페이지 이미지


away as merrily as though nothing had hap-repairing clocks, and, above all, studying the pened. The fame of this exploit was bruited capacities of the steam-engine as before. abroad, and before long all the dilapidated timekeepers of the neighborhood were sent to him At last the golden opportunity came, and for repairs, making another and still more lu- George Stephenson, at the age of thirty, was crative addition to his list of employments. ready to take advantage of it. After all it was

His wife died two or three years after their seemingly but a small thing. Close by the pit marriage, having, in the mean while, borne him where he worked, the "Grand Allies,” a wealthy a son, who was named Robert, in honor of Old mining company, had sunk a new pit, and erectBob. This second Robert Stephenson, long ed an engine to pump out the water.

The enthe foremost engineer of England, and archi- gine hissed and played, but there was something tect of the famous Menai Bridge, is now living, wrong. “She could not keep her jack-head a wealthy and prosperous man, and member of out of water,” the miners said ; "all the enginethe House of Commons.

men in the neighborhood had tried, but all were Soon after the death of his wife, George Ste- clean bet.” For a whole twelvemonth George phenson was invited to go to Scotland and take Stephenson could see the smole from the engine charge of an engine at higher wages than he rising over the hill, but to every inquiry he recould obtain in England. He made the jour- ceived the same answer: “They were still ney on foot, with his kit on his back. But his drowned out." He revolved the matter in his heart yearned for his old home and his boy, and mind until he was satisfied that he had discorin a year he returned, likewise on foot, with ered the cause of the failure ; and one Saturday twenty-eight pounds in his pocket. One night afternoon he walked over the hill to take a look he stopped at a poor farm-house and requested at affairs. shelter, which was granted after some demur “Weel, George,” asked his friend, Kit Hepand a close inspection of his person. During pel, the “sinker,” “what do you mak o' her? the evening he so won upon the good graces of Do you think you could do any thing to improve his hosts that they refused to take pay for his her?" entertainment, but urged him, should he ever “Man, I could alter her and mak her draw; again pass that way, to be sure and visit them. in a week's time from this I could send you to Years after, when George Stephenson had be- the bottom.” come a prosperous man, he did pass that way, Kit told this to Mr. Dods, the "viewer,” who and sought out the farmer, now become old and had begun to despair. Drowning men catch at poor. On parting he left behind him a me- straws, and Mr. Dods forthwith walked over to mento commensurate with his own large ability George's cottage. He found him dressed in his rather than with the small kindness which he Sunday's best, just setting out for the Methohad received.

dist preaching He found himself sadly needed at home. Old “Well, George,” said Mr. Dods, “they tell Bob had been terribly scalded, and rendered me you think you can put the engine at the totally blind by an accident in the colliery. High Pits to rights.” George unhesitatingly devoted more than half Yes, Sir, I think I could." of his year's savings to the payment of his fa “If that's the case, I'll give you a fair trial, ther's debts, established him in a cottage near and you must set to work immediately. We his own, and was thenceforward his sole and are clean drowned out, and can not get a step willing stay and support. The old man lived further. The engineers hereabout are all bet. for many years, blind, but cheerful to the last, If you do what they can not, I'll make you a and gladdened by the rising fortunes of his son. man for life."

For a time, however, George Stephenson's Perhaps George Stephenson was wrong; for outlook was gloomy. The great duel between he did not go to church that Sunday, but set at Pitt and Napoleon was being fought. England once about his work. The alterations were, had 700,000 men under arms; every seventh after all, very simple, and by Wednesday night person at home was a pauper, maintained from the engine had been taken down, the alterathe poor-rates. Heavy taxes, high prices, and tions made, and all put in working order. On uncertain work pressed hardly upon the labor- Thursday morning it was set to work, and being classes, who were, moreover, haunted by fore Friday night the pit was clear of water. the fear of being drawn for the militia or im- George Stephenson had sent them to the bottom pressed for the navy. George Stephenson was in two days. For this labor he received ten drawn for the militia, and it cost him the re- pounds, and a better situation than he had held. mainder of his savings to hire a substitute. Ho His reputation was also established as an engrew disheartened, and cast longing looks to- gine-doctor, and he was soon called upon to ward the land of promise beyond the Atlantic. prescribe for all the wheezy old pumping-enIt was only a look, for he could not raise money gines in the county. Not long after the enginefor the voyage. Happy for the world that it wright of the Grand Allies died, and Mr. Dods,

