The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer

The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer

by Samuel Smiles
     
 

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A political and social reformer, Samuel Smiles (1812–1904) was also a noted biographer in the Victorian period, paying particular attention to engineers. His first biography was of George Stephenson (1781–1848), whom he met at the opening of the North Midland Railway in 1840. After Stephenson died, Smiles wrote a memoir of him for Eliza Cook's Journal.…  See more details below

Overview

A political and social reformer, Samuel Smiles (1812–1904) was also a noted biographer in the Victorian period, paying particular attention to engineers. His first biography was of George Stephenson (1781–1848), whom he met at the opening of the North Midland Railway in 1840. After Stephenson died, Smiles wrote a memoir of him for Eliza Cook's Journal. With the permission of Stephenson's son, Robert, this evolved into the first full biography of the great engineer, published in 1857 and reissued here in its revised third edition. This detailed and lively account of Stephenson's life, which proved very popular, charts his education and youth, his crucial contribution to the development of Britain's railways, and his relationships with many notables of the Victorian world. It remains of interest to the general reader as well as historians of engineering, transport and business.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781108052733
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2012
Series:
Cambridge Library Collection - Technology Series
Pages:
570
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.26(d)

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CHAP. III. ENGINEMAN AT NEWBURN. — SELF-CULTURE. George Stephenson was eighteen years old before he learnt to read. He was now almost a full-grown workman, earning his twelve shillings a week, and having the charge of an engine, which occupied his time to the extent of twelve hours every day. He had thus very few leisure moments that he could call his own. But the busiest man will find them if he watch for them; and if he be careful in turning these moments to useful account, he will prove them to be the very " gold-dust of time," as Young has so beautifully described them. To his poor parents George Stephenson owed a sound constitution and vigorous health. They had also set before him an example of sobriety, economy, and patient industry — habits which are in themselves equivalent to principles. For habits are the most inflexible of all things; and principles are, in fact, but the names which we assign to them. If his parents, out of their small earnings and scanty knowledge, were unable to give their son any literary culture, at all events they had trained him well, and furnished him with an excellent substratum of character. Unquestionably, however, he laboured under a very serious disadvantage in having to master, at a comparatively advanced age, those simple rudiments of elementary instruction, which all children in a country calling itself civilised ought to have imparted to them at school. The youth who reaches manhood, and enters, byChap. m.] SELF-CULTURE. 17 necessity, upon a career of daily toil, without being able to read his native language, does not start on equal terms with others who have received the benefits of such instruction. It is true that he who, byhis own voluntary and determined efforts, overcomes the difficulties early thrown in his way, and ...

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