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Title: Coaching, with Anecdotes of the Road
Author: Lennox, William Pitt
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note:
    Spelling and punctuation inconsistencies been harmonized.
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    marked with _underscores_. Please see the end of this book for
    further notes.








    Dedicated to His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, K.G.,


    And the Members of The

  [Illustration: COACHING CLUB]


    _All rights reserved._



    DAYS                                                               1


    IMPROVEMENT                                                       25


   VILLAGE"--WONDERFUL FEAT OF LOCOMOTION                             49


    SQUIRE OF 1638                                                    67








    DRIVER                                                           127


    IN 1839--COACHING IN AUSTRALIA                                   143










    ROYAL MAIL--GENERAL REMARKS ON DRIVING                           223


    THE IRON DUKE--SUGGESTIONS                                       237


    LONDON--FIRST INTRODUCTION OF OMNIBUSES                          251








Before I allude to the road as it is, let me refer to what it was,
and in so doing bring my classical lore into play. Pelops was a
coachman, who has been immortalised for his ability to drive at the
rate of fourteen miles an hour by the first of Grecian bards. Despite
his ivory arm, he got the whip-hand of OEnomaus, a brother "dragsman"
in their celebrated chariot-race from Pisa to the Corinthian Isthmus,
owing more to the rascality of the state coachman, Myrtilus, whom he
bribed to furnish his master, the King of Pisa, with an old carriage,
the axletree of which broke on the course, than to his own coaching

Hippolytus, too, "handled the ribbons well," but "came to grief"
by being overturned near the sea-shore, when flying from the
resentment of his father. His horses were so frightened at the noise
of sea-calves, which Neptune had purposely sent there, that they ran
among the rocks till his chariot was broken and his body torn to

Virgil and Horace sang the praises and commemorated the honours of
the "whips" of their day. Juvenal tells us of a Roman Consul who
aspired to be a "dragsman"--

    Carpento rapitur pinguis Damasippus; et ipse
    Ipse rotam stringit multo sufflamine Consul."

Again, I find the following lines:--

   "Sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum
    Collegisse juvat metaque fervidis
    Evitata rotis, palmaque nobilis
    Terrarum dominos evehit ad Deos."

Which may be thus rendered--"The summit of some men's ambition is to
drive four-in-hand."

Propertius, too, exclaims against the tandem as rivalling the
curricle--that is, according to some witty translators:--

   "Invide tu _tandem_ voces compesce molestas.
    Et sine nos cursu quo sumus _ire pares_."

Horace writes:--

    "_Tandem_ parcas insane;"

and to those who drive this dangerous vehicle the following line may
not be inappropriate:--

    "_Tandem_ discedere campis admonuit."

In addition to the above classical names, there were, early in the
present century, hundreds of whips who raised the character of
coachmen to the highest pinnacle of fame. Let me instance:--

Richard Vaughan, of the Cambridge "Telegraph," 'scientific in
horseflesh, unequalled in driving;' Pears, of the Southampton day
coach; Wood, Liley, Wilcocks, and Hayward of the "Wonder," between
London and Shrewsbury; Charles Holmes, of the Blenheim coach; Izaac
Walton, the Mæcenas of whips, the Braham of the Bath road; Jack
Adams, the civil and obliging pastor, who taught the young Etonians
to drive; Bramble, Faulkner, Dennis, Cross, and others, all of whom
have long since departed this life.

Many professional stage-coachmen were men of good education. Indeed,
not a few had received the advantage of a college education, and
could quote Latin and Greek in a manner that surprised some of their
companions. They could also tell a good story and sing a good song;
so that their society was much sought after, both on the box and in
the snug bar-parlour.

I will not here stop to discuss the question of rail and road, or to
lament that the "Light (coaches) of other days has faded," although
many a man's heart sinks to the axle when he thinks of the past, and
feels disposed to sympathise with Jerry Drag, "him wot drove," I
quote his own words, "the old Highflyer, Red Rover, and Markiss of

"Them as 'ave seen coaches," says this knight of the ribbons, "afore
rails came into fashion, 'ave seen something worth remembering;
them was happy days for Old England, afore reform and rails turned
everything upside down, and men rode as natur' intended they should,
on pikes with coaches and smart, active cattle, and not by machinery,
like bags of cotton and hardware; but coaches is done for ever, and
a heavy blow it is. They was the pride of the country, there wasn't
anything like them, as I've heerd gemmen say from forrin parts, to
be found nowhere, nor never will be again."

_Mais revenons à nos moutons_; my present object is to compare
coaching as it is with coaching as it was.

It may not here be uninteresting to mention that coaches were
introduced into England by Fitz Allan, Earl of Arundel, A.D. 1580,
before which time Queen Elizabeth, on public occasions, rode behind
her chamberlain; and she, in her old age, used reluctantly such an
effeminate conveyance. They were at first drawn by only two horses;
but, as a writer of those days remarks, "The rest crept in by
degrees, as man at first ventured to sea."

Historians, however, differ upon this subject, for it is stated by
Stow (that ill-used antiquary, who, after a long laborious life, was
left by his countrymen to beg his bread) that in 1564, Booner, a
Dutchman, became the Queen's coachman, and was the first that brought
the use of coaches into England; while Anderson, in his "History
of Commerce," says, on the other hand, that about 1580 the use of
coaches was introduced by the Earl of Arundel.

It was Buckingham, the favourite, who about 1619 began to have a
team of six horses, which "was wondered at as a novelty, and imputed
to him as a mastering pride." Before that time ladies chiefly rode
on horseback--either single, on their palfreys, or double, behind
some person, on a pillion. A considerable time elapsed before this
luxurious way of locomotion was enjoyed by more than a very few rich
and distinguished individuals, and a very much longer time before
coaches became general.

In the year 1672, at which period throughout the kingdom there were
only six stage-coaches running, a pamphlet was written and published
by Mr. John Cresset, of the Charterhouse, urging their suppression;
and amongst the grave reasons given against their continuance was the

"These stage-coaches make gentlemen come to London on every small
occasion, which otherwise they would not do but upon urgent
necessity; nay, the convenience of the passage makes their wives
often come up, who, rather than come such long journeys on horseback,
would stay at home. Then when they come to town they must presently
be in the mode, get fine clothes, go to plays and treats, and, by
these means, get such a habit of idleness and love of pleasure as
makes them uneasy ever after."

What would Mr. Cresset have said had he lived some forty years ago,
in the palmy days of coaching--coaches full, able dragsmen, spicy
teams, doing their eleven miles an hour with ease, without breaking
into a gallop or turning a hair? Or how surprised would the worthy
chronicler of 1672 be at the present annihilators of time and
space--the railroads, when "the convenience of the passage" enables
parties to come up to London from Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester,
Bath, and Bristol in time for the play or opera, and return home for
dinner the following day.

In 1739 Pennant writes:--

"I travelled in the Chester stage to London, then no despicable
vehicle for country gentlemen. The first day, with much labour, we
got from Chester to Whitchurch (twenty miles), the second day to the
Welsh Harp, the third to Coventry, the fourth to Northampton, the
fifth to Dunstable, and, as a wondrous effort, on the last to London,
before the commencement of the night. The strain and labour of six
horses, sometimes eight, drew us through the slough of Mireden and
many other places. We were constantly out two hours before day, and
as many at night. Families who could afford to travel in their own
carriages contracted with Benson and Co., and were dragged up in the
same number of days by three sets of able horses."

These coaches must have been not only very lumbering, but very
dangerous conveyances, as the following newspaper paragraph, dated
the 2nd of September, 1770, will prove:--

"It were greatly to be wished that stage-coaches were put under
some regulation as to the number of persons and quantity of luggage
carried by them. Thirty-four persons were in and about the Hertford
coach this day, which broke down, by one of the traces giving way.
One outside passenger was killed on the spot, a woman had both legs
broken; very few of the number, either within or without, but were
severely bruised."

Rich or poor, high or low, prior to this were obliged either to walk
or ride in the same manner that Queen Elizabeth did from Greenwich
to London, behind her Lord Chancellor. Queen Victoria is a graceful
horsewoman. Previous to the lamented decease of the Prince Consort,
Her Majesty constantly appeared on horseback, and for all we know
to the contrary, Lord Cairns is able to "match the world with noble
horsemanship;" still we think that such an _entrée_ into London as
that performed by the Virgin Queen would surprise the weak minds of
the present generation.

One can scarcely now realize the state of things when a passenger
starting by the waggon from the metropolis at five o'clock in the
morning, did not arrive at Blackheath until half-past nine. For four
hours and a half were the unfortunate travellers tossed, tumbled,
jumbled, and rumbled over a road full of holes and wheel-ruts, out
of which extra horses were employed to drag the lumbering vehicle.
Break-downs (not the popular dance of that name) were frequent; much
time was occupied in repairing the waggons, and it often happened
that, when a wheelwright could not be got, the road was blocked up by
a broken-down vehicle.

Macaulay tells us that, during the year which immediately followed
the Restoration, a diligence ran between London and Oxford in two
days. The passengers slept at Beaconsfield. At length, in the
Spring of 1669, a great and daring innovation was attempted. It
was announced that a vehicle, described as the flying coach, would
perform the whole journey between sunrise and sunset.

"This spirited undertaking was solemnly considered and sanctioned by
the heads of the University, and appears to have excited the same
sort of interest which is excited in our own time by the opening of
a new railway. The Vice-Chancellor, by a notice which was affixed in
all public places, prescribed the hour and place of departure.

"The success of this experiment was complete. At six in the morning
the carriage began to move from before the ancient front of All
Souls' College, and at seven in the evening the adventurous gentlemen
who had run the first risk were safely deposited at their inn in
London. The emulation of the sister University was moved, and soon
a diligence was set up which in one day carried passengers from
Cambridge to the Capital."

In 1678 a contract was made to establish a coach for passengers
between Edinburgh and Glasgow, a distance of forty-four miles. This
coach was drawn by six horses, and the journey between the two
places, to and fro, was completed in six days.

At the close of the reign of Charles II. flying carriages ran thrice
a week from London to all the chief towns; but no stage-coach appears
to have proceeded further north than York, or further west than
Exeter. The ordinary day's journey of a flying coach was about fifty
miles in the Summer; but in Winter, when the ways were bad and the
nights long, little more than thirty miles.

The Chester coach, the York coach, and the Exeter coach generally
reached London in four days during the fine season, but at Christmas
not till the sixth day. The passengers, six in number, were all
seated in the carriage; for accidents were so frequent that it would
have been most perilous to mount the roof. The ordinary fare was
about twopence half-penny a mile in Summer, and somewhat more in

"This mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the present day
would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our ancestors
wonderfully, and indeed alarmingly rapid; for, in a work published a
few months before the death of Charles II., the flying coaches are
extolled as far superior to any similar vehicles ever known in the
world. Their velocity is the subject of special commendation, and is
triumphantly contrasted with the sluggish pace of the Continental
posts. But with boasts like these was mingled the sound of complaint
and invective.

"The interest of large classes had been unfavourably affected
by the establishment of the new diligences, and, as usual, many
persons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to clamour
against the innovation. It was vehemently argued that this mode
of conveyance would be fatal to the breed of horses and to the
noble art of horsemanship; that the Thames, which had long been an
important nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief thoroughfare
from London up to Windsor, and down to Gravesend; that saddlers
and spurriers would be ruined by hundreds; that numerous inns at
which mounted travellers had been in the habit of stopping would be
deserted, and could no longer pay any rent; that the new carriages
were too hot in Summer and too cold in Winter; that the passengers
were grievously annoyed by invalids and crying children; that the
coach sometimes reached the inn so late that it was impossible to
get supper, and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to
get breakfast.

"On these grounds it was gravely recommended that no public carriage
should be permitted to have more than four horses, to start oftener
than once a week, or to go more than thirty miles a day. It was hoped
that, if this regulation were adopted, all except the sick and the
lame would return to the old modes of travelling on horseback and by
water. Petitions embodying such opinions as these were presented to
the King in Council from several companies of the City of London,
from several provincial towns, and from the justices of several

It is difficult to determine the exact period at which a stage-coach
first appeared upon the road, for there is a wide difference between
the stage-coach of the last century and the flying coaches of the
previous one. Although the stage-coach may have improved in speed,
its discomfort still existed, as may be gleaned from the following
lines written by Dean Swift on his journey from London to Chester:--

   "Resolved to visit a far-distant friend,
    A porter to the Bull and Gate I send,
    And bid the man at all events engage
    Some place or other in the Chester stage.
    The man returns--''Tis done as soon as said,
    Your Honour's sure when once the money's paid.
    My brother whip, impatient of delay,
    Puts too at three and swears he cannot stay.'
    (Four dismal hours ere the break of day.)
    Roused from sound sleep--thrice called--at length I rise,
    Yawning, stretch out my arms, half closed my eyes;
    By steps and lanthorn enter the machine,
    And take my place, how cordially, between
    Two aged matrons of excessive bulk,
    To mend the matter, too, of meaner folk;
    While in like mood, jammed in on t'other side,
    A bullying captain and a fair one ride,
    Foolish as fair, and in whose lap a boy--
    _Our_ plague eternal, but _her_ only joy.
    At last, the glorious number to complete,
    Steps in my landlord for that bodkin seat;
    When soon, by every hillock, rut, and stone,
    In each other's faces by turns we're thrown.
    _This_ grandam scolds, _that_ coughs, the captain swears,
    The fair one screams, and has a thousand fears;
    While our plump landlord, trained in other lore,
    Slumbers at ease, nor yet ashamed to snore;
    And Master Dicky, in his mother's lap,
    Squalling, at once brings up three meals of pap.
    Sweet company! Next time, I do protest, Sir,
    I'd walk to Dublin, ere I ride to Chester!"

As Dean Swift died in 1745, at the green old age of seventy-eight,
the above lines were probably written about the close of the
previous century; and certainly not much progress was made for
the comfort of passengers, as I can myself bear testimony. I well
remember the lumbering, slow coach that used to convey me from London
to Chichester thrice a year, when the holidays from Westminster
came about. It started at five o'clock in the morning, reaching its
destination late in the evening, six inside passengers being stuffed
in a small space capable of holding four comfortably. At all the
hills--and there are plenty on this road--we were politely asked to
descend from the vehicle, as the wretched horses could scarcely drag
their heavy load even on level ground. It was always considered in
those days dangerous to mount the roof; still any risk was better
than being stifled inside, and often have I, despite the inclemency
of the weather, taken the box seat, getting thoroughly wet through
before half my journey had been accomplished.

This reminds me of a witticism of a guard who, being told by a
passenger that he had tried every sort of waterproof coat, but that
nothing would keep him dry,

"Why, then," said the other, "don't you invest a penny in a Yarmouth
bloater? Eat that, and I warrant you'll be dry all day?"

None except those who have been victims to the misery of inside
berths can imagine the wretchedness of them--a coach licensed to
carry six inside--for so small was the space, so low was the roof,
that the legs of the inmates were cramped, and their backs doubled
up. Then the atmosphere was most oppressive--forty, sometimes fifty,
stone of human beings huddled together, with both windows up. Again,
the occupants--occasionally a fat nurse and a squalling baby; a
farmer, rude in health and manners; a painted old Jezebel, redolent
of Macassar oil and patchouli; a fledgling dandy, strong of musk; a
bloated publican, on the verge of delirium tremens, who, as the old
song says, "kept his spirits up by pouring spirits down;" a snuffy
old maid, whose nasal organ was so supplied with "lundyfoot" that it
set her companions sneezing immoderately. Then the inside passengers
were to be fed, and a strong odour of cheese, apples, oranges, cakes,
brandy, rum, gin, beer prevailed everywhere.

Often in my early days have I travelled from London to
Brighthelmstone (now called Brighton) in a coach thus described:--

"Lewes and Brighthelmstone--new machine to hold four persons,
by Charley, sets out by the 'George Inn,' in the Haymarket, St.
James's at six o'clock in the morning, every Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday, in one day to the 'Star' at Lewes, and the 'Old Ship' at
Brighthelmstone, and returns from there every Tuesday, Thursday, and
Saturday. Inside passengers to Lewes to pay thirteen shillings; to
Brighthelmstone, sixteen shillings. To be allowed fourteen pounds
weight of baggage, all above to pay one penny per pound."

The above was a great improvement upon a coach previously drawn by
six long-tailed black horses, thus described:--

"Batchelor's Old Godstone, East Grinstead, and Lewes stage continues
to set out every Tuesday at nine o'clock and Saturday at five o'clock
from the 'Talbot Inn', in the Borough, returning every Monday and
Thursday. Children in lap and outside passengers to pay half price.
Half of the fare to be paid at booking. Performed, if God permit, by
J. Batchelor."

I may here remind my readers that when the Prince Regent, afterwards
George IV., selected Brighton, as a marine residence, and squandered
thousands and thousands of pounds upon the Pavilion, the journey from
London to this then small fishing town occupied two days; the first
night being passed at Reigate or at Cuckfield, according to the road
the stage travelled.

About seventy-five years ago an attempt was made to run through in
one day, and, to the surprise of many, was accomplished; but it was
not until 1823 that the Brighton road became (what it continued
to be until the rail was introduced) the first in England for
well-appointed coaches, first-rate teams, and gentleman-like drivers.

Harry Stevenson, who was educated at Cambridge, was the first to
introduce the fast light coach, called the "Waterwitch," and truly
did he "_witch_ the world with noble _coach_manship." After a time
this beau-ideal of dragsmen started another coach in lieu of the
"Waterwitch," which he called the "Age," and which was unrivalled.
Who that ever saw that fancy team, the skewbald, dun, chestnut, and
roan, sightly and full of action, leave the Castle Square, witnessed
that which never has been and never can be equalled, in this or in
any other country. With Stevenson commenced the rage for driving
public conveyances by noblemen and gentlemen, to which I shall refer
in a future chapter.

It may here not be out of place to lay before my readers a statement
of the working of the stage-coaches in bygone days. In 1742 a
stage-coach left London for Oxford at seven o'clock in the morning,
and reached Uxbridge at midday. It arrived at High Wycombe at five in
the evening, where it rested for the night, and proceeded at the same
rate for the seat of learning on the morrow. Here, then, were ten
hours consumed each day in travelling twenty-seven miles, and nearly
two days in performing what was afterwards done under six hours by
the "Defiance" and other coaches. To go from London to York used to
take six days.

In 1784 I read of the Edinburgh diligence, horsed with a pair, which
set off daily from the "Saracen's Head," in the Gallowgate, Glasgow,
at seven o'clock in the morning, and arrived at Edinburgh at eight
o'clock at night. This conveyance stopped at Cumbernauld for an hour
and a half in order to give the passengers time for breakfast, and
again for the same time at Linlithgow for dinner. A third stoppage
took place in order that the passengers might enjoy their tea, when
they again proceeded on their road, and were finally set down safely
in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh at eight o'clock at night.

About this period there was a ponderous machine with six broad
wheels, and drawn by eight horses, called the Newcastle waggon. In
addition to passengers, it generally carried a great portion of
the Glasgow linen and cotton manufactures to the London market. It
travelled at the rate of twenty-five miles a day, and was three weeks
upon the road between Glasgow and London, resting always upon the
Sundays. At that time the best mode of conveyance from Glasgow to the
English capital was by a trading vessel from Borrowstounness; and so
remarkable was a sight of London considered in Glasgow, that a worthy
citizen who bore the same Christian and surname as another friend
was, after his return from London, distinguished as "London John."

The use of stage-coaches rapidly extended itself, and there was
scarcely a town through which some stage-coach did not pass. After
a time, the heavy six-inside lumbering vehicle gave way to the
light four-inside fast coach; and from the year 1825 until the
introduction of railways, nothing could exceed the "turns out"
on the principal roads. In 1833 the distance between London and
Shrewsbury (one hundred and fifty-four miles), Exeter (one hundred
and seventy-one miles), and Manchester (one hundred and eighty-seven
miles) was done in a day. The Mail to Holyhead performed the journey
(two hundred and sixty-one miles) in twenty-seven hours, and that
to Liverpool (two hundred and three miles) in twenty-one hours. The
journey to Brighton was accomplished at the rate of twelve miles
an hour, including stoppages, and the Bath, Bristol, Southampton,
Oxford, and Cambridge coaches were famed for their excellent

In 1807 one of the Stamford stage-coaches that daily ran to London
performed the journey (ninety-nine miles) in nine hours and four
minutes from the time of starting; although the passengers were
allowed time to breakfast and dine upon the road. The coach must
necessarily have run at the rate of twelve miles an hour.

The fast coach had nearly a horse to every mile of ground it ran,
reckoning one way, or "one side of the ground"--for example, from
London to Shrewsbury the distance is one hundred and fifty-eight
miles, and the number of horses kept for the "Wonder" coach was one
hundred and fifty.

The average price of horses for these coaches was about £23. Fancy
teams, and those working out of London, were rated considerably
higher; but, taking a hundred miles of ground, well horsed, the above
was about the mark. In these days it would be nearly if not quite
double. The average period of each horse's service did not exceed
four years.




In the days I write of, Macaulay tells us that the mounted
highwayman, a marauder known to the present generation only from
books, was to be found on every main road. Hounslow Heath on the
Great Western Road, Finchley Common on the Great Northern Road,
were, perhaps, the most celebrated of these spots; but there was
hardly an open common or steep hill which was not infested with these
enterprising plunderers.

Upon two occasions I fell in with these gentlemen of the road.
Once, when travelling in very early youth from London to Goodwood,
the Chichester coach was stopped by two ill-favoured scoundrels,
who were about to levy black mail on the inside passengers, when,
fortunately, the sound of a travelling-carriage was heard, and
thinking, probably, that the inmates of it might be armed, the
robbers scampered off.

The second adventure occurred to me when returning very late at
night from Tunbridge Wells in a dennet with my trusty batman, John
Hargreaves, by my side. We were ascending the hill that leads into
Sevenoaks, my servant walking up it and I driving, when I heard a
shrill whistle from one side of the road, which was immediately
responded to. Anticipating some mischief, I said "Jump in," and,
obedient to orders, Hargreaves did so.

Happily, we had reached the summit of the hill, when one man rushed
forward and attempted to seize the horse's bridle, while another
tried to hang on behind the gig. Hargreaves had my stick in his hand,
a good ash plant, with which he struck the fellow a blow across the
face, which made him relax his hold, while I gave a smart lash of
the whip to my most willing horse, who started off at a tremendous
pace down the hill, leaving my assailant sprawling on the ground, and
within an inch of having his head run over by the wheel.

"Stage-coach robberies were of daily occurrence, and it was generally
supposed that they were connived at by many innkeepers; so much so,
indeed, that proclamations were issued warning all innkeepers that
the eye of the Government was upon them. Their criminal connivance,
it was affirmed, enabled banditti to infest the roads with impunity.
That those suspicions were not without foundation is proved by the
dying speeches of some penitent robbers of that age, who appear to
have received from the innkeepers services much resembling those
which Farquhar's 'Boniface' rendered to 'Gibbet.'"

In the "Domestic Intelligence" I read that "several passengers, both
men and women, to the number of fifteen, going in three or four
coaches towards Bath and Bristol, were set upon by some highwaymen
(supposed to be soldiers) well armed, about Stoke Church, in
Oxfordshire (a very desolate part at that time), who robbed them all
of very considerable value."

Another adventure may not prove uninteresting. Two travellers were
journeying together over a dreary common, when one remarked to the
other that he trusted they should not fall in with any highwaymen, as
he had one hundred pounds secreted in his boot. They had not gone
many miles before they came to a most secluded spot, where four cross
roads met; the new-laid earth round the finger-post, and a gibbet at
some little distance, with a skeleton body suspended in chains to it,
showed that two human beings had met with ignominious deaths. They
had been companions in crime, and in robbing the Mail the guard had
been killed.

An offer of a free pardon and two hundred pounds reward had been
proclaimed, when one of the wretches, actuated by vile lucre, turned
King's evidence, and sacrificed his friend. Although he had taken
part in the robbery, as he did not fire the fatal shot, his pardon
was granted and the blood money awarded him. On the morning of
the execution of his partner in guilt, remorse seized hold of the
informer, and by his own hand he rid the country of a villain.

The two travellers, who, I ought to say, had met accidentally at an
inn, reached the spot I have described; the wind whistled across the
heath--the chains of the gibbet clanked, the birds of carrion hovered
over the new-made grave, in which the suicide had been buried, and
the body of the murderer dangled in the air.

As they passed the grave of the suicide, three men suddenly rushed
forward, determined, as they swore, with a dreadful imprecation, to
have the money or the lives of the travellers.

"Spare our lives! Take all I have!" cried one. "Here it is!" offering
a handful of silver.

"That won't do!" responded the highwayman. "I'll soon see what you
have about you!"

"Stay!" said the other. "My companion has our money hid away in his

"Traitor!" exclaimed his companion, while one of the gang, with
blackened face and cocked pistol, proceeded to take off the boots of
the terrified victim.

"If you've spoken false," shouted the first, "I'll give you an ounce
of lead for your pains."

"He has spoken truth," responded the searcher. "Here's a prize--a
hundred pounds in Bank of England notes!"

Securing the money, the two travellers were blindfolded and bound
to the finger-post, while the horse was taken out of their gig and
turned loose on the common. It was nearly an hour before they were
released from their position, during which period the ill-used victim
vented his anger pretty loudly.

Upon reaching the next town where a deposition was made before a
magistrate, the worthy Justice commented in rather a severe strain
upon the base conduct of the miscreant who had acted so treacherous a

"Hear my palliation," meekly said the accused.

"Stand down; I've heard enough;" vociferated the man in authority.

"One word," continued the other. "My object was not to screen myself
at another's expense. My companion told me he had one hundred pounds
in his boot; I had twelve hundred pounds in my waistband. Had I been
searched, that must have been discovered, and would probably have led
to my companion being searched; so I thought it better to sacrifice
the smaller to the larger sum. I now return the money I was the means
of his being deprived of, and in future recommend him to be more
prudent in keeping his own counsel."

One more anecdote of the road must suffice:--

Early in the present century a rider for a mercantile house in the
City of London was attacked a few miles beyond Winchester, by a
highwayman, who, taking him by surprise, robbed him of his purse and
pocket-book, containing cash and notes to a considerable amount.

"Sir," said the rider, with great presence of mind, "I have suffered
you to take my property, and you are welcome to it. It is my
master's, and the loss of it cannot do him much harm; but, as it
will look very cowardly in me to have been robbed without making any
resistance, I should take it kindly of you just to fire a pistol
through my coat."

"With all my heart," replied the highwayman; "where will you have the

"Here," said the rider, "just by the side of the button."

The highwayman was as good as his word, but the moment he fired the
rider knocked him off his horse; and, having stunned him with the
blow, aided by a labourer who came up at the time, lodged him safely
in Winchester Gaol.

As late as the year 1814 stage-coach robberies continued, for
I find in 1814 the Stroud Mail was robbed of bank-notes to the
amount of two thousand eight hundred pounds; and in the following
year the Buckingham stage-coach was robbed of bills and notes to a
considerable amount.

Occasionally the victims of a robbery advertised for the loss of
any valued article, as will be seen by the following whimsical and
good-humoured appeal extracted from Salisbury's "Flying Post" of Oct.
27, 1696:--

"Whereas six gentlemen (all of the same honourable profession),
having been more than ordinary put to it for a little pocket money,
did, on the 14th instant, in the evening, near Kentish Town, borrow
of two persons (in a coach) a certain sum of money, without staying
to give bond for the repayment, and whereas fancy was taken to the
hat, peruke, cravat, sword, and cane of one of the creditors, which
were all lent as freely as the money; these are, therefore, to desire
the said worthies, how fond soever they may be of the other loans,
to unfancy the cane again, and send it to Will's Coffee-House in
Scotland-yard, it being too short for any such proper gentlemen as
they are to walk with, and too small for any of their important uses,
and withal only valuable as having been the gift of a friend."

As late as the year 1750 carriages were stopped at noonday in Hyde
Park, and even in Piccadilly, and pistols presented at the breasts
of the most fashionable people. A celebrated highwayman, by name
M'Lean, was that year taken and executed. So eager were persons of
all classes to see him that three thousand persons visited him one
day after his condemnation. The usual reward offered by Government
for the apprehension of every highwayman was a hundred pounds. It was
not safe to venture out after dark. Travellers were armed in broad
daylight, as though they were going to battle.

In Lady Walpole's Letters I find the following description of a very
'cute lady:--

"Lady Browne and I were, as usual, going to the Duchess of Montrose's
at seven o'clock. The evening was dark. In the close lane, under the
park pale, and within twenty yards of the gate, a black figure pushed
by between the chaise and the hedge on my side. I suspected it was a
highwayman, and so, I found, did Browne, for she was speaking, and
stopped. To divert her fears I was going to say, 'Is not that the
apothecary going to the Duchess?' when I heard a voice cry 'Stop!'
and then the figure came back to the chaise. I had the presence of
mind before I let down the glass, to take out my watch and stuff it
within my dress under the arm. He said,

"'Your purses and watches?'

