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Title: Coaching Days & Ways
Author: Cuming, E. D. (Edward William Dirom), 1862-1941
Language: English
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[Illustration]


COACHING DAYS & WAYS

by

E. D. CUMING

With Illustrations by G. Denholm Armour



The British
Sport Series

Hodder and Stoughton



COACHING


The many boons conferred by Mr. John Palmer upon his generation faded
before the advance of the railways; but he has deserved well of
posterity, if only for that he altered the coach team from three horses
to four. Until that enterprising man undertook to demonstrate that
the coach could carry letters more rapidly and safely than could the
post-boy, our ancestors had been content with the unicorn team; but
after Palmer had astonished the world by making the journey from Bath
to London, in 1784, at the rate of nearly seven miles an hour, the team
of four horses gradually but steadily supplanted that of three in the
stages on almost every road in the country.

[Illustration:

  _The Stage Coach:
  Old Times

  Painting by G. D. Armour._]

[Illustration]

It is generally assumed that fast coaching only came into existence
after the macadamisation of the roads; but this is not quite the case.
Under favourable conditions the speed attained in pre-Macadam days
was nearly as great as it became later. The _Sporting Magazine_ of
June 1807 says: 'Lately one of the stage coaches on the North road ran
from London to Stamford, a distance of 90 miles, in 9 hours 4 minutes.
The passengers, four in number, breakfasted and dined on the road, so
it must have run at the rate of 12 miles an hour all the time it was
travelling.'

The 'old heavies' discarded under Palmer's drastic rule worked out
their lives as ordinary stage coaches, and some of these remained on
the road until well on in the nineteenth century.

Nimrod's description of the old-time coachman is worth giving:--

'The old-fashioned coachman to a heavy coach--and they were all heavy
down to very recent times--bore some analogy with the prize-fighter,
for he stood highest who could hit hardest. He was generally a man
of large frame, made larger by indulgence, and of great bodily
power--which was useful to him. To the button-hole of his coat were
appended several whipcord points, which he was sure to have occasion
for on the road, for his horses were whipped till whipping was as
necessary to them as their harness. In fair play to him, however, he
was not solely answerable for this; the spirit of his cattle was broken
by the task they were called to perform--for in those days twenty-mile
stages were in fashion--and what was the consequence? Why, the
four-horse whip and the Nottingham whipcord were of no avail over the
latter part of the ground, and something like a cat-o'-nine-tails was
produced out of the boot, which was jocularly called the "apprentice";
and a shrewd apprentice it was to the art of torturing which was
inflicted on the wheelers without stint or measure, but without which
the coach might have been often left on the road. One circumstance
alone saved these horses from destruction; this was the frequency of
ale-houses on the road, not one of which could then be passed without a
call.

'Still, our old-fashioned coachman was a scientific man in his
calling--more so, perhaps, than by far the greater part of his
brethren of the present day, inasmuch as his energies and skill were
more frequently put to the test. He had heavy loads, bad roads, and
weary horses to deal with, neither was any part of his harness to be
depended on, upon a pinch. Then the box he sat upon was worse than
Pandora's, with all the evils it contained, for even hope appeared to
have deserted it. It rested on the bed of the axletree, and shook the
frame to atoms; but when prayers were put up to have it altered, the
proprietors said, "No; the rascal will always be asleep if we place
his box on the springs." If among all these difficulties, then, he, by
degrees, became a drunkard, who can wonder at his becoming so? But he
was a _coachman_. He could fetch the last ounce out of a wheel-horse
by the use of his double thong or his "apprentice," and the point
of his lash told terribly upon his leaders. He likewise applied it
scientifically, it was directed under the bar to the flank, and after
the third hit he brought it up to his hand by _the draw_, so that it
never got entangled in the pole-chains, or in any part of the harness.
He could untie a knot with his teeth and tie another with his tongue,
as well as he could with his hands; and if his thong broke off in the
middle, he could splice it with dexterity and even with neatness as
his coach was proceeding on its journey. It short, he could do what
coachmen of the present day cannot do, because they have not been
called upon to do it; and he likewise could do what they never tried to
do--namely, he could drive when he was drunk nearly as well as when he
was sober. He was very frequently a faithful servant to his employers;
considered trustworthy by bankers and others in the country through
which he passed; and as humane to his horses, perhaps, as the adverse
circumstances he was placed in by his masters would admit.'

Time has dealt kindly with the reputation of the old stage coachman,
and popular tradition holds him, as Nimrod portrayed him, a whip of
unrivalled skill. That there were such men is perfectly true;[1] but
not every stage coachman was an expert: not all were skilful or even
careful, and not all were civil: and if, as Nimrod says, they could
drive as well when drunk as when sober, the cold light of contemporary
record shows that there was ample room for improvement. Take the
following:--On the 18th of May 1808 the coachman of the Portsmouth
coach to London was intoxicated, and "when he came to the foot of the
hill on Wimbledon Common, instead of keeping straight on turned to the
left and found himself in Putney Lane, where turning the corner of Mr.
Kensington's wall in order to get again into the road to Wandsworth,
the coach was overturned." He appears to have driven on to the bank by
the roadside. The ten outside passengers were all more or less hurt,
one dying from her injuries, and the coachman himself had both legs
broken. Accidents due to reckless driving and racing were very common,
despite the law[2] of 1790 which made a coachman who, by furious
driving or careless, overturned his coach, liable to a fine not over
five pounds. The following is typical:--

'Last night occurred one of those dreadful catastrophes, the result
of driving opposition coaches, which has so stunned the country with
horror that sober people for a time will not hazard their lives in
these vehicles of fury and madness.

'Two coaches that run daily from Hinckley to Leicester had set out
together. The first having descended the hill leading to Leicester was
obliged to stop to repair the harness. The other coachman saw the
accident and seized the moment to give his antagonist the _go by_,
flogging the horses into a gallop down the hill. The horses contrived
to keep on their legs, but took fright at something on the road, and
became so unmanageable in the hands of a drunken coachman, that in
their sweep to avoid the object of their alarm, the driver could not
recover them so as to clear the post of the turnpike gate at the bottom
of the hill. The velocity was so great that the coach was split in two;
three persons were dashed to pieces and instantly killed, two others
survived but a few hours in the greatest agony; four were conveyed
away for surgical aid with fractured limbs, and two in the dickey were
thrown with that part of the coach to a considerable distance, and
not much hurt as they fell on a hedge. The coachman fell a victim to
his fury and madness. It is time the Magistrates put a stop to these
outrageous proceedings that have existed too long in this part of the
country.' (_St. James's Chronicle_, 15th July 1815).

