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Title: Stage-coach and Mail in Days of Yore, Volume 2 (of 2) - A picturesque history of the coaching age
Author: Harper, Charles G. (Charles George)
Language: English
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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: Italic text is shown within _underscores_; boldface
text is shown within =equals signs=. Other notes will be found at the
end of the text.



  STAGE-COACH
  AND MAIL IN
  DAYS OF YORE



WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR


    =The Brighton Road=: Old Times and New on a Classic Highway.

    =The Portsmouth Road=, and its Tributaries: To-day and in Days of
        Old.

    =The Dover Road=: Annals of an Ancient Turnpike.

    =The Bath Road=: History, Fashion, and Frivolity on an Old Highway.

    =The Exeter Road=: The Story of the West of England Highway.

    =The Great North Road=: The Old Mail Road to Scotland. Two Vols.

    =The Norwich Road=: An East Anglian Highway.

    =The Holyhead Road=: The Mail-Coach Road to Dublin. Two Vols.

    =The Cambridge, Ely, and King’s Lynn Road=: The Great Fenland
        Highway.

    =Cycle Rides Round London.=

    =The Oxford, Gloucester, and Milford Haven Road=: Two Vols.
        [_In the Press._

[Illustration:

  MAIL-COACH PASSING ST. GEORGE’S CIRCUS, SOUTHWARK, 1797.
                    _After Dalgety_
]



  STAGE-COACH
  AND MAIL IN
  DAYS OF YORE

  _A PICTURESQUE HISTORY
  OF THE COACHING AGE_

  VOL. II

  BY CHARLES G. HARPER

  [Illustration]

  _Illustrated from Old-Time Prints
  and Pictures_

  LONDON:
  CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED
  1903

  _All rights reserved_



  PRINTED BY
  HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
  LONDON AND AYLESBURY.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
     I. THE LATER MAILS                                                1

    II. DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE. I.--A Journey from
            Newcastle-on-Tyne to London in 1772                       48

   III. DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE. II.--From London to
            Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1830                                 66

    IV. ACCIDENTS                                                     96

     V. A GREAT CARRYING FIRM: THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO.         123

    VI. ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE                                        144

   VII. SNOW AND FLOODS                                              159

  VIII. THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824–1848                                    173

    IX. COACH-PROPRIETORS                                            194

     X. COACH-PROPRIETORS (_continued_)                              226

    XI. THE AMATEURS                                                 239

   XII. END OF THE COACHING AGE                                      260

  XIII. WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN                                  292

   XIV. THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHING DAYS                             322



[Illustration: LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS]


SEPARATE PLATES

                                                                    PAGE
   1. MAIL-COACH PASSING ST. GEORGE’S CIRCUS, SOUTHWARK, 1797.
         (_After Dalgety_)                          _Frontispiece_

   2. THE WORCESTER MAIL, 1805. (_After J. A. Atkinson_)               7

   3. THE MAIL. (_After J. L. Agasse_, 1842)                          13

   4. THE BRISTOL MAIL AT HYDE PARK CORNER, 1838. (_After J.
         Doyle_)                                                      19

   5. THE YARMOUTH MAIL AT THE “COACH AND HORSES,” ILFORD.
         (_After J. Pollard_)                                         25

   6. THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, PASSING KEW BRIDGE.
         (_After J. Pollard_)                                         29

   7. THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, ARRIVING AT TEMPLE BAR.
         (_After C. B. Newhouse_)                                     37

   8. THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, PASSING WINDSOR CASTLE.
         (_After Charles Hunt_, 1840)                                 41

   9. MAIL-COACH BUILT BY WAUDE, 1830. (_Now in possession of
         Messrs. Holland & Holland_)                                  45

  10. THE “QUEEN’S HOTEL” AND GENERAL POST OFFICE. (_After T.
        Allom_)                                                       69

  11. THE TURNPIKE GATE. (_From a contemporary Lithograph_)           77

  12. A MIDNIGHT DISASTER ON A CROSS ROAD: FIVE MILES TO THE
        NEAREST VILLAGE. (_After C. B. Newhouse_)                     99

  13. THE “BEAUFORT” BRIGHTON COACH. (_After W. J. Shayer_)          103

  14. A QUEER PIECE OF GROUND IN A FOG: “IF WE GET OVER THE
        RAILS, WE SHALL BE IN AN UGLY FIX.” (_After C. B.
        Newhouse_)                                                   111

  15. ROAD VERSUS RAIL. (_After C. Cooper Henderson_, 1845)          117

  16. JOSEPH BAXENDALE. (_From the Portrait by E. H.
        Pickersgill, R.A._)                                          131

  17. PICKFORD AND CO’S ROYAL FLY-VAN, ABOUT 1820. (_From a
        contemporary Painting_)                                      139

  18. THE LIONESS ATTACKING THE EXETER MAIL, OCTOBER 20TH, 1816.
        (_After A. Sauerweid_)                                       153

  19. WINTER: GOING NORTH. (_After H. Alken_)                        163

  20. MAIL-COACH IN A SNOW-DRIFT. (_After J. Pollard_)               167

  21. MAIL-COACH IN A FLOOD. (_After J. Pollard_)                    171

  22. LATE FOR THE MAIL. (_After C. Cooper Henderson_, 1848)         183

  23. THE SHORT STAGE. (_After J. Pollard_)                          191

  24. WILLIAM CHAPLIN. (_From the Painting by Frederick Newnham_)    197

  25. THE CANTERBURY AND DOVER COACH, 1830. (_After G. S. Treguar_)  201

  26. JAMES NUNN, HORSE-BUYER AND VETERINARY SURGEON TO WILLIAM
        CHAPLIN. (_After J. F. Herring_)                             205

  27. WILLIAM AUGUSTUS CHAPLIN.                                      211

  28. THE “BEDFORD TIMES,” ONE OF THE LAST COACHES TO RUN,
        LEAVING THE “SWAN HOTEL,” BEDFORD.                           219

  29. FOUR-IN-HAND. (_After G. H. Laporte_)                          243

  30. SIR ST. VINCENT COTTON.                                        249

  31. THE CONSEQUENCE OF BEING DROVE BY A GENTLEMAN. (_After H.
        Alken_)                                                      255

  32. GOLDSWORTHY GURNEY’S LONDON AND BATH STEAM-CARRIAGE, 1833.
        (_After G. Morton_)                                          265

  33. THE LAST JOURNEY DOWN THE ROAD. (_After J. L. Agasse_)
                                                                     275

  34. THE CHESHAM COACH, 1796. (_From the Painting by Cordery_)
                                                                     283

  35. THE LAST OF THE “MANCHESTER DEFIANCE.” (_From a Lithograph_)   287

  36. THE COACHMAN, 1832. (_After H. Alken_)                         293

  37. THE DRIVER, 1852. (_After H. Alken_)                           297

  38. THE GUARD, 1832. (_After H. Alken_)                            303

  39. THE GUARD, 1852. (_After H. Alken_)                            309

  40. “ALL RIGHT!”--THE BATH MAIL TAKING UP THE MAIL-BAGS.
        (_From a contemporary Lithograph_)                           341


  ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT

  Vignette                                          (_Title-page_)

  List of Illustrations                                               ix

  Stage-coach and Mail in Days of Yore                                 1

  Mail-coach Halfpenny issued by William Waterhouse                  196

  Benjamin Worthy Horne                                              221

  “A View of the Telegraph”: Dick Vaughan, of the Cambridge
      “Telegraph.” (_From an Etching by Robert Dighton_, 1809)       301

  A Stage-coachman’s Epitaph at Haddiscoe                            316



[Illustration: STAGE COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE]



CHAPTER I

THE LATER MAILS


The Bristol Mail opened the mail-coach era by going at eight miles an
hour, but that was an altogether exceptional speed, and the average
mail-coach journeys were not performed at a rate of more than seven
miles an hour until long after the nineteenth century had dawned. In
1812, when Colonel Hawker travelled to Glasgow, it took the mail 57
hours’ continuous unrelaxing effort to cover the 404 miles--three
nights and two days’ discomfort. By 1836 the distance had been reduced
by eight miles, and the time to 42 hours. By 1838 it was 41 hours 17
minutes. Nowadays it can be done by quickest train in exactly eight
hours; the railway mileage 401½ miles. In 1812 it cost an inside
passenger all the way to Glasgow, for fare alone, exclusive of tips
to coachmen and guards, and the necessary expenditure for food and
drink all those weary hours, no less than £10 8s.; about 6⅙d. a mile.
To-day, £2 18s. franks you through, first-class; or 33s. third--itself
infinitely more luxurious than even the consecrated inside of a
mail-coach.

The mails starting from London were perfection in coaches, harness and
horses; but as the distance from the Metropolis increased so did the
mails become more and more shabby. Hawker, travelling north, found them
slow and slovenly, the harness generally second-hand, one horse in
plated, another in brass harness; and when they _did_ have new (which,
he tells us, was very seldom) it was put on like a labourer’s leather
breeches, and worn till it rotted, without ever being cleaned.

Of course, very few people ever did, or could have had the endurance
to, travel all that distance straight away, and so travel was further
complicated, delayed, and rendered more costly by the halts necessary
to recruit jaded nature.

Hawker evidently did it in four stages: to Ferrybridge, 179 miles,
where he rested the first night and picked up the next mail the
following; thence the 65 miles onward to Greta Bridge; on again, 59
miles, to Carlisle; and thence, finally, to Glasgow in another 101
miles. In his diary he gives “a table to show for how much a gentleman
and his servant (the former inside, with 14 lb. of luggage; the latter
outside, with 7 lb.) may go from London to Glasgow.”


    _Self._                                £  s.  d.   £  s.  d.
  Inside, to Ferrybridge                   4  16   0
  Inside, to Greta Bridge                  1  12   6
  Inside, to Carlisle                      1   9   6
  Inside, to Glasgow                       2  10   0
                                           ---------  10   8   0

    _Servant._
  Outside, to Ferrybridge                 2  10   0
  Outside, to Greta Bridge                1   2   0
  Outside, to Carlisle                    1   0   0
  Outside, to Glasgow                     1  13   0
                                          ---------    6   5   0

    _Tips._
  Inside,  6 long-stage coachmen @ 2s.    0  12   0
  Inside, 12 short-stage coachmen @ 1s.   0  12   0
  Inside,  7 guards @ 2s. each            0  14   0
  Outside,  for man, @ half price above   0  19   0
                                          ---------    2  17   0
                                                     -----------
                            Total                    £19  10   0
                                                     ===========

Such were the costs and charges of a gentleman travelling to pay a
country visit in 1812, exclusive of hotel bills for self and servant on
the way.

The great factor in the acceleration of the mails was the improvement
in the roads, a work carried out by the Turnpike Trusts in fear of
the Post Office, whose surveyors had the power, under ancient Acts,
of indicting roads in bad condition. Great bitterness was stirred up
over this matter. The growing commercial and industrial towns--Glasgow
prominent among them--naturally desired direct mail-services, and
the Post Office, using their needs as means for obtaining, not only
roads kept in good condition, but sometimes entirely new roads and
short cuts, declined to start such services until such routes were
provided. It was not within the power of the Department to compel
new roads, but only to see that the old ones were maintained; but in
the case of Glasgow, to whose merchants a direct service meant much,
the Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and individual persons
contributed large sums for the improvement of the existing road
between that city and Carlisle, and a Turnpike Trust was formed for
one especial section, where the road was entirely reconstructed. These
districts were wholly outside Glasgow’s sphere of responsibilities, but
all this money was expended for the purpose of obtaining a direct mail
through Carlisle, instead of the old indirect one through Edinburgh;
and when obtained, of retaining it in face of the continued threats
of the Post Office to take it off unless the road was still further
improved. It certainly does not seem to have been a remarkably good
road, even after these improvements, for Colonel Hawker, travelling it
in 1812, describes it as being mended with large soft quarry-stones, at
first like brickbats and afterwards like sand.

But the subscribers who had expended so much were naturally indignant.
They pointed out that the district was a wild and difficult one and the
Trust poor, in consequence of the sparse traffic. The stage-coaches,
they said, had in some instances been withdrawn because they could not
hold their own against the competition of the mail, and the Trust lost
the tolls in consequence; while the mail, going toll-free and wearing
the road down, contributed nothing to the upkeep. They urged that the
mail should at least pay toll, and in this they were supported by every
other Turnpike Trust.

The exemption of mail-coaches from payment of tolls, a relief provided
for by the Act of 25th George III., was really a continuation of the
old policy by which the postboys of an earlier age, riding horseback
and carrying the mailbags athwart the saddle, had always passed
toll-free. Even the light mail-cart partook of this advantage, to which
there could then have been no real objection. It had been no great
matter, one way or the other, with the Turnpike Trusts, for the posts
were then infrequent and the revenue to be obtained quite a negligeable
quantity; but the appearance of mail-coaches in considerable numbers,
running constantly and carrying passengers, and yet contributing
nothing towards the upkeep of the roads, soon became a very real
grievance to those Trusts situated on the route of the mails, but in
outlying parts of the kingdom, little travelled, and where towns were
lacking and villages poor, few, and far between. Little wonder, then,
that the various Turnpike Trusts in 1810 approached Parliament for a
redress of these disabilities. They pointed out that not only was there
a greater wear and tear of the roads now the mail-coaches were running,
but that travellers, relying on the fancied security of the mails, had
deserted the stages, which in many cases had been wholly run off the
road. Pennant, writing in 1792, tells how two stages plying through
the county of Flint, and yielding £40 in tolls yearly, had been unable
to compete with the mail, and were thus withdrawn, to the consequent
loss of the Trust concerned. It was calculated, so early as 1791, by
one amateur actuary, that the total annual loss through mail exemptions
was £90,000; but another put it at only £50,000 in 1810.

The case of the remote country trusts was certainly a hard one. Like
all turnpikes, they were worked under Acts of Parliament, which
prescribed the amounts of tolls to be levied, and they were, further,
authorised to raise money for the improvement of the roads on the
security of the income arising from these taxes upon locomotion. The
security of money sunk in these quasi-Government enterprises had
always been considered so good that Turnpike Trust bonds and mortgages
were a very favourite form of investment; but when Parliament turned
a deaf ear to the bitter cry of the remote Trusts, the position of
those interested in the securities began to be reconsidered. The woes
of these undertakings were further added to by the action of the Post
Office, which, zealous for its new mail-services, sent out emissaries
to report upon the condition of the roads. The reports of these
officials bore severely against the very Trusts most hardly hit by
the mail-exemption, and the roads under their control were frequently
indicted for being out of repair, with the result that heavy fines were
inflicted. It had been suggested that as the Post Office on one hand
required better roads, and on the other deprived the rural Trusts of
a great part of their income, the Government should at least pay off
the debts of the various turnpikes. But nothing was done; the mails
continued to go free, and in the end the iniquity was perpetrated of
suffering the local Turnpike Acts to lapse and the roads to be dispiked
before the Trusts had paid off their loans. The greater number of Trust
“securities” therefore became worthless, and the investors in them
ruined.

[Illustration: THE WORCESTER MAIL, 1805.

                    _After J. A. Atkinson._
]

Mail-coaches continued to go toll-free to the very last in England,
although from 1798 they had paid toll in Ireland. In Scotland, too, the
Trusts were treated with tardy justice, and in 1813 an Act was passed
repealing the exemption in that kingdom. But what the Post Office
relinquished with one hand it took back with the other, clapping on a
halfpenny additional postage for each Scotch letter. It was like the
children’s game of “tit-for-tat.” But it did not end here. The Trusts
raised their tolls against the mail-coaches, and smiled superior.
It was then the Department’s call, and it responded by immediately
taking off a number of the mails. That ended the game in favour of St.
Martin’s-le-Grand.

Although Parliament never repealed the exemption for the whole of the
United Kingdom, it caused an estimate to be prepared of the annual cost
of paying tolls, should it ever be in a mind to grant the Trusts that
relief. It thus appeared, from the return made in 1812, that the cost
for Scotland would have been £11,229 16s. 8d.; for England, £33,536 2s.
3d.; and for Wales, £5224 3s. 10d.: total, £49,990 2s. 9d. per annum.

The mails, travelling as they did throughout the night, were subject
to many dangers. They were brilliantly lighted, generally with four,
and often with five, lamps, and cast a very dazzling illumination upon
the highway. It is true that no certainty exists as to the number of
lamps mail-coaches carried, and that old prints often show only two; so
that the practice in this important matter probably varied on different
routes and at various times. But the crack mails at the last certainly
carried five lamps--one on either side of the fore upper quarter, one
on either side of the fore boot, and another under the footboard,
casting a light upon the horses’ backs and harness. These radiant
swiftnesses, hurtling along the roads at a pace considerably over ten
miles an hour, were highly dangerous to other users of the roads, who
were half-blinded by the glare, and, alarmed by the heart-shaking
thunder of their approach and fearful of being run down, generally
drove into the ditches as the least of two evils. The mails were then,
as electric tramcars and high-powered motor-cars are now, the tyrants
of the road.

But they were not only dangerous to others. Circumstances that ought
never to have been permitted sometimes rendered them perilous to all
they carried. The possibilities of that time in wrong-doing are shown
in the practice of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (who assuredly was not the
only one) being allowed to send his refractory carriage-horses to the
mails, to be steadied. On such occasions the passengers from Oswestry
found themselves in for a wild start and a rough stage, and Sir Watkin
had the steam taken out of his high-mettled horses at an imminent risk
to the lives and limbs of the lieges.

From 1825, when the era of the fast day-coaches began, the mails
gradually lost the proud pre-eminence they had kept for more than
forty years. Even though they had been accelerated from time to
time as roads improved, they went no quicker than the new-comers,
and very often not so quick, from point to point. They suffered the
disabilities of travelling by night, when careful coachmen dared not
let their horses out to their best speed, and of being subject to the
delays of Post Office business; and so, although they might, and did,
make wonderful speed between stages, the showing on the whole journey
could not compare with the times of the fast day-coaches, which halted
only for changing horses and for meals, and, enjoying the perfection
of quick-changing, often got away in fifty seconds from every halt.
Going at more seasonable hours, the day-coaches now began to seriously
compete with the mails, whose old-time supporters, although still
sensible of the dignity of travelling by mail, were equally alive to
the comfort and convenience of going by daylight. Modern writers,
enlarging upon the times of our ancestors, lay great stress upon
the endurance our hearty grandfathers “cheerfully” displayed, and
show us great, bluff, burly, red-cheeked men, who enjoyed this long
night-travelling. But that is an absurdity. They did _not_ enjoy
it; they were not all bluff and burly; and that they welcomed the
change that gave them swift travelling by day instead of night is
obvious from the instant success of the fast day-coaches, and from
the later business-history of the mails. Mail-contractors, who in
the prosperous days of no competition were screwed down by the Post
Office to incredible mileage figures, began to grumble; but for long
they grumbled in vain. Even in 1834 the Post Office continued to pay
only 2d. a mile on 42 mails, 1½d. a mile on 34, and only one received
as much as 4d. The Liverpool and Manchester carried the mailbags for
nothing, and three actually paid the Post Office for the privilege. At
this time the old rule forbidding more than three outside passengers
on the mails was relaxed. This indulgence began in Scotland, where the
contractors, in consideration of the sparseness of the population and
the scarcity of chance passengers on the way, were allowed a fourth
outside passenger; and eventually many of the mails, like the stages,
carried from eight to twelve outsides. This, however, did not suffice,
for those passengers did not often present themselves; and at last the
contractors really did not care to obtain the Post Office business,
finding it pay better to devote their attention to fast day-coaches
on their own account.

[Illustration: THE MAIL.

                    _After J. L. Agasse, 1824._
]

Thus the Post Office found itself in a novel and unwonted position.
Coach-proprietors and contractors, instead of anxiously endeavouring to
obtain the mail-contracts, held aloof, and the Post Office surveyors,
when renewals were necessary, found _they_ had to make the advances
and do the courting. Then the tables were turned with a vengeance! For
Benjamin Horne’s “Foreign Mail,” carrying what were called the “black
bags” (_i.e._ black tarpaulin to protect the mail from sea-water)
between London and Dover, 1s. 3¾d. per double mile was paid; 11⅙d.
for the Carmarthen and Pembroke; and 8d., and then 9d., for the
Norwich Mail, by Newmarket, strongly opposed as it was by the Norwich
“Telegraph,” and therefore loading badly on that lonely road. For the
Chester, originally contracted for at 1s. a mile, then down to 3d., and
in 1826 up to 4d., 6d. was paid, on account of passengers going by the
direct Holyhead Mail, and the Holyhead itself was raised to the same
figure when fast day-stages had begun to run from Shrewsbury.

A Committee of the House of Commons had sat upon this question before
these prices were given, and much evidence was taken; but these revised
tariffs did by no means end the matter. Substantial contractors would
in many instances have nothing to do with the Post Office, and the
Department could not run the risk of employing irresponsible men
who could not be held to their undertakings. In some few instances
ordinary night-stages were given the business, and it was seriously
proposed to employ the guards of existing stage-coaches to take charge
of the bags, but this was never carried out. In the midst of all these
worries, when it seemed as though the despatch of the mails must
needs, in the altered conditions of the time, be eventually changed
from night to day, railways came to relieve official anxieties, which
existed not only on account of the increasing cost, but also on the
score of the continually growing bulk of mail-matter, piled up to
mountainous heights on the roof, instead of, as originally, being
easily stowed away in the depths of the hind boot. It was considered a
great advantage of the mail-coaches built by Waude in these last days
that they were not only built with a low centre of gravity, but that,
with a dropped hind axle, they made a deeper and more capacious boot
possible, in which were stowed the more valuable portions of the mail.
Had railways not at the very cynthia of the moment come to supply a
“felt want,” certainly the mails must on many roads have been carried
by mail-vans devoted exclusively to the service. But in 1830 the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway carried mailbags, and in anticipation
of the opening throughout of the London and Birmingham, the first long
route, in September 1838, an Act of Parliament was passed on August
14th in that year, authorising the conveyance of mails by railways. We
must not, however, suppose that such instant advantage was always taken
of new methods. That would not be according to the traditions of the
Post Office. Accordingly, we find that, although what is now the London
and South-Western Railway was opened between Nine Elms and Portsmouth
in May 1840, it was not until 1842 that the Portsmouth Mail went by
rail. For two years it continued to perform the 73 miles 3 furlongs
in 9 hours 10 minutes, when it might have gone by train in 6 hours 10
minutes less.

With these changes, London lost an annual spectacle of considerable
interest. From 1791 the procession of the mail-coaches on the King’s
birthday had been the grand show occasion of the Post Office year. No
efforts and no expense were spared by the loyal contractors (loyal in
spite of the ofttimes arbitrary dealings of the Post Office with them)
to grace the day; and Vidler and Parratt, who for many years had the
monopoly of supplying the coaches, equalled them in the zeal displayed.
The coaches were drawn up at twelve, noon, to the whole number of
twenty-seven, at the factory on Millbank, beautiful in new paint and
new gilding; the Bristol Mail, as the senior, leading, the others
in the like order of their establishment. On this occasion the Post
Office provided each guard with a new gold-laced hat and scarlet coat,
and the mail-contractors who horsed the coaches, not to be outdone,
found scarlet coats for their coachmen, in addition to providing new
harness. The coachmen and guards, unwilling to be beaten in this
loyal competition, provided themselves with huge nosegays, as big as
cauliflowers. When, as in the reign of William IV., the King’s birthday
fell in a pleasant time of the year, the procession of the mails was a
beautiful and popular sight, attracting not only the general public,
but the very numerous sporting folks, who welcomed the opportunity
of seeing at their best, and all together, the one hundred and two
noble horses that drew the mails from the Metropolis to all parts of
the kingdom. Everything, indeed, was very special to the occasion.
Each coach was provided with a gorgeous hammer-cloth, a species of
upholstery certainly not in use on ordinary journeys. No one was
allowed on the roof, but the coachman and guard had the privilege of
two tickets each for friends for the inside. Great, as may be supposed,
was the competition for these. For the contractors themselves there was
the cold collation provided by Vidler and Parratt at Millbank, at three
o’clock, when the procession was over.

[Illustration: THE BRISTOL MAIL AT HYDE PARK CORNER, 1838.

                    _After J. Doyle._
]

The route varied somewhat with the circumstances of the time, always
including the residence of the Postmaster-General for the time being.
Punctually at noon it started off, headed by a horseman, and with
another horseman between each coach. Nearing St. James’s Palace, it was
generally reduced to a snail’s pace, for the crowd always assembled
densely there, on the chance of seeing the King; and the authorities
of that period were not clever at clearing a route. Imagine now the
front of Carlton House Palace, or St. James’s, and the Londoners of
that age assembled in their thousands. The procession with difficulty
approaches, and halts. Two barrels of porter--Barclay & Perkins’
best--are in position in front of the Royal residence, and to each
coachman and guard is handed a capacious pewter pot--it is a sight
to make a Good Templar weep. The King and Queen and the Royal family
now appear at an open window, the King removing his hat and bowing,
to a storm of applause--as though he had done something really clever
or wonderful. Now the coachman of the Bristol Mail uncovers, and
holding high the shining pewter, exclaims: “We drink to the health
of His Gracious Majesty: God bless him!” and suiting the action to
the words, dips his nose into the pot, which in an incredibly short
time is completely inverted and emptied. Fifty-three other voices
simultaneously repeat the same words, and fifty-three pint pots are in
like manner drained in the twinkling of an eye. The King and his family
now retire, and the procession prepares to move on; but the mob, moved
by loyalty and the sight of the beer-barrels, grows clamorous: “King,
King! Queen, Queen!” cry a thousand voices; while a thousand more yell,
“Beer, beer!” When at length the King does return, to bow once more, he
gazes upon two thousand people struggling for two half-empty barrels,
which in the scuffle have upset, and speedily become empty. Meanwhile
the coaches have moved off, to complete their tour to the General Post
Office, and thence back to Millbank.

These processions, from some cause or another not now easily to be
discovered, were omitted in 1829 and 1830. May 17th, 1838, when
twenty-five mails paraded, was the last occasion; for already the
railway was threatening the road, and when Queen Victoria’s birthday
recurred the ranks of the mails were sadly broken.

This memorable year, 1837, then, was the last unbroken year of the
mail-coaches starting from London. Since September 23rd, 1829, when the
old General Post Office in Lombard Street was deserted for the great
building in St. Martin’s-le-Grand, they had come and gone. The first
ever to enter its gates, as the result of keen competition, had been
the up Holyhead Mail of that date; the last was the Dover Mail, in 1844.

The mail-coaches loaded up about half-past seven at their respective
inns, and then assembled at the Post Office Yard to receive the bags.
All, that is to say, except seven West of England mails--the Bath,
Bristol, Devonport, Exeter, Gloucester, Southampton and Stroud--whose
coaches started from Piccadilly, the bags being conveyed to them at
that point by mail-cart. There were thus twenty-one coaches starting
nightly from the General Post Office precisely at 8 o’clock. Here is a
list of the mails setting out every night throughout the year:--


A LIST OF MAIL-COACHES STARTING NIGHTLY FROM LONDON IN 1837.

  +--------------------+------+---------------------+-------+----------+
  |                    |      |                     |       |  Average |
  |                    |      |                     |       |  speed   |
  |       Mails.       |Miles.| Inn whence starting.| Time. | per hour,|
  |                    |      |                     |       |   stops  |
  |                    |      |                     |       | included.|
  +--------------------+------+---------------------+-------+----------+
  |                    |      |                     | H. M. | M.  F.   |
  | Bristol            | 122  | Swan with Two Necks | 11 45 | 10  3    |
  | Devonport          | 216  | Spread Eagle,       | 21 14 | 10  1¾   |
  |   (“Quicksilver”)  |      |   Gracechurch Street|       |          |
  | Birmingham         | 119  | King’s Arms,        | 11 56 |  9  7¾   |
  |                    |      |   Holborn Bridge    |       |          |
  | Bath               | 109  | Swan with Two Necks | 11  0 |  9  7¾   |
  | Manchester         | 187  |   ”      ”     ”    | 19  0 |  9  6⅔   |
  | Halifax            | 196  |   ”      ”     ”    | 20  5 |  9  6    |
  | Liverpool          | 203  |   ”      ”     ”    | 20 50 |  9  6    |
  | Holyhead           | 261  |   ”      ”     ”    | 26 55 |  9  5⅔   |
  | Norwich, by Ipswich| 113  |   ”      ”     ”    | 11 38 |  9  5⅔   |
  | Exeter             | 173  |   ”      ”     ”    | 18 12 |  9  4    |
  | Hull (New Holland  | 172  | Spread Eagle,       | 18 12 |  9  4    |
  |   Ferry)           |      |   Gracechurch Street|       |          |
  | Leeds              | 197  | Bull and Mouth      | 20 52 |  9  3½   |
  | Glasgow            | 396  |  ”        ”         | 42  0 |  9  3⅖   |
  | Southampton        |  80  | Swan with Two Necks |  8 30 |  9  3⅓   |
  | Edinburgh          | 399  | Bull and Mouth      | 42 23 |  9  3⅓   |
  | Chester            | 190  | Golden Cross        | 20 16 |  9  3    |
  | Gloucester and     | 224  |   ”     ”           | 24  0 |  9  2⅔   |
  |   Carmarthen       |      |                     |       |          |
  | Worcester          | 115  | Bull and Mouth      | 12 20 |  9  2½   |
  | Yarmouth           | 124  | White Horse, Fetter | 13 30 |  9  1½   |
  |                    |      |   Lane              |       |          |
  | Louth              | 148  | Bell and Crown,     | 15 56 |  9  0    |
  |                    |      |   Holborn           |       |          |
  | Norwich, by        | 118  | Belle Sauvage       | 13  5 |  9  0    |
  |   Newmarket        |      |                     |       |          |
  | Stroud             | 105  | Swan with Two Necks | 11 47 |  9  0    |
  | Wells              | 133  | Bell and Crown      | 14 43 |  9  0    |
  | Falmouth           | 271  | Bull and Mouth      | 31 55 |  8  4    |
  | Dover              |  73  | Golden Cross        |  8 57 |  8  1¼   |
  | Hastings           |  67  | Bolt-in-Tun, Fleet  |  8 15 |  8  0    |
  |                    |      |   Street            |       |          |
  | Portsmouth         |  73  | White Horse         |  9 10 |  7  7-5/7|
  | Brighton           |  55  | Blossoms Inn        |  7 20 |  7  4    |
  +--------------------+------+---------------------+-------+----------+

With the exception of the Brighton, Portsmouth, Dover and Hastings,
they were all splendidly-appointed four-horse coaches; but those four
places being only at short distances, speed was unnecessary, and they
were only provided with pair-horse mails. Had a speed similar to that
maintained on most other mails been kept up, letters and passengers
would have reached the coast in the middle of the night.

The so-called “Yarmouth Mail” was, we are told by those who travelled
on it, an ordinary stage-coach, carrying the usual four inside and
twelve outside, chartered by the Post Office to carry the mail-bags;
but the old print, engraved here, does not bear out that contention.

The _arrival_ of the mails in London was an early morning affair.
First of all came the Leeds, at five minutes past four, followed at an
interval of over an hour--5.15--by the Glasgow, and then, at 5.39, by
the Edinburgh. All arrived by 7 o’clock.

There was then, as now, no Sunday delivery of letters in London, and
Saturday nights were, by consequence, saturnalias for the up-mails.
Although the clock might have been set with accuracy by their
passing at any other time, their coming into London on Sundays was
a happy-go-lucky, chance affair. The coachmen would arrange to meet
on the Saturday nights at such junctions of the different routes as
Andover, Hounslow, Puckeridge, and Hockliffe, and so in company have
what they very descriptively termed a “roaring time.”

[Illustration: THE YARMOUTH MAIL, AT THE “COACH AND HORSES,” ILFORD.

                    _After J. Pollard._
]

In 1836 the fastest mail ran on a provincial route. This was the short
28-miles service between Liverpool and Preston, maintained at 10 miles
5 furlongs an hour. The slowest was the 19-miles Canterbury and Deal,
at 6 miles an hour, including stops for changing. The average speed of
all the mails was as low as 8 miles 7 furlongs an hour.

In 1838 there were 59 four-horse mails in England and Wales, 16 in
Scotland, and 29 in Ireland, in addition to a total number of 70
pair-horse: some 180 mails in all. It was in this year that--the
novelty of railways creating a desire for fast travelling--the
Post Office yielded to the cry for speed, and, abandoning the
usual conservative attitude, went too far in the other direction,
overstepping the bounds of common safety. For some time the mails
between Glasgow and Carlisle, and Carlisle and Edinburgh were run to
clear 11 miles an hour, which meant an average pace of 13 miles an
hour. These were popularly called the “calico mails,” because of their
lightness. The time allowed between Carlisle and Glasgow, 96 miles,
was 8 hours 32 minutes, and it was a sight to see it come down Stanwix
Brow on a summer evening. It met, however, with so many accidents that
cautious folk always avoided it, preferring the orthodox 10 miles an
hour--especially by lamplight in the rugged Cheviots. Even at that pace
there had been more than enough risk, as these incidents from Post
Office records of three years earlier clearly show:--

    _1835._
  February 5. Edinburgh and Aberdeen Mail overturned.
           9. Devonport Mail overturned.
          10. Scarborough and York Mail overturned.
          16. Belfast and Enniskillen Mail overturned.
          16. Dublin and Derry Mail overturned.
          17. Scarborough and Hull Mail overturned.
          17. York and Doncaster Mail overturned.
          20. Thirty-five mail-horses burnt alive at Reading.
          24. Louth Mail overturned.
          25. Gloucester Mail overturned.

No place was better served by the Post Office than Exeter in the last
years of the road, and few so well. Before 1837 it had no fewer than
three mails, and in that year a fourth was added. All four started
simultaneously from the General Post Office, and reached the Queen City
of the West within a few hours of one another every day. On its own
merits, Exeter did not deserve or need all these travelling and postal
facilities, and it was only because it stood at the converging-point of
many routes that it obtained them. Only one mail, indeed, was dedicated
especially to Exeter, and that was the last-established, the “New
Exeter,” put on the road in 1837. The others continued to Devonport
or to Falmouth, then a port, a mail-packet and naval station of great
prominence, where the West Indian mails landed, and whence they were
shipped. To the mail-coaches making for Devonport and Falmouth, Exeter
was, therefore, only an incident.

[Illustration: THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, PASSING KEW BRIDGE.

                    _After J. Pollard._
]

The “Old Exeter” Mail, continued on to Falmouth, kept consistently
to the main Exeter Road, through Salisbury, Dorchester and Bridport.
Before 1837 it had performed the journey to Exeter in 20 hours and to
Falmouth in 34¾ hours, but was then accelerated one hour as between
London and Exeter, and although slightly decelerated onwards, the gain
on the whole distance was 49 minutes.

Five minutes in advance of this ran the “Quicksilver” Devonport Mail,
as far as Salisbury, where, until 1837, it branched off, going by
Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Yeovil, a route 5¾ miles shorter than the
other. It was 1¾ hours quicker than the “Old Exeter” as far as that
city. Here is the time-table of the “Quicksilver” at that period, to
Exeter:--


LEAVING GENERAL POST OFFICE AT 8 P.M.

  +--------+-------------+------------+
  | Miles. |   Places.   |    Due.    |
  +--------+-------------+------------+
  |   12   | Hounslow    |  9.12 p.m. |
  |   19   | Staines     |  9.56  ”   |
  |   29   | Bagshot     | 11.0   ”   |
  |   67   | Andover     |  2.42 a.m. |
  |   84   | Salisbury   |  4.27  ”   |
  |  105   | Shaftesbury |  6.41  ”   |
  |  126   | Yeovil      |  8.56  ”   |
  |  135   | Crewkerne   | 10.12  ”   |
  |  143   | Chard       | 11.0   ”   |
  |  156   | Honiton     | 12.31 p.m. |
  |  173   | Exeter      |  2.14  ”   |
  +--------+-------------+------------+

Thus 18 hours 14 minutes were allowed for the 173 miles. In 1837 the
“Quicksilver” was put on the “upper road” by Amesbury and Ilminster,
and her pace again accelerated; this time by 1 hour 38 minutes to
Exeter and 4 hours 39 minutes to Falmouth. This then became the fastest
long-distance mail in the kingdom, maintaining a speed, including
stops, of nearly 10¼ miles an hour between London and Devonport. It
should be remembered, when considering the subject of speed, that the
mails had not only to change horses and stay for supper and breakfast,
like the stage-coaches, but also had to call at the post offices to
deliver and collect the mailbags, and all time so expended had to be
made up. The “Quicksilver” must needs have gone some stages at 12 miles
an hour.

Time also had to be kept in all kinds of weather, and the guard--who
was the servant of the Post Office, and not, as the coachman was, of
the mail-contractors--was bound to see that time was kept, and had
power, whenever it was being lost, to order out post-horses at the
expense of the contractors. Six, and sometimes eight, horses were often
thus attached to the mails. The route of the “Quicksilver” from 1837
was according to the following time-bill:--


LEAVING GENERAL POST OFFICE AT 8 P.M.

  +------+--------------+-----------+
  |Miles.|   Places.    |   Due.    |
  |      +--------------+-----------+
  |  12  | Hounslow     |  9.8  p.m.|
  |  19  | Staines      |  9.48  ”  |
  |  29  | Bagshot      | 10.47  ”  |
  |  67  | Andover      |  2.20 a.m.|
  |  80  | Amesbury     |  3.39  ”  |
  |  90  | Deptford Inn |  4.34  ”  |
  |  97  | Chicklade    |  5.15 a.m.|
  | 125  | Ilchester    |  7.50  ”  |
  | 137  | Ilminster    |  8.58  ”  |
  | 154  | Honiton      | 11.0   ”  |
  | 170  | Exeter       | 12.34 p.m.|
  +------+--------------+-----------+
  |    Time: 16 hours 34 minutes.   |
  +---------------------------------+



The complete official time-bill for the whole distance is appended:--


TIME-BILL, LONDON, EXETER AND DEVONPORT (“QUICKSILVER”) MAIL, 1837.

  +---------+---------+-------+--------+-------------------------------+
  |Contrac- |Number of|       |        |                               |
  |  tors’  | Passen- |       |  Time  |Despatched from the General    |
  |  Names. | gers.   |Stages.|Allowed.|  Post Office, the    of   ,   |
  +---------+----+----+-------+--------+  1837 at 8 p.m.               |
  |         |In. |Out.| M. F. |  H. M. |Coach No.  {With timepiece     |
  |         |    |    |       |        |  sent out {safe, No.    to   .|
  |         |    |    |       |        |Arrived at the Gloucester      |
  |         |    |    |       |        |  Coffee-House at   .          |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  |         |    |    |{12 2  |}       |Hounslow.                      |
  | Chaplin |    |    |{ 7 1  |}  2 47 |Staines.                       |
  |         |    |    |{ 9 7  |}       |Bagshot. Arrived 10.47 p.m.    |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  |         |    |    |{ 9 1  |}       |Hartford Bridge.               |
  | Company |    |    |{10 1  |}  2 54 |Basingstoke.                   |
  |         |    |    |{ 8 0  |}       |Overton.                       |
  |         |    |    |{ 3 5  |}       |Whitchurch. Arrived 1.41 a.m.  |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  | Broad   |    |    |{ 6 7  |   0 39 |Andover. Arrived 2.20 a.m.     |
  |         |    |    |{13 7  |   1 19 |Amesbury. Arrived 3.39 a.m.    |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  | Ward    |    |    |  9 5  |   0 55 |Deptford Inn. Arrived 4.34 a.m.|
  | Davis   |    |    |{ 0 5  |}       |Wiley.                         |
  |         |    |    |{ 6 5  |}  0 41 |Chicklade. Arrived 5.15 a.m.   |
  |         |    |    |       |        |(Bags dropped for Hindon, 1    |
  |         |    |    |       |        |  mile distant.)               |
  |         |    |    |{ 6 6  |}       |Mere.                          |
  | Whitmash|    |    |{ 7 0  |}  2 59 |Wincanton.                     |
  |         |    |    |{13 4  |}       |Ilchester.                     |
  |         |    |    |{ 4 1  |}       |Cart Gate. Arrived 8.14 a.m.   |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  |         |    |    |{ 2 6  |}       |Water Gore, 6 miles from South |
  |         |    |    |{      |}       |  Petherton.                   |
  | Jeffery |    |    |{      |}  0 44 |Bags dropped for that place.   |
  |         |    |    |{ 5 1  |}       |Ilminster. Arrived 8.58 a.m.   |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  | Soaring |    |    |  8 1  |}  0 25 |Breakfast 25 minutes. Dep. 9.23|
  |         |    |    |       |}  0 46 |Yarcombe, Heathfield Arms.     |
  |         |    |    |       |        |  Arrived 10.9 a.m.            |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  | Wheaton |    |    |  8 7  |   0 51 |Honiton. Arrived 11 a.m.       |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  |         |    |    |{16 4  |   1 34 |Exeter. Arrived 12.34 p.m.     |
  | Cockram |    |    |{      |   0 10 |Ten minutes allowed.           |
  |         |    |    |{10 3  |}       |Chudleigh.                     |
  |         |    |    |{ 9 3  |}  1 57 |Ashburton. Arrived 2.41 p.m.   |
  |         |    |    |       |        |                               |
  |         |    |    |{13 2  |}       |Ivybridge.                     |
  |         |    |    |{ 6 6  |}       |Bags dropped at Ridgway for    |
  | Elliott |    |    |{      |}  2 33 |  Plympton, 3 furlongs distant.|
  |         |    |    |{ 4 0  |}       |Plymouth. Arrived at the Post  |
  |         |    |    |{ 1 7  |}       |  Office, Devonport, the    of |
  |         |    |    |       |        |       , 1837, at 5.14 p.m. by |
  |         |    |    |       |        |  timepiece. At    by clock.   |
  |         |    |    +-------+--------+Coach No. { Delivered timepiece|
  |         |    |    |216 1  |  21 14 |  arr.   .{ safe, No.    to   .|
  +---------+----+----+-------+--------+-------------------------------+

  The time of working each stage is to be reckoned from the coach’s
  arrival, and as any lost time is to be recovered in the course
  of the stage, it is the coachman’s duty to be as expeditious as
  possible, and to report the horsekeepers if they are not always
  ready when the coach arrives, and active in getting it off. The
  guard is to give his best assistance in changing, whenever his
  official duties do not prevent it.

            By command of the Postmaster-General.
                  GEORGE LOUIS, _Surveyor and Superintendent._

The “New Exeter” Mail went at the moderate inclusive speed of 9 miles
an hour, and reached Exeter, where it stopped altogether, 1 hour 38
minutes later than the “Quicksilver.” The fourth of this company went a
circuitous route down the Bath Road to Bath, Bridgewater, and Taunton,
and did not get into Exeter until 3.57 p.m. Halting ten minutes, it
went on to Devonport, and stopped there at 10.5 that night.

The tabulated form given on opposite page will clearly show how the
West of England mails went in 1837.

The starting of the “Quicksilver” and the other West-country mails was
a recognised London sight. That of the “Telegraph” would have been
also, only it left Piccadilly at 5.30 in the morning, when no one
was about besides the unhappy passengers, except the stable-helpers.
Chaplin, who horsed the “Quicksilver” and other Western mails from
town, did not start them from the General Post Office, but from the
Gloucester Coffee-House, Piccadilly. The mail-bags were brought from
St. Martin’s-le-Grand in a mail-cart, and the City passengers in an
omnibus. The mails set out from Piccadilly at 8.30 p.m.


THE WEST OF ENGLAND MAILS, 1837.

 +-----+-----------------+-----------+----------+-----------+----------+
 |     |                 |           |Devonport |           |          |
 |     |                 |Old Exeter | (“Quick- |           |Devonport |
 |Miles|     Places.     |   Mail,   | silver”) |New Exeter |Mail, by  |
 |     |                 | continued |Mail, con-|   Mail.   |Bath and  |
 |     |                 |    to     |tinued to |           |Taunton.  |
 |     |                 | Falmouth. | Falmouth.|           |          |
 +-----+-----------------+-----------+----------+-----------+----------+
 |     |General Post     |           |          |           |          |
 |     |    Office,      |           |          |           |          |
 |     |London       dep.| 8.0 p.m.  | 8.0  p.m.| 8.0  p.m. | 8.0  p.m.|
 |  12 |Hounslow     arr.|           |          |           | 9.12  ”  |
 |  19 |Staines          |           |          | 9.56  ”   |          |
 |  23 |  Slough         |           |          |           |          |
 |  29 |  Maidenhead     |           |          |           |10.40  ”  |
 |  58 |  Newbury        |           |          |           | 1.53 a.m.|
 |  77 |  Marlborough    |           |          |           | 3.43  ”  |
 |  91 |  Devizes        |           |          |           | 5.6   ”  |
 | 109 |  Bath           |           |          |           | 7.0   ”  |
 | 149 |  Bridgewater    |           |          |           |11.30  ”  |
 | 160 |  Taunton        |           |          |           |12.35 p.m.|
 | 180 |  Cullumpton     |           |          |           | 2.42  ”  |
 |  29 |Bagshot          |           |10.47 p.m.|           |          |
 |  67 |Andover          |           | 2.20 a.m.| 2.42 a.m. |          |
 |  84 |  Salisbury      | 4.52 a.m. |          | 4.27  ”   |          |
 | 124½|Dorchester       | 8.57  ”   |          | 8.53  ”   |          |
 | 126 |  Yeovil         |           |          |           |          |
 | 137 |Bridport         |10.5   ”   |          |11.0   ”   |          |
 | 143 |  Chard          |           |          |           |          |
 |  80 |Amesbury         |           | 3.39  ”  |           |          |
 | 125 |Ilchester        |           | 7.50  ”  |           |          |
 |     |  Honiton        |           |11.0   ”  |12.31 p.m. |          |
 |     |  EXETER    {arr.| 2.59 p.m. |12.34 p.m.| 2.12  ”   | 3.57  ”  |
 |     |             dep.| 3.9   ”   |12.44  ”  |===========| 4.7   ”  |
 | 210 |Newton Abbot arr.|           |          |           | 6.33  ”  |
 | 218 |Totnes           |           |          |           | 7.25  ”  |
 | 190 |  Ashburton      |           | 2.41  ”  |           |          |
 | 214 |  Plymouth       |           | 5.5   ”  |           |          |
 |     |  DEVONPORT {arr.|           | 5.14  ”  |           |10.5   ”  |
 |     |            {dep.|           | 5.41  ”  |           |==========|
 | 234 |  Liskeard   arr.|           | 7.55  ”  |           |          |
 | 246 |  Lostwithiel    |           | 9.12  ”  |           |          |
 | 252 |  St. Austell    |           |10.20  ”  |           |          |
 | 266 |  Truro          |           |11.55  ”  |           |          |
 | 271 |  FALMOUTH       | 3.55 a.m. | 1.5  a.m.|           |          |
 +-----+-----------------+-----------+----------+-----------+----------+
 |     |                 |31 h. 55 m.|29 h. 5 m.|18 h. 12 m.|26 h. 5 m.|
 +-----+-----------------+-----------+----------+-----------+----------+

It was at Andover that the “Quicksilver,” from 1837, leaving its
contemporary mails, climbed up past Abbot’s Ann to Park House and
the bleak Wiltshire downs, along a lonely road, and finally came, up
hill, out of Amesbury to the most exposed part of Salisbury Plain,
at Stonehenge, in the early hours of the morning. The “Quicksilver”
was a favourite subject with the artists of that day, who were never
weary of pictorially representing it. They have shown it passing
Kew Bridge, and the old “Star and Garter,” on the outward journey,
in daylight--presumably the longest day in the year, because it did
not reach that point until 9 p.m. Two of them have, separately and
individually, shown us the famous attack by the lioness in 1816; and
two others have pictured it on the up journey, passing Windsor Castle,
and entering the City at Temple Bar; but no one has ever represented
the “Quicksilver” passing beneath that gaunt and storm-beaten relic of
a prehistoric age, Stonehenge. One of them, however, did a somewhat
remarkable thing. The picture of the “Quicksilver” passing within
sight of Windsor was executed and published in 1840, two years after
the gallant old mail had been taken off that portion of the road,
to be conveyed by railway. Perhaps the print was, so to speak, a
post-mortem one, intended to keep the memory of the old days fresh in
the recollection of travellers by the mail.