"'I have no watch,' I replied.

"'Then, your purse.'

"I gave it to him; it had nine guineas in it. It was so dark that I
could not see his hand, but I felt him take it. He then asked for
Lady Browne's purse, and said,

"'Don't be frightened, I will not hurt you.'

"'No, you won't frighten the lady,' I said.

"'No, I give you my word I will not hurt you,' he replied.

"Lady Browne gave him her purse, and was going to add her watch; but
he said,

"'I am much obliged to you; I wish you good night,' pulled off his
hat, and rode away.

"'Well,' said I, 'you will not be afraid of being robbed another
time, for, you see, there is nothing in it.'

"'Oh! but I am,' she said; 'and now I am in terror lest he return,
for I have given him a purse with bad money in it, that I carry on

Again we read that not only was it dangerous to travel in bygone days
from a fear of being robbed and murdered, but the roads were so bad
that scarcely a day passed but a coach stuck fast in the mud, and
remained there until a team of cattle could be procured from some
neighbouring farm to tug it out of the slough. On the best lines of
communication the ruts were deep, the descents precipitous, and the
road often such that it was hardly possible to distinguish it in the
dusk from the uninclosed heath and fen which lay on both sides.

"Ralph Thoresby, the antiquary, was in danger of losing his way on
the Great North Road, between Barnby Moor and Tuxford, and actually
lost it between Doncaster and York. Pepys and his wife, travelling
in their own coach, lost their way between Newbury and Reading. In
the course of the same tour they lost their way near Salisbury, and
were in danger of having to pass the night on the Plain. It was only
in fine weather that the whole breadth of the road was available for
wheeled carriages. Often the mud lay deep on the right and the left,
and only a narrow track of firm ground rose above the quagmire. At
such times obstructions and quarrels were frequent, and the path was
sometimes blocked up during a long time by carriers, neither of whom
would break the way.

"Thoresby has recorded in his diary many perils and disasters that
befell him. On one occasion he learned that the floods were out
between Ware and London, that passengers had to swim for their
lives, and that a higgler had perished in the attempt to cross. In
consequence of these tidings he turned out of the high road, and was
conducted across some meadows, where it was necessary for him to ride
to the saddle skirts in water. In the course of another journey he
narrowly escaped being swept away by an inundation of the Trent.

"Of course, during the period the waters were out coaches ceased
to run. Thoresby was afterwards detained at Stamford four days on
account of the state of the roads, and then ventured to proceed only
because fourteen Members of the House of Commons, who were going up
in a body to Parliament with guides and numerous attendants, took him
into their company."

The great route through Wales to Holyhead was in such a state that,
in 1685, Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, Viceroy, on his way to
Ireland, was five hours in travelling fourteen miles from St. Asaph
to Conway. Between Conway and Beaumaris he was forced to walk great
part of the way, and the Countess was carried in a litter. His coach
was, with great difficulty, and by the help of many hands, brought
after him entire. In general, carriages were taken to pieces at
Conway, and borne on the shoulders of stout Welsh peasants to the
Menai Strait.

At that period, and long after, the passage in the ferry-boat at the
Menai Strait was slow and tedious, and the packet-boat from Holyhead
to Kingstown seldom crossed over under eight or ten hours. Now a man
may, as I did last Autumn, breakfast in London, and sit down to a
half-past seven dinner in Dublin.

In Sussex the roads were so bad that when Prince George of Denmark
visited the stately mansion of Petworth in wet weather he was six
hours in going nine miles, and it was necessary that a body of sturdy
hands should be on each side of his coach in order to prop it. Of the
carriages which conveyed his retinue, several were upset and injured.
A letter from one of his suite has been preserved, in which the
unfortunate gentleman-in-waiting complains that during fourteen hours
he never once alighted, except when his coach was overturned or stuck
fast in the mud.

Great contrast is offered in this narrative to the present state of
travelling; "only, to be sure," as Macaulay writes, "people did get
up again with their heads on after a roll in the Sussex mud, which,
unhappily, is not always the case after a railway collision."

Arthur Young, who travelled in Lancashire in 1770, has left us the
following account of the state of the roads at that time.

"I know not," he says, "in the whole range of language, terms
sufficiently expressive to describe this awful road. Let me most
seriously caution all travellers who may accidentally propose to
travel this terrible country to avoid it as they would a pestilence,
for a thousand to one they break their necks or their limbs by
overthrows or breakings down. They will here meet with ruts which I
actually measured four feet deep, and floating with mud, only from
a wet Summer. What, therefore, must it be after a Winter? The only
mending it receives is tumbling in some loose stones, which serve no
other purpose than jolting a carriage in the most intolerable manner.
Let me persuade all travellers to avoid this terrible country, which
must either dislocate their bones with broken pavement or bury them
in muddy sand."

In a well-known passage, Arthur Young vents his spleen at the expense
of the municipal authorities of Lancashire, and reproachfully reminds
them that, thanks to their abominable highways, London often suffers
from want of animal food, while country farmers are unable to get
more than five farthings a pound for good beef!

A coach and six is in our time never seen, except as part of some
pageant; the frequent mention, therefore, of such equipages in old
books is likely to mislead. We hear of private carriages and public
stage-coaches of six, and attribute to magnificence what was really
the effect of a very disagreeable necessity. A pair of horses now
would do ten times the work six did in the days I write of, and I
cannot illustrate this better than by giving Vanbrugh's most humorous
description of the way in which a country gentleman, newly chosen a
Member of Parliament, came up to London. On that occasion all the
exertions of six beasts, two of which had been taken from the plough,
could not save the family coach from being embedded in a quagmire.

The scene takes place at Uncle Richard's house in London, previous to
the arrival of his nephew, Sir Francis Headpiece, a country gentleman
and Parliament man, who was strongly addicted to malt-liquor and
field sports. Although only forty-two years of age, it appears that
Sir Francis had drunk two-and-thirty tuns of ale, while in the
pursuit of the chase he had broken his right arm, his left leg, and
both his collar-bones.

Uncle Richard had just read his wiseacre nephew's letter, when James,
the footman, enters hastily.

"Sir, Sir," he exclaims, "they're all a-coming; here's John Moody
arrived already. He's stamping about the streets in his dirty
boots, asking every man he meets if they can tell where he may
have a good lodging for a Parliament man, till he can hire such a
house as becomes him. He tells them his lady and all the family are
coming too, and that they are so nobly attended they care not a
fig for anybody. Sir, they have added two cart-horses to the four
old bays, because my Lady will have it said she came to town in
her coach-and-six; and, ha, ha! heavy George, the ploughman, rides

"Very well, James," responds his master, "the journey begins as it
should do. Dost know whether they bring all the children with them?"

"Only Squire Humphrey and Miss Betty, Sir; the other six are put
to board, at half-a-crown a week a head, with Joan Grouse, at
Smokedunghill Farm."

"Dost know when they'll be here?"

"Sir, they'd have been here last night, but that the old wheezy horse
tired, and the two fore wheels came crash down at once in Waggonrut
Lane. Sir, they were cruelly loaden, as I understand. My Lady
herself, he says, laid on four mail-trunks, besides the great deal
box which fat Tom and the monkey sat upon behind."


"Then within the coach there was Sir Francis, my Lady, the great fat
lap-dog, Squire Humphrey, Miss Betty, my Lady's maid, Mrs. Handy, and
Dolly the cook; but she was so ill with sitting backward that they
mounted her into the coachbox."

"Very well."

"Then, Sir, for fear of a famine before they could get to the
baiting-place, there were such baskets of plum-cake, Dutch
gingerbread, Cheshire cheese, Naples biscuits, macaroons, neats'
tongues, and cold boiled beef--and in case of sickness, such bottles
of usquebagh, black cherry brandy, cinnamon-water, sack, tent, and
strong beer, as made the old coach crack again; and for defence
of this good cheer and my Lady's little pearl necklace, there was
the family basket-hilt sword, the great Turkish scimitar, the old
blunderbuss, a good bag of bullets, and a great horn of gunpowder."


"Then for band-boxes, they were so bepiled up to Sir Francis's nose
that he could only peep out at a chance hole with one eye, as if he
were viewing the country through a perspective-glass."

Sir John Vanbrugh, who wrote the above admirable account of a
journey to London, was the grandson of a Protestant refugee from the
Netherlands, and the son of a wealthy sugar-baker. Little is known
of the history of his youth, or of that training which enabled him
not only to become one of the most celebrated English architects,
but also, in conjunction with Congreve, to produce some excellent
comedies. As an architect, he designed Castle Howard and Blenheim; as
a dramatist, his most successful plays were "The Relapse" and "The
Provoked Wife," and the uncompleted "Journey to London," which was
worked up by Colley Cibber into "The Provoked Husband."

   "The good of ancient times let others state;
    I think it lucky I was born so late."

So wrote Sydney Smith, and it is a sentiment that all must concur in.
The witty divine goes on to state:--

"A young man alive at this period hardly knows to what improvement
of human life he has been introduced, and I would bring before his
notice the following changes which have taken place in England
since I first began to breathe in it the breath of life--a period
amounting now to nearly seventy-three years. Gas was unknown. I
groped about the streets of London in all but the utter darkness of a
twinkling oil lamp, under the protection of watchmen in their grand
climacteric, and exposed to every species of depredation and insult.
I have been nine hours sailing from Dover to Calais before the
invention of steam. It took me nine hours to go from Taunton to Bath
before the invention of railroads, and I now go in six hours from
London to Bath."

The witty Reverend then proceeds to refer to wooden pavements
instead of stone ones, the new police instead of the superannuated
"Charleys," the well-appointed cab (what would he have said to the
hansom)? in lieu of the lumbering hackney coach, waterproof instead
of primitive pulp hats; he then calls the attention of the reader
to the introduction of gentlemen's braces, colchicum, calomel, and
clubs. He might have added, the greatest boons of all, the telegraph,
which "wafts a sigh from Indus to the Pole," or, unpoetically
speaking, announces in an incredibly short space of time the
arrival of a friend in India or America, nor would he have omitted
chloroform, which saves hours of agony and torture, and which is an
especial blessing to the humbler classes, who, when undergoing some
painful operation, have not the comforts of the wealthier class about




The term "slow coach" became proverbial, and was applied not only to
the lumbering six-inside vehicles that travelled at almost a snail's
pace, but to every schoolboy and collegian who possessed little or no
gumption. Unfortunately, in those days the Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals did not exist, or many a hulking fellow would
have been had up for his merciless use of the lash when urging his
wretched cattle up a severe hill or over ruts recently laid down with
large unbroken stones--smooth "macadamised" roads being not then in
prospective existence. So heavy was the draught that an appeal was
being constantly made to the passengers to alight and walk up any
acclivity, which upon a wet day or when the mud was ankle-deep, was
not a very pleasant thing.

Such was the system of travelling in the good old times, as they
were called, when every affair of life moved on at a quiet, jog-trot
pace. But when competition of the most eager kind became the
order of the day, it cannot be said that mails or coaches stood
still. The Edinburgh Mail ran four hundred miles in forty hours,
stoppages included. The Exeter day coach, the "Herald," went over
its ground, one hundred and seventy-three miles, in twenty hours,
an admirable performance, considering the natural unevenness of the
country; and the Devonport Mail performed the journey, two hundred
and twenty-seven miles, in twenty-two hours. The increase of speed
was alarming to those who had been accustomed to the old-fashioned
slow coaches, and the rate at which the new vehicles travelled was
considered reckless risking of human life.

It may not be here out of place to observe that the first requisite
in a coach horse is action, and the second sound legs and feet,
with blood and bone. The third desideratum is good wind, as the
power of respiration is called, without which the first and
second qualifications avail but little for any length of time.
A clear-winded coach horse will always keep his condition, and
consequently his health, because he does not feel distress on a
reasonable length of ground. The hunter or racer is good or bad,
chiefly in proportion to his powers of respiration, and such equally
applies to the coach horse. The food most proper, then, for a coach
horse in fast work is that which affords ample support, without
having a pernicious influence on his wind; or to use a more elegant,
though not more forcible, expression, that which does not impair his
respiratory organs by pressing on them.

To return to the fast coaches, so splendidly were they horsed, and so
admirably well did they keep their time, that they fully merited the
following eulogium.

At a dinner given at Shrewsbury some five and thirty years ago by
coachmen and guards to the Honourable Mr. Kenyon, that gentleman, in
proposing the health of Mr. R. Taylor, coach proprietor, made some
interesting statements on the subject of stage-coach travelling.
Among other remarks, he said:--

"As a coach proprietor, Mr. Taylor was one of the most spirited in
England. He had, at one time, two of the very best coaches that ever
ran--the "Hirondelle" and "Wonder." No coach established for itself a
higher reputation than the former. On May 1st, (the precise year he
could not recollect) it accomplished its journey of one hundred and
twenty miles in eight hours and twenty minutes--a speed few coaches
could ever boast of.

"He (Mr. Kenyon) was in Shrewsbury that day, and saw a team of four
greys, belonging to Mr. Taylor, enter the town, which had done their
nine miles in thirty-five minutes. He recollected that there were
two ladies inside the coach, who were informed that, as that day
was appointed for a trial of strength, they might, if they were
frightened at the speed, choose any other conveyance they pleased,
and should be forwarded on their journey immediately; but their
answer showed good blood; they said they were not aware that they had
come at the great speed they had, and that they preferred going fast.

"With regard to the 'Wonder,' he himself left the 'Lion Yard,'
Shrewsbury, one morning at six o'clock, and was at Islington the
same evening at seven o'clock, being only thirteen hours on the
road. On that occasion he was driven by four of the best coachmen he
ever saw.

"Another instance of the reputation the 'Wonder' had acquired was
given him by his friend Sir Henry Peyton, who had informed him that
he had frequently seen persons at St. Albans regulating their watches
by the 'Wonder' coach as it came into that town. This was the only
instance he had ever heard of a coach regulating the time. It was
clear that the coach could not have gained such a name for regularity
without good cattle and good coachmen, and it was to the proprietors
they were indebted."

Charles Holmes, the driver of the "Blenheim" coach was in the year
1835 presented with a silver cup bearing the following inscription,

   "Presented to Charles Holmes by Sir Henry Peyton on behalf of
   himself and two hundred and fifty subscribers, in testimony
   of their admiration of his good conduct as driver of the
   'Blenheim' coach for a period of upwards of twenty years."

The subscription was limited to ten shillings, the actual half
sovereign subscribed by the late Duke of Wellington was let into
the bottom of the vase. The cup was presented to this first-rate
"dragsman" after a dinner at the "Thatched House," presided over by
Sir Henry Peyton.

Among the numerous anecdotes the road have furnished, perhaps one of
the most amusing ones is the story of the Oxford "Defiance."

Term was over; the coach was full of young Oxonians returning to
their respective colleges; the morning was cold, wet, and miserable,
when the well-appointed "drag" drove up to the "White Horse Cellar,"

"Have you room for one inside?" asked as pretty a girl as you would
wish to see on a Summer's day.

"What a beauty!" exclaimed one.

"Quite lovely!" said another.

"Perfect!" lisped a third.

"Quite full, Miss, inside and out," replied the coachman.

"Surely you could make room for one," persevered the fair applicant.

"Quite impossible, without the young gentlemen's consent."

"Lots of room," cried the insides; "we are not very large; we can
manage to take one more."

"If the gentlemen consent," replied the driver, "I can have no

"We agree," said the inside quartette.

"All right," responded the coachman.

The fare was paid, and the guard proceeded to open the door, and let
down the steps.

"Now, Miss, if you please; we are behind our time."

"Come along, grandfather," cried the damsel, addressing a most
respectable-looking, portly, elderly man; "the money is paid; get in,
and be sure you thank the young gentlemen," at the same time suiting
the action to the word, and, with a smile, assisting her respected
grandfather into the coach.

"Here's some mistake. You'll squeeze us to death," cried the
astonished party.

"Sorry to incommode you," replied the intruder; "I hope you won't
object to have both windows up, I'm sadly troubled with a cough."

At this moment, "All right, sit fast!" was heard; and the "Defiance"
rattled away, best pace, drowning the voices of the astonished

"Nimrod" tells a good story of the Shrewsbury and Chester
"Highflyer," which started at eight o'clock in the morning and
arrived at Chester about the same time in the evening--distance
forty miles. This was always a good hard road for wheels, and rather
favourable for draught; and how, then, could all these hours be
accounted for?

"Why, if a commercial gentleman had a little business at Ellesmere
there was plenty of time for that. If a real gentleman wanted to pay
a morning visit on the road, there could be no objection to that. In
the pork-pie season half an hour was generally occupied in consuming
one of them, for Mr. Williams, the coachman, was a wonderful
favourite with the farmers' wives and daughters all along the road.

"The coach dined at Wrexham, and Wrexham Church was to be seen--a
fine specimen of the florid Gothic, and one of the wonders of Wales.
Then Wrexham was also famous for ale, there being no public breweries
in those days in Wales; and, above all, the inn belonged to Sir
Watkin. About two hours were allowed for dinner, but Billy Williams,
one of the best-tempered fellows on earth, as honest as Aristides,
was never particular to half an hour or so.

"'The coach is ready, gentlemen,' he would say; 'but don't let me
disturb you if you wish for another bottle.'"

What a contrast does this furnish to the hasty meals at the railway
stations, where the bell for departure is heard long before the
hungry passenger has swallowed half his scalding soup, or devoured
his plate of cold meat!

The removal of posting and coaching from the road has had a baneful
effect upon every branch of trade and industry. One example from each
line of railway will show the consequences of the change that has
taken place.

In the town of Hounslow, which was the first stage on the Great
Western Road, there used to be kept, for the purposes of coaching and
posting, two thousand five hundred horses. Any person acquainted
with the nature of the business is aware that it would not be by any
means an exaggeration to say that every one of these horses, for
keep, duty, shoeing, ostlers, harness, &c., occasioned an outlay of
two pounds per week, so that there was a sum of five thousand pounds
circulated every week in this one town, besides the money that was
spent by travellers at the different inns; and a very considerable
portion of that amount was paid for labour and distributed among the
different tradesmen, every one of whom was benefited directly or

The state of things on the first stage of the Western Road will serve
as an example for the whole of the remaining distance, as, of course,
an equal number of horses was required all the way down the road, and
the effect, therefore, was equally destructive upon all towns which
were formerly thriving and prosperous--witness Reading, Newbury,
Hungerford, Marlborough.

On the Northern Road an equally disastrous effect has been produced.
At Barnet, where formerly Messrs. Bryant and Newman, the rival
postmasters, could produce three hundred to four hundred pairs of
horses, and where, also an immense number of coach-horses were kept,
the grass has grown over the inn yard. The same observation applies
with equal force to all towns east and south of the metropolis.

The above gave rise to the following parody on Goldsmith's "Deserted


    "Quantum mutatus ab illo."

    Hail, Hounslow! primest town upon the road,
    Where coaching once in all its glory showed,
    Where careful drivers might be always found,
    Ready when ostlers called to "bring 'em round."
    The Member rattling up at slapping pace,
    To ease his conscience, or secure a place--
    The maiden flying from a guardian's rage,
    In Hymen's "Union" venturing a stage--
    These knew no more of anxious fear or doubt,
    When John the ostler cried, "the first turn out."
    Once, Hounslow, there was many a gallant team,
    The dragsman's pride, the helper's fruitful theme;
    How dashingly they sweep up to the well-known door,
    Where rest awaited when their task was o'er;
    Or, sleek of coat, and deck'd with trappings gay,
    Bounding they met the labour of the day.
    Landlord and whip gazed on the thriving trade,
    And dreamt of fortunes soon and surely made,
    For then alike both house and coach fill'd well,
    "And all went merry as a marriage bell."

    Once it was thus--another age appears,
    And Hounslow's smiles, alas! are turn'd to tears.
    No more is heard the mellow winding horn,
    Waking the drowsy slumbers of the morn;
    No spicy "change" now waits for the down mail,
    For, woe is me! the "Bristol's" on the "rail."
    No longer now is heard the busy din
    In the full yard that marks the prosperous inn;
    Unheard is now the watching ostler's call;
    The only "pair" is weary of the stall.
    Silent the joke of "boots," ne'er known to fail;
    The keeper's whistle and the postboy's tale.
    No waiter now bestirs him for the nonce,
    To answer fifty summonses at once;
    E'en Bessy's self, so long the bar's fair boast,
    The cookmaid's envy, and the bagman's toast,
    Whose winning smile was so well known to fame
    That for a ray each traveller duly came,--
    E'en she--so hopeless, Hounslow, is thy case--
    Hath packed her traps and bolted from her place.

    A time there was, ere railroads came in force,
    When every mile of ground maintained its horse;
    Coach after coach then rattled briskly by,
    "Live and let live" was then the wholesome cry.
    'Tis past! and now succeeds the general doom
    Of landlord, barmaid, waiters, ostler, groom;
    The coachman's glories have for ever set,
    And "boots" has got a place--in the _Gazette_.

A popular writer who flourished some five and forty years ago
quotes a letter from a personal friend, who boasts of the following
wonderful feat of locomotion:--

"I was out hunting last season, on a Monday, near Brighton, and
dined with my father in Merrion Square, Dublin, at six o'clock on the
following Wednesday, distance four hundred miles."

It was done thus:--He went from Brighton in an afternoon coach that
set him down in London in time for the Holyhead Mail, and this mail,
with the help of the steamer to cross the Channel, delivered him in
Dublin at the time mentioned.

What would the writer say now, when, by leaving London at 7.15 a.m.,
he may dine at the table-d'hôte at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, at
7.30 p.m., with ample time to have a hot bath and change his dress
before dinner is served?

The writer then proceeds to say:--

"In this wonder-working age few greater improvements have been made
in any of the useful arts than in those applied to the system of
travelling by land. Projectors and projects have multiplied with
our years, and the fairy-petted princes of the "Arabian Nights'
Entertainments" were scarcely transported from place to place with
more facility or dispatch than Englishmen are in A.D. 1832. From
Liverpool to Manchester, thirty-six miles, in an hour and a half!
Surely Dædalus is come amongst us again."

What would the writer of the above have thought if he had lived
to travel by what is termed the "Flying Dutchman," which now runs
from London to Plymouth in six hours and a quarter, and which, we
understand, will shortly accomplish seventy miles an hour.

To resume--or, as the gentlemanly gang under Captain Macheath say,
"Let us take the road" as it was at the period above mentioned.

The Edinburgh Mail ran the distance (four hundred miles) in forty
hours, stoppages included. The Exeter day-coach, the "Herald,"
performed her journey of one hundred and seventy-three miles in
twenty hours; Stevenson's Brighton "Age" kept its time to the
minute; in short, from London to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Worcester,
Birmingham, Norwich, Bath, Bristol, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge,
was little more than a pleasant Summer day's drive.

In order to accomplish the above fast journey two important
considerations were required; first, that the horses should not be
overworked, and, secondly, that they should be well fed. Horses have
increased greatly in price since the period I write of, and a team
which would have cost a hundred guineas in 1832 could not now be had
for two hundred and fifty guineas. The cost of coaches of the best
materials varied from one hundred and forty pounds to one hundred and
sixty pounds; generally speaking, they were hired from the maker at
from twopence half-penny to threepence per mile.


    SQUIRE OF 1638.


I now proceed to describe the road as it was before panting steeds
had givin way to puffing engines, iron greys to iron rails, coachmen
and guards to stokers, and horseflesh to steam, which has been
likened to water in a high state of perspiration.

It was early in a morning, in the merry month of May, when I found
myself at the "White Horse Cellar," Piccadilly, just as the York
House coach was starting for Bath. I had previously secured the box
seat, and, encased in a double-breasted drab coat, waited the arrival
of a noble Duke, then a Marquis, well known to all the best coachmen
on the road as a most liberal patron, and a first-rate whip himself.

"Sorry to have kept you," said the newcomer, "but Swaine only sent
home the whip I promised you this morning; you will find it in this
narrow deal case."

"Allow me to give up my place to you," I said, addressing the Marquis.

"Thank you a thousand times," he replied, "I am unfortunately
engaged. We are going to man my new cutter, and pull to the Red House
and back."

The case was handed up; the dragsman expressed his thanks.

"All right behind, gentlemen," he thundered, fingering the ribbons in
the plenitude of vehicular importance. Away we went, rattling along
the stony pavement of Piccadilly at an awful rate to make up for the
lost time.

"Nice morning, Sir," said my companion, as we passed through the
turnpike-gate that then stood opposite the entrance to the Park, near
Apsley House. "The flowers are all a-blowing and a-growing." This
line he sang, and then continued, "My missus gave me these beautiful
violets about an hour ago."

"'Sam,' said she, 'I know I can trust you not to give them away to
any girls on the road.'"

I turned round to admire the bouquet and take a look at the wearer,
who fully realised the description of the swell-dragsman immortalised
in song by the late Hon. Fitzroy Stanhope. He was a well-dressed,
natty-looking fellow, decked out in a neat dark brown coat, white
hat, corduroy breeches, well polished boots, cloth leggings, and
a splendid pair of double-sewn buckskin gloves. A huge pair of
whiskers, shaped like a mutton chop, fringed the borders of each
cheek, and were (as a costermonger in Knightsbridge irreverently
remarked) large enough to pad a cart-saddle. In the course of
conversation he invariably indulged the outside passengers with
snatches of the popular ditties of the day, "Oh, say not woman's
heart is bought," "Love has Eyes," "Will you come to the bower?"
"Savourneen Deelish," "The Thorn," and "Sally in our Alley."

I soon discovered, from his manners and remarks, that my new
coaching ally was a prodigious favourite with the fair sex, and
from the roguish leer that he gave the respective damsels at the
different inns and public-houses, I fancied he did not quite merit
the confidence his wife placed in him. Indeed, when we stopped to
change horses at Slough, I saw the faithless Lothario present the
pretty barmaid of the "Red Lion" with the bunch of violets, which she
placed near her heart. Nay, more, if my optics did not deceive me,
he implanted a kiss on the rosy lips of the blooming landlady, who
faintly exclaimed, "For shame, you naughty man."

As I had won the good graces of this driving Giovanni, not only by
listening to the story of his conquests over the rural Hebes, who
dispensed their smiles and liquor to him, but by commending his voice
in "Pray, Goody," which I declared to be equal to Sinclair's, he
offered me the reins just after passing the "Sun Inn" at Maidenhead.

"Take 'em gently up the hill," said he, "and then you can have a
spirt over the thicket."

To say that I was proud is to say nothing, for, having passed a few
months with a private tutor at Littlewick Green, within two miles of
the spot where we were, I felt that I should cut no little figure as
I drove by the "Coach and Horses," a wayside public-house where I and
my companions used to keep our guns when at our tutor's.

"Do you pull up at the 'Coach and Horses?'" I inquired, in so
nervous a manner--I was then young, and, as Shakespeare writes, "in
my salad days"--that the coachman, who is what is termed "wide-awake"
upon all affairs of the heart, guessed my motive.

"We can, Sir, if you like," he responded. "Perhaps Dick has a parcel
to leave for Squire Lee. Anything for the thicket?" he continued,
turning to the "shooter" behind, and giving him a knowing wink, a
hint which the other took at once.

"Why, yes, Sam; I wish to know whether Mr. Vansittart has sent for
the empty sack I left there last Monday."

As we reached the well-known spot where I had passed many a half-hour
in the society of the pretty, innocent girl whose fair face, blue
eyes, auburn ringlets, and bewitching smile had turned the heads of
all the youths in the neighbourhood, my heart began to palpitate, my
hands to tremble, and I should have driven past the house had not my
box companion caught hold of the reins with a firm grasp and pulled
the horses up in front of the public-house. Fortunately, my Dulcinea
had not noticed the hand that assisted me, and, seeing the coach
stop, rushed to the door, exclaiming.

"Lord William! Who would have thought it! How much you have improved
in driving! Do you recollect when you upset the dog-cart close to
that pond?"

"I hope your father is well," I replied, anxious to change the
conversation; "and Sally--I mean Miss Sadbroke--let the coachman and
guard have a glass of your cream of the valley."

"Pray alight, my Lord," said the coachman, "I was not aware who I had
the honour of addressing. Dick, show his Lordship into the bar."

I jumped down, rushed into the well-known snuggery, shook hands
with poor old Sadgrove, who was a victim to what he called the
"rheumatiz," quaffed a glass of bright, sparkling ale, threw down a
crown piece, kissed my hand to the blooming girl, and mounted the
box, not a little elated with my adventure. But to quit this spot
of juvenile reminiscences. We trotted past my tutor's house on the
green, where I was cheered by the boys of the village school, and,
after an agreeable drive, reached Reading and then Newbury. Here the
passengers were allowed twenty minutes for dinner, where we (I can
answer for myself) did ample justice to the fare, which consisted of
a splendid boiled leg of mutton and a ham-and-veal pie.