The frequency of upsets is suggested by a letter which appeared in
the papers in 1785. The writer, who signs himself 'A Sufferer,' begs
coach proprietors to direct their servants, when the coach has been
overturned, 'not to drag the passengers out at the window, but to
replace the coach on its wheels first, provided it can be accomplished
with the strength they have with them.'

After coaches began to carry the mails, accidents grew more numerous.
We can trace many to the greater speed maintained, others to defective
workmanship which resulted in broken axles or lost wheels, many to
top-heaviness, and not a few to carelessness. The short stage drivers,
on the whole, were the worst offenders. For sheer recklessness this
would be hard to beat:--

'During the dense fog on Wednesday last, as a Woolwich coach full of
inside and outside passengers was driving at a furious rate, just
after it had passed the Six Bells on its way to town, the coachman
ran against a heavy country cart. The stage was upset, and those on
the roof were pitched violently against an empty coal waggon; two of
them fell on the shafts, one of whom had a shoulder badly dislocated;
the other had his jawbone broken, with the loss of his front teeth. A
Greenwich pensioner, with a wooden leg, had an arm broken, and
some contusions on the head.' (_Bell's Life_, 15th December 1882).

It would be easy to compile a list of accidents due to causes
unforseen, each one, illustrating a different danger of the road. Here
are a few:--

'Tuesday afternoon, as one of the Brighton stages was leaving London
at a rapid pace, the pole broke in Lambeth, and the coach was upset.
Several passengers had limbs broken and others were injured.' (_Bell's
Life_, 25th August 1822).

'A fatal accident befel the Woolwich Tally Ho opposition stage on
Tuesday. Coming down the hill from the Green Man the horses became
restive, the coachman lost his command, and immediately the whole set
off at full speed. In turning a corner the coach upset, being heavily
laden outside. Out of sixteen persons only one escaped without a leg
or arm broken, and four are not expected to survive. The coach was
literally dashed to pieces. The inside passengers were more lacerated
than those outside, owing to the coach being shattered to pieces and
their being dragged along the road for fifty yards. But little hopes
are entertained of a Major M'Leod--a very fine young man; not a vestige
of his face is left except his eyes.' (_Bell's Life_, 22nd September
1822).

'A fatal accident happened to Gamble, coachman of the Yeovil mail,
on Wednesday, caused by the leaders shying at an old oak tree. The
coachman was killed on the spot, and the guard escaped with bruises.
The horses started off and galloped into Andover at the rate of 20
miles an hour. The single inside passenger was not aware of anything
amiss until two gentlemen, who saw the horses going at a furious rate
without a driver, succeeded in stopping them just as they were turning
into the George gateway.' (_Times_, 21st February 1838).

Coachmen and guards were apt to leave too much to the honour of the
horses when stopping, and it was not at all uncommon for the team to
start on its journey with nobody on the box. An old coachman told Lord
Algernon St. Maur that on one night's drive he met two coaches without
any driver! In 1806 (46 Geo. III., c. 36) it was made an offence
punishable by fine to leave the team without a proper person in charge
while the coach stopped.

Organised races between public coaches were very popular: the coachmen
did not spare the horses on these occasions. This race took place in
1808:--

'On Sunday, August 7th, a coach called the "Patriot," belonging to the
master of the "Bell," Leicester, drawn by four horses, started against
another coach called the "Defiance," from Leicester to Nottingham, a
distance of 26 miles, both coaches changing horses at Loughborough.
Thousands of people from all parts assembled to witness the event, and
bets to a considerable amount were depending. Both coaches started
exactly at 8 o'clock, and after the severest contest ever remembered,
the "Patriot" arrived at Nottingham first by two minutes only,
performing the distance of 26 miles in 2 hrs. 10 mins., carrying twelve
passengers.'

[Illustration:

  _Mail Coaches Racing:

  Something Wrong with the
  Opposition Coach

  Painting by G. D. Armour._]

[Illustration]

Mishaps were so frequent and productive of so many fatalities, to say
nothing of broken limbs, that at last general outcry arose for more
stringent repressive measures: and in 1820 a law (1 Geo. IV., c. 4)
was passed, making coachmen who might be guilty of 'wanton or furious
driving or racing' liable to imprisonment as well as to fine, even
though their proceedings were not brought to a close by overturning
the coach. The new law did not make an end of accidents: on the whole
there were fewer as the result of racing, but the records of time bear
ample witness to lack of ordinary caution.

For many years Macadam and Telford had been devoting their ingenuity to
the task of solving the secret of road-making; it was not until 1818
that the Macadam system was finally approved and adopted. Then the
work of remaking the roads of the kingdom was taken in hand, and the
new highways, when constructed, ushered in the brief 'golden age' of
coaching--say 1825 to 1838, the mails having been transferred to the
railways in the latter year.

Nimrod's famous essay, written in 1835, shows in convincing fashion the
difference between coaching in the olden days and at its best:--

'May we be permitted, since we have mentioned the _Arabian Nights_, to
make a little demand on our readers' fancy, and suppose it possible
that a worthy old gentleman of this said year--1742--had fallen
comfortably asleep _à la Dodswell_, and never awoke till Monday morning
in Piccadilly? "What coach, your honour?" says a ruffianly-looking
fellow, much like what he might have been had he lived a hundred years
back. "I wish to go home to Exeter," replies the old gentleman, mildly.
"Just in time, your honour, here she comes--them there grey horses;
where's your luggage?" "Don't be in a hurry," observed the stranger;
"that's a gentleman's carriage." "It ain't! I tell you," says the
cad; "it's the Comet, and you must be as quick as lightning." _Nolens
volens_, the remonstrating old gentleman is shoved into the Comet, by
a cad at each elbow, having been three times assured his luggage is in
the hind boot, and twice three times denied having ocular demonstration
of the fact.

'However, he is now seated; and "What _gentleman_ is going to drive
us?" is his first question to his fellow-passengers. "He is no
gentleman, sir," says a person who sits opposite to him, and who
happens to be a proprietor of the coach. "He has been on the Comet
ever since she started, and is a very steady young man." "Pardon my
ignorance," replies the regenerated; "from the cleanliness of his
person, the neatness of his apparel, and the language he made use of, I
mistook him for some enthusiastic bachelor of arts, wishing to become
a charioteer after the manner of the illustrious ancients."[3] "You
must have been long in foreign parts, sir," observes the proprietor.
In five minutes, or less, after the parley commenced, the wheels went
round, and in another five the coach arrived at Hyde Park gate; but
long before it got there, the worthy gentleman of 1742 (set down by his
fellow-travellers for either a little cracked or an emigrant from the
backwoods of America) exclaimed, "What! off the stones already?" "You
have never been on the stones," observes his neighbour on his right;
"no stones in London now, sir."[4]