The London and Southampton Railway was opened to Woking May 23rd,
1838, and to Winchfield September 24th following, and by so much the
travels of the “Quicksilver” and the other West-country coaches were
shortened. For some months they all resorted to that station, and then
to Basingstoke, when the line was opened so far. June 10th, 1839.
This shortening of the coach route was accompanied by the following
advertisement in the _Times_ during October 1838, the forerunner of
many others:--

[Illustration: THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, ARRIVING AT TEMPLE
BAR, 1834.

                    _After C. B. Newhouse._
]

“Bagshot, Surrey--49 Horses and harness. To Coach Proprietors, Mail
Contractors, Post Masters, and Others.--To be Sold by Auction, by Mr.
Robinson, on the premises, ‘King’s Arms’ Inn, Bagshot, on Friday,
November 2, 1838, at twelve o’clock precisely, by order of Mr.
Scarborough, in consequence of the coaches going per Railway.

“About Forty superior, good-sized, strengthy, short-legged,
quick-actioned, fresh horses, and six sets of four-horse harness, which
have been working the Exeter ‘Telegraph,’ Southampton and Gosport
Fast Coaches, and one stage of the Devonport Mail. The above genuine
Stock merits the particular Attention of all Persons requiring known
good Horses, which are for unreserved sale, entirely on Account of the
Coaches being removed from the Road to the Railway.”

In Thomas Sopwith’s diary we find this significant passage: “On the
11th May, 1840, the coaches discontinued running between York and
London, although the railways were circuitous.” Thus the glories
of the Great North Road began to fade, but it was not until 1842
that the Edinburgh Mail was taken off the road between London,
York, and Newcastle. July 5th, 1847, witnessed the last journey of
the mail on that storied road, in the departure of the coach from
Newcastle-on-Tyne for Edinburgh. The next day the North British Railway
was opened.

The local Derby and Manchester Mail was one of the last to go. It
went off in October 1858. But away up in the far north of Scotland,
where Nature at her wildest, and civilisation and population at their
sparsest, placed physical and financial obstacles before the railway
engineers, it was not until August 1st, 1874, that the mail-coach era
closed, in the last journey of the mail-coach between Wick and Thurso.
That same day the Highland Railway was opened, and in the whole length
and breadth of England and Scotland mail-coaches had ceased to exist.

[Illustration: THE “QUICKSILVER” DEVONPORT MAIL, PASSING WINDSOR CASTLE.

                    _After Charles Hunt, 1840._
]

The mail-coaches in their prime were noble vehicles. Disdaining any
display of gilt lettering or varied colour commonly to be seen on the
competitive stage-coaches, they were yet remarkably striking. The
lower part of the body has been variously described as chocolate,
maroon, and scarlet. Maroon certainly was the colour of the later
mails, and “chocolate” is obviously an error on the part of some
writer whose colour-sense was not particularly exact; but we can only
reconcile the “scarlet” and “maroon” by supposing that the earlier
colouring was in fact the more vivid of the two. The fore and hind
boots were black, together with the upper quarters of the body, and
were saved from being too sombre by the Royal cipher in gold on the
fore boot, the number of the mail on the hind, and, emblazoned on
the upper quarters, four devices eloquent of the majesty of the
united kingdoms and their knightly orders. There shone the cross of
St. George, with its encircling garter and the proud motto, “_Honi
soit qui mal y pense_”; the Scotch thistle, with the warning “_Nemo me
impune lacessit_”; the shamrock and an attendant star, with the _Quis
separabit?_ query (not yet resolved); and three Royal crowns, with
the legend of the Bath, “_Tria juncta in uno_.” The Royal arms were
emblazoned on the door-panels, and old prints show that occasionally
the four under quarters had devices somewhat similar to those above.
The name of each particular mail appeared in unobtrusive gold letters.
The under-carriage and wheels were scarlet, or “Post Office red,” and
the harness, with the exception of the Royal cypher and the coach-bars
on the blinkers, was perfectly plain.

One at least of the mail-coaches still survives. This is a London and
York mail, built by Waude, of the Old Kent Road, in 1830, and now a
relic of the days of yore treasured by Messrs. Holland & Holland, of
Oxford Street. Since being run off the road as a mail, it has had a
curiously varied history. In 1875 and the following season, when the
coaching revival was in full vigour, it appeared on the Dorking Road,
and so won the affections of Captain “Billy” Cooper, whose hobby that
route then was, that he had an exact copy built. In the summer of 1877
it was running between Stratford-on-Avon and Leamington. In 1879 Mr.
Charles A. R. Hoare, the banker, had it at Tunbridge Wells, and also
ordered a copy. Since then the old mail-coach has been in retirement,
emerging now and again as the “Old Times” coach, to emphasise the
trophies of improvement and progress in the Lord Mayor’s Shows of
1896, 1899 and 1901, in the wake of electric and petrol motor-cars,
driven and occupied by coachmen and passengers dressed to resemble our
ancestors of a hundred years ago.

[Illustration: MAIL-COACH BUILT BY WAUDE, 1830.

                    _Now in possession of Messrs. Holland & Holland._
]

The coach is substantially and in general lines as built in 1830. The
wheels have been renewed, the hind boot has a door inserted at the
back, and the interior has been relined; but otherwise it is the coach
that ran when William IV. was king. It is a characteristic Waude coach,
low-hung, and built with straight sides, instead of the bowed-out type
common to the products of Vidler’s factory. It wears, in consequence,
a more elegant appearance than most coaches of that time; but it must
be confessed that what it gained in the eyes of passers-by it must
have lost in the estimation of the insides, for the interior is not
a little cramped by those straight sides. The guard’s seat on the
“dickey”--or what in earlier times was more generally known as the
“backgammon-board”--remains, but his sheepskin or tiger-skin covering,
to protect his legs from the cold, is gone. The trapdoor into the hind
boot can be seen. Through this the mails were thrust, and the guard sat
throughout the journey with his feet on it. Immediately in front
of him were the spare bars, while above, in the still-remaining case,
reposed the indispensable blunderbuss. The original lamps, in their
reversible cases, remain. There were four of them--one on either fore
quarter, and one on either side of the fore boot, while a smaller one
hung from beneath the footboard, just above the wheelers. The guard had
a small hand-lamp of his own to aid him in sorting his small parcels.
The door-panels have apparently been repainted since the old days,
for, although they still keep the maroon colour characteristic of the
mail-coaches, the Royal arms are gone, and in their stead appears the
script monogram, in gold, “V.R.”



CHAPTER II

DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE

I.--A JOURNEY FROM NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE TO LONDON IN 1772


In 1773, the Reverend James Murray, Minister of the High Bridge
Meeting House at Newcastle, published a little book which he was
pleased to call _The Travels of the Imagination; or, a True Journey
from Newcastle to London_, purporting to be an account of an actual
trip taken in 1772. I do not know how his congregation received this
performance, but the inspiration of it was very evidently drawn from
Sterne’s _Sentimental Journey_, then in the heyday of its success and
singularly provocative of imitations--all of them extraordinarily thin
and poor. Sentimental travellers, without a scintilla of the wit that
jewelled Sterne’s pages, gushed and reflected in a variety of travels,
and became a public nuisance. Surely no one then read their mawkish
products, any more than they do now.

Murray’s book was, then, obviously, to any one who now dips into it,
as trite and jejune as the rest of them; but it has now, unlike its
fellows, an interesting aspect, for the reason that he gives details
of road-travelling life which, once commonplace enough, afford to
ourselves not a little entertainment. Equally entertaining, too, and
full of unconscious humour, are those would-be eloquent rhapsodies
of his which could only then have rendered him an unmitigated bore.
It should be noted here that although his picture of road-life is in
general reliable enough, we must by no means take him at his word when
he says he journeyed all the way from Newcastle to London. We cannot
believe in a traveller making that claim who devotes many pages to
the first fifteen miles between Newcastle and Durham, and yet between
Durham and Grantham, a distance of a hundred and fifty miles, not
only finds nothing of interest, but fails to tell us whether he went
by the Boroughbridge or the York route, and mentions nothing of the
coach halting for the night between the beginning of the journey at
Newcastle, and the first specified night’s halt at Grantham, a hundred
and sixty-five miles away. Those were the times when the coaches inned
every night, and not until the “Wonder” London and Shrewsbury Coach was
started, in 1825, did any coach ever succeed in doing much more than
a hundred miles a day. So much in adverse criticism. But while a very
casual glance is sufficient to expose his pretensions of having made
the entire journey in this manner, it is equally evident that he knew
portions of the road, and that he was conversant with the manners and
customs that then obtained along it--as no one then could help being.
The fare between Newcastle and London, the lengthy halts on the way,
and the manner in which the passengers often passed the long evenings
at the towns where they rested for the night--witnessing any theatrical
performance that offered--are extremely interesting, as also is the
curious sidelight thrown upon the fact that actors--technically, in
the eyes of the law, “rogues and vagabonds”--were then actually so
regarded. How poorly considered the theatrical profession then was, is,
of course, well known; but it is curious thus to come upon a reference
to the fact that London theatres then had long summer vacations, in
which the actors and actresses must starve if they could not manage to
pick up a meagre livelihood by barnstorming in the country; as here we
see them doing.

So much by way of preface. Now let us see what our author has to say.

To begin with, he, like many another before and since, found it
disagreeable to be wakened in the morning. When a person is enjoying
sweet repose in his bed, to be suddenly awakened by the rude,
blustering voice of a vociferous ostler was distinctly annoying. More
annoying still, however, to lose the coach; and so there was no help
for it, provided the stage was to be caught. The morning was very fine
when the passengers, thus untimely roused, entered the coach. Nature
smiled around them, who only yawned in her face in return. Pity,
thought our author, that they were not to ride on horseback: they
could then enjoy the pleasures of the morning, snuff the perfumes of
the fields, hear the music of the grove and the concert of the wood.

These reflections were cut short by the crossing of the Tyne by ferry.
The bridge had fallen on November 17th, 1771, and the temporary ferry
established from the Swirl, Sandgate, to the south shore was the
source of much inconvenience and delay. The coach was put across on a
raft or barge, but in directing operations to that end, the ferryman
was not to be hurried. One had to wait the pleasure of that arbitrary
little Bashaw, who would not move beyond the rule of his own authority,
or mitigate the sentence of those who were condemned to travel in a
stage-coach within a ferry-boat.

Our author, as he hated every idea of slavery and oppression, was not a
little offended at the expressions of authority used on this occasion
by the august legislator of the ferry. The passengers were now in the
barge, and obliged to sit quiet until this tyrant gave orders for
departure. The vehicle for carrying coach and passengers across the
river was the most tiresome and heavy that ever was invented. Four
rowers in a small boat dragged the ponderous ferry across the river,
very slowly and with great exertions, and almost an hour was consumed
in thus breasting the yellow current of the broad and swiftly-running
Tyne. Meanwhile, there was plenty of time to reflect on what might
happen on the passage, and abundant opportunity for putting up a
few ejaculations to Heaven to preserve them all from the dangers of
ferryboats and tyrants.

But the voyage at last came to an end. So soon as they were landed on
the south side of the river Tyne, they were saluted by a blackbird,
who welcomed them to the county of Durham. It seemed to take pleasure
in seeing them fairly out of the domains of Charon, and whistled
cheerfully on their arrival. “Nature,” said Mr. James Murray to
himself, “is the mistress of real pleasure: this same blackbird cannot
suffer us to pass by without contributing to our happiness. Liberty (he
continued) seems to be the first principle of music. Slaves can never
sing from the heart.”

No: they sing, like everyone else, from the throat.

But these observations carried them beyond Gateshead and to the ascent
of the Fell, along whose steep sides the pleasures of the morning
increased upon them. The whins and briars sent forth a fragrance
exceedingly delightful, and on every side of the coach peerless drops
of dew hung dangling upon the blossoms of the thorns, adding to the
perfume. Aurora now began to streak the western sky--something wrong
with the solar system that morning, for the sun commonly rises in the
east--and the spangled heavens announced the advent of the King of
Day. Sol at last appeared, and spread his healthful beams over the
hills and valleys, and the wild beasts now retired to their dens, and
those timorous animals that go abroad in the night to seek their food
were also withdrawn to the thickets. The hares, as an exception--and
yet this was not the lunatic month of March--were skipping across the
lawns, tasting the dewy glade for their morning’s repast. The skylark
was skylarking--or, rather, was already mounted on high, serenading his
dame with mirthful glee and pleasure. (Here follow two pages of moral
reflections on skylarks and fashionable debauchees, with conclusions in
favour of the larks, and severe condemnation of “libidinous children
of licentiousness,” who are bidden “go to the lark, ye slaves of
pollution, and be wise. _He_ does not stroll through the grove or
thicket to search for some new amour, but keeps strictly to the ties of
conjugal affection, and cherishes the partner of his natural concerns.”)

In the midst of these idyllic contemplations, a grave and solemn scene
opened to the view. Hazlett, who had robbed the mail in 1770, hung
on a gibbet at the left hand. “Unfortunate and infatuated Hazlett!
Hadst thou robbed the nation of millions, instead of robbing the mail
and pilfering a few shillings from a testy old maid, thou hadst not
been hanging, a spectacle to passers-by and a prey to crows. Thy case
was pitiable--but there was no mercy: thou wast poor, and thy sin
unpardonable. Hadst thou robbed to support the Crown, and murdered for
the Monarchy, thou might’st have been yet alive.”

The place where Hazlett hung, the writer considered to be the finest
place in the world for a ghost-walk. “At the foot of a wild romantic
mountain, near the side of a small lake, are his remains; his shadow
appears in the water and suggests the idea of two malefactors. The
imagination may easily conjure up his ghost. Many spirits have been
seen in wilds not so fit for the purpose. This robber is perhaps the
genius of the Fell, and walks in the gloomy shades of night by the
side of this little lake. This (he adds--it must have been a truly
comforting thought to the other passengers) is all supposition.” The
dreary place was one well calculated for raising gloomy ideas, tending
to craze the imagination.

After this, it was a relief to reach Durham, a very picturesquely
situated city with a grand cathedral and bishop’s palace. The pleasant
banks on the west side of the river Wear were adorned with stately
trees, mingled with shrubs of various kinds, which brought to one’s
mind the romantic ideas of ancient story, when swains and nymphs
sang their loves amongst trees by the side of some enchanted river.
The abbey and the castle called to mind those enchanted places where
knights-errant were confined for many years, until delivered by some
friend who knew how to dissolve the chains and charm the necromancy.

Durham, he thought, would be a very fine place, were it not for the
swarms of clergy in it, who devoured every extensive living without
being of any real service to the public. The common people in Durham
were very ignorant and great profaners of the Sabbath Day, and, indeed,
over almost the whole of England the greatest ignorance and vice were
under the noses of the bishops. He would not pretend to give a reason
for this, but the fact was apparent.

Durham was a very healthful place--the soil dry, the air wholesome; but
the Cathedral dignitaries performed worship rather as a grievous task
than as a matter of choice, a thing not infrequently to be observed in
our own days. The woman who showed the shrine of St. Cuthbert did not
understand Mr. Murray when he referred to the Resurrection, a fact that
gave him a good opportunity to enlarge upon the practically heathenish
state of Durham’s ecclesiastical surroundings.

All this sightseeing, and these reflections and observations at Durham
(and a good many more from which the reader shall be spared) were
rendered possible by a lengthy halt made by the coach in that city.
Thus there was ample time for seeing the cathedral--“very noble and
delightful to the eyes of those who had a taste for antiquity or Gothic
magnificence,” he says.

After they were wearied with sauntering in this old Gothic abbey, they
went down to the river side. There the person who was fond of rural
pleasures might riot at large. Comparisons drawn on the spot between
the choristers of the grove, who sang from the heart, and the minor
canons and prebendaries of the cathedral, who wearily performed their
duties for a living, were, naturally, greatly to the disadvantage of
the dignified clergy.

Strolling through the suburb of Old Elvet, the company at last returned
to the inn--the “New Inn” it was called. The landlord of this hostelry
was a jolly, honest man; his house spacious, and fit even to serve the
Bishop. All things were cheap, good, and clean at this inn. If a person
came in well pleased, he would find nothing to offend him, provided
he did not create some offence to himself--which sounds just a little
confused.

While our itinerant chronicler was noting down all these things, orders
were given for departure, and so he had hurriedly to conclude.

And now, turning from wayside reflections, we get a description of the
passengers. The coach, when it left Newcastle, was full. Four ladies,
a gentleman of the sword and our humble servant made up its principal
contents. They sat in silence for some time, until they were jolted
into good humour by the motion of the vehicle, which opened their
several social faculties. One of their female companions, who was a
North Briton, a jolly, middle-aged matron with abundance of good sense
and humour, entertained the company for a quarter of an hour with
the history of her travels. She had made the tour of Europe, and had
visited the most remarkable places in Christendom, in the quality of a
dutiful wife, attending her valetudinary husband, travelling for the
recovery of his health. Her easy, unaffected manner in telling a story
made her exceedingly good company, and none had the least inclination
to interrupt her until she was pleased to cease. She knew how to time
her discourse, and never, like the generality of her sex, degenerated
into tediousness and insipidity.

At every stage she was a conformist to all the measures of the company,
and went into every social proposal that was made.

Another companion was a widow lady of Newcastle, quite as agreeable as
the former. She understood how to make them laugh. Unfortunately, she
only went one stage, and they then lost the pleasure of her company.

The third passenger was a Newcastle lady, well known in the literary
world for her useful performances for the benefit of youth. This
female triumvirate would have been much upon a par had they all been
travellers, for their gifts of conversation were much alike; but the
lady who had taken the tour of Europe possessed in that the advantage
of circumstances.

The fourth lady was the Scottish lady’s servant. As she said nothing
the whole way (remarks Mr. Murray), I shall say nothing of her.

The fifth person was an officer in the army, who appeared very drowsy
in the morning, and came forth of his chamber with every appearance of
reluctance. His hair was dishevelled and quite out of queue, and he
seemed to be as ready for a sleep as if he had not been to bed. He
was, for a time, as dumb as a Quaker when not moved by the spirit, and
by continuing in silence, at last fell asleep until they had completed
nearly half the first stage. During this time, Mr. Murray sarcastically
observes, he said no ill.

They finished their first stage without exchanging many words with
this son of Mars, except some of those flimsy compliments gentlemen
of the sword pay frequently to the ladies. After a dish of warm
tea the tissues of his tongue were loosed, and he began to let his
companions know that he was an officer in the army, and a man of some
consequence. He seemed to be very fond of war, and spoke in high terms
upon the usefulness of a standing army. When he had exhausted his whole
fund of military arguments in favour of slavery and oppression, Mr.
Murray observed to him that a standing army had a bad appearance in
a free country, and put it in the power of the Crown to enslave the
nation--with the like arguments, continued for an unconscionable space.

It is not at all surprising that the soldier resented this. The spirit
of Mars began to work within him, and he threatened that if he were
near a Justice of the Peace he would have this argumentative person
fined for hindering him from getting recruits, adding that he once
had a man fined for persuading others not to enlist in his Majesty’s
service.

To this Mr. Murray rejoined that the officer certainly had a right
to say all the fine things he could to recommend the service of his
master, but, having done that, he had no more to do; and that any man
had also a right to tell his friends, whom he saw ready to be seduced
into bondage, that they were born free, and ought to take care how they
gave up their liberty--together with remarks derogatory of the justice
of courts martial.

Our author did not, however, find this military hero a bloodthirsty
man, for, by his own confession, he and a brother officer had a few
months before surrendered their purses to a highwayman between London
and Highgate for fear of bloodshed. This showed that some officers were
abundantly peaceable in time of danger, and discovered no inclination
for taking people’s lives. This gentleman of sword and pistol, in
particular, had a great many solid reasons why men should not adventure
their lives for a little money. He said there was no courage in
fighting a highwayman, and no honour to be had in the victory over
one; that soldiers should preserve their lives for the service of the
country in case of war, and not run the risk of losing them by foolish
adventure.

These reasons did not altogether satisfy the ladies, for one of them
observed that robbers were at war alike with laws and governments, and
that the King’s servants were hired to keep the peace and to defend
the King’s subjects from violence; that officers in the army were as
much obliged by their office and character to fight robbers as they
were bound to fight the French, or any other enemy; and that footpads
were invaders of the people’s rights and properties, and ought to be
resisted by men whose profession it was to fight, and who were well
paid for so doing. It was for money all the officers in the army served
the King and fought his battles, and why should they not as well fight
for money in a stage-coach as in a castle or a field? She insisted that
only one of them could have been killed by the highwayman, or perhaps
but wounded, and there were several chances that he might have missed
them both. But, supposing the worst--that one had been shot--it was
only the chance of war, and the other might have secured the robber,
which would have been of more service to the country than the life of
the officer. In short, she observed, it had the appearance more of
cowardice than disregard for money, for two officers to surrender their
purses to a single highwayman, who had nothing but one pistol.

The lady’s reflections were severely felt by the young swordsman,
and produced a solemn silence in the coach for a quarter of an hour,
during which time some fell asleep, and so continued until coming to
the next inn, where the horses were changed. There two or three glasses
of port restored the officer’s courage, and he determined, in case of
an attack, to defend every one from the assaults of all highwaymen
whatsoever. To show the courage that sometimes animated him, he told
the story of how he had dealt with a starving mob in Dumfries. The
hungry people of that town, not disposed to perish while food was
abundant, and corn held by the farmers and corn-factors for higher
prices, assembled to protest against such methods; and the magistrates,
who thought the people had a right to starve, sent for the military to
oblige them to famish discreetly or else be shot. Our hero had command
of the party, where, according to his own testimony, he performed
wonders. The poor people were shot like woodcocks, and those who could
get away with safety were glad to return home to wrestle with hunger
until Heaven should think fit to provide for them.

The officer was very liberal in abusing those whom he called “the mob,”
and said they were ignorant, obstinate and wicked, and added that he
thought it no crime to destroy hundreds of them.

The lady who had already given him a lecture then began to put him in
mind of the footpad whom he and his brother officer had suffered to
escape with their purses, and asked him how he would quell a number of
highwaymen. Taken off his guard at the mention of footpads, he stared
out of the window with a sort of wildness, as if one had been at the
coach door.

Nothing was seen worthy of note until the coach came to Grantham,
which place they reached about seven in the evening. The first things,
remarks Mr. Murray--with all the air of a profound and interesting
discovery--that travellers saw in approaching large towns were,
generally speaking, the church steeples. Ordinarily higher than the
rest of the buildings, they were--remarkable to relate--on that account
the more conspicuous. The steeple of Grantham was pretty high, and
saluted one’s eyes at a good distance before the town was approached.
It seemed to be of the pyramidical kind.

Grantham was a pleasant place, although the houses were indifferently
built. On reaching it, they wandered through the town before returning
to the inn for supper, when the captain took care to say some civil
things to the landlady’s sister, who was a very handsome young woman.
It was, however, easy to perceive that she was acquainted with these
civilities, and could distinguish between truth and falsehood. She made
the captain keep his distance in such a manner as put an entire end
to his compliments. The fineness of her person and the beauty of her
complexion were joined with a modest severity that protected her from
the rudeness and insults which gentlemen think themselves entitled to
use towards a chambermaid, the character she acted in.

After supper was done, the coach-party were informed that some of Mr.
Garrick’s servants were that night to exhibit in an old thatched house
in a corner of the town. They had come abroad into the country during
the summer vacation, to see if they could find anything to keep their
grinders going until the opening of Drury Lane Theatre. They were that
night to play the _Went Indian_ and the _Jubilee_.

The whole of the passengers went to see the performance. The actors
played their parts very indifferently, but, after all, not so badly but
that one could, with some trouble, manage to perceive as much meaning
in their actions as to be able to distinguish between an honest man
and a rogue. Our ingenious and imaginative Mr. Murray thought it must
be dangerous for an actor to play the rogue often, for fear of his
performance becoming something more than an imitation. But after all,
he says, with the fine intolerant scorn of the old-time dissenting
minister, the generality of players had little morality to lose.

It was a very poor theatre--being, indeed, not a theatre at all, and
little better than a barn. The audience, however, was good, and well
dressed, and the ladies handsome. The performance was over by eleven
o’clock, and the company dismissed. Mr. Murray concludes his account of
the evening’s entertainment by very sourly observing that their time
and that of the rest of the audience might have been better employed
than in seeing a few stupid rogues endeavouring to imitate what some of
them really were.

The coach left Grantham at two o’clock the next morning; much too
early, considering the short rest the night’s gaiety had left them.
But there was no choice--they were under authority, and had to obey.
That person would be a fool who, having paid £3 8s. 6d. for a seat in a
stage-coach from Newcastle to London, should consent to lose it by not
rising betimes. The worst of it was, that here one had to take care of
one’s self, because no one would wait upon him or return him his money.
Observe the passengers, therefore, all, in the coach by 2 a.m. The
company being seated, the driver went off as fast as if he would have
driven them to Stamford in the twinkling of an eye. So early was the
hour that we are not surprised to be told that the author fell asleep
by the time they were clear of the town, and doubtless the others
did the same. It may be remarked here that a very excellent proof of
this being a fictitious journey is found in there being no mention
of the passengers being turned out of the coach to walk up the steep
Spitalgate Hill--a thing always necessary at that period of coaching
history.

The remainder of this not-inaptly named _Travels of the Imagination_
is made up chiefly of a long disquisition upon sleep--itself highly
soporific--which only gives place to remarks upon the journey when the
coach arrives on Highgate Hill. Coming over that eminence, they had a
peep at London.

“It must be a wonderful holy place,” he suggests to the other
passengers, “there are so many church steeples to be seen.”

The others, who must have known better, said nothing.

“Are we there?” he asked when they had reached Islington.

“No, not there yet.”

“Is it a large place: four times as large, for instance, as Newcastle?”

“Ten times as large.”

“Where are the town walls?”

“There are no walls.”

At last they reached Holborn, and the end of the journey, where the
company dispersed and our chronicler went to bed.



CHAPTER III

DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE

II.--FROM LONDON TO NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE IN 1830


We also will make a tour down the road. It shall not be, in the
strictly accurate sense of the word, a “journey,” for we shall travel
continuously by night as well as day--a thing quite unknown when that
word was first brought into use, and unknown to coaching until about
1780, when coaches first began to go both day and night, instead of
inning at sundown at some convenient hostelry on the road.

It matters little what road we take, but as Mr. Murray came to town
from Newcastle, we may as well pay a return visit along that same
highway--the Great North Road. He does not explain how he came through
Highgate, but for our part, the first sixty miles or so go along the
Old North Road, and we do not touch Highgate at all.

Now, since we are setting out merely for the purpose of seeing
something of what life is like on a great highway, there is no need to
mortify the flesh by arising early in the blushing hours of dawn, to
the tune of the watchman’s cry of “five o’clock and a fine morning!”
and so we will e’en, like Christians and Britons able to call their
souls their own, go by the afternoon coach. Let the “Lord Nelson” in
this year 1830 go if it will from the “Saracen’s Head,” Snow Hill,
at half-past six in the morning. For ourselves, we will wait until a
quarter to three in the afternoon, and take the “Lord Wellington” from
the “Bull and Mouth.” We can do no better, for the “Lord Wellington”
goes the 274 miles in 30 hours, which a simple calculation resolves
into 9 miles an hour, including stops. The fare to Newcastle is £5 15s.
inside, or about 5d. a mile. Outside, it is £3 10s., or a fraction
over 3d. a mile. As our trip is taken in summer-time, we will go
outside; and so, although a good deal of the journey will have to be
through the night, we, at least, shall not have the disadvantage of
being stewed during the daytime in the intolerable atmosphere of the
inside of a stage-coach on a July day. Why, indeed, coach-proprietors
do not themselves observe that in summer-time the outside is the most
desirable place, and charge accordingly, is not easily understood; nor,
indeed, to be understood at all. That clever fellow De Quincey notices
this, and points out that, although the roof is generally regarded by
passengers and everyone else connected with coaching as the attic, and
the inside as the drawing-room, only to be tenanted by gentlefolk, the
inside is really the coal-cellar in disguise.

We recollect, being old travellers, that the fares to Newcastle used to
be much cheaper. Time was when they were only four guineas inside and
£2 10s. outside, but prices went up during the late wars with France,
and they have stayed up ever since. The travelling, however, is better
by some five hours than it was fifteen years ago.

Here we are at the “Bull and Mouth,” in St. Martin’s-le-Grand, now
newly rebuilt by Sherman, and named the “Queen’s.” It is a handsome
building of red brick, with Portland stone dressings, but the old
stables are still to be seen at the side, in Bull-and-Mouth Street.
A strong and penetrating aroma of horses and straw pervades the
neighbourhood.

Wonderful building, the new General Post Office, opened last year,
nearly opposite. They say the Government has got something very
like a white elephant in that vast pile. A great deal too big for
present needs, or, indeed, for any possible extension of Post Office
business. Here’s the “Lord Wellington.” What’s that the yard-porter
says?--He says “they don’t call it nothin’ but the ‘Vellington’
now.”--Smart, turn-out, is it not, with its yellow wheels and body
to match? You can tell Sherman’s coaches anywhere by that colouring.
What a d----d nuisance those boys are, pestering one to buy things one
doesn’t want! No; be off with you, we don’t want any braces or pocket
looking-glasses, nor the “Life and Portrait of His Late Majesty,”
nor any “Sure Cure for Fleas”--use it on yourselves, you dirty-looking
devils!

[Illustration: THE “QUEEN’S HOTEL” AND GENERAL POST OFFICE.

                    _After T. Allom._
]

Thank goodness! we’re off, and the sooner we’re out of this traffic and
off the stones at Kingsland Turnpike the better. These paved streets
are so noisy, one can scarcely hear oneself talk, and the rattling
sends a jar up one’s spine. How London grows! we shall soon see the
houses stretching past Kingsland and swallowing up the country lanes of
Dalston and Stoke Newington.

Hal-lo! That was a near shave. Confound those brewers’ drays;
Shoreditch is always full of ’em; might have sent us slap over. Why
don’t you keep your eyes open, fool?

The drayman offers to fight us all, one after the other, with one hand
tied behind his back, for sixpence a head, money down; but though we
have some of “the Fancy” aboard, the “Wellington” can’t stop for a mill
in the middle of Shoreditch High Street.

Now at last we’re fairly in the country. If you look back you’ll be
able to see St. Paul’s. This is Stamford Hill, where the rich City
indigo and East and West India merchants live. Warm men, all of them.
There, ahead of us, on the right, goes the river Lea: as pretty fishing
there as you’d find even in the famous trout streams of Hampshire. What
a quaint, quiet rural place this is at Tottenham! And Edmonton, with
its tea-gardens; why, London might be fifty miles away!

Here we are, already at Waltham Cross, and at our first change. This
is something like traveling! We change horses at the “Falcon” in little
more than two minutes, and so are off again, on the ten-mile stage to
Ware, through the long narrow street of Cheshunt, past the New River
at Broxbourne, and along the broad thoroughfare of Hoddesdon. At Ware
we change teams at the “Saracen’s Head,” and four fine strong-limbed
chestnuts are put in, to take us the rather hilly stage on to
Buntingford. At this sleepy little town they take care to give us as
strong a team as you will find in any coach on any road, for the way
rises steadily for some miles over Royston Downs. A good thing for the
horses that the stage on to Royston town is not more than seven miles.
“I believe you, sir,” says the coachman; “vy, I’ve heerd my father say,
vot driv’ over this ’ere road thirty year ago, that he vore out many a
good ’orse on this stage; an’ ’e vere a careful man too, as you might
say, and turned out every blessed one, _h_inside to _h_out, to valk
up-hill for two mile, wet or fine; strike me blue if he didn’t.”

“They talk of lowering the road through the top of Reed Hill, don’t
they, coachman?”

“Oh! yes; they torks, and that’s about all they does do. Lot o’ good
torking does my ’orses. Vot _I_ vants to know is, v’y does we pay the
turnpikes?”

We change at the “Red Lion,” Royston, and then come on to the galloping
ground that brings us smartly, along a level road, to Arrington Bridge,
the spelling of whose name is a matter of divergent opinions among the
compilers of road-books. But whether called Arrington or Harrington, it
is a pretty, retired spot, with a handsome inn and an equally handsome
row of houses opposite.

“Will you please to alight?” asks the stately landlady of the
“Hardwicke Arms” inn and posting-house, with perhaps a little too
much air of condescension towards us, as coach-passengers. We of the
stage-coaches--nay, even those of the mails--occupy only a second
place in the consideration of mine host and hostess of this, one of
the finest inns on the road. Their posting business brings them some
very free-handed customers, and their position, hard by my lord of
Hardwicke’s grand seat of Wimpole, spoils them for mere ordinary
everyday folks.

However, it is now more than half-past seven o’clock, and we have
had no bite nor sup since two. Therefore we alight at the landlady’s
bidding and hasten into the inn, to make as good a supper as possible
in the twenty minutes allowed.

Half a crown each, in all conscience, for two cups of tea, and some
bread and butter, cold ham and eggs! We climb up to our places,
dissatisfied. Soon the quiet spot falls away behind, as our horses
get into their stride; and as we leave, so does a yellow po’shay
dash up, and convert the apparently sleepy knot of smocked post-boys
and shirt-sleeved ostlers, who have been lounging about the stable
entrance, into a very alert and wide-awake throng.

Caxton, a busy thoroughfare village, where the great “George” inn does
a very large business, is passed, and soon, along this flattest of
flat roads, that grim relic, Caxton Gibbet, rises dark and forbidding
against the translucent evening sky. Does the troubled ghost of young
Gatward, gibbeted here eighty years ago for robbing the mail on this
lonely spot, ever revisit the scene, we wonder?

The wise, inscrutable stars hang trembling in the sky, and the sickle
moon is shining softly, as, having passed Papworth St. Everard, we drop
gently down through Godmanchester and draw up in front of the “George”
at Huntingdon, 58½ miles from London, at ten o’clock.

We take the opportunity afforded by the change of filling our
pocket-flasks with some rich brown brandy of the right sort, and invest
in some of those very special veal-and-ham sandwiches for which good
Mrs. Ekin has been famous these years past. Our coachman “leaves us
here,” and we tip him eighteenpence apiece when he comes round to
inform us of the fact.

The new coachman, after some little conversation with the outgoing
incumbent of the bench, in which we catch the remark made to the
newcomer that some articles or some persons are “a pretty fair lot,
taking ’em all round”--a criticism that evidently sizes us up for the
benefit of his _confrère_--climbs into his seat, and giving us all a
comprehensive and impartial glance, settles himself down comfortably.
“All right, Tom?” he asks the guard over his shoulder. “Yes,” answers
that functionary. “Then give ’em their heads, Bill,” he says to the
ostler; and away we go into the moonlit night at a steady pace.

The box-seat passenger, who very successfully kept the original
coachman in conversation nearly all the way from London to Huntingdon,
does not seem to quite hit it off with our new whip, who is inclined to
be huffish, or, at the least of it, given to silence and keeping his
own counsel. “Have a weed, coachman?” he asks, after some ineffectual
attempts to get more than a grunt out of him. “Don’t mind if I do,”
is the ungracious reply, and he takes the proffered cigar and--puts
it into some pocket somewhere beneath the voluminous capes of his
greatcoat. After this, silence reigns supreme. For ourselves, we have
chatted throughout the day, and now begin to feel--not sleepy, but
meditative.

The moon now rides in unsullied glory through the azure sky. We top
Alconbury Hill at a few minutes to twelve, and come to the junction
of the Old North and the Great North Roads. Everything stands out as
clearly as if it were daylight, but with a certain ghost-like and
uncanny effect. “The obelisk,” as the coachmen have learned to call the
great milestone at the junction of the roads (it is really a square
pedestal) looks particularly spectral, but is not the airy nothing it
seems--as the coachman on the Edinburgh Mail discovered, a little while
ago. The guard tells us all about it. The usual thing. Too much to
drink at the hospitable bar of the “George,” at Huntingdon, and a doubt
as to which of the two milestones he saw, on coming up the road, was
the real one. The guard and all the outsides were in similar case--it
was Christmas, and men made merry--and so there was nothing for it but
to try their quality. Unfortunately, he drove into the real stone,
and not its spectral duplicate, conjured up by the effects of strong
liquors. We see the broken railings and the dismounted stone ball
that once capped the thing as we pass. The local surgeon mended the
resultant broken limbs at the “Wheatsheaf,” whose lighted windows fall
into our wake as we commence the descent of Stonegate Hill.

Stilton. By this time we are too drowsy to note whether we changed at
the “Bell” or at its rival, directly opposite, the “Angel.” At any
rate, nobody asks us if we would not like a nice real Stilton cheese to
take with us, as they usually do: it is midnight.

We now pass Norman Cross, and come in another eight miles to Wansford
turnpike, where the gate is closed and the pikeman gone to bed. “Blow
up for the gate,” said the coachman, when we were drawing near, to the
guard, who blew his horn accordingly; but it does not seem to have
disturbed the dreams of the janitor. “Gate, gate!” cry the guard and
coachman in stentorian chorus. The guard himself descends, and blows a
furious series of blasts in the doorway, while the coachman lashes the
casement windows.

[Illustration: THE TURNPIKE GATE.

                    _From a contemporary lithograph._
]

At last a shuffling and fumbling are heard within, and the door is
opened. The pikeman has not been to bed after all; he was, and is, only
drunk, and had fallen into a sottish sleep. He now opens the gate, in
the midst of much disinterested advice from both our officials--the
guard advising him to stick to Old Tom and leave brandy alone, and the
coachman pointing out that the Mail will be down presently and that
he had better leave the gate open if he does not wish to present the
Postmaster-General with forty shillings, that being the penalty to
which a pike-keeper is liable who does not leave a clear passage for
His Majesty’s Mails.

We now cross Wansford Bridge, a very long and narrow stone structure
over the river Nene. Having done so, slowly and with caution, we know
no more: sleep descends insensibly upon us.

... Immeasurable æons of time pass by. We are floating with rhythmic
wings in the pure ether of some unterrestrial paradise. Our gross
earthly integument (twelve stone and a few extra pounds avoirdupois
of flesh and blood and bone) has fallen away. We want nothing to eat,
for ever and ever, and have left everything gross and unspiritual far,
far below us, and ... a fearful crash! Convulsively, instinctively,
our arms are thrown out, and we awake, tenaciously grasping one
another. What is this that has brought us down to earth again and made
us unwillingly assume once more that corporeal hundredweight, or
thereabouts, we had left so gladly behind? Are we overturned?

No; it was nothing: nothing, that is to say, but the hunchbacked
bridge over the river Welland, that leads from Stamford Baron into
Stamford Town. It is only the customary bump and lurch, the guard
informs us. May all architects of hunchback bridges be converted from
straight-backed human beings into bowed and crooked likenesses of their
own abominable creations! We will keep awake, lest another such rude
awaking await us.

With this intent we gaze, wide-eyed, upon Stamford Town, its noble
buildings wrapped round in midnight quiet, the moon shining here
full upon the mullioned stone windows of some ancient mansion, there
casting impenetrable black shadows, making dark mysteries of grand
architectural doorways decorated with curious scutcheons and overhung
with heavy pediments, like beetling eyebrows. Grand churches whose
spires soar away, away far into the sky, astonish our newly-awakened
vision as the coachman carefully guides the coach through the narrow
and crooked streets, in which the shadows from cornices and roof-tops
lie so black and sharp that none but he who has driven here before
could surely bring this coach safely through. Once or twice we have
quailed as he has driven straight at some solid wall, and have breathed
again when it has proved to be only some oblique monstrous silhouetted
image cast athwart the way. Fear only leaves us when we are clear of
the town and once more on the unobstructed road; then only is there
leisure for the mind to dwell upon the beauties of that glorious old
stone-built town. We are thus ruminating when, between Great Casterton
and Stretton, where we enter Rutlandshire, the glaring lamps of a
swiftly approaching coach lurch forward out of the long perspective of
road, and, with a clatter of harness and a sharp crunching of wheels,
fall away, as in a vision. The guard, answering someone’s question,
says it is the Leeds “Rockingham,” due in London at something after ten
in the morning.

The determination to keep awake was heroic, but without avail. Even the
screaming and grumbling of the skid and the straining of the wheels
down Spitalgate Hill into Grantham did not suffice to quite waken us.
But what that noise and the jarring of the wheels failed to do, the
stoppage at the “George” at Grantham and the sudden quiet _do_ succeed
in. Our friend the moon has by now sunk to rest, and a pallid dawn has
come; someone remarks that it is past three o’clock in the morning, and
someone else is wakened and hauled forth from amid the snoring insides,
whose snores become gasps and gulps, and then resolve themselves into
the yawns and peevish exclamations of tired men. The person thus
awakened proves to be a passenger who had booked to Colsterworth,
which is a little village we have now left eight miles behind us. He
had been asleep, and as Colsterworth is not one of our stopping or
changing places, the guard forgot all about him until the change at
Grantham. The passenger and the guard are now waging a furious war of
words on the resounding pavements of the sleeping town. It seems that
the unfortunate inside, besides being himself carried so far beyond his
destination, has a heavy portmanteau in the like predicament. If he had
been a little bigger and the guard a little smaller, his fury would
perhaps make him fall upon that official and personally chastise him.
As it is, he resorts to abuse. Windows of surrounding houses now begin
to be thrown up, and nightcapped heads to inquire “what the d----l’s
the matter, and if it can’t be settled somewhere else or at some more
convenient season?” The guard says “This ’ere gent wot’s abusing of me
like a blooming pickpocket goes to sleep and gets kerried past where he
wants to get out, and when I pulls him out, ’stead of taking ’im him
on to Newark or York, ’e----” “Shut up,” exclaims a fierce voice from
above: “can’t a man get a wink of sleep for you fellows?”

So, the change being put to, the altercation is concluded in
undertones, and we roll off; the irate passenger to bed at the
“George,” vowing he will get a legal remedy against the proprietors of
the “Wellington” for the unheard-of outrage.

At Newark, a hundred and twenty-five miles of our journey performed,
it is broad daylight as the coach rolls, making the echoes resound,
into the great market-square. Clock-faces--a little blanched and
debauched-looking to our fancy--proclaim the hour to be 5.30 a.m.
The change is waiting for us in front of the “Saracen’s Head,” and
so is our new coachman. The old one leaves us, but before doing so
“kicks us”--as the expressive phraseology of the road has it--for the
usual fees. He has been, so far as we remember him, a dour, silent,
unsociable man, but we think that, perhaps, as we have been asleep
during the best part of his reign on the box-seat, any qualities he
may possess have not had their due opportunity, and so he gets two
shillings from ourselves. A passenger behind us gives him a shilling,
which he promptly spits on and turns, “for luck” as he says, and “in
’opes it’ll grow.” The passenger who gave it him says, thereupon--in a
broad Scots accent--that he is “an impudent fellow, and desairves to
get nothing at all;” to which the jarvey rejoins that he has in his
time brought many a Scotchman from Scotland, but, “this is the fust
time, blow me, that _h_ever I see one agoin’ back!”--which is a very
dark and mysterious saying. What did he mean?

Our new coachman is a complete change from our late Jehu. He is
a spruce, cheerful fellow, neat and well brushed, youthful and
prepossessing. “Good morning, gentlemen,” he says cheerily: “another
fine day.” We had not noticed it. All we had observed was of each
other, and that as every other looked pale, wearied and heavy-eyed, so
we rightly judged must be our own condition.

“Chk!” says our youthful charioteer to his horses, and away they
bound. Newark market-square glides by, and we are crossing the Trent,
over a long bridge. “Newark Castle, gentlemen,” says our coachman,
jerking his whip to the left hand; and there we see, rising from
the banks of the broad river, the crumbling, time-stained towers
of a ruined mediæval fortress. Much he has to say of it, for he
is intelligent beyond the ordinary run. A good and graceful whip,
too--one of the new school: much persuasion and little punishment for
the horses, who certainly seem to put forward their best paces at his
merest suggestion. It is a good, flat, and fairly straight road, this
ten-mile stage to Scarthing Moor. We cross the Trent again, then a
low-lying tract of water-meadows, where the night mists still cling
in ghost-like wisps to the grass, and then several small villages.
“This”--says our coachman, pointing to a church beside the road, and
down the street of one of these little villages--“this is where Oliver
Cromwell came from.”

“What is the name of it?” we ask, knowing that, whatever its name, the
Protector came from quite a different place.

“Cromwell,” he says.

So this was probably the original seat of that family many centuries
before Oliver came into the world, which has since then been so greatly
exercised about him.

“Blow up for the change,” says the coachman to the guard, as, having
passed through Carlton-on-Trent, Sutton-on-Trent, and round the
awkward bend of the road at Weston, we approach Scarthing Moor and
the “Black Bull.” “They’re a sleepy lot at the ‘Bull,’” he says, in
explanation. The guard produces the “yard of tin” from the horn-basket,
and sounds a melodious tantara: quite unnecessarily, after all, it
seems, for, quite a distance off, the ostler, dressed after his kind
in trousers and shirt only, with braces dangling about him, is seen
standing in the road, with the change ready and waiting.

“Got up before you found yourself, this morning?” asks the coachman.

The ostler says he don’t take no sauce from no boys what ain’t been
breeched above a twelvemonth.

“All right, Sam,” replies the coachman; “your ’art’s all right, if you
_have_ got a ’ed full of wool. Shouldn’t wonder if you don’t make up
for this mistake of yourn by sleepin’ it out for a month of Sundays
after this. If so be you do, jest hang the keys of the stable outside,
and when we come down agen, Jim and me ’ll put ’em in ourselves, won’t
we, Jim?”

Jim says they will, and will petition Guv’ment to pension him off, and
retire him to the “R’yal ’Orsepital for Towheads.”

Evidently some ancient feud between the ostler and the coach is in
progress, and still far from being settled. The ostler sulkily watches
us out of sight, as we make our next stage to Retford. The clocks in
the market-place of that busy little town mark half-past seven, and
the “White Hart,” where we drop a passenger for the Gainsborough
coach and another for Chesterfield, and take up another for York, is a
busy scene. Appetising aromas of early breakfasts being prepared put a
keener edge upon our already sharpened appetites, and we all devoutly
wish we were at Doncaster, where _our_ breakfast awaits the coming of
the coach. Across Barnby Moor, past the great “Bell” inn, we take our
way, and come to one more change, at the “Crown,” Bawtry; then hie away
for Doncaster, which we reach, past Rossington Bridge and the famous
St. Leger course, at half-past nine o’clock.

“Twenty minutes for breakfast, gentlemen,” announces the coachman as
we pull up in front of the “New Angel” inn; while the guard, who has
come with us all the way from London, now announces that he goes no
farther. We give him half a crown, and hasten, as well as stiffened
limbs allow, down the ladder placed for us outsides to alight by, to
the breakfast-room.

We catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror as we enter. Heavens! is
it possible an all-night journey can make so great a difference in a
man’s personal appearance? While here is a lady who has been an inside
passenger all the way from town, and yet looks as fresh and blooming
as though she had but just dressed for a walk. How do they manage it,
those delicate creatures?

Our friend, who says he is starving, refuses to discuss this question.
He remarks, with eye wildly roving o’er the well-laden table-cloth,
that something to eat and drink is more to the point. We cannot gainsay
the contention, and do not attempt it, but sink into a chair.

“Coffee, sir; tea, sir; ’ot roll; ’am and heggs. Yorkshire brawn,
tongue,” suggests the waiter, swiftly.

We select something and fall-to. After all, it is worth while to take a
long coach journey, even if it be only for the appetite it gives one.
Here we are, all of us, eating and drinking as though we had taken no
meals for a week past. Yes, another cup of coffee, please, and I’ll
thank you to pass the----

“Time’s up, gents; coach just agoin’ to start!”

“Oh! here, I say, you know. We’ve only just sat down.”

“Ain’t got more’n ’nother couple o’ minutes,” says the new guard; and
so, appetite not fully satisfied, we all troop out and resume our
places.

