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chap. xxx..] RECOGNITION OF HIS SERVICEs. 419

zens. His name was everywhere mentioned with admiration and respect. Thus Sir Robert Peel, in the address delivered by him on opening the public library and reading-room at Tamworth, prominently alluded to him as one of the most striking proofs that the heights of science are not inaccessible to even the humblest mechanic. “Look around,” said he, “at this neighbourhood. Look in this very town, and who is the man that is now engaged in extensive works, for the purpose of bringing coal and lime under your immediate command? Mr. Stephenson, the engineer. Mr. Stephenson, I am assured, worked three years as a boy in the meanest capacity in a colliery at Newcastle. He saved 100l. by mending the watches of his fellow-workmen for half-a-crown apiece; and he devoted that 100l. to provision for his indigent parents", and set out with a light heart and conscience for the purpose of accumulating more. The result has been, that he presents a daily example of encouragement to our eyes, and is brought within our immediate contemplation in this very town.” From an early period Mr. Stephenson manifested a lively interest in the cause of Mechanics' Institutes. He could not but remember the difficulties which he had early encountered in gathering together his own scientific knowledge, the want of books from which he had suffered, and the miserable character of the only instruction then within the reach of the working classes in the smaller towns and villages. Since his youth, however, a new spirit had arisen on the subject of popular education. The exertions of Bell and Lancaster had led to the establishment of greatly improved agencies for the education of the children of the poor; and earnest efforts

* This was not quite correct. Although Mr. Stephenson was not sparing in pecuniary assistance to his parents, the reason for his early thrift and industry in watch-cleaning was, as he himself stated, that he might be able to send his son to school, and furnish him with the elements of a sound education.

were also being made to admit the adult working classes to the benefits of elementary and scientific instruction by means of Mechanics' Institutes. There were thus few manufacturing towns into which the spirit of Birkbeck and Brougham had not, to some extent, penetrated, exhibiting itself in the establishment of Working Men's Institutions, with their organisation of classes, lectures, and libraries. While residing at Newcastle in 1824, shortly after he had commenced his locomotive foundry in Forth Street, Mr. Stephenson was requested to preside at a public meeting held in that town for the purpose of establishing a Mechanics' Institute. The meeting was held; but George Stephenson was a man comparatively unknown even in Newcastle at that time, and his name failed to summon an “influential” attendance. The local papers scarcely noticed the proceedings; yet the Mechanics' Institute was founded, and struggled into existence. Years passed, and George Stephenson had become a famous name. He had established a new power in the world, which the greatest were ready to recognise. Beyond the bounds of his own country, his genius was acknowledged. Belgium had given him a national welcome, and King Leopold had invested him with the Order of Knighthood of that kingdom. It was now, therefore, felt to be no small honour to secure Mr. Stephenson's presence at any public meetings held for the promotion of popular education. Amongst the Mechanics’ Institutes in his immediate neighbourhood at Tapton, were those of Belper and Chesterfield; and at their soirées he was a frequent, and always a highly welcome, visitor. On those occasions he loved to tell them of the difficulties which had early beset him through want of knowledge, and of the means by which he had overcome them—always placing in the first rank, perseverance. This was his grand text, PERSEVERE. There was manhood in the very word. And he would remind them of their un