'In five minutes under the hour the Comet arrives at Hounslow, to
the great delight of our friend, who by this time waxed hungry,
not having broken his fast before starting. "Just fifty-five
minutes and thirty-seven seconds," says he, "from the time we left
London!--wonderful travelling, gentlemen, to be sure, but much too fast
to be safe. However, thank heaven, we are arrived at a good-looking
house; and now, _waiter_, I hope you have got breakf----" Before the
last syllable, however, of the word could be pronounced, the worthy
old gentleman's head struck the back of the coach by a jerk, which he
could not account for (the fact was, three of the four fresh horses
were bolters), and the waiter, the inn, and indeed Hounslow itself
(_terraeque urbesque recedunt_) disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.
Never did such a succession of doors, windows, and window-shutters pass
so quickly in his review before--and he hoped they might never do so
again. Recovering, however, a little from his surprise--"My dear sir,"
said he, "you told me we were to change horses at Hounslow? Surely they
are not so inhuman as to drive these poor animals another stage at this
unmerciful rate!" "Change horses, sir!" says the proprietor; "why, we
changed them whilst you were putting on your spectacles, and looking
at your watch. Only one minute allowed for it at Hounslow, and it is
often done in fifty seconds by those nimble-fingered horse-keepers."
"You astonish me--but really I do not like to go so fast." "Oh, sir!
we always spring them over these six miles. It is what we call _the
hospital ground_." This alarming phrase is presently interpreted: it
intimates that horses whose "backs are getting down instead of up in
their work"--some "that won't hold an ounce down hill, or draw an
ounce up"--others "that kick over the pole one day and over the bars
the next"--in short, all the reprobates, styled in the road slang
_bo-kickers_, are sent to work these six miles, because _here_ they
have nothing to do but gallop--not a pebble as big as a nutmeg on the
road; and so even, that it would not disturb the equilibrium of a
spirit-level.

'The coach, however, goes faster and faster over the _hospital ground_,
as the bo-kickers feel their legs and the collars get warm to their
shoulders; and having ten outsides, the luggage of the said ten, and a
few extra packages besides on the roof, she rolls rather more than is
pleasant, although the centre of gravity is pretty well kept down by
four not slender insides, two well-laden boots, and three huge trunks
in the slide. The gentleman of the last century, however, becomes
alarmed--is sure the horses are running away with the coach--declares
he perceives by the shadow that there is nobody on the box, and can see
the reins dangling about the horses' heels. He attempts to look out
of the window, but his fellow-traveller dissuades him from doing so:
"You may get a shot in your eye from the wheel. Keep your head in the
coach, it's all right, depend on 't. We always spring 'em over this
stage." Persuasion is useless; for the horses increase their speed and
the worthy old gentleman looks out. But what does he see? Death and
destruction before his eyes? No: to his surprise he finds the coachman
firm at his post, and in the act of taking a pinch of snuff from the
gentleman who sits beside him on the _bench_, his horses going at the
rate of a mile in three minutes at the time. "But suppose anything
should break, or a linchpin should give way and let a wheel loose?" is
the next appeal to the communicative but not very consoling proprietor.
"Nothing _can_ break, sir," is the reply; "all of the very best stuff;
axletrees of the best K.Q. iron, faggotted edgeways, well bedded in
the timbers; and as for linchpins, we have not one about the coach. We
use the best patent boxes that are manufactured. In short, sir, you
are as safe in it as if you were in your bed." "Bless me," exclaims
the old man, "what improvements! And the roads!!!" "They are at
perfection, sir," says the proprietor. "No horse walks a yard in this
coach between London and Exeter--all trotting ground now." "A little
_galloping_ ground, I fear," whispers the senior to himself! "But who
has effected all this improvement in your paving?" "An American of the
name of Macadam,"[5] was the reply, "but coachmen call him the Colossus
of Roads. Great things have likewise been done in cutting through
hills and altering the course of roads: and it is no uncommon thing
now-a-days to see four horses trotting away merrily down hill on that
very ground where they formerly were seen walking up hill."

'"And pray, my good sir, what sort of horses may you have over the next
stage?" "Oh, sir, no more bo-kickers. It is hilly and severe ground,
and requires cattle strong and staid. You'll see four as fine horses
put to the coach at Staines as you ever saw in a nobleman's carriage in
your life." "Then we shall have no more galloping--no more springing
them as you term it?" "Not quite so fast over the next ground," replied
the proprietor; "but he will make good play over some part of it: for
example, when he gets three parts down a hill he lets them loose, and
cheats them out of half the one they have to ascend from the bottom
of it. In short, they are half-way up it before a horse touches his
collar; and we _must_ take every advantage with such a fast coach as
this, and one that loads so well, or we should never keep our time.
We are now to a minute; in fact the country people no longer look at
the _sun_ when they want to set their clocks--they look only to the
_Comet_. But, depend upon it, you are quite safe; we have nothing but
first-rate artists on this coach." "Artist! artist!" grumbles the old
gentleman, "we had no such term as that."

'"I should like to see this _artist_ change horses at the next stage,"
resumes our ancient; "for at the last it had the appearance of
magic--'Presto, Jack, and begone!'" "By all means; you will be much
gratified. It is done with a quickness and ease almost incredible to
anyone who has only read or heard of it; not a buckle or a rein is
touched twice, and still all is made secure; but use becomes second
nature with us. Even in _my_ younger days it was always half an hour's
work--sometimes more. There was--'Now, ladies and gentlemen, what
would you like to take? There's plenty of time, while the horses are
changing, for tea, coffee, or supper; and the coachman will wait for
you--won't you, Mr. Smith?' Then Mr. Smith himself was in no hurry; he
had a lamb about his coach for one butcher in the town, and perhaps
half a calf for another, a barrel of oysters for the lawyer, and a
basket of game for the parson, _all on his own account_. In short, the
best wheel of the coach was his, and he could not be otherwise than
accommodating."

'The coach arrives at Staines, and the ancient gentleman puts his
intentions into effect, though he was near being again too late; for
by the time he could extract his hat from the netting that suspended
it over his head, the leaders had been taken from their bars, and
were walking up the yard towards their stables. On perceiving a fine
thorough-bred horse led toward the coach with a twitch fastened tightly
to his nose, he exclaimed, "Holloa, Mr. Horse-keeper! You are going
to put an unruly horse in the coach." "What! this here 'oss?" growls
the man; "the quietest hanimal alive, sir!" as he shoves him to the
near side of the pole. At this moment, however, the coachman is heard
to say in somewhat of an undertone, "Mind what you are about, Bob;
don't let him touch the roller-bolt." In thirty seconds more they are
off--"the staid and steady team," so styled by the proprietor of the
coach. "LET 'EM GO! and take care of yourselves," says the artist, so
soon as he is firmly seated upon his box; and this is the way they
start. The near leader rears right on end; and if the rein had not been
yielded to him at the instant, he would have fallen backwards on the
head of the pole. The moment the twitch was taken from the nose of the
thorough-bred near-wheeler, he drew himself back to the extent of his
pole-chain--his forelegs stretched out before him--and then, like a
lion loosened from his toil, made a snatch at the coach that would have
broken two pairs of traces of 1742. A steady and good-whipped horse,
however, his partner, started the coach himself, with a gentle touch of
the thong, and away they went off together. But the thorough-bred was
very far from being comfortable; it was in vain that the coachman tried
to soothe him with his voice, or stroked him with the crop of his whip.
He drew three parts of the coach, and cantered for the first mile, and
when he did settle down to his trot, his snorting could be heard by the
passengers, being as much as to say, "I was not born to be a slave." In
fact, as the proprietor now observed, "he had been a fair plate horse
in his time, but his temper was always queer."

