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A natural fondness for the Road and its associations has induced me, from time to time, to collect notes on all matters in connexion therewith. The recent revival of stage-coaching, and consequently of the art of coachmanship, dating, we may say, from 1866, when the 'Old Times ' was put on the Brighton Road, that road having been left vacant by the withdrawal of the ' Age' in 1862, has turned the minds of many to this subject. With a view therefore to assist their enquiries, I publish my collections.

Apart from my desultory notes, Nimrod's treatises on the Road, appended to these collections, give a com- plete systematic theory of coaching ; and my desire that the lover of the Road should have at hand a volume for reference and information induced me to rush into print. For, as Peter Beckford said of hunting, so may it be said of coaching, ' there is no doubt that the practical part of it would be improved were theory to accompany it.' In considering the construction of carriages, friction, motion, gravitation, and velocity are the first subjects which demand the attention of practical coachmen. Ofcourse there are coachmen and coachmen ; but to those who would become real coachmen, I would earnestly recommend the study of the origin of wheeled convey- ances, in the excellent treatise on draught by William Youatt, appended to his work on ' The Horse.' In that treatise will be found most useful and necessary hints, due attention to which would prevent many an accident which might otherwise be caused by ignorance of the simplest mechanical principles. In truth, the properties of carriages are seldom thoroughly understood by those who build them. ' Yet nothing,' it has been well said, ' is more essential for gentlemen who keep a carriage to know, than the various principles on which they may be built to suit their convenience ; ' 1 it might have been added — ' and that of their horses.'

To become a practical coachman, it is necessary to understand thoroughly the subject of draught by animal power. Direct practical information respecting this will be found in Youatt's treatise. The coachman should care- fully peruse, and stow away in his knowledge-boot, the instructions there given regarding the angle of inclination of the line of traction. He will thus learn how to put his horses to, and how to make the most of his moving power. The necessity of acquiring this knowledge will be sufficiently obvious to justify my insisting on the primary importance of mastering the theories of draught and coachbuilding.

Perfection in the practice of driving, too, is only to be attained by attending at the same time to the theory. It is only by being well up in his work, and knowing what he is at, that the tyro can be put on the same footing as ' one of us,' as the old coachman has it.

The name of Nimrod, and the masterly style of his writings on all sporting subjects, are well known ; and his essays on ' The Road,' which originally appeared in the form of letters to the ' Sporting Magazine,' and are now reproduced in this volume, will be read with delight by both old and young hands. A careful study of them will enable the tyro to perfect himself in the theory of the art of coachmanship ; and the dragsman may learn ' a thing or two ' by the perusal of these truly unique essays, now for the first time collected and published in a separate form.

To be a coachman, says Nimrod, you must take your degree ; for driving four horses is an art, ' and a very pretty //art,' as was said by that excellent coachman ' Chester Billy.' The knowledge necessary to qualify a man for his degree will be found in Nimrod, and by acquiring it the theory of driving will be mastered.

The fact of my residence in India increases in many ways the difficulty of compiling a work of this sort There comes, moreover, the terrible thought that pos- sibly an opposition coach may have entered on the road at home, and have taken up all the passengers. Still I hope that those of my own ' yard ' will be with me, and should the coaching lore which I ' put to ' so interest and amuse the reader as to make those drive now who never drove before, and those who always drove now drive the more * (I must apologise for thus rendering Miss Berry), then my ' point' will have hit its object.

I have appended to the work a glossary of terms used in connection with 'The Road.' These, with the specimens of the Road slang which I have given, will be found, I trust, useful and amusing to all lovers of the road. They are really a part — no small part either — of the lessons to be learnt by the aspirant to the ' box.'

I have to offer my very best thanks to Mr. Benthall, of the General Post Office, for aiding me in matters re- lating to the history of mail coaches, and also to Mr. Nevill, late guard on the Carlisle mail. I am much indebted to Mr. Gould of the G.P.O. for the use of his pictures of the different mails in snow storms.

Bangalore, India: December 1874.




The classical era of coachmanship is well described, and details concerning the mode of putting horses together at that period are given, in Nimrod's and Youatt's treatises ; and but little real advance seems to have been made in the science of the road until the middle of the seventeenth century. Gibbon certainly records an instance of early post travelling which almost transcends the brightest achievements of our English service, even in the palmiest days of mail coaches. Csesarius, a magistrate of high rank in the time of the Emperor Theodosius, went post from Antioch to Constantinople. He began his journey at night, was in Cappadocia, 165 miles from Antioch, on the ensuing evening, and arrived at Constantinople on the sixth day about noon ; the whole distance being 725 Roman, or 665 English miles. It is worthy of mention that Cicero, writing to a friend in Britain, remarked that there was nothing worth brin^ino; out of the island but chariots, of which he wished to have one for a pattern.

This statement, I think, warrants us islanders in flattering ourselves that we take precedence in coaching of all the world. Wheel carriages, bearing some resemblance to chariots, first came into use in England in the reign of King Richard II., about the year 1388. They were called whirlicotes, and were little better than litters or cotes (cots) placed on wheels. We are told by Master John Stowe * that 'Richard II. being threatened by the rebels of Kent, rode from the Tower of London to the Miles End, and with him his mother, because she was sick and weak, in a whirlicote.' This is described as an ugly vehicle of four boards put together in a clumsy manner ; so clumsily that, on occasion of the grand entry of Richard II. into London, described by Richard de Maidstone, we learn that when the ladies of the Court were riding in two of these carts, one of them fell over and ' exposed its fair occupants in a not very decorous manner to the jeers of the multitude.' At the celebration of the feast of St. George at Windsor in 1487 (3 Henry VII.), we are told that the Queen and the King's mother rode in a chaise covered with a rich cloth of gold.

We may judge of the state of the road in the sixteenth century from the means of conveyance then used by the wealthiest and noblest family in England, that of the fifth Earl of Northumberland. In the establishment of this nobleman in 15 12, there were, as Berenger tells us, 'seven great trottynge hors to draw in the chariott, and a nagg for the chariott-man to ride.' The chariott or car was a vehicle in various forms, but far inferior to the chariot or coach in common use, in which the furniture or movables were conveyed, or perchance, the domestic servants of the family. The Lord and Lady usually rode on horseback. They had slow-paced heavy horses, perhaps not much unlike the carriage horses of a century ago, which drew the plough all the week and took the family to church on Sunday. It must not be forgotten that the chariot-man or coachman then used to ride by the side of the horses, and so conducted them and the carriage).

In the twenty-second year of Queen Elizabeth the use of *coaches (private carriages) became more general, The heads of noble houses, nevertheless, in their travels, almost from one end of the kingdom to the other, still rode on horseback, except when they took refuge, as they occasionally did, in the cars generally appropriated to their household. Even the Oueen when she went in state to St. Paul's rode behind her Master of the Horse. The convenience of the new mode of carriage caused it to be immediately adopted by all who could afford it ; and horses were so rapidly bought up for this purpose, and became so exorbitantly dear, that the question was dis- cussed in Parliament whether the use of carriages should not be confined to the higher classes.

*The word coach, if derived from caroche {carosse, caroccio), signifies a large car or waggon. Menage makes it Latin, and by far-fetched derivations traces it from vchiailiim. Junius derives it from o^fo), to carry. Wachter seeks its origin in the obsolete German word kutten, to cover. Some say the word is of Hungarian extraction, taking its origin from the village of Kitsee (Kotsee or Cotzi). There certainly was a Hungarian carriage known in the sixteenth century, and it was a covered carriage too.

Stowe, in his ‘Surveye’, speaking of the same era, tells us that ' divers great ladies made them coaches, and rode in them up and down the countries to the great admiration of all beholders.' The fashion soon spread ; and Stowe adds, what is often true in the present day, ' The world runs on wheels with many whose parents were glad to go on foot' These coaches were heavy and unwieldy, and probably bore some rough resemblance to the state coaches still used occasionally in Court processions.

At this period there were but one or two main roads, and these were infested by bands of robbers ; a fact which made travelling in carriages much more insecure, as well as more difficult, than performing the journey on horseback.

The first hollow turning coach built for Queen Elizabeth, by Walter Ripon, was nothing but a cart without springs, covered over with a gorgeous canopy, and with chairs or seats fixed in it. Ripon does not seem to have greatly promoted coaching by his invention, for the Queen suffered so much during her journey in his coach when she went to open Parliament, that she would never use it again. Consequently the coach went out of fashion in London, though the county gentry seem to have patronised it.

The Queen's coachman, one Bonner, a Dutchman, did a great deal in 1564 towards bringing coaches into use; and his style of 'conveniency ' was greatly im- proved upon by the Earl of Arundel in 1580.




The introduction of a regular system of carrying by what are known as ' common stages ' and ' *hackney coaches,' is noted by Fynes Moryson, who, in his ' Ten Years of Travel through Great Britain and other Parts of Europe,' published in 1617, says: ' Sixty years ago coaches were very rare in England,' but in his own day, pride was so far increased that there were few gentlemen of any account (i.e. ' elder brothers,' as he parenthetically explains), ' who had not their coaches, so that the streets of London were stopped up with them.'

*The term ' hackney coach ' is of French origin. In France a strong kind of cob horse (hacquenee) was let out on hire for short journeys. These were latterly harnessed, to accommodate several wayfarers at once, to a plain vehicle called coche-a-hacquencc— hence the name. The legend that traces their origin to Hackney, near London, is a vulgar error. They were first licensed in 1662, and were at the same time subjected to regulations. The number plying in London was fixed at 1,000. The fares were raised in 1771. The number of coaches was increased in 1799, and frequently since. The coachmakers became subject to a license in 1785, and the hackney chariots, coaches, and cabriolets in 18 14.

We have ample evidence from other sources of the annoyances caused to the ordinary dwellers in London by the great amount of coach traffic through the narrow thoroughfares, and many methods were suggested of abating the nuisance.

In 1619 a tax of 40/. a year (which was then equivalent to 200/. at least of our present currency) was supposed to be levied on all persons below a certain degree who kept a coach. In January 1635-36, King Charles I. found it necessary to issue a Proclamation 'for restraint of the multitude and promiscuous use of coaches about London and Westminster.' From the terms of this document we gather that the great number of hackney coaches in London and Westminster, and the general use of coaches, had become a great nuisance to the King, the Queen, the nobility and others of place and degree in their passage through the streets. The streets were also so ' pestered,' and the pavement so broken up, that the common passage was hindered and made dangerous, and the prices of hay and provender were alarmingly high. These coaches for hire did not stand in the street, but at the principal inns.

His Majesty therefore commanded that no hackney coach should be used, except to travel three miles out of London ; and that no person should go in a coach in the streets of London, unless he kept four horses for his Majesty's service whenever his occasions should require. This prohibition was not enforced after the King's death. In 1637 there were in London and Westminster fifty hackney coaches.

For the most part, says Moryson, Englishmen, especially in long journeys, used to ride upon their own horses ; for hired horses, two shillings was paid for the



first day and eighteen-pence for each succeeding day that the horse was required by the traveller. Lastly, the carriers had long covered waggons, in which they carried passengers from city to city ; but this kind of journeying is described as so tedious, that none but women and people of inferior condition, or strangers (among whom he particularly instances the Flemings, their wives and servants), avail themselves of it.

It was in 16 19 that the Duke of Buckingham set the example of being drawn by six horses. The Earl of Northumberland, partly not to be outdone, and partly out of ridicule, immediately began to drive eight, which in this day no one in England but Queen Victoria may do.

In 1640, the Dover Road, owing to the extent of Continental traffic constantly kept up, was perhaps the best in England. Yet three or four days were often consumed in the journey between Dover and London.

Chamberlayn in his ' Present state of Great Britain ' (1649), thus speaks up for stage coaches : ' Besides the excellent arrangement of conveying men and letters on horseback, there is of late such an admirable commo- diousness, both for men and women to travel from London to the principal towns in the country, that the like hath not been known in the world : and that is by stage coaches, wherein anyone may be transported to any place sheltered from foul weather and foul ways, free from endamaging of one's health and one's body by hard jogging or over-violent motion ; and this not only at a low price (about a shilling for every five miles) but with such velocity and speed in one hour as that the post in some foreign countries cannot make in one day/

In 1662, when there were still only six stage coaches in the whole kingdom, one John Crossel, of the Charter House, London, took alarm and wrote a pamphlet de- manding the suppression of these conveyances, on the ground that they would inflict a serious injury on society.

Some of his reasons are curious. ' These coaches,' says he, ' make gentlemen to come to London upon very small occasion, which otherwise they would not do but upon urgent necessity ; nay, the conveniency of the pas- sage makes their wives often come up, who rather than come such long journeys on horseback, would stay at home. Here, when they come to town, they must go in the mode, get fine clothes, go to plays and treats, and by these means get such a habit of idleness and love of pleasure, that they are uneasy ever after.'