The humble engine-man was just then true to his promise of making a man of George, the man whom England could least afford to appointed him to the vacant post, with a salary lose. So he went on attending to his break, of a hundred pounds a year. mending shoes, cutting out pitmen's clothing, Thus relieved from the daily routine of mere

VOL. XV.-No. 89.-UU

was so.

[ocr errors]

manual labor, he had an opportunity of show-voice reassured the men, and they followed him.
ing his true value, and effected many valuable Brick and mortar were at hand. In a few min-
improvements in the working of the machinery utes a wall was built at the mouth of the burn-
of the mines. To the little cottage with a sin- ing shaft; the air was excluded, and the fire
gle room where he resided, he had built sundry extinguished. But several miners were suffo-
additions with his own hands. He raised gi- cated in the recesses of the mines.
gantic leeks and astounding cabbages in his “Can nothing be done to prevent such aw-
little garden-plot, and filled the neighborhood ful occurrences ?” asked Kit Heppel as he and
with odd mechanical contrivances. A curious Stephenson were searching for the dead bodies.
wind-mill frightened the birds from his garden, “I think there can," replied George.
the gate of which was secured by a latch which " Then the sooner you start the better; for
he only could open; he fashioned an alarm- the price of coal-mining now is pitmen's lives.
clock to summon the drowsy pitmen to their The rough collier had anticipated the finest
labors; fished at night by the light of a lamp line of Hood's "Song of the Shirt."
which would burn under water; and attached Stephenson had for some time been engaged
the good wives' cradles to the smoke-jacks so in making experiments upon coal-damp. These
that the infants were rocked without any labor were now prosecuted with new zeal; in a few
on the part of their mothers.

months he had devised a Safety Lamp, and
But among all his multifarious occupations, tested it in the most dangerous situations. Sir
he lost no opportunity of carrying on his neg- Humphry Davy produced his lamp at about the
Yected education. The son of a neighboring same time. Both lamps were identical in prin-
farmer was well versed in arithmetic, and knew ciple, but neither inventor had any knowledge
something of mechanics and natural history. of the labors of the other. They had wrought
George soon learned from him all that he knew. by different methods, and arrived at the same
His son was placed at the best schools in the practical solution, and both deserved the honor
neighborhood, and from him the father was not of independent inventors. With this Stephen-
ashamed to take lessons. On Saturdays the son was well content. Not so the vain, irrita-
boy brought from the Newcastle Literary and ble, and ambitious philosopher. A testimonial,
Philosophical Institution such books as might amounting to £2000, was raised for Davy. The
be taken from the library, and was instructed northern coal owners raised half as much for
to make descriptions and sketches from such as Stephenson. A great controversy sprung up.
could not be taken away. The lad, “a chip of Stephenson, in a manly, modest pamphlet, while
the oid block," was fond of reducing his scien- asserting his own separate claim, gave full cred-
tifie reading to practice. He invested his pock- it to Davy. Davy angrily denounced the claim
et-money in a half mile of copper wire, one end of Stephenson as infamous and disgraceful, and
of which he attached to a kite string, while the charged him with pirating his invention. But
other was fastened to the garden palings where facts and dates proved incontestably that Ste-
his father's pony was hitched. An opportune phenson was the earlier inventor.
thunder-cloud passing, young Bob seized the Stephenson laid aside his thousand pounds,
occasion for verifying Franklin's famous experi- which, by-and-by, were to stand him in good
ment, by bringing the wire in contact with the stead. In the mean while the greater portion
tail of the pony, whose plunging and kicking of his time was devoted to the subject of steam-
gave evidenee of the success of the young in- engines and railways, the intimate connection
quirer. The father scolded a little, but chuck- between which had begun slowly to dawn upon
·led inwardly at this practical result of his son's him.
scientific studies.

