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and a distinguished party of railway men, travelled by express train from London to Newcastle in about nine hours. It was a great event, and was worthily celebrated. The population of Newcastle held holiday; and a banquet held in the Assembly Rooms the same evening assumed the form of an ovation to Mr. Stephenson and his son. Thirty years before, George Stephenson, in the capacity of a workman, had been labouring at the construction of his first locomotive in the immediate neighbourhood. By slow and laborious steps, he had worked his way on, dragging the locomotive into notice, and raising himself in public estimation. He had now, at length, established the great railway system, and came back amongst his townsmen to receive their greeting.
The Honourable Mr. Liddell, M.P., whose father, Lord Ravensworth, had helped and encouraged George Stephenson to make his first locomotive at Killingworth, appropriately occupied the chair, and, in introducing Mr. Stephenson to the meeting, alluded to the recent rapid progress of railroads, and especially to the last great event in their history – the opening of an uninterrupted railway communication from the Thames to the Tyne— whereby “ he had been enabled to take part in the proceedings of the House of Commons at a late hour in the night, and to arrive at Newcastle in time for an early dinner on the following day. This wonderful achievement was the result of the capital, skill, and enterprise of England; and if he (Mr. Liddell) felt proud of this new triumph of his country, what must be the feelings of that illustrious individual now sitting amongst them, who, though born in humble circumstances, had, by the force of his genius and his industry, so distinguished himself as to hand down the name of Stephenson to everlasting fame! He would not have referred to the position from which Mr. Stephenson had sprung, were it not that he himself, so far from being ashamed of his origin, was in the habit of alluding
chap. xxx.] MR. LIDDELL'S COMPLIMENTARY SPEECH. 425 to it; and if Mr. Stephenson took a pride in the humility of his birth, surely his countrymen might be proud of the obscurity of his youth, as compared with the prominence of his present position. He was happy to add, that, distinguished as he was by his genius and his deeds, his sterling honesty reflected higher honour upon George Stephenson than even those rare abilities with which he was endowed by the Almighty.” Referring to the speech of Prebendary Townsend, Mr. Liddell stated that, “ by the construction of a railway from London to Folkestone and Dover, thousands of persons had been enabled to spend their last Whitsuntide holidays at Calais and Boulogne, among their natural enemies;' and when such was the case, the two nations would in time be purged of their senseless antipathies, and learn to look upon each other, not as foreigners and foes, but members in common of the great human family. Mr. Stephenson, therefore, might truly be looked upon as the great pacificator of the age. And yet a few years ago, he was but a working engineman at a colliery! But he was a man not only of talent, but of genius. Happily, also, he was a man of industry and of character. He constructed the first successful engine that travelled by its own spontaneous power over an iron railroad; and on such a road, and by such an engine, a communication had now been established between London and Newcastle. The author of this system of travelling had lived long enough for his fame, but not long enough for his country. He had reared to himself a monument more durable than brass or marble, and based it on a foundation whereon it would rest unshaken by the storms of time."
Mr. Stephenson, in replying to Mr. Liddell's complimentary speech, took occasion to deliver that memorable autobiography to which we have already referred ; and, at the complete form, both on account of its extreme interest and because of the valuable practical lessons it contains. “ As the honourable member," said he,“ has referred to the engineering efforts of my early days, it may not be amiss if I say a few words to you on that subject, more especially for the encouragement of my younger friends. Mr. Liddell has told you that in my early days I worked at an engine at a coal-pit. I had then to work early and late, and my employment was a most laborious one. For about twenty years I had often to rise to my labour at one and two o'clock in the morning, and worked until late at night. Time rolled on, and I had the happiness to make some improvements in engine work. The company will be gratified when I tell them that the first locomotive that I made was at Killingworth colliery. The owners were pleased with what I had done in the collieries; and I then proposed to make an engine to work upon the smooth rails. It was with Lord Ravensworth’s money that my first locomotive was built. Yes, Lord Ravensworth and his partners were the first gentlemen to entrust me with money to make a locomotive. That was more than thirty years ago; and we first called it. My Lord.' I then stated to some of my friends, now living, that those high velocities with which we are now so familiar would, sooner or later, be attained, and that there was no limit to the speed of such an engine, provided the works could be made to stand; but nobody would believe me at that time. The engines could not perform the high velocities now reached, when they were first invented; but, by their superior construction, an immense speed is now capable of being obtained. In what has been done under my management, the merit is only in part my own. Throughout I have been most ably seconded and assisted by my son. In the early period of my career, and when he was a little boy, I felt how deficient I was in education, and made up my mind that I would put him to a good school. I determined
that he should have as liberal a training as I could afford to give him. I was, however, a poor man; and how do you think I managed ? I betook myself to mending my neighbours' clocks and watches at night, after my daily labour was done. By this means I saved money, which I put by; and, in course of time, I was thus enabled to give my son a good education. While quite a boy he assisted me, and became a companion to me. He got an appointment as under-viewer at Killingworth; and, at nights, when we came home, we worked together at our engineering. I got leave from my employers to go from Killingworth to lay down a railway at Hetton, and next to Darlington for a like purpose; and I finished both railways. After that, I went to Liverpool to plan a line to Manchester. The directors of that undertaking thought ten miles an hour would be a maximum speed for the locomotive engine ; and I pledged myself to attain that speed. I said I had no doubt the locomotive might be made to go much faster, but we had better be moderate at the beginning. The directors said I was quite right; for if, when they went to Parliament, I talked of going at a greater rate than ten miles an hour, I should put a cross on the concern! It was not an easy task for me to keep the engine down to ten miles an hour; but it must be done, and I did my best. I had to place myself in the most unpleasant of all positions — the witness-box of a parliamentary committee. I was not long in it, I assure you, before I began to wish for a hole to creep out at. I could not find words to satisfy either the committee or myself; or even to make them understand my meaning. Some said, “He's a foreigner.'
No,' others replied; he's mad.' But I put up with every rebuff, and went on with my plans, determined not to be put down. Assistance gradually increased; great improvements were made in the locomotive; until to-day, a train which
afternoon to my native soil, and enabled me to meet again many faces with which I am familiar, and which I am exceedingly pleased to see once more.”
After the opening of this railway, the completion of the East Coast line, by effecting a connection between Newcastle and Berwick, was again revived; and Mr. Stephenson, who had already identified himself with the question, and was intimately acquainted with every foot of the ground, was called upon to assist the promoters with his judgment and experience.
By this time a strong popular opinion had arisen in favour of atmospheric railways. Many engineers avowedly supported them in preference to locomotive lines, and Mr. Brunel had considerable influence in determining the views of many Members of Parliament on the subject. Amongst others, Lord Howick took up the question of atmospheric as opposed to locomotive railways, and, possessing great local influence, he succeeded, in 1844, in forming a powerful conbination of the landed gentry of Northumberland in favour of an atmospheric line through that county. Mr. Stephenson could not brook the idea of seeing the locomotive, for which he had fought so many stout battles, pushed to one side by the atmospheric system, and that in the very county in which its great powers had been first developed. Nor did he relish the appearance of Mr. Brunel as the engineer of Lord Howick's atmospheric railway, in opposition to the line which had occupied his thoughts and been the object of his strenuous advocacy for so many years. When Mr. Stephenson first met Mr. Brunel in Newcastle he good-naturedly shook him by the collar, and asked “what business he had north of the Tyne ?” Mr. Stephenson gave him to understand that they were to have a fair stand-up fight for the ground, and shaking hands before the battle like Englishmen, they parted in good humour. A public meeting was