Stage coaching became general between the years 1662 and 1703. The stage coaches running between London and York, Chester, and Exeter, at this period did not run at all during winter, but were laid up for the season like ships during arctic frosts, and were what we now call ' butterflies.' Sometimes the roads were so bad, even in summer, that it was all the horses could do to drag the coach alone, the passengers having perforce to walk for miles together. In the case of the York coach especially the difficulties were formidable. Not only were the roads bad, but the low Midland counties were especially liable to floods ; and during their prevalence it was nothing unusual for passengers to remain at some town en route for days together, until the roads were dry.

Public opinion was divided as to the merits of stage coach travelling. When the new mode threatened altogether to supersede the old mode of travelling on horse- back, great opposition manifested itself; and the organs of public opinion began to revile the new. One pamphleteer went so far as to denounce the introduction of stage coaches as the greatest evil ' that had happened of late years in these kingdoms ; ' ' mischievous to the public, prejudicial to trade, and destructive to lands.' ' Those who travel in these coaches contract an idle habit of body, become weary and listless when they have rode a few miles, and are then unable to travel on horseback, to endure frost, snow, or rain, or to lodge in the fields!

So tedious indeed, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, was the communication between one place and another, that a letter from Yorkshire to Oxford could scarcely be answered in less than a month. 1

A hundred years later, about 1703, the journey from London to Portsmouth occupied about fourteen hours, and whether it could be accomplished even in this time depended on the state of the roads.

The York stage, a four-day coach, began running on Friday, April 12, 1706. The following notice was issued of its establishment :

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“ALL that are desirous to pass from LONDON to YORK, or any other place on their road, let them repair to the 'BLACK SWAN,' HOLBORN, in LONDON, and the 'BLACK SWAN' in CONEY STREET, YORK, at both which places they may be received in a STAGE COACH every Monday, WEDNESDAY, and Friday, which performs the whole journey in four days (if God permits), and sets forth at five in the morning, and returns from York to Stamford in two days, and Stamford to Huntingdon in two days more, and the other like stages on their return, allowing each passenger 14 pounds weight, and all above 3 pence per pound.




The old stage or travelling waggon, which was used for the conveyance of passengers and merchandise, de- serves some notice. On the principal roads, strings of stag-e-waggons used to travel together. Besides these conveyances there were 'strings of horses,' pack-horses, travelling somewhat quicker than the waggons, for the conveyance of light goods, or passengers, and generally on narrow paths known as ' pack-horse roads.' One of these pack-horse roads of 200 years ago may still be seen in a good state of preservation about a mile eastward from Haltwhistle in Northumberland. It adjoins the old mail coach road, and is within a hundred yards of the railway. Thus brought within a stone's throw of each other are pack-horse road, coach-road, and rail, marking the changes which a couple of centuries have wrought in the means of locomotion. The stage waggons, as a rule, travelled at an extremely slow pace ; and except on the Liverpool and London road, they seldom changed horses, but used the same teams throughout. The pace indeed was proverbially so slow in the North of England, that it was jocularly said that the publicans of Furness in Lancashire, when they saw the conductors of the travel- ling merchandise trains appear in sight, on the summit of Wrynose Hill, on their way between Whitehaven and Kendal, would begin to brew their beer, always having a stock of good drink manufactured by the time the travellers reached the village !

It was long after the invention of coaches that a coach-box was added to the body. ' The coachman ' says Mr. Strutt, ' joineth a horse, fixed to match a saddle-horse to the coach tree, then he sitteth upon the saddle, and when there were four horses he drove those which went before him, guiding them with a rein.'

In 1742 the Oxford stage used to leave London at seven a.m., arrived at Uxbridge at midday, and at High Wycombe at five p.m. ; here they slept, and thence pro- ceeded to Oxford the next day. The Dover stage was started in March 1 75 1 , as appears from the copy of an advertisement on opposite page in the ' London Evening Post' of that date. It will be seen that nearly two days were then occupied in the journey from London to Dover. This coach probably became afterwards a day coach, con- tinuing its journey through from Canterbury, and it may have been the first day coach to Dover.

No passengers were then carried on the roof ; and the conveniency referred to behind the coach was evidently the basket in vogue for many years afterwards.

As early as 1754 a company of merchants in Manchester started a new vehicle called ' The Flying-Coach ' ; which designation it seems to have owed to the fact that its proprietors contemplated running it at the accelerated speed of about five miles an hour. Its pretensions are set forth in the following terms :

“However incredible it may appear, this coach will actually (barring accidents) arrive in London in four days and a half after leaving Manchester.”

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(Copy). ' London Evening Post,' March 28, 1751.




For DOVER every Wednesday and Friday from CHRISTOPHER SHAW'S, the 'GOLDEN CROSS,' at four in the morning, to go over Westminster Bridge to ROCHESTER to dinner, to CANTERBURY at night, and to DOVER the next morning early ; will take passengers for


And returns on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Thos. Hartcup. Robt. Legeyt.

Richd. Stradwick. Cath. Pordadge.

There will be a conveniency behind the coach for baggage and outside passengers.



A hundred and twenty years ago there was no regular stage coach from London to Edinburgh, and the Scottish newspapers occasionally contained advertisements, stating that an individual about to proceed to the metropolis by a post-chaise, would be glad to hear of a fellow-adventurer or two, that, by mutual assistance the expense of the journey might be diminished. Before 1754, however, a stage coach was established on the route between the two British capitals ; and in the Edinburgh ' Courant ' for that year it was announced by advertisement that : —

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For the better accommodation of passengers, will be altered to a new genteel two-end glass coach machine, being on steel springs, exceeding light, and easy to go in ten days in summer and twelve in winter ; to set out the


And continue it from HOSEA EASTGATE'S, the 'COACH AND HORSES,' in DEAN STREET, SOHO, LONDON, and from JOHN SOMERVILLE'S, in the CANONGATE, EDINBURGH, every other Tuesday, and meet at BURROW BRIDGE on Saturday night, and set out from thence on Monday MORNING, and get to LONDON and EDINBURGH on Friday. In winter to set out from LONDON to EDINBURGH every other (alternate) Monday morning, and to go to BURROW BRIDGE on Saturday night. Passengers to pay as usual.

Performed, if God permits, by

Your dutiful servant,



The year 1757 saw another ' flying machine on steel springs ' established by the merchants of Liverpool after the example of the Manchester ' Flying Coach.' It was designed to beat, and did beat, the Manchester coach in point of speed, three days only being allowed from Liver- pool to London. Sheffield and Leeds followed with their respective fly coaches ; and by 1 784 these vehicles had become quite common and did their eight miles an hour.




What the art of the coach-builder could achieve when stimulated to its highest efforts by the ambition of pleas- ing royalty, is illustrated by the following description of Her Majesty's state coach. It was built for King George III., and was finished in the year 1761, being the most superb carriage ever built. It was designed by Sir William Chambers, and was executed under his direction. The paintings were executed by Cipriani. The front panel, Britannia seated on a throne, holding in her hand a staff of Liberty, attended by Religion, Justice, Wisdom, Valour, Fortitude, Commerce, Plenty, and Victory, pre- senting her with a garland of laurels ; in the background a view of St. Paul's and the river Thames. The right door, Industry and Ingenuity giving a cornucopia to the Genius of England. The panels on each side of the right door, History, recording the reports of Fame, and Peace, burning the implements of war. The back panel, Neptune and Amphitrite issuing from their palace in a triumphant car, drawn by sea-horses attended by the Winds, Rivers, Tritons, Naiads, &c, bringing the tribute of the world to the British shore. Upper part of back panel is the Royal Arms, beautifully ornamented with the Order of St. George, the rose, shamrock and thistle entwined. The left door, Mars, Minerva and Mercury supporting the Imperial Crown of Great Britain. The panels on each side of left door, the Liberal Arts and Sciences protected. The front and four quarter panels over the paintings are plate glass. The whole of the carriage and body is richly ornamented with laurel and carved work, beautifully gilt. The length twenty-four feet, width eight feet three inches, height twelve feet, length of pole twelve feet four inches, weight four tons. The carriage and body of the coach is composed as follows : — Of four large Tritons which support the body by four braces covered with red moroco leather, and orna- mented with gilt buckles. The two figures placed in front of the carriage bear the driver, and are represented in the action of drawing, by cables extending round their shoulders, and the cranes and sounding shells to an- nounce the approach of the Monarch of the Ocean ; and those at the back carry the imperial fasces topped with tridents. The driver's foot-board is a large scallop shell, ornamented with bunches of reeds and other marine plants. The pole represents a bundle of lances ; the splinter bar is composed of a rich moulding issuing from beneath a voluted shell, each end terminating in the head of a dolphin ; and the wheels are imitated from those of the ancient triumphal chariot. The body of the coach is composed of eight palm trees, which branching out at the top, sustain the roof ; and the four trees at the angles are loaded with trophies, alluding to the victories obtained by Great Britain during the late glorious war, supported by four lions' heads. On the centre of the roof stand three boys representing the Genii of England, Scotland, and Ireland, supporting the Imperial Crown of Great Britain ; and holding in their hands the sceptre, sword of state, and ensigns of knighthood ; their bodies are adorned with festoons of laurels which fall from thence towards the four corners. The inside of the body is lined with rich scarlet embossed velvet, superbly laced and embroidered with gold as follows : In the centre of the roof is the star encircled by the collar of the Order of the Garter, and surmounted by the Imperial Crown of Great Britain ; pendant, the George and Dragon ; in the corners, the rose, shamrock and thistle entwined. The hind lounge is ornamented with the badge of the Order of St. Michael and St. George ; and on the front the badge of the Guelph and Bath ornamented with the rose, shamrock and thistle. The hind seat fall has the badge of St. Andrew, and on the front, the badge of St. Patrick, adorned with the rose, shamrock, thistle, and oak leaf. The hammer-cloth is of the same costly materials. The harness, for eight horses, is made of red moroco leather, and decorated with blue ribbons, the Royal Arms and other ornaments richly gilt.

The following was the ' little bill ' for the same :

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This coach is still used when Her Majesty goes in state, and is drawn by eight cream-coloured horses. It is kept in the Royal Mews, Pimlico.

As a good pendant to the above description of Her Majesty's state coach, I give the following account of Buonaparte's travelling chariot. Though rather off the coaching road, it may furnish hints to those who wish to have a ' convenient ' carriage. The chariot was taken at Waterloo, and was presented to the Prince Regent, by whom it was afterwards sold to Mr. Bullock for 2,500/. It eventually found its way to Madame Tus- saud's Waxwork Exhibition, where it may still be seen.

This very curious and convenient chariot of the first Emperor was built by Symons of Brussels for the Russian campaign, and is adapted for the various purposes of a pantry and a kitchen ; for it has places for holding and preparing refreshments, which by the aid of a lamp could be heated in the carriage. It served also for a bedroom, a dressing-room, an office, &c. The seat is divided into two by a partition about six inches high.

The exterior of this ingenious vehicle is of the form and dimensions of our large English travelling chariot, except that it has a projection in front of about two feet, the right-hand half of which is open to the inside to receive the feet, thus forming a bed, while the left-hand half contained a store of various useful things.

Beyond the projection in front, and nearer to the horses, was the seat for the coachman, ingeniously con- trived so as to prevent the driver from viewing the interior of the carriage, and yet so placed as to afford those within a clear sight of the horses and of the sur- rounding country. Beneath this seat is a receptacle for a box about two and a half feet in length and four inches deep, containing a bedstead of polished steel, which could be fitted up in a couple of minutes.

Over the front windows is a roller blind of strong painted canvas, which when pulled out excluded rain while it admitted air. (This might be an advantageous appendage to all carriages.)

On the ceiling of the carriage is a network for carry- ing small travelling requisites. In a recess there was a secretaire, ten inches by eighteen, which contained nearly a hundred articles presented to Napoleon I. by Maria Louisa, under whose care it was fitted up with every luxury and convenience that could be imagined. It contained besides the usual requisites for a dressing box, most of which were of solid gold — a magnificent breakfast service with plates, candlesticks, knives, forks, spoons, a spirit lamp for making breakfast in the carriage, gold case for Napoleon's gold wash-hand basin, a number of essence bottles, perfumes, and an almost infinite variety of minute articles down to pins, needles, thread, and silk. Each of these articles was fitted into re- cesses most ingeniously contrived, and made in the solid wood, in which they were packed close together, and many one within the other, in such a narrow space that on seeing them arranged it appeared impossible for them ever to be put into so small a compass. At the bottom of this toilet box, in divided recesses, were found 2,000 gold napoleons ; on the top of it were writing materials, a looking-glass, combs, &c, a liqueur case which had two bottles, one of Malaga wine, the other of rum, a silver sandwich box containing a plate, knives, spoons, pepper and salt boxes, mustard pot, decanter, glasses, &c. ; a wardrobe, writing desk, maps, telescopes, arms, &c, a large silver chronometer, by which the watches of the army were regulated, two merino mattresses, a green velvet travelling cap, also a diamond head-dress (tiara), hat, sword, uniform, and an Imperial mantle, &c.