Explosions of "fire-damp” were of frequent Railways of a rude construction had existed occurrence in the collieries. Several of these for centuries in the coal districts. Heavy loads had.occurred in the pits in which George Ste- were to be regularly hauled for short distances. phenson had worked. Killingworth Colliery, To diminish the friction it was a natural expewhere he was now engine-wright, contained dient to lay down wooden rails for the wagon 160 miles of excavation, full of fissures from wheels to run upon; then to cover the rails which the fatal gas was constantly escaping. with iron plates; and, finally, to substitute iron In spite of all precautions an explosion might rails for wooden ones. Such a railway ran past at any moment be looked for.

the door of the cottage where George StephenOne day in 1814 a miner rushed to Stephen- son was born. son's cottage with the startling announcement As the marvelous powers of the steam-engine that the deepest part of the colliery was on fire. developed themselves, ingenious men began to Through the throngs of frightened women and cast about for the means of applying them to children George made his way to the mouth of transportation by land and water. For a long the pit, and ordered the engineman to lower time these efforts were confined to constructing him down. The miners were hurrying in ter- engines to run on common roads ; for railways ror to the shaft. As he touched the bottom he were unknown, except in the distant coal-reshouted, "Stand back! Are there six men gions. In 1784, Murdoch, an assistant of among you who have courage to follow me? Watt, constructed a model locomotive, which If so, come, and we will put out the fire." His he one night undertook to try in a solitary lane


near Redruth Church. The fire was lighted proprietors of the Killingworth Mines, advanced and the engine started. It soon outran its money to enable him to make the experiment. inventor and disappeared in the darkness. In honor of this nobleman Stephenson named Shouts of terror were heard in the direction in his engine “My Lord," but the colliery people which it had gone. These were found to pro- gave it the less sounding appellation of "Blutceed from the worthy clergyman of the parish, cher.” who, happening to take an evening walk in the Blutcher was a great improvement upon Black solitary lane, and seeing the fiery little mon- Billy, for he could draw a heavy train at the ster dash hissing and flaming by, was sure that rate of three miles an hour. Stephenson had it was nothing else than the Evil One, come in also by experiment satisfied himself that a his own proper person to work him some griev- smooth wheel would hold upon a smooth rail, ous harm. Various other engines were made and hence the toothed wheel and cogged rail for the same purpose, the most notable of which were dispensed with. Blutcher was put in operwas that of an ingenious inventor named Tre-ation July 25, 1814, but at the end of the year vethick. This was one day set running on a it was found that he could not do his work more turnpike near Plymouth. It proved somewhat economically than horses would have performed unmanageable, dashing at the start into a gar- it. The great difficulty was that steam could den-fence, and then rushing at headlong speed not be generated with sufficient rapidity. Stealong the road toward the toll-gate, which the phenson had observed that the waste steam from terrified keeper managed to open just as the the exhaust pipe passed off with much more ra-. monster came up.

pidity than the smoke escaped from the chimney. “What's to pay?" asked the engine-man, It occurred to him that by turning this steam who had succeeded in bringing his machine to into the chimney it would impart its own veloca stop.

ity to the smoke, thus increasing the draught, “Na-na-na—" stammered the frightened and consequently the heat of the fire and the keeper.

production of steam. The alteration was made, "What have I to pay, I say ?”.

and the effective power of Blutcher was at once “No-noth-nothing to pay! My de-dear doubled. The success of the locomotive was Mister Devil, do drive on as fast as you can! now a fixed fact, but years elapsed before it was Nothing to pay.”

