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He was frequently offered large sums merely to allow his name to appear in a prospectus ; but he resolutely refused. The “engine—wright at Killingworth' was now a rich man and a famous man, with a statue at Liverpool, and courted by statesmen and peers; but success had no power to spoil his simple, manly, unaffected nature. In his retirement at Tapton, in his last days, he was distinguished by the same fondness for animals of all kinds as when he was a herd-boy sixty years before. He knew every bird’s nest on his grounds, and there was not one which missed a daily visit. Many were the acts of unostentatious benevolence by which he relieved honest want, or aided struggling merit. On his last public appearance, at the Leeds Mechanics’ Institute, in December, 1847, he told the assembled crowd that ‘he stood before them as a humble mechanic. He had risen from a lower standing than the meanest person there, and all that he had been enabled to accomplish in the course of his life had been done through perseverance. He said this for the purpose of encouraging youthful mechanics to do as he had done —to persevere.” He became an enthusiast in horticulture, and exhibited all his old ingenuity in devising means for bringing his fruits and flowers to greater perfection. The Duke of Devonshire's pines were better than his, and Stephenson would be beaten by no man, even in growing pines. He spent much time, in the summer of 1848, in the noxious atmosphere of his forcing houses, which his health, enfeebled by an attack of pleurisy, could not resist. An intermitting fever came on, and, after an illness of a few days’ duration, he died on the 12th of August, 1848, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. He had been greatly beloved by his work-people, and a large body of them followed him to the grave. The inhabitants of Chesterfield evinced their respect for him by closing their shops, suspending business, and joining in the funeral procession. No public honours or rewards ever came in his way. He was indeed repeatedly pressed to accept the title of knight, and on one occasion the Government offered him a piece of patronage: this was the appointment to the office of a letter-carrier, with fourteen shillings a week and sixteen miles a day. This means of extending his influence Mr. Stephenson refused. We have not space to attempt any delineation of his character; and it is needless. His character is drawn in those strong and manly lines which no one can mistake. Everything about him was genuine: his mechanical genius, his indomitable resolution, his intense honesty, his kindness of heart, his industry, his frugality, his generosity, his sound good sense, his unaffected modesty. He was an honour, as well as a great benefactor, to his country and to mankind. We do not know that there ever lived an individual to whom each separate inhabitant of Great Britain owes so much of real tangible advantage. His life is a fine lesson to every one. Honesty is the best policy, after all. And we do not know but that the working man may apply the lines of Robert Nicoll to George Stephenson, the Railway Engineer, with at least as much propriety as to the erratic genius of whom they were written :
Before the proudest of the earth,
Like us, Thou wast a toiling man,—
HIS volume has no preface, and no notes save two or three of a line’s length each. Its titlepage bears nothing beyond the words, Oulita the Serf'; a Tragedy. But the advertisements which foretold its publication added a fact which made us open the book with a very different feeling from that with which we should have taken up an ordinary anonymous play, a fact which at once excited high expectations,—and which, we doubt not, has already introduced Oulita to a wide circle of readers, each prepared to gauge its merits by a very severe test and a very high standard. The forthcoming volume was announced as Oulita the Serf; a Tragedy: by the Author of ‘Friends in Council.” The disguise of the author of that work is becoming ragged. We have found, in more than one library, where a special glory of binding was bestowed upon the book and its charming sequel, that, though the title-page bore no name, the volumes were marked
* Oulita the Serf: A Tragedy. London: 1858.
with a name which is well and honourably known. And indeed there are few books which are so calculated as Friends in Council to make the reader wish to know who is the author whom he has learned to revere and love : and surely the language has none which, in its gentle playfulness, its intense honesty, its comprehensive sympathy, its earnestness so tempered with the desire to do justice to all, affords its writer less reason for seeking any disguise. Yet it is not for us to add the author’s name to a title-page which the author has chosen to send nameless into the world: though we may be permitted to say that, whoever may be the writer of the works to which we have been alluding, though we never exchanged words with him, and never saw him, still, in common with an increasing host of readers, we cannot think of him as other than a kind and sympathetic friend. Accordingly, we expected a great deal from this new work. We were not entirely taken by surprise, indeed, when we saw it announced : for Ellesmere, in Friends in Council, makes several quotations from the works of “a certain obscure dramatist,’ which are likely to set the thoughtful reader inquiring. And whoever shall carefully collate the advertisements of the late Mr. Pickering's publications will discover that the author of Oulita published a good many years ago an historical drama entitled King Henry the Second, and a tragedy entitled Catherine Douglas, whose heroine is the stronghearted Scottish maiden who thrust her arm into the staple of a door from which the bolt had been removed, in the desperate hope of thus retarding for a moment