In illustration of the usual speed of travelling in 1766, Lord Eldon states that when he left school in that year to go to Oxford, he came up from Newcastle to London in a coach which was called 'a *fly,' on account of its quick travelling, as it was then thought, but he was three or four days and nights upon the road. There was no such velocity as to endanger overturning or other mischief ; and as a sort of apology for its pace there was printed on the panel of the carriage the phrase ‘Sat cito, si sat bene’. The impression made by this sentence upon the mind of the embryo chancellor was heightened by a circumstance which occurred upon the journey. A Quaker fellow-traveller called the chambermaid to the coach door and gave her sixpence, telling her that he forgot to give it to her when he slept there two years before. Young Scott, who was not characterised by overmuch bashfulness, said to him : ' Friend, have you seen the motto on this coach?' 'No!' ' Then look at it, for I think giving her only sixpence now is ‘neither sat cito, nor sat bene’.

*The continued application of the term ' fly ' to coaches may have been suggested by the following circumstances : In i8c8 a Brighton carpenter, employed at the Pavilion Stables, injured himself, and on his recovery he made a seat on wheels to be drawn about on. The Prince Regent, seeing it, ordered one like it, and this was used by him and his friends in their larks at night. They named it jocosely a fly-by-night. When the carpenter sent the pattern to London with an order for more, the coachbuilder made one for a horse to draw. To this also the designation of a fly was given.

The state of the roads and of the means of com- munication are forcibly and graphically, if not elegantly, depicted by Arthur Young, who travelled in Lancashire about the year 1770. 'I know not,' he says, 'in the whole range of language, terms sufficiently expressive to describe this infernal road. Let me most seriously caution all travellers who may accidentally propose to travel this terrible country to avoid it as they would the devil, for a thousand to one they break their necks or their limbs by overthrows or breakings-down. They will here meet with ruts, which I actually measured, four feet deep, and floating with mud, only from a wet summer, what therefore must it be after a winter ? The only mending it receives is tumbling in some loose stones, which serves no other purpose than jolting a carriage in the most intolerable manner. These are not merely opinions but facts, for I actually passed three carts broken down in these eighteen miles of execrable memory.' Subsequently, in speaking of a turnpike road near Warrington, he says, ' This is a paved road most infamously bad. Any person would imagine the people of the country had made it with a view to immediate destruction, for the breadth is only sufficient for one carriage, consequently it is cut at once with ruts, and you may easily conceive what a breakdown, dislocating road, with ruts cut through a pavement must be.' Such was the style of travelling in Britain about a century ago from the time we write. Truly may we say, ' Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.' Mr. Crossel's denun- ciations of stage coaches in 1662 met with no more respect than the tirade against the introduction of rail- ways in our own times. From a newspaper of the year 1 779, we learn that regular post coaches, as they are called, had begun to run, or we might say creep, from London to Scotland. We find the advertisement on the next page in the newspaper in question.

When we consider that these coaches had no springs we cannot wonder at the journey being ' very tiring.'

Carriages at this period were built and made use of under strange conditions. In illustration I may mention the fact that my great-grandfather, who resided in Somersetshire, wishing to have a coach built in London, was obliged to send the coachbuilder the measurement between the ruts of his roads, that he might have his wheels arranged to run in them. This was the first carriage seen in his part of the world.

King George III. presented a state coach to the Emperor of China, and on its receipt much discussion took place at the Chinese court — a wheeled conveyance never having been seen there before — as to which part should be the seat of honour. The Emperor, after mature deliberation, chose the hammer-cloth for his seat, as being the place, he said, nearest to the moon — there could be no doubt about it. The driver, therefore, was put inside, and the reins were passed through the window !


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ANEW POST COACH sets out from the ' Cross Keys,' Wood Street, London, every evening (Saturday excepted), and arrives at Beck's Coffee House, Carlisle, in three days ; also sets out from Beck's Coffee House, Carlisle, on the same evening, and arrives in three days at the ' CROSS Keys,' London. To accommodate pas- sengers travelling northward and to Ireland A NEW POST COACH, which connects with the above, sets out from ' King's Arms Hotel,' Carlisle, every Tuesday and Thursday morn- ing at six o'clock for DUMFRIES; upon arrival of which at the 'George Inn,' a DILIGENCE sets out for GLASGOW and another for PORTPATRICK. Also a DILIGENCE sets out from Mr. Buchanan's, the 'Saracen's Head,' Glasgow, and another from Mr. Campbell's, Portpatrick, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at four o'clock, to join the said DUMFRIES AND CARLISLE POST COACH, in which seats will be reserved for those travelling southward.

Each inside passenger from Carlisle to Glasgow or Portpatrick to pay^i i6j. 6d., and to be allowed ten pounds weight of luggage ; all above to pay 2d. per lb. Children on the lap to pay half-price. In- sides from Carlisle to Dumfries to pay I is. 8d. ; outsides, 6s. 8d. Small parcels from Carlisle to Portpatrick or Glasgow to pay is. 6d. each ; all upwards of nine pounds to pay 2d. per pound Passengers taken up on the road to pay 4.1/. per mile in both the Coach and Diligence; and for outsides on the Coach 2\d. per mile. Insides from London to Glasgow, ^3 6s. Ditto from Carlisle to Glasgow or Portpatrick, £l 16s. 6d. Total : London to Glasgow or Portpatrick, ^"5 2s. 6d.




One of the most memorable events to be recorded in the Annals of the Road is the introduction of the mail coach system, for which the country was indebted to the late John Palmer, M.P. for Bath. It superseded Mr. Allen's system of post-boys, whose travelling rate was by contract five miles an hour. The mails used to be generally entrusted, says Mr. Palmer, to some idle boy without character, who was mounted on a worn-out hack, and who so far from being able to defend himself or to escape from a robber, was more likely to be in league with him.

Mr. Palmer was aware that sometimes tradesmen sent letters by the stage coach on account of the frequent robberies of the letters sent by the post-boys. ' Why, therefore,' said he, ' should not the stage coach, well protected by armed guards, under certain conditions to be specified, carry the mail bags ? ' This substitution of a string of mail coaches for the ' worn-out hacks ' was the leading feature of his plan. His proposals also included the timing of the mails at each successive stage, so that they might all as far as possible be delivered simultaneously. Again, he proposed that, instead of leaving London at all hours of the night, all the coaches for the different roads should start from the General Post Office at the same time. Thus was established a practice which long afforded to the stranger in London one of the first of City sights.

Mr. Palmer's mail coaches were not put on the road without great opposition and many objections on the part of the gentlemen of the Post Orifice. Notwithstanding his stipulation that mail guards should accompany them well armed, ' Still,' said the opposition, ' there are no means of effectually preventing robbery, as the strongest cart or coach that could be made, lined and bound with iron, might easily be broken into by determined robbers.'

The first mail coach on Palmer's system began running on August 8, 1784. The following order authorising this trial of the mail coach plan was issued on July 24 of that year : 'His Majesty's Postmasters- General, being inclined to make an experiment for the more expeditious conveyance of mails of letters by stage coaches, machines, &c, have been pleased to order that a trial shall be made upon the road between London and Bristol, to commence at each place on Monday the 2nd August next.' It did not, however, begin until the 8th. One coach left London at eight in the morning, reaching Bristol about eleven the same night. The distance between London and Bath was accomplished in fourteen hours. The other coach was started from Bristol at four in the afternoon on the same day. reaching London in sixteen hours. The same day Mr. Palmer was installed at the Post Office under the title of Controller General. Coaches were applied for without loss of time by the municipal authorities of many of our largest towns, Liverpool being the first among them to petition. In most cases they appear to have been granted at once. They were started at the rate of six miles an hour, but this official rate of speed was subsequently increased to eight, to nine, and at length to ten miles an hour.

Soon after the introduction of the mail coaches, public appreciation of the benefits derived from them and of the great importance of the change was marked by the pro- duction of a copper medal, called the ' mail coach half- penny.' On one side it bore a representation of the coach and its team of horses at full speed, with the legend — ' To trade expedition and to property protection ' ; and on the reverse side a dedication as follows : — ' To J. Palmer, Esq. This is inscribed as a token of gratitude for benefits received from the establishment of mail coaches.'

The mails under the new system travelled with great security. For many years after their introduction, not a single attempt was made in England to rob them. In Ireland, however, the new system did not conduce to the greater security of the mails. The first coach was introduced in that country in 1790, and was placed on the Cork and Belfast road ; and was soon followed by others on the main lines of road. Though occasionally accompanied by as many as four armed guards the mail coaches in Ireland were robbed as frequently as the less aspiring post-boys.

The eminent services rendered by Mr. Macadam and his three sons in perfecting the roads contributed greatly to the successful working of the mail coach system. The Postmaster-General, the Secretary of the Post-Office, and the Superintendent of Mail Coaches, testified ' to the direct advantage and great benefit,' that the post-office work received from the good roads which were the result of their united labours.

*The continued application of the term ' fly ' to coaches may have been suggested by the following circumstances : In i8c8 a Brighton carpenter, employed at the Pavilion Stables, injured himself, and on his recovery he made a seat on wheels to be drawn about on. The Prince Regent, seeing it, ordered one like it, and this was used by him and his friends in their larks at night. They named it jocosely a fly-by-night. When the carpenter sent the pattern to London with an order for more, the coachbuilder made one for a horse to draw. To this also the designation of a fly was given.

Such a thing as an unmacadamised road is rarely seen now. The inventor has been playfully designated the ' Colossus of Rhodes ' ! Among the great and obvious advantages for which the country is indebted to Macadam, are, acceleration in the speed of coaches, and the possibility of their keeping time.

Early in the present century it was deemed desirable that all the mail coaches should be both built and furnished on one plan. Hence the ' patent coaches ' as they were then called. For many years, the contract for building and repairing a sufficient number of them was given to Mr. John Yidler, who had suggested many improve- ments in their construction. Although the post-office authorities arranged for the building of the coaches, the mail contractors were required to pay for them ; the revenue bearing only the charges of cleaning, oiling, and greasing them, which amounted to about 2,200l. a year. The official control of the coaches, mail-guards, &c, was

Footnote: See ' Remarks on the Present System of Road-making,' by John Loudon Macadam (London, 1824).



vested in the Superintendent of Mail Coaches, whose head-quarters were at the General Post Office.

In recognition of Mr. Palmer's exertions to improve the postal communication throughout Great Britain by means of his mail coach system, he was presented with a magnificent *silver cup by the Chamber of Commerce and the manufacturers of Glasgow.

*This cup was presented in the summer of 1875 to the mayor and corporation of Bath by Mr. Palmer's granddaughter, in memory of her grandfather, who represented Bath in Parliament for many years, and was also chief magistrate and a native of the city.




Some notice of the details of the working of the new system, of the position, duties and pay of the guards and coachmen, of the furnishing of the coaches, rules of the road, &c, will be interesting to my readers. To these matters I address myself in this chapter.

The guards of the mails received only 10s. a week from Government ; but their perquisites sometimes mounted up to 3l. or 4l. a week when they were at work, and 12s. 6d. when not at work. Bankers entrusted thousands of pounds to their care ; and they often had the charge of plate-chests, jewellery, &c. For these responsibilities they were highly paid. They were armed with a *blunderbuss and a pair of pistols, which were placed in a kind of sword case fixed at the back of the coach in front of their seat. They obtained their appointments on the recommendation of an M.P.

* This was a short gun, having a brass barrel, bell-shaped towards the muzzle. It did not carry very true, as will appear from the following story, told me by Nevill, the old Carlisle mail guard, now employed in the General Post Office : ' Going over Salisbury Plain one severe winter's day, the snow lying deep, I saw some grouse near the road tamed by the weather. I took my blunderbuss, got down, and had a shot at them. They were about forty yards off; but though I pride myself on being a good shot generally, I could not with my piece — loaded as it was with swan shot — get a true line, as the shot hit the ground ioo yards off, flying all over the place.'

They were required to bear a high character, to bring a certificate of health from a doctor, and before getting to work, had to be in the mail coach factory, that they might learn how to repair on a journey, how to rig on a temporary tire, to make up a *broken pole, &C.

*See Instructions for the Mail Guards, Appendix B.

The coachman was under the orders of the guard ; and the latter was furnished with a *time-piece by government, and wore the royal livery. Guards were bound to report on the state of the roads, and in case of any neglect the commissioners were summoned by them before the magistrates.

*This time-piece was fixed in a flat, square brass case. It was set, and the case locked, in London, and the guard wore it in a pouch suspended from his shoulder. It is related of one well-known waggoner, Mr. Ackers, that he was a martinet in time-keeping, and regularly carried a watch screwed into the butt end of his whip.

