Abbildungen der Seite

If we are to believe the merry Columbus of Down-Hall, calashes, now almost obsolete for any purpose, used to be hired for travelling occasions a hundred years back; but he preferred a chariot ; and neither was good. But see how pleasantly good-humour rides over its inconveniences :

Then answer'd Squire Morley, 'Pray get a calash,

That in summer may burn, and in winter may splash;
I love dirt and dust ; and 'tis always my pleasure

To take with me much of the soil that I measure.'
“But Matthew thought better; for Matthew thought right,

And hired a chariot so trim and so tight,
That extremes both of winter and summer might pass;

För one window was canvas, the other was glass,
“'Draw up,' quoth friend Matthew ; 'Pull down,' quoth friend John,

"We shall be both hotter and colder anon.'
Thus, talking and scolding, they forward did speed ;
And Ralpho paced by under Newman the Swede.
"Into an old inn did this equipage roll,
At a town they call Hodson, the sign of the Bull;
Near a nymph with an urn that divides the highway,

And into a puddle throws mother of tea.
66 Come here, my sweet landlady, pray how d'ye do?

Where is Cicely so cleanly, and Prudence, and Sue ?
And where is the widow that dwelt here below ?

And the hostler that sung about eight years ago ?
And where is your sister, so mild and so dear,

Whose voice to her maids like a trumpet was clear?'
* By my troth,' she replies, 'you grow younger I think :

And pray, sir, what wine does the gentleman drink?
“Why now let me die, sir, or live upon trust,

If I know to which question to answer you first :
Why things, since I saw you, most strangely have varied ;

The hostler is hang'd, and the widow is married.
16 And Prue left a child for the parish to nurse,

And Cicely went off with a gentleman's purse ;
And as to my sister, so mild and so dear,

She has lain in the churchyard full many a year.'
"Well, peace to her ashes ! What signifies grief?

She roasted red veal, and she powder'd lean beef:
Full nicely she knew to cook up a fine dish;
Nor tough were her pullets, and tender her fish.'"-Priop..

[ocr errors]

This quotation reminds us of a little poem by the same author, entitled “The Secretary," which, as it is short, and runs upon chaise-wheels, and seems to have slipped the notice it deserves, we will do ourselves the pleasure of extracting also. It was written when he was Secretary of Embassy at the Hague, where he seems to have edified the Dutch with his insisting upon enjoying himself. The astonishment with which the good Hollander and his wife look up to him as he rides, and the touch of yawning dialect at the end, are extremely pleasant.

“While with labour assiduous due pleasure I mix,
And in one day atone for the business of six,
In a little Dutch chaise on a Saturday night,
On my left hand my Horace, a nymph on my right:
No memoirs to compose, and no post-boy to move,
That on Sunday may hinder the softness of love ;
For her, neither visits, nor parties at tea,
Nor the long-winded cant of a dull refugee :
This night and the next shall be hers, shall be mine ;
To good or ill-fortune the third we resign:
Thus scorning the world and superior to fate,
I drive on my car in processional state.
So with Phia through Athens Pisistratus rode ;
Men thought her Minerva, and him a new god.
But why should I stories of Athens rehearse,
Where people knew love, and were partial to verse ;
Since none can with justice my pleasures oppose,
In Holland half drowned in interest and prose ?
By Greece and past ages what need I be tried,
When the Hague and the present are both on my side ?
And is it enough for the joys of the day,
To think what Anacreon or Sappho would say ?
When good Vandergoes, and his provident vrow,
As they gaze on my triumph, do freely allow,
That, search all the province, you'll find no man ddr is
So blest as the Englishen Heer Secretar is."

If Prior had been living now, he would have found the want of travelling accommodation flourishing most in a country for whose graver wants we have to answer, without having her wit to help us. There is a story told of an Irish post-chaise, the occupier of which, without quitting it, had to take to his heels. It was going down hill, as fast as wind and the impossibility of stopping could make it, when the foot passengers observed a couple of legs underneath, emulating, with all their might, the rapidity of the wheels. The bottom had come out; and the gentleman was obliged to run for his life.

We must relate another anecdote of an Irish post-chaise, merely to show the natural tendencies of the people to be lawless in self-defence. A friend of ours, who was travelling among them, used to have this proposition put to him by the postilion, whenever he approached a turnpike—“Plase your honour, will I drive at the pike?” The pike hung loosely across the road. Luckily, the rider happened to be of as lawless a turn for justice, as the driver, so the answer was always a cordial one : “Oh yes—drive at the pike.” The pike made way accordingly; and in a minute or two, the gate people were heard and seen, screaming in vain after the illegal charioteers. “Fertur equis auriga, neque audit currus.”