'After the first shock was over, the Conservative of the eighteenth
century felt comfortable. The pace was considerably slower than it had
been over the last stage, but he was unconscious of the reason for
its being diminished. It was to accommodate the queer temper of the
race-horse,[6] who, if he had not been humoured at starting, would
never have settled down to his trot, but have ruffled all the rest
of the team. He was also surprised, if not pleased, at the quick rate
at which they were ascending hills which, in his time, he should have
been asked by the coachman to have walked up--but his pleasure was
short-lived; the third hill they descended produced a return of his
agony. This was what is termed on the road a long fall of ground, and
the coach rather pressed upon the horses. The temper of the race-horse
became exhausted: breaking into a canter, he was of little use as a
wheeler, and there was then nothing for it but a gallop. The leaders
only wanted the signal; and the point of the thong being thrown
lightly over their backs, they were off like an arrow out of a bow:
but the rocking of the coach was awful, and more particularly so to
the passengers on the roof. Nevertheless, she was not in danger: the
master-hand of the artist kept her in a direct line; and meeting the
opposing ground, she steadied, and all was right. The newly-awakened
gentleman, however, begins to grumble again. "Pray, my good sir," says
he anxiously, "do use your authority over your coachman, and _insist_
upon his putting the drag-chain on the wheel when descending the next
hill." "I have no such authority," replies the proprietor. "It is
true, we are now drawn by my horses, but I cannot interfere with the
driving of them." "But is he not your servant?" "He is, sir; but I
contract to work the coach so many miles in so many hours, and he
engages to drive it, and each is subject to a fine if the time be not
kept on the road. On so fast a coach as this every advantage must be
taken; and if we were to drag down such hills as these, we should never
reach Exeter to-day."

'Our friend, however, will have no more of it. He quits the coach at
Bagshot, congratulating himself on the safety of his limbs. Yet he
takes one more peep at the change, which is done with the same despatch
as before; three greys and a pie-bald replacing three chestnuts and a
bay--the harness beautifully clean, and the ornaments bright as the
sun. Not a word is spoken by the passengers, who merely look their
admiration; but the laconic address of the coachman is not lost on
the bystanders. "Put the bay mare near wheel this evening, and the
stallion _up to the cheek_," said he to his horse-keeper as he placed
his right foot on the roller-bolt--_i.e._ the last step but one to the
box. "How is Paddy's leg?" "It's all right, sir," replied the
horse-keeper. "Let 'em go, then," quoth the _artist_, "and take care
of yourselves."

'The worthy old gentleman is now shown into a room, and after warming
his hands at the fire, rings the bell for the waiter. A well-dressed
person appears, whom he of course takes for the landlord. "Pray, sir,"
says he, "have you any _slow_ coach down this road to-day?" "Why,
yes, sir," replies John; "we shall have the Regulator down in an
hour." "Just right," said our friend; "it will enable me to break my
fast, which I have not done to-day." "Oh, sir," observes John, "these
here fast _drags_ be the ruin of us." 'Tis all hurry scurry, and no
gentleman has time to have nothing on the road. "What will you take,
sir? Mutton-chops, veal-cutlets, beef-steaks, or a fowl (to kill?)"

'At the appointed time, the Regulator appears at the door. It is a
strong, well-built drag, painted what is called chocolate colour,
bedaubed all over with gilt letters--a bull's head on the doors, a
Saracen's head on the hind boot, and drawn by four strapping horses;
but it wants the neatness of the other. The passengers may be, by a
shade or two, of a lower order than those who had gone forward with
the Comet; nor, perhaps, is the coachman quite so refined as the one
we have just taken leave of. He has not the neat white hat, the clean
doeskin gloves, the well-cut trousers, and dapper frock; but still his
appearance is respectable, and perhaps, in the eyes of many, more in
character with his calling. Neither has he the agility of the artist
on the Comet, for he is nearly double his size; but he is a strong
powerful man, and might be called a pattern card of the heavy coachman
of the present day--in other words, of a man who drives a coach which
carries sixteen passengers instead of fourteen, and is rated at eight
miles an hour instead of ten. "What room in the Regulator?" says our
friend to the waiter, as he comes to announce its arrival. "Full
inside, sir, and in front; but you'll have the gammon board all to
yourself, and your luggage is in the hind boot." "Gammon board! Pray,
what's that? Do you not mean the basket?"[7] "Oh no, sir," says John,
smiling; "no such thing on the road now. It is the hind-dickey, as some
call it; where you'll be as comfortable as possible, and can sit with
your back or your face to the coach, or _both_, if you like." "Ah, ah,"
continues the old gentleman; "something new again, I presume." However,
the mystery is cleared up; the ladder is reared to the hind wheel and
the gentleman safely seated on the gammon board.

'Before ascending to his place our friend has cast his eye on the team
that is about to convey him to Hartford Bridge, the next stage on the
great western road, and he perceives it to be of a different stamp from
that which he had seen taken from the coach at Bagshot. It consisted
of four moderate-sized horses, full of power, and still fuller of
condition, but with a fair sprinkling of blood; in short, the eye of
a judge would have discovered something about them not very unlike
galloping. "All right!" cried the guard, taking his key-bugle[8] in his
hand; and they proceeded up the village, at a steady pace, to the tune
of "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled," and continued at that pace for
the first five miles. "_I am landed_," thinks our friend to himself.
Unluckily, however, for the humane and cautious old gentleman, even
the Regulator was about to show tricks. Although what now is called a
slow coach, she is timed at eight miles in the hour through a great
extent of country, and must, of course, make play where she can, being
strongly opposed by hills lower down the country, trifling as these
hills are, no doubt, to what they once were. The Regulator, moreover,
loads well, not only with passengers, but with luggage; and the last
five miles of this stage, called the Bridge Flat, have the reputation
of being the best five miles for a coach to be found at this time in
England. The ground is firm; the surface undulating, and therefore
favourable to draught; always dry, not a shrub being near it; nor is
there a stone upon it much larger than a marble. These advantages,
then, are not lost to the Regulator, or made use of without sore
discomposure to the solitary tenant of her gammon board.