Should a toll-gate happen to be closed at the time of the passing of the mail, on the evidence of the guard, the keeper would be fined 40-?. On the roof of the coach behind, exactly in front of the guard's seat, rested the guard's tool box, which contained —

·       Three pole bars, one twenty inches long, and two four- teen inches long.

·       At the bottom of the box,

·       Bolts and nuts for ditto,

·       Screw-wrench.

·       Two gimlets or nail passers, one large, called a spike passer, and one small.

·       Spring shackles and their bolts.

·       Axle-bolts.

·       Felloe clips.

·       Two small spoke ditto.

·       One saw, the length of the box, and fastened to the lid.

On the front of this box were hooks to hang the mail bags on, ' bye ' bags, as they were called, that were to be dropped on the road. These bags were of leather, bearing the place of their destination engraved on brass plates. Latterly, when the mails were allowed to carry three passengers on the seat behind the coach- man, besides one on the box and three in front of the *guard, it became necessary to do away with the tool box a'top, and the tools had to be carried elsewhere.

*The Yarmouth mail carried eight outsiders it was a bad road for the mails.

The blunderbuss case also had to be placed as a footboard, on the top of the mail box (called in stage coaches the hind boot). This mail box opened at the top, and at the back, and the lock of the box was thus at the feet of the guard. In case this lock was ever missing from its place, the dismissal of the guard was certain. A light was carried by the guard to enable him to sort the mail bags, separating ' bye ' from ' forward.' One guard that I know carried his light under his seat, so that on opening his mail box he could see what he was at. Some of the mails carried two lamps on either side. The second lamp was sometimes carried at the side of the box-seat panels, but more frequently through the lower step irons of the boot. The round-faced Argand *reflecting lamp, with a round wick, was first brought out by the guard of the Bath mail, Macintyre, now (1875) engaged on the Brighton and London stage coach. The lamp previously in general use had three pipe-like wicks, which were square-fronted.

*Now so generally in use with the three pipe-light wicks.

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One thing to remember is, that when in a fog, your lamps, however good, are useless to you ; for so long as your light is ahead, you will not even see your wheelers' terrets ; turn your lamp sideways, this will show you that you are in your road. In case of a fog the mails were always accompanied through London by men with torches. All the mails but two were night mails ; and the two day mails, of which Brighton was one, were pairhorse coaches.

“Did you ever hear tell of J___n B___l, sir ?' said a guard to me one day. I replied that I had heard of J___n B___l, but never met him in the flesh. All Englishmen and Frenchmen too, for the matter of that, knew of J___n B___l! ' Well,' said my friend, ' he was a mail guard as I was, and a pretty mess he once made of his mails. Put on the Stroud mail one day, he got his orders to take care of them, and not to give them up to anyone. Blest if he didn't go and take the whole lot, including all he picked up on the road, to Stroud and never exchanged a single bag ! When he arrived at his destination he did get a blowing up for not dropping the bags at the proper places ; but all he said was, " I was told not to give up a single bag, and to take every care that no one took them from me, and I have done so." Well, he repeated the game on his up journey, never exchanged a single bag", and the end of it was that he got the sack ! This was not all though ; for using his interest, he was actually appointed, very shortly afterwards an inspector of mail guards. Thus this out-and-out J___n B___l, who was not thought fit to be a mail guard, was made to look after other mail guards.'

The leather mail bags, since changed for canvas bags, date from 1603. They were 'well lined with baize or cotton so as not to injure the letters.”

It may not be generally known that the Queen is the only person who can have a mail bag opened after it has once been closed, the mails being as they are styled, ' Her Majesty's mails.'

So long as the mails were carried by post-boys, it rested with the different post-masters to furnish these post-boys or couriers with ' horns to sound and blow, as oft as the post meets company, or at least four times in every mile.' Thus arose a custom which, under modified arrangements, was strictly observed on mail coaches. The order to the guards of mails was that they were to blow their horns 250 yards before they came to a gate; and the penalty for infringement of this order was 40-5". The coach-horn, ' the three feet of tin,' was placed in a loop on the offside of the coach.

In 1836 there were fifty four-horse mails in England, thirty in Ireland, and ten in Scotland. In England there were besides forty-nine two-horse mails. In the last year of mail coaches, the number which left London every night punctually at eight o'clock was twenty-seven ; and these travelled in the aggregate about 5,500 miles before they reached their several destinations.

The mail coaches were all miled at a usual charge of 2½d. a mile, and were horsed by contract.

The weight of these mails should be *18 cwt. Their fore wheels were 3 ft. 4 in., and their hind wheels 4 ft. 8 in. in diameter.

*A loaded coach (stage) never exceeds three tons. The average weight of twelve passengers and their luggage would be one ton.

All carriages carrying mails or expresses were exempted by Act of Parliament from paying any tolls ; and should any demand be made on any such mail coach by any collector of tolls, or should any toll-keeper obstruct or delay the mail at his turnpike gate, or bar or gate of a walled town, he was to forfeit five pounds for every such offence. The punishment for stopping a mail with intent to rob was transportation for life.

Should the guard of the mail allow anyone to ride in the place appointed for himself, or should he be guilty of any misconduct on a mail coach, or not use his diligence to keep the time, according to the regulations of the Post Office he would be lined twenty pounds on conviction.

The carriage of letters by any but mail coaches or carriages was prohibited.




The dignity of the General Post Office at St. Martin's-le- Grand is carefully guarded by various provisions. There no hackney carriage may stand or ply for hire. No hawker, newsvendor, or idle or disorderly person may stop or loiter on the flagway or pavement ; if they do so, they forfeit for every such offence five pounds.

In 1844, the proprietor of a coach agreed to pay 200l. a-year to the Post Office for the privilege of carrying the mails from Lancaster to Carlisle twice a day, rather than be obliged to ' take off his bars.' In case heavy mails were expected, the General Post Office would secure the two seats behind the box seat, and the guard would make use of the room for his bags. More than six trunks or carpet bags no guard was allowed to take on the roof. This reminds me of a story told me by Mr. Nevill abovementioned. Our friend J n B 1, giving his instructions to a young guard going down to Bristol on the mail, said ' You'll only take portmanteaus, i.e. those things covered with leather or hair.' On his return journey Mr. J___n B___l being there to see (then Inspector of Mail Guards he was), what was seen but a big black dog a top ! Mr. B___l enquired what he could be at to bring a dog on the top of the mail against his order, and right through London too, and up to the very Post Office doors ; and he added, 'Suspend you for a week, sir.' The guard replied, ' You told me, sir, I was only to take anything covered with leather or hair, and this ere's covered with hair.' He was let off his punishment.

There was no duty imposed on mail coachmen or guards as there was on the drivers and guards of the stage coaches. On these the duty is 1l. 5s. per annum. There is a stage coach duty of 1d. a mile for four persons, 4d. a mile for twenty-one persons.

'It was the mail coach,' says De Quincy, ' that dis- tributed over the face of the land, like the opening of apocalyptic vials, the heart-shaking news of Trafalgar, of Salamanca, of Vittoria, of Waterloo.' 1 Dressed in laurels and flowers, oak leaves and ribbons, these coaches took down into the country the first news of any of the numerous victories achieved by English valour on the Continent ; the laurels, the emblem of victory, told the well-known tale throughout the whole course. The great disadvantages of not living near a mail coach road must have been felt at some time at a certain little village in Lancashire, which we are told the news of the battle of Waterloo never reached until near the first anniversary of that memorable fight, when the church bells rang out rejoicing peals. ' The grandest chapter in our experience,' says one who was a systematic coach traveller between 1805 and 1815 (a memorable period for the English arms) ' was on those occasions when we went down from London with the news of victory.'

Daily each part of every coach was very critically inspected by a regular inspector ; every morning they were thoroughly cleaned ; every morning the horses were groomed up to a degree of perfection not usually attained ; and altogether the sight was one which no one seeing could ever forget. Thus, in De Ouincy's words : ' The absolute perfection of all the appointments about the carriage and the harness, their strength, their brilliant cleanliness, their beautiful simplicity, but, more than all, the royal magnificence of the horses, were what first fixed the attention.'

Before 1834, in England only three passengers were allowed by Act of Parliament outside the mails : one on the box seat, and two on the roof immediately behind the box. None were allowed near the guard behind ; this was by way of precaution against robbers. The load on the roof was also regulated by Act of Parlia- ment. Beyond the Scottish Border, however, four passengers were allowed outside, one on the box seat, and three immediately behind it. The guard's dress was, of right, the Royal livery; the coachman would obtain the same honorary distinction after long service. The colour of the mails was crimson (the royal colour) ; the under carriage, box seat, and footboard were painted red ; they bore on their door panels the royal arms only.

On the four upper panels were the orders of: off side, fore, the Bath, hind, St. Patrick; near side, fore, Thistle, hind, Garter. Before the year 1829, from 8p.m. to twenty minutes later, the mails paraded not in *St. Martin's-le-Grand, but in Lombard Street, then the site of the General Post Office, and they filled the street double file. The coaches were summoned up to the Post Office by their names, — Lincoln, Winchester, Portsmouth, Gloucester, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen. The thunder of the lid locked down upon the mails was the signal for each one to depart.

*The present building in St. Martin's-le-Grand was opened on September 25, 1829.




The great clay of the year for the mails was the King's birthday, when a goodly procession of four-in-hands started from the great coach manufactory of Mr. John Vidler, in the neighbourhood of Millbank, and wended its way to St. Martin's-le-Grand. Splendid in fresh paint and varnish, gold lettering and royal arms, they were the perfection of neatness and practical utility in build, horsed to perfection, and leathered to match. They were driven by coachmen who, as well as the guards behind, were arrayed in spic-and-span new scarlet and gold. No delicate bouquets, but mighty nosegays of the size of a cabbage adorned the breasts of these portly mail coachmen and guards, while bunches of cabbage roses decorated the heads of the proud steeds. In the cramped interior of the vehicles were closely packed buxom dames and blooming lasses, the wives, daughters, or sweethearts of the coachmen or guards, the fair passengers arrayed in coal-scuttle bonnets and in canary-coloured or scarlet silks. On this great occa- sion the guard was allowed two seats and the coachman two, no one allowed on the roof. But the great feature after all was that stirring note so clearly blown and well drawn out, and every now and again sounded by the guards, and alternated with such airs as ' The days when we went gipsying,' capitally played upon a key bugle. Should a mail come late, the tune from a passing one would be ' Oh dear ! what can the matter be ? ' This key bugle was no part of the mail equipment, but was, nevertheless, frequently used.

Heading the procession was the oldest established mail, which would be the Bristol. On the King's birth- day, 1834, there were twenty-seven coaches in the pro- cession. They all wore hammer-cloths, and both guard and coachman were in new red liveries, the latter being furnished by the mail contractor. They wore beaver hats with gold lace and cockades. Such a thing as a low billycock hat was not to be seen on any coach, or anywhere. Sherman's mails were drawn by black horses, and on these occasions their harness was of red morocco.

The coaches were new each year. In these days brass mountings were rarely known, plated or silver only were in use. On the starting of the procession the bells of the neighbouring churches rang out merrily, continuing their rejoicing peals till it arrived at the General Post Office. Many country squires, who were always anxious that their best horses should have a few turns in the mail coaches in travelling, sent up their horses to figure in the procession.

From Millbank the procession passed by St. James's Palace, at the windows of which, above the porch, stood King William and his Queen. The Duke of Richmond (then Postmaster-General) and the Duke of Wellington stood there also. Each coach as it passed saluted the King, the coachman and guard standing up and taking off their hats. The appearance of the smart coaches emblazoned with the royal arms, orders, &c, coach- man and guard got up to every advantage, with their nosegays stuck in their brand-new scarlet liveries, was at this point strikingly grand. The Inspectors of mail coaches rode in front of the procession on horseback.