adopted on any other road. It finally occurred to Trevethick, that the Speculative men at last turned their attention traveling engine would work on the railways of toward railways. Foremost among these was the time, and he actually constructed a machine Edward Pease, a wealthy Quaker, who had with that drew considerable loads of coal, though at a some difficulty procured the passage of a bill for very slow rate. Mr. Blenkinsop, of Leeds, about constructing the Stockton and Darlington Railthe year 1811, made some improvements in lo- way, for the passage of wagons and other carcomotives, and a number of his machines were riages by “men and horses or otherwise." soon in operation, one of them, “Black Billy," One day, toward the close of the year 1821, upon the Wylam road, which passed the cottage two strangers knocked at the door of Friend in which Stephenson was born. It was a cum- | Pease. One of these announced himself as brous affair, often taking six hours to go five Nicholas Wood, “viewer" of the Killingworth miles, and was, moreover, always getting out of Mine, and introduced liis companion as George repair, or running off the track, so that it was Stephenson, who knew something about railnecessary to send horses along with it to help ways, and wished to obtain employment in the it out of difficulty. No wonder that the work- construction of the new road. The good Quakmen pronounced it a "perfect plague.” But er was pleased with his visitor, who described Mr. Blackett, the proprietor of the colliery, himself, in broad Northumberland dialect, as would not give it up, and even went on making the engine-wright at Killingworth — that's new experiments, in spite of a musty proverb what I am.” The plan of the road was talked touching a fool and his money that was applied over, and how it was to be operated. Mr. Pease to him. Nobody at the time supposed that a had thought only of horse-power. George said locomotive with a smooth driving-wheel running his engine was worth fifty horses, and would, upon a smooth rail could draw a load. It was sooner or later, drive them off from all railroads. assumed that the wheel would slip upon the rail, “Come over to Killingworth," he urged, " and and the machine consequently stand still. The see what my Blutcher can do. Seeing is believdriving-wheel was therefore fitted with teeth, ing, Sir.” Back went Stephenson and his friend, which worked in cogs in a rail laid by the side as they had come, on foot, with an occasional of the smooth rails upon which the carriage- lift by coach, when the driver could be "tipped” wheels ran.

at a cheap rate. Mr. Pease went over to KilGeorge Stephenson had in the mean time been lingworth, saw Blutcher, and believed; and brooding upon the subject of traveling-engines. George Stephenson was employed to make a He had gone over to Wylam, and after care new survey of the road-for so far had his enfully examining “Black Billy,” declared that he gineering studies brought him—and to construct could make a better engine than that. He had the locomotives by which it should be worked. by this time gained some credit as an ingenious There was not at this time in England an machinist, and Lord Ravensworth, one of the establishment capable of making a locomotive


in a proper manner. Stephenson proposed to set | ary Committee. Half a score of big-wigs apup such a factory. The thousand pounds which peared for the various opponents of the bill, who he had received for his Safety-Lamp, and an made common cause against it. George Steequal sum furnished by Mr. Pease and a friend, phenson was brought before the committee, and sufficed to set up the “Newcastle Engine Facto- the lawyers made a dead set against him. One ry,” which soon grew into an enormous estab- noted his rough northern accent, and asked if lishment which, for a long time, not only fur- he was not a foreigner; another hinted that he nished almost all the engines built, but also pro- was crazy; another posted himself up on curves, duced the ablest engineers.

and velocities, and momentum, and asked all The Stockton and Darlington road was open- sorts of questions, relevant and irrelevant : ed for traffic on the 27th of September, 1825. Would any railway bear a momentum of a train On this occasion one of Stephenson's locomo- of forty tons moving twelve miles an hour? Had tives drew a train weighing 90 tons 82 miles in he ever witnessed such a velocity? Would not 65 minutes, and it was recorded with wonder rails bend ? Would not trains run off the that the speed in some parts actually reached track? Would they not overturn when roundtwelve miles an hour. George Stephenson, ing a curve? Had he not known stage-coaches railways, and locomotives, were a decided suc- overturned in rounding a corner? If an engine, cess, though on a somewhat limited scale. But going at the rate of ten or twelve miles an hour, a new struggle and a decisive victory were in should encounter a stray cow, wouldn't it be store for him.