"I go no further, gentlemen," said the coachman.

"All right," I responded, handing him a gold seven-shilling piece,
then a current coin of the realm.

"Good morning! and thank you, my Lord," replied the deposed monarch
of the whip. "I've told Mr. Dennis (commonly called Parson Dennis)
that your Lordship has your driving-gloves on."

Again mounting the box, I found myself seated by one of the smartest
men I ever met with at that period on the road. There was an air of
conceit about him that was truly amusing, and it was rendered doubly
so by his affected style of conversation. Unlike other dragsmen, he
was dressed in the plainest style imaginable--a well-brushed black
beaver hat, glossier than silk; a brown cutaway coat, dark Oxford
mixed overalls, highly-polished Wellington boots, and fawn-coloured
double kid gloves. The first object of my new companion was to inform
me that he was well born, that he had been educated at Oxford, and
that he was the most popular man at Bath; indeed, so much so that he
was called the Beau Nash of the road. Unquestionably, according to
his own showing, he was entitled to that distinction, for he offered
to point out all the sights of the English Montpellier, including the
assemblies, theatre, pump-room, crescents, gardens, walks, and abbey.
So delighted was I with the dandified manner of my companion that the
journey passed rapidly away.

On leaving Marlborough, he offered me the reins, which I accepted;
and during the last stage he begged I would accept a pinch of the
best Petersham mixture, informing me that it was a present from the
noble Lord of that name, to whom he had been presented by an old
Oxford acquaintance. Upon reaching the city of Bladud and driving
up to the "York House," Mr. Dennis, with the air of Louis le Grand,
politely took off his hat, wished me good evening, thanked me for my
gratuity, and said that if I mentioned his name at the hotel every
attention would be paid to me.

As a contrast to the above, let me show how our great-grandfathers
travelled in 1739. Tennant writes as follows:--

"In March I changed my Welsh school for one nearer to the capital,
and travelled in the Chester stage, then no despicable vehicle for
country gentlemen. The first day, with much labour, we got from
Chester to Whitchurch, twenty miles; the second day to the "Welsh
Harp," the third to Coventry, the fourth to Northampton, the fifth to
Dunstable; and, as a wondrous effort, on the last to London before
the commencement of the night. The strain and labour of six horses,
sometimes eight, drew us through the slough of Mireden and many other
places. We were constantly out two hours before day, and as late at
night, and in the depth of Winter proportionately later. Families who
travelled in their own carriages contracted with Benson and Co., and
were dragged up in the same number of days."

The single gentlemen--then a hardy race--equipped in jack-boots, rode
post, through almost impassable roads, guarded against the mire,
defying the frequent stumbles and falls, pursuing their journey with
alacrity, while in these our days their enervated posterity sleep
away their rapid journeys in easy railway carriages, fitted for the
soft inhabitants of Sybaris. I can vouch for the latter, for I left
York a few weeks ago at night, after delivering a lecture of an hour
and a quarter, and was in bed in Hans Place by four o'clock in the

In bygone days a journey to Brighton occupied one entire day.
Latterly the march of improvement has made rapid strides upon all
roads. Brighton can now be reached in an hour and thirteen minutes;
first class fares, by express (which are about to be reduced),
thirteen shillings and threepence; by ordinary trains, ten shillings;
second class express, ten shillings; ordinary trains, seven shillings
and ninepence; third class, four shillings and sixpence. An inside
passenger by the old coach had to pay sixteen shillings to Brighton;
and for excess of luggage, if he carried what is now allowed to
a first class passenger, a further charge of eight shillings and
fourpence would be made; total, one pound four shillings and

"This is the patent age of inventions." So wrote Byron, more than
sixty years ago. Had he lived in our time how much greater cause
would he have had to make the remark; for since the days of the
noble poet how many inventions have been introduced! Steamboats and
railways instead of canvas sails and horses; active, wide-awake
policemen instead of superannuated, sleeping "Charlies" of the
Dogberry school; brilliant gas in lieu of the darkness-made-visible
light, "whose oily rays shot from the crystal lamp."

No longer can we hail the "officious link-boy's smoky light," except
during a dense thick, pea-soup coloured fog in the suicidal month of
November. Instead of paved streets we have macadamised roads, albeit,
there are some wiseacres who are (to adopt the old joke) _putting
their heads together_ to form a wooden pavement. We have light
broughams and neat cabs instead of the rattling "agony" or hackney
coach; iron vessels have taken the place of the "wooden walls of Old
England," though our gallant tars are still "hearts of oak;" light
French wines have driven good old humble port from our cellars, much
to the advantage of gouty subjects.

Last, not least, the improved system of locomotion enables the
sportsman to hunt from London, to enjoy his breakfast and return to
his dinner in the metropolis, to run down to Ascot, Epsom, Egham,
Brighton, Croydon, Sandown Park, Windsor, and Goodwood races, and be
back at night, while the follower of old Isaac Walton may kill his
trout in some of the Berkshire or Hampshire streams and enjoy the
pleasure of his (the fish's) company at a seven o'clock dinner in

Of course, occasionally there are discomforts connected with the
rail, for on a fine Summer's day it is far more agreeable to view the
country from a travelling chariot, britchka, or stage-coach, than to
be shot forth like an arrow from a crossbow, at an awful rate, amidst
a hissing, whizzing, ear-piercing, shrill, sharp noise, something
between a catcall in the gallery of some transpontine theatre on
Boxing Night and the war-whoop of the Ojibbeway Indians after a
scalping-party in North America. Then the odour! Instead of the scent
of the brier, the balmy bean-field, the cottage-side honeysuckle, the
jessamine, you have an essence of villanous compounds--sulphur, rank
oil, and soot.

Again, the railway traveller occasionally finds his luggage missing;
sometimes it is lost; our only wonder is that the above does not
happen more frequently when we find the platform filled with loungers
of all classes. Whether there are more fatal accidents by rail (in
proportion to the excess of travellers) over those who formerly
journeyed by road we know not for certain, but we are disposed to
think there are not.

Therefore, to sum up, if the question was "Road _versus_ Rail,"
taking all the pros and cons into consideration, we should give the
verdict for the defendant.

The modern lover of field sports is no longer a drunken, rollicking,
two or four-bottle man; he prefers the society of the ladies in
the drawing-room to that of the half-inebriated gentlemen in the
dining-room; he dresses in a becoming manner, seldom swears, and, as
far as his means go, keeps open house. What a contrast is this to the
sportsman of bygone days! Perhaps, however, the following is the most
curious picture of the sporting life and rude habits of the English
country gentleman of the olden time, extant.

"In the year 1638 lived Mr. Hastings, second son of an Earl of
Huntingdon. He was, peradventure, an original in our age, or rather
the copy of our ancient nobility in hunting, not in warlike times.
He was low, very strong, and very active, of a reddish flaxen hair.
His clothes, always green cloth, and never all worth (when new) five
pounds; his house was perfectly of the old fashion, in the midst of
a large park, well stocked with deer, and near the house rabbits, to
serve his kitchen; many fishponds, great store of wood and timber, a
bowling green in it (long, but narrow), full of high ridges, it being
never levelled since it was ploughed. They used round lead bowls, and
it had a banqueting house, like a stand, built in a tree.

"He kept all manner of sport-hounds, that ran buck, fox, hare, otter,
and badger; and hawks, long and short-winged. He had all sorts of
nets for fish; he had a walk in the New Forest and the Manor of
Christ Church.

"This last supplied him with red deer, sea and river fish; and,
indeed, all his neighbours grounds and royalties were free to him,
who bestowed all his time on these sports. He was popular with his
neighbours, and was ever a welcome guest at their houses; he, too,
kept open house, where beef, pudding, and small beer, were to be
had in plenty; his great hall was full of marrow bones, and full
of hawks' perches, hounds, spaniels, and terriers, the upper side
of which was hung with foxes' brushes, here and there a polecat

"The parlour was a very large room, and properly furnished. On a
great hearth, paved with brick, lay some terriers, and the choicest
hounds and spaniels. Seldom but two of the great chairs had litters
of young cats in them, which were not to be disturbed, he having
always three or four attending him at dinner, and a little white
round stick of fourteen inches lying by his trencher, that he might
defend such meat as he had no mind to part with to them.

"The windows (which were very large) served for places to lay his
arrows, crossbows, stonebows, and other such-like accoutrements. The
corners of the room full of the best chase hunting and hawking poles,
an oyster-table at the lower end, which was of constant use twice a
day all the year round, for he never failed to eat oysters before
dinner and supper through all seasons; the neighbouring town of Poole
supplied him with them. The upper part of the room had two small
tables and a desk, on the one side of which was a Church Bible, and
on the other the 'Book of Martyrs.'

"On the tables were hawks' hoods, bells, and such like, two or three
old green hats, with their crowns thrust in, so as to hold ten or a
dozen eggs, which were of a pheasant kind of poultry he took much
care of, and fed himself. Tables, dice, cards, and bowls were not
wanting. In the hole of the desk were scores of tobacco-pipes that
had been used.

"On one side of this end of the room was the door of a closet,
wherein stood the strong beer and the wine, which never came thence
but in single glasses, that being the rule of the house strictly
observed, for he never exceeded in drink or permitted it. On the
other side was the door into an old chapel, not used for devotion;
the pulpit, as the safest place, was never wanting of a cold chine of
beef, venison pasty, gammon of bacon, or great apple-pie, with thick
crust, extremely baked.

"His table cost him not much, though it was good to eat at; his
sports supplied all but beef and mutton, except Fridays, when he had
the best salt fish (as well as other fish) he could get, and that was
the day his neighbours of best quality most visited him. He never
wanted a London Pudding, and always sang it in with 'My past lies

"He drank a glass of wine or two at meals, very often syrup of
gilliflower in his sack, and had always a tun glass without feet
by his side, holding a pint of small beer, which he often stirred
with rosemary. He was well natured, but soon angry; he lived to be a
hundred; never lost his eye-sight, but always read and wrote without
spectacles, and got on horseback without help. Until past fourscore
he rode to the death of a stag as well as any."




"Every medal has its reverse." Many persons may be found who denounce
coaching as an abomination; while others declare that railway
travelling is most fatal only not to the lives, but to the comforts
of Her Majesty's subjects. I pass over the dangers of the rail,
and will lay before my readers the opinions expressed by the two
contending parties. One declares that, among the many improvements
of which this age has been productive--and many and vast have they
been--that of travelling unquestionably bears the bell. The very
word, however, has now become a misnomer. It is no longer travelling;
it is flying over the country, luxuriously and triumphantly, at a
pace that equals the hurricane.

The rapidity with which travellers are now conveyed by steam over the
length and breadth of the country is a social advantage which, for
manifold purposes, cannot be too much appreciated. Some may remember,
and have not those suffered from, the old slow and sure system?

   "This racks the joints,
    This fires the veins,
    That every labouring sinew strains,"

might have been the motto of those stage-coaches which in former days
pursued their way at the rate of six miles an hour, to the misery,
inconvenience, and detention of every passenger that was doomed to
the adoption of such conveyances. The pillory would now be preferable
to the top of a stage-coach on its passage from London to Exeter on a
dark, tempestuous night in December. What inexpressible horrors does
the very idea suggest!

The expense, too, was no trifling consideration; for after the
fare was paid, half of which was recouped if you did not put in
an appearance, fees were incessantly demanded and wrung from the
luckless traveller, as if he were a sheep born to be fleeced by a
pack of merciless hirelings.

Ere you started on your journey, a porter rushed up, and, whether
permitted or not, seized your carpet-bag or hat-box, and pitching
them into the boot, regardless of their contents, would turn round
and, with audacious effrontery, demand a fee for his trouble; ay, and
if he did not get it would abuse you roundly to your face. Then, the
dignity of the box-seat! "_Nota quæ sedes fuerat columbis_"--pigeons
they were, with a vengeance, that occupied it. At what price was it
purchased! Entailing a double fee--one to the porter for casting your
coat upon it, the other to the coachman for the privilege of sitting
with your teeth in the wind, sharing his conversation, his rug, and
his seat.

Talk not of the spicy team, the rattling bars, which for short
journeys in fine weather was an agreeable way of travelling; but for
distances the inside of a coach was almost insupportable. Outside in
Winter not much better.

Then, again, the great improvement in travelling since the road
gave way to the rail is never more deeply felt and rejoiced at than
at Easter, Whitsuntide, and the festive season of Christmas, as
it enables so many more to visit their friends in the country than
was formerly the case, with a greater amount, too, of comfort to
themselves, and at a considerably less expense.

In the old days of coaching and posting few, comparatively speaking,
would be conveyed to or from the metropolis. Those who travelled
post were often detained for horses; and those who went by coach had
to book their places weeks before, paying half the fare, and even
then a heavy fall of snow might put an end to all journeys. Now,
instead of sitting for hours wet through from the pelting pitiless
storm outside a coach--instead of being called by candlelight, and
traversing the streets in a slow rumbling vehicle, the traveller can
enjoy his breakfast in London, can be conveyed to the station in a
fast-trotting hansom, can sit snugly protected from the weather, and
reach his destination in a fourth of the time his predecessors could
on the road.

And here it may not be out of place to describe a journey by coach,
say from London to Bath, on a cold raw Winter's day. I speak of the
time when the old, crawling, creaking, rattling, six inside vehicle
had not given way to the fast four-horse light coach.

Often have I travelled by one of these wretched conveyances to
Newbury, when I was at a private tutor's at Donnington Grove. As
lucifer-matches had not then been introduced, the only method
of getting a light was by striking a flint against a steel in a
tinder-box. Your candle lit, a hasty toilet made, you descended, if
at an hotel, into a coffee-room, miserably lit, and reeking with the
odour of gin, brandy, and punch.

At that early hour, breakfast was out of the question. Then there
was the uncertainty whether the hackney-coach you had ordered over
night would be forthcoming; if it did arrive, you reached the "White
Horse Cellar" or "Gloucester" Coffee-House by a little before six,
where a glass of rum and milk, or some "early purl," might be had. If
an inside passenger, you were subjected to being "cribb'd, cabin'd,
confined" in a small compass, without head or knee room, for nearly
sixteen hours. If an outsider, there was the discomfort of cold
winds, drifting snow, heavy rain, and dripping umbrellas.

Then the dinners on the road--twenty minutes allowed, with its
scalding soup stained warm water, its tough steaks, its Scotch
collops, "_liquidis profusus odoribus_," its underdone boiled leg of
mutton, its potatoes, hot without and hard within. Then the scramble
for a nook by the fire to dry the soaked coat, cloak, or hat; then
the change of coachmen, all of whom expected to be remembered; then
the fees to guard and porters. Let anyone picture to himself or
herself the miseries of such a journey, and be thankful that they
have all nearly vanished under the mighty power of steam.

Having given the opinions of the advocates of the rail, I turn to
those of the road, who thus describe the delights of a journey in a
fast coach.

They suppose a fine Spring morning, when you find yourself seated
by the side of a pleasant companion, behind four blood horses, the
roads sufficiently watered by an April shower to lay the dust; the
hedgerows shooting forth--buds unfolding, flowers bursting out;
the birds carolling cheerfully, as if to welcome the return of
Spring; the sun smiling upon the snug cottages, the picturesque
village churches, the small hamlets, the peaceful homesteads,
the neatly-kept gardens, whose early produce were beginning to
bloom--such were the _agréments_ of the road.

Every mile presented a new feature; the green fields, the earth
teeming with fertility, the velvet lawns, the verdant fields,
the luxuriant woods, the peaceful valleys, the shady lanes, the
blossomed orchards, the "balmy odours" of nature--her breath upon
the breeze--all combined to raise your dull spirits to a state of
ecstasy. Then the excitement as the well-appointed "drag" drove
through the village, the guard sounding his cheerful horn, and the
coach pulled up for a snack at a cleanly wayside public-house, where
the buxom landlady and the pretty barmaid dispensed the creature
comforts to the hungry guests, their appetites sharpened by a drive
of some twenty or five-and-twenty miles.

They then turn to the rail, declaring that, instead of the "balmy
odours" of nature--her breath upon the breeze--the traveller is
nearly suffocated with the rank smell of oil, smoke, gas, and
sulphur. Instead of gazing upon the beauties of England's rural
scenery, you are whirled along at the rate of fifty miles an hour,
amidst the densest smoke, the groanings of engines, through an
embankment of chalk or clay.

Just as you are contemplating a fine mountainous view, a stately
viaduct, a picturesque waterfall, or a placid lake, another train
meets yours, and entirely hides the prospect from you. Instead of
the warm welcome at the inn, apostrophised by Shenstone, or the less
ostentatious, although not less sincere, reception at the wayside
public-house, you are shown into a huge room that reminds you of the
spot where the lions are wont to be fed at the Zoological Gardens,
where all is noise, hurry, and confusion; where your pockets are
emptied and your inner man not filled, from the caloric qualities of
the food and the haste in which you are called upon to devour it; and
last, not least, they compare the comfort of a barouche and four, a
chariot and pair, starting at your own hour, stopping where you like,
with the levelling system of the rail, where high-born dames of great
degree are mixed with blacklegs and sharpers, where the "hereditary
pillars of the State" congregate with Whitechapel "gents" and
Corinthian "swells," where prim old maids are "cheek by jowl" with
libertine _roués_, where young and innocent boarding-school misses
sit next to _soidisant_ captains and needy fortune-hunters, where
unprincipled debtors are placed opposite their clamorous creditors,
where sage philosophers come in collision with unchained lunatics,
and proud peeresses are brought in contact with the frail and fair
ones of the demimonde.

They then describe a stage-coach dinner, contrasting it with one that
could be had at all good inns on the road when travelling luxuriously
in your own carriage. And they lay the scene at the "Red Lion,"
Henley-on-Thames; at the "Windmill," Salt-hill; at the "Pelican,"
Newbury; at the "Bear," Reading; at the "Sugar-loaf," Dunstable;
at the "Dun Cow," Dunchurch; at the "Hop Pole," Worcester; at the
"King's Arms," Godalming; at the "Castle," Taunton; at the "Lion,"
Shrewsbury; at the "Hand Inn," Llangollen, and at a variety of
other excellent inns, many of which have been swept away since the
introduction of the rail.

They dwell upon the good old English country fare, which did not
require the foreign aid of ornament. Not that they censure French
cooking; but what they find fault with--and I heartily concur in
this--is an attempt to transmogrify native dishes into Continental
ones by what the newspaper advertisements term "a professed woman
cook," who is as fit to send up a well-dressed _filet de volaille
à la Parisienne_, a _Maintenon cotelette_, or a _Vol au vent à la
financière_ as she would be to play a match of polo at Hurlingham, or
to take the part of the Countess in the "_Mariage de Figaro_."

The plain and perfect English dinners in bygone days generally
consisted of mutton broth, rich in meat and herbs; fresh-water fish
in every form, eels stewed, fried, boiled, baked, spitch-cocked, and
water-suchet; the purest bread and freshest butter; salmon and fennel
sauce; mackerel brought down by coach from the Groves of London,
with green gooseberries, and the earliest cucumbers; a saddle of
Southdown, kept to a moment and done to a turn; mutton chops, hot and
hot; marrow-bones; Irish stews; rump-steaks tender and juicy; chicken
and ham, plum-pudding, fruit tarts, trifles, and gooseberry-fool.
Then the produce of the grape--no thin, washy claret, at eighteen
shillings a dozen; no fiery port, one day in bottle; no sherry at
twenty-five guineas the cask; but fine old crusted port, sherry dry
and fruity, madeira that had made more than one voyage to India. Our
readers must decide between the two opinions.




A great deal has been written and said upon the subject of accidents
in travelling, and comparisons have been made between those caused
by rail and road. There can be no doubt that there has been an awful
sacrifice of life and an enormous amount of injury attributable to
the rail. Where hundreds formerly made their journeys by public mails
and stage-coaches, or travelled in their own carriages, thousands
upon thousands are now conveyed by steam; and out of those thousands
how many are reckless and foolish!--scrambling into the carriages
when they are moving, or rushing out before they stop.

Although it would be, humanly speaking, impossible to provide against
accidents, for in or after a frost ironwork cannot be depended upon;
still, some might be averted by extra care and diligence on the part
of those to whom the lives of Her Majesty's faithful subjects are
entrusted. I believe it is many years since an accident has occurred
on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway; and this is mainly
owing to the unremitting attention of the general manager, J. P.
Knight, Esq., and his staff; and probably there are other railways
equally well looked after and equally free from danger.

To render railway travelling safer than it now is, the following
rules should be adopted:--First and foremost, the men should be
better paid, and not overworked; secondly, the telegraph and signal
duties should be placed in the hands of responsible and intelligent
persons; and last, not least, punctuality in starting should be
rigidly enforced, for in making up for lost time many have found to
their cost that the old hunting maxim has been realised, "It is the
pace that kills."

To carry out the latter, luggage should be sent into the station a
quarter of an hour before the time of departure, and the doors closed
to passengers five minutes before the train leaves. How often have
I seen trains delayed in London and at different stations in the
country through the late arrival of some persons of distinction! The
humbler classes do not fare quite as well, for many a farmer's wife,
country girl, labourer, or mechanic has either been left behind or
has been hustled into the third class carriages, leaving band-boxes,
baskets, tools or implements on the platform. It is only a few months
ago that I saw the above illustrated.

At ---- station, just after the train was in motion, a well-appointed
waggonette drove up, the coachman shouting "Wait a moment!" The
injunction was obeyed, the train was stopped, and in about four
or five minutes two middle-aged ladies, a tiny specimen of the
canine race, a luncheon basket, dressing case, work-basket, cloaks,
umbrella, and parasols were deposited in a first class compartment,
and a large amount of luggage placed in the van. The darling little
white, curly-haired pet, "Bijou" by name, soon emancipated itself
from the muff in which it had been hid, much to the discomfiture of
myself and other occupants of the carriage! Mark the contrast! After
about an hour's journey we stopped at a very rural station, and just
as the whistle was about to be blown a quiet, respectable-looking
female, evidently of the humbler grade, rushed out of the office
with merely a small basket in her hand, exclaiming,

"Am I in time, guard?"

"Plenty," he responded, "for the next train."

The whistle was heard, and the poor woman left behind, to ruminate
for four hours upon her ill-luck.

There is another evil which many of the railways have got rid of,
and which we trust will shortly be universally adopted--I refer to
the brief time allowed for taking tickets. In Glasgow (I speak from
experience) you may purchase your ticket in offices appointed for the
sale of them independent of the railway station. To the public this
is a special boon, and upon one occasion I found the benefit of it.

I was engaged to give a lecture at the City Hall, Glasgow, which
was to commence at eight o'clock. The night train to London left at
twelve minutes after nine, so there was not much time to spare. By
taking my ticket in the afternoon, leaving my portmanteau in the
cloak-room, engaging an intelligent porter to take it out and have
it ready for me, and benefiting by the kindness of my host, Wm.
Holms, Esq., M.P. for Paisley, who conveyed me in his brougham from
the lecture-hall to the station, I arrived in time for the train,
reaching my London home in time for a ten o'clock breakfast, with
ample time, as the Yorkshireman says, "to have a wash before a bite."

I now turn to accidents by road. These were principally caused
through the carelessness of the drivers, a refractory team, a
coach that had not been thoroughly inspected before starting, and
occasionally by a coachman who had imbibed a considerable quantity of
strong ale or fiery spirits. I could fill pages with accidents that
have occurred to stage-coaches, in which many were killed and others
most severely hurt.

If I recollect right, a Worcester coach, descending the steep hill
into Severn Stoke, was overturned, none of the passengers escaping
death; and on all the roads east, west, south, and north of London
frequent upsets took place, more especially during the foggy month of
November, where ditches bounded the main road.

I well remember travelling from Windsor to London on the box
of Moody's coach, driven by "Young Moody," as he was called in
contradistinction to his father, the proprietor of it. I was on
the box seat; and after passing Cranford Bridge a dense fog set in,
one of those fogs that are described as resembling the colour of
pea-soup. The coach was full inside and out.

"I don't half like this," said Moody. "If I can only manage to get
safe to Hounslow, I'll have the lamps lit."

In those days lucifer-matches were quite unknown, so to get a light
from any of the passengers was impossible; not so would it be at the
present time, when almost every one carries with his pipe or cigar a
box of matches.

Scarcely had my box companion uttered the above words when we were
upset, an accident caused by our driving into a deep, broad ditch. I
and the outsiders were pitched into the furze on the heath, anything
but a bed of roses, while the insides were screeching for help. Some
of us ran to the horses to keep them quiet, others lent their aid in
extricating three middle-aged ladies and an elderly gentleman who
were confined in what one of the females described as the "opaque
body of a stage-coach."

After some trouble things were put to rights; happily, no one
being severely injured. Thinking it more than probable that if we
attempted to proceed on our journey without lamps we should meet with
another mishap, I got a labouring friend who came to our assistance
to walk to the "Travellers' Friend," and borrow two lanthorns. This
he accordingly did; so with the aid of our own lamps and the above
lights we managed to reach Hounslow in safety. From Hounslow to
London we had difficulties to contend against, for the dim oily rays
of a few lamps and lights in shops had not then given way to the
brilliancy of gas.

A few years afterwards, when travelling inside the Henley coach, an
axletree broke, and we were upset into a drift of snow--soft, but
rather cooling. Upon this occasion an outside passenger had his arm

My third and fourth upsets from private carriages will be duly

It occasionally happened that driving out or into a yard, despite the
warning "Take care of your heads," some half-sleepy or inattentive
passenger met with a serious accident by his head coming in contact
with the roof. Then, again, a skid would come off the wheel going
down hill at an awful pace, which, of course, brought the passengers
to grief. An inveterate kicker or a giber added to the dangers of the
road, and a heavy snowstorm, in which the passengers had to descend
and make their way to the nearest wayside inn or cottage, did not
improve their condition.

Of course when due precautions were taken, the accidents were,
comparatively speaking, few. I have travelled at a tremendous pace
by the "Hirondelle"--irreverently called the "Iron Devil"--by the
"Wonder," between Shrewsbury and London, and by almost all the fast
coaches between London and Brighton, London and Oxford, London and
Southampton, London and Bath, and have never met with the slightest

In bygone days it was very agreeable, albeit rather expensive, to
travel post, especially in your own light chariot or britchka; but
to be dependent upon hack chaises on the road was far from pleasant.
These chaises were not very well hung on springs, the windows seldom
fitted closely, and the rattling noise reminded one of a dice-box in
full play upon wheels. There was generally straw enough at your feet
to hold a covey of partridges. Although these vehicles were light
and followed well, a great deal of time was wasted in shifting your
luggage from one to another at every stage, or, at most, every other

I once left London on an affair of importance--namely, that of
carrying a hostile message from a friend to a gentleman who resided
near Marlborough, and found it so difficult to rouse the ostler,
postboy, and the man who looked after the chaises, that I got no
farther than Botham's at Salt Hill.

I left the Piazza Coffee-House, where the letter had been concocted
demanding an apology or a meeting, about eleven at night, was kept
waiting for more than a half hour at the "Red Lion," Hounslow, and
only reached Salt Hill about half-past one in the morning. There,
again, had I to awake the sleepy ostler and drowsy waiter, the latter
of whom strenuously recommended me to sleep at the hotel and continue
my journey at daylight. This I accordingly did; but what with the
arrangement of the affair of honour, as it was called, and which
ended amicably, I was nearly two-and-twenty hours on the journey by
road that could now be accomplished with ease by rail in less than

I have alluded to two upsets that I have in the course of my life met
with from private travelling-carriages. The first occurred in July,
1814, when returning with the late Duke of Wellington from Windsor
to London. His Grace had been dining with the officers of the Royal
Horse Guards (Blues), in which regiment I had the honour of holding
a commission, when, as we reached Brentford, at night, the linch pin
came out of the fore wheel of his carriage, by which it was upset.

Nothing would satisfy the people but drawing the carriage to London,
which they certainly would have done but for the remonstrance of his
Grace, which finally succeeded. After a delay of half an hour the
damage was repaired, and we reached London in safety. The accident
might have proved a fatal one, for we were travelling as fast as four
good horses could take us.

Had such a calamity happened to Wellington, then in the prime of
life, no one can hardly picture the consequences. Happily his life
was spared to add another conquest to those he had won on the banks
of the Douro, of the Tagus, the Ebro, and the Garonne.

The second and last upset I had was on the night of my return from
Canada, in 1819, when, in driving through Goodwood Park, the postboys
drove over a bank and, to use a common expression, "floored the




Travelling by road in Ireland was and is very different from what it
was and is in England. The mail and stage-coaches, almost similar
to the English ones, were well-horsed, and kept their time very
regularly. Occasionally "a frolicsome baste," or "rale bit of blood
who won the plate at the Curragh," would start off at a tremendous
pace, upset the "drag," the driver assuring the passengers that they
were the "quietest craythures in Ireland," adding, "I'll give it ye,
ye bastes, ye venomous sarpints, when I get ye home."