Our coach goes the hilly route, by Ferrybridge and Tadcaster, to
York. We change on the short stage out of Doncaster, at Robin Hood’s
Well, where the rival inns, the “New” and the “Robin Hood,” occupy
opposite sides of the road; and again at Ferrybridge, at the “Swan,”
where our smart coachman resigns his seat to an enormously fat man,
weighing nearly, if not quite, twenty stone. He is so unwieldy that
quite a number of the “Swan” postboys gather round him, and by dint of
much sustained effort, do at last succeed in pulling and pushing him
into his place, resembling in so doing the Liliputians manipulating
Gulliver; the coachman himself, breathing like a grampus, encouraging
them by calling out, “That’s it, lads; another heave like t’last does
it. All together again, and I’ll mak’ it a gallon!”

Across the river Aire to Brotherton, and thence through Sherburn to
Tadcaster, where, having changed at the “White Horse,” we come along a
level stage into York; the new guard, who rejoices in the possession
of a key-bugle and a good ear for music, signalising our entrance by
playing, in excellent style, “The Days when we went Gipsying, a Long
Time Ago.”

The coach dines at York. The “Black Swan,” to which we come, is a house
historic in the annals of coaching, for it was from its door that the
original York and London stage set forth; but it is a very plain and
heavy building. Half an hour is allowed for dining, and, unlike the
majority of houses down the road, the table-cloth and the knives and
forks and glasses are _not_ the only things in readiness.

“What have you got, waiter?”

“Hot roast beef, sir, just coming in; very prime.”

“Haven’t you any cold chicken for a lady here?”

“Yessir; cold chicken on the table, sir; in front of you, sir.”

“You call _that_ chicken, waiter! why, it’s only a skeleton. Take it
away and give it to the dog in the yard.”

“Very sorry, sir; ‘Royal Sovereigns’ very hungry to-day; very good
appetites they had, sir; wonder they left even the bones.”

“You’re laughing at me, you rascal; bring another chicken!”

“No more chickens, sir; roast lamb, would the lady like? hot or cold;
green peas, new potatoes?” ...

“Your apple tart, sir. Ale, sir. Claret, ma’am.” ...

Dinner disposed of, the coach is ready, but one of our passengers
is missing. Has any one seen him? He went off, it seems, to see the
cathedral, instead of having dinner. Fortunately for himself he comes
hurrying up just as we are starting, and the guard hauls him up to his
outside place by main force.

“Tip us a tune,” says the coachman to the guard, who, rendered
sentimental by the steak and the bottle of stout he had for dinner in
the bar, in company with the buxom barmaid, responds with “Believe me,
if all those Endearing Young Charms,” as we pass the frowning portal
of Bootham Bar and bump along the very rough street of Clifton, York’s
modern suburb.

This is a thirteen-and-a-half mile stage from York to Easingwold; but
although long, it is an easy one for the horses, if the coachman does
not demand pace of them, on account of the dead level of the road. He
very wisely lets them take their own speed, only now and then shaking
the reins when they seem inclined to slacken from their steady trot.
It is a lonely stretch of country, treeless, flat, melancholy; and
the appearance of Easingwold is welcomed. At the “Rose and Crown” the
new team is put in, and off we go again, the ten miles to Thirsk. At
Northallerton the horses are changed for a fresh team at the “Golden
Lion,” and the fat coachman, assisted down with almost as much trouble
as he was hoisted up, resigns the ribbons into the hands of another.

The usual knot of sightseers of the little town are gathered about
the inn to witness the one event of the day, the arrival of the
London coach. Among them one perceives the coachman out of a place; a
beggar out at elbows; three recruits with ribbons in their hats, not
quite recovered from last night’s drink, and stupidly wondering how
the ribbons got there; the “coachman wot is to take the next stage”;
several errand boys wasting their masters’ time; and a horsey youth
with small fortune but large expectations, who is the idler of the
place--the local man about town. There is absolutely nothing else for
the inhabitants of Northallerton to do for amusement but to watch the
coaches, the post-chaises and the chariots as they pass along the one
long and empty street.

Our box-seat passenger leaves us here. Although he has, all the
way down, shown himself anxious to be intimate with the successive
coachmen, and has paid pretty heavily for the privilege of occupying
that seat of honour, it has been of no sporting advantage to him, for
he is only a Cockney tradesman, who has never even driven a trap, let
alone four-in-hand. So when each whip in turn asked him the questions,
conventional among whips, “whether he had his driving-gloves on, and
would like to take the ribbons for the next few miles,” he evaded the
offer by “not being in form,” or not knowing the road, or something
else equally annoying to the coachman, who, in not having an amateur of
driving on the box, thereby missed the canonical tip of anything from
seven shillings to half a sovereign which the handling of the reins for
twenty miles or so was worth to the ordinary sportsman.

Our new coachman, on our starting from Northallerton, keeps the seat
beside him vacant. He says he has a passenger for it down the road.
Tom Layfield, for that is the name of our present charioteer, works
the “Wellington” up and down between this and Newcastle on alternate
days, Ralph Soulsby being the coachman on the other. Tom Layfield is a
very prim-looking, tall and spare man, tutor in coachmanship to many
gentlemen on these last fifty-five miles; and it does not surprise some
of us when, passing Great Smeaton, we are hailed by a very “down the
road” looking young man, whose hat is cocked at a knowing angle, and
whose entire get-up, from the gigantic mother-o’-pearl buttons on his
light overcoat to the big scarf-pin in the semblance of a galloping
coach and horses, proclaims “amateur coachman.” It is the young squire
of Hornby Grange, on the right hand, we are told, who is anxious to
graduate in coaching honours, and to be mentioned in the pages of the
_Sporting Magazine_ by Nimrod, in company with Sir St. Vincent Cotton,
the Brackenburys, and other distinguished ornaments of the bench.

“‘Afternoon, squire,” says Layfield, as that young sportsman swings
into the seat beside him; and they talk guardedly about anything and
everything but coaches, until Layfield asks--as though it had just
occurred to him--if he would not like to “put ’em along” for a few
miles. He accepts, and is just about to take the reins over when the
voice of a hitherto silent gentleman is heard from behind.

“I earnestly protest, coachman,” he says, “against your giving the
reins into the hands of that young gentleman, and endangering our
lives. I appeal to the other passengers to support me,” he continues,
glancing round. “We read in the papers every day of the many serious,
and some fatal, accidents caused by control of the horses being given
to unqualified persons. If you are well advised, young gentleman, you
will relinquish the reins into their proper keeping; and you, coachman,
ought to know, and do know, that you would be liable to a fine of any
amount from £5 to £10, at the discretion of a magistrate, for allowing
an unauthorised person to drive.”

The coachman takes back the reins, and sulkily says he didn’t know he
had an informer up; to which the gentleman rejoins by saying that, so
long as the coachman drives and performs the duty for which he is paid
by his proprietors, he himself is not concerned to teach him proper
respect; but he cannot refrain from pointing out, to the coachman in
especial, and to the passengers generally, that it would have been the
policy of an informer to allow the illegal act to be committed and then
to lay an information. He was really protecting the coachman as well as
the passengers, because it was well known that the road swarmed with
informers, and continued infractions of the law could not always hope
to go unpunished.

Every one murmurs approval, except the coachman and his friend, and the
guard. The guard, as an official, is silent; the amateur coachman has
a hot flush upon his face. The coachman, however, clearly sees himself
to be in the wrong, and awkwardly apologises. Still, we all feel
somewhat constrained, and, passing Croft Spa and coming to Darlington,
experience an ungrateful relief when the champion of our necks and
limbs leaves us there.

He is no sooner gone than tongues are wagging about him. “Who is he?
What is he? Do you know him?”

“Talks like a Hact o’ Parlymint,” says the coachman to his friend.

“And a very good reason, too,” says a man with knowledge: “he is a
Justice of the Peace and Chairman of the Bench of Magistrates at
Stockton, which holds a higher jurisdiction than your bench, coachman.
I think you’ve had a very narrow escape of parting with £10 and costs.”

The guard has a few parcels to take out of the boot at the “King’s
Head,” and a few new ones to put in, and then we’re off for Rushyford
Bridge, where the coach takes tea, and where we leave the amateur
coachee at the “Wheatsheaf.”

Durham and the coal country open out on leaving secluded Rushyford.
Durham Cathedral, although itself standing on a height, has the
appearance of being in a profound hollow as the coach, with the skid
on, slowly creaks and groans down the long hill into the city. Changing
at the “Three Tuns,” the new team toils painfully up the atrociously
steep streets to Framwellgate Bridge, where the river Wear and the
stern grandeur of the Norman Cathedral, with the bold rocks and soft
woods around it, blend under the westering sun-rays of a July evening
into a lovely mellowed picture.

Chester-le-Street and Gateshead are ill exchanges for the
picturesqueness of Durham, but they serve to bring us nearer our
journey’s end, and, truth to tell, we are very weary; so that, coming
down the breakneck streets of Gateshead in the gathering darkness to
the coaly Tyne and dear dirty Newcastle, with the hum of its great
population and the hooting of its steamers in our ears, we are filled
with a great content. “Give ’em a tune,” says the coachman; and, the
guard sounding a fanfare, we are quickly over the old town bridge,
along the Side, and at the Turf Hotel, Collingwood Street. It is nearly
ten o’clock. The journey is done.

Let us tot up the expenses per head:--

                                           £  s.  d.
  One outside place                        3  10   0
  Supper at Arrington Bridge               0   2   6
  Brandy and sandwiches at Huntingdon      0   3   0
  Coachman, Huntingdon                     0   1   6
  Coachman, Newark                         0   2   0
  Breakfast, Doncaster                     0   2   3
  Guard, Doncaster                         0   2   6
  Coachman, Ferrybridge                    0   2   0
  Dinner, York                             0   3   6
  Coachman, Northallerton                  0   1   6
  Tea, Rushyford Bridge                    0   2   0
  Coachman, Newcastle                      0   2   0
  Guard, Newcastle                         0   2   6
                                          ----------
  Total                                   £4  17   3



CHAPTER IV

ACCIDENTS


One of the greatest objections urged by the coaching interest against
railways was their danger, and the certain loss of life on them in
case of accident. It was unfortunate that the opening of the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway was the occasion of a fatal mischance that
lent emphasis to the dolorous prophecies of coach-proprietors and the
road interests in general; for on that day (September 15th, 1830) Mr.
Huskisson, a prominent man in the politics of that time, met his death
by being run over by the first train. It seems to ourselves incredible,
but it was the fact, that there were those who ascribed this fatality
to the wrath of God against mechanical methods of travelling. Then
first arose that favourite saying among coachmen, “In a coach accident,
there you are; in a railway accident, where are you?” The impression
thus intended to be conveyed was that a coaching disaster was a very
trifling affair compared with a railway accident. But was it? Let us
see.

The Rev. William Milton, who in 1810 published a work on
coach-building, lamented the great number of accidents in his time,
and said that not a tenth part of them was ever recorded in the
newspapers. He darkly added that the coach-proprietors could probably
explain the reason. However that may be, the following pages contain a
selection of the most tragical happenings in this sort, culled from the
newspapers of the past. It does by no means pretend to completeness;
for to essay a task of that kind would be to embark upon a very
extensive work, as well as a very severe indictment of the coaching
age. Moreover, it may shrewdly be suspected that many drowsy folk fell
off the box-seats in the darkness, and quietly and unostentatiously
broke their necks, without the least notice being publicly taken. Mere
upsets and injuries to passengers and coachmen are not instanced here.
Only a selection from the fatal accidents has been made.

1807.--Brighton and Portsmouth coach upset; coachman killed.

1810.--Rival Brighton and Worthing coaches racing; one upset; coachman
killed.

1819.--“Coburg” (Brighton coach) upset at Cuckfield, on the up journey.
The horses were fresh, and, dashing away, came into collision with a
waggon. All the eleven outsides were injured. A Mr. Blake died next day
at the “King’s Head,” Cuckfield, where the injured had been taken.

1826. _April._--The Leeds and Wakefield “True Blue,” going down Belle
Hill with horses galloping, on the wrong side of the road, came into
collision with a coal-cart. The coachman’s skull was fractured, and he
died instantly. One outside passenger’s leg had to be amputated, and he
died the next day. The recovery of another passenger was regarded as
doubtful.

One of the more serious among coach accidents was that which befell the
London and Dorking stage, in April 1826. It was one of those coaches
that did not carry a guard. It left the “Elephant and Castle” at nine
o’clock in the morning, full inside and out, and arrived safely at
Ewell, where Joseph Walker, who was both coachman and proprietor,
alighted for the purpose of getting a parcel from the hind boot. He
gave the reins to a boy who sat on the box, and all would have been
well had it not been for the thoughtless act of the boy himself, who
cracked the whip, and set the horses off at full speed. They dashed
down the awkwardly curving road by the church and into a line of wooden
railings, which were torn down for a length of twelve yards. Coming
then to some immovable obstacle, the coach was violently upset, and
the whole of the passengers hurled from the roof. All were seriously
injured, and one was killed. This unfortunate person was a woman, who
fell upon some spiked iron railings, “which,” says the contemporary
account, “entered her breast and neck. She was dreadfully mutilated,
none of her features being distinguishable. She lingered until the
following day, when she expired in the greatest agony.” The gravestone
of this unfortunate person is still to be seen in the leafy churchyard
of Ewell, inscribed to the memory of “Catherine, wife of James
Bailey, who, in consequence of the overturning of the Dorking Coach,
April 1826, met with her death in the 22nd year of her age.”

[Illustration: A MIDNIGHT DISASTER ON A CROSS ROAD: FIVE MILES TO THE
NEAREST VILLAGE.

                    _After C. B. Newhouse._
]

1827. _December._--The up Salisbury coach was driven, in the fog
prevailing at the time, into a pond called the “King’s Water,” at
East Bedfont, on Hounslow Heath. An outside passenger, a Mr. Lockhart
Wainwright, of the Light Dragoons, was killed on the spot, by falling
in the water. The pond was only two feet deep, but it had a further
depth of two feet of mud, and it was thought that the unfortunate
passenger was smothered in it. The four women inside the coach had
a narrow escape of being drowned, but were rescued, and the coach
righted, by a crowd of about a hundred persons, chiefly soldiers from
the neighbouring barracks, who had assembled.

1832. _February 19th._--Mr. Fleet, coachman and part-proprietor of
the Brighton and Tunbridge Wells coach, killed by the overturn of his
conveyance.

1832. _October 30th._--Brighton Mail upset at Reigate. Coachman killed
on the spot. The three outsides suffered fractured ribs and minor
injuries.

In 1833 the Marquis of Worcester, a shining light of the road in those
days, began that connection with the Brighton Road which afterwards
produced the “Duke of Beaufort” coach, made famous by the coloured
prints after Lambert and Shayer. He was passionately fond of driving,
and was so very often allowed by the complaisant professional coachmen
to “take the ribbons” that he at last fell into the habit of taking
them almost as a matter of right. Of course, the jarveys who had
relinquished the reins to him were always well remembered for their so
doing; but there were those to whom money was not everything, and in
whose minds the sporting instinct was less developed than a wholesome
and ever-present fear of the penalties to which coachmen were liable
if they permitted other persons to drive. There could have been no
objection on the score of coachmanship, for the Marquis was an able
whip; but the fact remained that he could not get the reins when he
wanted them, and so in revenge set up two coaches on the Brighton Road,
in alliance with a Jew named Israel Alexander. A paltry fellow, this
Marquis, afterwards seventh Duke of Beaufort, to enter into competition
with professional coachmen in order to satisfy a childish spite; not,
at any rate, the high-souled sportsman that toadies would have one
believe.

[Illustration: THE “BEAUFORT” BRIGHTON COACH.

                    _After W. J. Shayer._
]

The coaches put on the road by this alliance were the “Wonder” and
the “Quicksilver,” both with intent to run Goodman, the proprietor
of the “Times” coaches, off the route. The coachmen who tooled these
new conveyances were, of course, always to give up the reins when my
lord thought proper to drive, and so the revenge was complete. But
the “Quicksilver,” a fast coach timed to do the 52 miles in 4¾ hours,
had not been long on the road before it met with a very serious
accident, being overturned when leaving Brighton on the evening of
July 15th. A booking-clerk, one John Snow, the son of a coachman,
and himself a sucking Jehu, was driving, and upset the coach by the
New Steyne, with the result that the passengers were thrown into the
gardens of the Steyne, or hung upon the spikes of the railings in
very painful and ridiculous postures. Goodman had the satisfaction of
presently learning that the bad-blooded sportsman and his partner lost
some very heavy sums in compensation awards.

The “Quicksilver” was thereupon repainted and renamed, and, under the
alias of the “Criterion,” resumed its journeys. But ill-fortune clung
to that coach, for on June 7th, 1834, as it was leaving London, it came
into collision with a brewer’s dray opposite St. Saviour’s Church,
Southwark. A little way on, down the Borough High Street, the coachman
was obliged to suddenly pull up the horses to avoid running over a
gentleman on horseback, whose horse had bolted into the middle of the
road. The sudden strain on the pole, already, it seems, splintered in
the affair with the dray, broke it off. It fell, and became entangled
with the legs of the wheelers, who became so restive and infuriated
that attempts were made to put on the skid; but before that could be
done the coach overturned. Sir William Cosway, who was one of the
outsides, and was at that moment attempting to climb down, was pitched
off so violently that his skull was fractured, so that he died in
less than two hours afterwards. A Mr. Todhunter “sustained” (as the
reporters have it) a broken thigh.

1834.--The London and Halifax Mail came into collision with a bridge,
five miles from Sheffield. The coachman, Thomas Roberts, was killed.

The Wolverhampton and Worcester coach, in avoiding a cart coming down a
hill near Stourbridge, was upset, and a passenger killed.

_October._--A wheel came off one of Wheatley’s Greenwich coaches at
London Bridge, and one gentleman was killed.

1835. _August._--The Liverpool “Albion” fell over on entering
Whitchurch, through a worn-out linchpin. A lady inside passenger was
disfigured for life.

_June._--The Nottingham “Rapid” upset, three miles from Northampton,
through the breaking of an axle. A girl’s leg crushed, and afterwards
amputated.

_November._--The Newcastle and Carlisle Mail upset, two miles from
Hexham. Aiken, the coachman, killed.

_December 25th._--The down Exeter Mail upset on Christmas night, on
nearing Andover, through running against a bank in the prevailing fog.
Austin, the coachman, killed.

1836. _June._--The up Louth Mail nearly upset by stones maliciously
placed in the road by some unknown person, near Linger House bar.
Rhodes, the guard, was thrown off and seriously injured.

In September, 1836, a shocking accident befel the down Manchester
“Peveril of the Peak,” five miles from Bedford. The coach turned over,
and a gentleman named O’Brien was killed on the spot. The coachman lay
two hours under the coach, and died from his injuries.

The next disaster on our list was caused by a drunken coachman’s dazed
state of mind. Early on a Sunday morning in June, 1837, the Lincoln
and London Mails met and came into collision at Lower Codicote, near
Biggleswade. The driver of the up mail, Thomas Crouch, was in a state
of partial intoxication at the time, and owing to a curve in the road,
and the wandering state of his faculties, he did not observe the
approach of the other mail. The result was that, although the coachman
of the other made room for him to pass, the two coaches came into
violent collision. The coach driven by Crouch was turned completely
round, ran twenty or thirty yards in a direction opposite to that it
was originally taking, and finally settled in a leaning posture in the
ditch. Crouch was so injured that he died a few hours afterwards. The
passengers were not much hurt, but two horses were killed.

On September 8th, a coachman named Burnett was killed at Speenhamland,
on the Bath Road. He was driving one of the New Company’s London and
Bristol stages, and alighted at the “Hare and Hounds,” very foolishly
leaving the horses unattended, with the reins on their backs. He
had been a coachman for twenty years, but experience had not been
sufficient to prevent him thus breaking one of the first rules of
the profession. He had no sooner entered the inn than the rival Old
Company’s coach came down the road. Whether the other coachman gave the
horses a touch with his whip as he passed, or if they started on their
own accord, is not known, but they did start, and Burnett, rushing out
to stop them, was thrown down and trampled on so that he died.

Of another kind was the fatal accident that closed the year on the
Glasgow Road. On the night of December 18th, the up Glasgow Mail ran
over a man, supposed to have been a drunken carter, who was lying in
the middle of the highway.

1837. _August._--The up Glasgow Mail, the up Edinburgh Mail, the
Edinburgh and Dumfries, and the Edinburgh and Portpatrick Mails all
upset the same night, at different places.

1838. _August._--The London to Lincoln Express met a waggon at night,
at Mere Hall, six miles from Lincoln. The coachman called to the
waggoner to make room, and a young man who, it is supposed, was asleep
on the top, started up, and rolled off. The waggon-wheels went over and
killed him.

_September._--The Edinburgh and Perth “Coburg” was the subject of
a singular accident. Passengers and luggage were being received
at Newhall’s Pier, South Queensferry, when the leader suddenly
turned round, and before the coachman and guard, who were stowing
luggage, could render assistance, coach and horses disappeared over
the quay-wall. Some of the outsides saved their lives by throwing
themselves on the pier, but the four insides were less fortunate. Two
of them thrust their heads through the windows, and so kept above the
sea-water; the other two--a Miss Luff and her servant--were drowned.
One outside, who had been flung far out into the sea, could fortunately
swim, and so came ashore safe, but exhausted. Nine years later,
February 16th, 1847, a similar accident happened to the Torrington and
Bideford omnibus, when the horses took fright and plunged with the
vehicle into the river from Bideford Quay. Of the twelve passengers,
ten were drowned.

_October._--The “Light Salisbury,” having met the train at Winchfield
Station, proceeded to Hurstbourne Hill, between Basingstoke and
Andover, where the bit of one of the horses caught in the pole and
the coach was immediately overturned. One passenger died the same
afternoon, and another was taken to his house at Andover without the
slightest hope of recovery. A young woman’s leg was broken, and two
other passengers’ limbs were smashed.

The railway journals, which had even thus early sprung into flourishing
existence, did not fail to notice the increasing number of coaching
accidents, the _Railway Times_ with great gusto reporting twenty in a
few weeks. The prevalence of these disasters was a cynical commentary
upon the “Patent Safety” coaches running on every road, warranted
never to overturn and doing so with wonderful regularity, and on those
coaching prints noticed by Charles Dickens--“coloured prints of coaches
starting, arriving, changing horses; coaches in the sunshine, coaches
in the wind, coaches in the mist and rain, coaches in all circumstances
compatible with their triumph and victory; but never in the act of
breaking down, or overturning.”

The last years of coaching were, in fact, even more fruitful in
accidents than the old days. Especially pathetic were the circumstances
attendant upon the disaster that overtook the “Lark” Leicester and
Nottingham Stage on May 23rd, 1840. The coach was on its last journey
when it occurred, for the morrow was to witness the opening of the
railway between those places. Like most of these last trips, the
occasion was marked by much circumstance. Crowds assembled to witness
the old order of things visibly pass away, and Frisby, the coachman,
had dolefully tied black ribbons round his whipstock, to mark the
solemnity of the event. Unfortunately, that badge of mourning proved in
a little while to be only too appropriate, for the well-loaded coach
had only gone about a mile and a half beyond Loughborough when Frisby,
who had been driving recklessly all the way, and had several times been
remonstrated with, overturned it at Coates’ Mill. A Mr. Pearson and
another were killed. Pearson, who had especially come to take part in
this last drive, was connected with the “Times” London and Nottingham
coach. He had been seated beside Frisby, and had several times
warned him, without avail. His thighs were broken, and he received a
severe concussion of the brain, from which he died at midnight. Frisby
himself was crippled for life.

[Illustration: A QUEER PIECE OF GROUND IN A FOG: “IF WE GET OVER THE
RAILS, WE SHALL BE IN A UGLY FIX.”

                    _After C. B. Newhouse._
]

The pitcher goes oft to the well, but at last it is broken; and so
likewise the coachmen who, winter and summer, storm or shine, had
driven for almost a generation over the same well-known routes,
at length met their death on them in some unforeseen manner. A
striking instance of this was the sad end of William Upfold--“unlucky
Upfold”--who was coachman of the “Times” Brighton and Southampton
Stage, a coach which ran by way of Worthing and Chichester, he was
a steady and reliable man, fifty-four years of age, and had been a
coachman for thirty-five years, when fatal mischance slew him on a
February night, 1840. A singularly long series of more or less serious
accidents had constantly attended him from 1831. In that year his leg
was broken in an upset, and he had only just recovered and resumed
his place when the coach was overturned again, this time through the
breaking of an axle. The injuries he received kept him a long time
idle. Again, in January 1832, at Bosham, the furies were eager for his
destruction. He got off at the wayside inn, and left the reins in the
hands of a passenger, who very foolishly alighted also, a minute or so
later. When Upfold saw him enter the inn he hastily left it; but the
horses had already started. In trying to stop them he was kicked on
the leg, and fell under the wheels, which passed over him and broke the
other leg.

Poor Upfold recovered at last, and might have looked forward to
immunity from any more accidents; but Fate had not yet done with him.
When nearing Salvington Corner, one night in February 1840, he was
observed by Pascoe, a coachman who was with him, to pull the wrong rein
in turning one of the awkward angles that mark this stretch of road.

“Upfold, what are you at with the horses?” he asked.

“I have pulled the wrong rein,” said Upfold.

“Then mind and pull the right one this time,” rejoined Pascoe; but
scarcely had he said it when the coach toppled over. Nearly every
one was hurt, but Upfold was killed. His pulling the wrong rein was
inexplicable. The unfortunate man knew the road intimately, and the
witnesses declared he was absolutely sober; and so the country-folk,
who knew his history and how often accidents had come his way, were
reduced to the fatalistic remark that “it had to be.”

1841. _November 8th._--Rival coaches leaving Skipton started racing on
the Colne and Burnley road. The horses of one grew unmanageable and
ran away. The passengers, alarmed, began to jump off, and a Manchester
man, name unknown, who had been sitting beside the coachman, laid hold
of the reins to help the coachman pull the horses in. In doing so, he
pulled their heads to one side, and they dashed with appalling force
into a blank wall. He was killed on the spot. All the passengers who
had jumped off were more or less seriously injured; but a woman and a
boy, who had remained quietly in their seats on the roof, were unhurt.

1842. _January 17th._--The “Nettle,” Welshpool and Liverpool
coach, overturned by a stone near Newtown. Mr. Jones, of Gorward,
Denbighshire, a Dissenting minister, going to live at Kerry,
Montgomeryshire, was thrown off the roof. He died two days later of his
injuries, in great agony.

_December 28th._--The Mail, coming south from Caithness-shire, broke an
axle at Latheronwheel Bridge, and Donald Boss, the coachman, was dashed
from his box over the bridge into the rocky burn, thirty feet below,
and killed. The guard had a narrow escape. Fortunately, there were no
passengers.

1843. _February 18th._--The Cheltenham and Aberystwith Mail left the
“Green Dragon,” at Hereford, on its way, and proceeded as usual to St.
Owen’s turnpike-gate. The gate was open, as a matter of course, for the
Mail, but the boisterous wind blowing at the time sent it swinging back
across the road as the Mail passed. It hit the near wheeler a violent
blow and broke the trace and the reins. Then rebounding, it struck
the body of the coach with such force that Eyles, the coachman, was
thrown off the box and killed. The horses, thoroughly terrified, then
ran away, and, meeting some donkey-carts on the road, ran into them,
injuring some old women driving from market. One of them subsequently
died from her hurts.

_March 22nd._--The Norwich Day Coach upset at Brentwood. The coachman,
James Draing, who was also proprietor, was killed.

_April 21st._--The Southampton and Exeter Mail upset in the New Forest,
two miles from Stony Cross, by the horses, frightened at an overturned
waggon, running the coach up a bank. Cherry, the coachman, met a
dreadful death, his head being literally split in two. A subscription
of £350 was raised for his widow and six children.

_May 1st._--The “Red Rover,” Ironbridge and Wolverhampton coach, upset
half a mile from Madeley. One passenger, name unknown, killed. He was
described as “a very stout gentleman, apparently about sixty years of
age, dressed in an invisible green coat and great-coat of the same
colour.”

_June 26th._--William Cooke, guard of the Worcester coach, fell off his
seat and was killed.

_September 16th._--The Ludlow and Bewdley “Red Rover” overturned by the
breaking of the front axle. The coach was going slowly down-hill at the
time, and the wheel had the slipper on. It was a heavily-loaded coach,
and all the outsides were violently thrown. A Mr. Thomas, a native
of Ludlow, fifty-seven years of age, retired from business, was so
seriously injured that he died next day. At the inquest a deodand of
£30 was placed on the coach.

[Illustration: ROAD VERSUS RAIL.

                    _After C. Cooper Henderson 1845._
]

From this time forward the records of coaching accidents grow fewer,
and occur at longer intervals; but only because coaches themselves
were being swiftly replaced by the railways, which had by now come
largely into their kingdom. Railway accidents took their place, and
the coaching artists began to paint, and the printsellers to publish,
pictures like that of “Road _versus_ Rail” engraved here, showing a
very smart and well-appointed coach bowling safely along the road,
while a railway accident in progress in the middle distance attracts
the elegant and rather smug attention of coachman and passengers.

Every one now forgot the numerous casualties of the old order of
things--save, indeed, the bereaved and the maimed, suffering from the
happenings of pure mischance, or from the drunken or sporting folly of
the coachmen.

But to the very last, in those outlying districts to which the rail
came late, and where the coaches continued to ply regularly until
the ’fifties, the tragical possibilities of the road were insistent,
confounding the thorough-going sentimentalists to whom the old times
were everything that was good, and the new, by consequence, altogether
bad. Listen to the moving tale of the Cheltenham and Aberystwith down
mail on a wild night “about” 1852, according to the vague recollection
for dates of Moses James Nobbs.

Although torrents of rain had been falling and the night was pitch
dark, all went well with the mail until nearing the Lugg Bridge, near
Hereford, where the little river Lugg, rushing furiously in spate to
join the Wye, had undermined the masonry. No sooner did the horses
place their weight upon it than the arch gave way, and the coachman,
Couldery the guard, and the one passenger, were precipitated into
the torrent and swept away for more than a mile down stream. It was
midnight when the accident happened, and until daybreak the three, at
separate points, clung to rocks and branches, from which they were then
rescued by search-parties. The coachman and guard recovered from the
exposure, but the passenger died.

Charles Ward, that fine old coachman, who kept on the road in Cornwall
for many years after coaching had ceased over the rest of England,
tells amusingly of the happening that befell the cross-country Bath and
Devonport Mail, in some year unspecified. It might have been a most
serious accident, but fortunately ended happily. The coach was due to
arrive at Devonport at eleven o’clock at night. On this particular
occasion all the outside passengers, except a Mrs. Cox, an “immense
woman,” who kept a fish-stall in Devonport Market, had been set down at
Yealmpton, where the coachman and guard usually had their last drain.
They went, as usual, into the inn, and very considerately sent out
to Mrs. Cox a glass of “something warm,” it being a very cold night.
The servant-girl who took out that cheering glass was not able to
reach up to the roof, and so the ostler, who was holding the horses’
heads, very imprudently left them, to do the polite, when the animals,
hearing some one getting on the coach, and thinking (for coach-horses
did actually do something like it) that it was the coachman, started
off, and trotted at their ordinary speed the whole seven miles to the
door of the “King’s Arms” at Plymouth, where they were in the habit of
stopping to discharge some of the coach-freight. On their way they had
to cross the Laira Bridge and through the toll-bar, and did so, keeping
clear of everything on the road in as workmanlike a manner as though
the skilfullest of whips was directing their course. Mrs. Cox, however,
was terrified. Afraid to scream lest she should startle the horses,
she had to content herself with gesticulating and trying to attract
the attention of the people met or passed on the road. When the horses
drew up in an orderly fashion at the “King’s Arms,” and the ostlers
came bustling out to attend to their duties, they were astonished to
see no one but the affrighted Mrs. Cox on the outside, and two inside
passengers, who had been in total ignorance of what was happening.
The coachman and guard, in a very alarmed state, soon came up in a
post-chaise. It took many quarterns of gin to steady the nerves of
the proprietress of the fish-stall, and the incident became the chief
landmark of her career.

We will conclude this chapter of accidents on this lighter and less
sombre note, and tell how humour sometimes remained in the foreground
even if the possibilities of tragedy lurked threatening in the rear.
The tale used often to be told on the Exeter Road how, on one occasion,
when Davis was driving the up “Quicksilver” Mail between Bagshot
and Staines on a dark night, he ran into some obstruction, and the
coach was upset into the adjoining field, fortunately a wet meadow.
The “insides” were asleep at the time, and they naturally awoke in
the wildest alarm. One, who did not grasp the situation, called out,
“Coachman, coachman, where are we?” “By God, sir,” replied Davis, “I
don’t know, for I was never here before in all my life!” Happily,
nobody and nothing was hurt, and in twenty minutes the coach was away,
making up for lost time.



CHAPTER V

A GREAT CARRYING FIRM: THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO.


To the incurious public, who are as familiar with the name of
“Pickford’s” as with that of their favourite morning newspaper, and to
whom the sight of one of Pickford’s vans is a mere commonplace of daily
life, this great carrying firm is just a part of our modern commercial
system. To suggest to that favourite abstraction--the “average man”--so
commonly cited, that Pickford’s is a firm whose origin is to be traced
back two hundred and fifty or three hundred years would be a rash
thing. He would tell you that this is a firm of railway carriers, and
that, as railways are not yet a hundred years old, Pickford’s certainly
cannot be two centuries older.

Thus do later changes overlie and conceal earlier methods of business.

Our average citizen would be wrong in two things: in his premisses,
that the firm is wholly one of railway carriers; and in his
conclusions, that it came into existence with railways themselves.
The origin of Pickford’s is, indeed, lost in the mists that gather
round the social and commercial life of the early seventeenth century;
for the beginnings of the business go back to that time when the
original firm of packhorse carriers was established, to whose trade the
Pickfords succeeded, by purchase or otherwise, about 1730. Traditions
only survive of those long-absorbed carriers, whose packhorse trains
originally plied on the hilly tracks between Derby and Manchester
“about two hundred and fifty or three hundred years ago,” as we vaguely
learn. No documentary or other evidence exists on which to found an
account of them. What would we not give to be able to recover from the
romantic past the story of those old-time carriers, contemporary with
the famous Hobson himself, beyond comparison the most celebrated of all
these old men of the road!

But all records have been destroyed. When the several changes were made
that from time to time altered the constitution of the business, the
papers and documents relating to past transactions were cast aside as
waste-paper, and there was none among the people of those times who
thought it worth while, for the interest and instruction of posterity,
to set down what he knew of the current history of the concern. That
this should have been the case is no matter for surprise. The past
or the future interests many to whom the present is only something
from which to escape, as commonplace and dull. That man who is not
glad, when the business day is done, to leave for home and straightway
dismiss all thoughts of his business from his mind is rare indeed; and
still more rare he who finds interest, beyond mere money-getting, in
the daily commerce by which he lives and prospers.

About 1770 Matthew Pickford, the representative, in the second or third
generation, of that family in this olden firm, is found established in
Manchester, a town then making rapid industrial progress, and affording
great scope for the carrying trade, already, for some years past,
conducted by waggons; but we do not obtain any details of his business
until November 16th, 1776, when he issued the following advertisement,
afterwards inserted in _Prescott’s Manchester Journal_ for Saturday,
January 4th, 1777:--

     “THIS is to acquaint all Gentlemen,
      Tradesmen, and Others, that Mat.
      Pickford’s Flying Waggons to
      London in Four Days and a Half

  Set out from the Swan and Saracen’s Head, in Market Street Lane,
  Manchester, every Wednesday, at Six o’clock in the Evening,
  and arrive at the Swan Inn, Lad Lane, London, the Tuesday noon
  following; also set out every Saturday at the same Hour, and arrive
  there on Friday noon following. Set out from London every Wednesday
  and Saturday, and arrive at Manchester every Tuesday and Friday;
  which carry goods and passengers to and from Manchester, Stockport,
  Macclesfield, Leek, Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale,
  Ashton-under-Line, and places adjacent.

  “N.B.--M. Pickford will not be accountable for any Money, Plate,
  Watches, Jewels, Writings, Glass, China, etc., unless entered as
  such, and paid for accordingly.

  “Constant attention at the above Inns in London and Manchester, to
  take in Goods, etc.”

It will be noticed that these “four days and a half” trips, although
performed by “Flying Waggons,” and presumably much swifter than some
earlier ones of which we have no record, were only four and a half days
in a very special sense, and by the exercise of some peculiar method of
reckoning whose secret has not descended to us. It might seem, to the
person of ordinary intelligence, that these were really itineraries of
rather more than five days and a half; but the Sunday was doubtless a
day of rest for the waggoners, as for most others in those times.

In 1780, according to the evidence afforded by an old billhead, still
preserved, Matthew Pickford was carrying on business in conjunction
with Thomas, his brother, and in this partnership they continued to
trade for many years.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing industries of Lancashire and the
north-west had grown enormously, and canals were already being dug to
aid the transport of goods. We have no means of knowing in how far the
Pickfords took advantage of the early canals in the Midlands, but that
they availed themselves very greatly of the opportunities afforded
by them of extending their business seems unlikely, in view of the
position in 1817, when they admitted Joseph Baxendale as a partner into
the concern.

Joseph Baxendale was thirty-two years of age when he became partner
in the firm of Pickford & Co. He was born in 1785, the son of Josiah
Baxendale, of Lancaster, and had already seen something of business as
partner in the concern of Swainson & Co., calico-printers at Preston,
whose firm he left to seek those wider activities for which his active
mind longed. For there was something adventurous in his blood, which
would by no means permit him merely to take the sedentary part of a
capitalist in any enterprise in whose fortunes he might acquire a
share. An opportunity thoroughly suited to his temperament was this
which offered, of becoming a partner in the already old-established
firm of Pickford’s. We have now no means of knowing precisely on
what terms he joined the two brothers, but whatever the pecuniary
consideration may have been, enough survives to tell us that his
youthful activities and his keen business intelligence were prominent
in what he brought into the firm. For many years Matthew and Thomas
had borne the whole conduct of the business, and it was now desirable,
both by reason of their advancing years and the natural growth of
the commercial activities of the country, that they should have,
allied with them, one who, alike by inclination and urged by business
interests, would scour the country, supervising and organising, as
they no longer found it possible to do.

Baxendale found plenty of work of this nature awaiting him. The staff
of horses which the Pickfords had found sufficient for their needs in
bygone years had been little, if at all, increased, although a period
of great trade-expansion had set in; and a total lack of efficient
supervision over agents and carmen had resulted in the carrying
business being dilatory and untrustworthy. Under these circumstances,
it is not surprising that rival firms had begun to threaten the very
existence of Pickford’s, declining under the nerveless rule, by which
the needs of the time were not understood.

It was soon impressed upon the new partner’s active and penetrating
intelligence that the requirements of the time, and still more the
requirements of the succeeding years, imperatively demanded a thorough
reorganisation--more thorough, perhaps, than the old partners were
altogether ready to concede. He soon acquired entire control, and the
Pickfords, unable or unwilling to meet new times with new methods, left
their already historic business and its destinies in his hands.

He speedily altered the aspect of affairs. Soon he had close upon a
thousand horses, all his own, on the great roads between London and
the north-west; while advertisements were issued, announcing “Caravans
on Springs and Guarded, carrying Goods only, every afternoon at 6
o’clock,” from London and Manchester, taking only 36 hours to perform
the 186 miles.

To this, then, the “caravan” had come at last. Travellers from the Far
East had originally brought the word to England. They had seen the
Persian _kārwāns_ toiling under those torrid skies--covered waggons
in whose shady interiors the poor folks travelled; and when the first
stage-waggons were established in England, they were often known by
an English version of that name. Some of the caravans of the late
seventeenth century were, however, by no means the rough-and-ready
affairs generally supposed, if we may judge from the description of
one offered for sale in the _London Gazette_ of May 6th, 1689. This,
according to the vendors, was:--

“A Fair easie going Caravan, with a very handsom Roof Brass Work, good
Seats. Glasses on the sides to draw up; that will carry 18 Persons,
with great Conveniency for Carriage of Goods, so well built that it is
fit for Carriage of all manner of Goods--to be sold.”

But there was one more change before the caravan in 1817. Already the
popular voice, unwilling to enunciate three syllables when one could be
made to serve, had clipped the name to “van,” and as vans all covered
vehicles of the kind have been known ever since.

At the time when Baxendale appeared upon the scene the headquarters of
the business were still at Manchester, and the London establishments
had been for many years past at the “Castle,” Wood Street, and the
“White Bear,” Basinghall Street. To the first house, then a galleried
inn of the ancient type, at the corner of Wood Street and what is
now Gresham Street, but was then Lad Lane, the London and Manchester
waggons and caravans resorted; and to and from the “White Bear” went
the Leicester and Nottingham traffic.

Coming with a fresh mind to the carrying problems that confronted the
firm, the new partner decided that London, and not Manchester, ought to
be its central point, and so soon as he obtained control he accordingly
removed the head offices to the Metropolis. Canal-traffic, too, engaged
his earnest attention, and the scope of the firm’s activities were
extended enormously in that direction. The Regent’s Canal was opened
in 1820, and when that opening took place the newly built wharves of
Pickford & Co. were ready, beside the City Basin. To and from that
point came and went the water-borne trade, in the fly-boats of the
firm, simultaneously with the fly-vans on the roads.

These developments brought other changes, and in 1826 the existing
headquarter offices of Pickford & Co. were built in Gresham Street,
adjoining the “Castle” Inn.

[Illustration: JOSEPH BAXENDALE.

                    _From the portrait by E. H. Pickersgill, R.A._
]

It will be interesting to see what was the cost of carriage of goods at
this period. It was the carriers’ Golden Age, when, for distances of
a little over a hundred miles from London--as, for example, Leicester
and Birmingham--the carriage of goods by waggon or caravan could be
charged at 5s. per cwt., or £5 per ton; when by coach the rates for
small parcels were 1d. a pound; and even by canal--that last effort in
cheap transport before railways--the charges were 2s. 9d. per cwt., or
£2 15s. per ton.

He who reorganised the old business of Pickford’s demands extended
notice in these pages. A portrait of him, a three-quarter length,
painted by Pickersgill, R.A., about 1847, has the illusion common to
all three-quarter-length portraits of giving an appearance of great
stature. Mr. Baxendale was a man of broad shoulder, and not above
the middle height. While in many respects a good portrait of him, it
is said by those who knew him best to fail in not giving expression
to the native kindliness and humour that underlaid his keen business
instincts. “Cheerful and witty in conversation,” says one who knew him
well, “he ever had a word of encouragement for the youngsters, and was
universally beloved by those whom he employed.”

To those who served him to the best of their ability he was a
never-failing friend, and, at a time when business firms did not
usually trouble themselves about the comfort of their servants, took
pains to secure their well-being. In the galleries of the old “Castle”
Inn he constructed a coffee- and club-room for his carmen, and provided
similar conveniences at his other establishments. The old inn has
long been demolished, but the headquarters of the firm still remains
next door, and adjoins the modern Railway Goods Receiving Office
of the “Swan with Two Necks,” built on the site of the old coaching
establishment of Chaplin’s.

Never was such a man for improving maxims as Joseph Baxendale. He was
a great admirer of _Poor Richard’s Almanack_ and its racy maxims,
written by Daniel Webster, and carefully caused a broadsheet containing
a selection of them to be printed. He also tried his own hand at
composing pithy sentences on the virtues of punctuality and method,
and caused leaflets of these, together with _Poor Richard’s_ homely
literature, to be circulated and posted in all conspicuous places in
the establishments of Pickford & Co. in London and the provinces, and
on the roads and canals where his vans travelled or his fly-boats
voyaged. Here is one of his compositions in this way:--

[Illustration:

    +-----------+               +---------+
    |           |      THE      |         |
    | TIME LOST |               |  NEVER  |
    |  CANNOT   |  IMPORTANCE   | DESPAIR |
    |    BE     |               |    --   |
    | REGAINED  |      OF       | NOTHING |
    |           |               | WITHOUT |
    |           |  PUNCTUALITY  | LABOUR  |
    |           |               |         |
    +-----------+               +---------+
]

  METHOD is the very Hinge of Business; and there is no Method
  without Punctuality. Punctuality is important, because it subserves
  the Peace and good Temper of a Family: The want of it not only
  infringes on necessary Duty, but sometimes excludes this Duty.
  The Calmness of Mind which it produces, is another Advantage of
  Punctuality: A disorderly man is always in a hurry; he has no time
  to speak to you, because he is going elsewhere; and when he gets
  there, he is too late for his business; or he must hurry away
  to another before he can finish it. Punctuality gives weight to
  Character. “Such a man has made an Appointment:--then I know he
  will keep it.” And this generates punctuality in you; for, like
  other Virtues, it propagates itself. Servants and Children must be
  punctual, where their Leader is so. Appointments, indeed, become
  Debts. I owe you Punctuality, if I have made an Appointment with
  you: and have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own.

Of course, this good advice and insistence upon its being followed
would have been of little avail had the author of it not been
continually alert to see that his instructions took root. _He_, at any
rate, practised what he preached, and rose early, was diligent all day,
and went late to bed. As a business man whose business was conducted
over a large stretch of country--extending chiefly in a diagonal line
two hundred miles long, between London and Liverpool--he knew that
only by personal supervision and by great and unwearied exertions in
travelling could his subordinates be kept in a state of efficiency;
and he accordingly was always travelling. By post-chaise or by private
carriage he flew, day and night, along the great roads between London
and Holyhead, and London, Derby, Manchester and Liverpool; appearing,
suddenly and unexpectedly, at some great town-warehouse of the firm, or
some wayside office or place of call, and often springing, as it were,
out of the void, to encourage some diligent servant, or (it is to be
feared) more often to reprimand a lazy and inefficient one. None could
predicate his movements or where he might be at any given time; save
indeed those with whom he had made appointments, and they knew, after
only a short acquaintance, that the sun was scarce more likely to rise
and set according to the calendar than Joseph Baxendale was to redeem
his promise of any such assignation.

Forsaking for awhile the roads and his establishments along them, he
would next appear on the canals of whose sullen waters his fly-boats
flew, and pay flying visits of inspection to the many wharves along
their course. These water expeditions were made in a vessel especially
constructed--a “canal-yacht” called the _Lark_, whether significantly
named in allusion to the early-rising habits of its owner we do not
know. It was this boat, according to the still surviving tradition, he
lent to the Earl of Derby on an occasion when Lady Derby was in London,
too ill to travel by road to Knowsley, where, according to the doctor’s
advice, she should be removed. In it she travelled all the way down to
Lancashire, along the canals.

Another surviving tradition, and one that speaks well for the quality
of the horses that drew the fly-boats--and perhaps even better for the
keenness of the sporting instincts of the official concerned---tells
how Mr. Baxendale, on coming to Braunston, a Northamptonshire village
on the Grand Junction Canal, discovered that the man who should have
been in charge of his wharf there had gone hunting, mounted on one of
the firm’s towing-path steeds. Records of that time do not tell us of
that sportsman’s return, or of the reception that met him.

It was perhaps a consequence of the strenuous rule then obtaining
that, at a time when the great roads to the north were blocked by the
historic snowstorm of Christmas 1836, when the stage-coaches and the
mails were buried in the drifts, Pickford’s Manchester Flying Van was
first through. We may suppose that the horses were better specimens
than those pictured here, from an old painting, which represents the
fly-van team as a very sorry one indeed, comparing badly with the
sturdy animals who are seen drawing the van in the first picture.

It would be a mistake to think that Baxendale’s ways with his staff
were merely those of the strict disciplinarian, only anxious to obtain
the utmost from them. His kindliness was perhaps his strongest point,
and Pickford’s under his rule began the practice of recognising the
loyalty and hard work of their servants by pensioning them on their
retirement--a policy that still does honour to the firm.

