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at Stockton, having made a tour of inspection with his son and another friend, after dinner he ventured upon the unusual measure of ordering in a bottle of wine to drink success to the new railway.
" Now, lads,' said he to the two young men, “I will tell you that I think you will live to see the day, though I may not live so long, when railways will come to supersede almost all other methods of conveyance in this country,—when mail-coaches will go by railway, and railroads will become the Great Highway for the king and all his subjects. The time is coming when it will be cheaper for a working man to travel on a railway than to walk on foot. I know there are great and almost insurmountable difficulties that will have to be encountered; but what I have said will come to pass as sure as we live. I only wish I may live to see the day, though that I can scarcely hope for, as I know how slow all human progress is, and with what difficulty I have been able to get the locomotive adopted, notwithstanding my more than ten years' successful experiment at Killingworth."
The Stockton and Darlington road was opened on the 27th of September, 1825, and a vast concourse of people assembled to behold the ceremony,—most of them from genuine curiosity, some few in intelligent faith; not a few came prepared to see “the bubble burst," while the croakers would not of course lose the sight, most gratifying as it would prove to them, of an exploded boiler, with a few persons killed and wounded. These last were intensely disappointed. The proceedings commenced at the Brusselton incline, about nine miles above Darlington, when the fixed engine drew a train of loaded wagons up the incline from the west, and lowered them on the east side. At the foot of the incline a locomotive was waiting with Mr. Stephenson as driver. Then came six wagons loaded with coals and flour;
then the passenger-coach filled with
the directors and their friends; and then twenty-one wagons with temporary seats for passengers, followed finally by six wagon-loads of coal; in all, a train of thirty-eight vehicles.
"The signal being given,” said a newspaper, “the engine started off with this immense train of carriages; and such was its velocity, that in some parts the speed was frequently 12 miles an hour; and at that time the number of passengers was counted to be 450, which, together with the coals, merchandise, and carriages, would amount to near 90 tons. The engine, with its load, arrived at Darlington, a distance of 87 miles. in 65 minutes. The six wagons loaded with coals, intended for Darlington, were then left behind; and, obtaining a fresh supply of water and arranging the procession to accommodate a band of music, and numerous passengers from Darlington, the engine set off again, and arrived at Stockton in 3 hours and 7 minutes, including stoppages, the distance being nearly 12 miles.
This announcement may appear very absurd to the reader of the present day; but it recorded a grand achievement in 1825.
Other results followed. It was not till the work was in progress that a passenger car was thought of, and a very rude one was constructed as an “Experi. ment,' and indeed was thus named. It at once became so popular, that large numbers of passengers presented themselves, and it not only succeeded itself, but revived on the high-road a stage-coach which had been starved off for want of support. In a very short time several passenger-cars were placed upon the railway, drawn by horses, and let out to coaching companies.
During the progress of the Stockton road, Mr. Stephenson laid the foundation of a locomotive-factory at Newcastle, which has since grown into an immense
blishment, and turned out many of the most powerful steam-carriages in the world. In 1824 the project of the Liverpool and Manchester line was revived, and its projectors prepared for a pitched battle with "vested rights," aristocratic landholders, popular ignorance, and official red-tapists. In the first place, they waited on the Duke of ridgewater's canal agent, Mr. Bradshaw, in the hope of inducing him to increase the means of conveyance or reduce the charges; he refused to do either. They then proposed to him to take some shares in the new railway, and he answered, “All or none." Well might the canal proprietors cling to their monopoly; and they rejoiced in the prospect of enjoying for ever their enormous dividends. Of their undertakings a single one (the Old Quay) had paid to its thirtynine proprietors every two years for half a century the total amount of their original investment, and the income from the Duke's canal amounted to not less than £ 100,000 per annum. As for the projected railway, the canal owners laughed at it; it was proposed years ago, and ended in talk, and so it would again.
The Liverpool and Manchester merchants, however, were determined to submit to the extortion of the canal companies no longer. The first prospectus of the scheme was dated the 29th of October, 1824, and the estimated expense of building a double-track line between the two cities was put down at £ 400,000 sterling. Three journeys were made by the projectors to Killingworth, in order to examine Mr. Stephenson's locomotives, and, after thorough scrutiny, that gentleman was invited to undertake the survey of the road. In this, as in the case of the Stockton and Darlington road, he met with great opposition, especially from the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton, and from officials at the place where th English Essays III.
line crossed the Duke of Bridgewater's canal. The Duke's farmers obstinately refused permission to enter their fields, and they were backed by Mr. Bradshaw. Stephenson was obliged to perform a great deal of the survey by stealth, while the people were at dinner. When the canal companies found that the Liverpool merchants were determined to push on their road in spite of all obstacles, they endeavored to effect a compromise by offering steam navigation on the Mersey and on the canals. The offers were too late : the railroad projectors had gone too far in their scheme to recede, and arrangements were made for proceeding with the bill in the Parliamentary session of 1825. When this was known, the “vested rights" men set no bounds to their rage. They flooded the country with pamphlets, and hired newspapers to vilify the railway. The most extravagant stories were circulated. The construction of the road would prevent cows from grazing and hens from laying eggs. The noxious air from the locomotive chimneys would kill birds as they flew over them, and it would no longer be possible to keep up the gamepreserves. Houses near the line would be burned. Horses would be driven out of use, and if railroads were extended the species would be annihilated, and oats and hay be unsalable commodities. All travel would be at the risk of destruction, country inns would be closed and fall to ruin, boilers would blow up
and kill all the passengers,—in short, none of the prophets of old foretold more fearful things to come. But there was always this comfort,—the locomotive was so heavy that it never could move, and therefore, even if the road were made, it could never be worked by steam
wer. Indeed, many sensible persons, not in the least influenced by these hired scribblers, regarded the new railroad as one of the mere speculations of the moment; for it was a period of the most extravagant scheming, "when balloon companies proposed to work passenger traffic through the air at forty miles an hour, and when road companies projected carriages to run on turnpikes at twelve miles an hour, with relays of bottled gas instead of horses."
The Liverpool and Manchester bill went into committee of the House of Commons on the 21st of March, 1825. An extraordinary array of legal talent was marshalled on the occasion, especially for the opponents of the measure. Evidence was taken at great length, and it was the 21st of April before the committee came to the engineering evidence, which was the most important part of the question. On the 25th of the month, Mr. Stephenson was called into the witness-box, which he styled that most unpleasant of all positions," and was examined and cross-examined with all the care which astute counsel so well know how to employ. He narrated his whole experience relating to locomotives, honestly and fearlessly, undismayed by the sneers and badgering of the lawyers, some of whom, on account of his Northumbrian accent, declared him a foreigner, and others pronounced him “mad” when he avowed his ability to build a locomotive which could run twelve miles an hour. One of the learned counsel thought to pose him by asking, “Suppose, now, one of these engines to be going along a railroad at the rate of nine or ten miles an hour, and that a cow stray upon the line and get in the way of the engine: would not that, think you, be a very awkward circi stance ?" "Yes," replied Mr. Stephenson, “very awk