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Queen, the dutiful daughter paid off her father's debts in the first year, in the joint names of the Duchess and herself, and her mother's in the next. But there were troubles more wearing than those of insufficient income. It was a matter of extreme nicety to claim due observance for the Princess without insisting on too much; and it was inevitable that some parties, and probable that all, would be displeased. There was the same danger about the exercise of authority over the Princess herself; and a long series of troubles hence
The free and easy style of life in the King's family, where the King and Queen and all the Fitzclarences disliked formality, and lived very much like quiet people of other ranks, did not always suit the notions of the Duchess of Kent as to the observance which her daughter's presence should command: and hence coolnesses arose which could not be concealed from the public. We, however, have only to bear in mind, in reviewing the life of the Duchess of Kent, that she had much to suffer in the discharge of a function by which the nation has largely benefited. When her task seemed to be closed, and she might have hoped to rest on the result of her labours and her anxieties, she had some bitter griefs to endure, some few dreary years to pass before she tasted that repose which she had so well earned and in which her latter years were passed.
The day at last dawned for which she had lived so devotedly for so many years; and it found her wakeful and prepared. The early sun was shining in, that Midsummer morning—it was before five o'clock on the 20th of June, 1837—when the doors of the palace were thrown open to admit the Primate, the royal physician, and the Lord Chamberlain, who came to greet the Princess as Queen. The Duchess and her daughter were standing ready for the announcement, and prepared for the trying transactions of the day. From the day when Prince Albert entered upon the scene, and, yet more, from the hour when Sir Robert Peel assumed Lord Melbourne's place as the Queen's chief adviser, everything brightened to the Duchess of Kent. The Queen has never been more heartily cheered than when, instantly after the first of the silly pistol-shots which were at one time discharged at her by stupid boys to make themselves famous, she altered the course of her drive, and went to inform her mother of the attempt in person, before she could be alarmed by the rumour of it. That was in 1840.
The latter years of the venerable Duchess have been filled with interest and with cheerfulness by the arrival of a long succession of grandchildren, by their growth and expansion into promise of various kinds, and by the early settlement in life of the eldest. At the marriage of the Princess Royal, her grandmother was observed to be much altered, and to be in very delicate health. She had sustained the shock of her son's death a year or two before, and her life had been on the whole one of wear and tear which rendered it somewhat surprising that she should have passed the old threescore years and ten. She accomplished, with little flagging, the periodical removals to Scotland, the Isle of Wight, Windsor, and London, which were as regularly established for her as for the court; and, bodily suffering apart, her old age was a happy one, many of its hours being passed in her royal daughter
many more cheered by the affectionate attentions of her grandchildren. As for the people of England, they received her with manifest respect, wherever she appeared; and she must have been almost tired of hearing, for many years before her death, that that respect was offered as her due for the boon she had conferred on the nation in the virtues of her daughter. The same thing must be told once more, however, though her ear is now dead to human praise. It must be told in history.
GEORGE STEPHENSON. *)
[North American Rerier, 1858.]
GEORGE STEPHENSON was born on the 9th of June, 1781, in the colliery village of Wylam, about eight miles west of Newcastle-on-Tyne. His parents, Robert and Mabel Stephenson, were an industrious, hard-working couple, who lived in a two-storied red-tiled building, portioned off into four laborers' dwellings, with unplastered walls, clay floors, and bare rafters exposed overhead. Robert Stephenson was fireman of the pumping-engine at the Wylam Colliery, and thus it happened that George Stephenson's earliest recollections were of a steamboiler. His father was
an exceedingly amiable man, remembered in his own circle for his curious love of romance as well as of nature. While tending his fire in the evenings, he always gathered around him a circle of the village boys and girls to listen to his wild stories of Robinson Crusoe and Sinbad the Sailor, with others of his own invention, so that “Bob's engine-fire ” was always a favorite resort. He had also a strong affection for all kinds of birds and animals, and in the wintertime he usually had a flock of tame robins hopping about his fire, and picking up the crumbs which he *) The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer. By
Samuel SMILES. London: Murray. 1836.
saved for them from his scanty meals. His love of animated nature was inherited by his son George, who under more favorable circumstances might have become the first of England's naturalists, as he was the foremost of her engineers.
George Stephenson was the second of six children whom his father's hard earnings scarce sufficed to clothe and feed, and therefore the habits of the feathered tribe could be regarded only in his leisure hours. Of these he had but few, and the sole prospect for the boy was a life of penury and toil. In his childhood "he played about the doors; went bird-nesting when he could; and ran errands to the village." Then he was made to carry his father's dinner to him, and to take care of his younger brothers and sisters. None of the family ever went to school; food and fire were too dear for the luxury of learning, and he, with all the others, grew up without the slightest knowledge of books. One of his duties was to see that the younger children were kept out of the way of the coal-wagons, which were dragged by horses along the tram-road just in front of the cottage door. Wooden railways were early used in Northumberland, and on this very one, between the coal-pit and the loading-quay at Wylam, the first locomotive afterwards regularly travelled. Thus, as the pumping-engine was one of George's earliest
recollections, so the tram-road aided to shape his destiny. Eight years were so passed, when, the coal having been worked out on the north side, the engine was removed from Wylam to Dewley Burn, and the Stephensons followed, the father of the family still being employed as fireman. George now began to earn twopence a day from a farmer's widow, by taking care of her cows,