Under this vigorous sway Pickford’s grew and prospered, and by the
time when railways first loomed threatening upon the horizon of the
carriers’ and coachmen’s outlook, commanded the bulk of the goods
traffic between London and the Midlands, alike by road and canal. That
was a period above all others when a clear head was requisite. It
appeared to many to be a choice between giving up business or fighting
the encroachments of steam. To the few, of whom Baxendale was one,
the issues were more varied and hopeful. He foresaw that railways
must succeed, and that, since to fight them would be hopeless, the
best thing to do would be to work with them as far as possible. The
business need not be injured; indeed, he saw that it must needs share
in whatever prosperity attended the railways. Only methods must be
changed. But to reorganise a vast business only just, after thirteen
years of unwearied effort, re-established on new and improved lines,
must have seemed a hard necessity. However, when the Liverpool and
Manchester Railway, the second line in the country, was about to be
opened, in 1830, he perceived that although the road traffic must cease
between the two terminal points of a railway, yet there must be some
agency prepared to collect goods, and deliver them to or convey them
from the railway stations. He saw, too, an inevitable increase in the
volume of traffic, and very prudently resolved to obtain a share of it
by throwing in his lot with the railway people, who were themselves
not so assured of instant success as to repel so unexpected an offer,
and welcomed the proposed alliance. The same attitude was adopted
towards the Grand Junction Railway and the London and Birmingham. In
this far-seeing policy Baxendale was at one with William Chaplin, who
at an early period in the history of railway enterprise had called
upon him and asked him what his views were on this vital question.
Chaplin withdrew his coaches when the London and Birmingham Railway
was opened, and Pickford’s fly-vans and fly-boats ceased to run. In
return for these really valuable services, Pickford’s, and Chaplin and
his coaching ally, Horne, who had been equally complaisant, acquired
shares in the town and country carrying agencies for what in 1845
became an amalgamation of railway interests under the style and title
of the “London and North-Western Railway.” Unused as these new railway
people were to the business of handling goods, they were glad enough
that Mr. Baxendale should organise that class of traffic for them,
and, as we have already said, really welcomed the aid thus somewhat
unexpectedly forthcoming, although outwardly adopting a self-sufficient
and omnipotent attitude. He became organising goods-manager, and
contributed the services of his staff to the work, but resigned when
everything had been duly set going to devote himself to his own
business. He it was who drew up the documents still used in the goods
departments of railways to this day, in all essentials unaltered.

[Illustration: PICKFORD AND CO.’S ROYAL FLY-VAN, ABOUT 1820.

                    _From a contemporary painting._
]

Meanwhile his anticipations were justified by the course of events,
Railways did but alter the methods of the carrying trade. They
not only did not destroy it, but, in the altered shape it took,
increased it fifty-fold. No fewer than twenty-one district managers
became necessary to the conduct of the business, which at length gave
employment to between three and four thousand people.

The central figure of this successful reorganisation became, like
William Chaplin, a power in the railway world. He was for some years
Chairman of the South-Eastern Railway, and in that capacity strongly
urged the purchase of Folkestone Harbour, an undertaking then in the
market. His co-directors did not at the time agree with the proposal,
but eventually came round to his way of thinking, and brought up the
subject again. Meanwhile he had privately purchased the harbour. The
high sense of duty that characterised him led to his considering that,
as Chairman of the Railway Company, and as therefore trustee of the
interests of the projectors, he could not retain the property, and he
accordingly transferred it at the price he had given. He was at the
same time a director of the Great Northern Railway of France, but was
in 1848, in consequence of a severe illness, obliged to resign some of
these activities, together with the detailed management of Pickford’s,
which he then left in the hands of his three sons, but never gave up
control of the business. He had in the meantime purchased an estate at
Woodside Park, Whetstone, where he resided. He died there, March 24th,
1872, in his eighty-seventh year.

The portrait of him, as he was in the full vigour of his manhood,
hangs amid the old-time relics still cherished in the Gresham Street
offices--among the muskets and the blunderbusses carried by the guards
of his fly-vans in the old days of the road.



CHAPTER VI

ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE


The whole art and mystery of coach-robbing began to be studied at
a very early date. In the _London Gazette_ during 1684 we find the
following extremely explicit advertisement:--

  “A GENTLEMAN (passing with others in the Northampton Stage Coach on
  Wednesday the 14th instant, by Harding Common about two miles from
  Market-street) was set upon by four Theeves, plain in habit but
  well-horsed, and there (amongst other things) robbed of a Watch;
  the description of it thus, The Maker’s Name was engraven on the
  Back plate in French, Gulimus Petit à Londres; it was of a large
  round Figure, flat, Gold Enamelled without, with variety of Flowers
  of different colours, and within a Landskip, and by a fall the
  Enamel was a little cracked; It had also a black Seale-Skin plain
  Case lined with Green Velvet. If any will produce it, and give
  notice to Mr. Samuel Gibs, Sadler near the George Inn Northampton,
  or to Mr. Cross in Wood Street, London, he shall have a Guinea
  reward.”

It is to be feared that the gentleman who thus mourned his watch never
regained it.

From this time forward, until well into the nineteenth century,
highwaymen and the highway-robbery of postboys, stage-coaches,
post-chaises, and all sorts and conditions of wayfarers became
commonplaces of travel. Dick Turpin’s name has acquired an undue
prominence, on account of Harrison Ainsworth elevating him upon a
pedestal, as the hero of a romance, but his was really neither a
prominent nor an heroic figure. Innumerable other practitioners
surpassed him. Claude Du Vall, who robbed and danced on Hounslow Heath;
Abershaw, the terror of the Surrey Commons; Captain Hind, soldier and
gentleman, warring with authority; Boulter, whose depredations were
conducted all over the kingdom; the “Golden Farmer” on the Exeter Road,
outside Bagshot: all these and very many more were infinitely superior
to Turpin, and, as they phrased it, “spoke to” the coaches with great
success during their brief but crowded career. Nowadays, we hear much
of overcrowded professions; but those of the Army, the Church, and
the Law are by no means so crowded as were the ranks of the liberal
profession of highway robbery in the brave nights of crape mask and
horse-pistols at the cross-roads on the blasted heaths which then
encompassed the Metropolis; lonesome places of dreadful possibilities,
which could not have been more conveniently placed for the purpose of
these night-hawks had they been expressly designed for them.

Travellers, who looked upon being robbed once upon a journey as the
inevitable thing, very soon discovered this overcrowded state of
affairs, and resented it. Once upon a time, after the gentry who plied
their occupation on Hounslow Heath and Finchley or Putney Commons had
taken toll of purse and pocket, travellers had gone their way chuckling
at the store of notes and gold still safe in their boots and the lining
of their coats; but when every reckless blade and every discharged
footman or disbanded soldier took to the road, the polite highwayman
of the recognised robbing-places had no sooner been left behind with a
“good-night to you”--mutual good wishes and a hearty _au revoir!_ from
Du Vall or one of his brethren--than the territory of an unsuspected
set of ruffians was entered; rough-and-ready customers, who were not
content until they had got the passengers’ boots off, or had ripped up
the linings of coats and waistcoats, and then, having taken the last
stiver, bade those unhappy passengers, with a curse, begone. There was
an even deeper depth of misery--when, thus shorn and stripped, they
encountered a yet more rascally, more provincial and hungrier crew, who
in their exasperation at getting nothing, would sometimes resort to
personal violence, to vent their disappointment and ill-humour.

At this overcrowded period, when the ordinary course of business
failed, the highwaymen were even known to practise upon one another,
like the Stock Exchange brokers of to-day, who, when the public hold
aloof, sharpen their wits and fill their pockets by professional
dealings.

In 1758 the monotony of highway robbery was broken by a burglary at
the “Bull and Mouth” coach-office, at 3 o’clock one morning, when 47
parcels, chiefly containing plate and watches, were stolen. The booty
was valued at £500. The thieves carried the parcels away in a cart, and
left behind them a lighted candle, which would have burned the place
down had it not been discovered in time by a coachman.

This was followed in May 1766 by an incident standing out in highly
humorous relief. The _Public Advertiser_ in that month announced:--“A
few nights ago, among the passengers that were going in the stage
from Bath to London, were two supposed females that had taken outside
places. As they were climbing to their seats it was observed that one
of them had men’s shoes and stockings on, and upon further search,
Breeches were discovered also: this consequently alarming the company,
the person thus disguised was taken into custody and locked up for the
night. The next day he was brought before a magistrate, and upon a
strict examination into matters, it appeared that he was a respectable
tradesman who, having cash and bills to a large amount on him, thus
disguised himself to escape the too urgent notice of the ‘Travelling
Collectors.’”

Turnpike Trusts at this time encouraged Sabbatarian feeling by charging
double on Sundays; but “knowing” travellers sometimes travelled on that
day, and submitted to that imposition as the cheaper of two evils.
The one they thus escaped was the imminent risk of being molested
by highwaymen and stripped of all their valuables; for those gay
“Collectors,” as they delighted to style themselves, did not attend to
business on the Sabbath. We are not, from this, to suppose that the
highwaymen were at church, or at home, reading improving literature.
Not at all: they did not expect wayfarers, and so took the day off. The
Sunday Trading Act for many years forbidding Lord’s Day employment,
prevented coaches running then, and so helped to give the hard-worked
nocturnal gentlemen of the road their needed weekly rest, and ensured
them from missing very much. Yet anxious travellers did sometimes go on
Sundays, and risk an information. When at last the mail-coaches were
started, to go seven times a week, and the Post Office itself set the
example of Sunday travel, away went the highwayman’s week-ends and the
travellers’ respite from wayside “Stand and deliver!” The stages then
plied on Sundays also.

As for the mails, they were immune from attack. The Post Office
early issued a warning against sending gold by them; but it did so,
not from fear of the highwaymen, but “from the prejudice it does
the coin by the friction.” Highwaymen were, in fact, little feared
either by the Department or by the mail-passengers, for not only did
the guard’s embattled condition secure them from attack, but the
Post Office introduced enactments dealing very severely with highway
robbery applied to the mail-coaches. The standing reward offered the
liege-subjects of the king for arresting an ordinary highwayman was
raised to £200 in the case of an attack on the mail, further augmented
by another £100 if within five miles of London. Mail-coaches, by
consequence, were left severely alone by the Turpins, Abershaws, and
others of their kind; and it has been said that a mail-coach, unlike
the old postboys carrying the mail-bags, was never attacked.

Although this is very likely true, it must not be supposed that the
mails were never robbed. The distinction drawn is clear. Violence
was not shown, but robberies were frequent, often on a sensational
scale. One February night in 1810, some unknown persons wrenched off
the lock of the hind-boot on one of the mails and made away with no
fewer than sixteen North-Country bags. Where was the guard? Probably
kissing the pretty barmaid. Again, on November 9th, in that same year,
nine bags were stolen from a mail at Bedford; and so frequent grew
robberies of all sorts that in January 1813 the Superintendent of Mails
was constrained to issue a warning notice to his officials:--“The
guards are desired by Mr. Hasker to be particularly attentive to their
mail-box. Depredations are committed every night on some stage-coaches
by stealing parcels. I shall relate a few, which I trust will make you
circumspect. The Bristol mail-coach has been robbed within a week of
the bankers’ parcel, value £1000 or upwards. The Bristol mail-coach was
robbed of money the 3rd instant to a large amount. The ‘Expedition’
coach has been twice robbed in the last week--the last time of all the
parcels out of the seats. The ‘Telegraph’ was robbed last Monday night
between the Saracen’s Head, Aldgate, and Whitechapel Church, of all the
parcels out of the dicky. It was broken open while the guard was on it,
standing up blowing his horn. The York mail was robbed of parcels out
of the seats to a large amount.”

Many of these robberies cited by Hasker were, it will be noticed, from
stage-coaches. Despite this warning note, small thefts continued. Then,
in 1822, came the classic instance--the robbery from the Ipswich Mail,
when notes worth £31,198 mysteriously disappeared. A month later the
bulk of them, to the value of £28,000, was returned, only a few, worth
£3000, having been successfully negotiated. On the night of June 6th,
1826, seven bags were taken from the Dover Mail between Chatham and
Rainham; and in the following year a new sensation was provided by the
Warwick Mail being robbed of £20,000.

But the closing great robbery of the coaching age was that of £5000 in
notes from the “Potter” (Manchester and Stafford) coach, October 1839.
The notes, in a parcel addressed to a bank at Hanley, were extracted
from the hind-boot when the coach was near Congleton.

Adventures, says the proverb, are to the adventurous; but in coaching
times they befell those who desired a quiet life, equally with the
seekers after sensation and experience. Fortunately for the peace of
mind of our grandfathers, the startling adventure that befell the up
Exeter Mail at Winterslow Hut, on the night of October 20th, 1816,
was unique. The coach had left Salisbury in the usual way, and had
proceeded several miles, when what was thought to be a large calf was
seen trotting beside the horses in the darkness. When the lonely inn of
Winterslow Hut was reached, the team had become extremely nervous, and
could scarcely be kept under control. At the moment when the coachman
pulled up, one of the horses was seized by the supposed calf, and the
others of the terrified team began to kick and plunge violently. The
guard very promptly drew his blunderbuss, and was about to shoot this
mysterious assailant, when several men, accompanied by a large mastiff,
came on the scene; and it appeared that this ferocious “calf” was
really a lioness, escaped from a travelling menagerie, and these men
come in pursuit. The dog was holloaed on to the attack, and the lioness
thereupon left the horse, and, seizing him, tore the wretched animal to
pieces.

At length she was secured by a rope, and taken off in captivity. The
leading horse was fearfully mangled, but survived, and was exhibited
for a time, with great financial success, by the showman whose
lioness had wrought the mischief. When the interest had subsided,
“Pomegranate”--for that was the name of the horse--was sold. He had
been foaled in 1809, and was a thoroughbred, with rather too much
spirit for his owner, who had sold him out of his stable for his bad
temper. The severe work in coaches of that period soon took the unruly
nature out of such animals, and no complaint was made of him in his
long after-career on the Brighton and Petworth stage-coach.

This exciting episode was, of course, the wonder of that age, and two
coaching artists made capital out of it, in the shape of very effective
plates. James Bollard was the author of one; the other was by one
Sauerweid, whose name is not familiar in work of this kind.

Dark nights in wild country were fruitful in strange experiences,
aided, doubtless, by the potency of the parting glass as well as
by the blackness of the night and the ruggedness of the way. The
adventures of Jack Creery and Joe Lord, coachman and guard of the
pair-horse Lancaster and Kirkby Stephen Mail, one snowy night, form a
case in point. They had the coach to themselves, for it was not good
travelling weather. Creery, we are told, “felt sleepy”--a pretty way
of saying he was intoxicated--and so the guard took the reins. In
driving, this worthy, whose condition seems to have been only a shade
better than that of his companion, wandered in the snow into a by-lane
between Kirkby Stephen and Kirkby Lonsdale, and so lost his way. After
floundering about for some time, he aroused Creery, and their united
efforts, after alighting many times to read the signposts, brought them
in the middle of the night to a village, where they were found by
the aroused villagers loudly knocking at the church door, under the
impression that it was a public-house. That snowstorm must have been a
particularly blinding one, or the brandy at their last house of call
unusually strong.

[Illustration: THE LIONESS ATTACKING THE EXETER MAIL, OCTOBER 20th,
1816.

                    _After A. Sauerweid._
]

Not often was coaching history marked by such a gruesome incident as
that which befell a coach on the Norwich Road. At Ingatestone a lady,
who was the only inside passenger, was discovered to have died. Her
son, travelling outside, was informed, but after some hesitation it was
decided that the coach should proceed to its destination at Colchester.
At Chelmsford, however, two ladies presented themselves as would-be
passengers. Inside seats only were available, all the outsides being
occupied. They were informed of the circumstances, and that they could
therefore not be booked; but were so anxious to go by the coach that
they overcame their natural scruples, and rode with the dead woman to
the journey’s end.

Of winter travelling we have already heard something, and shall hear
more. How it struck one contemporary with those times we may learn from
a reminiscent old traveller, who, having had much experience of old
coaching methods, preferred the railway age--at least in winter. Thus
he recalls some of his experiences:--

“For a day and night journey the agony was, on two occasions, so
intense that, although then in my youth, and hardy enough, I was
obliged to get off the coach and sleep a night on the road; by which
I don’t mean under the hedge, but in one of those fine old (and
highly expensive) inns that then were to be found at more or less
regular intervals along the great highways. Posting, generally with
four horses--a highly extravagant way of travelling, but one in great
favour with those who could afford it--maintained correspondingly high
charges at all these houses of entertainment. It was all very well
to rhapsodise over the climbing roses, the fragrant honeysuckle and
the odorous jessamine that wreathed the portals of the wayside inn in
summer, or to become eloquent over the roaring fire, at whose ruddy
blaze you toasted your feet in winter, but you had to pay--and to pay
pretty heavily--for these luxuries. I will suppose that the traveller
stopped for dinner, which, if left to the landlady, generally consisted
of eels, or other fresh-water fish, dressed in a variety of ways, roast
fowl, lamb or mutton cutlets, bread, cheese, and celery, for which a
charge of six or seven shillings was made. If the meal took place after
dark, there was an additional item of two shillings or half a crown
for wax lights. Then, ‘for the good of the house’ and your own certain
discomfort, there was a bottle of fine crusted port (probably two days
in bottle) seven shillings; or a bottle of fiery sherry, just drawn
from the wood, six shillings. To all these charges must be added the
waiter’s fee of one shilling or eighteenpence a head. ‘Sleeping on the
road’ absolved you from some of these costs, but it was expensive in
its own way. It involved tea or supper, chambermaid and boots, as well
as bed and breakfast. Breakfast, with ham and eggs, three shillings;
tea, with a few slices of thin bread-and-butter, eighteenpence or two
shillings; a soda and brandy, eighteenpence.

“Once, in the depth of winter, I left Bramham Park, the seat of George
Lane-Fox, on the Great North Road, to proceed to London, with a journey
before me of 190 miles. I was well wrapped up, with enough straw round
my feet to conceal a covey of partridges; still, after going about 37
miles, I felt myself so benumbed that I began to think whether it would
be wise to go on, or get off and sacrifice my fare to London. Upon
reaching Bawtry I felt more comfortable, the guard at Doncaster having
lent me a tarpaulin lined with sheepskin; so I resolutely determined to
brave the pitiless storm of snow, now whitening the ground.

“‘Half an hour for supper,’ exclaimed the waiter, as we pulled up
at the ‘Crown.’ Down I got, entered the room, where there was a
bright fire blazing, devoured some cold beef, drank a glass of hot
brandy-and-water, and bravely went forth to face the elements. By this
time the snow had increased, the wind had got up, and my heart failed.
Back I rushed to the bar, ordered a bed, and remained there for the
night, finishing my journey the following day.

“Again, in coming from Bath by a night coach, I was so saturated with
wet and shivering with cold that I got out at Reading, rushed to the
‘Bear,’ and slept there the night.”

Such was the best travelling that money could buy in the days before
England was--according to the coachmen--made a gridiron by the
railways.



CHAPTER VII

SNOW AND FLOODS


Severe weather, in the shape of frosts, thunderstorms, or hurricanes,
was powerless to stop the coach-service, but exceptionally heavy
snowfalls occasionally did succeed in doing so for very brief
intervals; and floods, although they never were or could be so general
as to wholly suspend coaching, often brought individual coaches to
grief.

In the severe winter of 1798–9, when snow fell heavily and continuously
at the end of January and during the first week of February, several
mails, missing on February 1st, were still to seek on April 27th, and
St. Martin’s-le-Grand mourned them as wholly lost. By May Day, however,
they did succeed in running again!

Very few details survive of that exceptional season, or of that other,
in 1806, when Nevill, a guard on the Bristol Mail, was frozen to death;
but the records of the great snowstorm that began on the Christmas
night of 1836 are very full.

Christmas Day, 1836, fell on a Sunday, and it is worth notice, as
a singular coincidence in this country of only occasional heavy
snowfalls, that the Christmas night of 1886, also a Sunday night,
exactly half a century later, was marked by that well-remembered
snowstorm which disorganised the railway service quite as effectually
as that of 1836 did the coaches, and broke down and destroyed nearly
every telegraph-post and wire in the land.

The famous snowstorm of 1836 affected all parts of the country, and
only on two mail routes were communications kept open. Fourteen
mail-coaches were abandoned on the various roads, and for periods
ranging from two to ten days the travels of others ceased. The
snowstorm itself continued for nearly a week. The two routes remaining
unconquered during this extraordinary time were those to Portsmouth
and Poole, but precisely why or how they were thus distinguished is
not made clear. There is no doubt that the coachmen and guards on
the Portsmouth and Poole Mails were strenuous men, but that quality
was common to many of those engaged upon the mails. Nor can we find
any favouring circumstance of physical geography to account for this
unusual good fortune. On the contrary, those roads are in places
exceptionally bleak and exposed to high winds; and the strong wind
that on this occasion bared the heights and buried the hollows twenty
and thirty feet deep in snow-wreaths was an especial feature of the
visitation. Fortunately for all upon the roads--for those who laboured
along them, and for those who were brought to a standstill in the
drifts--the cold was not remarkably severe.

But never before, within living recollection, had the London mails
been stopped for a whole night within a few miles from London, and
never before had the intercourse between the South Coast and the
Metropolis been interrupted for two whole days. On Chatham Lines the
snow lay from thirty to forty feet deep, and everywhere, except on the
hilltops, it was higher than the roofs of the coaches. Nay, according
to a contemporary newspaper account, “The snow has drifted to such an
extent between Leicester and Northampton as to occasion considerable
difficulty and danger. In some parts of the road passages have been cut
where the snow had drifted to the depth of thirty, forty, and in some
places fifty feet.”

The great difficulty with which the coaches had on this occasion to
contend was not merely the getting along the roads, but, as with these
extraordinary depths of snow the natural features of the country were
mostly obscured, of keeping on or anywhere near the road. Hedgerows
were blotted out of existence: many trees had fallen under their snowy
burdens, and it was not unusual, when at last the snowed-up mails were
recovered, to find them strayed far from their course, and in the
middle of pastures and ploughlands.

Snowstorms produced curious travelling experiences. It was this great
occasion that effectually blocked all the up night coaches for two
days at Dunchurch, on the Holyhead Road, and so succeeded in bringing
together a party not unlike those weatherbound travellers who in
Dickens’ Christmas stories gather round the hearth, and, comforting
themselves with many jorums of punch, tell dramatic stories. One party
crowded the “Dun Cow,” another the “Green Man.” Among the coaches were
the Manchester “Beehive” and the “Red Rover.” The first morning of
their enforced leisure they--coachmen, guards and passengers--made up
a poaching party, with two guns among sixteen of them. Jack Goodwin,
guard of the “Beehive,” was the only fortunate sportsman, and shot a
hare. In the evening a dancing party was held at the “Dun Cow” at the
suggestion of the landlord, who invited some friends, and the next
morning Goodwin turned wandering minstrel, taking with him a chosen
few to help in chorus. Wandering along the Rugby Road, they were
entertained at the farmhouses with elderberry wine and pork pies.
Another pleasant evening, and they were off the next morning for London.

Floods were infinitely more dangerous than snowstorms, and the
Great North Road, between Newark-on-Trent and Scarthing Moor, was
particularly subject to them, the Trent often, and on the very
slightest provocation of rain, flooding many miles of surrounding
country. It was here, and on these occasions, that the outsides had the
better bargain of the two classes of travelling, for they kept their
seats without fear of being drowned, while the insides went in constant
terror of a watery death, and often only escaped it by the pitiful
expedient of standing on their seats and so--keeping the doubled-up
attitude this necessity and the lowness of the roof imperatively
demanded--remaining until the levels were passed and the dry uplands
reached again.

[Illustration: WINTER: GOING NORTH.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

In August 1829, when extraordinary floods devastated a great part of
Scotland, a stirring episode occurred in connection with them and the
mail-coach running through Banff. The tradition that his Majesty’s
mails were to be stopped for nobody and hindered by nothing on the
road was a very fine and fearless one, but it was occasionally pushed
to absurd lengths, and hideous dangers provoked without reasonable
cause. This episode of the Banff and Inverness Mail is a case in point.
The mail of the preceding day had found it impracticable to go by its
usual route, and so took another course, by the Bridge of Alva. It
was therefore supposed that the mail following would adopt the same
plan; but what was the astonishment of the good folk of Banff when
they perceived the coach arrive, within a few minutes of its usual
time, at the farther end of the bridge that crosses the River Dovern.
The people, watching the eddying floods from the safe vantage-point
of their windows, strongly dissuaded the guard and coachman from
attempting to pass, the danger being so great; but, scouting the idea
of perils to be encountered in the very streets of the town, those
foolhardy persons drove straight along the bridge and into a street
that had been converted by the bursting of the river-bank into the
semblance of a mountain torrent. When the furious current caught the
coach, it was instantly dashed against the corner of Gillan’s Inn, and
the four animals swept off their legs. They rose again, plunging and
struggling for their lives, and a boat was pushed off, with men eager
to free the poor animals from their harness, to enable them to swim
away; but it was not possible to save more than one. The other three
were drowned.

By this time the coach, with coachman and guard, had been flung upon
the pavement, where the depth of water was less; and there the guard
was seen, clinging to the top, and the coachman hanging by his hands
from a lamp-post, regretting too late the official ardour and slavery
to tradition that had wrought such havoc. When, for humanity’s sake,
as well as to secure the mail-bags, a boat came and rescued them, they
were not suffered to depart without much Aberdonian plain-speaking on
the folly that had nearly cost them their lives and endangered the
correspondence of the good folks of the ancient burgh of Banff.

[Illustration: MAIL-COACH IN A SNOW-DRIFT.

                    _After J. Pollard._
]

There were no passengers on this occasion, but we are not to suppose
that, had there been any, they would have received much consideration.
The mail would probably have been driven on, just the same. The
official attitude of mind towards them may be judged from the wintry
horrors encountered by the Edinburgh to Glasgow Mail in March 1827.
It became embedded in the snow near Kirkliston, and the guard, riding
one horse and leading another loaded with the bags, set off for
Glasgow; while the coachman, with the other horses, set off in the
opposite direction to secure a fresh team, pursued by the entreaties
of the four terrified passengers, beseeching him to use all diligence
and return soon. There, on a lonely road, immovably stuck in huge
snowdrifts, they remained throughout a bitter night, made additionally
miserable by one of the windows being broken. It was not until nine
o’clock the next morning that the coachman returned, with another man,
but only two horses. Having loaded them with some luggage and parcels,
he was, with a joke upon his lips, leaving the passengers to shift
for themselves, but was compelled to take one who had fallen ill. The
remaining three extricated themselves as best they could.

On September 11th, 1829, a month later than the watery adventures at
Banff, the Birmingham and Liverpool Mail had an unfortunate experience
at Smallwood Bridge, near Church Lawton, a point where the road is
crossed by an affluent of the River Weaver. Unknown to those on the
mail, the flooded stream had burst the arch of the bridge, and when
the coach came to the spot, along a road almost axle-deep in water, it
fell into the hole and was violently overturned. Of the three inside
passengers, only one escaped. He was an agile young man, who broke the
window and so extricated himself. The horses were drowned, but the
coachman was fortunate enough to be washed against a tree-stump as
the river hurried him along at six miles an hour. The force of this
happy meeting nearly stunned him, but he held on, and eventually found
his way ashore. The guard was saved in a similar manner. Accidents
almost forming parallels with this were of frequent occurrence, and a
seasoned traveller exclaimed: “Give me a collision, a broken axle and
an overturn, a runaway team, a drunken coachman, snowstorms, howling
tempests; but Heaven preserve us from floods!”

[Illustration: MAIL-COACH IN A FLOOD.

                    _After J. Pollard._
]



CHAPTER VIII

THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824–1848


It was “golden” chiefly from the sportsman’s point of view, and in
the opinions of those who found a keen delight in the perfection of
coach-building and harness-making, in the smartness of the beautiful
horses, and in the speed attained. From the sordid view-point of the
profit-and-loss account, although this was the age in which Chaplin
and a few others made their great fortunes, it was a time when the
high speed and other refinements of travelling made the path of the
coach-proprietor a thorny and uneasy one, often barren of aught but
honour. “You are ‘in it,’ I see,” said a proprietor who himself had
been severely bitten in this way, and had left the business, to a
coachman who, like many of his fellows, had long cherished an ambition
to become a coach-master, and had just acquired a share: “you are ‘in
it.’ Take care how you get out of it.” One of the prominent men in
it--Cooper, who ran a good line of coaches on the Bath Road--found
himself at last in the Bankruptcy Court, and many smaller men appeared
in the same place. The greatest increase of cost was in the item of
horses. In earlier times the stock had lasted for years, despite the
long stages and harder pulling; but in this period of good roads and
short stages, when, all things being equal, a team should have lasted
longer, the great coach-proprietors found it necessary to renew their
stock every three years. Chaplin’s method of doing this was to replace
one-third of his horses every year.

It is not to be supposed that the horses thus disposed of were always
broken down or worn out by their three years of strenuous exertion in
the fast coaches. They had only lost those agile qualities necessary
for that use, and, finding purchasers among farmers and country
tradesmen who had no occasion to gallop at eleven miles an hour, lived
very comfortably, grew sleek and fat, and must often, from roadside
paddocks, have beheld their successors slaving away in the fast
coaches; finding much satisfaction in their own altered circumstances.
Coachmen at this time usually drove between thirty and forty miles
out, and then took the up coach back, perhaps more than half a day
later. With such an arrangement the horses had the same driver, and it
was generally found that they worked much better in such cases. The
coachman’s responsibility for their condition was also undivided, and
the proprietor was easily able to weed out from his coachmen those who
lingered at the changes and made up the lost time on the road, to the
distress of their teams. It was Chaplin who made it known, by all the
vigorous language at his command, that any one of his coachmen found
in the possession of one of those instruments of torture, resembling a
cat-o’-nine-tails, for punishing horses, and known as a “short Tommy”
would be instantly dismissed. Chaplin’s direct influence and interests
may be said to have described a radius of from forty to fifty miles
from London, and within that circle the “short Tommy” was therefore but
seldom seen. One historic occasion there was, however, when such an
object did most dramatically present itself before Chaplin, who chanced
to be at a wayside inn when one of his coaches pulled up to change. On
the roof was a warder with two convicts. As the coachman, with much
deliberation, lowered himself from his box to the ground, the “short
Tommy” he had been sitting on fell in front of the windows, and as
it lay there attracted the eagle eye of that great coach-proprietor,
who, sternly bent upon executing justice upon the offender, strode
forth. The coachman, dismayed, saw his employer and the forbidden
instrument at once, in one comprehensive, understanding gaze; but he
was a resourceful man, and handed it to the warder, telling him, with
a portentous wink and a warning jerk of the head, that he had dropped
something. That worthy, entering into the spirit of the deception,
accepted the pretended cat-o’-nine-tails, and the coachman breathed
freely again.

The days of ten- or eleven mile- stages, just at this time faded away,
gave a horse one stretch of so many miles a day; but in the fast
coaches of the newer age they ran, as we have seen, out and home, six
or seven miles each way. It was to the very last a disputed point
whether it was better for a horse to do his ten or eleven miles and
have done with it for the day, or to do his two shifts of six or seven.
Many coachmen who could not depend upon their horsekeepers objected to
two sweats a day; but this division of work was a decided advantage to
the horses, if well tended, and in such cases they had the advantage of
sleeping at home every night. The number of horses kept for one of the
fast coaches of this Augustan age would have astonished the pioneers of
coaching; one horse for every mile travelled was the establishment kept
up. Slow coaches could do with fewer.

The average price paid for a coach-horse at this period was £30, but
some were acquired for a mere trifle, owing to their being vicious or
unmanageable in private hands. The private owner’s dilemma was the
coach-proprietor’s opportunity. It mattered little to him what defects
of temper a horse possessed so long as he was sound in wind and limb.
For the rest, a little discipline, harnessed with three others, all
subject to the rule of those very able disciplinarians, the coachmen,
quickly sufficed to bring such an animal to reason. There were thus
some very queer animals drawing the coaches in these last years.

Some were purchased with a doubtful title. In such a case, to prevent
his being recognised and claimed, the horse would be worked on the
night mail.

The coachman’s ideal was a team matching in colour, but few proprietors
ever aimed at such perfection. The cost was great, and nothing, save
the gratification of the eye, was gained.

With these business details the travelling public had no concern, and
it was only the box-seat passengers who learnt the history of some of
these cheap acquisitions from private stables. The box-seat passenger
was generally a sporting character, aspiring to that companionship with
the coachman from his love of horses and driving, but it naturally
often happened that some stolid person, whose only desire was to be
carried safely and who took no interest in driving, found himself
perched on that place of honour. When such an one became the unwilling
confidant of the coachman he was apt to hear some nerve-shaking things.
“See that ’ere near wheeler?” said one Jehu. “Run avay vith a old
gennelman last veek, he did; broke his neck; friends just goin’ to
shoot ’im; guv’nor gave couple o’ suvrings for ’im, and ’ere ’e is.
’Ope we shan’t be upset!” The nervous passenger effected an exchange
for an inside place with a sporting passenger at the next stage--which
was precisely the result anticipated by the coachman.

At this time, when the fast day-coaches were in every respect as
well-appointed as a gentleman’s private drag, it was the keenest
ambition of every dashing young traveller to occupy this box-seat--an
ambition generally satisfied by putting in an early appearance at the
starting-point and tipping the head yard-porter, who thereupon placed
a rug or some stable-cloths on it. These tips were not, as generally
supposed, the coachman’s perquisite. His turn came later on, down the
road.

The yard-porter was as a much more important official than the present
generation might suppose, and in busy yards, such as those of the “Bull
and Mouth” or the “Swan with Two Necks,” his weekly income from tips
probably amounted to £5, or more. Nor was he merely the man with a pail
of water, a broom and a pitchfork conjured up mentally by the sound of
his title; his was an important department, and himself the ruler of
many subordinates, whose duties ranged from grooming and bedding-down
the horses and cleaning the stables to washing the coaches and cleaning
and polishing the harness and metal-work.

At this period the public found themselves swiftly flying where they
had formerly slowly and laboriously crawled, and generally compared
ancient travelling with modern, greatly to the advantage of modern
times. But if the coach-proprietors who were at such pains to compete
with one another in establishing these swift and well-appointed coaches
were of opinion that in so doing they were earning the admiration of
the entire travelling public, they were very soon undeceived, and
those weaker brethren who could not command the influence and the
capital by which only could a fast coach be appointed and established,
found that, after all, there was no immediate prospect of their being
run off the road, and that a considerable section of the public
actually preferred to travel in slow coaches, and would by no means
consent to be whirled through the country at eleven miles an hour,
with only hurried intervals for meals. “The art of travelling,”
said an anonymous writer in 1827, “has undergone great alterations
in the course of the last thirty years; these are not altogether
improvements.” One of these changes for the worse, in the opinion of
this unknown scribe, was that in the thunder of ten miles an hour there
was no opportunity for conversation. That must be a powerful tongue, he
thought, which could make itself heard amid the reverberations of such
incessant and intemperate whirlings. He could not help looking back
with some regret to the good old times when five or six miles an hour
was the utmost speed. _Then_ there was something sober and sedate in
the fit-out and the set-out. All the faces in the inner-yard were so
grave and full of importance, and there was some seriousness in taking
leave. (Good reason, too, for such gravity and seriousness, think we
of later ages.) How scrupulous and polite were the inside passengers,
in making mutual accommodation of legs and arms, band-boxes,
sandwich-baskets and umbrellas! Then, too, says this delightful
snob, there was some difference between the inside and the outside
passengers: the gentlefolks within were not confounded with the people
on the outside. Distinctions were then better observed, and preserved.
Older stage-coach conversation, he continued, was apt to be conducted
with caution, for a false opening might make an ill companion on a long
journey. So approaches were made skilfully, and with deliberation. A
man was thought excessively forward and talkative if he had got into
politics before he had well cleared the outskirts of London, and the
first half-hour was generally occupied with the light skirmishings of
talk, with reconnoitrings of one’s opposite neighbour’s countenance,
and a variety of all-round questions and answers put and returned
merely to ascertain how far the passengers were to be companions. These
had to be framed with the utmost discretion. With what vivacity and air
of pleasant expectation would one then ask an agreeable-looking person,
“Are you going all the way to Toppington?” or, on the other hand, if
the inside had its full complement of six, how carefully, and with
what a discreetly modulated voice, in order to avoid all suspicion of
wishing a speedy riddance, one would ask the same question of an unduly
stout person, who occupied much more than his or her share of room.

The best conversational opening was considered to be, “Well, we are now
off the stones. What a beautiful morning! How charming the outskirts of
town! Pray, does not that house belong to----?”

Going up-hill one walked, to ease the horses, insides and outsides
then equal; the insides, greatly condescending, holding converse
with the occupants of the roof, always, however, with the strict
understanding--no less strict if not mentioned--that this gracious act
must not be taken advantage of by those outsiders claiming acquaintance
when the coach stopped at the inns, where this all-important difference
in caste was recognised by distinct eating apartments being provided.

Those were the good old days, according to this critic, when these
customs were strictly observed, and when there was not only time to
eat, but almost to digest at coach-dinners and breakfasts; when, too,
there were generally a few minutes to spare while the horses were being
got ready, so that the passengers could wander round the town and copy
any curious epitaphs for the _Gentleman’s Magazine_, or do a little
shopping.

Coachmen were of somewhat similar opinions. “Lord! sir,” said Hine,
coach-proprietor and coachman on the Brighton Road, in 1831, who was,
much against his will, obliged to accelerate his coaches in order to
keep pace with newcomers, but did not relish the necessity, “we don’t
travel half so comfortably now as we used to do. It is all hurry and
bustle nowadays, sir--no time even for a pipe and glass of grog.” Not
comfortable for the coachmen, who sadly missed their wayside, and often
wholly unauthorised, halts.

Cobbett, surly though his nature was, could not withhold admiration
when noticing these latter-day coaches. “Next to a fox-hunt,” he says,
“the finest sight in England is a stage-coach just ready to start. A
great sheep- or cattle-fair is a beautiful sight; but in a stage-coach
you see more of what man is capable of performing. The vehicle itself;
the harness, all so complete and so neatly arranged, so strong, and
clean, and good; the beautiful horses, impatient to be off; the inside
full, and the outside covered, in every part, with men, women, and
children, boxes, bags, bundles; the coachman, taking his reins in one
hand and his whip in the other, gives a signal with his foot, and away
they go, at the rate of seven miles an hour--the population and the
property of a hamlet. One of these coaches coming in, after a long
journey, is a sight not less interesting. The horses are now all sweat
and foam, the reek from their bodies ascending like a cloud. The whole
equipage is covered, perhaps, with dust and dirt. But still, on it
comes, as steady as the hand of the clock. As a proof of the perfection
to which this mode of travelling has been brought, there is one coach
which goes between Exeter and London, whose proprietors agree to
forfeit eightpence for every minute the coach is behind its time at any
of its stages; and this coach, I believe, travels eight miles an hour,
and that, too, upon a very hilly, and at some seasons a very deep,
road.”

[Illustration: LATE FOR THE MAIL.

                    _After C. Cooper Henderson, 1848._
]

Yes, but had Cobbett written in still later years, he would have found
the “Quicksilver” attaining, between the stages, a speed of nearly
12 miles an hour, and an average speed, including stops, of 11 miles,
while a quite ordinary performance with the Shrewsbury “Wonder” was
158 miles in 14 hours 45 minutes, including stops on the way totalling
80 minutes. This gives a net average speed of a little over 11½ miles
an hour. The Manchester “Telegraph” and other flyers made equally good
performances. The “Tantivy,” one of the most famous of coaches, did not
equal these feats.

The “Tantivy,” London and Birmingham coach, was started in 1832.
It left the “Blossoms” inn, Lawrence Lane, at 7 a.m., and was in
Birmingham by 7 p.m. The distance, by the route followed, through
Maidenhead, Henley, Oxford, Woodstock, Shipston-on-Stour, and
Stratford-on-Avon, was 125 miles, and, deducting one hour for changing
and refreshing, the speed was only slightly over 11 miles an hour. This
coach derived its name from the old word “Tantivy”--an imitative sound
as old as the seventeenth century, and often used in the literature
of that time, supposed to reproduce the note of the huntsman’s horn,
and conjuring up ideas of speed. For Cracknell, the most famous of the
coachmen of the “Tantivy,” who once drove the 125 miles at one sitting,
and generally drove it between London and Oxford, the “Tantivy Trot,”
quoted elsewhere in these pages, was written. Harry Salisbury drove
between Oxford and Birmingham. Among its other coachmen was Jerry
Howse. Costar and Waddell, of Oxford, horsed the “Tantivy” between
Woodstock and London, and Gardner, of Stratford-on-Avon, part-horsed
it onwards, not wholly to the satisfaction of Salisbury, who used to
declare that the team out of his yard was worth about £25 the lot, and
that they had once belonged to Shakespeare.

Competition in speed led naturally to rivalry in the building,
upholstering, and general appointments of the coaches. Sherman’s
Manchester “Estafette” was a splendid turn-out, holding its own
against many rivals in the last years of the coaching age. Inside was
a time-table elegantly engraved on ivory, showing all towns, distances
and intermediate times, illuminated at night by a reflector lamp. It
was at this time seriously proposed to light the coaches with gas,
with the double object of securing better lighting and effecting a
saving on the very heavy bills for oil consumed on the night coaches.
The idea was generally abandoned when it was found that the gas tanks
would be very heavy and that they would take up all the room in one
of the boots, generally reserved for luggage. Coachmen and guards,
too, professed anxiety lest they, sitting directly over the fore and
hind boots, should be blown up. But, before the project was finally
abandoned, it was fully proved that it was practicable, and in January
1827 the Glasgow and Paisley coaches were lit with gas, much to the
amazement of the country folk. “Guid Lord, Sandy,” said an old woman to
her husband, “they’ve laid gas-pipes all the way frae Glasgae Cross to
Paisley!” But they had done nothing of the sort; the gas was carried,
as already indicated, in a reservoir stowed away in the front boot.

Competition having already raged around the question of speed, and
having introduced unwonted luxuries in travelling, turned next to the
more deadly form of rate-cutting. In 1834 the coach-proprietors on
three great routes were engaged in this game of Beggar-my-neighbour.
In that year the fares to Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester fell
to less than half their former price, and it was possible to travel to
Birmingham for 20s. inside and 10s. out, or to Liverpool or Manchester
for 40s. inside or 20s. out. They had little chance of being raised
again, for, by the time the weaker men had been crushed out of
existence, the railways were threatening the whole industry of coaching.

But reducing the fares by one-half was not always the last word in
these bitter contests. There was a period on the Brighton Road when one
might have been carried those 52 miles in 6 hours for 5s., with a free
lunch and wine at the end of the journey and your money returned if the
coach did not keep its time. The “Golden Age,” indeed!

At this period, when the long-distance coaching business was so
severely cut up, those proprietors who served the districts surrounding
London did exceedingly well. Coaching annals are almost silent on
the subject of these suburban coaches, for, being drawn by only two
horses, they were regarded by the four-in-hand artists with contempt.
It has thus, in the absence of available information, often puzzled
inquiring minds in the present generation to understand how the heavy
passenger traffic was conducted between London and the outlying towns
and villages within a radius of twenty miles. Those districts were
served by these “short stages,” as they were called--coaches drawn
by two horses, and making two or more journeys each way daily. There
was an incredibly large number of these useful vehicles, which were
in relation to the mails and fast long-distance coaches what the
suburban trains are to the expresses in our own day. The ordinary
coach-proprietors had rarely anything to do with these conveyances,
which came to and set out from a number of obscure inns and
coach-offices in all parts of the City and the West End.

One of these short stages is mentioned in _David Copperfield_, where
David’s page-boy, stealing Dora’s watch and selling it, purchases a
second-hand flute and expends the balance of his ill-gotten gains
in incessantly travelling up and down the road between London and
Uxbridge. Evidently a lover of the road, this larcenous page-boy. Most
boys in buttons (and certainly the typical page-boy of the typical
farce) would have expended the plunder in pastry or tobacco. This
particular specimen, the diligent Dickens-reader will remember, was
taken to Bow Street on the completion of his fifteenth journey,
when four shillings and sixpence and the second-hand flute--which
he couldn’t play--were found upon him. If we were contemplating an
examination-paper on _David Copperfield_, with special reference to
prices and social life early in the nineteenth century, we might put
the following poser:--“State the average price obtainable on the
average lady’s gold watch, and, deducting the purchase price of a
second-hand flute, deduce from the resulting sum, and from the facts
of the boy having made the journey fifteen times and still being in
possession of four-and-sixpence, the cost of a single outside journey
between London and Uxbridge.”

The fare was, as a matter of fact, half a crown. There were no fewer
than seven short stages between London and Uxbridge daily, each making
two journeys. What of those London inns whence they started? Where are
they now? Echo does not answer “where?” as she is commonly said to do,
because it is not in the nature of echoes to repeat the first word of
a sentence. No; echo merely reverberates “now?” with a questioning
inflection.

The “Goose and Gridiron,” whose proper name was originally the “Swan
and Harp,” in St. Paul’s Churchyard, was one of these starting-points.
From the same inn went the Richmond and many other suburban stages.
That old inn was demolished about 1888. The “Boar and Castle and
Oxford Hotel,” No. 6, Oxford Street, was another house of call for
the Uxbridge stages. It vanished long ago, and those who seek it will
only find on its site the Oxford Music Hall and Restaurant--bearing a
different number, for the street was renumbered in 1881. The “Boar and
Castle” was a large, plain, stucco-fronted house, with its name writ
large across the front in raised letters.

As for the “Old Bell,” another of these starting-points of the Uxbridge
coaches, it was pulled down in 1897. It stood on the site of Gamage’s,
in Holborn, opposite Fetter Lane. Of another Uxbridge house, the
“Bull,” a few doors away, the sign, the figure of a ferocious black
bull, very properly chained and fastened by a secure girth, still
exists on the frontage, but “Black Bull Chambers,” a set of grimy
modern “model” dwellings, now occupy the coach-yard. The “Bell and
Crown,” afterwards “Ridler’s,” next Furnival’s Inn, has been swept away
to help make room for an extension of the Prudential Assurance Offices,
and the “New Inn,” 52, Old Bailey, has given place to warehouses and
the premises of a firm of wholesale newsagents. Away westward, the
Uxbridge and other short stages called at the “Green Man and Still,”
at the corner of Argyll Street, Oxford Circus, and at the “Gloucester
Warehouse,” near Park Lane. The last-named was rebuilt forty years ago,
but the “Green Man and Still” was only demolished in February 1901.

[Illustration: THE SHORT STAGE.

                    _After J. Pollard._
]

The time taken over the eighteen miles between the City and Uxbridge
was three hours. To Richmond in 1821, when short stages ran
frequently from five different inns, the time was an hour and a half.
As many as fourteen coaches ran to that town in 1838, most of them
making six journeys a day. Shillibeer and his omnibuses, introduced
in 1829, had by that time rendered the exclusive short-stages
old-fashioned, and they were gradually replaced by the more commodious
and popular vehicles, whose occupants were in turn looked down upon by
the short-stage passengers, just as _they_ had been despised by the
four-horse coaches.



CHAPTER IX

COACH-PROPRIETORS


None among the servants of the public earned their living more hardly,
or took greater risks in the ordinary way of business, than the coach
proprietors. It was a business in which the few--the very few--became
rich, and the majority lived a strenuous life, with empty pockets
at the end of it. It was very truly said of them, as a class, that
they lived hard, worked hard, swore hard, and died hard. To this was
sometimes added that they held hard, by which you are to understand
that what money they _did_ succeed in getting they grasped tightly.
This last was, however, by no means a characteristic of the majority,
who very often dissipated what they had made by successful ventures on
one road by disastrous competition on another. There was never a more
speculative business than that of a coach-proprietor, and never one so
cursed with insane competition. Why embittered rivalries of this kind
should have been more common on the road than in any other line is only
to be explained by the hypothesis that a certain element of sporting
emulation entered into it; and a kind of foolish pride that impelled a
man to put and keep a line of coaches on a road to “nurse” a rival,
not always with the hope of earning a profit for himself, but with the
idea of cutting up another man’s ground.

The most outstanding figure among coach-proprietors was that of William
Chaplin. He towered above all his contemporaries in the magnitude of
his business, and was, when railways came to destroy it, first among
those few who saw the folly of opposing steam, and were both acute
enough and sufficiently fortunate to reap an additional advantage from
the new order of things, instead of being ruined by it, as many less
fortunate and less far-seeing men were.