The fact of the occasional use of the key- bugle on mail coaches has been questioned, and curiously conflicting evidence on the subject was given in a series of contro- versial letters which appeared in ' The Field ' in the summer of 1873. In the first of these letters, ' Ex-Mail- Coachman,' then in his eighty- first year, positively asserts that ' no bugle was allowed on the mails ; the only in- strument used was the long, straight horn, blown by the guard only when occasion required it/ In the next letter, signed ' E. L. L.' regret is expressed ' at the gradual supplanting of the fine old key-bugle by the cornopean. The old order changeth,' he says, 'yielding place to new in most things, and in not a few I think we must confess " the old is better." E. L. L. remembered first hearing the key-bugle in his boyhood, 'when travelling up to Eton from the lower part of Devon- shire three times in each year,' and he states that there were then many good performers on the road, and that among them Jack Goodwin was his especial favourite. The use of the key-bugle is positively asserted in an interesting letter signed ' John Page, Manchester.' His statement is as follows :

' Sir, — I am old enough to remember the cheery sounds of the key bugle as played upon some of our crack coaches of forty years ago, and, like " Deadfall," much regret that those sounds have died away. How Prettyman, guard of one of the Manchester coaches, used to wake the echoes in some of the sleepy agricultural villages we passed through in those days ! Brandt, also, on the Leicester " Union," was an accomplished player, and could bring many to the windows and doors of their houses by the sweet music of his bugle. Brandt was also a scholar, and as great a favourite with gentlemen going down to the head-quarters of the hunt as he was with the pretty lasses of Dunstable. There was also a fine bugler on one of the Birmingham coaches, the " Tally-ho," I think, and another on a Nottingham coach, which, if my memory is not at fault, was called the " Highflyer." The Brighton coaches also had some good players in the days of Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Jones, and Sir Vincent Cotton. I think it probable that an " Ex- Mail-Coachman " may be correct in stating that bugles were not allowed on mail coaches, and L. R. P. may be right also in saying that he has heard the bugle played on the Holyhead mail. I have seen hundreds of mails depart from St. Martin's-le-Grand when old Sherman kept the " Bull and Mouth," with its great coach yard and wonderful stables, but I cannot call to mind any instru- ment being played upon them except the straight mail horn. Yet I knew one guard who had a bugle snugly stowed away, and brought out to the delight of the people who lived clear away from the smoke. One of the guards alluded to could imitate the voices of different animals, and I have seen the large " Spanish Jack," then in the possession of the Duke of Bedford at Woburn, gallop after the coach to find he had been made an ass of, the lad on his back going to post grinning from ear to ear, and the whole thing affording much fun to the genus Joskin as well as the passengers. I could con- siderably extend these reminiscences — to me the theme is a genial one — but I must pull up. There have been changes since those days. How many of the smart whips, then in their prime, have taken the box for the last time on their down journey !

' And the grass grows as green on the graves of most of these buglers as it does in front of some of the old wayside and now deserted hostelries they knew so well.

' John Page.

' Manchester.'

' J. S.,' another correspondent, remembered hearing the key-bugle played by the guard on the mail coach between Portpatrick and Ayr, and also on the mail between Limerick and Tralee. ' L. R. P.' puts on record his boyish recollections of a guard on the royal mail from Holyhead to London playing on a key-bugle when passing his father's house on the outskirts of Chester. He especially calls to mind that on Sunday evening the guard did honour to the day by ' treating us to the " Old Hundredth," and well he played it too.' He adds the testimony of his mother, eighty years of age, and in full possession of her faculties, who remembered quite well that when she lived at Kegworth, in Leicester- shire, ' the guard of the mail used to enliven the village by playing airs as the mail passed through.' This letter called forth a second from ' Ex-Mail-Coachman,' in which he disavows any wish to doubt the statement of L. R. P. as to having heard the bugle played by the guard of the Holyhead Mail, but he adheres to his former assertion that ' the bugle was no part of the mail. The tin horn,' he says, ' was there, whether for the purpose of raising up the old pikeman in the dead of night to have his gate open, to warn the next change, or to let the market gardener who was fast asleep on the shafts of his cart know that the whole of the road was not his perquisite, and also to inform him that Her Majesty's mail, half an hour late, and going at twelve miles an hour, was close behind him. Let L. R. P. look at the mail pictures painted by Henderson, so correct in every detail, from the check rein on the raking leader to the drab overalls of the guard, and tell me if he can find the slightest trace of a bugle.' It is then pointed out by the writer of the original communication to ' The Field,' which gave rise to the correspondence, that he spoke of the use of key- bugles on a special occasion, namely that of the procession of mail coaches from Millbank, Westminster, to the General Post Office. He adds that he remembers seeing when a boy, in the shop of a musical instrument maker in Westminster, on more than one occasion, a lot of key- bugles laid out ready for the use of the mail guards on the occurrence of the annual procession. He admits ' that the mail regulations limited the guards to the post-horn only,' but very much doubts whether the rule was rigidly enforced. ' Deadfall ' next takes part in the discussion, but only to indulge in an old man's pleasant dreams and glorify the far-off past. He goes into a rapture over the bugle. ' What memories does the mere mention of the bugle call up ? I remember the time when Goodwin (" Jack Goodwin " he was always called) or either of the two Blights could stop the whole business of a market by playing in magnificent style some really good air just as the coach would be starting after a change. I fancy I hear Goodwin playing " Or che in cielo," from the opera of Marino Faliero while I am writing this letter! It is a solo which every cornet- player should get. I heard it on the bugle for the first and only time in 1845. What a pity that so fine an instrument should be supplanted ! It's " round " tone has never yet been rivalled, and if ever I become a million- aire I will have a band of my own with the lead on six bugles. The appearance of a well-kept bugle was always so good. W r hat could be handsomer than the black shining copper of the instrument itself, and the inch ol polished brass round the bell, and its seven bright keys ? But I'm recalling old scenes and old days which, by-the- bye, I have the temerity to compare in my own mind with the present days of " progress," and I do not give the preference to the latter. I have a key-bugle hanging up in my sanctum, and I also have a cornopean quietly reposing in its case under the bookshelves, but I cast admiring looks at the fine old bugle, and shades of Goodwin, the Blights, Mackintosh, and the leader in my old regiment, cum multis a/us, flit across my " mind's eye " and I wish myself thirty years younger.'

' Jack Goodwin ' brings up the rear of the controversialists, feeling himself highly honoured in having his name associated with three such splendid performers on the bugle as the Blights and Mackintosh, named in ' Deadfall's ' letter. He gives us also a bit of his bio- graphy, and a pathetic bit it is too, stating that ' In consequence of a " tip" from off the Kingsbridge coach I had my spine injured, consequently unsuited for an active life, also a slight paralysis of the speech which does away with all bugling. Seven years past I accepted a situation with Mr. Ramsden, cigar merchant, to super- intend his billiard room in Old Town Street, Plymouth, the oldest establishment in the three towns.'

From all these letters, and from what Macintyre, the guard of the London and Brighton coach, has told me, viz. that when he was the guard of the Brighton mail, and in the procession on May 24, 1834, he was requested by the Inspector- General of Mails to play on his key-bugle, we may take the fact as established that key-bugles were permitted. Macintyre further told me that key-bugles, the ' three feet of tin,' the angel (a shorter horn), and whatever musical instruments were used, were the property of the guard and provided by him. This would account for the circumstance of some mails having them and some not.




The certificate of health which all mail guards were required to show before getting to work, was most necessary, for their work was hard indeed (*See Appendix B). These guards were noted for their strength and endurance. At the end of a journey of 120 or 150 miles, a guard might be compelled, should the succeeding guard, owing perhaps to snow accident or illness, fail to meet him, to go on to the end of the next stage, frequently another 150 miles. During the winter the mail guards were furnished with a 'Snow Book,' in which they were to record when it was necessary to obtain leaders, chaises, or saddle horses, on account of the snow, and whence such assistance was had, &c. Of their pay 10s. a week when at work on a mail) they could save very little, were they ever so economical. There was the mail-coach porter to pay, who took charge of their tool-box, the seat cover, and box coat, cleaned and loaded their two horse-pistols and the blunderbuss (these were loaded afresh for each journey), and cleaned their long boots, which had tops to put on for London wear ; and there was oil to buy for their hand lamp. All this alone cost each guard 5s. a-week. Still it was better to be at work on 10s. than to be a 'supernumerary ' on 12s. 6d. a week, having to attend the Post Office all day long in readiness to go off; for the guard generally expected 2s. a-piece from outside and 2s. 6d. from inside passengers, besides what he could get for extra luggage, &c. All fares under 3s. the guard and coachman were allowed to divide between them. Election time was good for them, for the 'last state of the poll ' was always worth 5s.

The passenger rates on stages were generally from 2½d. to 3d. a mile for outsides, and for insides about 4½d. to 5d. Mail charges were much higher, viz. from 4½d. to 5d. outside, and 8d. to 10d. inside.

The expense of horsing a ten-mile-an-hour mail was from 55s. to 3l. per double mile for twenty-eight days. Say if 3l. per double mile, the mail, to pay, must earn 390l. a year of thirteen lunar months.

It required eight horses in summer and nine in winter to horse a mail or stage ten miles of ground to do ten miles an hour.

In connection with these details of the services and remuneration of those employed on the road, we may refer to the various driving clubs, which from time to time have been founded by those interested in coaching affairs. Some have had for their object the gratification of the passion for the whip, others the raising of the standard of skill in the class of coachmen, amateur or professional, and others some benevolent purpose.

The B. D. C, or Benson Driving Club, which took its name from Benson or Bensington, in Oxon, on the Worcester road, forty-six miles from London, was an aristocratic club for those who cherished a fondness for the road. It was established on February 28, 1807. Nimrod gives all information respecting it from its foundation, and remarks truly how much the road owes to the existence of such clubs as these.

To the members of this club belongs the credit of being the chief means of establishing the Benevolent Whip Club for the relief of coachmen in distress. And I am indebted to Colonel Charles Tyrwhitt — a dragsman who will be recognised as ' Charley Tyrwhitt,' who used frequently to drive the 'Age,' and the 'Windsor Taglioni ' — for the following details. ' The old B. D. C. continued to exist for a short time after the death of Sir Henry Payton — the grandfather of the late Sir Algernon — I think until about 1853-4. -The ''Black Dog " at Bedfont, which no longer exists, used to be the place where the Club always *dined, and where they had their private cellar.'

*After Benson was given up.

The Four Horse Club (called erroneously the Whip Club and the Four-in-Hand Club) started into existence in May 1808. See the history of this club by Nimrod, from which it appears that it ceased to exist before 1826.

It was broken up in consequence of the death of many of the members, and the advanced age of several others.

A new driving club was formed under the auspices of Lord Chesterfield on June 2, 1838, which was called the Richmond Driving Club (R. D. C), it being determined to revive in its former glory and splendour this national institution which has served as an encouragement to the breeding of the finest cattle in the world. This club met always at Chesterfield House (Lord Chesterfield, the promoter, being the Hon. Sec), and drove to the ' Castle,' at Richmond, where they dined.

' You may not know,' writes his grace the Duke of Beaufort, ' One member of the R. D. C. was celebrated for being " dangerous," and never could get a passenger. One night after dining at the ' Castle' at Richmond, a passenger of another coach by mistake climbed on to his box. He was so pleased that he started immediately. The passenger looked up, and seeing that it was Mr. A who had hold of the ribbons, never hesitated an instant, but jumped straight from the box into the middle of the road.' This club had but a short existence.

Captain Gronow in his ' Celebrities,' writing of these times, says, — ' In the days of which I speak there were amateur coachmen, who drove with unflinching regularity, and in all weathers, the public stage-coaches, and de- lighted in the opportunity of assimilating themselves with professional Jehus. Some young men, heirs of large landed proprietors, mounted the box, handled the ribbons, and bowled along the high road. They touched their hats to their passengers ; and some among them did not disdain even the tip of a shilling or half-a-crown, with which it was the custom to remunerate the coachman. Many persons liked travelling to Brighton in the " Age " which was tooled along by Sir Vincent Cotton, whilst others preferred Charley Tyrwhitt. On the Holyhead and Oxford, and the Bath and Bristol roads, Lord Harborough, Lord Clonmell, Sir Thomas Mostyn, Sir Charles Bamfylde, Sir Felix Agar, Sir Henry Parnell, Sir Bellingham Graham, Mr. Clutterbuck, Sir John Ladd, and other members of the Four-in-Hand Club were seen either driving the coach or sitting cheek by jowl with the coachman, talking about horses or matters relating to " life upon the road." One of the members of the Four-in- Hand, Mr. Vickers, was so determined to be looked upon as a regular coachman, that he had his front teeth so filed that a division between them might enable him to expel his spittle in the true fashion of some of the most know- ing staee coach drivers ! '

April 1856 saw the formation of the present ' Four-in- Hand Driving Club' (F. H. D. C), a proof of the undying love of coaching on the part of many distinguished leaders of fashion. To the late Mr. William Morritt (a dragsman whose roans and yellow coach will not easily be forgotten) is the starting of this club due. The fol- lowing is a list of the original members of the club :

The Duke of Beaufort, Marquis of Stafford, Earl Vane, Lord Edward Thynne, Lord Henry Thynne, Sir Watkin W. Wynn, W. Morritt, C. Leslie, Captain Baillie, R.H.G., W. Cooper, W. Craven (1st Life Guards), W. P. Thornhill, J. I. Jones, R.H.G. ; J. L. Baldwin and L. Agar Ellis, Secretaries.

By the rules of the F. H. D. C. no coach is permitted to pass another unless the latter be standing still. The pace is not to exceed ten miles an hour. The order for starting is arranged by lot; Hyde Park is the starting point. The club is limited to thirty members, and should a member be absent from the club for a whole year, he ceases to be a member.