'Any one that has looked into books will very readily account for the
lateral motion, or rocking, as it is termed, of a coach, being greatest
at the greatest distance from the horses (as the tail of a paper kite
is in motion whilst the body remains at rest); and more especially
when laden as this coach was--the greater part of the weight being
forward. The situation of our friend, then, was once more deplorable.
The Regulator takes but twenty-three minutes for these celebrated five
miles, which cannot be done without "springing the cattle" now and
then; and it was in one of the very best of their gallops of that day,
that they were met by the coachman of the Comet, who was returning with
his up-coach. When coming out of rival yards, coachmen never fail to
cast an eye to the loading of their opponents on the road, and now that
of the natty artist of the Comet experienced a high treat. He had a
full view of his quondam passenger, and thus described his situation.

'He was seated with his back to the horses--his teeth set grim as
death--his eyes cast down towards the ground, thinking the less he
saw of his danger the better. There was what is called a top-heavy
load--perhaps a ton of luggage on the roof, and it may be not _quite_
in obedience to the Act of Parliament standard.[9] There were also
two horses at wheel, whose strides were of rather unequal length, and
this operated powerfully on the coach. In short, the lurches of the
Regulator were awful at the moment of the Comet meeting her. A tyro in
mechanics would have exclaimed, "The centre of gravity must be lost,
the centrifugal force will have the better of it--_over she must go_!"

'The centre of gravity having been preserved, the coach arrived safe at
Hartford Bridge; but the old gentleman has again had enough of it. "I
will walk into Devonshire," said he, as he descended from his perilous
exaltation. "What did that rascally waiter mean by telling me this was
a slow coach? and moreover, look at the luggage on the roof!" "Only
regulation height, sir," says the coachman; "we aren't allowed to have
it an inch higher; sorry we can't please you, sir, but we will try and
make room for you in front." "_Fronti nulla fides_," mutters the worthy
to himself, as he walks tremblingly into the house--adding, "I shall
not give this fellow a shilling; he is dangerous."

'The Regulator being off, the waiter is again applied to. "What do
you charge per mile posting?" "One and sixpence, sir." "Bless me!
just double! Let me see--two hundred miles, at two shillings per
mile, postboys, turnpikes, etc., £20. This will never do. Have you
no coach that does not carry luggage on the top?" "Oh yes, sir,"
replies the waiter, "we shall have one to-night that is not allowed
to carry a band-box on the roof."[10] "That's the coach for me; pray
what do you call it?" "The Quicksilver mail, sir; one of the best
out of London--Jack White and Tom Brown, picked coachmen, over this
ground--Jack White down to-night." "Guarded and lighted?" "Both, sir;
blunderbuss and pistols in the sword-case;[11] a lamp each side the
coach, and one under the foot-board--see to pick up a pin the darkest
night of the year." "Very fast?" "Oh no, sir, _just keeps time, and
that's all_." "That's the coach for me, then," repeats our hero; "and
I am sure I shall feel at my ease in it. I suppose it is what used to
be called the Old Mercury."

'Unfortunately, the Devonport (commonly called the Quicksilver) mail is
half a mile in the hour faster than most in England, and is, indeed,
one of the miracles of the road. Let us then picture to ourselves
our anti-reformer snugly seated in this mail, on a pitch-dark night
in November. It is true she has no luggage on the roof, nor much to
incommode her elsewhere; but she is a mile in the hour faster than
the Comet, at least three miles quicker than the Regulator; and she
performs more than half her journey by lamplight. It is needless to
say, then, our senior soon finds out his mistake; but there is no
remedy at hand, for it is the dead of the night, and all the inns are
shut up. He must proceed, or be left behind in a stable. The climax of
his misfortunes then approaches.

'Nature being exhausted, sleep comes to his aid, and he awakes on a
stage which is called the fastest on the journey--four miles of ground,
and twelve minutes the time! The old gentleman starts from his seat,
having dreamed the horses were running away with the coach, and so,
no doubt, they might be. He is determined to convince himself of the
fact, though the passengers assure him "all's right." "Don't put your
head out of the window," says one of them, "you will lose your hat to
a certainty": but advice is seldom listened to by a terrified man,
and next moment a stentorian voice is heard, crying, "Stop, coachman,
stop--I have lost my hat and wig!" The coachman hears him not--and
in another second the broad wheels of a road waggon have for ever
demolished the lost headgear.'

That was the Road at its best: the poetic side we have in mind when we
speak of the good old days of coaching. The following passages refer
equally to the 'golden age'; their very baldness has an eloquence
of its own. It is true that the winter of 1836-37 is conspicuous in
history for the exceptionally heavy snowfall; but as Nimrod has shown
coaching at its best, there is no injustice in presenting these
glimpses of coach travel at its worst:--

'Tabor, guard of the Devonport, who left London with the mail on Sunday
and returned on Wednesday, reports that a mile and a half from Amesbury
they got completely blocked. The leaders dropped down, but rose again;
the near wheel-horse fell and could not be got up. The coachman
procured a pair of post horses, but they could only get the wheel-horse
out of the snow; it was impossible to get him on his legs. Four more
post horses and four waggon horses were requisitioned, and with their
assistance the mail was extricated by daylight. Then they travelled
with the six post horses across the Downs. They were again blocked near
Mere. About a hundred men were at this time employed a little distance
off in digging out the Subscription and Defiance coaches. After being
extricated by some labourers they resumed their progress from Mere with
four fresh mail-horses and two posters. Between Ilchester and Ilminster
the post horse leaders fell in a snow drift, and were run upon by the
mail leaders.' (_Bell's Life_, January 1837).

'The Estafette coach from Manchester on Sunday morning did not reach
London until Tuesday night, having been dug out of the snow twelve
times. It was the first coach from Manchester of the same day that
arrived in town. The guard attributes his success to the exertions of
four sailors, outside passengers, who lent a hand at every casualty.'

'A gentleman who left Sheffield by the Hope coach of Sunday week
reports that the coach did not complete its journey until Saturday
afternoon. Between Nottingham and Mansfield, close to the Forest, they
came upon three coaches blocked in the snow, which was lying 9 feet
deep. The Hope left Mansfield with eight horses and was driven into
Nottingham with ten. They picked up a poor boy nearly perished with
cold. The boy was got by a gentleman jumping down while the coach was
in motion, for the coachman declared that if he came to a dead stop he
would not be able to get the wheels in motion again.' (_Bell's Life_,
8th January 1837).