[Illustration: MAIL-COACH HALFPENNY ISSUED BY WILLIAM WATERHOUSE.]

William James Chaplin--to give him his full baptismal name--was
born at Rochester in 1787, the son of William Chaplin, at that time
a coachman and proprietor in a small way of business on the Dover
Road. Shortly after that date it would appear that the elder Chaplin
extended his operations, and became a coach-master on a considerable
scale on some of the main roads leading out of London. However that
may have been, certain it is that his son was a practical coachman,
and thoroughly versed in every detail of driving and stabling, as well
as buying horses. To this intimate acquaintance with the conduct of
a coach and of a coaching business, as greatly as to his own native
shrewdness, he owed the extraordinary success that attended him. His
centre of operations was at the “Swan with Two Necks,” in Lad Lane,
where he succeeded William Waterhouse, who had been established there
as a mail-contractor since 1792. He it was who, perhaps in imitation
of the Mail-coach Halfpenny dedicated to Palmer, issued the curious
copper token pictured here. It is quite in accord with the general
fragmentary character of the records of these not so remote times
that nothing survives by which we may state the year when Chaplin
succeeded Waterhouse at the “Swan with Two Necks,” but it was probably
about 1825. In addition to this yard, he acquired in the course of
time those of the “White Horse,” Fetter Lane, and the “Spread Eagle”
and “Cross Keys,” Gracechurch Street, together with the “Spread
Eagle” West End office, in Regent’s Circus, with the proprietorship
of several hotels. Unlike most coach-proprietors, who restricted
their operations to one or two roads, Chaplin’s coaches went in all
directions, and he owned large stables at Purley on the Brighton Road,
at Hounslow on the Western roads, and at Whetstone on the great road
to the north. The “Swan with Two Necks,” was, when he acquired
it, a yard extremely awkward of approach, being situated in a narrow
lane, and inside a low-browed entrance that taxed the ingenuity of the
coachmen to pass without accident. Once inside, you were in one of
those old courtyards without which no old coaching inn was complete.
Three tiers of galleries ran round three sides of the enclosed square,
which, from the creepers that were trailed round the old carved wooden
posts or depended from the balusters, and from the flower-boxes that
decorated the windows, was a very rustic-looking place. Chaplin had not
long settled himself here before he constructed underground stables
beneath this yard, where some two hundred horses were stalled; but the
place remained, otherwise unaltered, until about 1856, when all the
buildings were demolished, and he set himself to raise on their site
the huge pile of buildings that now fronts partly on to Gresham Street
and partly to Aldermanbury. It was one of his last works, and was, of
course, undertaken long after the coaching age had become a thing of
the past, being, indeed, intended for the headquarters of the carrying
business that had in the meantime come into existence. It is of
somewhat curious interest to note that, although the great gloomy pile
of unadorned brick bears not the slightest resemblance to the ancient
coaching inn, yet a courtyard survives, and railway vans manœuvre where
of old the mails arrived or set forth.

[Illustration: WILLIAM CHAPLIN.

                    _From the painting by Frederick Newnham._
]

In 1838, when his coaching business had reached its full height,
Chaplin owned or part-owned no fewer than 68 coaches, with 1,800
horses. Twenty-seven mails left London every night, and of these he
horsed fourteen on the first stages out of and into town. The annual
returns from his business were then put at half a million sterling.

At this critical period he resided at an hotel he owned and managed
in the Adelphi, where he worked literally day and night, supervising
the general affairs of his vast business, and yet finding time for
correcting details. Those coachmen who thought themselves secure from
observation in the midst of all these extensive operations wofully
deceived themselves. They had to reckon with one to whom every detail
was familiar--who had driven coaches himself, and was thoroughly
informed in the opportunities that existed in the stables and on the
road for cheating an employer. He knew the measure of every corn-box,
and was cognisant of the “shouldering” of fares and “swallowing” of
passengers that continually went on. For the guards thus to pocket
the short fares, not entering them on the way-bill, afterwards
sharing them with the coachman, was a practice that went back to the
very early days of coaching, and not only lasted as long as coaching
itself, but survived in a somewhat, altered form on omnibuses until
the introduction, in recent years, of tickets and the bell-punch.
It would have been impossible for coach-proprietors to end this
practice without raising the wages of their servants, and thus they
were obliged, so long as the coachmen and the guards performed their
“shouldering” and “swallowing” discreetly, to allow it to continue.
The practice was, indeed, a very lucrative one to those chartered
peculators, who made a great deal more out of it than they would in
the substitution of higher wages and a better code of morals. Like
the omnibus-proprietors until recently, coach-masters were content so
long as their takings reached a certain average sum, and it was only
when they fell below that figure, or when a fare was “shouldered”
or a passenger “swallowed” before their very eyes, that trouble
began. Chaplin could thus afford to give the toast, as often he did
give it, at festive gatherings of coachmen and guards, “Success to
‘shouldering,’ but” (with a peculiar emphasis) “do it well!”--or, in
plainer speech, “don’t get found out!”

[Illustration: THE CANTERBURY AND DOVER COACH, 1830.

                    _After G. S. Treguar._
]

Stories with Chaplin for a central figure were, of course, plentiful
down the road. Stable-folk told how one of their kind, who had been
requisitioning the contents of the corn-bin to an extravagant extent,
going to it with sack and lantern one night when all was still, lifting
the lid, found Chaplin himself snugly waiting within, who promptly
arose in his wrath, and, to the accompaniment of a picturesquely lurid
eloquence of which he was an undoubted master, dismissed him instanter.
The fame of that exploit must have saved Chaplin much in forage.

Although in his after-career as Member of Parliament he was a silent
representative, he could be eloquent in various ways. He had, as
already hinted, the direct and forcible method in perfection, and yet
could suit his style to all requirements. Coachmen, indeed, found him
much more dangerous in his suave and polite moments, and much preferred
to be sworn at and violently attacked, for his polite speeches
generally had a sting in their tail, and earned him, among the brethren
of the road, the descriptive, if also disrespectful, nickname of “Billy
Bite-’em-Sly.”

The portrait of him shows a physiognomy altogether unexpected, after
hearing these tales. One perceives rather a delicate and refined face
than that mentally pictured, and it is only in the piercing eyes that
his energy and determination are clearly seen.

Chaplin’s coaches were easily to be distinguished along the roads,
not only by the device of the “Swan with Two Necks” painted on them,
or later, in addition, by those of a “Spread Eagle,” “Cross Keys,” or
a “White Horse,” as those inns came under his control, but by their
colours, which were red and black--black upper-quarters and fore and
hind boots, and red under-parts and wheels.

His coaching business gave employment to two thousand people, and
included a horse-buying and veterinary department, under the control of
James Nunn, who was accustomed to procure the greater number of the
coach-horses from Horncastle Fair. J. F. Herring has left an excellent
equestrian portrait of this indispensable personage.

[Illustration: JAMES NUNN, HORSE-BUYER AND VETERINARY SURGEON TO
WILLIAM CHAPLIN.

                    _After J. F. Herring._
]

Chaplin horsed the quickest mails out of London: the Devonport, the
New Holyhead, the Bristol, and five other West-country mails starting
from Piccadilly. Passengers who had booked from his City offices were
carried to this point by omnibuses he established, and the mails were
conveyed, with the guards, in two-wheeled mail-carts from the General
Post Office. In the great number of coaches he ran there were, of
course, included some of the very best. His were those famous coaches,
the Manchester “Defiance,” a rival of Sherman’s even more famed
Manchester “Telegraph,” the Birmingham “Greyhound,” the Cambridge
“Telegraph,” Liverpool “Red Rover,” Bristol “Emerald,” Cheltenham
“Magnet,” and many others doing their ten miles and more an hour. He
also had half-shares in the brilliant “Tantivy,” London and Birmingham,
the “Stamford Regent,” the Southampton “Comet,” and others.

The signs of the times, so patent to outsiders from 1830 and onwards,
but generally hid from the vision of those most interested, were
not unheeded by this remarkably shrewd business man, who, like his
contemporary, Joseph Baxendale, had the power of seeing things and the
possible future trend of affairs from an impersonal and unprejudiced
point of view. He, above all other coach-proprietors, was deeply
interested in the continuance of the old order of things, and it
would not have been remarkable had he brought himself to the illogical
conclusion that, because he was so interested, the old order must,
could, should and would be maintained. Many other coach-proprietors
_did_ arrive at such a conclusion, not, of course, by process of
reasoning, but by force of being habitually engaged in a business
that prejudiced their minds against steam and machinery. Their first
instincts of scorn for anything that should presume to replace the
horse effectually blinded them to the reality of the coming change.

Chaplin early decided that coaches must go, and that the proper policy
was to make allies of the railways in early days, while they were not
so sure of their own success, and would be substantially grateful for
any helping hand. He and Benjamin Worthy Horne agreed with the London
and Birmingham to be their very good friends in this matter, and not
only withdrew all competitive coaches as the line advanced towards
completion, but aided the railway in those months when a gap in the
line between Denbigh Hall and Rugby cut the train journey in two.
Between those two points their coaches filled the unwontedly humble
position of feeders and go-betweens to the railway. The price of this
amiable attitude was a share with Pickford & Co. in the goods and
parcel cartage agency for the line, to the exclusion of all others.
This monopoly, as Chaplin had foreseen, was an initially valuable one,
and certain to constantly increase, side by side with the growing trade
and mileage of the railway itself. He sold most of his coaches--who
were those rash persons, greatly daring, who bought coaches in those
last days?--and realised everything except what was considered
necessary to start the new firm of Chaplin & Horne, carriers, and to
carry on the branch coach-services on routes not yet affected by the
rail. Having thus converted his fortune into hard cash and deposited it
for the time being in the bank, the next consideration was what to do
with it. All the preconceived ideas of investment were being uprooted,
and railways, which offered many chances to the capitalist, were not
in those times bracketed with Government securities as safe. Even
supposing railways in general offered inducements, those were the days
when they were not merely unproved, but when few had advanced beyond
the point of obtaining their Parliamentary powers. They were, in fact,
little but projects on paper. With these problems to consider, Chaplin
did a singular thing. Leaving his fortune on deposit, he went away and
utterly secluded himself in Switzerland for six weeks, to debate within
himself this turning-point in a career. He was now fifty-one years of
age, and might well have been content with what he had accumulated,
and with the prospects of the new firm. With the advantages he had
already secured he could have enjoyed a leisured life; but he took
the decision to embark a large portion of his cash in the London and
Southampton Railway, then under construction and very much under a
cloud of depreciation. He aimed at becoming a director on that line,
and had that desire speedily gratified, being further appointed Deputy
Chairman in 1839. By 1843 he had succeeded to the chair, and, with one
interval, remained Chairman of what became the London and South-Western
Railway until 1858, when ill-health compelled his resignation. He had
the satisfaction of seeing his belief in the future of that railway
assured. He was also a director of the Paris and Rouen, the Rouen and
Havre, and the Rhenish Railways; Sheriff of London, 1845–6; a Member
of Parliament for Salisbury, 1847–57; in politics an advanced Liberal.
He died at his residence, 2, Hyde Park Gardens, on April 24th, 1859,
in his seventy-second year, leaving property to the value of over half
a million sterling, including a quarter share in the firm of Chaplin &
Horne. William Augustus Chaplin, the eldest among his eight sons and
six daughters, succeeded him in the conduct of that business, and died,
also in his seventy-second year, at Melton Mowbray, October 9th, 1896.

[Illustration: WILLIAM AUGUSTUS CHAPLIN.]

Benjamin Worthy Horne, whose chief place of business was the “Golden
Cross,” Charing Cross, succeeded his father, William Horne, in 1828.
William Horne, who was born in 1783, was originally a painter, but
followed that trade only a few years after his apprenticeship had
expired. He had at an early age married Mary Worthy, daughter of
Benjamin Worthy, a wealthy wheelwright in Old Street, and in 1804 his
eldest son, Benjamin Worthy Horne, was born. This marriage bringing
him the command of some capital, he entered into partnership with one
Roberts, a coach-proprietor established at the “White Horse,” Fetter
Lane. But the partnership was dissolved at the expiration of twelve
months, when Horne, making a bold stroke, purchased the “Golden Cross”
of John Cross, who, having acquired a large fortune after many years in
business there, was now retiring from it and entering upon a series of
rash speculations which eventually ruined him and brought Thomas Cross,
his son, down to poverty from the assured position of heir to that
fortune, and thence to the dramatic reverse of soliciting employment as
a coachman in the very yard his father once had owned.

Established thus at the “Golden Cross,” William Horne further developed
the very fine coaching business he had acquired, and added to it the
yards at the “Cross Keys,” Wood Street, and the “George and Blue
Boar,” Holborn, together with an office at 41, Regent Circus. He soon
had seven hundred horses in work, and was in the full tide of life
and energy when he died in 1828, at the early age of forty-five. “His
last journey,” says the obituary notice of him, “was but a short
distance--St. Margaret’s churchyard, Westminster; and, as a man of
talent, his remains were placed within a few feet of some of the
greatest men of their age.”

Benjamin Worthy Horne was thus only twenty-four years of age when the
management of this business fell to him. He soon had need of all
those fierce energies that were his, for, in addition to a watchful
eye upon the doings of his rivals, he had the stress and turmoil of
the rebuilding of the “Golden Cross” to contend with. To him, indeed,
fell the singular experience of having that central place of business
rebuilt twice in three years, and the second occasion on another
site. When it was first rebuilt, in 1830, Trafalgar Square was not in
existence, and the inn was re-erected on the old spot at the rear of
Charles I.’s statue, exactly where the south-eastern one of Landseer’s
four lions, guarding the Nelson Column, now looks across towards the
Grand Hotel.

But no sooner was the place rebuilt than the Metropolitan improvements
in the meanwhile decided upon brought about the clearance of the site,
and the present “Golden Cross” arose some distance away. At this
time fifty-six coaches left that place daily, many of them bitterly
competitive with those of other proprietors. Equally with his father,
Benjamin Horne was an extremely keen business man, and eager to cut
into any paying route. He had stables at Barnet and Finchley, to enable
him to compete advantageously on the northern and north-western roads
with Sherman, of the “Bull and Mouth,” and with others on those routes.
As early as 1823, when the “Tally-Ho!” fast coach between London and
Birmingham was first put on the road by Mrs. Ann Mountain, of the
“Saracen’s Head,” Snow Hill, to do the 109 miles in 11 hours, the
success of her enterprise had roused the jealousy of William Horne, who
speedily started the “Independent Tally-Ho!”--setting out an hour and
a quarter earlier, in order to intercept the bookings of the original
conveyance. Numerous other “Tally-Ho’s!” were then established, and the
racing between them on the London and Birmingham road grew fast and
furious, much to the advantage of the slower coaches, whose bookings
were wonderfully increased by timid passengers refusing to go any
longer by these breakneck rivals.

Benjamin Worthy Horne had at one time seven mails: the old Chester and
Holyhead; the Cambridge Auxiliary; the Gloucester and Cheltenham; the
Dover Foreign Mail; the Norwich, through Newmarket; the Milford Haven;
and the Worcester and Oxford; in addition to the Hastings, a two-horsed
affair, afterwards transferred to the “Bolt-in-Tun” office in Fleet
Street.

Urged on, perhaps, by the partial success of the competitive
“Tally-Ho!” he started in 1834, in alliance with Robert Nelson of
the “Belle Sauvage” and Jobson of the “Talbot” at Shrewsbury, the
“Nimrod” London and Shrewsbury coach, to compete with that pioneer of
long-distance day coaches the “Wonder,” a highly successful venture
established so early as 1825, by Sherman of the “Bull and Mouth,” and
Taylor of the “Lion” at Shrewsbury. The bitterness and bad blood thus
stirred up were almost incredible. It is not to be supposed that men
so spirited as Sherman and Isaac Taylor were content to idly see this
late-comer enter the field their own enterprise had opened, and be
allowed to cut up their profits; and so the following season witnessed
the appearance of the “Stag,” own sister to the “Wonder,” and by the
same proprietors, timed to run a little in advance of the “Nimrod,”
while the “Wonder” went slightly in the rear. Thus the hated rival was
pretty well “nursed” all the way, and did not often succeed in securing
a well-filled way-bill. The pace while this insane competition lasted
was terrific, and the coachman of the “Nimrod” on the Wolverhampton and
Shrewsbury stage was thrown off and killed. The coaches were originally
fast, being timed at 11½ miles an hour; but in the furious racing that
took place, day after day, the whole three often arrived together at
the journey’s end, two hours before time. One shrinks from computing
the pace an analysis of these figures would disclose. The fares by
the “Wonder” and “Stag” were in the meanwhile reduced by one-third;
and, partly in consequence of this “alarming sacrifice,” and a great
deal more, we may suppose, in consequence of travellers being afraid
to travel by these reckless competitors, £1500 were lost by Sherman
and his allies in twelve months. But at the end of that time they had
the satisfaction of seeing the “Nimrod” withdrawn, when the fares were
raised to their old level.

We are not told how much Horne and his friends lost in this onslaught
upon Sherman’s preserves, but it must have been a very considerable
sum. Horne ran in opposition to many proprietors, and was powerful
enough to wear down any competitors except the three or four men
whose businesses ranked with his own for size. Those proprietors who
agreed to work with rather than against him, were therefore the better
advised. When putting a new coach on a route, his practice was to offer
a share in the business to others accustomed to work along it. If they
refused, and elected to oppose him, he became dangerous. He never
allowed competition; and as he had the longer purse, generally beat his
rivals. A strictly businesslike proprietor would accordingly always
welcome Horne as a partner; but it generally happened that men who had
for years past run coaches on certain roads fell unconsciously into the
habit of thinking and acting as though they held a prescriptive right
to the whole of the traffic along them, and not only refused to ally
themselves with any one providing additional coaches, but endeavoured
to shut him out altogether. Thus Horne, although ready to work with any
proprietor, was in bitter opposition on many roads.

His was the Liverpool “Umpire,” a day coach; and his, too, the
“Bedford Times,” so far as horsing it out of London was concerned.
It was started about 1836, by Whitbread, the brewer, as a hobby, and
ran from the “George and Blue Boar.” It is singular that it made the
third Bedford coach running daily from that inn: Horne seems to have
considered that Bedford could not have too many coaches. The others
were the “Telegraph,” twice a day--8 a.m. and 2.45 p.m.--and the “Royal
Telegraph” at 9 a.m. The “Times” started at 3 p.m., and went at 10½
miles an hour, including stops. This was a very smart and exclusive
coach, built on the lines of the private drag, and ran to that
monumental Bedford hotel, the “Swan.” The “Bedford Times” was further
remarkable as one of the last-surviving of the coaches. It was not run
off the road until 1848.

Horne prided himself on his drastic ways, and was fond of recounting
his master-strokes in crushing out rivals. The particular coup on
which he loved to dwell was that of driving up to an inn belonging to
a middle-ground partner of one of his enemies, and buying up all the
horses overnight, so that in the morning, when his own coach bowled by,
the rival concern was brought to an ignominious standstill. This story,
if true, reflected no credit on either himself or the other party to
the transaction, who certainly was liable to an action for breach of
contract. There is, however, no doubt at all that Horne was the man to
have gone to the extravagant length of indemnifying the vendor--perhaps
better described as his accomplice--against any action-at-law. He
simply would not brook business rivalry.

[Illustration: THE “BEDFORD TIMES,” ONE OF THE LAST COACHES TO RUN,
LEAVING THE “SWAN HOTEL,” BEDFORD.]

[Illustration: BENJAMIN WORTHY HORNE.]

He was a tall, lathy, irritable man, of eager face, quick, nervous
speech, and rapid walk, with something of a military air in his alert,
upright figure. The very antithesis of Chaplin, who was of short
stature and possessed of a nature that nothing could ruffle, Horne
must always expend his energies on the minor details of his extensive
business, and himself do work that would have been better delegated
to subordinates. In the end this wore him out, and brought him to a
comparatively early death. Up early, no day was long enough for him,
and he economised time by taking no regular meal until evening. He was
generally to be seen eating his lunch out of a paper bag as he swung
furiously along the streets. “There’s Horne,” said one of those many
who did not love him, “with the devil at his elbow, as usual!”

It was, perhaps, well for him that Chaplin, calm and level-headed,
came and entered into discussion on the railway question at that
critical time when the fortunes of coach-proprietors were to be saved
or lost by a simple declaration of policy. The time was 1837, the
occasion the approaching opening of the first section of the London
and Birmingham Railway. Should they hold out against the new order of
things, as Sherman was bent upon doing, or should they enter into that
alliance with the railway for which the railway people themselves were
diplomatically angling? Chaplin thought they should, and proposed an
amalgamation of their two interests. Horne was not so sure of railway
success, and might have continued on his own way, but Chaplin, who was
an old friend, urged his own views. “We shall lose £10,000 apiece if
we don’t work with them,” he said, “and you won’t like that, Benny,
my boy.” Eventually Horne agreed, and the firm of Chaplin & Horne was
founded.

Dark rumours were current at the time that to this newly constituted
firm a sum of several thousands of pounds was paid by the London and
Birmingham directors as the price of their friendship; but, however
that may be, the allied coach-proprietors agreed to withdraw their
coaches from the Birmingham Road, and to throw the weight of their
interest and influence on the side of the railway. In return, they
were given the contract for the parcel agency of the line. Chaplin
had perceived, as Baxendale had already done in the case of the goods
traffic, that this agency would be very valuable, and to his far-seeing
counsel Horne owed much.

Henry Horne, one of Benjamin Worthy Horne’s nine brothers, became a
partner with him in 1836, and was a member of this firm of Chaplin &
Horne for many years. He survived his brother, and was at the head
of affairs when the London and North-Western Railway took over the
parcel business and the London receiving offices in 1874. Henry was
the kindest-hearted of men, and old coaching-men down on their luck
always found him a sure draw for a loan or a gift. Wise by dint of long
experience, he laid down a golden rule that it was cheaper in the end
to give £50 than to lend £100.

When the fierce old fighting days of the road were ended and the
business of Chaplin & Horne was set afoot, the restless energies of
Benjamin Worthy Horne found an outlet in the management of the goods
business in connection with the railway, and he was constantly in
and out at Euston and Camden. In those early days the London and
North-Western Railway headquarters staff was managed on somewhat lax
and primitive lines, and if a departmental manager thought he wanted
a little holiday, he took it, without a word to any one. To a strict
and keen business man like Horne these proceedings seemed particularly
strange, and were often, doubtless, the source of much annoyance and
waste of time. He had the unchallenged run of the offices, and was so
used to finding the various managers away, on some pretext or another,
that he would humorously assume their absence on all occasions. With
his abrupt manner, he would burst boisterously into a room, and
exclaim--

    Ah! Manager Number One out--
    Gone fishing, no doubt!

At the next office, whether the manager happened to be in or not, he
would enter with the same assumption of his absence, and say--

    Manager Number Two
    Nothing to do--
    Of course, gone fishing also!

To his especial aversion David Stevenson, the goods manager, whom he
considered to have usurped many of his firm’s rights and privileges, he
would enter tragically with--

    Aha! Manager Stevenson--
    Gone about his private theatricals!

and fix the enraged Stevenson with the haughty stare common to the
transpontine drama of the time. The sting of it lay in the fact that
Stevenson belonged to an amateur dramatic society.

The goods department at Camden was taken over by the London and
North-Western Railway in Benjamin Worthy Horne’s time, long before
the general parcels and receiving-office branch was absorbed. The
decision to terminate the contract was a source of much annoyance to
him, on account of the reason given, which was that the business was
not efficiently conducted. Although he was a man who in general had a
horror of going to law, this stigma upon his business methods so stung
him that he brought an action against the railway company for breach
of contract, in order to vindicate his position. This was going to
law for an idea, and as the company had a perfect right to terminate
the contract, the action of course failed; but it was made abundantly
evident that the business was efficiently carried on, and that the
railway was only proposing to take it over because the time was ripe
for such a development. His heavy costs, amounting to £1200, were
afterwards very handsomely refunded to Mr. Horne by the railway.

It remains to say that although there was no keener or more ruthless
man of business than Benjamin Worthy Horne, he was privately a
considerate and kindly man, helpful and charitable to those less
successful than himself.

He had a pretty estate at Highlands, Mereworth, and a town residence at
33, Russell Square. He died at the latter place, April 14th, 1870, aged
sixty-six, leaving property valued at £250,000.



CHAPTER X

COACH-PROPRIETORS (_continued_)


Edward Sherman, who ranked next to Chaplin as the largest
coach-proprietor in London, was in many respects unlike his brethren
in the trade. He established himself at the “Bull and Mouth,” St.
Martin’s-le-Grand, in 1823, in succession to Willans, and came direct
from the Stock Exchange, where he had been a broker in alliance with
Lewis Levy, a noted figure in those days of Turnpike Trusts. It is
perhaps scarcely necessary to add that Levy was a Jew. He was referred
to by Lord Ravensworth in the course of a discussion in the House of
Lords on Metropolitan Toll-gates in 1857 as “a gentleman of the Hebrew
persuasion.” Persuasion, indeed! As well might you describe a born
Englishman or Frenchman as born into those nationalities by personal
choice and election. Levy was, of course, a Jew by birth, and had no
choice in the matter. He was a farmer of turnpike-tolls to the extent
of half a million sterling per annum, and a very wealthy man. Levy put
Sherman into the coaching business, and he immediately began to make
things extremely uncomfortable for the older proprietors, who had up to
that time been content with going at eight or nine miles an hour.

When Colonel Hawker took coach from the “Bull and Mouth” in 1812, he
found “the ruffians” there “a dissatisfied, grumbling set of fellows,
and their turns-out of horses and harness beggarly.” Such was the place
under Willans’ rule, but Sherman altered all that. He was anything but
a horsy man, and it is therefore remarkable that he should have built
up the very extensive business that the “Bull and Mouth” Yard did
almost immediately become. He was the pioneer of fast long-distance day
coaches, and was the proprietor, at the London end, of the “Shrewsbury
Wonder,” which, like all his coaches at that time, was a light yellow
and black affair. How long he continued subservient to Levy may be
a matter for conjecture, but when he rebuilt the “Bull and Mouth”
Hotel, in 1830, he did so from the money of one of the three old and
wealthy ladies whom he married in succession. The “Wonder” ran 158
miles in the day, as against the 122 miles to Bristol; but was shortly
afterwards eclipsed by the Exeter “Telegraph,” put on the road in 1826
in rivalry with Chaplin’s “Quicksilver” Devonport Mail, by Mrs. Ann
Nelson, of the “Bull,” Whitechapel. In this Sherman had only a small
share. Entirely his own venture was that supreme achievement, the
“Manchester Telegraph” day coach, started in 1833 and running 186 miles
in 18 hours, technically in the day by dint of starting at 5 o’clock
in the morning and reaching Manchester at 11 p.m. The journey was at
last shortened by one hour, when the pace, allowing twenty minutes
for dinner at Derby, and stops for changing, worked out at just under
twelve miles an hour. The Manchester “Telegraph” day coach must by no
means be confounded with the old night coach of that name, which in
1821 started from the “Castle and Falcon” at 2.30 p.m., and arrived
at the “Moseley Arms,” Manchester, at 8 o’clock the next evening--29½
hours, not much more than six miles an hour.

The “Telegraph” day coach was built by Waude, and was able to safely
perform its astonishingly quick journeys over what is in some places an
extremely hilly road by the introduction of the flat springs that, from
first being used on this coach, were known as “telegraph springs,” a
name they retain to this day. They set the fashion of low-hung coaches,
which, in the lowering of the centre of gravity, retained their
equilibrium at high rates of speed and when going round abrupt curves.
Accidents, very numerous in those years, would have been even more
frequent had it not been for this change.

The heated rivalry between Sherman’s “Manchester Telegraph” and
Chaplin’s “Manchester Defiance”--continued for some years--was but one
phase of a keen competition that raged all round the coaching world for
the possession of the Manchester traffic. The “Swan with Two Necks”
“Defiance” may be traced back to 1821, and even before that date, if
necessary. In that year there was not a coach that went the distance
in less than 27 hours, and in this first flight the “Defiance” was
included. It set out at 2.30 p.m., and was at the “Bridgewater Arms,”
Manchester, at 5.30 the next afternoon. By 1823 it was accelerated
by two and a half hours; in 1826 it had become the “Royal Defiance,”
in 24 hours. In succeeding years it continued to go at 6.30 and 6.45
p.m., and when the “Telegraph” was started the pace was screwed up
to the same as that of the new-comer. An evening rival was the fast
“Peveril of the Peak,” running from the “Blossoms” inn, Lawrence Lane,
Cheapside; while Robert Nelson, of the “Belle Sauvage,” also had a fast
night coach, the Manchester “Red Rover,” at 7 p.m., a very lurid affair
on which the guards wore red hats as well as red coats, and the horses
red harness and collars as far as he horsed the coach out of London.
This did not long remain in his hands. Sherman afterwards obtained
it; but Nelson, burning with professional zeal and no little personal
pique, immediately put an entirely new coach on the same route to
Cottonopolis. The announcement of the “Beehive,” as it was called, is
distinctly worth quoting, for it shows at once the keen rivalry between
proprietors at this period and the excellent appointments of the later
coaches:--


  “NEW COACH FROM THE ‘BEEHIVE’ COACH OFFICE

  “Merchants, buyers, and the public in general, visiting London
  and Manchester, are respectfully informed that a new coach,
  called the ‘Beehive,’ built expressly, and fitted up with superior
  accommodation for comfort and safety to any coach in Europe,
  will leave ‘La Belle Sauvage,’ Ludgate Hill, London, at eight
  every morning, and arrive in Manchester the following morning,
  in time for the coaches leaving for Carlisle, Edinburgh, and
  Glasgow. Passengers travelling to the north will reach Carlisle
  the following morning, being only one night on the road. The above
  coach will leave the ‘Beehive’ Coach Office, Market Street, near
  the Exchange, Manchester, every evening at seven, and arrive in
  London the following afternoon at three. All small parcels sent by
  this conveyance will be delivered to the farthest part of London
  within two hours after the arrival of the coach. In order to insure
  safety and punctuality, with respectability, no large packages will
  be taken, or fish of any description carried by this conveyance.
  The inside of the coach is fitted up with spring cushions and a
  reading-lamp, lighted with wax, for the accommodation of those
  who wish to amuse themselves on the road. The inside backs and
  seats are also fitted up with hair cushions, rendering them more
  comfortable to passengers than anything hitherto brought out in the
  annals of coaching, and, to prevent frequent disputes respecting
  seats, every seat is numbered. Persons booking themselves at either
  of the above places will receive a card, with a number upon it,
  thereby doing away with the disagreeables that occur daily in the
  old style. The route is through Stockport, Macclesfield, Congleton,
  Newcastle, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry, Dunchurch,
  Towcester, Stony Stratford, Brickhill, Dunstable, and St. Albans,
  being the most level line of country, avoiding the danger of the
  steep hills through Derbyshire.

            “Performed by the public’s obedient servants,
                “ROBERT NELSON, London;
                “F. CLARE, Stony Stratford;
                “ROBERT HADLEY & CO., Manchester.”

Sherman’s rebuilt “Bull and Mouth” inn, or “Queen’s Hotel,” to give it
its later name, long remained a feature of St. Martin’s-le-Grand, many
years after the last coach had been withdrawn; and the old stables in
Bull and Mouth Street, which had not been included in the rebuilding of
1830, remained, a grim and grimy landmark, put to use, as usually the
case with the old coach offices, as a receiving office for the Goods
Department of one of the great railways. In later years the “Queen’s
Hotel” became the property of that very thick-and-thin supporter of
and believer in the Tichborne Claimant, Mr. Quartermaine East; but the
growth of Post Office business made the site an exceedingly desirable
one for an extension, and in 1887 the house was closed and demolished,
and in the fulness of time the gigantic block of buildings officially
known as “G.P.O. North” arose. Not only were the sites of hotel and
stables thus occupied, but even Bull and Mouth Street was stopped up
and built over. The still-existing Angel Street, close by, between
“G.P.O. North” and “G.P.O. West,” marks where another coaching inn, the
“Angel,” once stood.

Robert Nelson, who entered so keenly into rivalry with Sherman over the
Manchester business, was one of the three sons of Mrs. Ann Nelson, of
the “Bull Inn,” Whitechapel. Not the Bull “Hotel,” for Mrs. Nelson most
resolutely set her face against that new-fangled word; and as an “inn”
the house was known to the very last. An excellent inn it was--one of
the very best. It did not seem strange then, as undoubtedly it would
now be, for so high-class a house to be situated in this quarter
of London. Whitechapel of that time was vastly different from the
disreputable place it is to-day; but the prime reason of so fine an inn
as the “Bull” being situated here was that this was the starting-point
of many routes into the eastern counties, and, just as railway hotels
form a usual adjunct of railway termini, so did Mrs. Nelson possess
an excellent hotel business in addition to the important and highly
successful coaches that set out from her yard and stables.

The “Bull,” Whitechapel, was sometimes--and with equal, if not better,
exactness--known as the “Bull,” Aldgate, for it was numbered 25 in
Aldgate High Street. The relentless hand of “improvement” swept it away
in 1868, but until that year it presented the picture of a typical old
English hostelry, and its coffee-room, resplendent with old polished
mahogany fittings, its tables laid with silver, and the walls adorned
with numerous specimens of those old coaching prints that are now so
rare and prized so greatly by collectors, it wore no uncertain air of
that solid and restful comfort the newer and hustling hotels of to-day,
furnished and appointed with a distracting showiness, are incapable of
giving. Everything at the “Bull” was solid and substantial, from the
great heavy mahogany chairs that required the strength of a strong man
to move, to the rich old English fare, and the full-bodied port its
guests were sure of obtaining.

A peculiar feature of this fine establishment of Mrs. Nelson’s
was the room especially reserved for her coachmen and guards,
where those worthies supped and dined off the best the house could
provide, at something less than cost price. Mention has often been
made of the exclusiveness of the commercial-rooms of old, but none
of those strictly reserved haunts were so unapproachable as this
coachmen’s room at the “Bull.” There they and the guards dined with
as much circumstance as the coffee-room guests, drank wine with the
appreciation of connoisseurs, and tipped the waiter as freely as any
travellers down the road. A round dozen daily gathered round the table
of this sanctum, joined sometimes by well-known amateurs of the road
like Sir Henry Peyton and the Honourable Thomas Kenyon, but only as
distinguished and quite exceptional guests. Once, indeed, Charles
Dickens sat at this table. Perhaps he was contemplating a sequence of
stories with some such title as “The Coachmen’s Room”; but if so, he
never fulfilled the intention. The chairman on this occasion, after
sundry flattering remarks, as a tribute to the novelist’s power of
describing a coach journey, said, “Mr. Dickens, sir, we knows you knows
wot’s wot, but can you, sir, ’andle a vip?” There was no mock modesty
about Dickens. He acknowledged that he _could_ describe a journey down
the road (doubtless, if we have a correct mental image of the man, he
acknowledged that little matter with a truculent suggestion in his
manner that he would like to see the man who could do it as well), but
he regretted that in the management of the “vip” he was not an expert.

Unlike commercial dinners, “shop” was not taboo round this hospitable
mahogany, but formed the staple of the conversation. Indeed, these
worthies could talk little else, and with the exception of sometimes
shrewd and humorous sidelights on the towns and villages they passed on
their daily drives, and criticisms of the local magnates whose parks
and mansions they pointed out to the passengers on the way, were silent
on all subjects save wheels, horses, and harness.

The etiquette of this room was strict. The oldest coachman
presided--never a guard, for they always ranked as juniors--and at the
proper moment gave the loyal toast of the King or Queen. An exception
to this rule of seniority was when Mrs. Nelson’s second son, Robert,
who drove her Exeter “Defiance,” was present, as occasionally he was.
Following the practice of the House of Commons, whose members are
never, within the House, referred to by their own names, but always
as the representatives of their several constituencies, Mrs. Nelson’s
coachmen and guards here assembled were addressed as “Manchester,”
“Oxford,” “Ipswich,” “Devonport,” and so forth.

When Mrs. Nelson retired from the active management of the business,
her eldest son, John, became the moving spirit. It was in his time
that railways came in and coaching went out, but he was equal to
the occasion, and started a very successful line of omnibuses, the
“Wellington,” plying between Stratford, Whitechapel, the Bank, Oxford
Street, Royal Oak, and Westbourne Grove. He died, a very wealthy man,
in June, 1868, aged seventy-four.

Thomas Fagg, of the “Bell and Crown,” Holborn--an inn better known
to later generations of Londoners as “Ridler’s Hotel”--was a small
proprietor, but he had in addition a very lucrative business as a
coach-maker at Hartley Row, near Basingstoke. The “Louth” and “Lynn”
mails, however, were partly his, and _Cary’s Itinerary_ for 1821 gives
a list of twenty-six stage-coaches going from his door to all parts
of the country. As “Ridler’s” the house was a very select “family
hotel,” but in this it only carried on the traditions of Fagg’s time,
when he had some most distinguished guests. Standing midway between
the West End and the City, the “Bell and Crown” thus possessed certain
advantages, and received much patronage both from commercial magnates
and Society people. Among his patrons he numbered the “Iron Duke,”
for whom he had an almost religious reverence, and indeed proposed to
change the name of his house to the “Wellington,” in honour of him;
only reconsidering the project when the Duke told him--as he commonly
did the many extravagant hero-worshippers whose attentions were a
daily nuisance--not to be “a d----d fool.” Fagg, however, was no fool,
but a very shrewd person indeed. A coachman, applying to him for a
place on one of his coaches, was put through a strict examination as
to his qualifications, when it appeared that he was (according to his
own account) not only a first-rate and steady “artist,” but had never
capsized a coach in the whole course of his career--“he didn’t know
what a hupset meant.”

“Oh! go away,” retorted the justly incensed Fagg; “you are no man
for me. _My_ coaches are always upsetting, and with _your_ want of
experience, how the devil should you know how to get one on her legs
again?”

Mrs. Mountain also had her own coach-factory. She was no less energetic
than that very lively and masterful person, Mrs. Ann Nelson, but in a
smaller way of business. Sarah Ann Mountain’s house was that “Saracen’s
Head,” Snow Hill, immortalised by Dickens in _Nicholas Nickleby_. She
had succeeded to the business in 1818, on the death of her husband,
and instead of giving up, decided to carry on, aided by Peter, her
son. Thirty coaches left her inn daily, among them the first of the
Birmingham “Tally-Ho’s,” a fast day coach, established in 1823, and
historically interesting as the prime cause of the furious racing that
characterised the St. Albans and Coventry route to Birmingham from this
date until 1838. Mrs. Mountain’s coach-factory was at the rear of her
premises on Snow Hill. There she built the conveyances used by herself
and partners, charging them at the rather high rate of 3½d. a mile for
their use.

A number of smaller proprietors accounted, between them, for many other
coaches. Robert Gray, once established at the “Belle Sauvage,” left
that place in 1807 and settled at the “Bolt-in-Tun,” a house still
standing in Fleet Street, and now known as the “Bolt-in-Tun” London and
North-Western Railway Receiving Office. He sent out twenty-five coaches
daily, almost exclusively down the southern and western roads, among
them the Portsmouth and the Hastings mails, the latter a pair-horse
concern.

William Gilbert, of the “Blossoms” inn, Laurence Lane, Cheapside, had
also a pair-horse mail--the “Brighton”--the “Tantivy,” Birmingham
coach, and a fast night coach to Manchester, the “Peveril of the Peak.”
Seventeen other coaches left his yard.

Joseph Hearn, proprietor of the “King’s Arms,” Snow Hill, was monarch
among the slow-coaches, of which he had twenty-two. Among them were
the Bicester “Regulator,” the Boston “Perseverance,” and the Leicester
and Market Harborough “Convenience”--names that do not spell speed.
Even his Aylesbury “Despatch” was a slow affair, reaching that town in
six hours, at the rate of six and a half miles an hour.

Many great coach-proprietors were established in the chief
provincial towns. Bretherton, of Liverpool, described by Chaplin as
“an exceedingly opulent man,” Wetherald, at Manchester, Teather,
of Carlisle, Waddell, at Birmingham, are names that stand forth
prominently. The cross-country rivalry between these men was quite as
bitter as that which raged among the Londoners, and, although with the
lapse of time the exact explanation of the following extraordinary
epitaph on a coach-proprietor of Bolton, Lancashire, cannot be given,
it is doubtless to be found in one of these business feuds:--

  “Sacred to the Memory of Frederic Webb, Coach Proprietor, of the
  firm of Webb, Houlden, & Co., of Bolton, who departed this life
  the 9th December, 1825, aged 23 years. Not being able to combat
  the malevolence of his enemies, who sought his destruction, he
  was taken prematurely from an affectionate loving wife and infant
  child, to deplore the loss of a good husband, whose worth was
  unknown, and who died _an honest man_.”

The inference intended to be drawn was obviously that the others were
not honest men; but, honest or not, they are all gone to their account,
and the world has forgotten them and their contentions. Only the stray
historian of these things comes upon their infrequent footmarks, and
wonders greatly at their elemental ferocity.



CHAPTER XI

THE AMATEURS

    Those men ascend to lofty state,
    And Phœbus’ self do emulate,
    Who drive the dusty roads along
    Amid the plaudits of the throng.
    When round the whirling wheels do go,
    They all the joys of gods do know.
    See the Olympian dust arise
    That gives them kindred with the skies!

    HORACE, Book I., Ode 1.


Thus Horace sings, in his Ode to Mæcenas; and the driving ambition
observed by that old heathen, still to be noticed in these days, was a
very marked feature of the road at any time between 1800 and 1848, when
the railways had succeeded in disestablishing almost every coach, and
the opportunities of the gentleman coachman were gone.

The amateur coachman was a creation of the nineteenth century, He was,
for two very good reasons, unknown before that time. The first was that
coachmanship had not yet become an art, and, still in the hands of mere
drivers whose only recommendations were an ability to endure long hours
on the box and a brutal efficiency in punishing the horses, had no
chance of developing those refinements that characterised the Augustan
age of coaching; the second reason was that the box-seat, although
perhaps already beginning to be regarded as a place of distinction, was
much more certainly a very painful eminence. It rested directly upon
the front axle, and, being wholly innocent of springs, received and
transmitted to the frame of any one who occupied it every shock the
wheels encountered on the rough roads of that time.

Springs under the driving-box were unknown until about 1805, when they
were introduced by John Warde, of Squerryes, the old Kentish squire
who is generally known as the “Father of Foxhunting.” He was the first
amateur coachman, and in pursuing that hobby found the driving-seats of
the old coaches anything but comfortable. In resisting his arguments in
favour of the introduction of springs, the coach-proprietors declared
to a man that the coachmen would always be falling asleep if they were
provided with comfortable seats.

John Warde’s driving exploits were chiefly carried out on the Oxford,
Gloucester, and Birmingham roads. For years before coachmanship
became a fashionable accomplishment, he had been accustomed to take
the professional coachman’s place on the “old Gloucester” stage, “six
inside and sixteen out, with two tons of luggage”; or, relieving Jack
Bailey and other incumbents of the bench on the old Birmingham and
Shrewsbury “Prince of Wales,” would drive the whole distance between
London and Birmingham. He once drove this coach from London to Oxford
against the “Worcester Old Fly” for a wager, and won it, although
his coach went the Benson road, four miles longer than the route his
opponent had to travel.

Warde’s driving was by no means in the later style, and he probably
would have been very much out of his element with the smart galloping
teams of the Golden Age. He was, however, of those who were fit to be
trusted with a heavy load behind weak horses and on bad roads. There
was a peculiarity about him as regarded the driving of his own horses
which the history of the road, it was said, could not parallel. Let
the journey be in length what it might, he never took the horses out
of his private coach, giving them only now and then a little hay and
a mouthful of water at a roadside public-house. When he resided in
Northamptonshire, sixty-three miles from London, the journey was always
accomplished by his team “at a pull,” as he called it. The pace, as may
be supposed, was not quick. John Warde was one of the founders of the
B.D.C., or Benson Driving Club, in 1807.

Amateur coaching, as a fashionable amusement, took its rise on the
Brighton Road. Looked upon with contempt by stalwart and bluff Warde
and his kind, it nevertheless grew and flourished in the hands of
the Barrymores and their contemporaries, Sir John Lade and Colonel
Mellish; and in the early years of the nineteenth century the education
of no gay young blood was complete until he had acquired the art of
driving four-in-hand, in addition to the already fashionable and
highly dashing sport of driving the light whiskies, the high-perched
curricles, and the toppling tilburies that then gave a fearful joy
to the newly-fledged whip. There was not too much physical exertion,
endurance, or skill required on the road to Brighton, which was only
fifty-two miles in length, and already possessed a better surface than
most roads out of London; and, moreover, it was a road peopled from
beginning to end with fashionables, before whom the gentleman-coachman
could display his prowess. It was then pretty generally recognised that
coach-driving was a poor sport if the ease and grace of the performer
could not be displayed before a large and fashionable audience. That,
it will be conceded, was not altogether a worthy attitude.

Many of these brilliant amateurs of the road ran an essentially
identical career of viciousness and mad extravagance; and not a few of
them wasted themselves and their substance in the very shady pursuits
that then characterised the “man about town.” Those who are curious
about such things may find them fully set forth in Pierce Egan’s _Life
in London_ and its grim sequel, the _Finish_. The endings of the Toms
and Jerrys of that Corinthian age were generally sordid and pitiful.

[Illustration: FOUR-IN-HAND.

                    _After G. H. Laporte._
]

The truth is that the sporting world was then, as it always has been
and always will be, thronged with the toadies who were ever ready
to fool a moneyed youngster to the top of his bent. He must vie
with the richer and the more experienced, though he ruin himself in
the doing of it, and bring his ancestral acres to the hammer, in the
manner of a Mytton or a Mellish. The only satisfaction these reckless
sportsmen obtained, beyond the immediate gratification of their tastes,
was the eulogy of the sporting scribes, who discussed their style
upon the box-seat with as much gravity as would befit some question
of empire. Excepting “Nimrod” and “Viator Junior,” whose essays on
sport in general, and coaching in particular, were sound and honest
criticism, these writers were venal and beneath contempt.

A “real gentleman,” according to the ideas of these parasites, was
one who flung away his money broadcast in tips. Many foolish fellows,
foolish in thinking the good opinions of these gentry worth having,
spent their substance in this way. Of this kind was the amateur
whip described by a writer in the _Sporting Magazine_ in 1831. This
aspirant for the goodwill of the stable-helpers and their sort sat
beside the professional coachman on the Poole Mail starting from
Piccadilly, and when the reins were handed to him proclaimed his
gentility by the distribution of shillings among the horsekeepers.
First “Nasty Bob,” the ostler, got a shilling for talking about the
leaders’ “haction”; then “Greedy Dick,” the boots, had one also for
handing him the “vip”; and then came “Sneaking Will,” the cad and
coach-caller, to say something civil to the “gemman”; and even the
neighbouring waterman was seduced from his hackney-coaches to try the
persuasive powers of his eloquence. Four shillings and sixpence this
“real gentleman” distributed at Hatchett’s door, and left the capital
with the best wishes of the donees for his safe return. His generosity
was not allowed a long respite, for at “that vile hole Brentford,” a
slowly manœuvring waggoner blocked the way; and finding that he could
by no other means be induced to allow the mail to pass, our amateur
descended from the box, and, slyly placing a shilling in the waggoner’s
hands, said in a loud voice, “I don’t stand any nonsense, you know, so
now take your waggon out of the way.” This forcible and intelligible
appeal, so properly accompanied, was perfectly irresistible: the waggon
was drawn to the roadside, and the mail proceeded.

Very few of these amateurs have been considered worthy of biographical
treatment, but among them Sir St. Vincent Cotton is one. Let us just
see what the outline of his life was:--“Cotton, Sir St. Vincent, 6th
Baronet, son of Admiral Sir Charles Cotton. Born at Madingley Hall,
Cambs., October 6th, 1801; succeeded, February 24th, 1812; educated at
Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford. Cornet 10th Light Dragoons, May
13th, 1827; Lieutenant, December 13th, 1827, to November 19th, 1830,
when placed on half-pay. Distinguished himself in the hunting, skating,
racing, and pugilistic world. Played in Marylebone Cricket Matches,
1830–35. A great player at hazard. Dissipated all his property. Drove
the ‘Age’ coach from Brighton to London and back for some years from
1836. Died at 5, Hyde Park Terrace, January 25th, 1863.”