' Recreation,' says the great Mr. Locke, in 'Sports and Pastimes.' is not being idle; and he who thinks it is must forget the early rising, the hard riding, the heat, cold, and hunger, which sportsmen endure. The life of a sportsman is congenial to pleasure, for it is passed amidst those scenes of nature which excite the most generous emotions ; and the character of a sportsman is generally liberal and benevolent, and if he reap no other benefit than health from his sports he is well paid. Whatever may be the object he has in view, he should pursue it con amore, or it is flat and insipid.'

Some such noble thoughts as these, coupled with the growing taste for the road, and the exclusiveness of the Four-in-Hand Club, probably occurred to those gentle- men who in 1870 became the promoters of a new driving club called the 'Coaching Club,' which started under the best auspices. Its first public appearance was most promising, for I saw twenty-two coaches drawn up in Hyde Park on that occasion. As was expected, it flourished.




That the road was not a pleasure to all, and chiefly in consequence of the existence of galloping coaches and amateur coachmen, may be gathered from the following letter entitled ' The Road and its Dangers ' which appeared in the 'Sporting Magazine' for October 1822. The ' Old Traveller ' certainly has not a very high opinion of the road as a gentlemanly pastime; and his fears of a ' case ' may not have been without foundation.

' I have long considered your entertaining miscellany as the only vehicle for all that is passing in the sporting world worthy of record ; but you have lately quitted the field, and got where many before you have made a conspicuous figure, namely, on the road. Who your correspondent Nimrod is, I do not pretend to conjecture ; but I dare say he is one of those gentlemen coachmen, who a few years ago, not much to the credit of the English nation, and with a kind of perverted ambition, figured away through our streets in processions, on their road to Salt- Hill, or some other place of resort, in their white hats, and upper benjamins, driving their four spanking horses, in close imitation of their inferiors. Mr. Nimrod, I hear my friends observe, (who know more of this matter than myself) is, no doubt, a coachman, and I dare say, one who has paid dearly for his knowledge, though it must be admitted, he imparts it freely and agreeably, to those who may wish to obtain it. He tells us how we are to do that, in every department of his favourite science, if it may be so called. But, Mr. Editor, I wish you would have the goodness to request that he will inform us how we are to travel fifty miles by a coach without having our necks broken, or our limbs shattered and amputated? It is really heartrending to hear of the dreadful accidents that befall His Majesty's subjects now on their travels through the country. In my younger days, when I was on the eve of setting out on a journey, my wife was in the habit of giving me her parting blessing, concluding with the words " God bless you, my dear, I hope you will not be robbed." But it is now changed to " God bless you, my dear, I hope you will not get your neck broke, and that you will bring all your legs safe home again." Now, Mr. Editor, this neck-breaking and leg-amputating is all because one daring rascal wishes to show that he is a better coachman than another daring rascal; or because one proprietor on the road is determined not to be out- done by another proprietor on the road.

' Neither can I think, sir, that such writers as Mr. Nimrod mend the matter much. By a lively and technical description of these galloping coaches, he makes many a young man fancy himself a coachman, from which cause many an old man gets capsized and hurt. For



example : A friend of mine coming up to town a short time since, by one of these galloping coaches, was upset and much injured. On going to sympathise with him on his misfortune, he informed me that the accident was occasioned by the leaders taking one road and the wheelers another, so between them both, over they went. " My God ! " said I, " what was the coachman about ; was he asleep or drunk ?" " Neither," replied my friend, " he had nothing to do with it ; a young Oxonian was driving." Now, Mr. Editor, it is not at all improbable but that this Oxonian had been reading your magazine the night before, instead of his classics, and went the next day to put his theory into practice, by which my friend, a very worthy man, the father of a large family, nearly lost his life.

' Whoever takes up a newspaper in these eventful times, it is even betting whether an accident by a coach, or a suicide, first meets his eye. Now really, as the month of November is fast approaching, when, from foggy weather and dark nights, both these calamities are likely to increase, I merely suggest the propriety of any unfortunate gentleman, resolved on self-destruction, try-' ing to avoid the disgrace attached to it, by first taking a few journeys by some of these Dreadnought, Highflyer, or Tally-ho coaches ; as in all probability he may meet with as instant death as if he had let off one of Joe Man- ton's pistols in his mouth, or severed his head from his body with one of Mr. Palmer's best razors.'

In the reign of King George III., a stage coach, driven by one *Williams, and going over Hounslow Heath on the road between Reading and London, was stopped by a highwayman, who, riding up, demanded money of the passengers. A lady gave up her watch, a gent his purse ; and away goes the highwayman, followed, however, by Williams (the bold) on one of the leaders, who ' nailed ' and brought him back to the coach, on which he was placed and taken to Staines. This occurred on a Tuesday ; the hearing before the magistrates took place on Wednesday ; or Thursday he was in Newgate ; on Friday he was tried and sentenced to be hung on Monday. Williams then got up a memorial, petitioning for a reprieve ; and on this being presented to His Majesty the sentence was commuted to transportation for life. The King was so pleased with Williams' daring, that he presented him with a key of Windsor Park gate, to be used by him and his descendants so long as they drove a coach from Reading to London. This royal authority allowed them to pass through the park instead of going by the turnpike road.

Winter had its severities in the days of the old mail- coach. The Bath coach entered Chippenham one March morning in 1812, near the beginning of the month, with two of its outside passengers dead, and a third dying. The three travellers were frozen to death. We learn the fact from a letter written to Sir George Jackson by his mother, within a few days of the occurrence.

*His great-grandson drove a stage coach called the ' Vivid ' (one of Benjamin Worthy Home's) from the Cross-keys, Wood Street, and Charing Cross to Exeter. Jack Goodwin, the well-known guard and player on the key-bugle, was guard to this coach.

In January 18 14, the mail coach from Edinburgh had to be left behind, the bags being forwarded to Alnwick on horse-back, and eight horses were required to draw the 'Wellington' coach from York to Newcastle.

The ostler at the ' Bull Inn,' Dartford, on the Dover Road — which inn, by the way, is one of those old galleried houses so picturesque and at the same time so comfort- able and homely — told me that he had frequently seen boys lifted frozen from off their saddles on getting into the yard. During the severe winter of 1863, I saw the Norwich and Cromer coach leave the inn at Norwich, drawn by eight horses- — the late eccentric Mr. Wyndham used often to drive this coach. The pack-horse and the waggon, the stage coach and the mail, have all had to succumb to the rage of winter. The patience, diligence, and self-sacrifice of guards of mails were conspicuous in the fearful snow-storms in 1836. A mail coach having travelled in Scotland during a driving snow-storm as far as it could advance, the guard, as was the custom in such cases, took the bags with him on horse-back for nine miles farther. And then the horse sinking deeper at every step, was sent back to the coach, while the rider (I should like to know his name), essaying to carry the bags on foot, was found with them around his neck next morning quite dead. During the winter months, a snow shovel was always carried on the mail ; it was strapped, handle downwards, at the back of the guard's seat.

The fearful snowstorm of December 1836, which lasted the best part of a week, has never been equalled in England before or since. For ten days or more travelling was nearly at a standstill. ' Never before,' writes a correspondent of the ' Times ' of that day, ' never before within recollection was the London mail stopped for a whole night at a few miles from London, and never before have we seen the intercourse between the southern shores of England and the Metropolis interrupted for two whole days.' The guards represented the night of Sunday, December 25, of that year as one of the severest they had ever experienced, and this was saying a great deal. Scarcely a single stagecoach left London either on the 26th or the 27th, and arrivals from the country were as rare. For the heavy fall of snow during Christmas night was not limited to the Metropolis, but extended generally over the whole kingdom. The roads leading to Portsmouth and Poole were the only ones that remained open throughout this storm. The depth of the drifts in the hollows of most roads was reported to be from twelve to twenty feet. Some passengers described the drifts as ' mountains high,' and some of the coachmen stated that the snow in places was higher than their heads as they sat on the box. The King was, at the time, at Brighton, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the despatches were transmitted between London and the Pavilion. The few guards and coachmen who were fortunate enough to reach London on the 28th stated that it was not so much the quantity of snow fallen which created the difficulty, as the strong wind, which drove all the snow off the high lands into the hollows The Brighton mail, a pair-horse coach, left town on the night of the 25th with four horses. The Edinburgh mail started with six horses, and the Holyhead and Halifax were drawn by four horses with postilions. The stables of the coach proprietors in and around London were completely exhausted of cattle, owing to the non-arrivals from the country. As it was doubtful whether any of the mails would start, the proprietors of the principal coach inns in London refused to book passengers. The guard of the Exeter mail (by Yeovil), which started from Exeter on the night of the 26th, stated that they were buried in snow at five different places, and had to be dug out ! The town of St. Albans was completely full of mails and coaches which could neither be got up nor down the road. It was said that on the 27th there were fourteen mail coaches abandoned on the various roads. In all cases the bags were removed, and the horses extricated, the mail coach being then abandoned until the change of weather commenced. In open parts of the country all trace of the mail road was lost, and the coachman was obliged in several instances to travel by guess, or trust to the instinct of his horses.

The great exertions made by the guards and coachmen of the mails on all the roads throughout the country, and the unparalleled privations and fatigues which they underwent, called forth the following thanks of the Postmaster-General :

' To the mail guards — to be delivered by the Post- masters —

' I have hourly proofs of the great exertions made by the guards to get the mails forwarded through the snow, and almost wonders have been performed ; this is most gratifying to the Postmaster-General. I am assured their exertions will be continued, and I pray they may not be to the injury of the health of the men respec- tively. I direct their attention to the plan of the* snow plough, which may be seen at the Post Office. I re- quest the coaches which may be about the country, out of course, may be sent to their proper destinations.

(Signed) ' George Louis,

' Surveyor and Superintendent.'

*This plough was of triangular form, and was made of planks, with braces crossed to hold them together. The nose, or point, of the plough was shod with iron, and had also a shackle, to which hung whippings or bars, by which the horses drew it. It was made from four to six feet deep, according to the depth of the snow. No bottom was needed ; but it was laden on the top with planks, laid across, to give sufficient weight to keep it down to the ground. It was a very efficient implement.

It was found that the best means of saving horses from falling was to fill the hoof in the interior of the shoe with soft soap. This soap not only prevents the accumulation of snow, but by its repulsive properties prevents the horse's foot from slipping. By the 28th the roads were, by constant labour, partially cleared, and the mail contractors were generally ready to book passengers again, but still with the stipulation that they should bring no luggage.

It was reported in London at noon on December 26, that the Manchester, Holyhead, Chester and Halifax mails had stuck fast in the snow drifts at Hockley- Hill near Dunstable. In the background of this picture is the Chester mail. An attempt had been made, by the

help of waggon horses, to draw it out of the snow, but the fore axle gave way, and the coach was left behind ; the bags were forwarded by a post-horse. The Holy- head mail in the foreground, was awkwardly situated, for the horses were all but buried in attempting to pull the coach out of the drift. The coachman got down and almost disappeared in the drift upon which he alighted ; but fortunately at this juncture a waggon with four horses came up, and by attaching them to the mail it was eot out of the hollow in which it was sunk.

In 1825 was established the celebrated stagecoach, the ' Shrewsbury Wonder,' which maintained its character for punctuality, safety, and speed for thirteen years. It was the first that attempted to perform so long a journey as 154 miles in one day ; in fact, as well as in name, it was the wonder of the day. Starting at a quarter to five o'clock in the morning, it arrived in London at a quarter to ten that night, stopping twice for refreshments. On the completion of the railroad between Birmingham and London, the ' Wonder ' ran from Shrewsbury to Birmingham whence it was conveyed to London on the railroad.

A group of people sitting in the snow

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Here is a good picture of Piccadilly, in the neighbour- hood of the White Horse Cellar, in 1829, drawn by Pierce Egan, author of the clever and humorous book ' Life in London; or, the Adventures of Tom, "Jerry," and Logic' :

' It is highly necessary for persons who are quitting London at the above rendezvous for stage coaches to be alert, for their attention is so much occupied by the sur- rounding objects, that the passengers have scarcely time to think of themselves.

' To the strange and timid female the bustle and noise . of the scene is extremely annoying ; the almost perpetual blowing of horns, the arrival and departure of numerous stage-coaches, the busy, impertinent, resolute cads, also on the look-out to procure passengers, persuading them nearly against their inclinations to mount "this," or "that 'ere coach," with which their interests are connected ; men with newspapers, others with umbrellas, oranges, pencils, walking-sticks, &c, form a most extraordinary assemblage, and absorb the whole attention ; indeed the ignorant are very liable to make mistakes, and in more instances than one, it has been discovered too late to rectify the error. When many miles out of town they have had the mortification of learning - they have gone by a wrong coach.' What a blow the exceedingly fat gentleman must have experienced when, having given strict orders to his man to take him two seats, he found that one was booked outside and one in !

