Page images
[ocr errors]

similar to those which, being further upheaved, form many of the islands of ? Polynesia.

When a reef has reached the surface of the water, sand, shells, fragments of coral, and other substances begin to accumulate, and cocoa-nut trees often grow where the waves still wash their roots. Further accumulations from the ocean, with

[graphic][merged small]

decayed leaves, stems, etc., gradually convert the reef into fertile land.

The coral is a 3 calcareous secretion or deposit of many kinds of zoophytes, which assumes very various and often beautiful forms. The coral-producing zoophytes are compound animals, which increase by 4 gemmation, young polyp buds spring

ing from the original polyp, and not separating from it, but remaining in the same spot, even when the original or parent polyp has ceased to exist. Thus layers of coral are formed, assuming various shapes. The structure sometimes branches like a shrub, spreads like a fan, or assumes the form of a cup, a flower, or a mushroom.

Corals chiefly abound in the seas of the warmer latitudes, where they form extensive banks at no very great depth, and their various and bright colours present the appearance of submarine flowergardens. The common red coral of commerce is chiefly obtained from the Mediterranean, in some parts of which extensive coral fisheries are carried on. It is brought up by means of a sort of “grappling apparatus dragged after a boat. Red coral is much admired for its fine colour ; it is

susceptible of a high polish, and is much used for ornamental purposes. Much of the red coral of the Mediterranean is sent to India.



polyp, an aquatic animal of the radiate type (like a star). 2 Polynesia, an immense number of islands in the Pacific Ocean. 3 calcareous, partaking of the nature of limestone ; consisting of, or containing, carbonate of lime. *gemmation, formation of a new individual by the protrusion, or budding forth, of any part of an animal or plant, which may then either become free or remain with the parent. sgrappling apparatus, hooks by which the coral can be dragged up. susceptible, taking easily; readily admitting of; capable of receiving.




cor-res-pond'-ing im-pa'-tient-ly Ste'-phen-son con-ceived' con-struct'-ing lo’-co-mo-tive

pro-ces'-sion the'-o-ries GEORGE STEPHENSON, who is now justly called the 6. father of railways,” was the child of poor parents residing at Wylam, near ? Newcastle. Unable to send him to school, they employed him at home as a nurse for the younger children, until he was eight years of age. His chief duty as nurse was to keep his little brothers and sisters from under the hoofs of the horses which drew the coal-cars on the wooden tramway near his father's house.

At this early age, while watching the coal-trains passing, he conceived the idea that iron would make better rails than wood, and that if he could put upon wheels the 2 steam-engine, which his father tended as fireman at the coal-pit, it would draw as heavy a train of coal-cars as could be moved by a 3 team of fifty horses.

The idea did not pass away from the brain of George Stephenson. He worked steadily at it for twenty-five years. His first employment at the coal-pit was to drive the horse which turned the winding machine, or“gin," as the colliers called it ; and one day he astonished the colliers by building on a bench, in front of his father's cottage, a model in clay of an engine which turned the “gin” and lifted the coal. He was at this time so young and


[ocr errors]


small, that his father made him hide when the owner of the coal mine went "the rounds" to pay his hands, for fear he should think him too small to receive eightpence a day wages !

It was not until Stephenson had arrived at the age of nineteen, and was set to watch an engine

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]


that he found time to learn to read and write. Then he began to put into practice some of his 4 theories. He made the first locomotive with smooth drivingwheels. It had been thought necessary by some engineers to construct locomotives with 5 cogged driving-wheels, and a corresponding rack on the

rail, to prevent the wheels from slipping. But Stephenson proved that this was not necessary.

Stephenson was nearly fifty years of age before he found men willing to risk their money in constructing an iron railroad to test his locomotive. When at length the first railroad was completed, between Stockton and Darlington, in Durham, it was opened by a procession. This was headed by a man on horseback, to keep the road clear for the locomotive and car, and ladies and gentlemen on horseback and in carriages kept pace with the train by riding by the side of the track. When they had gone a short distance, Stephenson, who was running his own engine, impatiently called to the horseman to get out of the way, and, putting on steam, ran his locomotive the rest of the distance at the terrible pace of twelve miles an hour !


· Newcastle-upon-Tyne, chief town of Northumberland, the most northerly county of England. 2 steam-engine, a machine or contrivance moved by steam ; a locomotive is a steam-engine which draws railway-carriages from place to place. S team, two or more horses, oxen, or other beasts, harnessed together to the same vehicle for drawing. 'theory, comes from a Greek word signifying to look at ; hence we understand by theory the truth, idea, speculation, or supposition, which is formed in the mind after looking at, or studying, certain subjects of knowledge. cogged, having cogs or teeth. A cogged wheel is a wheel with projections so made as to fit between the cogs of a straight bar (rack), or another wheel of the same kind.


« PreviousContinue »