It is possible to largely supplement this skeleton biography from the
_Sporting Magazine_ and other sources. “The Cottons of Madingley and
Landwade,” said that classic authority, “are no ‘soft goods’ of recent
manufacture, but have held high rank among the gentry of Cambridgeshire
since the reign of Edward I. Sir John Cotton, the first baronet of the
family, was advanced to that honour in 1641, by Charles I., to whose
cause he was firmly attached. Sir St. Vincent used to ride in the first
flight with the crack men of Leicestershire, mounted on his favourite
mare, ‘Lark.’ The honourable baronet has, however, left both the Army
and the Chase to devote himself exclusively to the public service on
the ‘Road,’ where he performs the duties of a coachman very much to
his own pleasure, and the great satisfaction of all His Majesty’s
lieges who travel by the Brighton ‘Age’; and we are of opinion that
an English baronet is much better employed in driving a coach than in
endeavouring--like a certain mole-eyed wiseacre of the West, who also
displays the Red Hand on his scutcheon--to saw off the branch that he
is sitting on.

“We believe that the late Mr. H. Stevenson, who drove the ‘Age’ a
few years ago, was one of the first gentleman-whips who took a _bob_
and returned a _bow_--_i.e._, if you popped a shilling into his hand
at the end of a stage, he ducked his head and said, ‘Thank you.’ The
example thus set has been followed by the Baronet, who receives a
‘hog’ as courteously as his predecessor. When a noble Marquis, now in
the enjoyment of an hereditary dukedom, drove the ‘Criterion,’ and
afterwards the ‘Wonder,’ also on the Brighton Road, he did not take
‘civility money,’ we believe, but did the thing for pure love.

   “By different means men strive for fame,
    And seek to gain a sporting name.
    Some like to ride a steeple-chase;
    Others at Melton go the pace,
    Where honour chief on him awaits
    Who best takes brooks, and rails, and gates,
    Or tops the lofty ‘bullfinch’ best,
    Where man and horse may build a nest;
    Who crams at everything his steed--
    And clears it too--and keeps the lead.
    Some on the ‘Turf’ their pleasure take,
    Where knowing ‘Legs’ oft bite ‘the Cake’;
    Others the ‘Road’ prefer; and drest
    Like ‘reg’lar’ coachmen in their best,
    Handle the ribbons and the whip,
    And answer ‘All right!’ with ‘yah hip!’
    At steady pace off go the tits,
    Elate the Sporting Dragsman sits;
    No peer nor plebeian in the land
    With greater skill drives four-in-hand.”

[Illustration: SIR ST. VINCENT COTTON.]

Cotton, known to the plebeian professionals of the Brighton Road as
“the Baronet,” and to his familiars as “Vinny,” was so hard hit by his
disastrous gambling that he owned and drove the Brighton “Age” for a
living. Let us do him the justice to add that he did not attempt to
disguise the fact, and that he took his misfortunes bravely, like a
sportsman. Reduced, as a consequence of his own folly, from an income
of £5000 a year to nothing, “I drive for a livelihood,” he said to a
friend: “Jones, Worcester, and Stevenson have their liveried servants
behind, who pack the baggage and take all short fares and pocket all
the fees. That’s all very well for them. I do all myself, and the more
civil I am (particularly to the old ladies) the larger fees I get.”
He, indeed, made £300 a year out of this coach, and got his sport for
nothing.

The “Jones” of whom he spoke was Charles Tyrwhitt Jones, of whom,
being just an amateur with no eccentricities, we know little. Of
Harry Stevenson, one of the most distinguished and accomplished among
amateurs of the road, we know a good deal, although even of his short
life full particulars have never been secured. He made his first
appearance on the Brighton Road in August 1827, as part-proprietor of
the “Coronet,” and even then his name seems to have been one to conjure
with, for it was for painting it on a coach of which he was not one of
the licensees that Cripps was fined in November of that year. Stevenson
was then but little more than twenty-three years of age. He had gone
from Eton to Cambridge, and during his exceptionally short career was
always known by the fraternity of the road as “the Cambridge graduate.”
Although so little is known of him, sufficient has come down to us
to place him on a higher pedestal than that of the majority of the
gentlemen amateurs. He was not only a supreme artist with the ribbons,
“whose passion for the _bench_,” as “Nimrod” says, “exceeded all other
worldly ambitions,” but he was also a supremely good fellow, in a
broader and better significance of that misused term than generally
implied. That he was one of the spendthrifts who had run through their
money before taking to the road as a professional would appear to be a
baseless statement, invented perhaps to account for that higher form
of sportsmanship which entirely transcended that of the general ruck
of “sportsmen,” by inducing him to drive his coach, as an ordinary
professional would, day by day, instead of when fine weather and the
inclination of the moment served. A good professional he made, for he
did by no means forget his birth and education when on the box, and was
singularly refined and courteous. His second, and famous, coach was the
“Age,” put on the Brighton Road in 1828. This celebrated coach eclipsed
all the others of that time, from the mere point of view of elegance
and comfort. On a road like that to Brighton there was not, of course,
the chance to rival such flyers as the Devonport “Quicksilver” and
other long-distance cracks; but in every circumstance of its equipment
it was pre-eminent. It was not for nothing that Stevenson loved the
road. His ambition was to be first on it, and he succeeded. The “Age”
was built and finished, horsed and found in every way without regard
to cost. In a time when brass-mounted harness was your only wear,
his was silver-plated. The horse-cloths, too, exhibited this unusual
elegance, for they were edged with deep silver lace and gold thread,
and embroidered in each corner with a royal crown and a sprig of laurel
in coloured silks and silver. These cloths were, many years afterwards,
presented to the Brighton Museum by Mr. Thomas Ward Capps, a later
proprietor of the “Age,” and they are still to be seen there.

This was not by any means the sum of Stevenson’s improvements. The
usual guard he replaced by a liveried servant, whom he caused to
attend upon the passengers, when the coach changed horses, with silver
sandwich-box and offers of sherry of a kind that appealed even to the
jaded palates of connoisseurs. Stevenson was as excellent a whip as he
was a good-hearted gentleman. “I am not aware,” wrote “Viator Junior,”
“if, to quote a vulgar saying, he was ‘born with a silver spoon in his
mouth,’ but I certainly think he must have been brought into the world
with a whip and reins in his hand, for in point of ease and elegance of
execution as a light coachman he beats nineteen out of twenty of the
regular working dragsmen into fits, and as an amateur is only to be
approached by two or three of the chosen few.”

Of course, coaching on these luxurious terms resulted in a staggering
loss, and could not long have continued, but even those short
possibilities were ended by the early death of Stevenson. The cause
of the attack of brain-fever that ended his career early in 1830 is
imperfectly known, and is merely said to have been “an accident.” The
last scene was pathetic beyond the ordinary. Exhausted at the end of
delirium, the bandages that had held his arms were removed, when,
feebly raising himself up in bed and assuming as well as he was able
his old habitual attitude upon the box, he exclaimed, as if with the
reins in his hand, and to his favourite servant, who usually stood at
his leaders’ heads, “Let them go, George; I’ve got ’em!” and so sank
down, dying, upon his pillow, in the happy delusion of being once more
upon the road.

Mr. Harry Foker and others of the “young Oxonians” or “young Cantabs”
with more taste for driving four-in-hand than knowledge of that very
difficult art, were frequent aspirants for the ribbons, and as they
were generally flush of money and free with it, they often tasted the
delights of tooling a coach along the highway. Professional coachmen on
the Oxford and Cambridge roads reaped a bounteous crop of half-guineas
by resigning the reins into these hands, but equally plentiful was the
harvest of bruises and shocks gathered by the passengers as a result
of their reckless or unskilled driving. These chartered libertines
of the road are mentioned with horror by travellers in the first
half of the nineteenth century, who have pictured for us four horses
galloping at the incredible speed of twenty miles an hour, and the
coaches rocking violently, while the “outsides” hold on like firemen,
behind some uncertificated young cub from Oxford or Cambridge, or,
anticipating the final cataclysm, drop off behind or dive into the
hedges.

[Illustration: THE CONSEQUENCE OF BEING DROVE BY A GENTLEMAN.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

Even more than the passengers, coach-proprietors dreaded amateur
coachmen, and very properly dismissed those professionals whom they
caught allowing the reins out of their charge. They had cause for this
dread, for not only was the act of allowing amateurs to drive itself an
illegal one, entailing penalties, but it often resulted in accidents,
bringing in their train very heavy compensation claims. Juries
invariably satisfied themselves as to whether a professional or an
amateur was driving at the time when an accident occurred, and assessed
damages accordingly.

Sir St. Vincent Cotton was the cause of a serious accident that
happened to the “Star of Cambridge.” Springing the horses over a
favourable stretch of galloping-ground, he went at such a reckless pace
that Jo Walton, the professional coachman, seized hold of the reins. In
doing so the coach was overturned, and the passengers severely injured.
A jockey named Calloway had his leg broken, and, with others, brought
an action for damages. The affair cost Robert Nelson and his partners
nearly two thousand pounds.

A good amateur coachman was, as a general rule, like an accomplished
violinist, only to be produced by long training. Caught young and
properly schooled, he might become an elegant as well as a thorough
whip; but the late-comer rarely attained both grace and complete
mastery. “He who would master this most fascinating science of
coachmanship,” says Dashwood, in the _New Sporting Magazine_, “must
begin early, under good tuition. He must work constantly on all kinds
of coaches, and, thereby accustoming himself to every description of
team to be met with, no matter how difficult or unpleasant, will ere
long acquire a practical knowledge on that all-important point, the
art of putting horses well together.” He then proceeds to sigh for
one hour of “old Bill Williams,” of the “Oxford Defiance,” who, as a
schoolmaster of gentlemen-aspirants to coaching honours was, in his
time, unequalled. He was supposed to have turned out more efficient
coachmen than all the rest of his brethren put together. “Never by
any chance--confound him!--would he allow an error or ungraceful act
to escape unnoticed, and I have often got off his box so annoyed at
his merciless reproofs and lectures that I vowed no power on earth
should make me touch another rein for him. The first morning, in
particular, that I was with him I shall never forget. In spite of
all my remonstrances, nothing would satisfy him but I must take the
reins from the door of the very office, at the ‘Belle Sauvage,’ he
himself getting up behind, in order, as he said, not to ‘fluster the
young ‘un.’ By great good luck we got pretty well into the street,
and, without anything worth telling, for some way past Temple Bar;
but, as my evil star would have it, the narrow part of the Strand was
uncommonly full, and having rather an awkward team, and being moreover
in a pretty particular stew, we had more than one squeak at sundry
posts, drays, etc., etc. Still, not a word was uttered by the artist,
though by this time he had scrambled in front, till, after a devil of a
mistake in turning into the Hay-market, he touched my arm very civilly,
with a ‘Pull up, if you please, sir, by that empty coal-cart.’ I did
so--at least, as well as I could--and found, to my utter horror, that
it was for the purpose of his requesting the grinning blackamoors that
belonged to it _to lend him some six or seven of their sacks, to take
the drag home_; ‘for,’ said he, ‘I am sure the gentleman won’t take it
up to the Gloucester Coffee House _a coach_.’”



CHAPTER XII

END OF THE COACHING AGE

“This is the patent age of inventions.”--_Byron._


In 1789, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, of Shrewsbury, in writing his poem, the
_Loves of the Plants_, penned a most remarkably accurate prophecy,
comparable with Mother Shipton’s earlier “carriages without horses
shall go.” He wrote:--

    Soon shall thy arm, unconquered steam, afar
    Drag the slow barge, or urge the rapid car;
    Or on wide waving wings expanded bear
    The flying chariot through the realms of air.
    Fair crews, triumphant, smiling from above,
    Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move;
    Or warrior bands alarm the gaping crowd,
    And armies shrink beneath the rushing cloud.

The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled in the period between
1823 and 1833, when steam-carriages--the motor-cars of that age--had a
brief popularity.

Before railways successfully assailed the coaches, horsed vehicles had
faced the inventions of a number of ingenious persons who wrestled with
that problem of steam traction on common roads which had attracted
Murdock in 1781. Trevithick took it up in 1800, and others followed;
but it was not until 1823 that the subject began greatly to interest
engineers. At that period, however, Hancock, Ogle, Church, Gurney,
Summers, Squire, Maceroni, Hills and Scott-Russell plunged into that
troubled sea of invention. Chief among these, from the standpoint of
results achieved, were Mr. (afterwards Sir) Goldsworthy Gurney, Walter
Hancock, and Colonel Maceroni. Gurney as early as 1827 had patented and
tried a steam-carriage on the road. The boiler, it was explained for
the benefit of nervous people, was perfectly safe. Even if it were to
burst, being “constructed on philosophical principles,” no one could
be hurt. On July 28th, 1829, he ran one of his inventions on the Bath
Road. This was what he termed a “steam-tractor,” used as an engine to
draw an ordinary barouche. Unfortunately for Gurney, he and his party
reached Melksham on the annual fair-day, and a hostile crowd of rustics
not only surrounded the steam-carriage, shouting “Down with machinery!”
but stoned the engine, the carriage, and Gurney and his friends, with
such effect that the machinery was disabled and several of the party
very seriously injured.

But he evidently travelled the kingdom pretty extensively with his
machines, for he agreed with one Mr. Hanning to grant him the right of
working them on a royalty on the West of England roads, and entered
into similar arrangements on the routes between London, Manchester, and
Liverpool, London and Brighton, London and Southampton, and London,
Birmingham, and Holyhead. Their price was agreed upon--to be hired at
6d. a mile, or to be sold by Gurney at £1000 each. During four months
at the beginning of 1831, Sir Charles Dance, who had bought some of the
carriages, established a steam service on the road between Cheltenham
and Gloucester. Three double journeys a day were made, 396 regular
trips in all, covering 3644 miles, and conveying 2666 passengers, who
paid £202 4s. 6d. in fares. The enterprise was just beginning to show a
profit when the local Trusts secured an Act under which they raised the
tolls against steam-carriages to a prohibitive height, and even went
so far as to obstruct the roads with loose gravel and stones, with the
result that the axle of one machine was broken.

In June 1831 the “philosophical” boiler of one of Gurney’s
steam-carriages, warranted not to burst disastrously, exploded at
Glasgow, and seriously injured two boys. Tom Hood wrote:--

    Instead of _journeys_, people now
      May go upon a _Gurney_,
    With steam to do the horses’ work
      By power of attorney;

    Tho’ with a load it may explode,
      And you may all be undone;
    And find you’re going up to Heaven,
      Instead of up to London.

Yet a Select Committee of the House of Commons, which had been
appointed to consider the question of steam-carriages, reported, four
months later, that such carriages could be propelled at an average rate
of ten miles an hour; that they would become a cheaper and speedier
mode of conveyance than carriages drawn by horses, and that they were
perfectly safe (!).

Between 1832 and 1838 there were no fewer than seven important
Steam-Carriage Companies in existence, and probably, had it not been
for the hostility of Turnpike Trusts all over the country, the roads
would have been peopled with mechanically-propelled vehicles. But tolls
were raised to such a height against the new-fangled inventions that
it became commercially impossible to run them. Between Liverpool and
Prescot the 4s. toll for a coach became £2 8s. for a steam-carriage;
between Ashburton and Totnes the 3s. impost became £2.

Evidently, from a coloured print published in 1833, Goldsworthy Gurney
projected a London and Bath service, but the turnpike authorities
crushed that also. An inscription under the original print obligingly
tells us all about this type of Gurney’s carriages:--

“The Guide or Engineer is seated in front, having a lever rod from
the two guide-wheels, to turn and direct the Carriage, and another
at his right hand, connecting with the main Steam Pipe, by which
he regulates the motion of the Vehicle--the hind part of the Coach
contains the machinery for producing the Steam, on a novel and secure
principle, which is conveyed by Pipes to the Cylinders beneath, and by
its action on the hind wheels sets the Carriage in motion. The Tank,
which contains about 60 Gallons of water, is placed under the body of
the Coach, and is its full length and breadth. The Chimneys are fixed
on the top of the hind boot, and, as Coke is used for fuel, there will
be no smoke, while any hot or rarified air produced will be dispelled
by the action of the Vehicle. At different stations on a journey, the
Coach receives fresh supplies of fuel and water. The full length of
the Carriage is from 15 to 20 feet, and its weight about 2 tons. The
rate of travelling is intended to be from 8 to 10 miles per hour. The
present Steam Carriage carries 6 inside and 12 outside Passengers.
The front Boot contains the Luggage. It has been constructed by Mr.
Goldsworthy Gurney, the Inventor and Patentee.”

Gurney was held, by a Parliamentary Committee, to be “foremost for
practical utility”; but that statement was owing, there is little
doubt, to the influence of his many friends in Parliament. Hancock’s
steam-carriages were at least as efficient--but then he had no such
influential supporters. Gurney claimed to have lost £36,000 directly
in his experiments, and a much larger sum indirectly, through the
excessive tolls imposed, and brought his grievances before Parliament.
A Committee recommended a grant of £16,000 to him, as the first to
successfully apply steam-carriages to use on public roads.

[Illustration: GOLDSWORTHY GURNEY’S LONDON AND BATH STEAM-CARRIAGE,
1833.

                    _After G. Morton._
]

In 1824 Walter Hancock was experimenting on similar lines, but it
was not until 1828 that a proposal was made to run a service of
steam-carriages between London and Brighton, and not until November
1832 that his “Infant” actually made the attempt. It had already, at
the beginning of 1831, plied for public service as an omnibus between
Stratford and London, and now was to essay those 52 miles between
London and the sea.

It performed the double journey, but, owing to lack of fuel on the way,
not in anything like record time, although it is said in places to have
attained a speed of 13 miles an hour.

In 1833 Hancock started a steam omnibus between Paddington and the
City, and by 1836 had three. Between them, they conveyed no fewer
than 12,761 passengers. They were named the “Era,” “Autopsy,” and
“Automaton.” Why the middle one should have been named in a manner
so suggestive of accidents and post-mortem examinations is not
clear. But indeed, the names of old-time and modern motor-cars and
their inventors, strange to say, generally have been, and are now,
sometimes singularly unfortunate. Thus, in 1824, a Scotch inventor of
Leith produced a steam-carriage. His name was Burstall! Among recent
motor-cars are the “Mors” and the “Hurtu.”

In October 1833 Hancock ran the “Autopsy” to Brighton in 8½ hours
(including three hours in stops on the way), and later had successful
trips to Marlborough and back and Birmingham and back. These
performances were considered so promising that a “London and Birmingham
Steam-Coach Company” was formed, and more steam-coaches ordered to be
built. Fares between London and Birmingham were not to exceed £1 each,
inside, and 10s. out. Hancock, a thorough believer in his invention
and its capacity for solving the road-problems of the time, offered
to carry the mails at 20 miles an hour; but the Post Office declined.
Railways had, in fact, just succeeded in attracting attention, and were
so strongly supported by capitalists that steam-carriages suffered
neglect, and their inventors were utterly discouraged. Bright hopes
and prospects gradually faded away, and by 1838 the railways held the
field, undisputed.

Railways themselves were at first ridiculed, and suffered from the
necessity of obtaining Parliamentary sanction at a period when the
landowning interests and public opinion were decidedly hostile. Even
when their construction was authorised, every one ridiculed the
railways, and called those people fools who had invested their money in
them. To be a railway shareholder was at that time, to the majority of
people, proof positive of insanity, while engineers and directors were
regarded as curious compounds of fools and rogues. Any time between
1833 and 1837, the coachmen on the Great North Road would point out
to their box-seat passengers the works of the London and Birmingham
in progress beside that highway, and distinctly visible all the way
between Potter’s Bar and Hatfield and at various other points. “Going
to run us off the road, _they say_” a coachman would remark, jerking
his elbow and nodding his head towards the place where hundreds of
navvies were delving in a cutting or tipping an embankment. Then,
squirting a stream of saliva from between his front teeth, in the
practised manner assiduously cultivated by admiring amateurs, he would
lapse into a contemplative silence, quite undisturbed by any suspicion
that the railway really would run the coaches off. The passengers by
coach were nearly all of the same mind. Some thought the railways
would be useful in carrying goods, but declined to believe that they
or any one else would ever travel by them; and a large proportion
of the railway directors and proprietors shared the same opinion,
being quite convinced that railways would convey heavy articles and
general merchandise, and that coaches would continue to run as of old.
Lovers of the road, coachmen and passengers alike, called the engines
“tea-kettles,” protested that coaching had nothing to fear, and wished
their heads might never ache until railroads came into fashion. They
declared they would never--no, _never_--go by the railroad; but at
length, when some urgent occasion arose, demanding speed, they trusted
their precious persons in a railway train, and, to their surprise,
found it “not so bad after all.” The next occasion, such a person going
to town would shrink as he encountered the “Swallow” coach, by which he
had always travelled, and would feel guilty as he shook his head to the
coachman’s “Coming by me this morning, sir?” Why? Because he had made
up his mind to go by train, and so save something in time and pocket.
This time our traveller rather liked it; and thus the “Swallow,” and
many another coach not already withdrawn, was doomed.

Let us follow the career of such a coach, to its last days.

Deprived of its best passengers, the exchequer of our typical “Swallow”
began to decline. The stalwarts, whose love for the road was superior
to economy of time and money, were faithful, but they were not numerous
enough, and did not travel sufficiently often, for the old style of
that fast post-coach to be maintained, so it was reduced from four
horses to three. In coaching parlance, it ran “pickaxe,” or “unicorn.”
No connoisseur in coaching matters would condescend to travel as a
regular thing by a three-horse coach, and so those supporters were
alienated, and, against their will, driven to the railway; and the
“Swallow,” badly winged, carried only frightened old women who looked
upon steam-engines as wild beasts. As they died away, no one took their
places, and the old concern became a pair-horse coach. The coachman had
seen the change coming, and declared he would never be brought so low
as to drive two horses. He had said the same thing when it was proposed
to have three. “Drive unicorn!” he had said: “never!” But he did, and
he drove pair-horse as well, when the time came. It was better to do so
than to lose his place and face starvation.

By this time the iron had entered the soul of our poor old friend,
and had rusted there. He who had been so smart and gay, with song and
joke and always good-humoured, suffered, like the coach, a strange and
pitiful metamorphosis. The stringency of the times had thinned the
establishment, and in the absence of ostlers and stablemen he put in
the horses himself, badly groomed, and the harness dirty. No one washed
or cleaned the coach, and it ran with the mud and dirt of many journeys
encrusted on its sides. His coat grew seedy, his gloves soiled. Instead
of the silver-mounted whip he had wielded for years, he used one of
common make. The old one, he said, had gone to be repaired, but somehow
or another the job was never completed. At any rate, no one ever saw
the old whip again. At the same time his smart white hat disappeared
and was replaced by a black one: observant people, however, perceived
that it was the identical hat, disguised by process of dyeing. He
could sink no deeper, you think. But he could, and did. Even the short
journey to which the old “Swallow” had in course of time been reduced
by railway extensions came at last to an end; and then he drove the
“Railway Bus” to and from the station, with one horse. His temper,
once so high-mettled, had by now grown uncertain. He was like an April
day--stormy, dull, gloomy, and with fitful gleams of sunshine, all in
turn. No one knew quite how to take him, and every one at last left him
very much to himself. He was never a favourite with the “commercial
gentlemen,” who were now his most frequent passengers, for he had
always in the old days looked down upon any one under the rank of a
county gentleman, and could by no means rid himself of that ancient
attitude of mind. Indeed, he lived in the past, and when he could be
induced to talk at all, would generally be reminiscent of better days.
Commencing with the unvaried formula, “I’ve seen the time when....” he
would then proceed to draw comparisons, much to the disadvantage of
present time and present company. He was then absurdly surprised when
acquaintance, tired of these tactless speeches, avoided him. Not so
quick in his movements as of yore, and always impatient of dictation,
he resented the bluff impatience of a “commercial” one morning, and
when that “ambassador of commerce” desired him to “look alive there,
now, with those boxes,” flung the boxes themselves on the ground, and
told that astonished traveller to “go and be damned!” Unfortunately,
although the traveller would have overlooked the insolence, he could
not afford to disregard the loss of his samples, which happened to
be china, and were all smashed. He reported the occurrence to the
hotel-proprietor, who, being a compassionate man, explained, as he
instantly dismissed the offender, that he was very sorry, but he could
not afford to keep so violent a man in his employ.

After this dramatic incident the ex-coachman hung about the station,
and obtained a few, a very few, odd jobs as porter, until one day a
gentleman alighting from a train saw him. With surprise and sorrow in
his eyes he recognised the once smart coachman, who, years before, had
tutored him in driving. “Good God!” he exclaimed: “is it you?” The old
man burst into tears.

He ended more happily than, but for this chance, would have been the
case, for the Squire took him into his service, and there he remained
until he followed his generation to the Beyond.

The opening of the London and Birmingham Railway in September 1838 did
not suddenly bring the Coaching Age to a close. Many routes remained
for years afterwards practically unassailed, and even on the road to
Birmingham some coach-proprietors struggled with great spirit against
the direct competition of the railway. At the close of 1838 a newspaper
is found saying: “A few months ago no fewer than twenty-two coaches
left Birmingham daily for London. Since the opening of the railway that
number has been reduced to four, and it is expected that these will be
discontinued, although the fares by coach are only 20s. inside and 10s.
outside, whilst the fares for corresponding places on the railroad are
30s. and 20s.”

Prominent among those men who declined to give up without a struggle
was Sherman, of the “Bull and Mouth,” whose coaches had run to
Birmingham, Manchester, and other places on the north-western road.
For two years he maintained the unequal contest, and only relinquished
it when he had lost seven thousand pounds and found his coaches
running empty. Before finally beaten, he had even gone the length of
re-establishing some coaches originally withdrawn in 1836, on the
opening of the Grand Junction Railway. The reasons for this were many.
The train-service in those early days was very poor, and engine-power
insufficient, so that heavy loads, rain-showers that made the rails
slippery, and the innumerable minor accidents always happening to the
engines themselves, made travelling by railway not only uncertain, but,
in not a few instances, even slower than by coach. Railway officials,
too, were insolent to an incredible degree. Only when one has read the
“Letters to the Editor” in contemporary journals can we have any idea
of that insolence. The public complained that, having run the coaches
off and secured a monopoly, the officials, finding themselves masters
of the situation, behaved accordingly like masters, and not like the
servants of the public they really were, or should have been. Newspaper
comments dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, and generally emphasised
and embroidered these grievances. It is not, then, to be wondered
at that a regret for “the good old times” found expression, or that
coaches reappeared for a while. Many coach-proprietors were deceived
by this partly indignant, partly sentimental attitude, and when they
had committed themselves to a revival did not find the support which,
from the newspaper outcry, they might reasonably have expected. Thus
early do we find that gigantic evil of modern times--irresponsible
and misleading newspaper talk--directly to blame for losses and
disappointments to those foolish enough to pay heed to it.

[Illustration: THE LAST JOURNEY DOWN THE ROAD.

                    _After J. H. Agasse._
]

Sherman’s country partners were not so rash or so obstinate as he,
and some of the coaches he personally would have continued had been
withdrawn early in the railway advance. Among those was the Manchester
“Red Rover”; but when the popular indignation against railway delays
and official insolence was thus exploited by the newspapers, Sherman
was enabled to again secure the co-operation of his allies, and to put
that coach on the road once more. The decision to do so was announced
in a striking handbill:--

  “THE RED ROVER RE-ESTABLISHED throughout to Manchester.

  _Bull and Mouth Inn and Queen’s Hotel._

  It is with much satisfaction that the Proprietors of the RED ROVER
  Coach are enabled to announce its

  RE-ESTABLISHMENT

  as a direct conveyance THROUGHOUT, BETWEEN LONDON AND MANCHESTER,
  and that the arrangements will be the same as those which before
  obtained for it such entire and general approval. In this effort
  the Proprietors anxiously hope that the public will recognise
  and appreciate the desire to supply an accommodation which will
  require and deserve the patronage and support of the large and
  busy community on that line of road.

  The RED ROVER will start every evening, at a quarter before seven,
  by way of

      Coventry,
      Birmingham,
      Walsall,
      Stafford,
      Newcastle-under-Lyme,
      Congleton,
      Macclesfield,
        and
      Stockport,

  and perform the journey _in the time which before gave such general
  satisfaction_.

  ☞ It will also start from the ‘Moseley Arms’ Hotel, Manchester, for
  London, every evening, at nine o’clock.

        EDWARD SHERMAN,       } Joint
        JOHN WETHERALD & CO., } Proprietors.

  _London, October 28th, 1837._”

It was a gallant effort, but failed. Manchester men had grumbled at
railway delays, but they were not sentimentalists, and when the London
and Birmingham Railway was opened throughout, and an uninterrupted run
through to Manchester was possible, they forsook the road, and the “Red
Rover” roved no more.

But still, sentiment gushed freely over the coaches in every channel of
the periodical press, except, of course, in those railway journals that
even thus early had come into existence. Poetry, of sorts, was lavished
on the coachmen by the bucketful, and they were made to consider
themselves martyrs in a lost cause. They felt themselves greatly
honoured by all those attentions, and now began to perceive that they
were really very fine fellows indeed. It was a proud position they now
occupied in the public eye, but it had its own peculiar drawbacks.
Amid all this adulation they could not but see that they were like the
gladiators of ancient times, going forth to glory, it is true, but to
simultaneous extinction; and as all the plaudits of the multitude must
have seemed to them a hollow mockery, so did this latter hero-worship
appear cheap and unsubstantial to the coachmen. Some of them assumed
a pensive air, which did by no means sit well upon their burly forms
and purple countenances, and was often, to their disgust, mistaken for
indigestion.

Here, from among a wealth of verse, is a typical ballad of the time,
among the best of its kind; but even so, perhaps not altogether one
that Tennyson would have been proud to father:--


THE DIRGE OF THE DRAGSMEN

    Farewell to the Coach-box, farewell to the Vip!
    By Fate most unkindly we’re cotch’d on the hip;
    Brother Dragsmen, come join in a general chorus,
    For there’s nothing at present but ruin before us.

    Once who were so gay as we trumps of the team?
    Now our glory hath vanish’d away, like a dream;
    Doom’d to suffer adversity’s punishing lash,
    For the villainous Railroads have settled our hash.

    Patricians no more of our craft will be backers,
    And our elegant cattle must go to the knackers;
    Guards, porters, and stablemen now on a level,
    And all the road innkeepers book’d for the devil.

    We four-in-hand worthies, however desarving,
    Will have nothing in hand to prevent us from starving,
    Compell’d by hard treatment our colours to strike,
    We may shortly turn Chartists and handle the pike.

    Our beavers broad-brimm’d, and our togs out and out,
    Must, the needful to raise, be soon shov’d up the spout;
    Our fine, portly forms will be meagre as spectres,--
    So much for these steam and these railroad projectors.

    By Heavens! ’tis a cruel affair, and the nation
    In justice are bound to afford compensation;
    And, as on the shelf we must shortly be laid,
    To found an asylum for Dragsmen decay’d.

    There, taking our pint in all brotherly love,
    We may chaff at the swells and the prads as we druv,
    While spectators, admiring, exclaim’d with a shout,
    “We’re bless’d if that ’ere ain’t a spicy turn-out!”

    And how, as we tied round our necks the silk fogle,
    The rosy-cheek’d barmaids would tip us the ogle;
    And when all was ready the ribbons to seize,
    How slyly the darlings would give us a squeeze.

    A plague upon Railways! the system be blowed!
    Grim engineers now are the lords of the road;
    And passengers now are conveyed to their goal,
    Not by steaming of cattle, but steaming of coal.

    ’Tis a black, burning shame! Must our glory be crush’d,
    And the guard’s lively bugle to silence be hush’d?
    Oh! ’tis fit that our wrongs we should freely declare,
    For we always look’d out for the thing that was _fare_.

    Let mourning as gloomy as midnight be spread
    O’er the _Swan with Two Necks_ and the _Saracen’s Head_;
    Let the _Black Bull_, in Holborn, be cow’d, and the knell
    Of glory departed be heard from the _Bell_.

    The _Blossoms_ must speedily fade from the bough,
    And cross’d are the hopes of the _Golden Cross_ now;
    The _White Horse_ must founder, the _Mountain_ fall down,
    The _Gloster_ be clos’d, and the _Bear_ be done _Brown_.

    The _Eclipse_ is eclips’d, and the _Sovereign_ is dead,
    And the _Red Rover_ now never roves from its shed;
    The _Times_ are disjointed, the _Blucher_ at peace,
    And the _Telegraph_ shortly from working must cease.

    The _Victory_ now must submit to defeat,
    And the _Wellington_ own he is cruelly beat;
    The sport is all up with the fam’d _Tally-Ho_,
    And the old _Regulator_ no longer will go.

    Oh! had I, dear brethren, the muse of a Byron,
    I’d write down the system of traveling on iron;
    For flying like lightning but poorly atones
    For crushing the carcase or breaking the bones.

    So, farewell to the Coach-box, farewell to the Vip!
    By Fate most unkind we are cotch’d on the hip;
    Then join, brother Dragsmen, in sorrowful chorus,
    For at present there’s nothing but ruin before us.

On a few out-of-the-way routes, originally not worth the while of
railway companies to exploit, coaching did, however, survive an
incredible time. Cordery in 1796 painted the even then old-established
Chesham coach, and coaches continued to run into Buckinghamshire until
quite recent times. Aylesbury, Chesham, Amersham, and Wendover only
obtained direct railway accommodation when the Metropolitan Railway,
under the lead of Sir Edward Watkin, extended into the country past
Harrow and Rickmansworth, reaching Aylesbury in 1892. The Amersham and
Wendover coach--really better described as a three-horsed ’bus--went
to London daily until 1890, returning from the “Old Bell,” Holborn, at
five o’clock in the evening. It was the sole survivor of the host of
coaches that left London fifty years earlier.

But two generations have passed away since coaches began to disappear
and to become historic, and the “elderly man,” with his enviable
memories of a long journey in mid-spring or autumn on the outside of a
stage-coach, written about by George Eliot, is no longer to be found,
reminiscent of the times that were. Nay, the locomotive steam engine
itself is doomed, in turn, to be replaced by self-moving electric
motor carriages, and we shall live to drop a salt tear upon an express
locomotive retired from active service, or to sigh at sight of a
solitary Metropolitan Railway engine placed in a museum of things
that were. The days of the prophets were not ended with the Biblical
prognosticators, with Nixon, red-faced or otherwise, or with Mother
Shipton, or even with Erasmus Darwin, who, although he could foresee
steam and the balloon, could not envisage electricity. They included
George Eliot, also, among the prophets, shadowing forth, in a most
remarkable way, the Central London Railway and other tube lines of
our own time, in this extraordinary passage: “Posterity may be shot,
like a bullet, through a tube, by atmospheric pressure ... but the
slow, old-fashioned way of getting from one end of our country to the
other is the better thing to have in the memory. The tube journey can
never lend much to picture and narrative; it is as barren as an
exclamatory ‘O!’” How true! The scenery on what the vulgar call the
“Tuppenny Tube” is distinctly uninteresting.

[Illustration: THE CHESHAM COACH, 1796.

                    _From the painting by Cordery._
]

But Marian Evans had, you see, her limitations as a diviner of things
to be. Electricity was not within her ken; she did not suspect
the steam-carriages of her youth would be reincarnated as modern
motor-cars. Yet, all the time, they were simply laid by, and Gurney,
Hancock, and their fellows are justified in this our day. Everything
recurs, essentially the same as before, with a complete revolution of
the wheel of time, and thus the Road has become itself again.

Will a time come when the day of the motor-car will be looked back
upon with that air of regretful sentiment with which the vanished
Coaching Age is regarded? The rhythmic footfall of the horses and the
rattle of the bars, the tootling of the “yard of tin” and the cheerful
circumstance that attends the progress of a well-appointed coach, are
things which have been, and may still be, experienced in our time by
those who journey down the roads affected by the summer coaches, to
Brighton, St. Albans, and Virginia Water; but as the Coaching Age
itself has passed away, these are only sentimental revivals. The
horseless carriages are upon us, and “going strong,” alike in speed
and scent. The odour of the imperfectly-combusted petrol desecrates
the airs of the country-side. Already the length and breadth of the
land have been explored by them, on roads good, bad and indifferent,
hilly or flat; and the characteristic rattle of their machinery and the
hoarse trumpeting of their cyclorns are becoming familiar even to the
rustics of Devon and Somerset.

Let it not be supposed, however, that skill in driving is not so
necessary now as in the days of the spanking teams of coach-horses.
The careful coachman of old saved his horses over the road for the
long climbs and rugged places; he “sprung” them perhaps on the level,
and gave them a “towelling” as a persuader to greater efforts through
snow-drifts, winds or floods; and the driver of a motor-car does many
of these things to his machinery, not indeed with the aid of a whip,
but through the agency of levers, taps and brakes. You can overdrive
and exhaust a motor just as easily as you can a horse, while it wants
feeding just as well. “A just man is merciful to his beast,” and a
cautious man is careful of his car, not only because if he was not he
would perhaps be left with half a ton of inert machinery upon the road,
but because he is just as fond of his automobile as many another of his
steeds of flesh and blood.

But to most people who have only seen motor-cars, and have neither
driven them nor ridden in one, this will not readily be understood;
while the veteran who remembers the sights and sounds of the
coaching days does not hear the clatter of the new occupants of the
road with pleasurable feelings. To him there is no music in the
“Gurr-r-r-_umph_! bang, gr-rrr!” of a Daimler, changing speeds in going
uphill, nor any charm in the rattle of a Benz; the “ft-ft-ft” of a
motor-tricycle, or the banshee-like minor-key wail, “wow-wow-wow,” of
an electric cab on wood pavement. How very odd if there were!

[Illustration: THE LAST OF THE “MANCHESTER DEFIANCE.”

                    _From a lithograph._
]

Does it never occur to thinking men that the “blessings” of invention
and the age of mechanical and other improvements have been too loudly
and consistently praised? We need not be thought fanatically opposed
to change if we deny the reality of some of those blessings. Let it be
granted that they are ultimately in favour of the community and for the
eventual improvement of the race; but if you view him unconventionally,
does not the inventor, with his ingenious devices to overturn the
practice and habits of generations past, seem sometimes rather a curse
than a benefactor to mankind? While with one hand he simplifies and
cheapens something (whether it be in travel or in anything else does
not particularly matter for argument’s sake), with the other he sets
a more strenuous pace to life. In the long ago he invented printing;
and the Devil, seeing prophetically ahead, looked on with approval,
because he foresaw the halfpenny evening papers. He introduced gas,
replaced horses by steam-engines, and away went the leisured pace of
that generation; and then, when a newer one was born to take steam
as a matter of course, brought electricity to bear upon lighting and
tractive problems. Always he sets you a quicker pace when you would be
going quietly or resting by the way. One generation of him takes away
the traffic of the roads; another filches that of the railways and puts
the traffic on the road again in an altered form. There is no finality
about the inventor, who ought, for the peace of the age, first to be
gently dissuaded, then admonished, and, in the last resort, severely
dealt with. Our ancestors had a “quick way” with such, and discouraged
invention by putting inventors to death as wizards. A drastic method,
but they saved themselves much worry and trouble thereby. The inventor
is not usually entitled to any consideration on the score of working
for the benefit of humanity. So little does he do so that he takes
infinite care to patent and to provisionally protect even his immature
devices. He works, in short, to build his own fortune.

Apply these feelings to the case of the coachmen who were born in
an age that knew nothing of steam. Every stand-by was rooted up in
the coming of railways, and the steam-engine was just as strange a
monster to them as the electric dynamo is to many of ourselves. Often
they could not transfer their allegiance to the railway, even though
they starved. It was not always stubbornness or pride that held them
aloof, but a certain and easily-understood lack of adaptability that
forbade one who had held the reins to handle the starting-lever of
the locomotive. More guards than coachmen transferred themselves from
the road to the rail, because the duties were not so diverse; but,
although there were coachmen who took positions on railways, no one has
ever heard of one who became an engine-driver.

But coachmen and guards and the passengers they drove are all passed
away, and the world rolls on as though they had never existed. The
coaches, like the old Manchester “Defiance,” shown in the picture,
rotting away in the deserted inn-yard, were left to decay in
unconsidered places or were reduced to firewood; unlike many of the old
“Bull and Mouth” mails, which, after lying there for some time idle,
were bought and shipped to Spain, running for many years on Peninsula
roads, from Malaga in the south to Vittoria and Salamanca in the north,
and by a singular fate visiting in their old age those blood-red
fields of victory whose fame they had once spread from London all over
triumphant England.



CHAPTER XIII

WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN

  “Steam, James Watt, and George Stephenson have a great deal to
  answer for. They will ruin the breed of horses, as they have
  already ruined the innkeepers and the coachmen, many of whom have
  already been obliged to seek relief at the poor-house, or have died
  in penury and want.”--_The Times_, 1839.


“Where,” asked Thackeray in _Vanity Fair_, “where is the road now,
and its merry incidents of life? Is there no Chelsea or Greenwich for
the honest, pimple-nosed coachmen?” No, there was not. The action of
Parliament in sanctioning so many railways in so short a space of time,
without making any legislative restriction or provision in favour of
the coachmen whose careers were ruined by railways, seems strange to
the present generation, but in no single instance were they considered.
The greatest and swiftest revolution ever brought about in the methods
and habits of travelling took place in the short period of time between
1837, when the effect of railways first began to be felt, and 1848,
when most of the great main lines were opened. Eleven years is no great
space in which to effect so sweeping a change, and it is not surprising
that ruin and misery were wrought by it, not among coachmen alone, but
dealt out impartially to every one of the many people and interests
whose prosperity was bound up with the continuance of the old order
of things. Coachmen were by no means the greatest sufferers: others
felt the blow as severely, but in this chapter we have no concern with
the great army of innkeepers, ostlers, post-boys and stable-helpers
who so suddenly found their occupation taken away and no new means of
livelihood provided.

[Illustration: THE COACHMAN, 1832.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

What became of the coachmen? In the vast majority of cases we do not,
and cannot, know; for if one thing be more certain than another, it is
that we are better informed in classic and mediæval lore than in the
story of our forbears of two or three generations ago, and that most of
the papers and documents necessary to a full and particular history of
coaching have been destroyed.

Many among those not born in the age of coaches have marvelled at what
they consider the wealth of reminiscences about the old coachmen. The
truth is that there exists no such wealth. There were certainly no
fewer than three thousand coachmen throughout the country in the days
just before railways. What do we know of them? Very little. Even their
names have been forgotten, except in some (comparatively few) special
cases. No one can give us a complete list of the coachmen of the
Edinburgh Mail, of the Exeter “Telegraph,” or Devonport “Quicksilver,”
or of any of the crack day coaches. Nearly complete in some cases,
but never quite, because the reminiscent travellers by famous mail
or stage have never troubled to detail such things; caring only to
narrate the peculiarly bad or good coachmanship, as the case might be,
or the eccentricities in manner or dress, of the men who drove them.
The merely efficient coachman, with no salient characteristics to be
described enthusiastically or spitefully caricatured, stood little
chance of notice in print. He drove until the natural end of his career
came, or until it was cut short by the railway; and in either case
ended obscurely.

On the other hand, the noted masters of the art of driving a coach,
who taught the young bloods that accomplishment, or who were excellent
companions with joke and song to while the hours away, have found
abundant notice; and they are the chronicles of these men that make
that apparent wealth of reminiscence.

The coachmen ended, as may be supposed, very variously. A generation
ago, many of the city and suburban omnibuses were driven by gloomy,
purple-faced men, confirmed misanthropes, who viewed the world with
jaundiced eyes, and, living in vivid recollection of the past, despised
themselves, their omnibuses, and the people they drove. Those were the
old coachmen. The Richmond Conveyance Company, whose omnibuses in the
’sixties conveyed many Londoners between the “Goose and Gridiron,” St.
Paul’s Churchyard, and that famous riverside town, employed a number of
old-time coachmen, who wore tall hats with a gold band, and were never
tired of telling their box-seat passengers about the open-handedness
of the passengers of old, and incidentally that travellers by ’bus were
“not worth a d----n”; not, perhaps, a tactful or ingratiating manner,
but “out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

[Illustration: THE DRIVER, 1852.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

When the London and South-Western Railway was opened to Richmond,
in 1843, the first station-master was a former coachman and
coach-proprietor, and a very notable one: no less a man, indeed, than
Thomas Cooper, who had in his time run a service of coaches between
London, Bath and Bristol, and had been landlord of that very fine old
inn, the “Castle,” at Marlborough, now and for many years past a part
of Marlborough College. Cooper’s varied enterprises on the Bath Road
at last led him direct into the Bankruptcy Court. When he emerged from
the official whitewashing process, Chaplin had acquired his line of
coaches, and to that highly successful man he became a local manager.
It was Chaplin who obtained him the position of station-master, as
doubtless he had, in his influential position of director and chairman
of the L. & S.W.R., already found many posts on that line for coachmen,
guards, and others.

Jo Walton, the famous whip of the “Star of Cambridge,” became a
messenger at Foster’s Bank in that town, after the railway had run him
off. At an earlier date Dick Vaughan, of the Cambridge “Telegraph,” had
been killed by being thrown out of a gig; but of him we know little. Of
Thomas Cross, who was intimately connected with Cambridge, we know a
good deal. He drove the Lynn “Union” for many years. Born in 1791, he
died in 1877, in his eighty-sixth year. His occupancy of the box-seat
lasted from 1821 to 1847, when his coaching career was brought to a
close by the opening of the length of railway between Cambridge, Ely,
and King’s Lynn, His was a remarkable history. His father, John Cross,
from being a highly prosperous coach-proprietor, with large estates
and considerable social standing in the district between Petersfield
and Portsmouth, was gradually brought low by misfortune and reckless
speculations. John Cross, with the wealth and status of a country
squire, had given his son Thomas an excellent education, and had
destined him for the Navy; but serious attacks of epilepsy, and the
results of an accident caused from falling in one of these fits on a
number of wine-bottles, cut his career in the Service short. He was
a midshipman when these distressing circumstances entirely altered
his future. He then started farming, but misfortune dogged his steps.
As owners of horses, himself and his father fared no better, for the
terrible disease of glanders broke out and quickly carried off 120
animals. Eventually ruin faced the family, and Thomas Cross at last was
reduced to seeking employment as a whip in the very yard once owned
by his father. At the age of thirty, then, married and with a family
of his own to support, we perceive him pretty thoroughly graduated in
the school of life, and already familiar with the worst blows that
adversity could give. In the beginning of his coaching career he drove
the “Union” between London and Cambridge, but at different periods had
the middle and the lower ground.

[Illustration: “A VIEW OF THE TELEGRAPH”: DICK VAUGHAN OF THE CAMBRIDGE
“TELEGRAPH.”

                    _From an etching by Robert Dighton, 1809._
]

He was not altogether a genial coachman, and held little intercourse
with his brethren of the bench, to whom he considered himself, as
indeed he was, superior. It was not, however, a judicious attitude
to adopt, and those who drove the “Star” and “Telegraph” Cambridge
coaches--Jo Walton, James Reynolds, and others--retorted by describing
him as an indifferent whip. Perhaps, in fact, he was, but the “Lynn
Union” was never a dashing coach, and gave no opportunity of displaying
the skill demanded on others.