' The mistakes and blunders which are sometimes committed by travellers generally arise from the want of proper attention on the part of the book-keepers and porters, who are generally very sparing in their infor- mation.' A ludicrous occurrence, writes Jehu, once happened to a friend of mine who was extremely near- sighted. This gentleman was dining on the road, and on resuming his journey happened to get into a wrong coach and was carried about twenty miles out of his way before he discovered his mistake. As soon, however, as it was discovered, he observed to the coachman, that as his lug- gage which was travelling by the other coach was labelled, he supposed it would go safe; upon which coachee replied there was no doubt of it, and that if he had been labelled he would have gone safe also '

It must be remembered that the period during which the short stages ran in and about London preceded the introduction of omnibuses. On this subject the following statement by an old hand may have some interest. ' I ought to know,' he says, ' something about 'buses and 'busmen ; for I have been on the journey ever since I was the height of your walking-stick. When I was a little chap I used to sleep among the parcels in the boot of a Paddington and City stage-coach. That was long before the 'buses came up. There used to be stage- coaches on the main lines that are now worked by the 'buses. They were just like an old country stage-coach. They were mostly in fact, old stage-coaches, only they had but a pair of horses instead cf four. There is an old pattern stage-coach on the stones to this day ; it comes in from Brixton Hill, and you may see it crossing London Bridge any morning. The coaches used to carry six inside, and twelve outside, and the fare was sixpence between Paddington and the City. They had no conductors, the coachman managed everything along with his parcel boy. The parcel traffic, which used to be worth something, was a perquisite of the coachman, and he had a boy to manage it, whom he paid himself; eighteenpence a week was about the figure. The boy rode in the boot along with the parcels ; and sometimes he was paid by a share of the parcel profits. The coaches were owned by private people — publicans, stable- keepers and the like. The largest owner was a Mrs. Nelson (the spirited Mrs. Nelson, perhaps the most spirited coach proprietor that ever put a horse to a coach), the landlady of the "Spread Eagle" in Gracechurch Street, whose family owned the " Favourite " 'buses till they were taken over by the Company. Their pace wasn't very lively ; you see the roads were not so good as now, and the competition wasn't very keen. About four and a half miles an hour was the pace, and the coaches used to stop an hour at each end of the journeys. The great head-quarters for the Paddington stage-coaches were at the " Yorkshire Stingo ; " and almost all of the West-end coaches in these days, used to stop in St. Paul's Churchyard, instead of going down Cheapside to the Bank. They were well patronised, the old coaches, and several fine fortunes have been made out of them.'




Fifty years ago, the state of coaching in remote country districts, and especially in the northern counties, presented in many respects a great contrast to its state near London. The progress of improvement had been much slower, and the country turn-outs were not so ' bang-up ' as the London ones.

' The build of the coaches,' says Nimrod, in 'Yorkshire Tour.'  who, in 1827 took the York coach at Leeds, ' the manufacture of the harness, and the stamp and condition of the horses are greatly inferior in these northern counties ; and as for the coachmen, I saw but four at all deserving that appellation. The man who drove us on the day I am speaking of reminded me more of a Welsh drover than anything else. He had neither gloves, boots, nor gaiters, although the day was cold, which at first excited my surprise ; but when I found that he only drove one ten- mile stage, I ceased to wonder, as a glass of gin on leaving the town, one on the road, and towelling his wheel horses, kept his blood on the move for the short time he was at work. As I sat by the side of him he was kind enough to amuse me with some hair-breadth escapes he had experienced when on one of those gallop- ing - opposition coaches, which more than once went from Leeds to London, one hundred and ninety-six miles, in sixteen hours. But I soon lamented having introduced the subject. I accidentally told him he must be a pro- ficient on the bench, or he would not have been put on so fast a coach ; and this was near being our death- warrant. To give me a specimen of his art, he sprung his horses into a gallop, on some falling ground, and in a clumsy attempt to pull them up by the leg he got his reins clubbed, and I thought nothing could have saved us. I shammed sick and got into the coach. But the novelty of the scene did not end here. When we came to Tadcaster, only ten miles from York, the door of the coach was opened, and " Please to remember the coachman" tingled in the ears of the passengers. "What now," said I, " are you going no farther?" " No sir, but ah's (Yorkshire for ' I ') goes back at night," was the Yorkshireman's answer. " Then you follow some trade here, of course?" continued I. " No, sir," said a bystander, il ke has got his horses to clean." "Oh, that's the way your Yorkshire coaching is done, is it?" said I to my communicative friend on the pavement. I then saw my fellow passengers pull out sixpence each and give it to John, who was not only satisfied, but thankful. "What am I to do?" said I to myself, "I never gave a coachman six- pence yet, and I shall not begin that game to-day." So I chucked him a bob, which brought his hat down to the box of the fore-wheel.

' With a fresh team and a fresh driver (it will not do to use the word " coachman " upon all occasions), we proceeded to York fourteen miles farther. About half-way the coach stopped at a public-house in the old style ; the coachman got down, the gin bottle was produced. Looking out of the window I espied my friend John, whom I thought we had left behind us at Tadcaster, hard at work with the wisp. " What," said I, " are you here?" "Why yes," answered John; "'tis market at York, and ah's wants to buy a goose or two." " Ah," observed I, " I thought you were a little in the huckstering line.




In recalling those old times it is interesting to form an acquaintance with the actors in them. Some remi- niscences of them are to be found in the volumes of the ' Sporting Magazine ' of forty or fifty years ago, which introduce us to the most celebrated coachmen of mails and stage-coaches. The first of these whom I shall present to my readers is one Cartwright, who drove the York Express coach from Buckden to Welwyn. He is thus described by a writer who signs himself Peter Pry:

' Mr. Cartwright drives the York Express coach from Buckden to Welwyn and back every day, about seventy miles, for one or two stages of which he provides horses. He has done this for many years, with scarcely any intermission. I consider him under fifty years of age, bony, without fat, healthy-looking, evidently the effect of abstemiousness ; not too tall, but just the size to sit gracefully and powerfully, as well as to render his getting up and down easy. The moment he has got his seat and made his start, you are struck at once with the perfect mastership of his art : the hand just over his left thigh, the arm without constraint, steady, and with a holding" command that keeps his horses like clockwork, yet to a superficial observer quite with loose reins. So firm and compact is he, that you seldom observe any shifting ; only, I may say, to take a shorter purchase for a run down hill, which he accomplishes with greater confidence and skill than any man I ever saw, untinctured with imprudence. His right hand and whip (now I want Nimrod) are beautifully in unison : the cross, if not in direct line with the box, over the near wheel, raised gracefully up, ready, as it were, to reward the near-side horse ; the thong, after three twists (just enough sus- pended for the necessary purpose), which appear in his hand to have been placed by the maker, never to be altered or improved, and if the off-side horse becomes slack, to see the turn of his arm to reduce a twist, or to reverse it, if necessary, is exquisite, and after being placed under the rib, or upon the shoulder point, up comes the arm, and with it the thong returns to the elegant position upon the cross. I say elegant — the stick highly polished yew, rather light, not too taper, yet elastic, a thong in clean order, pliable, — with this man it really is elegance, the direction of the thong over the cross without effort, simply a *turn of the wrist.

*The length of your whip should be 5ft. 1½ins. from the butt to holder, and 12ft. 5in. or 6in. from the holder to the end of your point.

' This refinement in the management of the whip is not of many years' birth. I remember when it was not known as a luxury in driving; even now it belongs only to a rare few to execute the accomplishment effectively and with grace. Some men, aware of the facility it gives to punishment, will hold the cross over the off wheel perpendicularly, and twist away till the desideratum is obtained, and then the ears and haunches well scored are the result.

' Cartwright's perfections end not here — his manner of treating the leaders is equally fine. His teams are too good ever to require severity, therefore you cannot get to see a specimen of the different strokes, right and left. However, to see my friend use a back-handed draw over the leaders' heads is worth riding many hours in a wet day for, which I did. Even this esprit de l’homme is rare, for his system is stillness, and to drive without using the whip. The tits are fair, not first-rate ; but the steadiness and lightness of his hand, cool temper, perfect acquaintance with pace, and knowledge where the best play is to be made, render his task more than easy, quite a pleasure, and he performs his distance always to a minute, load or no load. He is no dandy, but is equipped most respectably and modestly, with good taste. He seems the idol of the road both with old and young ; his manners on the box are respectable, communicative without impertinence, nor tarnished with cant slang (only fit for collegiates in teens, in rough coats and pearl buttons as large as the crown of the low hat with a long brim). He is acquainted with everybody and every occupation within his sphere, and is therefore an entertaining companion even to an ordinary traveller, but combining these with his perfect professional knowledge, embracing all niceties, he enchants an amateur, and through rain, fog, frost, or any other agreeable antidote, not forgetting a sharp easterly, you keep the box without a moment's regret. His excellent qualities have gained their reward; he is well-to-do, lives regularly, with a happy family, envying neither lord nor peasant.

' I rode through a bad day from London to Grantham, taking my leave of the coach there, but cannot do so here without a just commendation — that it is by far the best conducted on the north road. One hundred and ten miles finished by half-past eight renders a man well inclined to the enjoyment of a quickly managed dinner at that exquisite inn, the " Saracen's Head," where you have a cleaner cloth, brighter plate, higher polished glass, brisker fire, with more prompt attention and civility, than at most other places, indeed as readily and effectively as if you had to pay 10s. to two first-turn boys.

' The ensuing morning at a quarter after eight, listen ! listen ! three lengthened blows of a horn, not bugle (I wish Nimrod would give me a better and more pleasing term than blow for this mail coach characteristic), announce the arrival of the Edinburgh mail, when out step night-capped passengers half asleep ; however, fresh water and good spirits dispel the gloomy faces, and down go, for twenty minutes, hot rolls, boiled eggs and best Bohea.

' I slept here on purpose for the opportunity of having a ride on this celebrated mail — bribed for a box seat, though the morning was very severe. It was clear and dry, however, and a day or two of like character rendered the roads in the most perfect order. Not a puddle, not a particle of soil even stirred or dimmed the polished fellies ; no impediment, excepting now and then a few of Macadam's three-cornered diamonds ; but even they give a pleasing variety to the deep round roll of a mail. I have not room to do more than offer a humble tribute of praise to this renovator of ways: he deserves both eulogy and reward.

. ' The same coachman from Stamford proceeded, his stage being to Doncaster, about seventy-five miles. This Mr. Leech, who has been many years receiving the keen air and healthy breezes in this distance every day, is too well known for me to say much about. He is not so highly finished a man as my former friend, but he is quietness itself. His horses are in the highest condition, well bred, and so much above their work as to require the strictest attention. He granted me the favour of a drive; and but from weak wrists arising from that potent enemy to all enjoyment, the gout, I should have received a high gratification. The pace, ten miles an hour, appears nothing to do — no hurry, no distress, no whipping. He has a team from Barnby Moor to Rossetter Bridge, ten miles, four bay blood mares entirely matched. They go every day, and have done so for five or six years, without an accident or a rest-day asked for. The harness, the condition, and the quickness of changing, all say they are Clark's.

I cannot part with my friend Leech without adverting to a most singular and unique custom I witnessed on the road, which doubtless is peculiar to the natural feeling of true hospitality and kind-heartedness in the Northern breasts. In the village of Sutton-on-Trent and its neighbourhood, the small farmers and cottagers once a year, with a week's continuance, prepare their homely offerings to the mail coachmen and guards, not forgetting the passengers. The time is watched with anxious care by the young girls of the families, or by the old people if left alone in the world. Upon a tray covered with a beautiful damask napkin are displayed plum cakes, tartlets, gingerbread, exquisite home-made bread and biscuits, ale, currant and gooseberry wines, cherry-brandy, and, by some, spirits. These in old- fashioned glass jugs embossed with figures have a most pleasing effect. As to the contents, they are superlative. Such ale ! such currant wine ! such cherry-brandy ! Oh ! The coach was compelled to stop, and was surrounded by half a dozen damsels, all enchanting young people, neatly clad, rather shy, but courteously importunate ; at the close, not in ill-humour, however, at the passing jokes accompanying your thanks : eat and drink you must. I tasted all. How could I resist the winning manners of the rustics, with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes ? My poor stomach, not used to such luxuries and extraordinaries at eleven o'clock in the morning, was, however, in fine agitation the remainder of the ride, fifty miles. Neither time nor entreaties can prevent their solicitations ; they are issued to reward the men for trifling kindnesses occasionally granted. We lost ten minutes ; they were soon recovered by one or two good spurts, indeed a gallop was an agreeable finale.

' It was my intention to have given the picture of another prominent character I fell in with on my return, but I have gabbled away without thought to an extravagant length, therefore my obeisance ought to be made. But as my journey was a long one, and occasioned some occurrences amusing to myself, I shall not object to submit another offering, provided the manner and matter of this be considered acceptable.

