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a pumping apparatus, but it failed to draw the water. Stephenson was asked what they were to do in order to clear the quarry. He said “ he would set up for them an engine no bigger than a kail-pot, that would clear them out in a week.” And he did so. A little engine was speedily erected by him, and by its means the quarry was pumped dry in the course of a few days. Thus his local celebrity very soon became considerable.
COLLIERY ENGINE-WRIGHT AT KILLINGWORTH.
WHILE thus daily engaged in the curing and working of pumping-engines, George Stephenson continued diligently to employ his evenings in self-improvement. When not occupied in cleaning clocks and watches, he was busy contriving models of steam-engines and pumping-engines, or attempting to master the mysteries of perpetual motion (which he had not yet given up), or endeavouring to embody in a tangible shape the mechanical inventions which he found described in the odd volumes on mechanics which came in his way.
Many of those evenings were spent in the society of John Wigham, whose father occupied the Glebe farm at Benton, close at hand. John was a good penman and a good arithmetician, and Stephenson frequented his society chiefly for the purpose of improving himself in these points. Under Andrew Robertson, he had never thoroughly mastered the Rule of Three, and it was only when Wigham took him in hand that he made any decided progress towards the higher branches of arithmetic. He generally took his slate with him to the Wighams' cottage, when he had his sums set, that he might work them out while tending the engine on the following day. When too busy with other work to be able to call upon Wigham in person, he sent the slate by a fellowworkman to have the former sums corrected and new ones set. So much patient perseverance could not but eventually succeed; and by dint of practice and study, Stephenson was enabled successively to master the various rules of arithmetic.
John Wigham was of great use to his pupil in many ways. He was a good talker, fond of argument, an extensive reader, as country reading went in those days, and a very suggestive thinker. Though his store of information might be comparatively small when measured with that of more highly cultivated minds, much of it was entirely new to Stephenson, who regarded him as a very clever and extraordinary person. Young as John Wigham was, he could give much useful assistance to Stephenson at that time, and his neighbourly services were worth untold gold to the eager pupil. Wigham taught him to draw plans and sections; though in this branch Stephenson proved so apt that he soon surpassed his master. Wigham was also a little versed in Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, and a volume of Ferguson's Lectures on Mechanics which he possessed was a great treasure to both the students. One who remembers their evening occupa. tions, says he used to wonder what they meant by weighing the air and water in their odd way. They were trying the specific gravities of objects; and the devices which they employed, the mechanical shifts to which they were put, were often of the rudest kind. In these evening entertainments, the mechanical contrivances were supplied by Stephenson, whilst Wigham found the scientific rationale. The opportunity thus afforded to the former of cultivating his mind by contact with one wiser than himself proved of great value, and in after-life Stephenson gratefully remembered the assistance which, when a humble workman, he had derived from John Wigham the farmer's son.
His leisure moments thus carefully improved, it will be inferred that Stephenson was necessarily a sober man. Though his notions were never extreme on this point, he was systematically temperate. It appears that on the invitation of his master, Ralph Dodds, and an invitation from a master to a workman is not easy to resist,- he had, on one or two occa
sions, been induced to join him in a forenoon glass of ale in the public house of the village. But one day, about noon, when Mr. Dodds had got him as far as the public-house door, on his invitation to “come and take a glass o'yill,” Stephenson made a dead stop, and said, firmly,“ No, sir, you must excuse me; I have made a resolution to drink no more at this time of day." And he went back. He desired to retain the character of a steady workman; and the instances of men about him who had made shipwreck of their character through intemperance, were then, as now, unhappily, but too frequent. Perhaps, too, he was sober with an eye to thrift. He still steadily kept in mind the resolution which he had formed to give his son a good education, and Robert was now of an age to be sent to a better school than that which the neighbouring village of Long Benton provided. There he had been some time under the charge of Rutter, the parish clerk, who kept a road-side school, where the instruction was of a very limited kind — scarcely extending beyond the child's primer and“ pot-hooks.” About the year 1814, Robert was accordingly sent to Bruce's academy at Newcastle, where he commenced a course of sound elementary instruction; and many remember seeing him in his homely grey suit, riding on his donkey to and from school, morning and evening.
By dint of extra labour during his bye-hours, with this object, George Stephenson had managed to save a sum of 1001., which he accumulated in guineas, each of which he afterwards sold to Jews who went about buying up gold coins (then dearer than silver), at twenty-six shillings a piece; and he lent out the proceeds at good interest. He was now, therefore, a comparatively thriving man. The first guinea which he had saved with so much difficulty at Black Callerton had proved the nest-egg of future guineas; and the habits of economy and sobriety which he had so early cultivated, now enabled him to secure a firmer foothold in the world, and
to command the increased esteem and respect of his fellowworkmen and employers.
* At this time, and for many years after, Stephenson dwelt in a cottage standing by the side of the road leading from the West Moor Pit to Killingworth. The railway from the West Moor Pit crosses this road close by the easternmost end of the cottage. The dwelling originally consisted of but one apartment on the ground-floor, with a garret overhead, to which access was obtained by means of a step-ladder. But with his own hands, Stephenson built an oven, and in course of time he added rooms to the cottage, until it grew into a comfortable four-roomed dwelling, in which he continued to live as long as he resided at Killingworth.
There was a little garden attached to the cottage, in which, while a workman, Stephenson took a pride in growing gigantic leeks, and astounding cabbages. There was great competition amongst the villagers in the growth of vegetables, all of whom he excelled, excepting one of his neighbours, whose cabbages sometimes outshone his.
In the protection of his garden-crops from the ravages of the birds, he invented a strange sort of “fley-craw,” which moved its arms with the wind; and he fastened his garden door by means of a peace of ingenious mechanism, so that no one but himself could enter it. Indeed, his odd and eccentric contrivances excited much marvel amongst the Killingworth villagers. Thus, he won the women's admiration by connecting their cradles with the smoke-jack, and making them self-acting! Then, he astonished the pitmen by attaching an alarum to the clock of the watchman whose duty it was to call them betimes in the morning. The cottage of Stephenson was a sort of curiosity shop of models, engines, self-acting planes, and perpetual motion machines, which last contrivance, however, baffled him as effectually as it had done hundreds of preceding inventors. He also contrived