Highway robbery was still practised at this time, but the armed
horseman with crape mask and pistols had gone out of fashion, and
thefts were accomplished by craft. 'The Stirling mail has been
robbed of notes to the value of £13,000 in the following manner:--A
man took his seat at Stirling as an outside passenger. The mail was
followed closely from Stirling by a gig containing two men. When the
mail arrived at Kirkliston the guard stopped to take out the customary
bags to leave there. The gig also stopped there, and the two men in it
went into the house. The guard had left the mail box open, in which
the parcels were, and the outside passenger easily abstracted the one
containing the notes. He then left the coach. The gig with the two men
took the Queensferry Road. The parcels were not missed until the mail
reached Edinburgh. On the Queensferry Road the two men were joined by
their accomplice, the outside passenger. They left the gig and took a
post chaise for Edinburgh. They discharged the chaise before entering
the city and gave the post-boy £3.' (_Bell's Life_, 2nd January 1825).

Great improvements in all matters connected with coaching were made
during the first two decades of the nineteenth century: these were due
to the rage for driving that prevailed about this time. The King was
deeply interested in coaching, was himself no mean whip, and he set the
fashion. It did not last very long. Nimrod, writing in 1835, remarks
that about 1825 'thirty to forty four-in-hand equipages were constantly
to be seen about town: _one_ is stared at now.'

The driving clubs held 'meets' in George the Third's time much as
they do at present, but the vehicles used were 'barouche landaus,'
and the drive taken was much longer than that in vogue to-day.
Bedfont beyond Hounslow, and Windsor were favourite places whither
the coaches--'barouche landaus'--drove in procession to dine. Very
particular attention was paid to dress. This was the costume in which
members of the Whip Club, founded in 1808 as a rival to the Benson,
mounted their boxes on 6th June 1808, in Park Lane, to drive to
Harrow:--

'A light, drab-colour cloth coat made full, single breast with three
tier of pockets, the skirt reaching to the ancles; a mother of pearl
button 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 hang over the tops and down to the ancle. A hat three inches and
a half deep in the crown only, and the same depth in the brim exactly.
Each wore a large bouquet at the breast, thus resembling the coachmen
of our nobility who, on His Majesty's birthday, appear in that respect
so peculiarly distinguished.'[12]

Grimaldi the clown, then at the zenith of his fame, burlesqued this
get-up so mercilessly that a less conspicuous garb was adopted.

The fifteen barouche landaus which turned out on this occasion, driven
by 'men of known skill in the science of charioteering,' were well
calculated to set off the somewhat conspicuous attire of the members:
they were '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 meets of the driving clubs appear to have roused a spirit of
ribaldry in unregenerate youth. One day in March 1809 a young Etonian
made his appearance in a low phaeton with a four-in-hand of donkeys,
with which he brought up the rear of the procession as it drove round
Grosvenor and Berkeley Squares.

_The_ Driving Club was the Benson, which had been founded in 1807.
Sir Henry Peyton was the last survivor of the 'noble, honourable, and
respectable' drivers who composed it. Thackeray described him in the
last of his papers on _The Four Georges_ as he appeared driving the
'one solitary four-in-hand' to be seen in the London parks. He was then
(1851) very old, and attracted attention as much by his dress, which
was of the fashion of 1825, as by his then unique turn-out.

The Benson Club came to an end in 1853. The Whip Club, otherwise the
Four Horse Club, came to an end in 1838. The Defiance Club, for members
who had been 'lately permitted to retire' from the other two, was
projected in 1809, but it does not appear to have come to anything.
The Richmond Drag Club was founded in 1838, but it did not survive for
many years; the members to the number of fifteen or sixteen used to
meet at Lord Chesterfield's house. These were the principal clubs.

Some of the amateur whips of a century ago were addicted to coach
matches. Here is the account of such a race from the _Sporting
Magazine_ of 1802:--

'MAIL COACH MATCH.--On Thursday, May 20th, the London Mail, horsed
by Mr. Laud, of the New London Inn, Exeter, with four beautiful grey
horses, and driven by Mr. Cave Browne, of the Inniskilling Dragoons,
started (at the sound of the bugle) from St. Sydwell's for a bet
of Five Hundred Guineas against the Plymouth Mail, horsed by Mr.
Phillipps, of the Hotel, with four capital blacks, and driven by Mr.
Chichester, of Arlington House, which got the mail first to the Post
Office in Honiton. The bet was won easy by Mr. Browne. A very great
concourse of people assembled on this occasion.'

In 1811 Mr. George Seward undertook to drive a four-in-hand fifteen
miles in fifty minutes. He selected the road from Hyde Park Corner to
Staines, and started at six in the morning. He failed to accomplish his
undertaking, but only by three minutes twenty seconds.

There was more originality about the competition arranged in May 1805
between Mr. Charles Buxton, inventor of the bit known by his name and
one of the founders of the Whip Club, and a horse-dealer:--

'One of our most celebrated whips Charles Buxton, Esq., has concluded
a bet of 500 Guineas with Mr. Thomas Hall, the dealer in horses. The
object of the wager is to decide which of the two is the best driver of
four unruly horses. The wager is to be decided by two friends of the
parties, who are to pick out eight horses from Spencer's, Marsden's,
and White's. Lords Barrymore and Cranley are chosen as the umpires. The
horses selected are only to be those which have not been broken in. The
friend of each charioteer is to pick the horses alternately until the
number agreed on is selected. The parties are then to mount the box
and proceed to decide the wager. The bettings already are said to be
considerable. Neither the scene of action nor the day when the contest
is to take place are yet determined on. Mr. Buxton is said to be so
certain of success that he has offered to double the bet.'

Though the law of 1820 made racing a criminal offence, the practice
was one which could not be wholly put down, and on May-day the law was
set at naught by popular consent, rival coaches on that day racing one
another without disguise: the May-day race became an institution of
the road, and seems to have been winked at by the authorities. Some
wonderful records were made in these contests on the macadam. Thus, on
1st May 1830, the Independent Tally Ho ran from London to Birmingham,
109 miles, in 7 hours 39 minutes. It was not rare for a coach to
perform its journey at a rate of fifteen miles an hour on May-day. We
may compare this with the time made in the Leicester-Nottingham race of
1808 mentioned on page 17.

It is seventy years since the carriage of the mails was transferred
from coach to railway train, and there are yet living men who can
remember the last journeys of the mail-coaches, some carrying little
flags at half-mast, some displaying a miniature coffin, emblematic
of the death of a great institution. Yet the mail-coach survived
until a much later date in some districts, where the line was slow to
penetrate. Mr. S. A. Kinglake, in _Baily's Magazine_ of 1906, gave an
account of the Oxford and Cheltenham coach, which only began to carry
the mails in 1848, and made its last trip in 1862, when the opening of
a new branch line ousted this lingerer on the roads.