Tommy Cross was never so pleased as when he could pick up a box-seat
passenger well grounded in the classics, or interested in poetry--for
poetry first, and the classics afterwards, engaged his thoughts. He
drove four-in-hand all day, and when his day’s work was done retired
to some solitary chamber and mounted Pegasus, who carried him on the
wings of the wind to the unearthly regions where dwell the spirits
of Homer and Virgil. In short, he seems altogether to have lived a
fine confused unpractical life, reflected to some degree in his book,
_The Autobiography of a Stage-Coachman_, an interesting but formless
work, so lacking in arrangement that it is difficult from its pages
to gain any very clear view of his career, and actually impossible
from it to discover what was the name of the Lynn coach he drove and
so constantly mentions. That it was the “Union” only independent
inquiries disclose. The name “Union” must in later years have taken
an equivocal and prophetic meaning to poor Thomas, for, like many
another coachman, he saw with apprehension railways building all over
the country and running the coaches off successive roads. He knew his
own turn must come, and was early seized with fears for the future.
In 1843 he published, at Cambridge, in pamphlet form, some verses in
imitation of Gray’s _Elegy in a Country Churchyard_. He called it
_The Lament and Anticipation of a Stage-Coachman_. It was, indeed, a
very doleful production, describing what was already happening on other
roads and was presently to befall on this. It is not proposed to quote
the sixteen pages of this poetical effort. Let two verses suffice to
show at once how, if his Muse did limp unmistakably, she was not wholly
destitute of descriptive force:--

[Illustration: THE GUARD, 1832.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

    The smiling chambermaid, she too forlorn,
      The boots’ gruff voice, the waiter’s busy zest,
    The ostler’s whistle, or the guard’s loud horn,
      No more shall call them from their place of rest.

Then comes the final catastrophe:--

    The next we heard, some new-invented plan
      Had in a Union lodged our ancient friend.
    Come here and see, for thou shalt see the man
      Doom’d by the railroad to so sad an end.

The end was not yet, but the Lynn “Union” was off the road in 1847,
and Cross could not obtain any form of employment on the railway. He
had already, in 1846, petitioned Parliament, but without avail; and
now entered upon those unhappy years in which he eked out a precarious
existence on the occasional aid given him by such men as Henry
Villebois, the good-hearted Norfolk sporting squire, and others who had
often been passengers on the box-seat of the “Union.” In those years
he published several pieces in verse, generally cast in the ambitious
epic form. Unfortunately, he was not the poet he thought himself, and
they are rather turgid and bombastic specimens of blank verse. He
planned and wrote a _History of Coaching_, but in the bankruptcy of
his printers the manuscript disappeared, and so what might have proved
a really valuable work was lost. At last, in 1865, he found a home
in Huggens’ College, a charitable institution at Northfleet, founded
and endowed some twenty years earlier by a wealthy City merchant for
gentlemen reduced to poor circumstances. This testimony to his social
superiority above other coachmen seems to have cheered and invigorated
him amazingly, for he was a collegian at Huggens’ beneficent
institution for twelve years, and lived to be nearly eighty-six years
of age.

Less fortunate was Jack Peer, or Peers, of the Southampton “Telegraph,”
famous in his day, but reduced to driving an omnibus, and thence, being
morose and quarrelsome in that position, by degrees to the workhouse.
His unhappy situation became known to a gentleman who had often
travelled by him in brighter times: a handsome subscription was raised,
and he was at least enabled to end his days in quiet retirement.

A great many ex-coachmen became innkeepers and publicans. Among
these was Ambrose Pickett, of the Brighton “Union” and “Item,” who
anticipated the end of Brighton coaching in 1841, by becoming landlord
of an inn in North Street, with the very appropriate sign of the “Coach
and Horses.”

A much more famous coachman than he--Sam Hayward, of the Shrewsbury
“Wonder”--followed Mr. Weller’s example, and married a widow, landlady
of the “Raven and Bell,” on Wyle Cop; but he did not long survive the
extinction of “the Road,” and the widow soon found herself again in
that situation. John Jobson, who for many years drove the “Prince of
Wales”--the “Old Prince,” as it was familiarly called--a London, Oxford
and Birmingham coach, continued on to Shrewsbury and Holyhead--became a
coach-proprietor, established at the “Talbot,” Shrewsbury, and a thorn
in the side of Isaac Taylor, of the neighbouring “Lion.” Coaching came
to an end at Shrewsbury in 1842, and the name of Jobson was heard no
more.

Many coachmen were killed off the box in the exercise of their
profession, as, in the chapter on accidents, has already been shown. A
considerable number, secure in the affection of the wealthy amateurs,
many of whom they had taught the art of driving, entered the service
of those noblemen and gentlemen, in some horsy or stable capacity.
The eighth Duke of Beaufort, one of the Sir Watkin Williams Wynns,
and others, thus found employment for these refugees of the road, and
continually aided many more; but something in the long overlordship
they had exercised over four horses, and a good deal more perhaps in
that hero-worship down the road, of which Washington Irving writes, had
spoiled them. Their lives would not run sweetly in fresh grooves. They
could not, or would not, take to new employments, and even, subsisting
upon charity, were often absurdly haughty, insolent, and insufferable.
Like horses, good living, coupled with little exercise, rendered them
unmanageable, and they not infrequently quarrelled with the hand that
fed them. “What do _you_ know about throat-lashings and head-terrets?”
contemptuously asked Harry Simpson, ex-coachman of the Devonport
“Quicksilver,” of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, who, before him, had been
holding forth to some of his guests upon the respective merits of those
harnessing methods in the old coaching days. “Nothing practically,”
answered the good-humoured baronet; “my ideas are only ideas. But you
know all about the subject: let us have the benefit of a professional
view.”

At this time Harry Simpson--“Little Harry,” as he was called,
undersized and “looking like a tomtit on a round of beef when on
the driving-box”--was stud-groom to that Welsh landowner, who, from
compassion, had taken him into his employ when coaching failed. “Little
Harry,” domineering and wilful as he was, remained in his service for
thirty years, and died in 1886.

Some of the undoubted veterans of the old order lived to patriarchal
ages, and when they died their obituary notices confounded many a
writer who had lightly declared, years before, that the last of the
coachmen was dead.

[Illustration: THE GUARD, 1852.

                    _After H. Alken._
]

Matthew Marsh, who for many years drove the Maidstone “Times,” had
been a private soldier in the 14th Foot, and fought and was wounded at
Waterloo. He was generally averse from mentioning that fact, but one
day, hearing from his box a dispute about the battlefield in which both
disputants were in error, he corrected them, simply adding, “I happened
to be there.” He died in 1887, aged ninety-four years, aided in his
declining days by the Earl of Albemarle, who had fought in the same
campaign.

William Clements, of Canterbury, who had driven the “Tally-Ho” and
“Eagle” coaches between Canterbury and London before the nineteenth
century had grown out of its teens, died in 1891, aged ninety-one. He
was “the last of the coachmen,” yet, two years later, in the early part
of 1893, we find the death recorded of Philip (commonly called “Tim”)
Carter, aged eighty-eight. He it was who drove the “Red Rover” on June
19th, 1831, from the “Elephant and Castle” to Brighton in 4 hours 21
minutes--a pace then greatly in excess of anything before accomplished
on that road. The occasion was the opening of William IV.’s first
Parliament, and the haste was for the double purpose of speedily
carrying the King’s Speech to Brighton and of advertising the “Red
Rover” itself, then a newly-established coach. He did not run light, as
many of the record-making coaches used, but carried fourteen passengers
on that trip.

A year after Carter’s death Harry Ward passed away, August 4th, 1894,
aged eighty-one. He was one of a family of ten, and the last, except
his elder brother Charles, of whom mention will presently be made.
Their father had himself been a coachman on the Exeter Road, and lived
at Overton at the time Charles was born. He afterwards became landlord
of the “White Hart,” Hartford Bridge, on the same great highway,
eighteen miles nearer London. Harry Ward’s career is partly told on
page 247, Vol. I. In after years he drove coaches started in the
revival on the Brighton Road and elsewhere.

“Last,” it was again said, of the coachmen who drove the famous
coaches up to the time when railways ran them off the road, was
Charles S. Ward, elder brother of the above. He was born in 1810,
and died in his eighty-ninth year, December 9th, 1899. His was an
interesting career. Son of one who had been a small proprietor as
well as coachman, and thus familiar from his birth with horses, he
was driving the Ipswich and Norwich Mail as far as Colchester at the
early age of seventeen, and was thus probably the youngest coachman
ever entrusted with the conduct of a mail on any road. But he drove it
for nearly five years without an accident, and was then promoted to
the Devonport “Quicksilver,” at that time the fastest out of London,
nightly driving the 29 miles to Bagshot, and then back, in the small
hours of the morning, with the up-coach. After nearly seven years of
this night-work, trying and monotonous even in summer, but extremely
hazardous in winter, he sought a change, and applied to Chaplin, who
was the proprietor of the “Quicksilver,” for day-work. The very fact
of his being so sure and safe a coachman on the night mail operated at
first against his being transferred to a coach not calling in so great
a degree for those qualities, but in 1838 he obtained the offer of the
Brighton Day Mail, which Chaplin was about to start, together with the
chance of horsing it a stage. Like many coachmen, ambitious of becoming
a proprietor, Ward closed with this offer, but the Day Mail did not
load well, and he soon gave up his share. He might have known that
Chaplin, so keen a business man, was not precisely the person to offer
any one else a share worth retaining.

Ward then left Chaplin, and went over to the Exeter “Telegraph,” the
fast day coach run by Mrs. Ann Nelson, in opposition to Chaplin’s
“Quicksilver Mail.” Mrs. Nelson was glad to get so steady a whip as
Ward, who for three years from this time drove the “Telegraph” daily
between Exeter and Ilminster, a double journey of 66 miles. In 1841
the Bristol and Exeter Railway, a continuation of the Great Western,
was opened as far as Bridgewater, and, by consequence, the “Telegraph”
was withdrawn by Mrs. Nelson and her co-partners. Ward, however, held
on, and, with the coachman on the other side of his stage and the two
guards, extended the journey at one end as the railway cut it short at
the other. From 1841 to April 30th, 1844, the “Telegraph” therefore ran
the 95 miles between Bridgewater and Devonport, taking up the railway
passengers at the former place. On May 1st, 1844, the railway was
opened to Exeter, and the journey of the poor old “Telegraph” was cut
down to 50 miles. But those were spirited times, and even then, driven
thus into the West, there were competing coaches. A “Nonpareil” Bristol
and Devonport coach had been running daily at the same hours as the
“Telegraph,” but was taken off, and a “Tally-Ho” put on the shorter
Exeter and Devonport trip. _Then_ the racing became furious. Up out
of Exeter, on to the breezy heights of Haldon, and by the skirts of
Dartmoor the two coaches sped--the “Telegraph,” as Ward tells us in his
reminiscences, always leading. Several times they did the 50 miles in 3
hours 20 minutes, and for months together never exceeded 4 hours!

That mad pace could not last; and so, as neither could run the other
off the road, they agreed to keep it amicably for so long as the
railway, pushing irresistibly onward, would suffer them to exist. On
May 1st, 1848, the South Devon Railway was opened to Plymouth, and it
seemed as though coaching in the West of England was quite killed;
but a number of Cornish gentlemen approaching Ward with the proposal
that he should start a fast coach into Cornwall, and promising to
support it, he put a “Tally-Ho” on the road between Plymouth, Truro
and Falmouth, a distance of 62 miles. He was so fortunate as to be
offered the contract for carrying the mail between those places, and
the “Tally-Ho” was converted into a mail, and ran for a number of years
until the railway was opened to Truro, in May 1859. Then, and then
only, did Ward’s career as a coachman end, for although for some years,
being proprietor, he had seldom driven, he had not hitherto deserted
the box-seat, despite the calls upon his time of the horse-mart and
driving-school business he had meanwhile established at Plymouth.

Charles Ward, more fortunate, more businesslike and far-seeing than the
majority of his fellows, ended as the prosperous proprietor of livery
stables in the Brompton Road, in whose yard he might be seen on sunny
days during his last years sitting on a bench against the warm brick
wall, and dozing the afternoons away.

Even as this page is written, in January 1903, another old
coachman--again “the last”!--has died. This was Sampson Brewer, who,
living in his later years at Cedar Cottage, Vancouver, declared himself
to be the last survivor of the old coaching days. Born in 1809, he was,
therefore, ninety-four years of age at his death. He said he drove on
its final journey “the last regularly-running mail in England”: that
between Plymouth and Falmouth, by way of Liskeard and St. Austell. He
must thus have been in the employ of Charles Ward.

[Illustration:

  WILLIAM SALTER
  _Yarmouth Stage Coach Man_
  Died October the 9th 1776
  Aged 59 Years.

    Here lies Will Salter honest man
    Deny it Envy if you can
    True to his Business and his trust
    Always punctual always just
    His horses coud they speak woud tell
    They lov’d their good old master well
    His up hill work is chiefly done.
    His stage is ended Race is run
    One journey is remaining still.
    To climb up Sions holy hill
    And now his faults are all forgiv’n,
    Elija like drive up to heaven
    Take the Reward of all his Pains
    And leave to other hands the Reins.

A STAGE COACHMAN’S EPITAPH AT HADDISCOE.]

Two, at least, of the coachmen committed suicide. One of these was Dick
Vickers, who had driven the Holyhead Mail. In an evil hour he resigned
the ribbons to indulge a fancy he had nursed of becoming a farmer.
But farming was beyond him: he lost all his money at it, and hanged
himself in one of his own barns at Tynant, near Corwen. Charles Holmes,
for more than twenty years coachman and part-proprietor of the “Old
Blenheim” London, Oxford and Woodstock coach, and the recipient in 1835
of a handsome present of silver plate, subscribed for by Sir Henry
Peyton and many other gentlemen, committed suicide by throwing himself
off a steamer into the Thames.

The question, “What became of the coachmen?” is partly answered in the
subjoined collection of epitaphs and eulogies got together from far
and near. First comes the early and curious one at Haddiscoe, near
Lowestoft, to William Salter, said to have lost his life by falling
from his coach at the foot of the hill near the churchyard, shown on
the page opposite.

To this succeeds the highly interesting example in Over Wallop
churchyard, Hampshire, to Skinner, the coachman of the Auxiliary Mail,
upset at Middle Wallop, on the Exeter Road, by one of the wheels coming
off. Skinner was killed on the spot, and the passengers injured. The
inscription runs:--

  Sacred
  to the Memory of
  HENRY SKINNER, a Coachman,
  who was killed near this place
  July 13th, 1814,
  Aged 35 years.

    With passengers of every age
    With care I drove from Stage to Stage,
    Till Death’s sad Hearse pass’d by unseen,
    And stopt the course of my machine.

Then comes a Latin passage:--

    Dum socios summa per vicos arte vehebam
    Mors nigra præteriit--
    Machina cassa mea est.

It may be translated:--

    While I was conveying various passengers with the greatest skill,
            Black Death intervened--
    My machine is broken.

An epitaph is (or was, for most of the stones in late years have been
cleared away) in Winchester Cathedral yard to the last coachman of the
Winchester and Southampton stage, but no record of it has been found.

Far away, in South Shropshire, on the north side of St. Lawrence’s
churchyard, Ludlow, lies John Abingdon, who died in 1817, and who,
according to his epitaph, “for forty years drove the Ludlow coach to
London; a trusty servant, a careful driver, and an honest man.”

    His labour done, no more to town
      His onward course he bends;
    His team’s unshut, his whip’s laid up,
      And here his journey ends.
    Death locked his wheels and gave him rest,
      And never more to move,
    Till Christ shall call him with the blest
      To heavenly realms above.

In the same district, in the pretty churchyard of Stanton Lacy, may be
found a stone to the memory of John Wilkes, of the Worcester and Ludlow
Mail, killed in 1803 by its overturning in a flood. Some poetic friend
inscribed this tribute:--

    Alas! poor Wilkes, swift down the winding hill
    The horses plunged into the fatal rill.
    The quiv’ring bridge broke down beneath the weight,
    And Wilkes was flung into the foaming spate.
    On his prone form the coach then t ... (? toppled) o’er,
    And he was crushed beneath, to rise no more.
    No more to rise? No, no! Though here his work be ended,
    To Heav’n we hope his spirit hath ascended.
    Although on Earth his final drive be drove,
    He’s entered on a longer Stage above,
    Where, now his mortal days are past and gone--
    He drives with Phœbus’ self the chariot of the Sun.

Then there is the epitaph on the driver of the coach that ran between
Aylesbury and London, written by the Rev. H. Bullen, vicar of Dunton,
in whose churchyard he is laid:--

    Parker, farewell! thy journey now is ended,
    Death has the whip-hand, and with dust thou’rt blended;
    Thy way-bill is examined, and I trust
    Thy last account may prove exact and just.
    May He who drives the chariot of the day,
    Where life is light, whose Word’s the living way;
    Where travellers, like yourself, of every age
    And every clime, have taken their last stage--
    The God of mercy and the God of love
    “Show you the road” to Paradise above.

The old whips had a whimsical way with them, and sometimes not a little
pathetic as well. The road was not only the profession whence they drew
their living, but it was their passion--their whole life. Thus, when
a noted chaise-driver at Lichfield, one Jack Lewton, died in 1796, he
was, at his last request, carried from the “Bald Buck” in that city by
six chaise-drivers in scarlet jackets and buckskin breeches--the pall
supported by six ostlers from the different inns. The funeral took
place on August 22nd, in St. Michael’s churchyard, as near the turnpike
road as possible; so that he might, as he said, enjoy the satisfaction
of hearing his brother whips pass and repass.

Similar directions are said to have been left by Luke Kent, reputed
to have been the first guard ever appointed to a mail-coach. The
story goes that he was buried at Farlington, near Portsmouth, on the
Chichester Road, and left an annual bequest to his successors on the
Chichester coach, on condition that they should always sound their
horns when passing the place of his interment. Diligent inquiry,
however, does not disclose the fact of any one of that name lying at
Farlington; but a Francis Faulkner, who died at Petersfield, May 18th,
1870, aged eighty-four years, lies in a vault in Farlington churchyard.
He was a guard on the “Rocket” London and Portsmouth coach, and local
gossip still tells that he left a request (perhaps also a bequest) that
if ever stage-coaches should pass his vault, their horns should be
sounded. Certainly, a few years ago, when a coach was run from Brighton
to Portsmouth, its horn was always sounded on passing the churchyard.

A conclusion shall be made with the eulogy of Robert Pointer, coachman
on the Lewes stage, which he is said to have driven thirty years
without an accident. It does not appear what relation he was to the
one-time famous “Bob Pointer,” of the Oxford Road, and in 1834 on the
Brighton “Quicksilver”--a favourite coaching tutor. _That_ Bob Pointer,
according to the Duke of Beaufort, could always be depended on to
start sober, but the horses had to be changed on the way anywhere but
at public-houses, if it was desired that he should end his journey in
the same condition:--

    Those who excel, whatever line ’tis in,
    Deserve applause, and ought applause to win.
    Pointer in coachmanship superior shone;
    His whip his sceptre, and his box his throne.
    Not skilled alone the fiery steeds to guide,
    For them in sickness and in health provide,
    He, by a thousand nice _minutiæ_, knew
    To win the restive, and the fierce subdue.
    As man and master, punctual and approved;
    By those who knew him best, the best beloved.
    Many’s the time and oft, o’er Ashdown’s plain,
    ’Mid show’rs of driving snow and pelting rain;
    When hurricanes bow’d down the lofty grove,
    When all was slough beneath and storms above;
    And oft, when glowing skies cheer’d all the scene
    And threw o’er Sussex plains a joy serene;
    When now the anecdote, and now the song
    Beguil’d the moments as we roll’d along;
    Snug at his elbow have I mark’d his skill
    To rein the courser and to guide the wheel;
    And had he Phaëton’s proud task begun,
    To drive the rapid chariot of the sun,
    Safe through its course the flaming car had run.



CHAPTER XIV

THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHING DAYS


This is the time, now that we have passed the threshold of a new
era, when old landmarks are disappearing everywhere around us as we
gaze, and the Old England that we have known is being dispossessed
and disestablished by a new and strange, an inhospitable and alien
England of foreign plutocrats--this is the psychological moment for a
brief review of what this England of ours was like in the old days of
stage-coach and mail.

If we could recapture those times we should find them spacious days,
of much fresh air, illimitable horizons, a great deal of solid,
unostentatious comfort for the stay-at-homes, and also of much
discomfort for the traveller; but although no sensible person, fully
informed of the conditions of life in the long ago, would wish he had
been born into those times, yet among their disadvantages and the
discomforts incidental to travel scarce more than two generations ago,
there were to be found, as a matter of course, not a few things which
would be looked upon with rapture by the modern sentimentalist. That
was the era when the Suburb was unknown anywhere else than around
London, and even London’s suburbs were sparse, scattered, sporadic,
and separated by great distances from one another. Taking coach from
the City, where the merchants and the shopkeepers commonly lived over
their business premises, you came presently, north, south, east, or
west, through suburban Stamford Hill, Sydenham, Clapton, or Kensington,
to rural Edmonton, Croydon, Romford, or Chiswick, and so presently
to the Unknown. _That_ was, of itself, a charm in the old order of
things--a charm lost long since in these crowded times, when constant
and intimate travel have made us familiar with distant towns, and
by consequence incurious and incapable of surprises. Everything is
known, if not at the first hand of personal observation, at least by
proxy of our reading in guide-book history, or by the debilitating
photograph, which leaves nothing to the imagination, and renders us
travelled in the uttermost nooks and corners of the land, even though
we be bedridden, or thoroughgoing _habitués_ of the armchair and
the fireside. The picture-postcard--the lowest common denominator
of the photograph--has come to give the last touch of satiety, the
final revulsion of repletion. The Land’s End has long since been
exploited, John o’ Groat’s is merely at the end of a cycle ride, the
“bottomless” caverns of the Peak have been plumbed, every unscalable
mountain climbed. “_Connu!_” we exclaim when we are told any fact. No
surprises are left. We may never before have journeyed to Edinburgh,
but photographs have rendered us so long familiar with its castle
and rock that we cannot recollect a time when we were not familiar
with the physical geography of the “modern Athens,” and we seem to
have been born with a knowledge of the geographical peculiarities of
every other place. We are, therefore, naturally bored and unresponsive
in situations where our grandfathers were surprised and delighted;
but although possessed thereby with a profound dissatisfaction with
ourselves, we cannot hope to win back to the unsophisticated joys of
old time.

Would that it could be done! The wish is everywhere evident, but only
Lethean waters could sweep away the useless lumber of mental baggage
that destroys imagination and blunts the senses. The many efforts made
to bring back the “properties”--to speak in the theatrical sense--of
old time are pitiful or ridiculous, as your humour wills it. These
are the days when things quaint and old-fashioned are revived for
sake of their quaintness, sometimes in spite of their inconvenience
and unsuitability; when ingle-nooks and open hearths with fire-dogs
are built into modern houses for effect, although slow-combustion
stoves are infinitely more comfortable and less wasteful of fuel.
Our forbears, who did not know slow-combustion stoves, were not the
creatures of sentiment that we are, and would soon have abolished open
hearths for the close stoves had they been given the chance, just as
they would have exchanged the tallow dip for electric lighting had
the opportunity offered. We do not know the feelings with which the
first gentlemen to use carpets abolished the old rush-strewn halls
and the manners and customs contemporary with them; but if their
sense of smell was as acute as our own, they must have noticed with
great relief the absence of the dirt and festering bones that found a
hiding-place beneath those rushes. All the marvellous changes in habits
of living--the cheapening of food, the conversion of the luxuries of
a former age into the ordinary requirements of this, and even the
alterations in the face of the country and the houses of towns and
villages--are due to those increased facilities of intercourse which,
owing to the gradual improvement in roads, the coaches and waggons
of yore were first able to give. When public vehicles began to ply
into the country, this England of ours was not only a land of wide
unenclosed heaths and commons, but the people of one county--nay, even
the inhabitants of towns and villages--were markedly different in
thought and prejudices, in speech and clothing, from those of others;
while local style in building, and the various building materials
obtained locally, gave each successive place that appearance of
something new and strange which the traveller does not always meet with
nowadays in far distant lands. As the drainage of lakes and fens, the
filling up of the valleys and the reduction of the hills, have quite
revolutionised the physical geography of wide areas, often changing the
natural history of the districts affected, so has cheap, constant and
quick travelling and conveyance of materials helped to reduce places
and people to one dead level. Romance flies abashed from the level,
monotonous road, where, years before, in some darkling hollow between
the hills, ringed in by dense woodlands, it lurked in company with the
highwayman. We do not desire the return of those gentry, but what would
literature have done without them? Highway and turnpike improvements
long ago sliced off the most aspiring hilltops, and, carrying the roads
through cuttings, used the material thus cut away for the purpose of
filling up the gullies and deep depressions. Where the early coaches
toiled, often axle-deep, through the watersplashes formed by the
little rills and streams that ran athwart the way, later generations
have built bridges, or have done things infinitely worse; so that a
watersplash has become a rare and curious object, noteworthy in a
day’s journey. Only recently, on the Dover Road, near Faversham, has
such a watersplash--one of the most picturesque in the country--been
abolished. Ospringe was a little Kentish Venice, with a clear-running
shallow stream occupying the whole of the roadway, with raised
footpaths for pedestrians at either side, and ancient gabled cottages
looking down upon the pretty scene. Alas! the sparkling stream now goes
under the road, in a pipe.

In the old days, no traveller going north along the Great North Road
left Alconbury without first seeing that the priming of his pistols
was in order, while the passengers by mail or stage secretly put their
watches and jewellery between their skin and their underclothing,
or deposited their purses in their boots, before the coach topped
Alconbury Hill. For at “Aukenbury,” as Ogilby in his old road-maps
styles it, you were on the threshold of a robbing-place only less
famous than Gad’s Hill, near Rochester, or those other notorious dark
or daylight lurks (for day or night mattered little in those times),
Hounslow Heath and Finchley Common. The name of this ill-reputed place
was “Stonegate Hole.” It is marked distinctly on the maps of Ogilby and
his successors, between the sixty-fourth and sixty-fifth milestones
from London, by the Old North Road, measured from Shoreditch, and
passing through Ware, Royston, and Caxton.

Passing Papworth Everard, you came in those days, on the left hand,
just before reaching the fifty-sixth milestone, to “Beggar’s Bush,”
where you probably saw the tramps, vagrants and footpads of that age
skulking, on the chance of robbing some traveller unable to take care
of himself. Here, in sight of these wretches, you ostentatiously toyed
with your pistol holsters, or loosened your sword in its scabbard, and
so passed on scathless. On leaving Alconbury, however, the horseman
generally preferred company, because the highwaymen of Stonegate Hole
were well armed, and, by consequence, courageous.

What, exactly, was Stonegate, or Stangate, Hole? It was the deep and
solitary hollow that then existed at the foot of the northward slope
of Alconbury Hill, known now as Stangate Hill. The name derived from
this road being a part of the old Roman “Ermine Street,” formerly a
stone-paved way, and the “Hole” was formed by a rise that immediately
succeeded the descent. Quite shut in by dense woods, it was an ideal
spot for highway robbery. When, in the later coaching era, the road was
lowered through the crest of the hill, and the earth was used to raise
it in the hollow, Stonegate Hole disappeared. Bones were found during
the progress of the works, supposed relics of unfortunate travellers
who had met their death at the hands of the highwaymen. A more or less
true story was long told of an ostler of the “Wheatsheaf,” the inn that
once stood on the hilltop. He, it seems, used to help in putting in the
coach-horses when the teams were changed, and would then take a short
cut across the fields, and be ready for the coach when it came down the
road. The coachman, guard, and passengers, who did not know that the
shining pistol-barrel he levelled at them was really a tin candlestick,
were duly impressed by it, and yielded their valuables accordingly.

A tale used to be told of one of the old “London riders,” or “bagmen,”
who lay at the “Wheatsheaf” overnight and set forth the next morning.
His saddle-bags were full, and so weighted with samples of his wares
that he could scarce sit his horse, and had to be helped into the
saddle by an ostler. Once up, his eyes only with difficulty peered
over this mountainous weight, but in this manner he set forth. He had
not gone far before he thought he had lost his way, when fortunately
he perceived another horseman, and hailed him. The stranger took
no notice; and so our traveller ranged up alongside him with the
question. Instead of replying, the stranger thrust his hand into
his breast-pocket and withdrew what the traveller imagined to be a
pistol. Recollections of the evil repute of the place suddenly rushed
into the traveller’s mind, and, putting spurs to his horse, he dashed
away from the supposed highwayman, and did not draw rein until in the
neighbourhood of Huntingdon.

There he met a party of horsemen, who determined to hunt the highwayman
down, and so, with the traveller, hurried on to Stonegate. “There he
is!” cried the traveller, as they came in view of a peaceful-looking
equestrian, ambling gently along.

“You are mistaken, sir,” said one of the party: “that is our Mayor, the
Mayor of Huntingdon.”

But the bagman asserted he was right, and so, to end the dispute,
the whole party rode up, and one wished “Mr. Mayor” good morning. It
was indeed that worthy man, and although he again, instead of making
answer, drew something from his pocket, it produced no alarm among his
fellow-burgesses, for _they_ at least knew him for a very deaf man, and
had often seen him reach for that ear-trumpet which he now drew forth,
clapped to his ear, and asked them what it was they said.

Swift, who, travelling between London, Chester, Holyhead and Dublin,
remarked upon the many nations and strange peoples he passed on the
way, serves to emphasise these notes upon the fading individuality of
places and people. The dialect of “Zummerzet” has not wholly decayed,
but it has become so modified that when old references to its Bœotian
nature are found, the reader who knows modern Somerset, and does not
consider these changes, concludes that its grotesque speech was greatly
exaggerated; just as he cannot be made to implicitly believe the
remarkable and oft-repeated story told by William Hutton of the visit
of himself and a friend to Bosworth in 1770, when the people set the
dogs at them, for the only reason that they were strangers; or that
other tale of the savagery of the Lancashire and Yorkshire villagers,
who, when a person unknown to them appeared, conversed as follow:--

“Dost knaw ’im?”

“Naya.”

“Is’t a straunger?”

“Ay, for sewer.”

“Then pause ’im; ’eave a stone at ’un; fettle ’im.”

No inoffensive stranger in country districts is likely to meet with
that reception nowadays. The stranger in those times was regarded,
as he generally is in savage countries, as necessarily an enemy; but
travel has changed all that, and it has been reserved for the London
“hooligan,” who has been taught better, to perpetrate, in the very
centre of civilisation, the barbarous methods of the uninstructed
peasantry of generations ago.

Stories like these are only incredible when the circumstances of the
age are unknown. In times when a stranger might easily enough prove to
be a highwayman, or at the very least, some Government emissary intent
upon collecting hearth-money, window-tax, or one of the very many
duties then levied upon necessaries of life, a strange face might be
that of an enemy, and at any rate was unlikely to be that of a friend.
Sightseers were unknown. No one stirred from home if he could find an
excuse for staying by his own fireside. “What do you want here?” asked
the Welsh peasants of the earliest tourists; and declined to believe
them when they said they journeyed to view the Welsh mountains. “For
Christianity’s sake, help a poor man!” implored an early traveller
in Scotland, fainting by the way. The door was slammed in his face.
“Surely you are Christians?” exclaimed the unhappy man. “There are no
Christians here,” replied the half-savage Scot: “we are all Grants
and Frasers.” That last is, perhaps, rather a savagely humorous than
a true story, but the mere existence of it is significant. More
authentic--nay, well established--is the statement that even so late
as 1749, in Glasgow, two people of the same name would commonly be
distinguished by some physical peculiarity; or else, if one was
travelled and the other not, the one who had been to the capital would
be “London John,” or James, according to what his Christian name might
be.

A course of reading in the “travels” of the authors and diarists
who ambled about England, on horseback or otherwise, in the old
days, sufficiently demonstrates the aloofness and isolation, and the
essential differences that divided the country districts. When the
Dukes of Somerset resided at Petworth, in Sussex, the roads were so bad
that it was next to impossible to get there, and when once there it
was equally difficult to get away. Petworth is only forty-nine miles
from London, but the Duke of Somerset maintained a house at Godalming,
sixteen miles along the road, where he could halt on the way and pass
the night. His steward generally advised the servants some time before
his Grace started, so that they might be on the road “to point out the
holes.” When the Emperor Charles VI. visited Petworth, his carriage was
attended by a strong escort of Sussex peasants, to save it from falling
over. In spite of their efforts, it was several times overturned, and
that was a very sore and bruised Emperor who supped that night with
the Duke. Similar adventures befel Prince George of Denmark, husband
of Queen Anne, visiting Petworth from Windsor. He went in some state,
with a number of carriages. “The length of way was only forty miles,
but fourteen hours were consumed in traversing it; while almost every
mile was signalised by the overturn of a carriage, or its temporary
swamping in the mire. Even the royal chariot would have fared no
better than the rest, had it not been for the relays of peasants who
poised and kept it erect by strength of arm, and shouldered it forward
the last nine miles, in which tedious operation six good hours were
consumed.”

The travellers of that era, knowing how strange the country must be
to most people, gravely and at length described places that in these
intimate times an author would feel himself constrained to apologise
for mentioning, except in a personal and impressionistic way; and they
not only so describe them, but there is every reason to believe their
writings were read with interest. More interesting than their dry
bones of topographical history are the accounts they give of manners,
customs, and thoughts common to the time when travellers were few
and little understood. When, in 1700, the Reverend Mr. Brome, rector
of the pleasant Kentish village of Cheriton, determined to make the
explorations of England that took him, in all, three years, he was
obliged, as a matter of course, to wait until the spring was well
advanced and the roads had again become passable. Setting forth at
last, one mild May day, his friends and parishioners accompanied him a
few miles, and then, with the fervent “God be with you’s” that were the
parting salutations of the time, instead of the lukewarm “Good-bye’s”
of to-day, turned back home-along, and expected to hear of him no more.
But he _did_ return, as his very dull and jejune book, chiefly of
stodgy historical and topographical information, published in 1726,
sufficiently informs us.

“Weeping Cross” is the name of a spot just outside Salisbury, supposed
to have taken its name from being the spot where friends and relatives
took leave of travellers, with little prospect in their minds of
seeing them again. There is another “Weeping Cross” on the London
side of Shrewsbury, near Emstrey Bank, about a mile from the town and
overlooking the descending road, whence the progress of the travellers
could be followed until distance at last hid them from view. There
are, doubtless, other places so named throughout the country. The
oft-repeated legendary statement that travellers usually made their
wills before setting out is thus seen to be reasonable enough, but it
is specifically supported by the author of _Letters from a Gentleman in
the North of Scotland_, who, writing about 1730, says: “The Highlands
are but little known, even to the inhabitants of the low country of
Scotland, for they have ever dreaded the difficulties and dangers of
travelling among the mountains; and when some extraordinary occasion
has obliged any one of them to such a progress, he has, generally
speaking, made his testament before he set out, as though he were
entering upon a long and dangerous sea-voyage, wherein it was very
doubtful if he should ever return.”

When Mrs. Calderwood, of Polton and Coltness, made a journey from
Scotland into England in 1756, she wrote a diary, a very much more
entertaining and instructive affair than the Reverend Mr. Brome’s
book--which, indeed, could have been compiled from other works without
the necessity of travelling, and, but for a few fleeting glimpses of
original observation, actually gives that impression. Mrs. Calderwood
tells us that at Durham she went to see the Cathedral, where the woman
who conducted her round the building did not understand her Scottish
ways (nor indeed did Mrs. Calderwood comprehend everything English). “I
suppose, by my questions, the woman took me for a heathen, as I found
she did not know of any other mode of worship but her own; so, that she
might not think the Bishop’s chair defiled by my sitting down in it,
I told her I was a Christian, though the way of worship in my country
differed from hers.” Mrs. Calderwood, quite obviously, had never heard
of St. Cuthbert and his antipathy to women, so respected at Durham that
womankind were not admitted within certain boundaries in his Cathedral
church; nor was she familiar with hassocks, for she narrates how the
woman “stared when I asked what the things were that they kneeled upon,
as they appeared to me to be so many Cheshire cheeses.”

The modern tourist along our roads finds a deadly sameness
overspreading all parts of the country. The same cheap little suburban
houses of stereotyped fashion, built to let at from £25 to £30 a year,
that sprawl in mile upon mile on the outer ring of London, are to be
found--nay, are insistently to the foreground--wherever he goes. They
form the approach to, the outpost of, every town, large or small, he
enters, and are built in the same way, and of the same materials,
whether he travels farther north, south, east, or west. It was not so,
need it be said, in the old times. Then the coach passenger with an eye
for the beautiful and the unusual had that sense abundantly gratified
along almost every mile of his course, for when men did not build on
contract, and when the contractor, had he existed, would not have
been able to work outside his own district, there was individuality
in building design. We all know the truth of the adage that “variety
is charming,” and of variety the travellers had their fill. And not
only was there variety in design, but an endless change of materials
gratified the eyes of those who cared for these things. London, with
its dingy brick, was succeeded, as one penetrated westwards, by the
weather-boarded cottages of Brentford and Hounslow, by the timber
framing and brick nogging of the next districts, by the chalk and
flint of Hampshire and Wilts; and at last, when one had come to the
stone country, by the yellow ferruginous sandstone of Ham Hill, that
characterises the houses and cottages between Shaftesbury, Crewkerne
and Chard. Coming into Devon, the yellow stone was replaced by the
rich red sandstone, or the equally red “cob” of that western land; and
a final change was found when, the Tamar passed and Plymouth left
behind, the massive granite churches, houses and cottages astonished
the new-comer to those parts. No one could build with other than local
materials in those days. The material might be, like the granite,
stubborn and difficult, and expensive to work, but it would have been
still more expensive to bring other materials to the spot, and so the
local men worked on their local stone, and in course of time acquired
that peculiar mastery of it and that way of expressing themselves which
originated that “local style” whose secret is so ardently sought by
modern architectural students. You cannot transplant the old style of a
locality. Like the wilding plucked from its native hedgerow, it dies,
or is cultivated into something other than its original old sweet self
and becomes artificial. Cynic circumstance has so decreed it that,
while these ancient local growths have in modern times been copied in
London and the great towns, the rural neighbourhoods have been cursed
with an ambition to copy London, while everywhere cheap red brick is
ousting the native stone, flint, or wood.

When the fashionables travelled down by coach to Bath, one might safely
have offered a prize for every brick house to be found there, for Bath
was, and is, built of the local oolite known as “Bath stone.” The prize
would never have been claimed; but something like a modern miracle is
now happening, for even at Bath red brick has underbid the native stone
and gained an entrance.

Nothing escapes the modern desecrating touch. “Auld Reekie”
itself--Edinburgh, that last stronghold of the Has Been--is not the
same “beloved town” that Sir Walter Scott knew. The French Renaissance
character of its grandiose new buildings does not alone tend to change
it into something alien to sentiment and ancient recollection; but that
which our ancestors would have thought a mere impossibility, that which
themselves would, and ourselves should, stigmatise as a crime committed
against History and the Picturesque, has almost come to pass. In
short, the deep ravine where the Nor’ Loch stagnated of old, where the
Waverley Station is now placed, has been deprived of something of its
apparent depth, and the Castle Rock of a corresponding height, by the
towering proportions of the vast buildings that fill up the valley and
desecrate the site of the northern capital.

Sturdy survivals of olden days are the local delicacies that first
obtained a wider fame from that time when they were set before the
coach passengers at the country inns where the coach dined, or had
tea, or supped, and were so greatly appreciated that supplies were
carried away for the benefit of distant friends. Some, however, of
these delicacies have disappeared. No longer does Grantham produce the
cakes mentioned by Thoresby in 1683. Grantham, he says, was “famous
in his esteem for Bishop Fox’s benefactions, but it is chiefly noted
of travellers for a peculiar sort of thin cake, called ‘Grantham
Whetstones.’” What precisely were the cakes known by this unpromising
name we cannot say, for the making of them is a thing of the past.

Stilton cheese, never made at Stilton, obtained its name exactly in
the manner already described. It was a cheese made at Wymondham,
in Leicestershire, but its merits were first discovered by the
coach-parties who dined at the “Bell” at Stilton, whose landlord
obtained his supply from Wymondham, and drove a roaring trade in old
cheeses sold to the coaches to take away. “Stilton” cheese is now only
a conventional name, like that of “Axminster” carpets, made nowadays at
Kidderminster.

To bring home with him bags and boxes of local delicacies was to the
old coach-traveller as much an earnest of his travels as the bringing
back of a storied alpenstock is to the tourist in Switzerland. The
Londoner, returning home from Edinburgh, could come back laden with a
number of things which, easily obtainable now, were then the spoils
only of travel. From Scotch shortbread the list would range to
Doncaster butterscotch, York hams, Grantham gingerbread, and Stilton
cheeses. On other roads he might secure the cloying Banbury cake, still
extant, and as sickly-sweet and lavish of currants as of yore; the
famous Shrewsbury cakes, manufactured by the immortal Pailin, who left
his recipe behind him, so that the cakes of Shrewsbury still continue
in the land; Bath buns, phenomenally adhesive and sprinkled with those
fragments of loaf sugar without which the exterior of no Bath bun is
complete; the cheese of Cheddar; the toffee of Everton; pork pies from
Melton Mowbray; or a barrel of real natives from Whitstable. All or any
of these, I say, he might carry home with him, while few places were so
unimportant in this particular way that he could not ring the changes
on gastronomic rarities as he went.

All these things were the products of that old English tradition of
good cheer and hospitality which lasted even some little way into
the railway age. Journeys were cold, but hearts were warm, and the
more rigorous your travelling the better your welcome. It would seem,
and actually be, absurd to surround a modern arrival by railway with
the circumstance that greeted the advent of the coach. In the bygone
times the guest had no sooner alighted at his inn and proceeded to his
room than a knock came at his door, and lo! on a tray a glass of the
choicest port or cordial the house contained. To this day the courteous
old custom survives at the “Three Tuns,” in Durham, whose traditional
glass of cherry brandy is famous the whole length of the great road to
the north.

[Illustration: “ALL RIGHT!” THE BATH MAIL TAKING UP THE MAIL-BAGS.

                    _From the contemporary lithograph._
]

For the little folks who travelled by coach, either with their own
people or, like Tom Brown, in charge of the guard, warm motherly
hearts beat in the bosoms of the stately landladies of the age, all
courteous punctilio to their grown-up guests, but sympathy itself to
the wearied youngsters. Such was Mrs. Botham, of the “Pelican,” at
Speenhamland, on the Bath Road--that “Pelican” of whose “enormous bill”
some waggish poet had sung at an early period. Mrs. Botham, an awesome
figure--like Mrs. Ann Nelson, of the “Bull,” Whitechapel, dressed in
black satin--unbent to the youngsters, for whom, indeed, she had always
ready a packet of brandy-snaps.

The earlier travellers were even more welcomed, not by the innkeepers
alone, whose welcome was not altogether altruistic, but by the country
folk in general.

The annual reappearance of the early stage-coaches was a much greater
event to the villagers and townsfolk of the more remote shires than we
moderns might suppose, or feel inclined to believe, without inquiry.
But we must consider the winter isolation of such places in those
remote times, and then some faint glimmering sense of their aloofness
from the world will give us an understanding of the relief with which
they again saw real strangers from the outer world. In the long winter
months, when days were short and roads only to be travelled by the
most daring horsemen, spurred to the rash deed only by the most urgent
necessity, the passing stranger was rare, and excited remark, and
the company in the inn parlour or by the ingle-nook discussed him,
both because of his rarity and by reason of their own raw material
for the making of conversation being run very low indeed. We should
be more thankful than we generally are that our lot was not cast in
a seventeenth-century village, for winter in such surroundings was
dulness incarnate. Because they could not obtain fodder to keep the
sheep and cattle in good condition through the winter, the farmers and
graziers of that time killed them before that season set in, and the
villagers lived upon salted meat. Every house had its salt-beef tub and
its bacon-cratch under the kitchen ceiling, well stocked with hams and
sides; but vegetables were so scarce as to be practically unobtainable.

Every household brewed its own beer and kept a stock of cider, and
most housewives were cunning in the preparation of metheglin, a
sickly-sweet and heavy drink that revolts the modern palate, but was
then greatly appreciated. Evenings were not long, even though it grew
dark before four o’clock, for folks went to bed by seven or eight.
There was little inducement to sit up late, because only the feeblest
illumination was possible to any but the very rich, and the yeomen, the
farmers and the cottagers had to rest content with the dim sputtering
glimmer of the tallow dips that every eight or ten minutes required
the attentions of the snuffers. “When the night cometh,” we read in
the Bible, “no man can work”; but that is a statement which, literally
true at the time when the Bible was done into English, can now only be
read and understood figuratively. No one could work by the artificial
illumination then possible.

Conceive, then, the joy with which returning spring was
greeted--spring, that brought back light and fresh food and intercourse
with the world, outside the rural parish. Mankind had travelled far
from those prehistoric times of annual terror, when the ignorant
savage saw the sun’s light going out with the coming of winter, and
so, with abject fear, passed the darkling months until the vernal
solstice brought him hope again. No one in the Old England of two
hundred and fifty years ago trembled lest the sun should not return at
his appointed time; but when the sap rose and the birds began to sing
again, and warmth and light had begun to replace the fogs and mists of
winter, the hearts of all rejoiced.

May Day was then the great merrymaking festival, but the first coach
that ventured along the roads, now beginning to set after the winter’s
rains, had a welcome of its own. At Sutton-on-Trent, on the Great North
Road, the springtide custom of welcoming the early coaches was royally
observed, and kept up for many years. No coach, during a whole week of
jollity, was suffered to proceed through that jovial village without it
halted and ate and drank as only Englishmen could then drink and eat.
Guards, coachmen and passengers were freely feasted, willy-nilly. Young
and old plied them with the good things, spread out upon a tray covered
with a beautiful damask napkin, and heaped with plum-cakes, tartlets,
gingerbread, and exquisite home-made bread and biscuits; while ale,
currant and gooseberry wines, cherry brandy, and occasionally spirits,
were eagerly pressed upon the strangers. Half a dozen damsels, all
enchanting young people, neatly clad, rather shy, but courteously
importunate, plied the passengers.

Thoresby records a similar custom at Grantham, near by, on one of his
journeys. Under date of May 4th, 1714, he says: “We dined at Grantham,
and had the usual solemnity, being the first passage of the coach this
season; the coachman and horses decked with ribbons and flowers, and
the town music and young people in couples before us.” The “town music”
was what we should nowadays call the Town Band.

When such courtesies obtained along the roads the coachmen and guards
would have been churlish not to have, in some prominently visible
manner, done honour to the season. And, indeed, May Day and springtime
decorations were features on most coaches. The coachman’s whipstock was
ornamented with gay ribbons and bunches of flowers, while the coachman
himself wore a floral nosegay that rivalled a prize cabbage in size.
The guard was no less remarkable a figure, and his horn was wreathed
with the most lively display of blossoms. Festoons of flowers and
sprays of evergreens so draped and covered the coach that the insides,
peering out upon the festivities, very closely resembled those antic
figures, the “Jacks-in-the-Green,” that used on May Day to prance and
make merry from the midst of an embowering canopy of foliage, even so
late as thirty years ago, in London streets. The horses, too, bore
their part. Their new harness and saddle-cloths, the rosettes and
wreaths of laurel on their heads, smartened them up so that even the
animals themselves were conscious of the occasion, and bore themselves
with becoming pride.

Those old customs are, as a matter of course, gone. Coaches no longer
dash through the old “thoroughfare” villages; and when, with the
advent of spring, the motorist appears upon the road, the villagers,
rather than welcoming his appearance, curse him for the clouds of dust
he leaves behind. Motor-cars, they tell us, are to repeople the old
coaching-roads, whose prosperity is, through them, to return, and the
picturesque old wayside inns, with their memories of the coaching age,
are to once again experience the rush of business. It may be so, but
no one will regret the fact more than the lover of Old England, who,
in the repeopling of the roads, sees their modernising inevitable, and
the equally inevitable bringing “up to date” of those quaint, quiet,
and comfortable hostelries so dear to the genuine tourist. It is
true, they do not dine you elaborately--as your extravagant motorist
complains--but life is not all chicken and champagne, and it will be a
sorry day when the plain man, fleeing the gaudy glories of hotels at
fashionable resorts, finds the unsophisticated inns of the countryside
remodelled on the same plan. Already the picturesqueness of the old
roads is threatened. They are, if you please, too hilly, too narrow,
or not straight enough for that new tyrant of the highways, the owner
of a high-powered motor-car, and plans have actually been drawn up
by irresponsible busybodies for straight and broad new tracks, or for
the remodelling of the old roads on the same principle. Roadside trees
and avenues keep the surface damp and muddy after rain, and so, as
rubber-tyred cars are apt to skid and side-slip on mud, the same voices
call for the abolition of wayside trees. Old England is in a parlous
state, when these things can be advocated and no indignant protests
rise.



CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY


  1610.  Patent granted for an Edinburgh and Leith waggon-coach.

  1648.  Southampton weekly stage casually mentioned.

  1657.  Stage-coaches introduced: the London and Chester Stage.

  1658.  First Exeter Stage.

   ”     First York and Edinburgh Stage.

  1661.  First Oxford Stage.

   ”     Glass windows first used in carriages: the Duke of
           York’s carriage.

  1662.  Only six stage-coaches said to have been existing.

  1665.  Norwich Stage first mentioned.

  1667.  Bath Flying Machine established.

   ”     London and Oxford Coach, in 2 days, established.

  1669.  London and Oxford Flying Coach, in 1 day, established.

  1673.  Stages to York, Chester, and Exeter advertised.

  1679.  London and Birmingham Stage, by Banbury, mentioned.

  1680.  “Glass-coaches” mentioned.

  1681.  Stage-coaches become general: 119 in existence.

  1706.  London to York in 4 days.

  1710   Stage-coaches provided with glazed windows.
  (about).

  1730.  “Baskets” or “rumble-tumbles” introduced about this period.

  1734.  Teams of horses changed every day, instead of coaches
           going to end of journey with same animals.

   ”     Quick service advertised: Edinburgh to London in 9 days.

  1739.  According to Pennant, gentlemen who were active
           horsemen still rode, instead of going by coach.

  1742.  London to Oxford in 2 days.

   ”     London to Birmingham, by Oxford, in 3 days.

  1751.  London to Dover in 1½ days.

  1753.  Outsides carried on Shrewsbury Stage.

  1754.  London and Manchester Flying Coach in 4½ days.

   ”     Springs to coaches first mentioned: the Edinburgh Stage.

   ”     London and Edinburgh in 10 days.

  1758.  London and Liverpool Flying Machine in 3 days.

  1760.  London and Leeds Flying Coach advertised in 3 days: took 4.

  1763.  London and Edinburgh only once a month, and in 14 days.

  1776.  First duty on stage-coaches imposed.

  1780.  Stage-coaches become faster than postboys.

  1782.  Pennant describes contemporary travelling by light
           post-coaches as “rapid journeys in easy chaises, fit
           for the conveyance of the soft inhabitants of Sybaris.”

  1784.  Mail-coach system established.

  1800   Fore and hind boots, framed to body of coach, became general.
  (about).

   ”     Coaches in general carry outside passengers.

  1805.  Springs under driving-box introduced.

  1819.  “Patent Safety” coaches come into frequent use, to reassure
           travelling public, alarmed by frequent accidents.

  1824.  Rise of the fast day-coaches: the Golden Age of coaching.

   ”     Stockton and Darlington Railway opened: first beginnings
           of the railway era.

  1830.  Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened: coaching first
           seriously threatened.

  1838.  London and Birmingham Railway opened: first great blow to
           coaching; coaches taken off Holyhead Road as far as
           Birmingham.

  1839.  Eastern Counties Railway opened to Chelmsford.

  1840.  Great Western Railway opened to Reading.

   ”     London and Southampton Railway opened to Portsmouth:
           coaches taken off Portsmouth Road.

  1841.  Great Western Railway opened to Bath and Bristol: coaches
           taken off Bath Road.

   ”     Brighton Railway opened: coaching ends on Brighton Road.

  1842.  Last London and York Mail-coach.

  1844.  Great Western Railway opened to Exeter: last coaches
           taken off Exeter Road.

  1845.  Railways reach Norwich.

   ”     Eastern Counties Railway opened to Cambridge.

  1846.  Edinburgh and Berwick Railway opened.

  1847.  East Anglian Railway opened to King’s Lynn.

  1848.  “Bedford Times,” one of the last long-distance coaches
           withdrawn.

   ”     Eastern Counties Railway opened to Colchester.

   ”     Great Western Railway opened to Plymouth.

  1849.  Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway opened.

  1850.  Chester and Holyhead Railway opened.

  1874.  Last of the mail-coaches: the Thurso and Wick Mail gives
           place to the Highland Railway.



INDEX


  Accidents, i. 206, 274, 281, 307, 310;
    ii. 28, 96–122

  Allen, Ralph, Post Office reformer, i. 146

  Amateur coachmen (for individuals, _see_ Coaching Notabilities)

     ”      ”       penalty for allowing them to drive, i. 209

     ”      ”       rise of, i. 231

     ”      ”       incident on the road with, ii. 91–3

     ”      ”       originated about 1800, ii. 239

     ”      ”       account of the, ii. 239–59


  Balloon coaches, appear about 1785, i. 296

  “Basket,” the, described, i. 96, 99;
    miseries of travelling in, i. 101, 295

  Baxendale, Joseph, ii. 127–43, 207

  Besant, designer of mail-coaches, i. 178

  Bonnor, Charles, i. 168, 171

  “Booking,” i. 320–23

     ”       -clerks, responsibilities of, i. 320

     ”          ”     described by Dickens, i. 322, 330

     ”       -offices, i. 320–23

     ”          ”     described by Dickens, i. 122, 330

  Boonen, Wm., Queen Elizabeth’s coachman, i. 5

  Brighton, first coach to, 1756, i. 134;
    first Sunday coach to, 1792, i. 198

  Buckingham, Earl of, sets up a carriage, i. 7

  Bugles (_see_ Key Bugles)

  Byers, ----, professional informer, i. 214–17


  Canals, ii. 130, 133

  “Caravan,” origin of word, ii. 128, 129

  Carriages, introduction of, i. 2–13;
    become fashionable, i. 11

  Carriers, the, i. 65;
    antiquity of, i. 103;
    account of, i. 103–45;
    restrictions on, 1622–29, i. 195;
    forbidden to travel on Sundays, 1627, i. 196

  Cary, Robert, rides horseback to Edinburgh, 1603, i. 16

  Coach and Harness Makers Company, founded 1677, i. 12

  “Coach and six through Act of Parliament,” origin of saying, i. 86

  Coaches:--
    Mail-coaches, general account of, i. 146–80;
      to be exempt from tolls, i. 156;
      Post Office officials resist introduction of, i. 157;
      established 1784, i. 158;
      originally diligences, or light post-coaches, i. 160;
      system extended 1785, i. 163;
      continually breaking down, i. 174;
      new type of, introduced, i. 178;
      Besant’s patent coach, i. 178;
      Besant’s coach condemned by Matthew Boulton 1798, i. 179;
      always four-horsed, i. 180;
      coachmen of, subject to severe penalties for misdemeanours,
                i. 211;
      used for illegal sale of game, i. 254;
      for smuggling, i. 256;
      outside passengers of, limited to three, i. 258;
      bring early news, i. 260;
      cross-country, shabby, ii. 2;
      increased number of, injure roads, ii. 5;
      stage-coaches unable to compete with, ii. 5;
      exemption of from tolls injurious to Turnpike Trusts, ii. 4–9;
      paid toll in Ireland from 1798 ii. 9;
      exemption repealed as regards Scotland, 1813, ii. 9;
      tyrants of the road, ii. 10;
      exposed to dangers, ii. 10;
      pre-eminence of declines from 1824, on introduction of fast
                day-coaches, ii. 11;
      additional number of passengers permitted, ii. 12;
      mileage paid to contractors for, ii. 12–15;
      contractors disinclined to do business with Post Office, ii. 15;
      railways begin to supplant, 1830, ii. 16;
      procession of, on King’s birthday, ii. 17–22;
      list of, starting from London 1837, ii. 23;
      the fastest, 1836, ii. 27;
      number of, 1838, ii. 27;
      West of England routes cut up by railways, ii. 36–9;
      horses sold off, ii. 39;
      last of the mails, ii. 40;
      described, ii. 40–47
      Waude’s mail-coach, 1830, ii. 43–7;
      go seven days a week, ii. 148;
      freedom of from attack, ii. 148;
      robberies of, frequent, ii. 149;
      attacked by lioness, ii. 151;
      adventures of, in snow, ii. 152–5, 159–62, 166–9,
        in floods ii. 162–6, 169;
      West of England, started from Piccadilly, ii. 207
    Mail-coaches:--
      Banff and Inverness, ii. 165
      Bath, ii. 22, 23
      Birmingham, ii. 23
          ”       and Liverpool, ii. 169
      Brighton, ii. 23, 24, 101
          ”     Day, ii. 313
      Bristol, established 1784, i. 158–60; ii. 1, 17, 22, 23, 149, 207
      Cambridge Auxiliary, ii. 215
      Canterbury and Deal, ii. 27
      Carlisle and Edinburgh, ii. 27
         ”      ”  Glasgow, ii. 23, 24, 27, 108
      Carmarthen and Pembroke, ii. 15, 215
      Cheltenham and Aberystwith, i. 264; ii. 119
      Chester, ii. 15, 23, 215
      Derby and Manchester, ii. 40
      Devonport (Quicksilver), i. 246, 264, 303; ii. 22, 23, 28, 31–6,
                39, 122, 182, 207, 227, 252, 295, 308, 312
      Dover, ii. 15, 23, 24, 150
        ”    Foreign, ii. 215
      Edinburgh, ii. 23, 24, 39, 75, 295
          ”      and Glasgow, ii. 166
      Exeter, New, i. 264
        ”     ii. 22, 23, 28, 31, 35, 106, 151
      Falmouth, ii. 23, 31, 35
      Glasgow, i. 247; ii. 1–3
      Gloucester and Carmarthen, ii. 23
          ”      ii. 22, 28, 215
      Halifax, ii. 23, 106
      Hastings, ii. 23, 24, 215, 237
      Holyhead, ii. 15, 23, 207, 315
      Hull, ii. 23
      Ipswich, ii. 150, 312
      Lancaster and Kirkby Stephen, ii. 152
      Leeds, ii. 23, 24
      Liverpool, ii. 23
          ”      and Manchester, ii. 12
          ”      and Preston, ii. 27
      Louth, ii. 23, 28, 106, 235
      Lynn and Wells, ii. 23, 235
      Manchester, ii. 23
      Norwich, by Newmarket, ii. 15, 23, 215
      Plymouth and Falmouth, ii. 314
      Poole, ii. 160
      Portsmouth, ii. 23, 24, 160
      Southampton, ii. 22, 23
      Stroud, ii. 22, 23
      Wick and Thurso, ii. 40
      Worcester, ii. 23, 215, 318
      Yarmouth, ii. 23, 24
      York, ii. 150
    Stage-coaches, first established 1657, i. 2;
      considered vulgar, i. 25;
      patent for Edinburgh and Leith waggon-coach granted, 1610, i. 56;
      said to have begun about 1640, i. 57;
      John Taylor travels by the Southampton coach, 1648, i. 58–60;
      Chester Stage, first regular stage-coach, established 1657, i. 60;
      Exeter, Okehampton, Plymouth, Newark, Darlington, Ferryhill,
                York, Durham, Edinburgh and Wakefield stages
                established 1658, i. 61;
      itinerary varied to suit prospective travellers, i. 63;
      Oxford coach, 1661, i. 63;
      Preston, Lancashire, 1662, i. 63;
      horses went whole journey, i. 63;
      changed once a day, i. 63;
      Norwich coach, 1665, i. 64;
      lack of full information, about 1660–80, i. 64–74;
      early stages described by Taylor, the Water Poet, i. 65;
      described, i. 65–7, 82;
      first provided with glazed windows, about 1710, i. 67;
      agonies of travelling in, i. 63, 67, 72;
      Bath Flying Machine, 1667, i. 68;
      De Laune’s _Present State of London_, 1681, contains first lists
                of, i. 77–9;
      general in 1681, i. 77;
      opposition to, dies down, i. 79;
      fares moderate, 1684, i. 79;
      winter still, in 1731, largely a season of no coaches, i. 82;
      easily outpaced by pedestrians, about 1750, i. 82–85;
      six horses and a postilion generally used, 1754–1783, i. 85, 86,
                90;
      horses changed oftener than once a day, i. 87;
      consequent acceleration, i. 88;
      beginnings of competition and rivalry, i. 89;
      agreements between proprietors, i. 89;
      consequent deceleration of coaches, i. 90;
      Edinburgh stage a “glass machine on steel springs,” 1754, i. 89;
      of 1750, described by Sir Walter Scott, i. 97;
      outside passengers first provided with seats, about 1800, i. 181;
      fore and hind boots introduced, about 1800, i. 181;
      contempt of insides for outsides, i. 181, 210;
      “Land Frigate,” London and Portsmouth, i. 182;
      springs under driving-boxes introduced about 1805, i. 185;
                ii. 240;
      shorter stages adopted, about 1800, i. 186;
      travel at night, from about 1780, i. 186; ii. 66;
      speed increased, i. 189;
      duty levied, 1776, i. 205;
      duty increased 1783 and 1785, i. 206;
      accidents increase, i. 206;
      Gamon’s Acts, regulating number of passengers, 1788–90, i. 206–9;
      severity of Acts of 1806 and 1811, regulating, i. 209–12;
      the law constantly broken, i. 212;
      rise and progress of the professional informers, i. 213–18;
      duties reduced, 1839, i. 218–20;
      provincial coaches despised, i. 245;
      first begin to be named, i. 282;
      opposition and rivalry of, i. 282–8;
      “machine” becomes a favourite term, about 1754, i. 286;
      introduction of “diligences,” about 1776, i. 287;
      “diligences,” originally fast, become slow, i. 288–92;
      Shillibeer’s Brighton Diligence, i. 290–92;
      the Post-Coaches and Light Post-Coaches, a fast and exclusive
                type, i. 292–5;
      objectionable company in, i. 294;
      “Accommodation” coaches, slow and capacious, introduced about
                1800, i. 295;
      generally acquire names from about 1780, i. 295;
      the principles and system of naming described, i. 295–317;
      the public alarmed by increasing accidents, 1810–20, i. 310;
      “patent safety,” i. 309–16;
      Waude’s coaches, ii. 16;
      fast day coaches begin, 1824, ii. 173–87;
      attain speed of eleven and twelve miles an hour, ii. 179, 185;
      Cobbett on, ii. 182;
      gas-lighting of, proposed, ii. 186;
      Glasgow and Paisley coaches lit by gas 1827, ii. 186;
      increased comfort and elegance of, ii. 186;
      “short stages,” the, ii. 187–93;
      threatened by railways, ii. 208;
      rivalry, 1830–36, ii. 215–17;
      threatened by steam-carriages, 1824–38, ii. 260–68;
      run off by railways, ii. 269–74;
      long survived on branch routes, ii. 281;
      ended generally 1848, ii. 292
    Stage-coaches (mentioned at length):--
      Age, Brighton, ii. 247, 252
      Amersham and Wendover stage, ii. 281
      Bath Flying Machine, 1667, i. 68
      Bedford Times, i. 2
      Beehive, Manchester, ii. 162, 229–31
      Birmingham Flying Coach, 1742, i. 92
           ”     Improved Flying Coach, 1758, i. 92
           ”     and Shrewsbury Long Coach, 1753, in 4 days, i. 95
           ”     stage, 1697, by Banbury, i. 77;
                 in 2½ days, 1731, i. 80
      Chesham stage, ii. 281
      Chester stage, 1657, in 4 days, i. 60;
        in 5 days, i. 62;
        in 6 days, 1710, i. 73
      Coburg, Brighton, ii. 97
        ”     Edinburgh and Perth, ii. 108
      Comet, Brighton, established 1815, i. 305–8, 312
        ”    Southampton, ii. 207
      “Confatharrat,” Norwich, 1695, i. 80, 282
      Coronet, Brighton, ii. 251
      Criterion, Brighton, ii. 105
      Defiance, Exeter, ii. 235
         ”      Manchester, ii. 207, 228
      Derby Dilly, the, i. 239
      Duke of Beaufort, Brighton, ii. 101
      Edinburgh stage, once a fortnight, 1658, i. 61;
        in 10 days summer, 12 winter, 1754, i. 89;
        once a month, in 12 days, 1763, i. 90
      Emerald, Bristol, ii. 207
      Estafette, Manchester, ii. 186
      Everlasting, Wolverhampton and Worcester, i. 238–40
      Exeter Fly, in 6 days, 1700, i. 80
        ”    Flying Stage, 1739, generally 6 days, i. 90
        ”    Fast Coach, 1752, every Monday, in 3½ days summer,
                6 winter, i. 91
      Exeter stage, in 4 days, 1658, i. 61;
        in 8 days summer, 10 winter 1673, i. 74
      Expedition, Norwich, ii. 150
      Fowler’s Shrewsbury stage, 1753, in 3½ days, i. 95
      Glasgow and Edinburgh stage, 1678, in 3 days, i. 76; 1743, i. 76
         ”     ”      ”     Caravan, 1749, in 2 days, i. 77
      Glasgow and Edinburgh Fly, 1759, in 1½ days, i. 77
      Gloucester Old Stage, ii. 240
      Greyhound, Birmingham, ii. 207
      Hull and York stage, 1678, i. 74
      Independent Tally-Ho, Birmingham, ii. 215
      Land Frigate, Portsmouth, i. 182
      Lark, Leicester and Nottingham, ii. 110
      Leeds Flying Coach, 1760, in 4 days, i. 93
      Lewes and Brighthelmstone Flying Machine, 1762, i. 283
        ”   stage, i. 283
      Liverpool Flying Machine, 1758, in 3 days, i. 93
      Magnet, Cheltenham, ii. 207
      Maidenhead and Marlow Post-Coach, i. 294
      Manchester Flying Coach, 1754, in 4½ days, i. 92
      Nelson, Newcastle-on-Tyne, i. 67
      Newcastle Flying Coach, 1734, in 9 days, i. 87
      Nimrod, Shrewsbury, ii. 215
      Norwich stage, 1665, i. 64
      Oxford Flying Coach, 1669, in 1 day, i. 69
        ”    stage, 1661, in 2 days, i. 63, 68
      Peveril of the Peak, Manchester, ii. 107, 229, 237
      Potter, Manchester and Stafford, ii. 150
      Preston, Lancashire, stage, 1662, i. 63
      Prince of Wales, Birmingham and Shrewsbury, i. 185, 231;
                ii. 240, 307
      Quicksilver, Brighton, ii. 102–5
      Red Rover, Brighton, ii. 311
          ”      Liverpool, ii. 207
          ”      Manchester, ii. 162, 229, 277
      Regent, Stamford, ii. 207
      Rocket, London and Portsmouth, ii. 320
      Rockingham, Leeds, ii. 81
      Safety, Cambridge, i. 241
      Salop Machine, the “original,” 1774, i. 98
      Shrewsbury Caravan, 1750, in 4 days, i. 119
      Sovereign, Patent Safety, Brighton, i. 311
      Stag, Shrewsbury, ii. 216
      Star, Cambridge, i. 241; ii. 257, 299
      Taglioni, Windsor, i. 316
      Tally-Ho, Birmingham, ii. 214, 237
          ”     Plymouth and Falmouth, ii. 314
      Tantivy, Birmingham, i. 278, 317; ii. 185, 207, 237
      Telegraph, Cambridge, ii. 207, 299
          ”      Exeter, i. 300–303; ii. 34, 39, 227, 295, 313
          ”      Manchester, i. 300; ii. 185, 207, 227–9
      Telegraph, Southampton, ii. 306
           ”     Norwich, by Newmarket, ii. 15, 150
      Times, Bedford, i. 2; ii. 217
        ”    Brighton and Southampton, ii. 113
        ”    Cambridge, i. 241
      True Blue, Leeds and Wakefield, ii. 97
      Umpire, Liverpool, ii. 217
      Union, King’s Lynn, i. 250; ii. 300, 302–5
      Wakefield stage, 1658, in 4 days, i. 61
      Warwick     ”    1694, once a week, in 2 days, i. 80
      Wellington, Newcastle-on-Tyne, ii. 66–95
      Wonder, Shrewsbury, ii. 49, 185, 215, 227, 306
      Worcester Old Fly, ii. 241
      York stage, 1658, in 4 days, i. 61;
        1673, i. 74;
        1706, i. 75

  Coaching Age, began 1657, i. 2, 60;
    end of, ii. 260–91;
    long survived on branch routes, ii. 281;
    ended generally by 1848, ii. 292

  Coaching Notabilities:--
    Barrymores, Earls of, ii. 241
    Cotton, Sir St. Vincent, ii. 246–51, 257
    Jones, C. Tyrwhitt, ii. 251
    Kenyon, Hon. Thomas, ii. 233
    Lade, Sir John, ii. 241
    Lennox, Lord William, i. 278, 347
    Mellish, Colonel, ii. 241, 245
    Mytton, John, ii. 245
    Peyton, Sir Henry, ii. 233
    Stevenson, Henry, ii. 247, 251–4
    Warburton, R. E. E., i. 317–19
    Warde, John, i. 185, 231, 317; ii. 240
    Worcester, Marquis of (afterwards 7th Duke of Beaufort),
                ii. 101, 251

  Coachmen, forbidden to allow amateurs to drive, i. 209;
    penalties on, for misdemeanours, i. 209–11;
    the early, i. 221–30;
    the later, i. 231–48;
    the “flash men,” i. 235;
    denounced violently by Borrow, i. 235–8;
    described, ii. 72–4, 83–7, 91–4; ii. 174–7;
    “shoulder” fares and “swallow” passengers, ii. 200–203;
    contempt of, for railways, 1833–37, ii. 268;
    lose their occupation, ii. 278–81;
    what became of the, ii. 292–321

  Coachmen:--
    Abingdon, John, ii. 318
    Bailey, Jack, i. 231; ii. 240
    Brewer, Sampson, ii. 315
    Carter, Philip, ii. 311
    Clements, Wm., ii. 311
    Cracknell, E., i. 318; ii. 185
    Creery, Jack, ii. 152
    Cross, Thomas, i. 238;
      ii. 299–306
    Emmens, Joe, i. 228
    Hayward, Sam, ii. 306
    Holmes, Charles, ii. 316
    Howse, Jerry, ii. 186
    Jobson, John, ii. 307
    Layfield, Tom, ii. 91
    Marsh, Matthew, ii. 308
    Parker, ----, ii. 319
    Peers, Jack, ii. 306
    Pickett, A., i. 315; ii. 306
    Pointer, Robert, ii. 320
    Salisbury, Harry, ii. 185
    Salter, Wm., ii. 316
    Simpson, Harry, ii. 308
    Thorogood, John, i. 238
    Vaughan, Dick, ii. 299
    Vickers, Dick, ii. 315
    Walton, Jo, i. 241; ii. 257, 299
    Ward, Charles, i. 238; ii. 120, 311–15
     ”    Harry, i. 238, 246; ii. 311
    Williams, Bill, ii. 257–9
    Wilson, John, i. 238–40
      ”     William, i. 240

  Coachmen killed:--
    Aiken, ----, ii. 106
    Austin, ----, ii. 106
    Burnett, ----, ii. 107
    Cherry, ----, ii. 116
    Crouch, Thomas, ii. 107
    Draing, James, ii. 115
    Eyles, ----, ii. 116
    Fleet, ----, ii. 101
    Frisby, ----, ii. 110
    Roberts, Thomas, ii. 106
    Skinner, Henry, ii. 317
    Upfold, William, ii. 113
    Vaughan, Dick, ii. 299
    Walker, Joseph, ii. 98
    Wilkes, John, ii. 318

  Coach-proprietors, alarmed by establishment of mail-coaches, 1784,
                i. 160;
    provide driving-boxes with springs, 1805, i. 185;
    petition against Bill regulating stage-coaches, 1788, i. 208;
    liabilities of, i. 208–10; prosecuted and fined, i. 216;
    relief of, at close of coaching age, by reduction of duties,
                i. 218–20;
    begin to name their coaches, i. 282;
    indisposed to adopt “safety” coaches, 1805, i. 309;
    obliged by public opinion to do so, 1819, i. 311–16;
    hazardous business of, from 1824, ii. 173;
    cut fares in competition, 1834, ii. 187;
    bitter rivalry among, i. 283, ii. 215–18;
    of short stages, ii. 187;
    business of, described, ii. 194–238;
    spirited struggle of, against railways, ii. 273–8;
    misled by irresponsible newspaper talk, ii. 274–7

  Coach-proprietors:--
    Alexander, Israel, ii. 102
    Batchelor, James, of Lewes, i. 283–5
    Brawne, S., i. 283
    Bretherton, of Liverpool, ii. 238
    Capps, Thomas Ward, of Brighton, ii. 253
    Carter, of Shrewsbury, i. 109
    Chaplin, William, of the “Swan with Two Necks,” Lad Lane, ii. 34,
                141, 173–5, 195–210, 212, 228, 238, 312
    Chaplin, William Augustus, ii. 210
    Chaplin & Horne, ii. 209
    Cooper, Thomas, of Thatcham, ii. 173
    Costar & Waddell, of Oxford, ii. 186
    Cripps, William, of Brighton, ii. 251
    Cross, John, of the “Golden Cross,” Charing Cross, ii. 300
    Fagg, Thomas, of the “Bell and Crown,” Holborn, ii. 235
    Gilbert, William, of the “Blossoms” Inn, Lawrence Lane, ii. 237
    Goodman, S., of Brighton, ii. 102–5
    Grey, Robert, of the “Bolt-in-Tun,” Fleet Street, ii. 237
    Hearn, Joseph, of the “King’s Arms,” Snow Hill, ii. 237
    Hine, ----, of Brighton, ii. 181
    Horne, Benjamin Worthy, of the “Golden Cross,” Charing Cross,
                ii. 15, 141, 208, 210–25
    Horne, Henry, ii. 223
      ”    William, ii. 210–13, 215
    Jobson, J., of Shrewsbury, ii. 215, 307
    Mountain, Mrs. Sarah Ann, of the “Saracen’s Head,” Snow Hill,
                ii. 214, 236
    Nelson, Mrs. Ann, of the “Bull” Inn, Whitechapel, i. 300;
                ii. 227, 232–5, 236; ii. 313, 343
    Nelson, John, ii. 235
       ”    Robert, of the “Belle Sauvage,” Ludgate Hill, ii. 215,
                229–35
    Roberts, ----, of the “White Horse,” Fetter Lane, ii. 213
    Rothwell, Nicholas, of Warwick, i. 80–85
    Sherman, Edward, of the “Bull and Mouth,” St. Martin’s-le-Grand,
                ii. 186, 207, 215, 216, 217, 226–8, 229, 231, 273–8
    Shillibeer, George, i. 290–92
    Taylor, Isaac, of Shrewsbury, ii. 215, 216, 307
    Teather, Edward, of Carlisle, ii. 238
    Tubb, J., i. 283–5
    Waddell, of Birmingham, ii. 238
    Ward, Charles, ii. 313–15
    Waterhouse, William, of the “Swan with Two Necks,” Lad Lane, ii. 196
    Webb, Frederic, of Bolton, ii. 238
    Wetherald, J. & Co., of Manchester, ii. 238, 278
    Whitchurch, Best & Wilkins, of Brighton, i. 312–15
    Willans, Wm., of the “Bull and Mouth,” St. Martin’s-le-Grand,
                ii. 227
    Worcester, Marquis of (afterwards 7th Duke of Beaufort), ii. 101

  Coach travelling, on the roof, described by Moritz, 1782, i. 99–102;
    by mail, 1798, described by Boulton, i. 179;
    passengers booked in advance, i. 321;
    miseries of early morning, i. 325–32;
    about 1750, described in _Roderick Random_, i. 333;
    courtesies to ladies, 1714, i. 335;
    romance of, i. 336;
    severe test of a gentleman, i. 337;
    humours of coach-dinners, i. 337–47;
    coach-breakfasts, i. 347–51;
    social gulf between inside and outside passengers, i. 351;
    described by De Quincey, i. 351–3;
    humour in, i. 353;
    adventures described, i. 355;
    savage idea of humour, i. 356–8;
    practical joking, i. 357;
    outside the most desirable place in summer, ii. 67;
      in 1772, ii. 48–65;
      in 1830, ii. 66–95;
    miseries of, in winter, ii. 155–8, 169

  “Comet” coaches, begin about 1811, i. 304–8

  Commercial travellers, known successively as “riders,” “bagmen,”
                “travellers,” “commercial gentlemen,”
                “ambassadors of commerce,” and “representatives,”
                i. 56;
    come into existence about 1730, i. 118;
    adventure of a, ii. 328

  “Common stage-waggons,” a term specified by General Turnpike Act
                of 1766, i. 204

  Cornets-à-piston, popular with guards, i. 280

  Cresset, John, denounces stage-coaches, 1662, i. 26, 70–74


  Darwin, Dr. Erasmus, prophesies railways and balloons, ii. 260, 282

  “Derby Dilly,” the, i. 289

  Dickens, Charles, on coach booking-offices, i. 322;
    on miseries of early morning travelling, i. 325–32;
    on coaching prints, ii. 110;
    Christmas stories, ii. 162;
    at the “Bull,” Whitechapel, ii. 234

  Diligences, a species of Light Post-Coach, i. 160, 287–92;
    originally fast, and carried three inside passengers only, i. 287;
    became slow, i. 288–90;
    Shillibeer’s Brighton Diligence, i. 290–92

  “Double Horse,” the, i. 53


  Eliot, George, foreshadows tube railways, ii. 282–5

  Elizabeth, Queen, suffers from riding in carriage, i. 5;
    prefers riding horseback, i. 5


  Fares, by stage-coach, a shilling for every five miles, 1684, i. 79;
    London and Bath, £1 5s., 1667, i. 69;
    Bath Flying Machine, 3d. a mile, 1667, i. 69;
    London and Oxford, 12s., 1669, i. 71;
      10s., 1671, i. 71;
    Liverpool Flying Machine, about 2½d. a mile, 1758, i. 93;
    reduced in competition on Brighton Road, 1762, i. 284;
    in competition with railways, 1838, ii. 273;
    Shrewsbury and London Long Coach, 18s., 1753, i. 95;
    Shrewsbury and London Caravan, 15s., 1750, i. 119;
    Shrewsbury and London Stage, inside, £1 1s., 1753, i. 119;
    Shrewsbury and London Machine, inside, 30s., 1764, i. 120;
    Newcastle and London, 1772, ii. 63;
      1830, ii. 67, 95;
    reduced all round, 1834, ii. 187

  Fares, Short stages, ii. 189

     ”      Waggon, from ½d. to 1d. a mile, i. 69, 139;
    ½d. a mile, or 1s. a day, i. 120, 131

  Floods, ii. 165–70

  Fly Boats, i. 140; ii. 130

    ”  Vans, London and Falmouth, 1820, i. 136–9

  “Flying Coach,” the first, 1669, i. 69

  “Flying Machines,” the first, 1667, i. 68;
    described, i. 68–93, 283–5

  Flying Stage-waggon, London and Shrewsbury, in 5 days, 1750, i. 118


  Gamon, Sir Richard, legislates on coaching, i. 206–8

  Gay, John, the Poet, his _Journey to Exeter_, 1715, i. 28–33

  Goods, carriage of, by pack-horses, i. 106–111; ii. 124;
    by sledges, called “Truckamucks,” i. 107;
    pack-horses partly replaced by waggons about 1730, i. 117;
    cost of carriage, 1750, i. 135;
    by road and canal, about 1830, i. 140;
    carrying firms, ii. 123–43, 207–10

  Guards, generally, “shoulder” fares and “swallow” passengers,
                ii. 200–203

  Guards of mails, not to fire off blunderbusses unnecessarily, i. 209;
    servants of General Post Office, i. 249;
    gross excesses of early, i. 250–52;
    Post Office responsible for excesses, i. 251;
    how armed and equipped, i. 251–60;
    extravagant behaviour restricted, i. 252;
    appointments eagerly sought, i. 252;
    salary small, 10s. 6d. weekly, i. 253;
    “tips” render appointments valuable, i. 253;
    illegal purveyors of game, i. 254;
    trusted and confidential messengers, i. 255;
    as smugglers, i. 256;
    bravery of, and devotion to duty, i. 256;
    number of, i. 256;
    responsibilities of, i. 258;
    purveyors of news, i. 259;
    their duties, i. 261;
    instructions to, i. 262;
    prosperity of, i. 262;
    position poor on cross-country mails, i. 263;
    salaries raised, 1842, i. 263;
    forbidden to play key-bugle, i. 280;
    devoted to duty, ii. 160;
    rashness of, ii. 165

  Guards of mails:--
    Couldery, --, i. 265; ii. 120
    Kent, Luke, ii. 319
    Murrell, “Cocky,” i. 271
    Nobbs, Moses J., i. 264–71; ii. 119

  Guards of stage-coaches, i. 272–81;
    stages not always provided with, i. 272;
    versatile accomplishments of, i. 273;
    annual festivities of, i. 275–8;
    snowbound at Dunchurch, ii. 162

  Guards of stage-coaches:--
    Faulkner, Francis, ii. 320
    Goodwin, Jack, ii. 162
    Hadley, Robert, i. 274, 276
    Lord, Joe, ii. 152
    Russell, Thomas, i. 281
    Young, George, i. 273

  Guide-posts obligatory, 1690, i. 112

  Gurney, Sir Goldsworthy, inventor of steam-carriages, ii. 261–5, 285


  Hackney coaches, denounced by Taylor, i. 9;
    established 1605, i. 9–13

  “Hammercloth,” derivation of the term, i. 68, 97

  Hancock, Walter, inventor of steam-carriages, ii. 261, 264–8, 285

  Hazlett, Robert, highwayman, ii. 53

  Highwaymen, the, i. 85, 116, 120–23, 157, 186, 332–5; ii. 53, 59–61,
                144–50, 326, 327–9

  Hobson, Thomas, the Cambridge carrier, i. 65, 103–5, 205; ii. 124

  Hoby, Sir Thos., sets up a carriage, 1566, i. 4

  Horsemen, the, i. 14–56

  Horses, generally six to a coach until about 1783–90, i. 85, 86, 90;
    usually same horses from beginning to end of journey until
                1734, i. 63, 87;
    the “Double Horse,” i. 53;
    “parliamentary horse,” i. 218;
    fast coaches wear horses out quickly, 1824, ii. 173;
    average price paid for, 1824, ii. 176;
    system of working improved, 1824, ii. 176;
    bad-tempered, bought cheap, ii. 177


  Informers, i. 213–18

  Inns (mentioned at length):--
    Bell and Crown, Holborn, ii. 235
    Belle Sauvage, Ludgate Hill, i. 323, 324; ii. 229, 237
    Blossoms, Lawrence Lane, ii. 185, 229, 237
    Boar and Castle, Oxford Street, ii. 189
    Bolt-in-Tun, Fleet Street, ii. 215, 237
    Bull, Whitechapel, i. 324; ii. 227, 232–5, 343
    Bull and Mouth, St. Martin’s-le-Grand, i. 323, 324; ii. 67, 68, 147,
                178, 214, 215, 226, 231, 273, 277
    Four Crosses, Willoughby, i. 46
    George, Huntingdon, ii. 74
    Golden Cross, Charing Cross, i. 322, 323, 324, 329; ii. 210,
                213, 214
    Goose and Gridiron, St. Paul’s Churchyard, ii. 189, 296
    Green Man and Still, Oxford Street, ii. 190
    Hardwicke Arms, Arrington Bridge, ii. 73
    King’s Arms, Snow Hill, ii. 237
    Lion, Shrewsbury, ii. 215
    Old Bell, Holborn, ii. 190, 282
    Pelican, Speenhamland, ii. 340, 343
    Saracen’s Head, Snow Hill, i. 324; ii. 67, 214, 236
    Swan with Two Necks, Lad Lane, i. 323, 324; ii. 178, 195–9, 204, 228
    Talbot, Shrewsbury, ii. 215
    Three Tuns, Durham, ii. 340
    Wheatsheaf, Rushyford Bridge, ii. 94
    Winterslow Hut, ii. 151


  “Journey,” original meaning of word, i. 107


  Key-bugles, popular with guards, i. 279–81


  Legislation, i. 194–220

  Long coaches (an intermediate class of vehicle, between stage-coaches
                and waggons), i. 95, 119, 210, 286

  Long Coach, Birmingham and Shrewsbury, 1753, 3½ days to London, i. 119


  “Machines” introduced 1667, i. 68;
    the term in general use about 1740, i. 69, 120, 282;
    a favourite term, i. 286

  Mail-coaches--_see_ “Coaches: Mail-coaches”

  Mary, Queen, her State Coach, 1553, i. 3

  Matthews’ Patent Safety Coach, i. 312

  Milton, Rev. W., inventor of Patent Safety Coach, 1805, i. 309; ii. 96

  Motor-cars, early (1823–38), ii. 260–68;
    modern, ii. 285–9, 347


  Northumberland, Earl of, sets up a carriage, 1619, i. 8

  Nunn, James, buyer of horses for Chaplin, ii. 204–7


  Old-time travellers:--
    Brome, Rev.--, tour of, 1700, ii. 333
    Calderwood, Mrs., of Bolton and Coltness, 1756, ii. 334
    Cary, Robert, rides from London to Edinburgh, 1603, i. 16
    Charles VI., Emperor, visits Petworth, ii. 332
    Clarendon, Henry, Earl of, travels from Chester to Holyhead, 1685,
                i. 21
    Cobbett, Richard, rides horseback, i. 55;
      on coaches, ii. 181
    Denmark, Prince George of, visits Petworth, ii. 332
    De Quincey, Thomas, on contempt of inside passengers for outsides,
                i. 210, 351–3;
      prefers outside of coaches, ii. 67
    Dugdale, Sir William, mentions Birmingham coach of 1697, i. 77
    Fiennes, Celia, in Lancashire, 1691, surprised at finding
                sign-posts, i. 115
    Gay, John (the poet) _A Journey to Exeter_, 1715, i. 28–33
    Hawker, Col., on travelling in 1812, i. 245;
      on cost of journey, London to Glasgow, 1812, ii. 1–3, 4;
      on “Bull and Mouth” inn, 1812, ii. 227
    Johnson, Dr., i. 52–3
    Macready, William C. (the actor), on incredibly slow journey,
                Liverpool to London, 1811, i. 294
    Moritz, Rev. C. H., on miseries of outside passengers, 1782,
                i. 98–102
    Murray, Rev. James, describes a journey from Newcastle-on-Tyne to
                London, 1772, ii. 48–65
    Parker, Edward, on miseries of coach journey from Preston,
                Lancashire, 1662, i. 25–63
    Pepys, Samuel, often loses the road, i. 112
    Somerset, Dukes of, and Petworth, ii. 332
    Sopwith, Thomas, on discontinuance of York Mail, ii. 39
    Sorbière, Samuel de, on waggoners, 1663, i. 127
    Swift, Jonathan, Dean, his couplets for inn signs on Penmaenmawr,
                i. 21;
      on horseback journey, Chester to London, 1710, i. 33, 73;
      on journey London to Holyhead and Dublin, 1726, i. 33;
      diary of journey, London to Holyhead, 1727, i. 34–47;
      epigram at Willoughby, i. 46;
      travels by stage-waggon, i. 132;
      on travelling, ii. 330
    Taylor, John (the “Water Poet”), travels to Southampton,
                1648, i. 58–60
    Thoresby, Ralph, travels by York stage to London, 1683, i. 27, 73;
      finds the Hull to York stage discontinued for winter season,
                1678, i. 74;
      going horseback, often misses his way, i. 112;
      describes custom of treating lady passengers in coaches,
                1714, i. 335;
      on spring festivities, 1714, ii. 346
    Wesley, John, generally travelled horseback, i. 47;
      describes his adventures, i. 47–52;
      finds unpleasant company in a coach, i. 293

  Omnibuses, displace “short stages,” ii. 193;
    “Wellington,” Stratford and Westbourne Grove, ii. 235;
     of Richmond Conveyance Co., ii. 296

  Outside passengers first heard of, and probable origin of carrying,
                i. 95;
    miseries of, i. 98–102;
    first provided with seats, i. 181;
    treated with contempt by inside passengers, i. 210, 351–3; ii. 181


  Pack-horses, i. 106–9, 111, 118;
    partly replaced by waggons about 1730, i. 117;
    pack-horse trains, ii. 124

  Palmer, John, Post Office reformer, account of, i. 148–80 (Appendix,
                Vol. I., p. 359);
    proposes a service of mail-coaches, i. 155;
    plan for, matured 1782, i. 156;
    establishes first mail-coach, 1784, i. 158;
    proposes to extend system to France, i. 163;
    appointed Comptroller-General 1786, i. 164;
    contentions with Postmasters-General, i. 165–72;
    his character, i. 166;
    betrayed by Bonnor, i. 168;
    dismissed, i. 172;
    grant to, i. 173;
    death of, i. 174;
    ancestry of, Appendix, Vol. I., p. 359;
    descendants, 359

  “Parliamentary Horse,” the, i. 218

  “Patent Safety” coaches, i. 309–16; ii. 109

  Pepys, Samuel, sets up a carriage, 1668, i. 11;
    in travelling, often loses the road, i. 112

  “Pickaxe” team, _i.e._ three horses, ii. 270

  Pickford & Co., i. 139; ii. 123–43, 208
    ”      Matthew, ii. 125–7
    ”      Thomas, ii. 125–7

  Poor people, how they travelled, i. 115, 131–3, 139;
    find it cheaper to go by rail, i. 144

  Postboys, _i.e._ mail-carriers, i. 146, 152;
    went toll-free, ii. 5

  Postes, Master of the, i. 14

  Post-horses, State monopoly of, i. 14–23;
    monopoly abolished, 1780, i. 23;
    mileage charges for, i. 15;
    increased, i. 18

  Postmaster-General, office of created, 1657, i. 18

  Postmasters, _i.e._ keepers of post-horses, i. 15–18, 147

  “Post Office of England” created, 1657, i. 17;
    re-established, 1660, i. 22

  Post Office, General, i. 14–19, 20, 22–4, 46–180;
    declines Hancock’s offer to convey mails by steam-carriage, ii. 268


  Railways:--
    Mails first carried by, 1830, ii. 16;
      authorised to convey mails, 1838, ii. 16;
      run York coaches off road, 1840, ii. 39;
      run waggons off, ii. 138;
      threaten coaching, ii. 208;
      projected railways criticised, 1838, ii. 209;
      ruin the early steam-carriages, ii. 268;
      ridiculed, 1837, ii. 268;
      cut up the coach routes, ii. 270–74;
      bad service of trains, 1838, ii. 274;
      insolence of officials, ii. 274–7;
      public dissatisfaction with, 1838, ii. 274–7;
      tube railways foreshadowed by George Eliot, ii. 282–5
    Grand Junction, ii. 141, 274
    Highland, ii. 40
    Liverpool and Manchester, ii. 16, 96, 138
    London and Birmingham (now London and North-Western), ii. 141, 208,
                222–5, 273, 278
    London and Manchester, ii. 16, 96, 138
    London and Southampton (now London and South-Western), ii. 17,
                36, 209, 299
    Metropolitan extended to Aylesbury 1892, ii. 281
    North British, ii. 40

  “Ride and Tie,” custom of, i. 54

  Rippon, Walter, carriage-maker to Queen Mary, i. 4

  Roads, bad state of, 1568, i. 5;
    dreadful condition in North Wales in eighteenth century, i. 20–22;
    Exeter Road described in 1752 as “dreadful,” i. 91;
    first General Highway Act, 1555, i. 106;
    mere tracks and unenclosed, 1739, i. 111;
    not safe for solitary travellers, i. 115;
    gradually improve from 1700, i. 117;
    growth of heavy traffic cuts them up, i. 123;
    ignorance of road-surveyors, i. 123;
    legislation to protect, 1760, i. 123–6;
      1622–29, 194–6;
      1752, i. 199–202;
    General Turnpike Act, 1766, i. 202–5;
    improve generally, ii. 3;
    shocking state of, between Carlisle and Glasgow, 1812, ii. 4;
    wear and tear of, by mails, ii. 4–9;
    and early steam-carriages, ii. 262;
    vulgarised by modern “improvements,” ii. 326;
    terrible state of, in Sussex, ii. 332;
    picturesqueness of, threatened by coming changes, ii. 347

  Robberies from coaches, ii. 144–50

  “Rumble-tumble,” i. 96, 97, 99;
    miseries of travelling in the, i. 101, 139

  Rutland, Earl of, sets up a carriage, 1555


  Shillibeer, George, his “Brighton Diligence,” i. 290–92;
    his omnibuses, ii. 193

  Short stages, the, ii. 188–93

  “Short Tommy,” the, ii. 175

  “Shouldering,” _i.e._ stealing, fares, ii. 200–203

  Sign-posts obligatory, 1690, i. 112

  Silver, Anthony, carriage-maker to Queen Mary, i. 3

  Smollett, Tobias, i. 108, 110;
    on travelling in 1748, i. 115–17, 334

  Snowstorms, i. 261, 264–9; ii. 137, 157, 159–62, 166–9

  Stage-coaches--_see_ “Coaches: stage-coaches”

  Stage-waggons, established about 1500, i. 2: _see_ “Waggons”

  Steam-carriages, 1823–38, ii. 217, 260–68

  Sunday, a day of rest, i. 29, 90

      ”   Trading Acts, i. 196–9; ii. 148

  “Swallowing,” _i.e._ stealing, fares, ii. 200–203


  Talbot, the old English hound, i. 109

  “Tantivy,” meaning of the word, ii. 185

  “Tantivy Trot,” coaching song, ii. 185

  Telegraph coaches established, from about 1781, i. 300–303

  Telegraph springs introduced, ii. 228

  “Tipping,” origin and progress of, i. 228–30;
    of mail-guards, i. 253, 262;
    forbidden, i. 263;
    of coachmen, i. 345; ii. 1

  _Tom Brown’s Schooldays_, i. 347

  “Travel,” origin of the word, i. 107

  “Truckamuck,” a kind of sledge, i. 107

  Turnpike Acts, growth of, 1700–1770, i. 117;
    penalise narrow and encourage broad wheels, i. 124–6, 202–205;
    General Turnpike Act, 1766, i. 202–205

  Turnpike keepers, i. 24, 208, 212;
    prosecuted by informers, i. 217;
    sleepy, ii. 79

  Turnpike roads, not in favour with waggoners, i. 126

  Turnpike tolls, i. 124;
    levied on waggons, i. 200–205;
    doubled on Sundays about 1780, ii. 147;
    heavy discriminatory charges against steam-carriages, ii. 262, 263

  Turnpike Trusts, grievances of, against Post Office, ii. 4–9;
    action of, against steam-carriages, ii. 262, 263


  “Unicorn” team, _i.e._ three horses, ii. 270


  Van, origin of the name, ii. 129

  Van proprietors:--
    Chaplin & Horne, ii. 209, 229
    Pickford & Co., i. 123–43
    Russell & Co., i. 136–9

  Van proprietors prosecuted for technical offences, i. 216

  Vidler & Parratt, mail-coach manufacturers, i. 178; ii. 17, 18, 44


  Waggons, i. 103–45;
    established about 1500, i. 103;
    increase in number and weight about 1760, i. 123;
    legislation directed against 1766, i. 124–6, 202–204;
    only disappear so late as 1860, i. 144;
    four-wheeled waggons forbidden 1622, i. 194;
    loads over 20 cwt. forbidden 1622, i. 195;
    restrictions on teams, i. 195–200;
    on loads, i. 200

  Waggoners, character of the, i. 126–31;
    forbidden to ride on their waggons, i. 205;
    preyed upon by informers, i. 212–14

  Waude, ----, coach-builder, ii. 16, 43–7, 228

  Weller, Tony, as typical coachman, i. 221

  Witherings, Thomas, Master of the Postes, i. 17


  Yard-porters, status of, ii. 178

  York, James, Duke of, sets up a “glass coach,” 1661, i. 11, 66


_Printed by Hazett, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury._



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation marks
remedied.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

The symbol on page 278 is a hand, pointing to the right (“white
right-pointing index”).

Shillings and pence abbreviations (s. and d.) were italicized in the
original book but, for readability, that is not indicated here. Other
italicized text is enclosed in _underscores_.



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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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