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AMONG the ashes and slag of a poor colliery
village, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, in the
unplastered roomwith a clay floor and garret
roofthat was the entire home of the family
to which he was born, there came into the
world, on a June day, seventy-six years ago,
one of its best benefactors. The village is
named Wylam. The family occupying, in
the year seventeen hundred and eighty-one,
one of the four labourers' apartments
contained in the cottageknown as High Street
Housewas that of Robert Stephenson and
his wife, Mabel, their only child being a two-
year old boy, named James; when on the
ninth of June, in the year just named, a
second son was born to them, whom they
called George. That was George Stephenson,
the founder of the railway system.

The family continued to increase; and, by
the time when George was twelve years old he
had three brothers and two sisters. He grew
up in war times when bread was very dear,
and it was bitterly difficult for working men
to earn more than would keep body and
soul together. His father, known as old
Bob by the neighbours, was a fireman to the
pumping-engine at the Wylam colliery, earning
not more than twelve shillings a week.
Bob was a lean and gentle man, who took
pleasure in telling wonderful stories to the
children who gathered about his engine-fire of
evenings. About his engine-fire also, tame
robins would gather for the crumbs he
spared out of his scanty dinnerfor he was
a man who loved all kinds of animals, and he
would give no better treat to his child
George, than to hold him up that he might
look at the young blackbirds in their nest.
The mother, Mabel, was a delicate and nervous
woman; who, though troubled with what
neighbours called the rising of the vapours,
had some qualities that won their admiration.
A surviving neighbour, who looks back upon
the couple, says of them, that  "they had very
little to come and go upon. They were honest
folk, but sore haudden doon in the world"

Little George carried his father's dinner to
the engine, helped to tug about and nurse
the children younger than himself and to keep
them out of the way of the horses drawing
chaldron waggons on the wooden tramroad
that ran close before the threshold of the
cottage door. If the rising of the vapours
had made Mabel a Pythoness, she might
have discovered, as she stood at the door,
lines of fate in the two wooden couplets on
the road. But, they only warned her of
danger threatening her children while at play.

Twelve shillings a-week when times are
hard, will not go far towards the support
of a father, a mother, and a lapful of
little children. The coal at Wylam was
worked out, and old Bob's engine, which had
"stood till she grew fearsome to look at,"
was pulled down. The poor family then
followed the work to Dewley Burn; where
Robert Stephenson waited as fireman on a
newer engine, and set up his household in a
one-roomed cottage near the centre of a
group of little collier's huts that stand on the
edge of a rift, bridged over here and there,
because there runs along its bottom a small,
babbling stream. Little GeorgeGeordie
Steeviewas then eight years old. Of course
he had not been to school; but he was strong,
nimble of body and of wit, and eager to begin
the business of bread-winning with the least
possible delay. In a neighbouring
farmhouse lived Grace Ainslie, a widow, whose
cows had the right to graze along the waggon
road. The post of keeping them out of the
way of the waggons, and preventing them
from trespassing on other persons' liberties
was given to George. He was to have a
shilling a week, and his duty was to include
barring the gates at night after the waggons
had all passed.

That was the beginning of George Stephenson's
career, and from it he pushed forward
his fortune inch by inch upward. Of course
he had certain peculiar abilities; but many
may have them, yet few do good with them.
George Stephenson made his own fortune,
and also added largely to the wealth and
general well-being of society. Our purpose
isfollowing the details published recently
by MR. SMILES in a most faithful and elaborate
biographyto show how a man may get
up the hill Difficulty who is content to mount
by short firm steps, keeping his eyes well
upon the ground that happens to lie next
before his feet.

As watcher of Grace Ainslie's cows, the
work of little Geordie Steevie gave him