The interregnum between the last of the old coaches and the modern era
was not a very long one: indeed, taking the country as a whole, and
accepting the coach as subsidiary to the railway, the old and the new
overlap. Modern road coaching dates from the later 'sixties, when the
late Duke of Beaufort, with some others, started the Brighton coach.
This was the first of several private ventures of the same kind: their
primary object was to enable the owners to enjoy the pleasure of
driving a team, and the financial side of the business was not much
regarded. The subscription coach was a later development, with the
same object in view, pleasure rather than money-making, and the large
majority of the coaches which run from London to Brighton, St. Albans,
Guildford, and other places within an easy day's journey are maintained
by small syndicates of subscribers, who take turns on the box. American
visitors patronise these vehicles extensively, and no doubt to their
support may be traced Mr. Vanderbilt's venture on the Brighton road.

The modern coach travels quite as fast as its predecessor when
required: as witness James Selby's famous performance on 13th July
1888. He left the White Horse Cellar at 10 A.M.; arrived at the Old
Ship, Brighton, 1.56 P.M.; turned and reached town at 5.50; the journey
out and home again being accomplished in 7 hours 50 minutes; part of
the way between Earlswood and Horley he travelled at a rate of twenty
miles an hour.

[Illustration:

  _Modern Coaching:

  In the Show Ring

  Painting by G. D. Armour._]

[Illustration]

Nor are modern horse-keepers less 'nimble fingered' than those of
whom Nimrod wrote. At the International Horse Show of 1908 Miss
Brocklebank's grooms won the Hon. Adam Beck's prize for 'Best coach and
appointments and quickest change of teams': the change was accomplished
in forty-eight seconds. During James Selby's Brighton drive horses were
changed at Streatham in forty-seven seconds. The road coachmen of the
present day do not aim at lightning changes of team: the work is done
in leisurely fashion, and passengers enjoy the opportunity afforded
them to get down for a few minutes.

The Four-in-Hand Club, founded in 1856, for many years used to meet in
the Park at quarter to five in the afternoon, but the hour was changed
to half-past twelve in order to avoid the inconvenience inseparable
from meeting at the time when carriages are most numerous.

The Coaching Club was founded in 1870, and held its first meet at the
Marble Arch in June the following year.

SONG OF THE B.D.C.[13]

    You ask me, Gents, to sing a song,
    Don't think me too encroaching.
    I won't detain you very long,
    With one of mine on coaching.
    No rivalry we have to fear,
    Nor jealous need we be, Sir,
    We all are friends who muster here,
    And in the B.D.C. Sir.

    Horace declares the Greeks of old
    Were once a driving nation;
    But Shakespeare says 'The World's a stage'--
    A cutish observation.
    The stage he meant, good easy man,
    Was drawn by nine old Muses;
    But the Mews for me is the B.D.C.,
    And that's the stage I chooses.

    I call this age the Iron Age
    Of railways and pretension.
    And coaching now is in a stage
    Of horrible declension,
    The day's gone by when on the fly
    We roll'd to Alma Mater,
    And jovial took the reins in hand
    Of the Times or Regulator.

    Those were the days when Peyton's grays
    To Bedfont led the way, Sir,
    And Villebois followed with his bays
    In beautiful array, Sir.
    Then Spicer, too, came next in view
    To join the gay procession.
    Oh! the dust we made--the cavalcade
    Was neat beyond expression.

    No turnpike saw a fancy team
    More neat than Dolphin sported,
    When o'er the stones with Charley Jones,
    To Bedfont they resorted.
    Few graced the box so much as Cox;
    But there were none, I ween, Sir,
    Who hold the reins 'twixt here and Staines
    More slap up than the Dean, Sir.

    Those are the men who foremost then
    To coaching gave a tone, Sir,
    And hold they will to coaching still,
    Tho' here they stand alone, Sir--
    Then drink to the coach, the B.D.C.,
    Sir Henry and his team, Sir,
    And may all be _blowed_ right off the road
    Who wish to go by steam, Sir.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Robert Poynter drove the Lewes stage for thirty years without an
accident.

[2] 30 Geo. III., c. 36.

[3] The old gentleman's conjecture was not far wrong. At this time,
1835, it is true fewer men of good birth occupied the box than had
been the case a few years before--if we rightly interpret Nimrod's
own remarks on the point. When the box had been set on springs or
made an integral part of the coach-body, when the roads had been
made worthy of the name and fast work the rule, coach-driving became
popular among men of social position. Some drove for pleasure, horsing
the coaches themselves, others took up driving as a profession and
made good incomes thereby. These gentlemen coachmen did much to raise
the standard of conduct among the professionals of humble origin.
Lord Algernon St. Maur (_Driving_, Badminton Library) says that Mr.
Stevenson, who was driving the Brighton Age in 1830, was 'the great
reformer who set a good example as regards punctuality, neatness, and
sobriety.'

[4] Until Macadam was adopted the streets in London were cobbled or
paved.

[5] John Loudon Macadam was a Scotsman by birth. In 1770, when fourteen
years old, he was sent to the care of an uncle in New York, whence he
did not return till he was twenty-six years of age; hence the mistake
in describing him as 'an American.'

[6] It was not unusual for retired race-horses to end their days 'on
the road.' A notable instance is that of Mendoza by Javelin. Mendoza
won eight races at Newmarket in his three seasons on the turf,
1791-2-3; then the Duke of Leeds bought him as a hunter; and after a
few seasons with hounds he made one of a team in the Catterick and
Greta Bridge mail-coach. Mendoza was still at work in 1807, but had
become blind.

[7] The early coaches were equipped with a huge basket slung over the
hind axle wherein passengers were carried at lower fares.

[8] Only the mail-coach guard carried a horn; stage-coach guards used
the key-bugle, and some were very clever performers on it.

[9] 50 Geo. III., c. 48 came into operation in 1810. This enacted that
on a four-horse coach baggage might be piled to a height of 2 feet. To
encourage low-hung coaches this law allowed baggage to be piled to a
height of 10 ft. 9 in. _from the ground_.

[10] The conveyance of 'trunks, parcels, and other packages' on the
roof of a mail-coach was prohibited in the Postmaster-General's
circular to mail contractors of 29th June, 1807. As the mails increased
it became impossible to enforce this regulation, and the bags were
carried wherever they could be stowed. 'The Druid' says of the
Edinburgh mail-coach: 'The heaviest night as regards correspondence was
when the American mail had come in. On those occasions the bags have
been known to weigh above 16 cwt. They were contained in sacks seven
feet long and were laid in three tiers across the top, so high that no
guard unless he were a Chang in stature could look over them ... and
the waist (the seat behind the coachman) and the hind boot were filled
as well.'