chap. xxx..] VISITS TO MECHANICS' INSTITUTES. 421

speakable advantages as mechanics compared with the workmen of his early days. They had books; but he remembered the time “when a good library of books would have been worth worlds to him.” A new stimulus was given to the Mechanics' Institutes of Derbyshire in 1841, by the adoption of visits to each other by railway. The civilising and educating influences of this great machine were thus carried on under Mr. Stephenson's own auspices, and almost at his very door. The Mechanics' Institution of Belper paid a visit, three hundred strong, to that of Chesterfield; and in a few weeks the latter returned the visit with interest. On both occasions Mr. Stephenson was the hero of the day. One after another the speakers acknowledged, that to him, the most distinguished mechanic living, they had been indebted for the improved means of transit, which enabled them thus to hold intercourse with each other. Mr. Stephenson was, of course, a speaker on both occasions, and threw out many shrewd remarks and suggestions for the consideration of his friends, the young mechanics present. After describing the great difficulties which he had to encounter in connection with the locomotive, he said, “but that has been little compared with the difficulty I have had in the management of man. I have found the engineering of railways to be light work, compared with the engineering of men.” A favourite subject of his observations at those mechanics' meetings was, the properties of the Crank, and the mistakes which mechanics had so often made with respect to it. At Chesterfield he concluded with a piece of sound practical advice : — “As an encouragement to young mechanics, I may state to them, that I commenced my mechanical career with very scanty means; and by close application and study, I have succeeded in establishing a manufactory which sends machinery to almost every kingdom in Europe. I may add, that nothing conduces, in my opinion, so much to the success in life of a thinking mechanic as sobriety, coupled with a steady and persevering application to his employment; never, however, in the midst of all his engagements, forgetting to contribute, by every means in his power, to the comfort of his wife and family.” At both Belper and Chesterfield, Mr. Stephenson invited the members, at any time when they thought they had found out any new invention, to bring their discovery to him, and he would always be ready to give them his opinion and assistance. This invitation got into the newspapers, and the consequence was, that he was very shortly flooded with letters, soliciting his opinion as to inventions which his correspondents thought they had made. He soon found that he had set himself a formidable task, and had roused the speculative and inventive faculties of the working men of nearly all England. He was, however, ready on all occasions to give his advice; and he frequently subscribed sums of money to enable struggling inventors to bring their schemes to a fair trial, when he considered them to be useful and feasible. Though Mr. Stephenson had retired from the more active pursuit of his profession, he was, in 1844, appointed engineer to the Whitehaven and Maryport Railway, in conjunction with his friend and former assistant, Mr. John Dixon. The line was actively promoted by Lord Lowther and the members for the county, and Mr. Stephenson consented to act—his name being regarded as a tower of strength in that district. This, however, was the only new project with which he was connected in that year. He was also, about the same time, elected chairman of the Yarmouth and Norwich Railway, a line in which he took much interest, and had invested a good deal of money. At the meetings of the Company, he confessed that he felt he was more in his place as a railway engineer than as a railway chairman; but as he and his friends held about three-fourths

chap. xxx..] THE NEWCASTLE AND DARLINGTON LINE. 423

of the shares in the concern, he felt bound to stand by it until its completion, which was effected in April, 1844. This line, like most others, was greatly fleeced by the landowners of the district, who sought to extort the most exorbitant prices for their land. One instance may be cited. A Mr. Tuck claimed 9000l. as compensation for severance, in addition to the very high price allowed for the land itself. After a careful investigation had been made by a jury, they awarded 850l., or less than one-tenth of the amount claimed. One of the witnesses examined on the part of the landowners, was Mr. R. H. Gurney, the banker of Norwich, who exhibited a hatred of railways equalled only by that of Colonel Sibthorpe. On his cross-examination he said, “I have never travelled by rails; I am an enemy to them; I have opposed the Norwich Railway; I have left a sum of money in my will to oppose railroads !” Another witness, a Mr. Driver, admitted that, on a previous occasion, he had estimated the value of certain land required for a railway at from 35,000l. to 40,000l., for which a jury had awarded only 2000l. Such was the extortion to which those early railways were subjected, and which, in one way or another, has fallen ultimately upon the public. Mr. Stephenson had been looking forward with much interest to the completion of the East Coast route to Scotland as far as his native town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He had done much to form that route, both by constructing the lines from Derby to York, and by bringing before the public his plan for carrying the main line northwards to Edinburgh. A bill with this object was again brought before Parliament in 1844. On the 18th of June in that year, the Newcastle and Darlington line—an important link of the great main highway to the north — was completed and publicly opened — thus connecting the Thames and the Tyne by a continuous line of railway. On that day, Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Hudson,

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