The driver's borne beyond their swearing,

And the post-chaise is hard of hearing. As to following them, nobody in Ireland thinks of moving too much, legal or illegal.

The pleasure to be had in a mail-coach is not so much at one's command as that in a post-chaise. There is generally too little room in it, and too much hurry out of it. The company must not lounge over their breakfast, even if they are all agreed. It is an understood thing that they are bound to be uncomfortably punctual. They must get in at seven o'clock, though they are all going upon business they do not like or care about, or will have to wait till nine before they can do anything. Some persons know how to manage this haste, and breakfast and dine in the cracking of a whip. They stick with their fork, they joint, they sliver, they bolt. Legs and wings vanish before them, like a dragon's before a knight-errant. But if one is not a clergyman, or a regular jolly fellow, one has no chance this way. To be diffident or polite, is fatal. It is a merit eagerly

[ocr errors]

We re

acknowledged, and as quickly set aside. At last you begin upon a leg, and are called off. A very troublesome degree of science is necessary for being well settled in the coach. member travelling in our youth, upon the north road, with an orthodox elderly gentleman of very venerable peruke, who talked much with a grave-looking young man about universities, and won our inexperienced heart with a notion that he was deep in Horace and Virgil. He was much deeper in his wig. Towards evening, as he seemed restless, we asked, with much diffidence, whether a change even for the worse might not relieve him ; for we were riding backwards, and thought that all elderly people disliked that way. He insinuated the very objection ; so we recoiled from asking him again. In a minute or two, however, he insisted that we were uneasy ourselves, and that he must relieve us for our own sake. We protested as filially as possible against this; but at last, out of mere shame of disputing the point with so benevolent an elder, we changed seats with him. After an interval of bland meditation, we found the evening sun full in our face. His new comfort set him dozing ; and every now and then he jerked his wig in our eyes, till we had the pleasure to see him take out a night-cap, and look extremely ghastly. The same person, and his serious young companion, tricked us out of a good bed we happened to get at the inn.

The greatest peculiarity attending a mail-coach arises from its travelling at night. The gradual decline of talk, the incipient snore, the rustling and alteration of legs and nightcaps, the cessation of other noises on the road, the sound of the wind or rain, of the moist circuit of the wheels, and of the time-beating tread of the horses,-all dispose the traveller, who cannot sleep, to a double sense of the little that is left him to observe. The coach stops, the door opens; a rush of cold air announces at once the demands and merits of the guard, who is taking his leave, and is anxious to remember us. The door is clapped to again; the sound of everything outside becomes dim; and voices are heard knocking up the people of the inn, and answered by issuing yawns and excuses. Wooden shoes clog heavily about. The horses' mouths are heard swilling up the water out of tubs. All is still again; and some one in the coach takes a long breath. The driver mounts, and we resume our way.

It happens that we can sleep anywhere except in a mail-coach; so that we hate to see a prudent, warm old fellow, who has been eating our fowls and intercepting our toast, put on his night-cap in order to settle himself till morning. We rejoice in the digs that his neighbour's elbow gives him, and hail the long-legged traveller that sits opposite. A passenger of our wakeful description must try to content himself with listening to the sounds above mentioned ; or thinking of his friends ; or turning verses, as Sir Richard Blackmore did, “ to the rumbling of his coach's wheels ;" or chatting with the servant-girl who is going to place ; (may nobody get her dismissed nine months hence !) or protecting her against the Methodist in the corner; or, if alone with her, and she has a kind face, protecting her against a much more difficult person,-himself. Really, we must say, that enough credit is not given to us lawless persons who say all we think, and would have the world enjoy all it could. There is the author of “ The Mail-coach Adventure,” for instance. With all his amorous verses, his yearnings after the pleasant laws of the Golden Age, and even his very hymns (which, we confess, are a little mystic), we would rather trust a fair traveller to his keeping, than some much graver writers we have heard of. If he forgot himself, he would not think it a part of virtue to forget her. But his absolution is not ready at hand, as for graver sinners. The very intensity of the sense of pleasure will often keep a man from destroying its after-thoughts in another ; when harsher systems will forget themselves, only to confound brutality with repentance.

The stage-coach is a very great and unpretending accommodation. It is a cheap substitute, notwithstanding all its eighteenpenny and two and sixpenny temptations, for keeping a carriage

« ZurückWeiter »