[11] It must be remembered that the old gentleman speaks by the light
of his knowledge of nearly a century earlier, when highway robbery was
very common, and it was not usual for coaches to run at night. At the
period to which Nimrod refers highwaymen had not entirely disappeared
from the roads (William Rea was hanged for this offence, 4th July,
1828), and not every stage-coach carried a guard. Mail-coaches, all
of which carried guards, were, of course, unknown to Nimrod's old
gentleman.

[12] This refers to the 'mail-coach parade,' which was first held in
1799 and for the last time in 1835. The coaches, to the number of about
twenty-five, were either new or newly painted with the Royal Arms on
the door, the stars of each of the four Orders of Knighthood on the
upper panel, and the name of the town whither the coach ran on the
small panel over each door. Coachmen and guards wore new uniforms and
gentlemen used to lend their best teams--often also their coachmen,
as appears from the passage quoted. A horseman rode behind each coach
to make the procession longer. The 'meet' took place in Lincoln's Inn
Fields and the coaches drove to St. James's, there turning to come back
to the General Post Office, then in Lombard Street.

[13] Benson Driving Club.



TANDEM DRIVING


[Illustration:

  _Tandem

  Painting by G. D. Armour._]

[Illustration]

It is said, but I must confess failure to trace authority for the
statement, that tandem driving was invented as a convenient and
sporting method of taking the hunter to the meet. History has not
handed down to fame the name of the man who first hit upon the idea of
driving tandem; it was in vogue over a century ago, and at Cambridge
ranked as a grave offence: witness the following edict dated 10th March
1807:--

'WE, THE VICE-CHANCELLOR AND HEADS OF COLLEGES, DO HEREBY ORDER AND
DECREE THAT IF ANY PERSON OR PERSONS _IN STATU PUPILLARI_ SHALL BE
FOUND DRIVING ANY TANDEM AND SHALL BE DULY CONVICTED THEREOF BEFORE
THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, SUCH PERSON OR PERSONS SO OFFENDING SHALL FOR THE
FIRST OFFENCE BE SUSPENDED FROM TAKING HIS DEGREE FOR ONE WHOLE YEAR,
OR BE RUSTICATED, ACCORDING TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE; AND FOR
THE SECOND OFFENCE BE LIABLE TO SUCH FURTHER PUNISHMENT AS IT MAY
APPEAR TO DESERVE, OR BE EXPELLED THE UNIVERSITY.'

Extravagantly high gigs were much in favour among the 'bloods' of the
day, and these were often used for tandem driving, a purpose for which
they were by no means unsuitable, always provided the road was fairly
level.

As a matter of course, when tandems became numerous and drivers clever
in handling them, races against time came into fashion. Matches on the
road, whether trotting in saddle or driving, were usually 'against
time' for obvious reasons. On April 14th 1819 the famous whip, Mr.
Buxton, backed himself to drive tandem without letting his horses break
their trot, from Hounslow to Hare Hatch, distance twenty-four miles,
in two hours. His horses, however, were not well matched, and 'broke'
before they had gone six miles. As breaking involved the penalty
of turning the equipage round and starting afresh, and breaks were
frequent, Mr. Buxton occupied over an hour in going ten miles and gave
up, forfeiting the hundred guineas he had staked on the task.

On 19th May 1824 a match was thus recorded in the _Sporting Magazine_:--

'Captain Swann undertook a tandem match from Ilford, seven miles over a
part of Epping Forest. He engaged to drive 12 miles at a trot and to
back his wheels if he broke into a gallop. This happened only once in
the seventh mile, which he nevertheless completed in 33 minutes. On his
return the pacing of the horses was a picture. The match was won fairly
with two minutes and six seconds to spare.'

A Mr. Houlston in the same year drove his tandem twelve miles on the
Winchester Road in one minute thirty-nine seconds under the hour
allowed. By this time tandem drivers had come to the reasonable
conclusion that the turning penalty (proper enough in trotting matches,
whether in shafts or saddle) was excessive for their sport, and
'backing' had been substituted therefor. Any one who has had occasion
to turn a tandem on the road without assistance will admit that the
abolition was wise.

Long journeys against time were sometimes undertaken. In 1824

'Captain Bethel Ramsden undertook to drive tandem from Theale to
London, 43 miles, in 3 hours and 40 minutes. The start took place at
four o'clock in the morning, and in the first hour the captain did 12½
miles to between Twyford and Hare Hatch. He did in the next hour 12
miles and upwards, and got the horses' mouths cleaned at Slough. He
had 5½ miles to do in the last forty minutes, and performed it easily
with eleven minutes to spare.'

The cult of the trotting horse stood high in those days when so much
travelling was done in the saddle: there are innumerable records of
trotters doing their fifteen and sixteen miles on the road within
the hour, sometimes under very heavy weights. Mr. Charles Herbert's
horse, in 1791, trotted 17 miles in 58 minutes 40 seconds on the
Highgate Road, starting from St. Giles' Church. The road is by no
means a level one, and the only advantage the horse had was the hour
selected--between six and seven in the morning, when the traffic was
not heavy.

A famous whip of the 'thirties was Mr. Burke of Hereford--he was also
an amateur pugilist of renown, but that does not concern us here. In
June 1839 he made his thirty-fifth trotting match, whereby he undertook
to drive tandem forty-five miles in three hours. The course was from
the Staines end of Sinebury Common to the fifth milestone towards
Hampton: he did it with four and a half minutes to spare. The horses
used in this match were both extraordinary trotters: the wheeler,
Tommy, had covered 20 miles in 1 hour 18 minutes two months earlier,
and the leader, Gustavus, twenty-four years old, had done his 20 miles
in 1 hour 14 minutes.

Though not a tandem performance in the strict sense of the term, Mr.
Thanes' feat on 12th July 1819 is worth mention. He undertook 'to drive
three horses in a gig, tandem fashion, eleven miles within the hour
on the trot, and to turn if either horse broke.' Fortunately none of
the three did break, and he did the eleven miles, on the road near
Maidenhead, with three minutes to spare.

Tandem driving seems to have gone out of fashion to a certain extent
about 1840, though some young men 'still delighted in it.' The
re-establishment of the Tandem Club, soon after the close of the
Crimean War, marked a revival which made itself felt at Cambridge;
for on 22nd February 1866 the Senate passed another edict, this
time forbidding livery-stable keepers to let out on hire tandems or
four-in-hands to undergraduates. This was confirmed in 1870.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

  The illustrations which were plates in the book have been moved near
  to the text they illustrate.

  Footnotes in the Coaching chapter have been moved to the end of the
  chapter.

  This book contains inconsistent hyphenations. No spellings have been
  changed, but apparent printers' errors have been corrected.

  Changes that have been made are:

  Footnote 11
    "s peks"  changed to "speaks",
    "robaery" changed to "robbery".

  Page 33
    Quotation mark added at start of "and take care of yourselves".





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