The harness, too, was not a little the worse for wear, having so
often been mended with string and rope that in descending a hill it
would break into "smithereens," and now and then, when whisky was in
the ascendant, the Jehu was so venturesome that in descending a hill
he would come to grief.

After a time the public cars, introduced by M. Bianconi displaced
the regular coaches. In form they resembled the common outside
jaunting-car, but were calculated to hold from twelve to sixteen
persons. They were admirably horsed, had steady drivers, the team
generally consisting of three horses, which travelled at the rate
of seven Irish miles an hour, equivalent to nine English miles, the
fares averaging twopence a mile. They were open cars, but a huge
leather apron afforded protection from showers of rain, which are
so prevalent in the sister isle. Post-chaises, which are now nearly
extinct, were awful conveyances.

I have a very lively impression of a journey from Cork to Dublin
some fifty years ago in these vehicles; the one furnished by the
proprietor of the Imperial Hotel, Cork (then, and I believe now,
an excellent hôtellerie), which took me the first stage, was clean
and comfortable; not so those that followed. Springs they appeared
to have none; or, if they had, they were so covered with rope that
there was no elasticity left in them. They rattled worse than any

The roof was so dilapidated and the windows so broken that, except
for the honour of the thing, you might as well have had no covering
at all; the harness came to pieces whenever "Paddy" gave his horses a
spurt, and the cattle were "divels to go." So disagreeable did I find
the journey in a post-chaise that at Youghal I engaged a car, and
prosecuted my journey to Dublin in cars.

Persons who have never travelled in Ireland in these conveyances can
have a very inadequate idea of the ready wit of the drivers. It has
been admirably well told by Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, from whose work
on the scenery and character of Ireland I quote the following:--

Some one told a story of a fellow who, on grumbling at the shilling
gratuity at his journey's end, said, in a sly undertone,

"Faith, it's not putting me off ye'd be if ye knew but all."

The traveller's curiosity was excited.

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, faix! that ud be telling."

Another shilling was tendered.

"And now," asked the gentleman, "what do you mean by saying if ye
knew but all?"

"That I driv yer honour the last three miles without a linchpin!"

"Will I pay the pike or drive at it, plase yer honour?" was the
exclamation of a driver to his passenger as he suddenly drew up a few
yards from the turnpike gate.

When an Assistant Poor-Law Commissioner first visited Cork, the coach
by which he arrived set him down next door to the "Imperial Hotel,"
his place of destination. Not being aware of this fact, he ordered a
car and gave his direction to the driver. The fellow conducted him
round the town and through the various streets and lanes, and, after
an hour's driving, placed him at the hotel entrance, demanding and
receiving a sum of five shillings, which his victim considered a
reasonable charge. A few minutes afterwards he discovered the trick
that had been played upon him.

One of the richest characters of the class we encountered on the road
from Ross to Wexford; he told us how he got his first situation.

"The masther had two beautiful English horses, and he wanted a
careful man to drive them; he was a mighty plisant gentleman, and
loved a joke. Well, there was as many as fifteen after the place, and
the first that wint up to him was examined as follows:--

"'Now, my man,' says he, 'tell me,' says he, 'how near the edge of a
precipice would you undertake to drive my carriage?'

"So the boy considered, and he says, says he,

"'Within a foot, plaze your honour, and no harm.'

"'Very well,' says he, 'go down, I'll give ye yer answer, by-and-by.'

"So the next came up, and said he'd be bound to carry 'em within half
a foot; and the next said five inches; and another--a dandified chap
intirely--was so mighty nice that he would drive it within 'three
inches and a half, he'd go bail.'

"Well, at last my turn came, and when his honour axed me how nigh I
would drive his carriage to a precipice, I said, says I,

"'Plaze, yer honour, I'd keep as far off it as I could.'

"'Very well, Misther Byrne,' says he, 'you're my coachman,' says he.

"Och! the roar there was in the kitchen whin I wint down and tould
the joke!"

I heard a good story of the philanthropic Peabody, who, though
princely in his liberality, did not like to be imposed upon. Upon
one occasion he resisted an exorbitant demand, and only gave the
car-driver his proper fare!

"Bedad!" said the man; "they may call you Mr. Paybody, but I call you
Mr. Paynobody."

Another instance will suffice. As Sir Walter Scott was riding with a
friend in the neighbourhood of Abbotsford, he came to a field-gate,
which an Irish beggar, who happened to be near, hastened to open
for him. Sir Walter was desirous of rewarding this civility by the
present of sixpence, but found that he had not so small a coin in his

"Here, my good fellow," said the Baronet, "here is a shilling for
you, but mind you owe me sixpence."

"God bless your honour," exclaimed Pat, "may your honour live till I
pay you."

The Irish car is so peculiar and characteristic an institution that
a brief sketch of the author of the system may not be here out of
place. Mr. Charles Bianconi, a native of Milan, came over to Ireland
in the year 1800, and set up at Clonmel as a picture-dealer. Struck
with the want of accommodation that existed between the various towns
of the district, an idea entered his head of remedying the deficiency
by introducing a new conveyance. He had heard that Derrick, in 1760,
had been compelled to set out on horseback on a journey from Cork to
Killarney, there being no public carriage to be had in the city of

Between that period and 1800 no great improvement had taken place;
so the enterprising Italian, who had saved some money, started a car
between Clonmel and Cahir. After struggling for some time against all
the difficulties that ever attend a new scheme, after inciting the
people to abandon their indifference, to conquer their prejudices,
he so far succeeded as to enable him to run others to Limerick and

The public, hitherto apathetic, were roused into action; the new
scheme met with universal patronage; soon Bianconi's name was
uppermost in everyone's thoughts; the double cars increased to
nearly fifty in number, travelling daily over nearly four thousand
miles. These vehicles were so constructed as to carry numerous
passengers and a large amount of luggage; they were all built at the
inventor's factory at Clonmel; they travelled at the rate of six
to nine statute miles an hour, and were admirably well adapted for
all who journeyed for business or pleasure. For tourists they were
invaluable, as from the cars extensive views of the country might be
seen; moreover, the driver was always so full of genuine fun that he
enlivened the whole journey with his quaint Milesian sayings.

Generally, too, he was well acquainted with the locality, and would
tell amusing anecdotes of the occupiers of the stately mansions in
the neighbourhood, and of their humbler neighbours. The rail has in a
great measure driven cars off the road, but they are still to be had
at all the principal towns and at almost every village in Ireland.

The wit of the drivers is not at all deteriorated, and the cattle
they drive are first-rate. Upon a recent occasion I engaged a car at
Inistioge, in the county of Kilkenny, from one Mr. Cassin, to take
me to New Ross; the distance is nearly ten English miles, and the
driver, who had an eye for the picturesque, insisted upon taking me
one way and bringing me back another; and from the time I left until
my return I was kept in a fit of laughter.

Upon dismissing "Paddy" I asked him what I had to pay.

"Five shillings, yer honour, for the car, and whatever you plaze for
the driver."

"But if I plaze to give you nothing?"

"Well, then, yer honour, I'll be perfectly satisfied, as you are
quite a credit to the car."

A good story is told of a car-driver who was conveying a tourist
through a most picturesque part of Ireland, when all of a sudden the
"baste" began to kick, and showed evident symptoms of going faster
down a hill than the unfortunate occupier of the car approved of.

"Don't whip him, driver, or you'll make him run away."

"Bedad, yer honour, ye needn't be afeard of that. He's a raal sodjer,
and 'ud sooner die than run away."

I must now take leave of Ireland and return to England.




I have already referred to the numerous accidents that occurred on
the road to stage and mail coaches, and could fill a volume with
casualties caused by overturns, violent driving, horses proceeding
miles without drivers, drunken coachmen, low gateways, overloading,
breaking down, and racing. One of the most memorable events connected
with racing occurred in 1820, when Thomas Perdy and George Butler
were charged at the Hertford Assizes with the wilful murder of
William Hart, who was thrown off the Holyhead Mail, of which Perdy
was the driver, and which had been upset by the Chester Mail, of
which Butler was the driver. The grand jury having thrown out
the bill for the capital offence, they were tried on a charge of
manslaughter. Two witnesses who were suffering severely from the
accident deposed to the following effect:--

Mr. Archer, a respectable bootmaker, of Cheapside, London, stated
that he sat on the box with the prisoner Perdy. When the coach
arrived at that part of the road beyond Highgate, where a junction
is formed between the Archway Road and the old Highgate Road, the
Chester Mail came up. Both coachmen began to whip their horses and
put them into a gallop, and drove abreast of each other at a furious
rate for a considerable distance, when the driver of the Chester
Mail slackened the pace of his horses, and seemed conscious of the
impropriety of his conduct; but when the coaches approached towards
St. Albans, and had arrived at the hill about a mile from that town,
the prisoner Perdy put his horses into a furious gallop down the
hill. His example was followed by the other prisoner, who endeavoured
to overtake him; and a most terrific race ensued between the two
carriages, the velocity of both increasing by their own accelerated
descent down an abrupt hill.

The road was wide enough for three carriages to pass each other;
but the prisoner Butler, perceiving that Perdy was keeping ahead of
him, pushed his horses on, and waving his hat and cheering, suddenly
turned his leaders in front of the leaders of the Holyhead Mail,
which, in consequence of being jammed in between the bank of the road
and the other vehicle, was immediately upset. The consequences were
frightful. The deceased was killed on the spot, the witness had a
leg and an arm shattered most dreadfully; and a gentleman's servant,
named Fenner, was taken up almost lifeless.

Thomas Fenner confirmed the last witness. He stated that both the
prisoners were flogging their horses at a most furious rate down the
hill, and he was convinced that the accident might have been avoided
with common care, notwithstanding the velocity with which the horses
were driven, as there was quite room enough for the Chester Mail to
have passed the Holyhead.

Mr. Baron Gurney summed up the case for the jury in an eloquent and
impressive manner. The jury found the prisoners "Guilty."

The learned Judge, in passing sentence, commented on the conduct of
the prisoners in terms of strong animadversion. His Lordship laid
it down distinctly, as a proposition not to be disputed, that it
was unlawful for the driver to put his horses into a gallop, and
that he was answerable for all the consequences of an infringement
of this law. The driver of a stage-coach was bound to protect even
the intoxicated, the blind, the aged, and the helpless against their
own want of caution or imprudence. The case now before the Court
presented circumstances of gross aggravation, and his Lordship felt
it his duty to pronounce the severest judgment that the law would
allow, which was that the prisoners should be severally confined in
the common gaol of this county for the term of one year.

At the Wiltshire Assizes in 1813, an action was brought by a Mr.
Gooden against the proprietors of a mail coach, to recover damages
for a serious injury sustained by the plaintiff, from its being
overturned. It appeared in evidence that the plaintiff was an outside
passenger, that the coach was overturned immediately on quitting the
yard of the "Red Lion Inn," Salisbury, and that a compound fracture
of the plaintiff's leg was the consequence of the accident. It seemed
established that there was no gross misconduct on the part of the
coachman to call for vindictive damages. Mr. Justice Gibbs left it to
the jury to determine whether the defendants were liable on account
of the apparent heedlessness of the coachman in not leading the
horses out of the yard, and it was agreed that if the jury found the
defendants liable, the verdict should pass for all such expenses as
the plaintiff had reasonably incurred, which were to be ascertained
by a reference. The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff, and the
referee assessed the damages at six hundred pounds.

In the same year there was an inquest held upon a woman who was run
over by a Manchester coach, and the verdict was "Accidental death,"
with a deodand of four pounds on the fore horse.

On the night of November the 23rd, 1696, six highwaymen attacked
the Ware coach on Stamford Hill, and after the customary amount
of imprecations, led the horses, vehicle, and passengers under a
gibbet; they then proceeded to rifle each individual, and tore out
the breeches-pockets, and the skirts from the waistcoats of the
gentlemen, to be certain of their contents, which amounted to above a
hundred pounds.

At the moment the thieves had completed their intentions, a
gentleman's servant passed with a cart; the man was immediately
summoned to surrender, which he did without resistance; part of the
lading of this prize proved to be several hampers of wine.

Elated by the success of the evening, the highwaymen opened the
hampers, seized the bottles, and emptied many in repeated healths
to the owner of the liquid, which expanding the generous nature of
the six, they insisted upon the stage coachman and his passengers
solacing themselves for their misfortunes by repeated applications to
the favourite beverage of the "Rosy God;" then presenting each with
two bottles, they were dismissed on their journey in a state nearly
approaching intoxication.

A horseman coming by, they robbed him of his palfrey, but plied him
so hotly with their liquor that he seemed very little sensible of
his loss; so that stumbling to his inn in his boots, with a bottle
in each hand, he made all that he found in the kitchen drink of
his wine, and gave them no small diversion by acting the story and
knocking down several of the company, as the thieves did him.

The person who afforded this diversion to his auditor and spectators
on the memorable night of the robbery, appears to have retained much
of the good-humour produced by the plundered wine when he wrote and
sent the following advertisement to the editor of the "Flying Post:"--

"Whereas some gentlemen of a profession that takes denomination
from the King's highway, did borrow a little money of a certain
person, near the gibbet at Stamford Hill, without any regard to that
venerable monitor, on the 23rd of November last, at night; and though
they were so generous as to make him drink for his money, yet at the
same time they took from him a bright bay nag about thirteen hands
high, his mane shorn, thorough-paced, trots a little, with a saddle,
bridle, and pilch, without either bargain or promise of payment. He
hopes they think his horse worth more than two or three bottles of
wine, and desires they would restore him; or if anybody can give
notice of him to George Boon at the 'Blue Last,' in Islington, so he
may be had again, shall receive ten shillings reward."

In the year 1829, about nine o'clock in the morning, the "Albion"
coach took up as passengers twelve convicts from Chester, who had
been sentenced to transportation for life for various offences,
and who were to be forwarded to Portsmouth, for which purpose a
Portsmouth coach was to meet them at the "Bull and Mouth," London.
The coach had no other passengers except the two keepers who had
charge of the convicts.

About nine in the evening the coach reached Birmingham, where a new
coachman and guard relieved the former ones, and the coach proceeded
to Elmedon, where the convicts partook of some refreshment. After
having gone on four miles to Meriden, the guard's attention was
arrested by hearing one of the convicts filing the chain attached to
his handcuffs. Without apparently noticing the noise, he contrived
to apprise the keeper of the circumstance, who took the guard's
situation behind, the guard placing himself by the side of the
coachman on the box. After this alteration everything became quiet,
and there were no appearances of an attempt at escape.

The coach now approached Coventry, through which it passed; and after
it had proceeded nine miles, in a sequestered part of the road, where
trees extend on each side upwards of six miles, and not a house is
near, in an instant four of the convicts seized hold of the coachman
and guard, stopped the horses, and succeeded in fastening both
coachman and guard with cords and straps. While this was going on,
they stated that they did not intend to injure them or rob the coach,
but were determined at every hazard to regain their liberty. While
this scene was going on in front of the coach, five other convicts
seized the keeper behind, and rifling his pockets obtained the keys
of the handcuffs.

The confusion outside was the signal to the remaining convicts
within; instantly the keeper was laid hold of and confined, and,
having got possession of his handcuff-keys also, they lost no time in
manacling him. The convicts then descended, and began endeavouring
to extricate themselves from their fetters, a work which occupied
them some time, and in which, notwithstanding their violence and
ingenuity, they made very little progress.

While thus engaged, they were suddenly alarmed by the noise of a
coach approaching, and immediately rushed to the fields. As the night
was exceedingly dark, they succeeded in making their escape before
the "Alliance," Liverpool coach, came up, by which time the guard and
coachman had extricated themselves, and were assisting in unbinding
the keepers. Before the convicts were alarmed by the Liverpool
coach, they had detached the horses from the "Albion," probably, if
necessary, to make use of them in their flight. Most of them were
soon retaken.

On the 13th an accident happened to the "Red Rover," Manchester and
London coach. When it arrived at Stone, about twelve o'clock at
night, it had ten outside passengers and one inside. It stopped as
usual at the "Falcon Inn" to change horses. When the fresh horses
were put to, eight of the outside passengers had resumed their seats,
the gentleman inside retaining his place. The coachman and guard were
one of them in the yard, and the other in the kitchen of the inn. The
horses started off, turned the sharp corner of the road leading to
Stafford, and proceeded at a moderate pace. The outside passengers,
on perceiving their situation, began to jump off the coach, and by
the time the coach had proceeded a quarter of a mile on the road
every outside passenger had quitted it. In their falls they all
received injuries more or less severe.

After the outside passengers had left the "Red Rover," the horses
still pursued their course, and when the Birmingham and Liverpool
Mail met them near Ashton they were going at a comparatively steady
pace. The "Beehive" afterwards met them near the turnpike gate,
at which they were on the full gallop. They avoided, however, any
collision with the "Beehive," as they had previously done with the

On arriving at Tillington, about a mile from Stafford, the coach was
upset. The gentleman inside, having early learned the situation in
which he was placed, took his seat on the floor of the coach, and did
not stir during the whole time; the consequence was that he escaped
without the slightest injury.

In August, 1839, on the arrival of the Falmouth Mail at Bodmin, many
persons, as is usual at the assizes, were waiting to proceed by it
to Exeter, and four inside and three outside passengers were taken
up there. The coach was driven by a man who was not the regular
coachman, but was considered to be an experienced and sober man. The
guard was a young man who had been but recently placed upon that
station, and was not very well accustomed to the road.

After proceeding a short distance the passengers perceived that the
driver was very much intoxicated, and they insisted that he should
not drive the coach further; accordingly the guard took the reins,
and the coachman took his seat behind.

Shortly before reaching the "Jamaica Inn," situate on Bodmin Moors,
and ten miles from that town, there is a very steep descent, with
a sharp turn at the bottom of the hill, and then a steep ascent up
to the inn, where the coach changes horses, and its proper time of
arrival was about twelve o'clock. The people at the public-house were
alarmed by several horses galloping up to the door and then stopping,
and upon going out they discovered they were the mail horses, but
with scarcely any harness upon them.

It appeared that the guard intended to drag the wheel down the hill,
but, the night being very dark and wet, and not well knowing the
road, he had got beyond the brow of the hill before he was aware
of it; he endeavoured to pull up, and it was believed the coachman
got down to tie the wheel, but that he was too tipsy and fell down.
The coach then proceeded down the hill at a most frightful pace.
Being heavily laden, it rocked from side to side, and on getting
to the turn over it went with the most dreadful crash. The horses
fortunately at once broke away. All the passengers were more or
less stunned, and many of those outside were seriously injured with
fractured ribs and bones.




One of the most serious accidents was caused by the breaking down of
the Hertford coach, by which nearly all the passengers, thirty-four
in number, were severely hurt.

An extraordinary occurrence connected with the road occurred in
April, 1820, when a gentleman of noble connection, high fashion,
and large fortune had his carriage and horses seized on their way
from Brighton to London, in consequence of the carriage containing
smuggled goods. A replevin was afterwards effected, on the payment of
five hundred pounds. The real state of the case was as follows:--

The coachman had the folly to secrete two half-ankers of Hollands gin
within the vehicle; and his fellow-servant, the footman, angry at not
being let into the secret, laid an information, and the seizure of
the carriage and horse was the consequence.

Although, unfortunately, there have been of late years many fatal
accidents by rail, caused by carelessness, inattention, and the
over-working of pointsmen and others employed on the respective
lines, I question much, taking into consideration the thousands on
thousands that travel by steam, as compared with those that journeyed
by the road, whether the accidents were not as serious and as
numerous in the days of coaching as they now are.

I shall confine myself to mail and stage-coaches, albeit private
carriages and post-chaises were not exempt from breakings down,
upsets, and other casualties, caused by drunken or reckless drivers,
runaway horses, or by fragile springs, wheels, axletrees, and poles.

Macaulay, as I have already said, in describing the mishaps that
befell Prince George of Denmark and his suite when visiting the
stately mansion of Petworth, draws a favourable contrast between
the effects of an accident on the road in bygone days and a railway
collision in our time; but the great historian would have thought
differently had he been aware of the dangers of the road which I am
about to record.

Prince George and his courtiers were overturned and stuck fast in
the mud upon their journey; but, at the pace they travelled at, no
serious consequence was to be apprehended--they were six hours going
nine miles.

I will now select out of a number a few cases of accidents caused by
the inclemency of the weather, carelessness, and reckless driving.

It often happened that during heavy snowstorms travelling was
impracticable. In March, 1827, the storm was so violent in Scotland
that the mails, especially those from the South, were stopped for
several days, although no snow had fallen further south than Carlisle.

On many parts of the road between Carlisle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow a
path had to be cut out by the labour of men the whole way; the snow
was so deep as to rise in many places above the heads of the outside
passengers of the stage-coaches, while those in the inside saw
nothing on their right and on their left but rough walls of snow.

The mails dispatched from Glasgow to the south were twenty-four
hours proceeding to Douglas Mill, and the mail from Glasgow to
Edinburgh only proceeded three miles, though drawn by six horses. The
guard and coachman set forward with the mail-bags on horseback, and
with great exertion reached Holytown, seven miles further, in as many

On the following morning another attempt was made, but, after
proceeding a mile, both coachman and guard were obliged to return to
Holytown. A number of men were then employed to clear the road, and
at three o'clock in the afternoon they made a second attempt, but
could only reach Shotts, as the men engaged in cutting the road were
obliged to desist, in consequence of the wind filling up the path as
fast as they cleared it. Next morning they started again at half-past
five, and only reached Edinburgh, in a very exhausted state, in about
twelve hours.

Again, in 1837 one of the heaviest falls of snow ever remembered in
this country took place on the Christmas night. It extended over
every part of the kingdom. So deep were the drifts of snow that in
some of the lower grounds it was from forty feet to fifty feet deep;
thus in many parts of the country all communication by the usual
modes of travelling was entirely suspended. The impediments to the
mails were of the most serious description. Not a single mail of
the 26th of December, which ought to have arrived by six o'clock on
Monday morning, reached the Post Office before half-past eight in
the evening. Of the mails sent out from London on Christmas night,
the Dover went twenty miles and returned, the coachman and guard
declaring the roads to be utterly impassable. The letters were
conveyed daily from Canterbury to Dover on sledges drawn by three and
four horses, tandem. Occasionally they were forwarded by means of
pack-horses. The fare for a passenger on a sledge was two pounds.

Occasionally passengers suffered from the inclemency of the weather.
On one occasion when the Bath coach arrived at Chippenham, the people
of the inn were surprised at seeing three outside passengers lying in
a state of insensibility. On a nearer approach they perceived that
vitality had been actually extinct in two of them for some time, the
bodies being perfectly cold. The third, a soldier, had some faint
signs of animation left, but he expired the following morning. On
the above fatal night it rained incessantly, and the cold was intense.

In 1838 one of the most terrible storms of thunder and lightning
that had been witnessed for many years took place on the 28th of
August, during which the Royal Mail, on its way from York to Leeds,
was overturned a short distance before its arrival at Tadcaster.
The vivid glare of the lightning and the roar of the thunder so
affrighted the horses that they started off, ran the coach upon an
embankment, and it was instantly overturned. There were three inside
and three outside passengers, besides the coachman and guard, all of
whom, with the exception of the coachman, escaped unhurt.

A more serious accident occurred in October. Whilst the Coburg coach,
on its way from Perth to Edinburgh, was receiving the passengers and
luggage from Newhalls Pier, South Queensferry, the leaders suddenly
wheeled round, and, notwithstanding that the guard and coachman were
almost instantly at their heads, coach and horses were precipitated
over the quay. Some of the outside passengers escaped by throwing
themselves on the pier, but those in the inside were less fortunate.
The inside passengers consisted of three ladies and one gentleman.
The coach having fallen into the sea on its side, one lady and
gentleman managed to get their heads thrust out of the window above
the water till extricated from their perilous situation; the other
two were taken out dead. The only outside passenger who kept his
place on the coach until it was precipitated into the water was
pitched into the sea a considerable distance, but, fortunately, saved
himself by swimming ashore. The pole having broken, the leaders were
saved, but the two wheel horses were drowned.

Another accident occurred at Galashiels, where there is a bridge
uniting two curves of the road; upon reaching it one of the horses
commenced kicking, and in a few moments had its hind legs over the
bar. The coachman tried to arrest their progress, but his efforts
were useless, and the coach was overturned in a few seconds. At that
time there were four persons inside; one lady had her arm broken,
and a gentleman had his leg broken; the other passengers sustained
serious injuries, one dying at Galashiels from the effect of the
injuries he sustained.

About nine o'clock the same night the North Briton coach was
approaching Chorley, in Lancashire. The coach was meeting some
waggons, and was followed by a number of carts. The coachman, to
escape the waggons, drew on the opposite side, and, owing to the
mist, went too far, and plunged the vehicle down a precipice. One man
was killed on the spot.

During the floods in Scotland, in 1829, the coast mail-coach, having
left Fochabers at four P.M., got forward, without any interruption,
to the Spey, where, in consequence of the boisterous rapidity of the
torrent, sweeping along with it corn and wood in great abundance,
the boatmen were with difficulty prevailed on to ferry the guard
across. They stated their determination not to venture again while
the current remained so strong. (Since that period a substantial
bridge has been thrown over the Spey.) On his way to the Findhorn the
guard of the mail-coach called on Mr. Davidson, who resides about two
miles to the eastward of that river. He accompanied the guard, and
promptly procured six men to carry the mails across the river, which
was done with scarcely any detention, although the ebbing current was
fearfully strong. Four of Mr. Davidson's men then volunteered their
services and carried the bags on their backs to Earnhill, where the
guard procured a horse and cart, in which he proceeded to Dyke. There
the Reverend Mr. Anken was waiting in readiness, with his servants
and several lights, to assist to forward the mail. One of the
servants from the manse waded before the cart for upwards of a mile,
the water covering the road, in many places to the depth of three
feet. In Auldearn the guard was met by the Reverend Mr. Barclay, who
informed him that the bridge of Nairn had been swept away.

After a most boisterous night the cart arrived opposite to Nairn,
where, the guard blowing his horn, several persons instantly came
forward and advised him not to attempt to cross the bridge, a great
part of it having fallen. Finding it, however, impossible to get a
boat, he drove the cart back to Auldearn, where he remained till
three o'clock in the morning, when he again set out on his way to
Inverness; and, there being still from two to three feet in breadth
of the bridge standing, he, with great peril, passed it.

Great apprehensions were entertained that the bridge of Daviot would
have been swept away, although founded on a rock considerably beyond
the usual height of the water. If this bridge had been carried away
the communication with the south by this road, at least for carriages
and carts, would have been completely cut off, as there is no place
within four miles of the Highland road where the river is fordable.
After much toil and perseverance the guard reached his destination at

In July, 1827, the Bath mail-coach was overturned on its way from
London, between Reading and Newbury, in consequence of the horses
taking fright and bolting from the road into a gravel-pit. The
coachman was thrown from the box among the horses, and received
several contusions from being trod upon. The guard and a foreigner,
who were on the top, were precipitated by the shock to such a
distance, and with such violence, as would probably have proved fatal
to them had not the earth and gravel on which they lighted been
saturated with the rain that fell in the course of the day; and
to the same cause may be ascribed the trifling injury done to the
horses and the coach. In a few minutes after the accident took place
a Bath coach came up. The passengers rendered every assistance in
their power, and, with some difficulty, succeeded in extricating the
inside passengers from the mail. Among them was a naval officer who
was going to join his ship at Plymouth, but he had suffered so much
from the concussion that he was speechless and unable to move. He was
conveyed to a small cottage on the roadside, but died the following

In December of the same year, as the Salisbury coach was on its
journey to London, the fog was so thick that the coachman could not
see his way, and on entering Bedfont, near Hounslow, the horses
went off the road into the pond called the King's Water, dragging
the coach along with them. One of the passengers, Mr. Lockhart
Wainwright, a young man of five-and-twenty years of age, belonging to
the Light Dragoons, was killed on the spot. The water was about two
feet deep, with a soft bottom of mud about two feet more. Whether he
was suffocated in the mud or killed by a blow was not ascertained.

In the inside of the coach were four females--the wife of the
deceased, her maid, a Swiss governess in the family of the Marquis
of Abercorn, and another lady. They all narrowly escaped drowning.
Nothing but the speedy assistance from Bedfont could have saved them.
Above one hundred persons were assembled in a few moments, most of
them soldiers from Bedfont. The soldiers leaped into the water and
extricated the ladies from their perilous situation; the body of the
coach lying on its side, with one of the horses drowned, and the rest
kicking and plunging violently. The inside passengers were bruised,
but not dangerously. Mr. Wainwright owed his death to his humanity.
The night being very severe he had given his place inside to his
wife's maid, and mounted the box beside the coachman, with whom he
was conversing at the time of the accident.

