the
In those days there was talk of rail- first time on the twenty-seventh of Seproads to be worked by horse-power, or tember, 1825, in sight of an immense conany better power, if better there were ; course of people, and attained, in some but at any rate level roads laid down with parts of its course, a speed, then unexamrails for the facility of traffic were pro- pled, of twelve miles an hour. When jected between Stockton and Darlington, Stephenson afterward became a famous between Liverpool and Manchester, and man he forgot none of his old friends. He between other places.
visited even poor cottagers who had done The Killingworth Railway was seven a kindness to him. Mr. Pease will transyears old, the Hetton line then being in mit to his descendants a gold watch, incourse of construction. “ George Ste. scribed, “Esteem and gratitude ; from phenson was forty years old, when one George Stephenson to Edward Pease." day," writes Mr. Smiles, “about the end It was while the Stockton and Darlingof the year 1821, two strangers knocked ton line was in progress that George Ste