' My family are notorious for the love of curiosity and restlessness. Indeed, the fame of my brother Paul is spread over every clime. I possess neither his intellect nor activity; but I have a good share of his impudence. However, I cannot change either my nature or name ; so must be your obedient humble servant,

' Peter Pry.'

Of another well-known coachman, George Clarke, ' Peter Pry ' says there is scarcely any district more trying to a coachman than this in which George Clarke works. He takes the ' Umpire' at Newport Pagnel, and meets the down coach at Whetstone, returning about nine o'clock, after thirty miles' hard work. Mr. Okaver, ' one of the best judges in England,' speaking of Clarke, said to ' Peter Pry,' ' He is the first coachman in England for bad horses, and therefore the most valuable of servants.' ' Peter Pry ' continues, — ' Having always weak horses to nurse, the ordeal has worn him down to a pattern of patience. With these and other great weights upon severe ground, he is steady, easy, very economical in thong and cord, very light handed, and sometimes even playful. I observed him closely, and discovered from his remarks, as well as from what I saw, that his great secret of keeping his nags in anything like condition, and pre- serving them when apparently worn out, is by putting them properly together, by constantly shifting the situations, by the use of check reins with remarkable judg- ment, by which means he brings the power to as near equality as possible, besides preventing the horrid evil of boring. Indeed they all went light and airy, and though at times his hold of necessity becomes powerful, yet, generally speaking, he takes his load without a severe strain upon his arms.' The idea of having new roads to run in a perfectly straight line, taking London for the centre, had at this time been talked of for many years, on the eastern side of the country, in the direct line between Edinburgh and London. A grand new road had been spoken of for some time; and in 1824 a good road was finished and opened out as far south as Morpeth. There is nothing new under the sun, and in this straight line notion we were but following that of the Romans. A continuation of the road from Morpeth to London being greatly needed, the Post Office authorities engaged Mr. Telford, the eminent engineer, to make a survey of it over the remaining distance. The survey lasted many years. A hundred miles of the new Great North Road, south of York, were laid out in a perfectly straight line when the works (which were to cost an enormous sum) were arrested by the introduction of rail- roads. Who knows but that some day railroads may be found too crooked ! ' direct advantage ' is what certainly is sought in everything.

I must not omit here the sketch of yet another coachman, Cracknell of - Tantivy ' fame, drawn by a writer who signs himself ' Whiz.' (in ‘Sporting Magazine,' 1837.)

' Almost any tidy whip can push along the Brighton "Age" or the "Taglioni" in the style of Sir Baronet or Charles Brackenbury ; but I doubt whether they could keep the pace with the cripples we had the other night in the Bristol Mail, over the long hill at mail speed and under Post Office regulations. If I were to name one man above another who does fast work in the most finished style, and who possesses tact and perseverance almost more than any other coachman, it would be Crack- nell, on the London side of " Tantivy" ; and although not a most finished ribbon-holder, still he is a most wonderful time-keeper and nurser of weak stock. He seems to con- sider minutely the constitution and disposition of every horse he handles, and eases them wonderfully when in difficulty, and his head seems always at work for their indulgence. Driving is a science not easily obtained by amateurs ; the science consists in apportioning the labour and shifting the load, so as to keep the stock above their work ; and not as many amateurs suppose, in neatly taking off a fly on the leaders' ears.'

Of the ' Yards ' at this time, Mr. Chaplin's was the largest, having 1,300 horses at work. He owned the *‘Spread Eagle ' and 'Cross Keys,' Gracechurch Street, the ' Swan with two Necks,' in Lad Lane, and the ' White Horse,' in Fetter Lane.

* These two inns were afterwards long held, first by Mrs. Nelson, and afterwards by Mrs. Ann Mountain.

Messrs. Hall and Sherman were the next largest coach proprietors ; they were the proprietors of the celebrated *'Bull and Mouth.'

*Now known as the ' Queen,' though the sign of the ' Bull and Mouth ' is still over the old archway, which, having been partly filled in, now forms the front door entrance. Under the figure of the bull are these lines :

Milo, the Cretonian,

An ox slew with his fist,

And ate it up at one meal,

Ye Gods, what glorious twist ! '

This suggests a different notion of the origin of the sign from the usually- accepted one, which makes it refer to the taking of the town of Boulogne.


Bull and Month Yard.

' Come, it is time we are alive and look out, for the yard is all in a bustle ; here are lots of coaches preparing for a start, so let us look around and see what is going forward. We sally forth into the yard where the con- fusion created by the arrival of one coach heavily laden, and the preparation of two for departure, afforded a scene for a quiet contemplatist which, however, it is not easy to describe.

' " Coachman,'' said an antiquated lady just alighting, " I paid my fare."

' " Yes ma'am, that's all fair," said coachy.

• " Mind how you hand my dear little boy out of the coach ; poor little fellow, he is quite dizzy with riding."

'-" I thinks as how you had better have brought a man with you, for you want taking care of yourself," grumbled coachy, as he handed the young one out. " There he is, ma'am — stand upon your pins, my man."

' " Come, Charley — oh, coachy, you have got my box in your boot."

' "Aye, aye, ma'am, I know it ; I wish my boot was in your box— here it is, ma'am."

'"Stand by," said a Jack tar, " let's have a little sea room and no squalls."

' " Coachy, what a rude fellow that is ; he says I squalls."

"•' Never mind him, ma'am, he is as rough as the element he belongs to — thankye, ma'am — that's the time o' day," pocketing a half-crown which she had just given him. " Here, Bill, take this lady's luggage out of the way."

' " Just going off, sir — do you go by me ?"

' " Yes, how many have you inside ? "

1 " Only four, sir, and you two make up the number. All ready, Jem, bear up the leaders. Now, gentlemen, you brush in and I will brush on. Shut the door, Dick ; all right — ya — hip." '


The following is a list of good coachmen at work in 1838:_

The Baronet ' (Sir Vincent Cotton), driving the ‘Age,' on the Brighton road.

Mr. Charles Jones.

Mr. John Willan, ' Brighton Times.'

Holmes, Blenheim, Oxford.

Jerry Howse, ' Tantivy,' Birmingham.

Tom Mountain, ' Salisbury,' Birmingham to Oxford.

Cracknell (one of the first to dispense with cruppers and bearing reins), Birmingham.

Captain Warbuck, ' Alert;' Cheltenham to Birmingham.

Wilcox's (two), out of Birmingham.

Kingsbury, out of Birmingham.

Stephen Howse, out of Birmingham.

Tolley, out of Birmingham.

Jack Sprorson, who drove the ' York House' between London and Marlborough.

Cragnell, driving the ' Eclipse ' out of Southampton.

Sydney Robinson, out of London.

The task of the professional coachman was no light one. ' The anxiety attendant upon driving a four- horse stage,' says Pierce Egan, ' keeping strange horses at times well together and to do their work, the duty to be per- formed whether in hot or cold, wet or dry, the safety of the passengers always in view either up or down the hills, the absolute necessity of keeping time (and there is the great secret to be learned by the would-be coachman), the different tempers to please inside and outside the coach, civility always required, and satisfaction to be given to the various proprietors. When all the above circumstances are taken into consideration, the liberal mind must be clearly satisfied that 'the labourer is worthy of his hire.'

Within the last twenty-five years the stage coachmen throughout England are an improved race of men.

Altogether the waste butt sort of chap is entirely re- moved from the box, drinking at every inn quite exploded, and the driver in general so well togged, his linen white as snow, and viewed not only as one of the best dressed, but frequently the best behaved, man upon the coach ; full of anecdote, anxious to please all parties, cheerful and merry, frequently humming some well- known air ; by which means a journey of fifty or sixty miles in our days is disposed of so quickly as to appear more like a matter of pleasure than the dull heavy routine connected with business and fatigue. And such a one was ' Bill-put-em-along.'




Washington Irving, in his very graphic description of English life and character in the 'Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon,' depicts 'a stage coachman of quite the old school ' to the life. Travelling in Yorkshire in December, the day preceding Christmas Day, he found the coach crowded inside and out with passengers, most of them on their way to spend the morrow with friends. ' The coach,' he says, ' was loaded also with hampers of game, and baskets and boxes of delicacies ; and hares hung dangling their long ears about the coachman's box, presents from distant friends for the impending feast. I could not but notice the more than ordinary air of bustle and importance of the coachman, who wore his hat a little on one side, and had a long bunch of Christmas greens stuck in the button-hole of his coat. He is always a personage full of mighty care and business, but he is particularly so during this season, having so many com- missions to execute in consequence of the great inter- change of presents. And here, perhaps, it may not be unacceptable to my untravelled readers to have a sketch that may serve as a general representation of this very numerous and important class of functionaries, who have a dress, a manner, a language, an air peculiar to them- selves, and prevalent throughout the fraternity ; so that wherever an English stage-coachman may be seen he cannot be mistaken for one of any other craft or mystery. He has commonly a broad full face, curiously mottled with red, as if the blood had been forced by hard feeding into every vessel of the skin ; he is swelled into jolly dimensions by frequent potations of malt liquors, and his bulk is still further increased by a multiplicity of coats in which he is buried like a cauliflower, the upper one reaching to his heels. He wears a broad-brimmed low-crowned hat, a huge roll of coloured handkerchief about his neck, knowingly knotted and tucked in at the bosom, and has in summer time a large bouquet of flowers in his button- hole, the present most probably of some enamoured country lass. His waistcoat is commonly of some bright colour, striped, and his small clothes extend far below the knees to meet a pair of jockey boots, which reach about half-way up his legs.

'All this costume is maintained with much precision — he has a pride in having his clothes of excellent materials ; and notwithstanding the seeming grossness of his appearance, there is still discernible that neatness and propriety of person which is almost inherent in an Englishman. He enjoys great consequence and consideration along the road ; has frequent conferences with the village house- wives, who look upon him as a man of great trust and dependence ; and he seems to have a good understanding with every bright-eyed country lass. The moment he arrives where the horses are to be changed, he throws down the reins with something of an air, and abandons the cattle to the care of the hostler, his duty being merely to drive from one stage to another. When off the box his hands are thrust in the pockets of his great coat, and he rolls about the inn yard with an air of the most abso- lute lordliness. Here he is generally surrounded with an admiring throng of hostlers, stable-boys, shoe-blacks, and those nameless hangers-on, that infest inns and taverns, and run errands and do all kinds of odd jobs, for the privilege of fattening on the drippings of the kitchen and the leakage of the tap-room. These all look up to him as an oracle, treasure up his cant phrases, echo his opinions about horses and other topics of jockey lore, and, above all, endeavour to imitate his air and carriage. Every ragamuffin that has a coat to his back, thrusts his hands in the pockets, rolls in his gait, talks slang, and is an embryo coachey.'




The following humorous sketch, from the facetious pen of Tom Hood, the celebrated punster, will form an amusing contrast to the preceding realistic portrait by Washington Irving: —


'A day after the fair.' — Old Proverb.

John Day he was the biggest man,
Of all the coachman kind,
With back too broad to be conceived
By any narrow mind.

The very horses knew his weight
When he was in the rear,
And wished his box, a Christmas box,
To come but once a year

Alas ! against the shafts of love
What armour can avail ?
Soon Cupid sent an arrow through
His scarlet coat of mail.

The barmaid of the ' Crown ' he loved
From whom he never ranged ;
For though he changed his horses there,
His love he never changed.

He thought her fairest of all fares,
So fondly love prefers ;
And often among twelve outsides
Deemed no outside like hers.

One day as she was sitting down
Beside the porter pump,
He came and knelt with all his fat,
And made an offer plump.

Said she, my taste will never learn
To like so huge a man ;
So I must beg you will come here
As little as you can.

But still he stoutly urged his suit
With vows, and sighs, and tears ;
Yet could not pierce her heart, although
He drove the Dart for years.

In vain he vowed, in vain he sued,
The maid was cold and proud,
And sent him off to Coventry
While on the way to Stroud.

He fretted all the way to Stroud,
And thence all back to town ;
The course of love was never smooth,
So he went up and down.

At last her coldness made him pine
To merely bones and skin ;
But still he loved like one resolved
To love through thick and thin.

Oh Mary ! view my wasted back,
And see my dwindled calf ;
Though I have never had a wife,
I've lost my better half.

Alas ! in vain he still assailed,
Her heart withstood the dint ;
Although he carried sixteen stone
He could not move a flint.

Worn out at last, he made a vow
To break his being's link ;
For he was so reduced in size
At nothing he could shrink.

Now some will talk in water's praise,
And waste a deal of breath,
But John, though he drank nothing else
He drank himself to death.

The cruel maid that caused his love
Found out the fatal close ;
For looking in the butt, she saw
The butt end of his woes.

Some say his spirit haunts the ' Crown,'

But that is only talk ; For after riding all his life

His ghost objects to walk.