awkward ? “Very awkward for the coo," re

plied Stephenson. For years the want of adequate communica Then one after another of the learned gention between Manchester and Liverpool had been tlemen summed up. George Stephenson was severely felt. Trade had outgrown the capac- a fool to talk about locomotives going ten or ity of the canals, which could not be increased, twelve miles an hour; they could not be made for all the water available was already employed. to run six ; they could not keep up with canal It required more time to convey a bale of cotton boats; they could not run at all when the wind from Liverpool to Manchester than from New blew. One lawyer waxed eloquent on the intolYork to Liverpool. The Manchester spindles erable nuisance of the smoke and fire from the stood still for want of the cotton which was piled locomotives ; told how the price of coal and up in Liverpool warehouses. Manchester ware- wood and iron would be enhanced, and the rooms were crowded with goods which could not breed of horses annihilated. Finally, Mr. Albe sent to market for want of conveyance to Liv- derson - a name dear to lawyers-wound up erpool, whose docks were filled with ships wait- with a magniloquent protest against the "desing for them. At length some bold speculator potism of the Liverpool Exchange, striding suggested that railways could carry cottons and across the country." Sergeant Buzfuz himself, cloths as well as coal. It was a suggestion in the great Bardel case, was less eloquent than worthy of the Chinese genius who broached the the learned gentleman. idea that a pig might, perhaps, be roasted by The bill was rejected. The next year it was some other fire than that of a burning cottage. renewed. There was less opposition now. The So a plan was formed for a railway between Marquis of Stafford, one of the principal canal Manchester and Liverpool; the preliminary sur- stockholders, had been mollified by the offer of a veys were made in spite of the opposition of the large number of shares. One foolish member, canal proprietors, who feared the loss of their Sir Isaac Coffin, indeed signalized himself. He enormous profits, and of the squires and cits, would not consent to see widows' property inwho apprehended damage to their fox-covers vaded. How would any one like to have a railand cabbage-gardens.

road under his own parlor window ? Was the The survey was intrusted to George Stephen House aware of the smoke and the noise, the son, whose success upon the Stockton and Dar- hiss and the whirl, which locomotive engines, lington had been so signal, and, in 1825, a pe- passing at the rate of ten or twelve miles an tition was presented to Parliament for the pas- hour, would occasion ? Cattle plowing in the sage of a bill authorizing the construction of the fields or grazing in the meadows could not beroad. The project was fiercely opposed. Pam- hold them without dismay. Iron would be raised phlets were written and newspapers started in price, or, more probably, exhausted altogethagainst it. The rural squires were told that er. What would become of those who wished the railroad would kill the pheasants and fright- to travel after the fashion of their fathers, in en the foxes, so that there would be an end of their own or in hired carriages? What would shooting and hunting; farmers were assured become of coach-makers and harness-makers, that cows would not graze or hens lay any of coach-masters and coachmen, of innkeepers, where near the railway; and timid old ladies horse-breeders, and horse-dealers? The railwere forewarned that their houses would be road would be the greatest nuisance, the most burned down by the sparks, and themselves complete disturber of quiet and comfort, that poisoned by the pestilential smoke from the en- the ingenuity of man could invent. gines.

All this, be it remembered, was said in our It a rare time for gentlemen of the long generation

thirty years ago. Nor robe when the bill came before the Parliament- was Sir Isaac the only fool of his time; for at a