In April, 1826, the Dorking coach left the "Elephant and Castle" at
nine o'clock, full inside and out, and arrived safe at Ewell, when
the driver and proprietor, Joseph Walker, alighted for the purpose of
delivering a parcel from the back part of the coach, and gave the
reins to a boy who sat on the box.

While he was delivering the parcel to a person who stood near the
after wheel of the coach the boy cracked the whip, and the horses set
off at full speed. Several attempts were made to stop them, but in
vain; they passed Ewell church, and tore away about twelve yards of
strong paling, when, the wheels mounting a small eminence, the coach
was overturned, and the whole of the passengers were thrown from
the roof. Some of them were in a state of insensibility, showing no
symptoms of life. One female, who was thrown upon some spikes, which
entered her breast and neck, was dreadfully mutilated, none of her
features being distinguishable; she lingered until the following day,
when she expired in the greatest agony.

While the "True Blue" coach, which ran daily between Leeds and
Wakefield, was descending Belle-hill (the precaution of locking the
wheel not having been observed) the horses got into a gallop, and at
the bottom, the coach being on the wrong side of the road, came in
contact with a coal-cart with such violence as to break the shaft of
the cart and to tear away the wheel of the coach with a part of the
axletree. The coachman was thrown from the box and pitched with his
head upon the ground, by which his skull was dreadfully fractured,
and he died instantly. The coach went forward on three wheels for ten
yards, and then fell over. One of the outside passengers received
a severe internal injury, and very faint hopes were entertained of
his recovery. Another of the outside passengers was thrown under the
coach, and had his thigh broken in two places. He was conveyed to the
Leeds General Infirmary, and suffered the amputation of his limb, but
died in the course of the night.

In August, 1828, as the Devonport Mail was leaving London, the
horses, which were thoroughbred, took fright, and ran off at full
speed. The coachman was unable to stop them, and in passing Market
Street, the near wheels of the coach coming in contact with the
lamp-post at the corner, the pole and splinter-bar were broken, the
horses broke loose from the carriage, and galloped off, dragging the
pole and broken bar after them, till the near leader rushed against
the lamp-post at the corner of Bury Street, the next street to
Market Street, with such force that she broke the spine of her back.

Another accident occurred on the 20th. The turnpike gate at Matterby,
between Winchester and Alresford, is placed at the foot of a hill.
The horses of the London and Poole Mail, having become unmanageable
at the top of the hill, descended it at a furious gallop, and came
so violently in contact with the gate-post, that the post itself
was broken off and carried to a considerable distance. One of the
wheel-horses had his brains knocked out by the concussion, and the
passengers were thrown nearly twenty yards from the coach. One of
them was severely injured, but none were killed. The coachman had
three ribs and his right arm broken, his eye knocked out, and his
head otherwise so bruised and cut that blood flowed copiously from
his mouth, nose, and ears. The guard saved himself by lying down
on the footboard. The coach, notwithstanding the shock, was not

Again, on the 23rd, as the Mail from Barnstaple to Bristol had
changed horses at Wivelscombe, and the coachman was about to mount
the box, some noise in the street caused the horses to move down
the hill. The coachman used every effort to stop them, till he was
knocked down. They proceeded to the bottom of the hill, and in
turning a corner the coach upset. Of three outside passengers two
were thrown with great violence over a wall, one of them receiving a
severe contusion in the head, and the latter having an arm broken.
The third was killed. An inside passenger had an arm fractured.

In March, 1830, as the Manchester and Huddersfield Mail was returning
from the former to the latter place, the horses broke out into a
gallop in coming down the hill near Thornton Lodge, and became
unmanageable. On arriving at Longroyd Bridge, the mail came violently
in contact with the curbstone and the parapet, and the coachman
and three outside passengers were precipitated over the parapet
on the rocks and gravel below, a fall of eight or nine yards. The
horses then broke the pole and proceeded with it at a furious rate
to Huddersfield, in the streets of which two of them fell from
exhaustion, and, being entangled in the harness, a stop was put
to the career of the other two. Of the three passengers, one was
found senseless, and died immediately; another had a leg broken; the
coachman was much injured; the third passenger, though his fall was
four feet lower than that of his companions in misfortune, sustained
scarcely any injury. Two other passengers and the guard were
providentially thrown upon the road, and were but slightly hurt.

In the month of September, 1836, three fatal coach accidents
occurred. On the 10th, as the Peveril, Manchester, and London night
coach was on its way to London, and about five miles beyond Bedford,
the pole-chain got loose and one of the horses began kicking and
plunging, and almost immediately the end of the pole attached to the
coach became unfastened. The weight of the coach pressed upon the
horses (the coach then being at the brow of a hill), and they had no
power of resistance. The coachman kept the horses in the road till
they reached the bottom of the hill, when the near wheels ran upon
the grass, which was not more than four or five inches higher than
the road, and caused the coach to overturn on the off side into the
road. One gentleman attempted to jump off; he fell upon his face,
and the coach fell upon him, and on the coachman. They remained
nearly a quarter of an hour in that position, and when extricated
the passenger was quite dead, and the coachman severely injured,
one shoulder being dislocated, and his head and body much cut and
injured. Of the male passengers four had their shoulders dislocated.

In the month of February, 1807, as the Liverpool mail coach was
changing horses at the inn at Monk's Heath, between Congleton and
Newcastle-under-Lyme, the horses which had performed the stage from
Congleton having just been taken off, and separated, hearing Sir
Peter Warberton's foxhounds in full cry, immediately started after
them with their harness on, and kept up the chase to the last. One
of them, a blood mare, kept the track with the whipper-in, and
gallantly followed him for about two hours, over every leap he took,
until the fox, who was a cowardly rogue, had led them round in a ring
fence, and ran to ground. The sportsmen who witnessed the feats of
this gallant animal were Sir Harry Mainwaring, Messrs. Cholmondeley,
Layford Brooke, Edwin Corbett, Davenport, Townshend, Pickford, &c.
These spirited horses were led back to the inn at Monk's Heath, and
performed their stage back to Congleton the same evening, apparently
in higher spirits for having had a gallop with the hounds.

Mail robberies, though not so prevalent as in former years, existed
as late as the year 1839; for in the month of June, at the Worship
Street office, information was given of a daring attempt to rob the
mail between Enfield and Edmonton. In October of the same year a box
containing five thousand pounds in notes and gold was stolen from the
Manchester and Staffordshire coach.

An extraordinary accident occurred in the same month, when a coach
was burnt on the railway. As the "Regulator" coach, from Bristol to
London, was proceeding on one of the uptrains to London, having a
quantity of luggage on the top, owing to the large quantity of sparks
which issued from the chimney, the luggage took fire, a fact which
was only discovered by the coachman (who happened, fortunately, to
have remained inside) seeing sparks of fire falling from the top of
the coach by the window. The coachman, at the hazard of his life
(the train going at the rate of forty miles an hour at the time),
got out and clambered on the roof, and by great exertions removed
the luggage from the roof, and thereby saved the greater part; but
the brisk current of air created by the rapid speed at which the
coach was progressing rendered all attempts to extinguish the flame
unavailable until the roof was destroyed, when, the embers falling
inside, the guard, who had come to the coachman's assistance,
succeeded in putting out the fire.

In 1832 Mr. Babbage, in his work on the "Economy of Manufactures,"
suggested a new plan of conveying the mail. The immense revenue
of the Post Office would afford means of speedier conveyance. The
letter-bags do not ordinarily weigh a hundred pounds, and were then
conveyed in bulky machines of many thousand times the weight, drawn
by four horses, and delayed by passengers. Mr. Babbage proposed the
erection of pillars along each line of road, these pillars to be
connected by inclined wires or iron rods, along which the letters
inclosed in cylinders attached to the rods by rings are to slide;
persons stationed on these columns were to forward the cylinders
from each point, after having extracted the contents belonging to
their own station. In this manner it was calculated that a letter
might be sent (from pillar to post) to the furthest limits of the
land in the course of a very small portion of time; from London to
York, probably, in an hour or two. In the absence of pillars, and
in the interior districts, it was suggested that church-steeples,
properly selected, might answer the purpose, and in London the
churches might be used for the circulation of the twopenny post. The
introduction of the rail and the telegraph has completely remedied
the evil Mr. Babbage complained of.

In May, 1830, much attention was excited in the neighbourhood of
Portland Place by the appearance of a steam-carriage, which made its
way through a crowded passage, without any perceptible impulse. There
was neither smoke nor noise; there was no external force nor apparent
directing agent; the carriage seemed to move by its own volition,
passing by horses without giving them the least alarm. Five gentlemen
and a lady formed the passengers. One gentleman directed the moving
principle, and another appeared to sit unconcerned behind, but his
object was ascertained to be the care of the fuel and water. The
carriage was lightly and conveniently built, not larger nor heavier
than a phaeton. It went without the least vibration, and preserved a
balance in the most complicated movements. The pace was varied from
five to twelve miles an hour, according to pleasure.

Coaching is still the only means of conveyance in many parts of the
Australian colonies, and in certain districts where the roads are
bad, or owing to the nature of the country, it is often attended
with considerable danger. The following account of an accident which
lately occurred in Tasmania, taken from the "Hobart Town Mercury,"
will probably be interesting to many who have travelled by coach in
days gone by.

"An extraordinary accident happened to the Falmouth mail-coach on
the 10th instant, and the passengers experienced an escape from an
awful death, which seems little short of miraculous. After leaving
the little township of Cullenswood, the coach enters St. Mary's Pass,
noted both for its extreme beauty and for the danger with which the
journey through it is sometimes attended. About four hundred yards
from the mouth of the pass on entering, the road is not more than
twelve feet wide. A lofty wall of rock bounds the road on one side,
and on the other is a precipice plunging almost sheer down to a depth
of between one hundred and fifty and two hundred feet.

"When Page's coach arrived at this dangerous spot, on the day in
question, a lad with two horses happened to be coming in the opposite
direction. Instead of retreating into one of the recesses made for
the purpose, while the coach passed, the lad persisted in going on,
and drove his horses between the vehicle and the cliff, one of the
horses backing across the road in front of the coach, the horses in
which took fright and fell, hanging over the precipice. With great
presence of mind, the coachman cut the harness, and the horses, thus
freed, fell through the brushwood down to the bottom of the precipice
of which we have spoken.

"Fortunately for the occupants of the coach--Messrs. Wikborg and
Rattray, who were on their way to George's Bay--the wheels caught
in a log laid on the outside edge of the road, otherwise nothing
could have prevented the coach and passengers from following the
horses in their headlong fall, with what would almost certainly have
been a fatal result. The horses, strange to say, were found almost
uninjured, and an attempt was made to get them up the cliff again,
but when one of the animals had succeeded in climbing about fifty
feet from the valley, he slipped and fell to the bottom. Subsequently
a track was cut by some of the natives of the district, and both
horses were got out safe and sound."




I once heard a man say that some of his pleasantest acquaintances
were people he had picked up on stage-coaches; but I cannot say
"ditto" to that. He must either have been singularly fortunate in his
companions, or singularly unfortunate in his general acquaintances.
A coaching acquaintance seldom--I should imagine--never ripened into
intimacy; seldom, indeed, survived the occurrence that produced
it. Had the above authority included stage-coachmen, to a certain
degree I would have indorsed his opinion; for, in bygone days, I
have sat beside many agreeable dragsmen; and, from the time that the
heavy coach gave way to the fast one, there has been a wonderful
improvement in the coachmen. The driver was formerly a man of
enormous bulk, with a rubicund face, greatly addicted to strong ale,
often indulging in language the reverse of parliamentary.

There are so many varieties of drunkenness, that it is difficult to
define the state the old-fashioned coachman was too often reduced
to. We hear of a man being "as drunk as a lord;" of being "on;" of
being "muzzy;" of being "cut;" of being "two sheets in the wind;"
of having "a drop too much;" of being "incapable." Perhaps of the
above epithets "muzzy" would be the most appropriate, as owing to
the numerous stoppages at wayside public-houses, the coachman had a
tankard to his lips every half-hour.

The fast coachmen were well-conditioned, in many instances
well-educated men, who could sing a song, and tell a good story
to while away the time. They formed a great contrast to the
old-fashioned coachmen of heavy coaches, who were too often
drunkards, as I have remarked, and who were conspicuous for their
inhumanity in the use of the double thong and a sort of cat-o'-nine
tails called "the apprentice," with which they unmercifully lashed
their wheelers.

It was rather amusing, though mischievously so, to witness the
consternation of the inside passengers when some amateur on the box
"handled the ribbons." Except with a very fast team, the coachman
would turn to his companion and say,

"If you have your driving-gloves on, and would like to take the reins
over the next ten miles, you are welcome to do so."

Of course the reply was in the affirmative. If a tyro accepted the
offer, it was very easy to discover the difference between the
professional and the unprofessional, which the horses themselves
seemed to feel. They became sluggish; not all the "gee upping" and
"go alonging," and the harmless use of the whip, the lash of which
usually got entangled in the lamp or harness, could keep them up to
their work.

This was so apparent that some inside passenger would put his head
out of the window and inquire the cause of the creeping pace they
were proceeding at.

"A heavy piece of road, Sir," responded the coachman, who thought
more of the guinea or half-guinea he expected to receive than of the
loss of time.

"Why, I declare," said the inquiring gentleman, resuming his seat,
"there's a young fellow driving, and I rather think it must be his
first attempt!"

"Oh, let me out!" exclaims an elderly spinster; "we shall be

"Disgraceful!" chimed in another. "It was only last week that the
Windsor coach met with an accident through the reckless driving of
some inexperienced fellow."

"I'll report you," said an old gentleman, just roused from his
slumbers. "I paid my fare to be driven by the proper coachman, and
not by a puppy who probably never sat behind four horses in his life."

"And I'll have you dismissed, coachman, for risking our lives," added

Then came a jerk, which caused all the insides to break forth into
the following exclamations:

"There, I told you!"

"We are going over!"

"Do, pray, take the reins, Mr. Coachman!"

In the mean time the "swell dragsman" and his young friend were
laughing heartily at the fears of their precious burden.

"Lots of fear, ma'am, but no danger," said the former, while the
latter inquired where the coachman was going to "shoot his rubbish."

When some experienced amateur took the reins, and with the aid of the
whip judiciously applied, sent the sluggish steed along at the rate
of ten miles an hour, the scene above described again took place, for
the timid female passenger, like the widows of Ashur, was "loud in
her wail."

In those days young Etonians, Harrovians, collegians, and officers
were all taught to drive by the professional coachmen on the road,
and anyone that could manage a refractory team over a stage or two
of ten miles was deemed a proficient, and fit to belong to the
four-horse driving club.

A great many aspirants for coaching honours fancy that sitting
quietly on the box, and guiding the animals safely along the road,
without coming in contact with a post, a curb stone, or another
carriage, is all that is required; but this is far from being the
case. To become a downright good coachman, a man should be able to
put the team together, so as to alter a trace or bit during the
journey; he must take care that every horse does his work, and must
keep the jades up to the collar. He must then be careful to ease his
horses up a hill, spirting down one, and taking advantage of any
level piece of road, make up for the slower pace of a heavier one. He
must also learn how to handle his whip, so as to flip off a horse-fly
from his leaders, and to double thong a refractory wheeler when
gibbing or refusing to work; he must remain perfectly placid upon the
box, even amidst danger never losing his head or his temper, always
remembering that upon his presence of mind depends the fate of his

Many noblemen and gentlemen there are who can drive cleverly broken
thoroughbred horses admirably well, but who would be at a loss if
called upon to drive a stage-coach or a "scratch" team to Epsom or
Ascot. There are, of course, many honourable exceptions, and I select
a few, and there may be others, who could worthily fill the places of
the late "Oxford Will," Jack Adams, "Piers," "Falkner," "Probyn," and
Parson Dennis.

At the head of the list I would place two noble Plantagenets--the
Duke of Beaufort and his son, the Marquis of Worcester, who are
_nulli secundus_; next the Earls of Sefton and Craven, Lords
Londesborough, Aveland, Carington, Cole, and Tredegar, Colonels
Tyrwhitt, Owen Williams, the Honourable C. White, and Armytage,
Messrs. Cooper, Trotter, F. Villiers, and H. Wombwell.

It may appear invidious to select the above when there are probably
many more equally good; but I have witnessed the prowess of the
above, and speak not only from what I have myself seen, but from what
I have heard from others.

There was something in the nature of a stage-coachman, a whip of
bygone days, that _smacked_ (we mean no pun) of conscious importance.
He was the elect of the road on which he travelled, the imitated of
thousands. Talk of an absolute monarch, indeed! The monarch even on
his own highway was but a gingerbread one to the "swell dragsman."
To him Jem the ostler rushed in servile eagerness, to him Boniface
showed the utmost deference, for him the landlady ever had a welcome
reception, towards him the barmaid smiled and glanced in perpetual
amicability, and around him the helpers crowded as to the service
of a feudal lord. Survey him as he bowled along the road, fenced
in coats in Winter, or his button-hole decorated with a rose in
Summer. Listen to the untutored melody of his voice, as he directed
the word of exhortation to his spanking tits--three chestnuts and a
grey--enforcing his doctrine with a silver-mounted whip, the gift of
some aristocratic patron of the road, and he will present a feature
of social life in England which no other country possessed. Hark!
already he is entering the village; the well-known horn sounds, the
leaders rattle along the road, and the inhabitants rush out to bid
him a hearty welcome. To some he grants a familiar nod, to others
a smile of recognition, and a few only are honoured by the warmer
salutation of,

"Ah! how are you, old fellow? Glad to see you. Why, you are as fresh
as paint."

He was regarded by all as a privileged person, being possessed of the
power to speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, and, at the
rate of ten miles an hour, bring the travelled husband to the partner
of his sorrow and his joy. He could transport the lover to the feet
of his mistress; he could convey the long-absent son to the arms of
his doting parents; he could bear the schoolboy from the scene of
his tasks to his much-sought-for happy holiday home. How delightful
was it to behold him on a calm Summer's evening bowling through
the market town, through the well-watered streets, with a crew of
ragged urchins, screaming and throwing rural bouquets, culled from
the hedgerows and verdant meadows, on to the box-seat! A smile is on
every face on hearing the sound of the horn--all run to the door to
see the coach go by; the maid-servant drops her mop in the hope of a
packet from her rustic admirer; the youngster plays truant for a few
seconds in the anticipation of a cake from his too-indulgent mother;
the shopman quits his counter to ascertain whether a bale of goods
has been consigned to him from the metropolis; the potboy from the
public-house holds out his rabbit-skin cap as the guard dexterously
throws the neighbouring squire's daily newspaper into it; the barber
extends his apron for his weekly journal; and even the parson, the
pedagogue, the lawyer, and the exciseman, the four most influential
inhabitants of the place, doff their hats as they recognise the
popular "dragsman" and his well-appointed "turn-out."

With respect to his accomplishments they were usually more select
than numerous. I speak of the professional coachman of a century
and a half ago, and not of the more gifted ones, and amateurs who
came into fashion just before the rail drove horseflesh off the
road. If the language of the old whip had not the art of a Sydney
Smith, it had the easy style of nature, with expletive beauties more
particularly its own. On the Shakespearean principle that "discourse
is heavy fasting," the coachman never changed horses at a wayside
public-house or inn without fortifying his stomach with a snack.
Flowing, natural, anecdotal, and occasionally witty (garnished with
a few hearty national Attic anathemas) was the conversation of the
driver in bygone days; while in the science of music he was generally
no mean proficient, warbling forth "Robin Adair," "The Thorn," "The
woodpecker tapping the hollow beech-tree," and other popular melodies
of the day, to the delight of the outside passengers.




Few, if any, of my readers will remember the time when a
turnpike-gate stood between St. George's Hospital and Apsley House,
though many will not be unmindful of those near the Marble Arch,
Bayswater, and Kensington, all of which were sad nuisances to the
inhabitants of the metropolis.

There was, however, a wide distinction between the official in London
and its suburbs, and the rural collector. The latter was generally an
uncouth, half-sleepy clod, who, on a moderate calculation, detained
you three minutes in procuring the ticket and change, finally placing
six or eight pennyworth of dirty coppers and a fresh written scrap
of paper in your palm, to the detriment of clean hands or gloves.
The suburban was generally "wide awake" to everyone and everything.
He might be seen in his easy-chair before the door of his contracted
space--his smart, white-painted "box"--smoking a mild havannah, which
the kindness of some sporting passer-by had presented him with,
making remarks on passing events; and when none occurred he would
take part in a duet with his blackbird, whose wicker cage hung by his
side, and whistle for want of thought.

His costume was neat; he was ever on the _qui vive_; his mottoes were
"No trust," "_Toujours_ pay, _toujours prêt_." When, like one of
Macheath's gang, he heard "the sound of coaches," his cigar was laid
aside, a ticket taken from a neatly-arranged file, when he exclaimed
"Twopence!" then, twirling the shilling he had received on his
thumb-nail, dived into the multitudinous pockets of his white apron,
handing out a sixpence and a fourpenny-piece to the nobility, and
tenpennyworth of "browns" to the mobility. And what a field he had
for contemplation!

High life and low life, the Royal cortége, the thoroughbred team,
the barouche and four, the yellow post-chaise and pair, the smart
tilbury, the light dennet, the sporting dog-cart, the heavy "bus,"
the gaudy van, the sable hearse, the hackney-coach, the tilted
waggon, and the Whitechapel cart.

The first object that attracted his notice might have been a
ponderous, lumbering, rickety hackney-coach--I write of the days of
the fourth George--the arms emblazoned on the panels, showing that it
had once seen better days, a remnant of faded greatness. The driver,
too, might also have shone in the glittering throng of St. James's on
a birthday. And oh, what a sad falling off was there! Instead of the
three-cornered hat of quaint appearance, bedizened with gold lace and
feathers and its smart cockade, a rusty brown, low-crowned beaver,
with a wisp of straw for a hatband. The gaudy livery had given place
to an old faded coat, bought in the purlieus of the Seven-dials.
Where are the well-curled wig, the silken hose, the silver-buckled
shoes, the bouquet, the white gloves--where? Echo answers, "Where?"

Behind this vehicle might be heard the wheels of a tilbury, guided by
an impatient young exquisite in the extreme of fashion, his glossy
hat perched slantingly on his well-oiled, curly hair; his tight frock
coat lined and faced with silk and velvet; the snowy corner of a
white pocket-handkerchief peeping out of the breast pocket, perfuming
the air with the choicest scents of Arabia; the half-blown moss-rose
in his button-hole; his boots shining in all the brilliancy of
_day_--and Martin, and his hands enveloped in light fawn coloured kid

"How much?" asks the dandy.

"Twopence," is the reply.

A shilling is thrown to the turnpike man.

"You may keep the change, old fellow."

"Quite the gentleman!" exclaims the collector.

Then comes the cabriolet (now out of fashion), on its well-balanced
springs, plainly painted--"unadorned adorned the most." See the
owner, how he prides himself on his splendid horse and diminutive

"Now, Sir," exclaims the driver and _mis_-conductor of a galloping
"bus," with two raw-boned bits of blood, ten outside and thirteen in,
trying to pass the cabriolet. "Don't keep the whole of the King's

The unfortunate owner of the cabriolet stops rather suddenly, and
finds himself, like the lions at the Zoological Gardens, "stirred up
with a long pole."

A rival "bus" approaches. "Bank! Bank! City! Bank!" cries the
conductor. The driver makes a rush to pass both vehicles, locks his
wheel in that of the cabriolet, leaving it in what the Americans term
"a very unhandsome fix."

"I hate these French himportations and hinventions, the homnibusses!"
exclaims the gate-keeper, "they're a regular nuisance."

Then might be seen approaching a pony-phaeton, with a duedecimo
postilion, and a pair of long-tailed Arabians, containing two
of England's loveliest daughters--the turnpike-man is lost in
admiration. Quickly follows the light Whitechapel cart with a
fast trotter, "surrounding objects rendered invisible by extreme
_w_elocity," as the owner declares, who by his bulldog and his
costume shows he belonged to the once royally-patronised prize-ring.
But see! a "drag" approaches; it is the perfection of neatness, one
of Adams's[1] best--body yellow, slightly picked out with black;
under carriage black; two servants in plain liveries behind four
spicy nags--three greys and a chestnut--each ready to leap through
his collar, put together with skill and working beautifully. The
driver is evidently a first-rate artist, a perfect master of the
science. See how well he has his team in hand! He is every inch
a coachman. Our turnpike-man brightens up and, doffing his hat
respectfully, exclaims,

  [1] Adams, now Hooper, Victoria Street.

"Now, that's what I like to see--a gentleman patronising the road!
He's a right regular and right honourable trump, and no mistake!"

And no mistake was there, for the driver was John Warde. A
fashionable equestrian now rides by,

   "With heel insidious by the side
    Provokes the caper which he seems to chide;"

and a "galloping snob" of Rotten Row, since immortalised in song,
follows him. Half a dozen spring-vans decorated with flags and
laurels, containing men, women, and children, barrels of beer, and
baskets of provisions, are the East-End Benevolent Society, on their
road to Bushey Park to enjoy a picnic under its stately avenues of

"It's a poor heart that never rejoices!" says the man at the gate,
smirking at the females as he gives the ticket, and helping himself
to a handful of apples from a neighbouring barrow-woman's stall,
which he throws into the laps of the delighted juveniles. A key
bugle, playing "Love's young dream," announces the approach of
another "drag;" but what a contrast to the one I have described! It
is painted green, picked out with red, evidently an old stage-coach
metamorphosed; for a close observer might perceive the words "Chatham
and Rochester," partly defaced, and painted over with a fancy crest
and motto; the driver sitting, like a journeyman tailor on his board,
with one servant behind, with a gaudy livery and gold-laced hat; the
horses, one blind, two kickers and a bolter, evidently bent on having
a way of their own. "Regular Brummagem," exclaims the man of "no
trust." "All is not gold that glitters."

Next comes a youth on an animal long in the neck and high in the
bone, accoutred with a pair of saddle-bags, his twanging horn
announcing him to be the suburban postman, the

                      "Herald of a noisy world;
    News from all nations lumbering at his back."

The hand of the clock is on the stroke of four, and, although no
carriage is within sight, the collector is at his post, change and
ticket in hand; within a few seconds a phaeton, with "harnessed
meteors" flashes through the gate. The words "ticket," "all right,"
have passed more quickly than I can write them. That is the carriage
of some gentleman who possesses a villa at Richmond, and whose
avocations call him to town twice a week.

"That's a regular gentleman," says the pike; "quite a timekeeper, no
need of a watch the day he passes, and he always stands a turkey at

Next comes a hearse with numerous mourning-coaches, returning from
all the pride and pomp of a funeral pageant. What a contrast now to
the last time the procession passed the gate! Then the tears of a
widowed wife, the sobs of a bereaved daughter, might be heard; now
all is vulgar mirth and uproarious merriment; the trappings of woe,
the plumes, the "inky cloaks," the customary suits of solemn black,
are a perfect mockery of grief.

Turn we to a brighter theme. An advanced guard of a crack Lancer
regiment announces the approach of the Royal cortége. The
acclamations that rend the sky herald the approach of the "observed
of all observers," the luxurious George IV., then in the height of
his popularity. Such was the turnpike gate in bygone days.

Few sights were more amusing than the "White Horse Cellar,"
Piccadilly, in the old times of coaching. What a confusion--what a
Babel of tongues! The tumult, the noise, was worthy the pen of a Boz,
or the pencil of Cruikshank. People hurrying hither and thither,
some who had come too soon, others too late. There were carriages,
hackney-coaches, vans, carts, and barrows; porters jostling, touters
swearing, cads elbowing, coachmen wrangling, passengers grumbling,
men pushing, women scolding. Trunks, portmanteaus, hat-boxes,
band-boxes, strewed the pavement; orange merchants, cigar merchants,
umbrella merchants, dog merchants, sponge merchants, proclaiming
the superiority of their various wares; pocket-knives with ten
blades, a cork-screw, button-hook, punch, picker, lancet, gimlet,
gun-screw, and a saw; trouser-straps, four pairs a shilling;
silver watch-guards--"cheap, cheap, very cheap;" patent pens and
(n)ever-pointed pencils, twelve a shilling; bandana handkerchiefs,
that had never seen foreign parts, to be given away for an old hat;
London sparrows, as the coachmakers would say, "yellow bodies," were
passed off as canaries, though "their wood notes wild" had never
been heard out of the sound of Bow Bells; ill-shaven curs, "shaven
and shorn," and looking like the priest in the child's story, "all
forlorn," painted, powdered, and decked with blue ribbons, assumed
the form of French poodles who "did everything but speak;" members of
the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge were hawking literature
at the lowest rate imaginable--"H'annuals at the small charge of
one shilling; the h'engraings, to h'any h'amateur, worth double the
money;" the "Prophetic Almanack" neatly bound, one penny; "a yard and
a half of songs for a half-penny;" and "Larks in London," pictorially
illustrated, for one shilling.

