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or a horse ; and we really think, in spite of its gossiping, is no mean help to village liberality; for its passengers are so mixed, so often varied, so little yet so much together, so compelled to accommodate, so willing to pass a short time pleasantly, and so liable to the criticism of strangers, that it is hard if they do not get a habit of speaking, or even thinking, more kindly of one another than if they mingled less often, or under other circumstances. The old and infirm are treated with reverence; the ailing sympathised with ; the healthy congratulated ; the rich not distinguished; the poor well-met; the young, with their faces conscious of ride, patronised and allowed to be extra. Even the fiery, nay, the fat, learn to bear with each other; and if some high-thoughted persons will talk now and then of their great acquaintances, or their preference of a carriage, there is an instinct which tells the rest that they would not make such appeals to their good opinion, if they valued it so little as might be supposed. Stoppings and dust are not pleasant; but the latter may be had on much grander occasions; and if any one is so unlucky as never to keep another stopping himself, he must be content with the superiority of his virtue. The mail or stage-coachman, upon the whole, is no inhuman mass of greatcoat, gruffness, civility, and old boots. The latter is the politer, from the smaller range of acquaintance, and his necessity for preserving them. His face is red, and his voice rough, by the same process of drink and catarrh. He has a silver watch with a steel chain, and plenty of loose silver in his pocket mixed with halfpence. He serves the houses he goes by for a clock. He takes a glass at every ale-house; for thirst, when it is dry, and for warmth when it is wet. He likes to show the judicious reach of his whip, by twigging a dog or a goose on the road, or children that get in the way. His tenderness to descending old ladies is particular. He touches his hat to Mr Smith. He gives “the young woman a ride ; and lends her his box-coat in the rain. His liberality in imparting his knowledge to any one that has the good fortune to ride on the box with him, is a
happy mixture of deference, conscious possession, and familiarity. His information chiefly lies in the occupancy of houses on the road, prize-fighters, Bow Street runners, and accidents. He concludes that you know Dick Sams, or Old Joey; and proceeds to relate some of the stories that relish his pot and tobacco in the evening. If any of the four-in-hand gentry go by, he shakes his head, and thinks they might find something better to do. His contempt for them is founded on modesty. He tells you that his off-hand horse is as pretty a goer as ever was, but that Kitty—“Yeah now there, Kitty-can't you be still ?—Kitty's a devil, sir,-for all you wouldn't think it." He knows the boys on the road admire him, and gives the horses an indifferent lash with his whip as they go by. If you wish to know what rain and dust can do, you should look at his old hat. There is an indescribably placid and paternal look in the position of his corduroy knees and old top-boots on the foot-board, with their pointed toes, and never-cleaned soles. His beau-ideal of appearance is a frock-coat with mother-o'pearl buttons, a striped yellow waistcoat, and a flower in his mouth.
“But all cur praises why for Charles and Robert ?
Is the quadrijugal virtue of that learned person still extant? That Olympic and Baccalaureated charioteer? — that besteducated and most erudite of coachmen, of whom Dominie Sampson is alone worthy to speak?—that singular punning and driving commentary on the “Sunt quos curriculo collegisse," -in short, the worthy and agreeable Mr Bobart, Bachelor of Arts, who drove the Oxford stage some years ago, capped verses and the front of his hat with equal dexterity, and read Horace over his brandy and water of an evening ? We once had the pleasure of being beaten by him in that capital art, he having brought up against us an unusual number of those cross-armed letters, as puzzling to verse-cappers as iron-cats unto cavalry, yclept X's; which said warfare he was pleased to call to mind in after times unto divers of our comrades. The modest and natural greatness with which he used to say “Yait” to his horses, and then turn round with his rosy gills, and an eye like a fish, and give out the required verse, can never pass away from us, as long as verses or horses run.
Of the hackney-coach we cannot make as short work as many persons like to make of it in reality.
in reality. Perhaps, indeed, it
, is partly a sense of the contempt it undergoes which induces us to endeavour to make the best of it. But it has its merits, as we shall show presently. In the account of its demerits, we have been anticipated by a new, and we are sorry to say a very good poetess, of the name of Lucy V-L-, who has favoured us with a sight of a manuscript poem, in which they are related with great nicety and sensitiveness.
Reader. What, sir, sorry to say that a lady is a good poeţess?
Indicator. Only inasmuch, madam, as the lady gives such authority to the anti-social view of this subject, and will not agree with us as to the beatitude of the hackney-coach. But hold !-upon turning to the manuscript again, we find that the objections are put into the mouth of a dandy courtier. This makes a great difference. The hackney resumes all which it had lost in the good graces of the fair authoress. The only wonder is, how the courtier could talk so well. Here is the passage
“Eban, untempted by the pastry-cooks,
(Of pastry he got store within the palace)
Just as he made his vow, it'gan to rain ; Therefore he call'd a coach, and bade it drive amain.
""I'll pull the string,' said he, and further said,
'Polluted Jarvey! Ah, thou filthy hack!
Whose rug is straw, whose wholeness is a crack:
Who prov'st, with jolting arguments and bitter,
« • Thou inconvenience! thou hungry crop
For all corn! thou snail-creeper to and fro,
Of dowdies, for some dance or party drest,
An inch appears the utmost thou couldst budge;
To whisking tilburies, or phaetons rare,
The tact here is so nice, of all the infirmities which are but too likely to beset our poor old friend, that we should only spoil it to say more. To pass then to the merits.
One of the greatest helps to a sense of merit in other things is a consciousness of one's own wants. Do you despise a hackney-coach? Get tired; get old; get young again! Lay down your own carriage, or make it less uneasily too easy. Have to stand
up half an hour, out of a storm, under a gateway. Be ill, and wish to visit a friend who is worse. Fall in love, and want to sit next your mistress! Or, if all this will not do, fall in a cellar.
Ben Jonson, in a fit of indignation at the niggardliness of James I., exclaimed, “ He despises me, I suppose, because I live in an alley : tell him his soul lives in an alley.” We think we see a hackney-coach moved out of its ordinary patience, and hear it say, “You there, who sit looking so scornfully at me out of your carriage, you are yourself the thing you take me for. Your understanding is a hackney-coach. It is lumbering, rickety, and at a stand. When it moves, it is drawn by things like itself. It is at once the most stationary and the most servile of commonplaces. And when a good thing is put into it, it does not know it."
But it is difficult to imagine a hackney-coach under so irritable an aspect. It is Hogarth, we think, who has drawn a set of hats or wigs with countenances of their own. We have noticed the same thing in the faces of houses, and it sometimes gets in one's way in a landscape-painting, with the outlines of the massy trees. A friend tells us that the hackney. coach has its countenance, with gesticulation besides ; and, now he has pointed it out, we can easily fancy it. Some of them look chucked under the chin, some nodding, some coming at you sideways. We shall never find it easy, however, to fancy the irritable aspect above mentioned. A hackney-coach always appeared to us the most quiescent of moveables. Its horses and it, slumbering on a stand, are an emblem of all the patience in creation, animate and inanimate. The submission with which the coach takes every variety of the weather, dust, rain, and wind, never moving but when some eddying blast makes its old body seem to shiver, is only surpassed by the vital patience of the horses. Can anything better illustrate the poet's line about
“Years that bring the philosophic mind,” than the still-hung head, the dim indifferent eye, the dragged and blunt-cornered mouth, and the gaunt imbecility of body,