still later day Colonel Sibthorpe-since immor-| look into the question. They did som-and retalized by Punchdeclared his hatred of these ported that stationary engines would be in every “infernal railroads," adding that he would rath- way the best. They recommended that the road er meet a highwayman or a burglar on his prem- should be divided into nineteen stations of a ises than an engineer; and of the two classes mile and a half each, with twenty-one stationhe thought the former much the more respecta- ary engines to haul the trains. ble. Mr. Berkeley, a member of Parliament, Stephenson stood alone in favor of locomobemoaned the running of railroads through the tives. He saw that railways and locomotives heart of the hunting country, destroying the no- were inseparable parts of one great system; ble sport to which he had been accustomed from they were, as he phrased it, “husband and childhood. Worse than all, the famous Doctor wife," neither of which was complete without Dionysius Lardner—who subsequently immor- the other. He besought the directors at least talized himself by mathematically demonstrat- to give locomotives a fair trial before embarking that the Atlantic could never be profitably ing in the cumbrous stationary system, and crossed by steam-brought his ponderous science pledged himself to construct an engine which to war against what he styled “the destruction should meet all reasonable requirements. He of the atmospheric air.” He proved, to his own finally so far prevailed with them as to induce satisfaction, that an engine drawing 100 tons them to offer a prize for the locomotive which, through the “Box Tunnel,” between London under certain conditions, should perform in the and Bristol, would deposit therein a ton and a most satisfactory manner. The main conditions half of noxious gases—a pleasant prospect for were, that the engine should weigh not more the travelers who were to breathe the atmos- than six tons, and should be able to draw a load phere thus vitiated.

of twenty tons ten miles an hour. But the bill nevertheless passed, and the road He at once set about building such an engine was rapidly urged forward under the charge of at his Newcastle factory, under the immediate George Stephenson, who was appointed chief superintendence of his son. Other engineers engineer. This was the first attempt to con- competed for the prize, and on the day appointed struct a railway for general transportation, and for the trial four engines were entered as comthrough a region which presented any special petitors. Stephenson's famous “Rocket" alone engineering difficulties. How great these were, fulfilled the conditions. It was first-the rest and with what skill and ingenuity they were were nowhere ; but it also far exceeded the stipusurmounted by the self-taught engineer, we can lated conditions. It attained an average speed not here pause to narrate. The directors of the of fifteen miles an hour; and at times gained road, as the year 1829 wore on-the third since the hitherto unheard-of velocity of twenty-nine the work was commenced-began to grow im- miles; and this performance, as was subsepatient. They wished for some returns from the quently shown, was far within its capabilities. vast amount of capital they had expended. Honest Friend Cropper, who had advocated the

“Now, George,” said Friend Cropper, “thou stationary system, was astounded. “Now,” he must get on with the railway, and have it fin- exclaimed, lifting up his hands, “now is George ished without further delay. Thou must really Stephenson at last delivered !” have it ready for opening by the first day of The great battle had indeed been won by January next.”

George Stephenson. The Railway System had “ It is impossible,” replied Stephenson. been inaugurated; a new implement had been

“Impossible! I wish I could get Napoleon put into the hands of civilization, the mightiest at thee. He would tell thee that there is no which she had received since the invention of such word."

printing. “Tush! Don't speak to me about Napoleon. Here ends the epic interest of a life which Give me men, money, and materials, and I will was happy and prosperous to its close. For do what Napoleon couldn't do—drive a railroad many years George Stephenson bore a promifrom Liverpool to Manchester over Chat Moss.” nent part in all the great railway enterprises of

And truly this road was a greater work than the day; attained well-deserved honor and forthe hewing of Napoleon's far-famed road across tune; and finally, as age gathered around him, the Simplon.

retired gracefully from active life to that serene The road was far advanced before the direct- quiet which befits a man whose life-task has ors had made up their minds how it should be been worthily accomplished. At his humble worked. Some were in favor of the old and Killingworth cottage it had been his pride to tried system of horse-power; but the majority produce the largest leeks and the heaviest cabwere convinced that steam must be used. The bages in the country. Now, at his stately Tapquestion lay between stationary engines and ton mansion, he took a tranquil delight in his locomotives. Every scientific engineer was in pineries, green-houses, and melon-frames. His favor of the former. Vallance affirmed that boyish fondness for birds and animals revived. locomotives could never be driven as fast as He had favorite dogs, and cows, and horses ; horses. Tredgold was sure that stationary en- prided himself on the beauty of his rabbits, and gines would be safer and cheaper, and that in the breed of his chickens. Nor was he indifferany case ten miles an hour was unattainable. ent to his old pursuits. He was ready to lend a Two distinguished engineers were deputed to helping hand to inventors who deserved assist

« 이전계속 »