The remainder of the group consisting of perambulating piemen,
coachmen out of place, country clods, town cads--gaping, talking,
wondering; the din occasionally interrupted by a street serenade,
the trampling of cattle, or the music of a guard's horn. In our day,
the interesting sight of some well-appointed coach drawn up before
the old "White Horse Cellar" may still be witnessed, divested of
the noise and confusion of former times. The coachman--generally
speaking a gentleman--quietly takes his seat on the box, the guard
is attentive to the inside and outside passengers, and at the "All
ready!" cheers the lookers-on with the sound of his horn; while
the four spicy nags trot along Piccadilly at a steady pace, to be
increased when they get off the stones.




Having dwelt at considerable length upon stage coaches and stage
coachmen, I now turn to amateurs who have distinguished themselves on
the box, and who were perfectly competent to take the reins in the
event of an accident to the regular driver. Here I am reminded that
upon one occasion, when Bramble was driving the Chichester coach to
London, and was prevented completing the journey from an accident,
the present Duke of Richmond, then Earl of March, took his place, and
landed his passengers safe and sound at the "White Horse Cellar,"

Among gentlemen coachmen of bygone times may be mentioned the late
Lords Clonmel and Sefton, Sir Charles Bamfylde, Sir Lawrence Palk,
Sir John Rogers, Sir Felix Agar, Sir Bellingham Graham, Sir Henry
Parnell, Sir Thomas Mostyn, Sir John Lade, Sir Henry Peyton, the
Honourable Fitzroy Stanhope, the Honourable Charles Finch, the
Honourable Thomas Kenyon, Messrs. T. R. and J. Walker, Maddox, Warde
(the father of the field and road), Charles Buxton, Henry Villebois,
Okeover, Annesley, Harrison, of Shelswell, and last, not least,
"Tommy Onslow," immortalised in the well-known lines:--

   "What can Tommy Onslow do?
    He can drive a phaeton and two.
    Can Tommy Onslow do no more?
    Yes; he can drive a phaeton and four."

At a later period we have had the Dukes of Beaufort, the Marquis of
Waterford, the Earls of Chesterfield, Londesborough, Waldegrave,
Sefton, and Rosslyn; Lords Alfred Paget, Alford, Rivers, Worcester,
Macdonald, Powerscourt, Colonel Copeland, Sir St. Vincent Cotton, Sir
E. Smythe, George Payne, Esq., H. Villebois, Esq., Prince Batthyany,
A. W. Hervey Aston, Esq., J. Angerstein, Esq., and T. Barnard, Esq.

And here I am reminded of one who, as an amateur coachman and
vocalist, was second to none. I allude to the late Honourable
Fitzroy Stanhope, than whom a kinder-hearted creature never existed.
Few men had seen more of the world in all its phases than poor
Stanhope; but under whatever circumstances you met him, whether at
the social board, on the racecourse, on the box of a "drag," in the
snuggery of the Garrick Club, or in the shooting-field, he was ever
the high-bred gentleman. His nerve and head when on the box were
wonderfully good. I well recollect sitting behind him on the late
Hervey Aston's coach at Ascot races, when the owner, who was rather
short-sighted, drove his leaders against some very strong ropes that
surrounded the booths; and, as the team was very skittish, we must
have come to grief had not Fitzroy, in the coolest manner, helped us
out of the scrape by catching hold of the reins. This he did in a
most quiet and good-humoured manner, and with so much tact that Aston
was pleased instead of being offended.

"You are an excellent coachman," said Stanhope, "but a little too
venturesome; there, take the ribbons again, no one handles them

The above was the second escape from accident that befell us that
day. In driving out of the Knightsbridge Barracks, Aston managed to
get his leaders and wheelers huddled together, and, the salute of the
sentry at the gate frightening them, the wheel came in contact with
the post and the pole snapped in two. Fortunately, assistance was at
hand, and the only ill result was a delay of some twenty minutes. I
was on the box at the time; and, thinking probably other difficulties
might arise on the road, I urged Fitzroy Stanhope to change places.
Stanhope's vocal powers were of the first-rate order, as all will
bear testimony who listened to his merry and musical voice when he
carolled forth "The Swell Dragsman," "The Bonny Owl," "The days that
we got tipsy in, a long time ago," and other convivial songs. Poor
Fitzroy! his loss was deeply felt by a large circle of friends.

And here let me place before my readers a description of the
four-in-hand club of 1808. This club was in the habit of meeting
once or twice a month in London, and then proceeding some fifteen
or twenty miles into the country to dine, returning at night. It
was called the "Driving Club," and the carriages turned out in the
following order:--

Sir Henry Peyton's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. Annesley's barouche-landau, four roans, thoroughbred.

Mr. Stephen Glynn's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. Villebois's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. Whitmore's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. O'Conver's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. Pierrepoint's barouche-landau, four bays.

Sir Thomas Mostyn's barouche-landau, four bays.

Lord Foley's barouche-landau, four bays.

Mr. J. Warde's barouche-landau, four bays.

"After dining at Bedford," so writes a chronicler of that day, "they
dashed home in a style of speed and splendour equal to the spirit and
judgment displayed by the noble, honourable, and respective drivers."

Another club, called the "Whip Club," in rivalship with the above,
met once a month in Park Lane, and proceeded thence to dine at
Harrow-on-the-Hill. There were fifteen barouche-landaus, with four
horses; Lord Hawke, the Honourable Lincoln Stanhope, and Mr. Buxton
were among the leaders. Lincoln Stanhope was one of the most popular
men of the day. He was never known to say an unkind word, never known
to do an unkind action. Peace be with him! for he was one in whom the
soldier, the courtier, and the man of honour were so happily blended
that, when a few of his remaining compatriots shall have passed away,
I fear we may long search the fashionable throng in vain to find

The following was the style of the sets-out of the Whip
Club:--Yellow-bodied carriages, with whip springs and dickey
boxes; cattle of a bright bay colour, with silver-plate ornaments
on the harness and rosettes to the ears. The costume of the
drivers consisted of a light drab-coloured cloth coat, made full,
single-breasted, with three tiers of pockets, the skirts reaching to
the ankles, a mother o'pearl button of the size of a crown piece;
waistcoat blue and yellow stripe, each stripe an inch in depth;
small clothes corded silk plush, made to button over the calf of
the leg, with sixteen strings, and rosettes to each knee; the boots
very short, and finished with very broad straps, which hung over the
tops and down to the ankle; a hat three inches and a half deep in
the crown only, and the same depth in the brim; each wore a large
bouquet of flowers at the breast, resembling the coachmen of the
nobility on a drawing-room or levee day. The popular song of the Whip
Club ran as follows, I only remember the first verse:--

   "With spirits gay we mount the box, the tits up to the traces,
    Our elbows squared, our wrists turned down, dash off at awful paces;
    With Buxton bit, bridoon so trim, three chestnuts and a grey--
    Well coupled up the wheelers then--Ya, hip! we bowl away."

Many most distinguished men have in our day not thought it derogatory
to their dignity to work a public stage-coach, and among them may
be mentioned the Marquis of Worcester, father to the present Duke
of Beaufort, on the "Evening's Amusement;" and most delightful
"amusement" it was to pass an "evening" by the side of the noble
Plantagenet. Then there were the Earl of Harborough, on the
"Monarch," Sir St. Vincent Cotton, Bart., the ex-10th Hussar, and
Charles Jones, Esq., on "The Age;" the Honourable Francis Stafford
Jerningham, on the "Day Mail," Sackville Gwynne, on the "Beaufort;"
John Willan, Esq., on the "Early Times;" and young Musgrave, on the
"Union," all of whom "fretted their hour upon the stage." One very
great improvement has taken place in the dress of amateur coachmen,
whose costume is as different in our day from that of the time when
George the Third was king, as the brilliant gas in our streets is
from the oily rays that rendered darkness visible in the metropolis.

So outrée was the costume of amateur coachmen early in the present
century that it gave rise to innumerable squibs and caricatures. One
squib, embodied in a popular song, ran as follows:--

      "On Epsom Downs
      Says Billy, 'Zounds!
    That cannot be Lord Jackey.
      Egad, but now
      I see it is,
    I took him for his lackey.'"

Again, Charles Mathews as Dick Cypher in the farce of "Hit or Miss"
caricatured the dress so well that he gave offence to many of the
noble whips.

Grimaldi, the inimitable Joe Grimaldi, also introduced in a Christmas
pantomime a scene in which both coaches and coachmen were ridiculed.
Out of a light-coloured Witney blanket he made himself a box-coat
reaching down to his ankles, small plates formed the buttons, a bunch
of cabbages the bouquet in the button-hole; a low, white-crowned
hat, purloined from "Mr. Felt, hatter," formed his head-dress; boots
with paper tops, from "Mr. Last, shoemaker," adorned his legs, to
which were attached some ribbons he abstracted from a lady's bonnet;
while the carriage which he drove triumphantly across the stage was
composed of a child's wicker cradle, with Gloucester cheeses from a
butter-man's for wheels, his whip a fishing-rod with a lash attached
to it, and four spotted wooden horses, which (before the march of
intellect furnished amusing books for the young) formed the stud of
childhood, completed the whole.

Seated on a high stool in the above vehicle, his elbows squared,
and with the usual number of "ge ups!" "go along!" he convulsed the
audience with laughter. What a contrast there is between the dress
of the present day and that above recorded! Gentlemen no longer ape
the manners or costumes of their coachmen and grooms, but appear as
gentlemen should appear.

The heavy box-coat is discarded in Summer for the light-coloured
dust-coat; the hat is no longer preposterously low; a neat,
cutaway olive brown or blue coat, with club buttons, supersedes
the over-pocketed drab coat; well-cut trousers from Poole's, with
varnished boots, take the place of the cord "inexpressibles" and
brown tops; the striped, livery-looking waistcoat and gaudy,
"bird's-eye" neckcloth are replaced by a plain waistcoat and simple

Then the improvement in coaches, horses, and harness! The "drags" are
not now of showy colours, emblazoned with arms like the Lord Mayor's
state carriage; the horses are thoroughbred and fine steppers, the
harness neat and plain. Ladies need no longer scramble up to the
box-seat or roof to the detriment of their dresses, small iron
ladders being made to fix on the sides, while an amateur player on
the cornet-à-piston or horn enlivens the journey with a concord of
sweet sounds.

At this present moment there are two coaching clubs--the Coaching
Club and the Four-in-Hand Club.

Among the members of the above clubs may be mentioned the following
distinguished names:

    Duke of Beaufort.
    Duke of Sutherland.
    Marquis of Londonderry.
    Earl of Sefton.
    Earl of Macclesfield.
    Lord Londesborough.
    Lord Wenlock.
    Lord Aveland.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Earl of Abingdon.
    Hon. L. Agar Ellis.
    Colonel Armytage.
    Mr. J. L. Baldwin.
    Mr. Hope Barton.
    Earl of Bective.
    Marquis of Blandford.
    Lord Carington.
    Mr. H. Chaplin.
    Colonel Stracey Clitherow.
    Viscount Cole.
    Mr. W. Cooper.
    Earl of Craven.
    Mr. W. G. Craven.
    Colonel Dickson.
    Mr. H. W. Eaton.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart.
    Adrian Hope.
    H. R. Hughes.
    Marquis of Huntly.
    Sir John Lister Kaye, Bart.
    Viscount Macduff.
    Count Munster.
    Officer driving 1st and 2nd Life Guards Coach.
    Lord Muncaster.
    Mr. W. E. Oakley.
    Mr. R. W. Oswald.
    Sir Lawrence Palk, Bart.
    Sir Roger Palmer, Bart.
    Major-General Sir T. Peyton, Bart.
    Lord Poltimore.
    Captain H. R. Ray.
    Mr. C. Birch Reynardson.
    Sir. M. Shaw Stewart, Bart.
    Mr. Ans. Thomson.
    Lord Tredegar.
    Sir Henry Tufton, Bart.
    Colonel Tyrwhitt.
    Mr. F. Villiers.
    Colonel the Hon. C. White.
    Captain Whitmore.
    Colonel Owen Williams.
    Sir George Wombwell, Bart.
    Mr. H. Wombwell.
    Marquis of Worcester.
    Officer driving "Blues" Coach.




In the days I write of driving was a favourite pursuit, and,
independent of the four-in-hand clubs, every young fellow aspired
to handle the ribbons whenever a chance threw a drive in his way.
The Oxford and Cambridge men were first-rate dragsmen, and many a
reverend who may now devote his leisure to "coaching" youths for
college or the Army was then "coaching" very different teams. There
were some first-rate "turns-out" on the Oxford road. Never shall I
forget an adventure that occurred to me on the box of the far-famed

We had just entered the University from Woodstock, when suddenly the
horses started off at an awful pace. What made matters worse was that
we saw at a distance some men employed in removing a large tree
that had fallen during the storm of the previous night across the
road near St. John's College. The coachman shook his head, looking
very nervous, while the guard, a most powerful man, stood up to be
prepared for any emergency.

On we went, the coachman trying in vain to check the galloping
steeds, and we had got within a few yards of the critical spot, when
the guard, crawling over the roof, managed somehow or other to get on
the footboard, when, with a spring, he threw himself on the back of
the near wheeler, and with a giant's grasp checked the horses at the
very moment the leaders were about to charge the tree.

Down they came, but the guard never yielded an inch, and, with the
assistance of the country people nearest at hand the leaders regained
their legs without the slightest damage to man, horse, coach, or
harness. A subscription for our gallant preserver was got up on the

The coachmen of well-appointed "drags" were a privileged class,
they were familiar, "but by no means vulgar," and were universal
favourites with all who came in contact with them; Stevenson,
the high-bred University man, who, if not, up to "coaching" young
graduates for college honours, easily won his "great go" on the box;
Parson Dennis, who drove the "White Lion" coach to Bath, knew more
of modern than biblical Jehus; Black Will, who drove the Oxford
"Defiance," rather ferocious in appearance, but gentle by nature as a
lamb. Others, too, I might mention, if memory served me, who raised
themselves to the highest pinnacle of fame as civil, obliging, and
intelligent men.

Having already given the doings of others on the road, I shall now
proceed to record my own, hoping that I may be forgiven for indulging
in that offensive of all offensive pronouns--I.

"The root of all learning," writes Aristotle, "is bitter, but the
fruit is sweet," an apothegm which will particularly apply to driving.

I well remember, when I was at a private tutor's, at
Littlewick-green, Maidenhead Thicket, and subsequently at
Donnington-grove, near Newbury, and a bit of a swell, being greatly
smitten with the saying of the above learned philosopher. I never
got into a buggy, handled the ribbons, rattled the hired horse along
at a crack-skull pace of twelve miles an hour, which generally ended
in an upset, without reflecting on the above quoted authority which,
being interpreted, means it is wormwood to be immersed in a wet
ditch, but pleasant enough to get out again.

Poor defunct Jem Revell, of the "Pelican," Newbury, was my tutor.
Under his auspices I first mounted the box of a tandem, learned
the elegant and indispensable accomplishment of driving that most
dangerous vehicle, and studied the appalling manoeuvre of turning
out of a narrow inn-yard into a densely populated street. Every day,
after hours devoted to study, was my drive repeated, until in process
of time inexperience was conquered, and, "with elbows squared, and
wrists turned down," I could catch hold of the wheeler and leader, in
grand style--remembering with Horace that "sæpe _stylum_ vertas," and
give the go-by to less dashing whips, with a most condescending nod.

At last, after serving a long and tedious apprenticeship, I reached
the long-expected haven of success, and set up a dog-cart and pair
on my own account. Never shall I forget that proud hour of my triumph
when I made my first public essay out of the yard of the "Pelican,"
on my road to Reading races. I was accompanied by about five or six
of my comrades on horseback, and by one or two aspiring Dennets, the
drivers of which vainly essayed to beat my two thoroughbred nags.

As we entered the town, for a young "chum" of mine, now long since
gathered to his ancestors, sat by my side, the streets were lined
with an infinite assemblage of peers and peasants, squires and
blacklegs, sporting men and bettors, horse-dealers, jockeys, grooms,
trainers, and cardsellers.

However much it may tell against me--however greatly I may lower
myself in the estimation of the reader--truth compels me to admit
that my aspiring vanity metamorphosed the gaping crowd into admirers
of myself and my turn-out; and when my companion sounded the
mail-horn, when I cracked my whip and shook my head knowingly--well,
_there was not much in that_, as a cynic will remark--I, with "all my
blushing honours thick around me," felt as proud as any peacock that
ever strutted in a poultry-yard.

But, alas for human greatness! my pride was doomed to have a fall.
Just as we approached the "Bear Inn" the leader became restive,
turned round and stared me in the face, a mode of salutation by no
means agreeable; then he began to lash out, and finally succeeded in
upsetting us and breaking the shafts. Happily, we escaped unhurt in
body, though not in feeling.

In thus alluding to scenes of juvenile folly, I cannot forget that
I once was young, and that there are still many (among them my only
son, now studying farming at Her Majesty's Royal Norfolk Farm,
Windsor Great Park), with others at private tutors' and college,
equally devoted to the box as I was. To them I would offer a few
suggestions respecting tandem-driving, which of all vehicles is the
most difficult to manage.

Its height from the ground and peculiar lightness of construction
renders it, at first sight, a very formidable machine; and the only
way to prevent disaster is for the driver to obtain a firm grasp of
the reins before he ventures to cheer his tits, and to ascertain the
amount of work which wheeler and leader do, so that the traces may be
gently tightened--a proof that both animals are doing their duty. In
returning home at night there is no instinct like that of the horse;
he seems to acquire mind by the departure of light, and to succeed
best when man is most ready to despair.

I have trotted a tandem from London to Windsor, at twelve o'clock at
night, in the midst of the darkest and most tremendous thunderstorm I
ever witnessed, with little chance of safety but what I owed to the
docility of my horses. This is an instinct which, like that of the
prophet's ass, should not be balked; and so firmly am I convinced of
the superior intelligence of the quadruped to the biped, in cases of
similar difficulty, that I would actually give up my own fancy to
let him have his head, and make the best he can of it. In going down
hill, there is one very necessary caution to be observed to which I
must now refer.

The mode of harnessing a tandem differs from that most usually
adopted in a four-in-hand; so that if your leader is a faster
trotter than your wheeler, he draws the collar over the neck of the
shaft-horse, and a partial strangulation not unfrequently occurs.
To prevent this, keep your wheeler at his full pace, slackening in
the meantime the extra speed of your leader. The above is necessary
at all times--doubly so when going down hill. Whenever you stop to
bait, never omit to remain in the stable, unless you have a most
trustworthy groom, during the time of feeding. Depend upon it, _haud
inexpertus loquor_. There are modern ostlers, of course, with many
honourable exceptions, who are not unlike the coachmen satirised by
the author of "High Life Below Stairs:"

   "If your good master on you dotes,
      Ne'er leave his horse to serve a stranger;
    But pocket hay, and straw, and oats,
      And let the horses eat the manger."

The oat-stealer, as he has not inappropriately been named, of the
present day, will, we fear, in too many cases, follow the example
of the unprincipled fraternity above referred to. Independent of
this necessary caution, there is surely a feeling of gratitude due
to the poor dumb brutes who have toiled all day in our service; and
young dragsmen will do well to remember that humanity to defenceless
animals is the strongest characteristic of the British sportsman.

Through the introduction of the rail, a great saving has been
effected, both as regards time and inn bills. Some of the "old
school" still, as far as is feasible, stick to the road; but
declining accommodation must diminish their numbers every day.
Nothing is now so forlorn as a great, rambling, half aired, half
appointed country inn; waiter acting boots, boots acting postboy, or,
may be, all three; and cook acting chambermaid, barmaid, and all.
The extinction of the old posting-houses is, perhaps, the only thing
connected with the establishment of railways I lament.

There certainly was a nice, fresh, cool country air about the old
roadside inns that was particularly grateful and refreshing on a
fine evening after emerging from the roasting and stewing of a long
London season. The twining roses, the sweet-scented jasmine, the
fragrant honeysuckle, the bright evergreens, the flowers and fruit
in the trim gardens; above all, the real rich country cream, fresh
butter, and new-laid eggs. These--the inns--are now mere matter of
history; and the Irishman who travelled with his eggs "because he
liked them fresh" is no longer a subject of ridicule. Moreover, these
inns were often prettily situated--some by the side of gliding
rivers, others near rushing dams, or overlooking ancient bridges, or
commanding views over extensive ranges of rich country scenery--very
honeymoonish sort of places some of them were: witness the "White
Hart," Cranford Bridge; the "Castle," at Salt-hill; the "Salutation,"
Ambleside; the "White Horse," Haslemere; the "Talbot," Ripley; the
"Saracen's Head," Beaconsfield; "Royal Oak," Ivy Bridge; the "Bush,"
at Staines; "White Lion," Hartford Bridge, Hants; the "Swan," at
Chertsey; the "Castle," Speen Hill; "Sugar-Loaf," Dunstable; and
last, not least, the "Saracen's Head," Dunmow, suggestive of "The
Flitch of Bacon" and the duties of matrimony--

   "To fools a torment, but a lasting boon
    To those who wisely keep their honeymoon."

Happily a few are still kept for happy couples on their wedding tour.
The bill was generally the only disagreeable feature about these
rural caravansaries; and some of the innkeepers were uncommonly
exorbitant. Nevertheless, the majority of the victims were in a
favourable mood for imposition. Going to London, they had all the
bright prospect of a season's gaiety before them, and under that
impression people--wise people at least--were inclined to give the
reins of the purse a little license, and not criticise charges too

Happy is the man who can pass through life in this easy,
reins-on-the-neck sort of way, not suffering a slight imposition to
mar the general pleasure of his journey!

Returning from the metropolis, the country innkeeper had the
advantage of having his bill contrasted with a London one--an
ordeal that none but a real land shark would wish to shrink from. A
comparison of inn charges throughout England, Wales, Ireland, and
Scotland, for the same style of entertainment, would be curious
if not instructive. They would show (what, however, almost every
other line of life shows) that one often pays double for nearly the
same thing by going to different places for it. Take a bottle of
soda-water, for instance. Walk into a large, fashionable hotel, and
desire the waiter to bring you one. You drink it, and ask,

"What's to pay?"

"A shilling, if you please, Sir," (or ninepence--which is the same
thing), waiters at large hotels never having any coppers. If you
were to go to the next chemist's you would get it for fourpence--very
likely of the same quality. But the great impositions were, after
all, the charges for wax-lights and breakfasts.

Gas has now superseded the former, but breakfasts were and are still
charged too high. "Breakfast, with eggs and bacon, three shillings
and sixpence," was and is the charge at fashionable hotels; at less
pretentious ones you may get the same for two shillings, or at most




Among the amateur knights of the whip of bygone days, though still
remembered by many of the present generation, may be mentioned the
late Duke of Beaufort, the Earls of Chesterfield and Harborough,
Lords Poltimore, Grantley, and Suffield, Colonel the Honourable
Lincoln Stanhope, the Honourable Fitzroy Stanhope, Sir St. Vincent
Cotton, Sir Henry Peyton, Captains Angerstein and Tollemache.

The head of the Somerset family was a very steady dragsman, and
knew his business well. He was a less showy coachman than Lord
Chesterfield; but his Grace had the qualification of making each
horse do his quantum of work.

Lord Chesterfield, had he possessed a little more steadiness, would
have been scarcely inferior to Stevenson, of the Brighton "Age;" but
his exuberant, buoyant spirits ran away with him sometimes; he would
lark, and the "old gentleman" himself could not have stopped him. His
drag was as well appointed as the Duke's, and looked coaching all
over, without a spice of slang, the prevailing error of many amateurs
of that day.

Lord Harborough gave the tyros a hint touching the stamp of horses
befitting the occasion. He always drove a good sort himself, and
eschewed the long tails; and, but for a little infirmity of temper
occasionally, he put his team along in very good form. No man can
excel on the box who is not gifted with good temper and patience;
for not only his comfort, but his life and the necks of his friends
depend upon the above qualities. Horses have as many whims and
caprices as their drivers have; they entertain likes and dislikes, in
imitation of their owners; and a little attention to the temper and
disposition of this useful quadruped is as necessary as any part of
the supervision of the stable.

Lord Poltimore's team of roans were always up to the mark, and
were such fast steppers that any one of them might justly have
been termed the _rapid Rhone_. His Lordship had the smartness and
quickness so essential in a thoroughly good dragsman.

Four such horses as Lord Grantley's were never put together in the
days I write of--they were in every sense of the word matchless.
They were purchased at four years old in Yorkshire, and stood nearly
seventeen hands high, the colour Arabian grey, with black manes and
tails. This was the only admissible case of switch tails; the size
and figure of those splendid animals were a sufficient reason for
their not being docked. The drag was not a drag, it was an old tub of
a family carriage, unworthy the beautiful horses his Lordship drove.

Lord Suffield was the quickest and smartest coachman I ever sat on
the box with, and never shall I forget a journey I took with him to
Newmarket to attend the July Meeting. We started from "Grillon's
Hotel" in Albemarle Street, where his Lordship resided, with four as
nice cattle as ever the lover of driving could wish to sit behind;
but upon reaching the first stage I found, to my dismay, that we
were to proceed with posters for the rest of the journey. The team
came forth from the yard, and were with some difficulty put to, for
the near-side wheel, a mare, was somewhat cantankerous; there was
a lurking devil in her eye which foreboded mischief. She took an
exception, in the first place, to the pole pieces, and would not
be coupled up; this, however, after a little dodging, leaning, and
squealing, was achieved, and then came the start--or, rather, I
should say the time for starting; not an inch, however, would she
budge. She planted her fore feet at a most resisting angle in front
of her, and there she stuck; the united forces of the leaders and her
collaborateur, the offside wheeler, were insufficient to move her.
Coaxing, persuasion, and all sorts of soothing arts were lavished on
her in vain; and as the _suaviter in modo_ failed the _fortiter in
re_ was tried, and with a better result, for after shoving, thumping,
and double thonging, she suddenly bolted into her collar and started
off at an awful pace. Suffield kept her head straight, though for
miles nothing could stop her.

At last the nonsense was taken out of her, and we reached our
destination in safety. The mare, as may be imagined, was in no very
enviable plight; she shook from head to foot; but we afterwards
heard that the lesson she had received was not thrown away, and that
she ever after took kindly to her work.

Colonel Lincoln Stanhope had a good team, but he was not a
first-rate whip. His brother Fitzroy was incomparably one of the
best gentlemen-coachmen in England. Many an aspirant to four-in-hand
celebrity was indebted to him for the knowledge in driving they
possessed; and many a friend's life was saved by his presence of
mind, coolness, courage, and skill, as I have already said.

Sir St. Vincent Cotton was a first-rate coachman; and, although he
must be ranked among the _genus irritabile_, he possessed great
coolness, which he invariably exercised when occasion required it.
His horses got away with him more than once, as I can vouch for; but
I know not the man with whom I would sooner be seated on the box
under such trying circumstances. His strength of arm was prodigious;
and, although not quite so showy or graceful a whip as some of his
compeers, he was a steady and safe one.

Sir Henry Peyton was _nulli secundus_: he belonged to the old school;
his team was always the same, and his horses were of the right
sort--large ones in a small compass.

Captain Angerstein's turn-out was exceedingly neat, but his horses
never had a fair chance, as he was continually changing them; and
Captain Tollemache was first rate as an amateur whip. Many others are
equally worthy of honourable mention, but I have confined myself to
those I have sat beside on the box.

A fashion has lately sprung up amongst us, or rather, I should
say, been adopted (for it is of American origin), and that is the
almost total abolition of the bearing-rein. Much has been said,
written, and argued pro and con.; some assert, and with truth, that,
generally speaking, it is less safe, for as the best and soundest
horse may once in twelve months make a mistake, the advocates for
the loose rein cannot help to admit that a bearing-rein must assist
the horse to recover himself under such circumstances. All extremes
are bad, and no one would wish to torture an animal's mouth by
pulling his head into an unnatural position, like a dromedary,
with an excruciatingly tight bearing-rein; but, on the other hand,
the absence of one is open to objection. Some horses may, and do,
carry themselves so well that a bearing-rein appears superfluous;
but, nevertheless, it may be useful, and for this reason should
never be entirely dispensed with. I do not say that exceptions may
not be permitted. Those possessed of thoroughbred horses, endowed
with superior action, may indulge in any whim or caprice they like;
and animals worth from four hundred guineas to six hundred guineas
apiece, and which go with their heads up, of course do not require
a bearing-rein, but I condemn the principle for universal adoption;
and I have heard the opinions of some of the best coachmen of the
day, both amateurs and professionals, who have asserted that for the
generality of horses the practice is a dangerous one. Some animals'
heads are put on differently from others, and consequently they vary
in their mode of carrying them. Some, for instance, are star-gazers
and appear to be taking lunar observations, while others poke their
heads forward in such a longitudinal form that they resemble in this
particular the Continental swine trained for grubbing truffles. The
plan I should like to see adopted would be to have a bearing-rein
with an elastic end to it, so that horses that did not require
having their heads held well up would not be deprived of the ornament
of such a rein, and even with horses that did require it, if the
elastic was pretty strong, it would aid them in case of a trip or

In former days it was the custom to drive with wheel-reins home--that
is, short to the hand; this was decidedly objectionable, especially
in hilly counties; and, with groggy wheel-horses, not unattended
with danger, for an awkward blunder might pull you from the box. The
running-rein is now universally adopted, and in skilful hands is
immeasurably superior to the old system. This is observable in the
best-appointed fast coaches, of which there are happily still a few
left, as well as private carriages.

