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forego all festivities; and the complete and successful opening of the road was beheld throughout its length by at least five hundred thousand persons.
So strong an impression did the death of Mr. Huskisson make on the Duke of Wellington, that he would not for thirteen years afterward trust himself behind a locomotive engine. Gradually, however, all ranks of people, even the most aristocratic, who had always journeyed, when not in their own carriages, in postchaises, came to regard railway travel as the most agreeable and convenient. One man, however, the late Duke of Northumberland, it is said, never travelled by railroad; but, before and after the sittings of Parliament, solemnly rolled in his own carriage from Alnwick to London, and from London back to his castle.
So completely successful was the Liverpool and Manchester line, that it soon reconciled nearly all parties; and even the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton, who had so bitterly opposed it, a few years later patronized a rival line, on the condition that it should pass through their own property. But some inveterate croakers and grumblers mourned and refused to be comforted. Beyond all hope were such men Robert Harry Inglis,—who for many years in Parliament represented Oxford University in its most benighted state, -a man with the mind of a priest of the Middle Age, who almost yearned for the fires of Smithfield and the repeal of the statute of mortmain; and Colonel Sibthorp, the unterrified, who while his life lasted never lost an opportunity of informing the House of Commons how (he hated those infernal railroads." He even went so far as to say emphatically, that "he would rather meet a highwayman, or see a burglar on his premises,
than an engineer; he should be much more safe, and of the two classes he thought the former more respectable.”
With the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester line, Mr. Stephenson acquired abundant fame, and was now on the high-road to fortune. Did we narrate in detail, as we have thus far done, the succeeding events of his crowded life, this article would easily grow to double its length. We can, therefore, but glance at the operations in which he was concerned after the period when his eminent abilities were universally recognized. The London and Birmingham road, in which he was next interested, was an undertaking of tenfold the magnitude of the Liverpool line. Before a rail was laid, a tremendous battle had to be fought again with country clowns and benighted croakers, sleek churchmen and smooth lawyers, red-hot orators and cool officials; and the expense of carrying the bill through Parliament alone amounted to nearly £ 73,000 sterling.
Mr. Stephenson resided in Liverpool until after the completion of the Liverpool and Manchester line, and then removed to Alton Grange in Leicestershire, where he lived for several years, to superintend the working of a coal-pit which he had purchased in connection with several other gentlemen. But as railways were springing up all over England, he was frequently called from home to make surveys. He had now indeed scarce a moment which he could regard as his own, completely occupied as he was with his colliery, his locomotive factory, and various railroads. From 1833 to 1837 he was engaged in the survey of the North Midland, from Derby to Leeds, the York and North Midland, from Normanton to York, the Manchester and Leeds, the
Birmingham and Derby, and the Sheffield and Rotherham railways,- of all of which he was the chief engineer. He possessed astonishing powers of endurance and labor. During this busiest part of his life, he travelled with his secretary upwards of twenty thousand miles by postchaise, on many nights snatching sleep in his carriage, and at the dawn of day at work and on until dark, and this for several weeks in succession. He disliked writing letters, having learned too late; but he could dictate with the most unerring accuracy and precision, and his
secretary in 1835 related that in one day he dictated no less than thirty-seven letters, many of them embodying the results of much close calculation. He could fall asleep at any moment he pleased, awake at
and go to work at once, -a faculty which has been conspicuous in some military men, among them the Duke of Wellington.
ways were now belting the whole country with their iron bands, and the croakers hid their diminished heads
as rival lines rushed by them in all directions. We can not even name all those in which Mr. Stephenson
son were more or less interested. Some of the greatest the father did not live to see completed, among them
the Chester and Holyhead line, with its grand original feature of the iron tubular bridge over Menai Strait.
Many of the readers of the 'Illustrated London News
will remember their interest in the pictorial progress of this immense work, from the raising of the first section of the tube to the complection of the whole,
Mr. Robert Stephenson drove the last rivet.
In 1836 and 1837 there was a rush in Parliament for railway acts. In the former year, 34 bills passed the legislature, authorizing the formation of 994 miles
of railway at an estimated cost of £ 17,595,000; and in the following session 118 notices of new bills were given. The furor then ceased for a while, wholesome Partiamentary checks being imposed, and in 1838 and 1839 only five new acts were obtained; in 1840, not one; in 1841, only one; the next two years were quiet; and not until 1844 did the spirit of speculation again burst forth, when it did so with the suddenness of Law's Mississippi scheme or of the California fever, raging beyond all control, until, in the third year following, speculators and dupes were alike slaughtered and crushed out of existence by the railway Juggernaut of 1847.
Never, since the days of the South Sea scheme, has England beheld such extravagance of speculation as seized upon her in 1845 and 1846. The whole nation went mad on the subject of railway shares. Hundreds of lines were projected that never could have been constructed; but the premiums on the shares constituted their sole worth, in the opinion of speculators, Shares! shares ! was the universal cry.
What they were worth to hold for a time, and then sell, was the sole question. Of real value they had no more than the Semper Augustus tulip-bulbs of Holland's mania. All classes became infatuated; social distinctions on 'Change were utterly forgotten; noblemen were known as “stags” in Capel Court, learned prelates as "bulls," and delicate ladies as “bears;" the son of a charwoman, a clerk in a broker's office at twelve shillings a week, was found to have his name down as a subscriber, in the London and York line, for £ 52,000, and the Duke of St. James might be seen arm in arm with Jeremy Diddler. Who has not relished Thackeray's inimitable satire in "Punch,' which narrates how Jeames Plush, of Berkeley Square, servant to Mr. Flimsey of the firm of Flimsey and Flash, one morning came into the breakfast-room to inform his master that he could no longer wait as a menial, because he had made € 30,000 by speculating in railway shares,—how Mr. Flimsey at once arose, grasped him by the hand, and begged him to take a seat at the table,-how it was soon discovered that Mr. Plush was of a very ancient family, as Hugo de la Pluche came over with William the Conqueror, and how Miss Emily Flimsey remarked, that, even in Mr. Plush's humble situation, she had noticed his high demeanor?—At last the bubble burst, and ruined multitudes. No man had contributed toward its inflation more than George Hudson, worshipped for a time by his dupes as “the Railway King," and when the crash came, cursed as a railway Moloch.
Mr. Stephenson was not in the least affected either by the wild schemes or by the wilder panic that succeeded; he never speculated in railway shares, and always dissuaded others from doing so.
He had now become a rich man, and there was no necessity for him to enter into speculations, from which, however, he was restrained by principle, and not by policy. In 1837 he had purchased Tapton House, an elegant seat near the town of Chesterfield, where he led the life of a country gentleman, gradually withdrawing from active business, which he gave up to his son. He erected gigantic limeworks on his estate, and purchased extensive collieries in addition to those he already worked. His business sagacity and judgment were great, his undertakings prospered, and wealth rapidly flowed in upon him. His fame had gone abroad, and Leopold, King of the Belgians,