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lessons at night for threepence a week, which he willingly paid. When he was nineteen years old, he was so far advanced as to be able to write his own name. Afterwards, in the winter of 1799, he went to an evening-school; and that was all the education in the way of schooling he ever got.
In 1810 he had an opportunity of distinguishing himself. A badly-made engine would not do its work : one engineer after another tried to set it to rights, and failed; and at last in despair they were glad to let George try his hand, though, with all his reputation for cleverness, they did not expect him to succeed. To their astonishment he was perfectly successful. He took the engine thoroughly to pieces, re-arranged it skilfully, and set it to work in the most effectual manner. Besides receiving a present of £10 for this useful service, he was placed on the footing of a regular engineer. He still went on with his night studies, and was always perfectly steady. For some time he worked in this way, constantly suggesting improvements in machinery, or in the mode of applying it. One of these enabled the Company to reduce the number of horses they employed from one hundred to fifteen or sixteen.
But the thing which occupied him the most was the effort to improve the locomotive. There had been railways of a rude kind in England ever since the beginning of the eighteenth century. The rails were first of wood, then the wood was shod with slips of iron, and lastly they were altogether of iron. These old railways, better known by the name of tramways, were made to carry coals from the pits, the carriages being deep wooden waggons pulled by horses. The credit of inventing a carriage moved by steam is due to Richard Trevithick, a Cornish tin-miner. He made a steam carriage to run on rails in 1802, and exhibited it in London. Then he improved on this, and completed a locomotive to draw coal on a railway in South Wales. It did its work well, drawing waggons with ten tons of iron at the rate of five miles an hour; but it was an ill-constructed machine, and having got out of order, it was deserted by its inventor, and no more was heard of locomotives for some years. Next came another invention, which helped the colliers to draw as many as thirty loaded waggons at a speed of three and a quarter miles an hour. What long kept invention in this backward state was the erroneous idea, that unless the locomotives had wheels with cogs, to pull against the cogs in the railway, it would slip, and not get forward. After a variety of experiments, George Stephenson was satisfied that he might safely dismiss the cogs. Then by sending the waste steam into the chimney he increased the draught, and doubled the power of the engine. He never ceased making fresh trials to perfect the machine, but it was only step by step that both the rails and the engine were brought into a comparatively perfect state.
Already a manufactory of engines had been set up in Newcastle, in which George Stephenson was a partner; and from this establishment three
engines were ordered by a new railway company, the Stockton and Darlington, which proposed to employ steam to carry passengers and goods. The opening of this, the first public railway, took place on the 27th September 1825, in the presence of an immense crowd of spectators. A local newspaper records the event as follows:-" The signal being given, the engine started off with an immense train of carriages, and such was its velocity, that in some parts the speed was frequently twelve miles an hour; and at that time the number of passengers was counted to be four hundred and fifty, which, together with the coals, merchandise, and carriages, would amount to nearly ninety tons. The engine, with its load, arrived at Darlington, a distance of eight and three-quarter miles, in sixtyfive minutes." This success, great though it then seemed, did not prevent George Stephenson trying to do better still, and his labour was abundantly repaid.
In 1830 another railway was opened between Liverpool and Manchester, when a steam-engine, named the Rocket, which had been constructed by
George Stephenson & Son,” gave its first public performance, running a mile in less than two minutes.
Adapted from “Chambers' Miscellany."
87.-EARLY HISTORY OF BATH.
According to the most approved accounts of the origin of Bath, Bladud, son of the British King Hudibras, was so unfortunate in his youth as to contract a leprous disease; and as in those times they were not quite so humane as they are now, he was, on the petition of the nobles, banished from his father's court, lest the loathsome affliction should spread to themselves. The queen, however, presented him with a ring, as a token by which she should know him again, in case he should ever return cured.
The prince departed, and after wandering for some time in exile, hired himself to a swineherd, whom he found feeding his pigs not far from the site of the future city. The royal swineherd was 80 unfortunate, however, as to infect his charge with his own disease ; and fearing that the fact would become known to his master, he separated from him, and drove his pigs towards the vast forests which at that time crowned the Lansdown and Beacon hills. The swine, however, taught by nature to medicine their own distempers, made straight for the spot whence issued the hot springs, and here wallowed in the marsh caused by its overflowing waters. This kindly ablution soon cured them of their disease, which Bladud perceiving, he applied the same remedy, with the like good effect, to his own person.
Thus cured, he appeared again before the old herdsman, his master, informed him of the miraculous cure which had been performed upon himself and pigs, and added further to his astonishment by proclaiming that he was a king's son. To convince him of this fact, he led him to his father's court, and seizing an opportunity when the king and queen banqueted in public, he dropped into the royal goblet the ring which his mother had given him. As the queen drank, she perceived at the bottom the glittering token, and thus became aware of the presence of her son. Bladud afterwards succeeded to the throne, and rewarded his old master by granting him a handsome estate near the hot springs.
It seems very doubtful whether the hot springs of Bath were made use of by the Britons; and in all probability no settlement existed here until that made by the Romans under the Emperor Claudius, who conquered and took possession of the neighbouring country about half a century before the birth of Christ. As Roman Bath lay entirely in the valley, such a situation must have been chosen by that people for other than military purposes; and there can be no reasonable doubt, addicted as they were to the use of the warm bath, that the hot springs were the chief attraction of the spot. These they collected, and erected over them buildings which even the Bath of the present day cannot rival. An excavation that was