The harness of the present day is the _ne plus ultra_ of good taste:
it is infinitely lighter than formerly, although equally strong, and
the less a horse is encumbered the better. Look how superlatively
neat are the traces of the coaching clubs; they are narrow, but the
strength lies in the thickness, and the collars fit to a nicety. The
four-in-hand clubs have set a laudable example; they have produced
emulation, and emulation produces good horses.

_Cuique sua voluptas_--which, I believe, literally construed, means
"every hog to his own apple;" and, delightful as driving a private
drag is--for it pleases the ladies, and all goes "merry as a marriage
bell" in an excursion to Richmond, Greenwich, Maidenhead, the Crystal
or Alexandra Palaces--it, perhaps, was exceeded by the pleasure of
sitting on the box-seat of one of the Royal mails, with four fresh
horses every eight miles, and a guard decked out in regal livery
behind to whisper in your ear if you did not keep your time. The
night-mail was very preferable to a day coach--first, because you
seldom met any seedy old fellows outside the mail enveloped in stuff
cloaks, with cotton umbrellas, which on a rainy day acted as a spout
to convey the water down your neck, and who, on seeing the coachman
give up the ribbons would instanter bawl out.

"I say, coachman, I can't allow that."

Then the pace on the mail was always good. Again, the mail was not
encumbered with huge piles of massive black boxes, fantastically
worked with brass nails, belonging to the lady passenger inside;
and last, not least, there was a sort of glorious autocratical
independence when you felt that every vehicle on the road made way
for the Royal mail.

There is no circumstance of greater importance, as tending to the
pleasure and facility with which horses are driven, than that of
putting them well together; this, of course, applies to a four-horse
team. By this term the due regulation of the harness and the most
appropriate place for each horse are implied. If properly attended
to, it is wonderful the ease with which four horses may be driven,
compared with the effort--in some cases risk--consequent upon an
injudicious and unskilful disposition of the appointments. With
regard to the team, a little extra power in the wheel-horses is
desirable, inasmuch as they have a greater portion of labour
to perform in holding back the vehicle down hill; while the
high-couraged and free-goers will be most advantageously driven as
leaders. Practice alone will render a man a proficient in driving
four horses.

To explain the proper mode of handling "the ribbons," except by
actual example, is not an easy task; and the attempt to give hints
from which the _sine quâ non_ of a good coachman--hands--are to
be acquired, is still more difficult. A few general remarks may,
however, not be out of place.

The position of the hand and arm has much to do with appearance, and
a vast deal more with the art of driving. The left hand should be
carried nearly parallel with the elbow, covering about one third of
the body: in that position it is ready for the immediate aid of the
right whenever the two are required, which in bearing to the right or
left of the road, or in turning, is generally the case, as likewise
in shortening the hold of the reins.

The right hand should at all times be kept as free as possible, so
as to be able to make a judicious use of the whip when required. A
good mouth is essential to comfort and safety; it enables a horse to
be guided simply by a turn of the wrist. Many a good mouth, however,
has been spoilt by the heavy, dead pull of an inexperienced driver.
The greatest care, then, should be taken not to irritate or suddenly
check the animal, but by a certain yielding of the hands (the reins
being divided in each), enable him to drop his head and play with the

The experienced driver may easily be recognised from the novice
the moment he approaches the vehicle he is about to ascend. He
invariably casts his scrutinising eye over his horses, his harness,
and his carriage, and, if the least thing be out of place, detects it
in an instant; nay, more, he will assist in putting to the horses;
and, if I required an illustration of what I have asserted, I should
find it in the person of the Duke of Beaufort, who, at the sale of
Sir Thomas Barrett Lennard's hunters, last October, before mounting
the box, aided in putting the team together, and, when his Grace
ascertained that all was right, started off in a manner that would
have gratified the heart of Sir Henry Peyton had he been alive to
witness it.




Among the "wild vicissitudes of taste," few things have undergone
greater changes than carriages used for pleasure; we need not go
further back than the last half century to prove what we have said.
Formerly there was the lumbering heavy family coach, emblazoned with
coats of arms, with a most gaudy-coloured hammer-cloth, and harness
resplendent with brass or silver work. Then there was the neat,
light travelling postchaise, and the britzska--the latter imported
from Germany--for those who posted on the roads; together with the
graceful curricle, in which the gallant Anglesey and the arbiter
of fashion, Count Alfred d'Orsay, were wont to disport themselves
in the park; the four-horse "drag," the unpretending "tilbury,"
the rural-looking "dennet," the sporting mail-coach phaeton,
the vis-à-vis, and the cabriolet, a French invention, which was
introduced into England after the campaign in the Peninsula.

Of the above few remain. Royalty and some of the leading aristocrats
alone patronise coaches. Travelling-carriages, tilburies, dennets,
curricles, vis-à-vis, cabriolets, are things of the past, and all
that remain to us are town-chariots, "drags," and mail-phaetons, in
addition to which we have "broughams," "victorias," waggonettes, and
a few private Hansom cabs.

It will scarcely be believed that, some five-and-forty years ago,
almost every nobleman and gentleman used the cabriolet, "slightly
altered from the French" (as the playbills say), to convey him to
dinner, balls, and parties; for example, the late Duke of Wellington,
when Ambassador to the newly-restored monarch, Louis XVIII., in
1814-15, seldom, except on state occasions, made use of any other
vehicle, the carriages being devoted to the service of the Duchess.
This I can vouch for, for at that period I was attached to his
Grace's staff, and was always in the habit of driving him when
occupied in paying visits in the morning or of attending dinners and
parties in the evening.

Never shall I forget one evening, at Paris, when driving my chief
in his cabriolet from the Hôtel Borghese to the Théâtre Français,
I very nearly upset the vehicle; and, as the accident occurred in
a very crowded street, it might have been attended with serious
consequences. It was an eventful day in my life; and, to explain
my distraction on that occasion, I must enter at some length into
the cause of it. This I do most readily, as the whole transaction
reflects so much credit on the Duke's kindness of heart.

One morning, late in December, the curricle was at the door, and
I, equipped for the chase, was waiting to drive Wellington in his
curricle to Versailles, the place where the Royal stag-hounds were to
meet, when he sent for me. I found him busy over some papers.

"I shall not be able to go to-day," said he, "but you can have the
curricle. Tell the Duke de Berri I have some letters to write, as the
messenger starts for England at two o'clock, which will prevent my
meeting His Royal Highness. Elmore is sent on for me; and, as he is
short of work, you had better ride him. Don't knock him about."

I briefly expressed my thanks, and started for the rendezvous, where
I delivered my message, and mounted the far-famed hunter, Elmore,
recently purchased in England for the Duke at a high price. From the
manner in which he carried me (at that time a very light weight) many
of the field were anxious to possess him; indeed, it was hinted to me
that the Duke could command almost any sum for him.

A party of young men headed by Count d'Orsay, afterwards so well
known in London, proposed a steeplechase home for a sweepstakes of
one Napoleon each, which, had Elmore been my own property, I should
have gladly entered him for; but I remembered the Duke's injunction
and declined.

Delighted with the character the new purchase had obtained, I started
to ride quietly home by myself, when, within half a league of Paris,
in crossing a small grip, I found that my horse went lame. To
dismount and inspect his foot was the work of a moment, but I could
see nothing. No alternative was then left me but to lead the limping
animal home, which I did amidst the taunts and jeers of the rabble.

No sooner had I reached the stables than I sent for the head-groom
and the Duke's state coachman, to whom I explained all that had

"Well, you have gone and done it," said the latter, who was a most
eccentric character. "We wouldn't have taken three hundred guineas
for that horse."

This knight of the ribbons, be it remarked, always spoke in the
plural number, and talked of what _we_ had done in the Peninsula, of
_our_ triumphal entry into Madrid, and of how _we_ had beaten Ney and
all the French marshals.

Happily for me the Duke, who had been occupied all day, was out
riding, and I did not see him until we met at dinner. I had fully
made up my mind to tell him of the accident before going to bed, but
waited until I received a further account of the horse's state.

As a large party was assembled, little was said about the hunt until
the ladies left the room, when I was called upon to give an account
of the run, which I did. I then mentioned the brilliant manner in
which Elmore had carried me, and the panegyrics he had received from

"A splendid animal," said Wellington, "I hope to ride him next Monday
at Fontainebleau."

My heart quailed within me. The hours glided on, and when driving the
Duke to the theatre that evening in his cabriolet, so distracted was
I that I grazed the curbstone, and was within an inch of knocking
over one of the gendarmes as we approached the theatre.

It was late when we arrived; the last scene of "Orestes" was going
on, with Talma as the hero; then followed the inimitable Mademoiselle
Mars in "La Jeunesse de Henri Cinq," from which the English version
of "Charles the Second" has been adapted.

To account for the change of monarchs, and to explain the
inconsistency of having the wicked Earl of Rochester, the companion
of "Sweet Prince Hal," I may remark that when the drama was first
about to be brought out in Paris, during the reign of Napoleon I.,
the licenser objected to Charles, he being a restored Monarch, so the
author had no alternative left him but to rewrite the whole piece
or change his hero. The latter course he adopted, trusting that a
Parisian audience would not detect the anachronism. The perfect
acting of Talma had no charm for me, and when the after-piece began
I was too wretched to laugh at the _bonhomie_ of the actor who
represented Captain Copp, or to appreciate the archness of that child
of nature, Mlle. Mars as Betty.

Upon leaving the theatre I became so thoroughly distracted that I
scarcely knew what I was about; unluckily a young horse, who was a
little skittish, had on that evening taken the place of the one that
I had been in the habit of driving, and, as there was an unusual
crowd in the streets, extra care was necessary.

"With great difficulty I threaded my way through carriages of all
descriptions, and was approaching the Rue de Rivoli when I heard a
clattering of horses' hoofs behind me and the cheers of some hundreds
of people assembled near the entrance to the Palace of the Tuileries.

"It is the King returning from the Louvre, where His Majesty has been
dining with the Duke d'Orléans," said my companion.

At that moment my thoughts were entirely engrossed with Elmore, and
I was rehearsing to myself how I should break the untoward news of
the accident to the Duke. So, instead of pulling the left rein to
enable the royal cortége and the cavalry escort to pass me, I pulled
the right one, and very nearly brought my chief to grief. Happily,
however, at this moment the only damage done was to the leg of a
mounted police officer, who soundly rated me in language unfit to be

Misfortunes they say never come singly; we had not proceeded many
yards, when a _gamin_, who had evidently a taste for pyrotechnic
exhibitions, let off a cracker, which so frightened the animal I was
driving that he bolted across the street, came in contact with a
lamp-post, and as near as possible upset the cabriolet. What made it
appear worse was that the escort above referred to was returning at a
brisk trot to their barracks, and, had we been overturned, the Duke
might, for the first time in his military career, have been trampled
upon by French cavalry.

"Lucky escape!" was the only remark Wellington made, and as the
danger to which I had exposed him had completely roused me from my
lethargy, I at once "screwed my courage to the sticking place" and
told the whole of my day's adventures with the hounds.

"Can't be helped," said he, in his usual quick manner; "accidents
will happen."

Upon the following morning my worst fears were realised; Elmore was
dead lame; and when I reported this to his Grace, his only answer was,

"I cannot afford to run the chance of losing my best horses; so, in
future, you shall have the brown horse and the chestnut mare, and if
you knock them up you must mount yourself."

In a previous chapter I have referred to a carriage accident that
occurred to Wellington when I was with him; and it is somewhat
strange that I should again be by his side, and in a great measure
the cause of a second misfortune.

I own myself that I regret cabriolets are no longer the fashion.
For a man that can afford to keep a number of carriages, a victoria
and brougham are all very well; but the former is only available in
fine weather, whereas a cabriolet with a projecting head could defy
most showers of rain. A well-appointed cabriolet was a comfortable
and gentleman-like conveyance, and, for the bachelor, did the duty
of a close carriage at half the expense. A perfect cabriolet horse,
however, costs money, and the equipage must be well turned out. A
seedy-looking cabriolet and horse to match are abominations not to
be endured.

I have said that a cabriolet should be well "got up;" and in order
to do this the owner must possess two horses--one for daylight, and
another for night work; a clever "screw" will answer for the latter
purpose--one, however, that can go the pace, although he can never
show until the gas is lit. No one who values a good horse would dream
of allowing him to stand exposed to chilly blasts at the opera, the
theatre, or his club.

At no period were carriages better constructed or more neatly turned
out than they are in the present day, both as regards vehicles,
harness, and horses. At the same time, without being hypercritical,
I think some changes might be made for the better. Let me instance
the following:--A coachman's curly wig seems quite out of character
when we consider the costume of the day, and it certainly might be
dispensed with. Again, a light victoria or brougham are often to be
seen with a pair of horses to each, whereas one fine stepper would
be preferable; then (happily only in a few-instances) the case
is reversed, and a carriage, open or shut, meant for two horses,
has only one. Again in the present day, with some exceptions,
noblemen and gentlemen do not keep to their old family colours; and
occasionally we see a brougham black picked out with blue, and a
chariot of quite a different colour. Nothing looked better than the
Russell brown and blue, the Rutland and Sefton light yellow, the
Hamilton red, the Foley reddish brown, the Harrington dark brown, the
Anglesey dark yellow, more especially when the carriages were drawn
by splendid horses.




In addition to the splendid turns-out of the members of the Coaching
and Four-in-Hand Club, every cavalry regiment and many infantry corps
possess a regimental "drag," which is always well horsed and usually
well driven. During the time I served in the army such a thing was
unknown, and the only opportunities officers had of driving were when
travelling by stage-coach, or when a tandem was improvised in the

Many a hairbreadth escape have I had from one of these breakneck
vehicles. When at a private tutor's at Donnington, I and a young
companion--alas! now no more--hired a tandem from Botham, of the
"Pelican," Newbury, to take us to Reading. Safely should we have
arrived there but for a drove of oxen which met us on our way. The
result was the accident related in a previous chapter, and my ankle
was dislocated.

My next attempt was when I was on the Staff of the Duke of
Wellington, at Cambrai. Frederick Yates, then in the Commissariat
Department, afterwards lessee of the Adelphi Theatre, was anxious,
like myself, to visit an amateur performance by the officers
stationed at Valenciennes; and it was arranged that we should drive
over in my dennet, to which he was to add a leader.

All went well until we approached the plains of Denain, when a man
leading a dancing bear so frightened our steeds that they set off at
a gallop, overturning us in a dry ditch. Unfortunately for me, the
handle of my sword, which I had stowed away in front of the apron,
came in contact with my body and broke a rib; so, instead of enjoying
my visit, I was laid up for a week at a not over-comfortable hotel.
This was my second and last appearance in a tandem, and I strongly
recommend those who value their limbs never to trust themselves to
such a conveyance. In earlier days I have driven four horses many
hundred miles on the road and through the crowded streets of the
metropolis, and never once came to grief.

Let me now refer to the use of wheel carriages in towns, which is
not of very ancient date among the English people. During the reign
of James I. the drivers of both public and private carriages had no
other accommodation than a bar, or driver's chair, placed very low
behind the horses; in the following reign they rode postilion fashion.

After the Restoration they appeared with whip and spurs, and towards
the end of the century mounted a coachman's box. This box, covered
with a hammer-cloth, was in reality a box, and within it, or in a
leather pouch attached to it, were tools for mending broken wheels
or shivered panels, in the event of accidents occurring, which
were by no means uncommon; in consequence, first, of the defective
construction of the vehicles, which, according to Davenant, were
"uneasily hung, and so narrow that he took them for sedans on
wheels;" in the second place, from the clumsy driving of carmen in
the crowded thoroughfares; and, lastly and principally, from the
nature of the streets themselves, full of all the worst perils a
coachman could have to encounter. The state of the street ways,
where the ruts lay half a yard deep, did not admit of rapid driving,
and we read, even in the days of Charles II., of the Royal coach
being upset twice in getting from the City to Westminster.

At this date, and for some generations after, the custom was, when
ladies traversed the city in carriages, for the gentlemen gallants
to accompany them on horseback, riding in advance, or on each side.
These formed a body-guard, not at all unnecessary or superfluous,
looking to the swarms of "scourers," "knights of the road," and
"goshawks" who made free warren of London streets and scrupled at no
act of violence. The picture Gay has left us of the street ways in
the beginning of the eighteenth century will form some estimate of
what they were at an earlier period:--

   "Where a dim gleam the paly lantern throws,
    O'er the mid pavement heapy rubbish grows,
    Or arched vaults their gaping jaws extend,
    Or the dark caves to common shores descend;
    Oft by the winds, extinct the signal dies,
    Or smothered in the glimmering socket lies.
    Ere night has half rolled round her ebon throne
    In the wide gulf, the shatter'd coach o'erthrown
    Sinks with the snorting steeds; the reins are broke,
    And from the crackling axle flies the spoke."

The first hirable vehicles in London were the hackney-coaches,
so called not from the village of Hackney, as commonly supposed,
but from the old word "to hack," or let on hire. The first
hackney-coaches were stout-built vehicles, fitted for the rough roads
of the time; they made their appearance originally in 1625, and were
kept at certain inns, where they had to be sent for when wanted, and
these were only at this time twenty in number.

In a proclamation issued by Charles I., in 1635, the King
prohibited the general and promiscuous use of hackney-coaches in
London, Westminster, and their suburbs, as being "not only a great
disturbance to His Majesty, his dearest consort the Queen, the
nobility, and others of place and degree, but the streets were so
pestered and the pavements broken up that the common passage was
thereby hindered." It was therefore commanded that "no hired coaches
should be used in London except to travel three miles out of the

Two years after the foregoing prohibition the King granted a licence
for fifty hackney-coachmen in and about London and Westminster, to
keep twelve horses each. This licence was extended to other cities
and towns. In course of time the increase of street carriages called
forth the indignation of Taylor the water-poet. What would that
renowned king of scullers, whose wonted boast was that he had often
ferried Shakspeare from Whitehall to Paris Garden, and Ben Jonson
from Bankside to the Rose and Hope playhouses, have said had he
lived in the present days? Probably the poor water rhymer would have
drowned himself in his own element, or at least would have drowned
his cares in a more spirited mixture. What a fearful picture did he
draw of the calamity that assailed his trade!

"We poor watermen have not the least cause to complain against any
conveyance that belongs to persons of worth or quality, but only
against the caterpillar swarm of hirelings. They have undone my poor
trade, whereof I am a member. This swarm of trade spoilers, like
grasshoppers or caterpillars of Egypt, have so overrun the land that
we can get no living on the water; for every day, if the Court be at
Whitehall, they do rob us of our livings, and carry five hundred and
sixty fares daily from us. I pray you but note the streets and the
chambers or lodgings in Fleet Street or the Strand, how they are
pestered with coaches, especially after a masque or play at Court,
where even the very earth shakes and trembles, the casements shatter,
totter, patter, and clatter, and such a confused noise is made that
a man can neither sleep, speak, hear, write, nor eat his dinner or
supper quiet for them; besides, their tumbling din, like counterfeit
thunder, doth sour wine, beer, and ale, almost abominally, to the
impairing of their healths that drink it, and the making of many a
victualler's trade fallen."

In a publication entitled "The Thief," Taylor writes:--

   "Carroches, coaches, jades, and Flanders mares,
    Do rob us of our shares, our wants, our fares;
    Against the ground we stand, and knock our heels
    Whilst all our profit runs away on wheels."

The London shopkeepers, too, bitterly complained.

"Formerly," they said, "when ladies and gentlemen walked in the
streets there was a chance of obtaining customers to inspect and
purchase our commodities; but now they whisk past in the coaches
before our apprentices have time to cry out 'What d'ye lack?'"

Taylor above referred to, does not appear to have entertained a very
high opinion of the tradesmen of his day, for he writes:--

   "When Queen Elizabeth came to the crowne,
    A coach in England then was scarcely knowne.
    Then 'twas as rare to see one as to spye
    A tradesman that had never told a lie."

Hackney-coaches were admitted into Hyde Park before the year 1694,
but were expelled at that period, through the singular circumstance
of some persons of distinction having been insulted by several women
in masks; riding there in that description of vehicle.

In 1728, the robberies were so frequent in the streets of London,
Westminster, and parts adjacent, that Lord Townshend issued a notice
offering a reward of £40 "for each felon convict returned from
transportation before the expiration of the term for which he or
she was transported, who shall, by the means of such discovery, be
brought to condign punishment." It appears by the above, that the
murders, beatings, and robberies were perpetrated in a great degree
by returned convicts, Hackney-coaches being their special mark, as
the following paragraph which appeared in the "Postman" of the 19th
of October, 1728, will prove:--

"The persons authorised by Government to employ men to drive
hackney-coaches, have made great complaints for want of trade,
occasioned by the increase of street robbers; so that people,
especially in an evening, choose rather to walk than to ride in
a coach, on account that they are in a readier posture to defend
themselves, or call out for help if attacked. Meantime, it is
apparent that, whereas a figure for driving of an hackney-coach used
lately to be sold for about £60, besides paying the usual duties
to the Commissioners for licensing, they are at this time, for the
reasons aforesaid, sold for £3 per figure goodwill."

The conveyance now known as the omnibus was borrowed from our
Continental neighbours, for it was in existence in France two
centuries ago. Its rise and progress may not prove uninteresting.
Carriages on hire had long been established in Paris, and were let
out by the day or hour from the sign of St. Fiacre.

In 1662 a Royal decree of Louis XIV. authorised the establishment of
a _carrosse à cinq sous_, got by a company, with the Duke de Rohan
and two other noblemen at the head of it. The decree stated that
these conveyances, of which there were originally seven, built to
carry eight persons, should run at fixed hours, full or empty, to and
from the extreme parts of Paris; the object being to convey those who
could not afford to hire carriages.

The public inauguration of the new vehicles took place on the 18th of
March, 1662, and was attended with much state. Three of the coaches
started from the Porte St. Antoine, and four from the Luxembourg.
Previous to their setting out, the principal legal functionary
addressed the drivers, pointing out to them their duties to the
public. After this harangue, the procession started, escorted by
cavalry, the infantry lined the streets to keep them clear.

Writers disagree as to the reception these conveyances met with.
Sauval, in his Antiquities of Paris, affirms that the populace hooted
the drivers and broke the windows of the carriages with stones;
while, on the other hand, Madame Perrier, sister to Pascal, describes
the joy with which these "twopenny-halfpenny busses" were received.

It appears, too, that the King took a trip in one at St. Germain,
and a _pièce de circonstance_ was got up at the Théâtre Marais,
entitled "L'Intrigue des Carrosses à Cinq Sous." Strange to say, when
the fashionable Parisians ceased to patronise the omnibus, it went
completely out of favour, as the poorer class declined to travel in
it. Hence the company failed.

In 1827 a society entitled "Entreprise Générale des Omnibus" again
introduced the system, which was thus alluded to in the newspapers of

"The omnibus is a long coach, carrying fifteen or eighteen people,
all inside. Of these carriages there were about half-a-dozen some
months ago, and they have been augmented since; their profits
are said to have repaid the outlay within the first year; the
proprietors, among whom is M. Lafitte, the banker, are making a large
revenue out of Parisian sous, and speculation is still alive."

During the struggle of the three days in July, 1830, the accidental
upsetting of one of these vehicles suggested an idea that barricades
could be formed out of a number of them; and this plan was tried and
followed out.

Shortly after the introduction of the omnibus in Paris, a
public-spirited individual started two of these carriages in London,
which ran from the Bank of England to the Yorkshire Stingo, in the
New-road, and were called "Shillibeers," after the introducer. Each
of these vehicles carried twenty-two passengers inside, with only the
driver and conductor outside; each omnibus was drawn by three horses,
abreast, and the fare was one shilling for the whole distance, and
sixpence for half. Since that time the fares have been considerably
lowered, and outside passengers are taken.




An adventure which occurred to me some fifty years ago may not here
be out of place. I was dining one day with Ball Hughes, commonly,
from his wealth, called "The Golden Ball," when the conversation
turned upon Paris.

"What say you to going there?" he asked.

"I should like it much," I replied.

"Send for Guy," continued he, addressing the butler; "and help
yourself to claret, we shall not have much time to spare."

Before I could express my surprise, Guy, the coachman, entered the

"Have the travelling-chariot with the four bays round in
half-an-hour, and send the seats and imperial into my room to be
packed. By the way," he proceeded, turning to me, "you will want
some one to go and tell your servant to bring your clothes, we shall
return in a week."

"Are you in earnest?" I inquired, somewhat taken aback at this hasty

"Quite," he answered; "pass the bottle; and, John, take the small
front imperial to Lord William's lodgings in Pall Mall, tell his
servant to pack it up, and we will call for it on our way."

In half-an-hour the carriage was at the door; we took our seats, the
faithful valet ascended the rumble, and the order was given,

"Make the best of your way to Dartford, call as you go by at No. 4,
Pall Mall."

It was a lovely evening in July, and despite of having all the
windows down we felt greatly oppressed with heat.

"What say you to riding?" inquired my companion; "pull up, boys."

"I am not in trim for riding," I replied, "with these thin white
trousers, shoes, and silk stockings; my legs will be awfully chafed."

"Never mind, my good fellow, we will go as slow as you please, and
you shall have your choice, short or long traces."

The postilions had alighted, and, having borrowed their whips, we
exchanged places, and in less time than I can describe it the Golden
Ball was mounted on a high-stepping thoroughbred leader, while I was
piloting two as handsome wheelers as ever trotted their twelve miles
an hour.

No event worthy of record occurred upon the road. It is true that the
pole occasionally reminded my brother postilion that the traces were
slack, that we grazed a carrier's cart upon entering Deptford, that
we frightened an itinerant vendor of apples and pears as we dashed
over Blackheath, and, finally, that we upset a one-horse chaise
standing in the High Street of the town identified with Pigou and

As we drove up to the door of the "Bull Inn" we found, to our great
horror, a crowd assembled in front of it.

"Pull up!" I bellowed at the top of my voice.

"I can't," responded my friend.

"Then turn in down the yard. Take a good sweep, or we shall upset the

We did turn in with no greater damage than carrying away a wooden
post, breaking a lamp, rubbing a piece of skin off the near leader,
and tearing his rider's Hessian boot.

A cheer was then heard from the assembled crowd. We jumped off
our horses, gave them up to the two postilions, who had hastily
descended from the carriage, and made our way to the entrance, where
the landlord, landlady, waiter, and ostler stood, looking as much
astonished as the inhabitants of Edmonton did when Johnny Gilpin made
his appearance in that town. Unfortunately Cowper was not with us to
immortalise our adventure.

"Can we have four horses immediately?" asked Ball Hughes, in his
blandest manner.

"The packet starts early for Calais."

"First and second turn out!" shouted the ostler, while mine host
could scarcely repress a smile.

An _éclaircissement_ took place when it appeared that Queen
Caroline, the ill-fated wife of the Fourth George, had been expected;
that some Dartford Paul Pry had caught a view of the gold embroidered
velvet jackets and caps of the postilions, and had given the signal
for the cheers, mistaking the inmates of the carriage for at least
Lord Hood in his Chamberlain's dress, Sir Matthew Wood in his
Aldermanic gown, or Her Majesty herself decked out in Royal attire.
Finding we could not reach Dover in time for the boat to Calais we
stopped for the night at the "Rose," Sittingbourne.

I have already referred to the French omnibus; and it may not be
here out of place to record an instance of the light-heartedness of
our Continental neighbours, who instead of erasing a most painful
episode in the history of their country from their minds, appear to
perpetuate it, as will be seen by the following statement extracted
from one of their own journals:--

"The Parisian Omnibus Company has preserved a curious relic of the
late Commune in the shape of an omnibus which the Communists used for
one of their barricades, and which was riddled through the street
fights between the Versailles troops and the insurgents by as many
as eight hundred shots or bomb-shell splinters. The coachman's box is
broken, and only one wheel hangs on to the vehicle."

I have now given the _agrémens_ and _désagrémens_ of coaching, and
have come to the conclusion that all unprejudiced persons would
prefer the rail to the road, especially those to whom time and money
are objects. A man may now breakfast in London and dine in Dublin,
and this journey can be performed at (as compared with former
charges) a very considerable reduction.

Pullman's cars, now confined to the Midland, and partly to the
Brighton line, will soon become universal. Then a night journey will
be free from exertion, and after a good night's rest the traveller
will find himself some hundred miles from the place of departure.
Those, too, who indulge in "sublime tobacco," whether in the shape of
a meerschaum, brier, clay pipe, a mild Havannah cigar, or a Latakia
cigarette, can smoke in a covered carriage, instead as of old on the
outside of a mail coach, amidst a pelting, pitiless storm. However,
as tastes differ, there will always be a certain number of old
stagers who, denouncing steam, will talk with rapture of the palmy
days of the road, and of their delight when they went "coaching, a
long time ago."

Railways were originally formed altogether of timber, and it was not
until 1767 that the first experiment was tried, and that upon a very
small scale, to determine the advantage of substituting iron for the
less durable material. Nor does it appear that this experiment was
successful, or followed by any practical result, for in 1797 Mr. Carr
claimed to be considered the inventor of cast-iron rails.

The railways which were constructed up to the beginning of 1800 were
all private undertakings, and each was confined to the use of the
establishment--generally a colliery--in which it was employed. The
public railways of the United Kingdom are strictly creations of the
present century. Here I may remark that as early as the year 1216 the
idea of applying the power of steam to locomotion first suggested
itself. Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar, who flourished during the
reign of Henry III., foretold that ships would some day move without
sails, and carriages without horses; and though his scientific
researches were not duly appreciated in his own times, he may fairly
take rank with the greatest pioneers of modern discovery.

In the days of Charles II., Edward Somerset, Earl of Glamorgan
and Marquis of Worcester, invented and constructed the first
steam-engine. His title to this honour has been the subject of
dispute, some historians attributing to him a greater share of merit
than there was sufficient evidence to warrant, while others deprive
him of even that honour to which he possesses an indefeasible claim.
Possessing inventive genius of the highest order, he was considered a
mad enthusiast, because his speculations were advanced so far before
the age in which he lived, and he has been set down as a quack and
impostor by men incapable of comprehending the nature or appreciating
the value of his creations.

The slow march of knowledge and of time has at last revealed the
worth and established the character of an illustrious and unfortunate
man of genius, who only lived to complete his mighty design and
carry it happily into effect. Macaulay thus refers to the Marquis of

"The Marquis had observed the expansive power of moisture rarefied
by heat. After many experiments, he had succeeded in constructing
a rude steam-engine, which he called a fire-waterwork, and which
he pronounced to be an admirable and most forcible instrument of

But the Marquis was suspected to be a madman, and known to be a
Papist, his inventions therefore found no favourable reception. His
fire-waterwork might, perhaps, furnish matter for conversation at a
meeting of the Royal Society, but was not applied to any practical

The next engine was invented by Captain Savery, in 1698, for the
purpose of raising water by the help of fire. Newcomen came next,
followed by James Watt.

And here I must pay a passing tribute to the inventive genius and
wonderful discoveries of James Watt, to whom, perhaps, more than to
any other man, the world is indebted for the beneficial results which
have flown from the development of steam power.

Some six hundred years after Roger Bacon's prophecy, another prophet
arose. In 1804, so writes a popular author, "George Stephenson
was a poor labourer, his son Robert lying in his cradle; then the
stage-coach dragged along its weary course at about five miles an
hour, and a letter posted in London would reach Edinburgh _perhaps_
in a week. In 1824 the father said to the son:--

"I tell you what I think, my lad. You will live to see the day,
though I may not, when railroads will supersede all other modes of
conveyance; when mail coaches will go by railway, and railways become
the great highway for the King and his subjects. The time is coming
when it will be cheaper for a working man to travel by railway than
to walk on foot."

A bold, a daring, but a great social and patriotic prediction: both
father and son lived to see it fulfilled. These wonderful changes
have been brought about through the perseverance of a quintuple
alliance--the Stephensons, Brunels, and Locke--of each of whom it
may be said, if you seek his monument, "Look not at the place of his
birth, his abode, or his death, but survey his works throughout the
greater part of the habitable globe."

In 1824 the first locomotive constructed by George Stephenson
travelled at the rate of six miles an hour; in 1829 the "Rocket"
travelled at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, and obtained
the prize of five hundred pounds offered by the directors of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company for the best locomotive.

In 1834 the "Firefly" attained a speed of twenty miles an hour; and
at the present moment locomotives have increased their speed to over
sixty miles an hour. Merciless ridicule attended the introduction
of railway travelling; and in reference to a proposed line between
London and Woolwich, a writer in the "Quarterly Review" not only
backed "Old Father Thames" against it for any sum, but assured his
readers that the people of Woolwich "would as soon suffer themselves
to be fired off upon one of Congreve's ricochet rockets as trust
themselves to the mercy of such a machine--a high-pressure engine,
and going at the rate of eighteen miles an hour."

The reviewer adds that he trusts Parliament will limit the speed of
railways to eight or nine miles an hour, which is as great as can be
ventured upon with safety. Despite this prediction, the rail, as we
all know, has proved a perfect success.

When railways were first proposed, in order to prove to Parliament
that they would pay, persons called "traffic takers" were placed at
the entrance of large towns to note down the traffic in and out of
the town. When the Brighton and South Coast line was before the House
of Commons, and evidence was given as to the existing traffic, the
counsel for the company suggested that they might be allowed fairly
to say that this would be doubled, when increased means of travelling
were afforded. This seems ludicrous now, when probably one train of
passengers and one of goods carries considerably more than the above

Many ineffectual attempts have been made to introduce steam-carriages
on the roads, and in 1822 Mr. (afterwards Sir) Goldsworthy
Gurney--inventor of the steam-jet, emphatically called by engineers
"the life and soul of locomotion"--constructed a carriage for that
purpose. To show that it was capable of ascending and descending
hills, of maintaining a uniformity of speed over long distances and
on different kinds of roads, a journey was undertaken from Hounslow
Barracks to Bath and back. On arriving at Melksham, where a fair
was being held, the people made an attack upon the steam-carriage,
wounding the stoker and the engineer severely on their heads from a
volley of stones. The return journey was more satisfactory, as the
whole distance (eighty-four miles), stoppages for fire and water
included, was travelled over in nine hours and twenty minutes, the
carriage at one time increasing its speed to twenty miles an hour.
The Duke of Wellington and his staff met the carriage at Hounslow
Barracks, and were drawn in his Grace's barouche by the steam-engine
into the town.

From February to June, 1831, steam-carriages ran between Gloucester
and Cheltenham regularly four times a day, during which time they
carried nearly three thousand persons and travelled nearly four
thousand miles, without a single accident. Every obstacle, however,
was thrown in the way of this new invention; large heaps of stones
were laid across the road eighteen inches deep, under the pretence of
repairing the highway; and on an Act of Parliament being passed which
imposed prohibitory tolls on turnpike trusts, the steam-carriage was
driven off the road.

On the journey to Bath above referred to, the toll for the
steam-carriage was six guineas each time of passing. About this
period Colonel Sir James Viney patronised a Mr. Pocock and the
making of kites for the purpose of drawing a carriage, but these
paper horses were ungovernable, particularly in a storm, and Sir John
gave them up for a couple of ponies, which, in truth, were almost as

One conveyance alone remains to which I have not referred--the sedan
chair, named after the town of Sedan, in France. In early days I
well remember a very gorgeous specimen of the above, emblazoned
with the family arms, which used to convey my mother to evening
parties; and as late as the year 1834 I have often, at Leamington,
Edinburgh, and Bath, made use of a sedan chair to take me to dinner.
One advantage this conveyance had over a carriage was that, upon a
snowy or rainy night, you could enter it under cover and get out
of it in your Amphitryon's hall. Occasionally it was used by young
spendthrifts against whom writs were out, as it enabled them to avoid
the sheriff's officers. It was not always, however, a safe refuge, as
Hogarth, in one of his prints, represents a tipstaff seizing hold of
some debtor he was in search of.

Early in the present century a very clever caricature appeared,
in which an Irishman was seen wending his way through dirt and
slush, his legs and feet obtruding from a sedan chair--some waggish
practical joker (the Theodore Hook of that day) having removed the
bottom of it. Two stout chairmen, aware of the trick that had been
played upon their inside passenger, are selecting the dirtiest
streets, or most flinty part of the road, while the unfortunate
Emeralder exclaims:

"Bedad! if it was not for the honour of the thing, I would as lief

The costume of the chairmen at Bath was very peculiar: they wore
long, light-blue coats highly ornamented with buttons about the size
of a crown piece, the skirts of which reached down to their ankles;
short "inexpressibles," white cotton stockings, shoes with buckles,
and a huge cocked hat bound with gold lace. They were fine, powerful
men, with calves to their legs which would have made the fortune of
any fashionable footman. When sedan-chairs were first introduced, a
great feud arose between the chairmen and the hackney-coachmen, which
led to many serious disturbances. The contest was carried on with the
greatest bitterness; and the hatred it engendered was equal to that
of the Montagues and Capulets, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the
Red and White Roses; eventually, through the interference of the law,
peace was restored.

Wilson thus refers to the sedan-chair named after Sedan on the
Meuse. In his Life of James I., this passage, in speaking of the
Earl of Northumberland, occurs: "The stout old Earl, when he was got
loose (he had been imprisoned), hearing that the great favourite,
Buckingham, was drawn about with a coach and six horses (which was
wondered at then as a novelty, and imputed to him as a mastering
pride), thought, if Buckingham had six, he might very well have eight
in his coach; with which he rode through the city of London to Bath,
to the vulgar talk and admiration; and, recovering his health there,
he lived long after at Petworth in Sussex; bating this over-topping
humour, which shewed it rather an affected fit than a distemper.

"Nor did this addition of two horses, by Buckingham, grow higher than
a little murmur. For in the late Queen's time (Elizabeth), there were
no coaches, and the First Lord had but two horses; the rest crept in
by degrees, as men at first ventured to sea. And every new thing the
people disaffect, they stumble at; sometimes at the action of the
parties, which rises like a little cloud, but soon vanishes.

"So after, when Buckingham came to be carried in a chair upon men's
shoulders, the clamour and noise of it was so extravagant that the
people would rail on him in the streets, loathing that men should
be brought to as servile a condition as horses; so irksome is every
little new impression that breaks an old custom, and rubs and grates
against the public humour; but when time had made those chairs
common, every minion used them; so that that which gave at first so
much scandal was the means to convey those privately to such places,
where they might give much more. Just like long hair, at one time
described as abominable--another time approved of as beautiful."




Few of my readers will remember the old hackney-coaches, and
fortunate are they who live at a period when they can be driven about
the metropolis and throughout all the principal towns in hansom cabs
and "four-wheelers." The old hackney-coach was usually a broken-down,
rickety vehicle, that had evidently seen better days; it usually bore
the arms and crest of some noble family; the lining, torn and faded,
showed signs of former grandeur, as did the harness, now patched and
tied together with string. The horses looked more fit to furnish a
meal for a pack of hungry foxhounds than to go through their daily
work. The coachman, becaped and bebooted, was a long time descending
from and ascending his box, and when seated there it required a
large amount of "ge-upping" and "go-alonging," with the additional
aid of whipping, to get his half-starved, broken-down animals into a

What a contrast to the Hansom of the present day, which, generally
speaking, is clean, admirably horsed, and well driven, so much so
that the driver of a well-appointed two-wheeler, like Tom Tug, in
"The Waterman," "is never in want of a _fare_!" Would that I could
say the same of the four-wheeler! There are some exceptions; but the
majority savour too much of the old hackney-coach to merit a eulogium.

Practical jokes have often been played by persons representing
highwaymen for the time being; a most memorable one was practised by
the celebrated John Mytton, of Halston.

Upon one occasion, a neighbouring clergyman was invited to dine at
the Squire's, as Mytton was called, and in the course of the evening,
the conversation turned upon the knights of the road. Whether this
casual topic gave the idea to the arch-hoaxer, or that the affair
was premeditated, I know not, but it was shortly carried out. After
a quiet rubber of whist, the Reverend gentleman's carriage was
announced, and he took his departure.

He had not proceeded a hundred yards beyond the lodge-gate, when all
of a sudden the carriage stopped, and a man with a black crape over
his face presented a pistol, exclaiming,

"Your money or your life," his companion, equally disguised, catching
hold of the horses.

Unarmed, and alone, resistance was in vain, he, therefore, gave his
purse to the marauder.

"This won't do," said the man. "I must have your watch."

"Spare that," beseechingly implored the clergyman. "It is of little
value to anyone but myself, and was the gift of a beloved mother."

"No time for sentiment," continued the other, "you must hand it out,"
at the same time cocking the pistol.

The valued gift now changed hands, and the Reverend gentleman was
allowed to proceed to his home in safety.

Early the next morning he applied to a magistrate for assistance,
and proceeded to Halston to inform Mytton of the disgraceful state
of the country, when a man could be robbed within a few yards of his

"I'll send for the constable," said Mytton, "a reward shall be
offered, and no exertion shall be wanting on my part to trace the
scoundrel and get your property restored."

The clergyman was brimming over with gratitude, when the Squire

"Come and dine here to-morrow, and I'll send an escort home with you.
My keeper and a watcher will be more than a match for any two rascals
that infest the road."

The invitation was accepted, and in the meantime every exertion was
made by the magistrate to discover the offenders. During dinner, the
conversation naturally turned upon the bare-faced robbery.

"I did not mind the fellows taking my money," said the victim.
"Albeit I could not well afford to lose it, but what I felt deeply
was the loss of my watch. I would give any sum in my power to recover

At that moment the second course was put on the table, for at the
time I write of _dîners à la Russe_ were unknown, and a large dish
with a cover over it was placed before the host.

"I wish," said Mytton, addressing his clerical friend, "you would
kindly carve the pheasants. I sprained my wrist out hunting last
week, and if I attempt the job, it will be a case of 'mangling done

The dish was removed and placed before the clergyman, and upon
the cover being taken off, great was the delight and surprise of
the victim to find his purse and watch occupying the place of the
far-famed bird of Colchis.

An angry look at the perpetrator of this practical joke was soon
transformed into a smile, for the delight of recovering the watch
made him ample compensation for the anxiety of mind he had suffered.

A hoax similar in some degree was practised in France on the Baron de

This well-known nobleman was in 1788 on a visit at the house of M.
de Bercheni, beyond La Ferté-sous-Jouare, an estate now belonging to
the family of Castellane. It was the latter end of Autumn. Some bold
poachers already disturbed the sport. The wind blew violently, and
strewed the ground with leaves; the mornings were misty, the nights
long, gloomy, and cold; but gloom never approached the place that the
Baron inhabited. The _après-dîner_ had been excessively merry, and
all the company had gradually retired. M. de Bezenval had announced
his departure, and being almost the only guest in the room, took
leave of the mistress of the house.

"I hope to see you again soon," said he.

"I hope so too," replied the lady with courtesy.

He took his departure, and soon fell asleep in his post-chaise,
wrapped up in thick fur. He was suddenly roused from his slumbers by
a violent shaking. The postilion had been knocked off his horse, a
number of armed men surrounded the vehicle, and their leader, whose
face was blackened, seizing the Baron, presented a pistol to his

"Sir," said the Baron, "your men do not know how to behave
themselves--they should at least have given me time to draw my

Without favouring him with a reply, they stripped him--his cane,
rings, snuff-boxes of lapis-lazuli, and his two watches and chains
decked with gems were wrested from him.

"Are you content?" cried Bezenval.

"No," replied they, "the chaise is ours, as all the rest; get out of

He alighted, and the brigands dispersed, one only mounting one of the
horses, and driving off at a gallop.

"Valentine, what is to be done?" said the Baron to his servant.

"I really do not know," replied the latter; "perhaps the wisest step
is to go back to the château."

Thither they turned, and two hours of most fatiguing walking brought
them to it. The gates were open, there were no servants in the
courts, and none in the ante-rooms. He entered the drawing-room, and
not a soul was in it. But what did his eyes first fall upon? His two
watches and their chains were hanging to the chimney-piece! Whilst he
was gazing on them, immense shouts of laughter arose, and the bandits
of quality crowded into the room in their several disguises. Such was
the method devised to bring back the agreeable Baron de Bezenval.

Having described coaching in England, it may not be uninteresting to
give a brief notice of French coaching. It is now two hundred years
ago that La Fontaine wrote the following lines, which began his fable
"La Coche et la Mouche:--"

   "Dans un chemin, montant, sablonneux, malaisé,
    Et de tous les côtés au soleil exposé,
    Six forts chevaux tiroient une coche."

At that time public and private vehicles had not yet undergone any
very notable improvements. When an inhabitant of Bordeaux or Maçon
took his departure for Paris he made his will, leaving among other
things "son corps à la diligence."

Eighty years previous, in the middle of the sixteenth century,
private vehicles were not very numerous, if we judge by the
predicament in which Henry IV., King of France and Navarre, found
himself when he wrote to Sully, "Je n'ai pas pu aller vous voir hier,
ma femme ayant pris ma coche." That _coche_ which we in England
still call coach, and the driver of which has obtained the name of
coacher--coachman was either _coche de terre_ or a _coche d'eau_,
both conveying travellers and goods. The coche d'Auxerre alone
survived in France until our days. The steamboats have sunk it,
in despite of its heroic resistance. It was only in the first year
of the seventeenth century that _coches_ or _voitures_, were first
ornamented, and provided with leather braces; they then assumed the
generic name of _carrosses_, derived from _char_ and _charrette_.

It would occupy too much space to write a history of their
transformations and successive improvements, and to follow step by
step the aristocratic succession of the carrosse, calêche, berline,
landau, dormeuse, char-à-banc, demi-fortune, vis-à-vis, coupé, not
omitting the cabriolet, phaeton, boguey, tilbury, kibitka, britzska,
and other vehicles of the young fashion of all times. The public
vehicles have made slower progress. The _diligences_ long continued
worthy of their grandfathers the _coches_, and were very unworthy of
their new name.

At the beginning of the present century, in which everything now
moves on so rapidly, two days and a night were still required to
pass from Paris to Orleans. Travellers slept on the road at Etampes
or Pithiviers, a spot rendered immortal by Perlet's admirable
personification in "Le Comédien d'Etampes;" hotel living, with its
good fare and bad beds, being preferred to highroad living, with
its obligato accompaniment of broken down cattle, rickety coaches,
and highwaymen armed to the teeth. The diligences gave birth to the
messageries, chaises, chaises-de-poste, and at a later period to the
malle-postes, which, however, did not prevent certain provinces from
enjoying a sort of progeniture of ancient coches, under the various
names of voiturines, guimbardes, carrioles, and other instruments of
torture, which enabled the traveller to accomplish easily, as the
saying went, "twenty leagues in fifteen days."

After that the real _diligences_, the real _messageries_, attained
a degree of comfort for which the public were most grateful. To
frequent changes and improvement of the horses were added the comfort
of the vehicle; and last, not least, the lowness of the prices. The
_malle-postes_, destined for the more rapid conveyance of letters,
and at the same time of travellers eager to get over their journey
quickly--thanks to the attention of the administration--were rendered
admirably adapted to the public service, the primary object of their
establishment, and to the private service of those who wished for
comfort in their travels.

The _caisse_ containing the despatches, the high station occupied
behind by the courrier-conducteur of the mail, the _caisse_ reserved
for travellers, the shape and size of which varied according to the
seasons, and the comfortable seat for the passengers, deserved every
praise. What could a traveller in those days, when steam was not
in prospective existence, desire more than to travel from Paris to
Bayonne, two hundred leagues, in fifty-six hours? The humbler history
of the _fiacre_ also deserves to have a place here. The _carrosse_
gave birth to the _fiacre_ in the seventeenth century. That was the
first coach devoted to public use.

I have already said that the head-quarters of these vehicles were
in Rue St. Antoine, Paris, and were called "carrosses à cinq sous,"
five sous being the price for the hour. The _fiacres_ long had a bad
name, and not undeservedly so. Who does not remember, even in our
days, the wretched equipages that stood on the rank? Who has not had,
at least once in his life, a quarrel with the drivers, often more
vicious than their cattle? The cabriolets for town and country, and
the _coucous_, were scarcely superior in any respect, as many have
wofully experienced.

Times, however, have altered, and, during the last few years
incredible improvements have taken place, not only in the vehicles,
but also in the horses and their drivers. Transformations almost as
wonderful as that of Cinderella's fairy carriage have been effected.
The carriages are better constructed and suspended, and are arranged
more comfortably inside. The creation, too, of one-horse coupés
(broughams) has successfully provided for the wants of the public,
and at the present time a vast number of new companies, under various
names, have vied in skill and conferred upon the people vehicles
of tasteful shapes, horses in good condition, totally unlike the
_rosses_ of former days, harness neat, drivers in uniform liveries,
and above all, civil and attentive.

To complete this sketch, let me pay a parting tribute to the Parisian
omnibus, that accommodating carriage which takes you up at all
hours, at every moment, in the street or at your door, and carries
you without any delay to any street or door you wish to alight
at--sociable vehicles which, for the trifling sum of thirty centimes,
convey you two leagues from the Barrière de l'Etoile to that of the
Trône, and from the Madelaine to the Place de la Bastille.

Would that I had space to review all the varieties of that obliging
vehicle, which, it is said, appeared at Nantes, before it invaded the
streets, quays, and boulevards of the capital! Were I to enumerate
the "Hirondelles," "Favorites," "Dames Françaises," "Parisiennes,"
"Beauvaises," "Orléannaises," &c., and point out all their graces
and charms, it would lead me on to the history of locomotion by
conveyance, and the celebration of steam, steamboats, railroads,
trains, and their marvellous rapidity.

Let me conclude with this observation--namely, that the number
of vehicles of all sorts which were wont daily to circulate in
the streets of Paris exceeded sixty-one thousand; the cabriolets,
hackney-coaches, diligences, and omnibusses--or, as the erudite
coachman called them omnibii--amounted, out of the above number, to
twenty thousand. What they are at this present moment I have no means
of ascertaining.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century there were not fifty
carriages to be seen in Paris; in the reign of Louis XIV. all the
world possessed them, as they would have been unable to present
themselves at court. No longer could they go to the Palace on horses,
although the privilege was still allowed to certain Members of
Parliament. This, however, ceased entirely about the middle of the
reign of Louis XIV.

The adoption of this general use of wheel carriages produced a
great change in the habits of social life, and had much influence
on the political state of the country. The state of public roads,
which the necessity of travelling on horseback imposes, must
immediately influence all military movements and all communication of
intelligence, must triple the expense of all commercial transfers,
and prevent, or render difficult, all merely social meetings, except
between the nearest neighbours.

When Laporte, the _valet de chambre_ to Anne of Austria, tells us
that in the Winter of the year 1636, between Piteaux and Paris, on
the route of Orleans, the road was so bad that the Queen was obliged
to sleep in her carriage because neither the mules nor carts that
carried her baggage could possibly arrive, we may conceive how little
Winter travelling there could have been in France.

Although coaches were already known and used in Paris, they were
so unlike the modern vehicles of the same name that the pleasures,
engagements, and assignations of the young men were still pursued on

A printed paper is yet extant in the Royal, or rather Republican
Library at Paris, announcing in all its details to the public
the establishment by Government of _porte-flambeaux_ and
_porte-lanternes_; persons provided with them were to be posted at
the Louvre, the Palais de Justice, and in other public places at

These extempore illuminations must have been very necessary in the
streets of a great town still frequented by horsemen, where no aid
of light was derived either from the doors of private houses or the
windows of shops; the habitual darkness only made more visible from
the occasional flambeaux carried before some persons of distinction
by their own servants, or accompanying their coach.

This establishment of _porte-flambeaux_, which was to take place in
October, 1662, was announced with all the forms of a long preamble,
and surrounded with all the exclusive privileges which could have
accompanied the most important measure of internal government. It
furnished a curious example of the minute details into which the
hierarchy of despotic power had already entered in France. It called
itself "The establishment of _porte-flambeaux_, or _porte-lanternes_,
for the town and suburbs of Paris, and other towns, by letters patent
of the King, approved of by Parliament, and the prices regulated by
this august body."

Then follows the orders, which forbid anybody from carrying a "link,"
or "lantern," without an express permission from the individual who
has obtained this privilege from the king, to the exclusion of all
others, under pain of a thousand francs (£40) penalty. The price
fixed for the hire of a _porte-lanterne_ was three sous a quarter
of an hour, for persons who went on foot; for those who went in
carriages five sous.

The public are then assured that the convenience of being able to
go out at night with lights will prove such a boon to all, more
especially to men of business and in trade, that the streets will be
more frequented, much to the discomfiture of thieves and vagabonds.
To nightly depredators, the darkness of the streets must have been
very favourable, as we ourselves know it is in London during a dense
fog. Thus we see Boileau makes one of the torments of a town life the
dread of thieves:

   "Que dans le marché neuf tout est calme et tranquille,
      Les voleurs à l'instant s'emparent,
    Le bois le plus funeste, et le moins fréquenté,
      Est, au Prix de Paris, un lieu de sûreté,
    Malheur donc à celui qu'une affaire imprévue
      Engage un peu tard au détours d'une rue,
    Bientôt quatre bandits lui servant les côtés,
      La bourse, il faut se rendre."

It will thus be seen that the roads in France, and streets in
Paris, in bygone days, were as bad as those of England and London;
for we find that frequent and fatal _rencontres_ took place from
disturbances in the streets.

The Prince de Conti and the Comte de Soissons' coaches meeting
in a narrow place near the Louvre, by the bad driving of their
coachmen, jostled against each other, and came to blows between
their followers, who, departing in that fashion one from another,
did, against the next morning call and assemble together such
numbers of their followers, as that the Duke de Guise joining his
brother-in-law, Prince de Conti, and the Prince de Condé with the
Comte de Soissons, his uncle, they came out into the streets with at
least three or four hundred mounted men.

In a record of that time, I find the following:--

"There do daily break forth new quarrels between the nobility in this
town (Paris), who are here in greater numbers than usually have been
heretofore, whereof one being between Monsieur d'Andelot and Monsieur
Balagny was presently taken up; and another fell out the other day
between Colonel d'Ornano and one Monsieur St. André, who, fighting
in the streets, were both hurt, and to avoid the mischief that might
ensue from such meetings, the gates of the town were for a time shut

How long the monopoly of _porte-lanternes_ continued a profitable
concern I know not; but at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. the
luxury of carriages was so universal that riding among the young
men was confined entirely to the _manége_, to hunting, and to their
military life. A change of dress had indeed necessitated a change in
their mode of conveyance. The military costume was no longer that
of the Court; their boots and cloaks had disappeared, except when
with their regiments; and the knots of ribbons, the short sleeves,
the long ruffles, the lace, fringe, and embroidery, and the flowing
periwigs now general, were perfectly incompatible with an evening
drive from the Louvre to the Marais.

I may here remark that the first English stage-coach seen in France
was launched at Dieppe in the month of October, 1816. The horses
being put to, Mr. Plant, of London, a coachman of about eighteen
stone weight, and a real John Bull, mounted the box, and astonished
the inhabitants as much by his dexterity in cracking his whip as by
the bulk of his person for the burden of his horses. Away he started
for St. Denis amid the various grimaces of the populace.

A company of London proprietors have obtained the permission of
the authorities to run English stage-coaches between St. Denis and
Paris. Three more of these vehicles were on their route for the same
destination, with English coachmen and harness.

The success of the undertaking was far different from what
was expected, and after a time the enterprise was abandoned,
the Parisians preferring their lumbering conveyances to the
well-appointed "drag."

In conclusion, I am delighted to find that the love of coaching
is not extinct, that at the present time there are some admirably
well-appointed teams to be daily seen at the old "White Horse
Cellar," and that they are yearly on the increase. We have the
Brighton, the Dorking, the Guildford, the Oxford, the Tunbridge, the
Windsor, and the Watford, with cattle that would delight the eyes of
a Peer, were he alive to see them.

Both the amateur and professional "dragsmen" do their work well, and
during the Summer season nothing will prove more agreeable than the
box-seat or an outside place on one of the above mentioned coaches.

I have now reached the last stage, and shall throw aside the
ribbons. I trust the journey has been a pleasant one; if so, in
the phraseology of the road, I shall say, "I go no further. Please
remember the Coachman."


London: Printed by A. Schulze, 13, Poland Street.


Page 306 line 20 _for_ Peer _read_ Pears

Transcriber' note:
    As it states in the Erratum, the word "Peer" has been changed to
    read "Pears" on page 306.

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