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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Hints on Driving, by C. S. Ward

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Title: Hints on Driving

Author: C. S. Ward

Release Date: February 15, 2009 [EBook #28090]

Language: English

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[1]

HINTS ON DRIVING.

BY

C. S. WARD,
THE WELL-KNOWN “WHIP OF THE WEST,”
PAXTON STABLES, OPPOSITE TATTERSALL’S.


LONDON:
PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR,
74, LITTLE CADOGAN PLACE, BELGRAVIA.
1870.

[2]


[3]

HINTS ON DRIVING.

BY C. S. WARD,
THE WELL-KNOWN “WHIP OF THE WEST,”
Paxton Stables (opposite Tattersall’s).


It has been said, and not, perhaps, without reason, that a man who is conscious that he possesses some practical knowledge of a science, and yet refrains from giving the public the benefit of his information, is open to the imputation of selfishness. To avoid that charge, as far as lies in my power, I purpose, in the course of the following pages, to give my readers the benefit of my tolerably long experience in the art of driving four horses—an art which I acquired under the following circumstances.—

My father was a coach proprietor as well as a coachman, and, I am proud to say, one of the best whips of his day. He gave me many opportunities of driving a team. I will not, however, enter into all the details of my youthful career, but proceed to state, that at the early age of seventeen I was sent nightly with the Norwich and Ipswich Mail as far as Colchester, a distance of fifty-two miles. Never having previously travelled beyond Whitechapel Church, on that line of road, the change was[4] rather trying for a beginner. But Fortune favoured me; and I drove His Majesty’s Mail for nearly five years without an accident. I was then promoted to the “Quicksilver,” Devonport Mail, the fastest at that time out of London. It must be admitted that I undertook this task under difficult circumstances—involving as it did, sixty miles a night—since many had tried it ineffectually, or at all events were unable to accomplish the duty satisfactorily. It is gratifying to me to reflect, that I drove this coach more than seven years without a single mishap.

Getting at length rather tired of such incessant and monotonous nightly work, I applied for a change to my employer, the well-known and much-respected Mr. Chaplin, who at that time had seventeen hundred horses employed in coaching. His reply was characteristic. “I cannot find you all day coaches,” said he; “besides, who am I to get to drive your Mail?” I must say, I thought this rather severe at the time, but, good and kind-hearted man as he was, he did not forget me.

Not long after this interview, the Brighton Day Mail being about to start, he made me the offer, to drive the whole distance and horse the coach a stage, with the option of driving it without horsing. Like most young men I was rather ambitious, and closed with the former conditions. The speculation, however, did not turn out a very profitable one, and, the railway making great progress, I sold my horses to Mr. Richard Cooper, who was to succeed me on the box. I was then offered the far-famed Exeter “Telegraph,” one of the fastest and best-appointed coaches in England. My fondness for coaching still continuing, and not feeling disposed to settle to any business, I drove this coach from Exeter to Ilminster and back, a distance of sixty-six miles, early in the morning and late at night. After driving it three years, the railway opened to Bridgewater; this closed the career of the once-celebrated “Telegraph.” But those who had so long shared its success, were not inclined to knock[5] under. My brother coachman and myself, together with the two guards, accordingly started a “Telegraph” from Devonport to London, a distance of ninety-five miles by road, joining the rail at Bridgewater, thus making the whole journey two hundred and fifty miles in one day. At that time there was a coach called the “Nonpareil,” running from Devonport to Bristol.

The proprietors of this vehicle, thinking that our’s would take off some of their trade, made their’s a London coach also, and started at the same time as we did. We then commenced a strong opposition. I had a very good man to contend against—William Harbridge, a first-class coachman. We had several years of strong opposition, the rail decreasing the distance every year, till it opened to Exeter. The “Nonpareil” was then taken off, and they started a coach called the “Tally Ho!” against the poor old “Telegraph.” Both coaches left Exeter at the same time, and this caused great excitement. Many bets, of bottles of wine, dinners for a dozen, and five-pound notes, were laid, as to which coach would arrive first at Plymouth. I had my old friend Harbridge again, as my competitor. The hotel that I started from, was a little farther down the street than the one whence the “Tally Ho!” appeared, so that as soon as I saw my friend Harbridge mounting the box, I did the same, and made the running. We had all our horses ordered long before the usual time. Harbridge came sailing away after me; the faster he approached, the more I put on the steam. He never caught me, and, having some trifling accident with one of his horses over the last stage, he enabled me to reach Plymouth thirty-five minutes before he came in. My guard, who resided in St. Albans-street, Devonport, hurried home, and as the other coach passed, he called out and asked them to stop and have some supper; they also passed my house, which was a little farther on, in Fore-street. I was sitting at the window, smoking, and offered them a cigar as they passed[6]—a joke they did not, of course, much relish. The next night they declared they would be in first; but it was of no use, the old “Telegraph” was not to be beaten. Thus it went on for several weeks; somehow they were never able to get in first. We did the fifty miles several times in three hours and twenty-eight minutes (that is, at the average rate of a mile in four minutes and nine seconds, including stoppages), and for months together, we never exceeded four hours.

Still, in every contest, one party must ultimately give in; that one, however, was not the “Telegraph.” We settled our differences, and went on quietly for the remainder of the time, occasionally having a little “flutter,” as we used to call it in those days, but we were always good friends. Should this narrative chance to meet the eye of some of those who used to travel with us in bygone times, they will doubtless well remember the pace we used to go.

After a few years, the railway opened to Plymouth, and many gentlemen asked me to start a fast coach into Cornwall, promising to give it their patronage; I accordingly started the “Tally Ho!” making it a day coach from Truro to London, joining the rail at Plymouth; this was a very difficult road for a fast coach, but we ran it, till Government offered the contract for a Mail; we then converted the “Tally Ho!” into a Mail, and ran it till the rail opened to Truro. It will have been seen that I kept to coaching nearly as long as there were any coaches left to drive.

I had for some years given up driving regularly, having taken the Horse Bazaar at Plymouth, where I used to supply officers of the garrison with teams, and give them instructions in driving; this I still continue to do, and in every variety of driving. It gives me, indeed, much pleasure to see many of my pupils daily handling their teams skilfully; not a few of them giving me good reason to be really proud of them, as I know they do me credit. In my description of my driving career, I stated that I[7] had never had an accident; I ought to have said, no serious casualty, never having upset or injured any one; but I have had many trifling mishaps, such as running foul of a waggon in a fog, having my whole team down in slippery weather; on many occasions I have had a wheel come off, but still nothing that could fairly be termed a bad accident.

During the last twenty-five years I have been engaged keeping livery stables and breaking horses to harness, and in that period I have had some very narrow escapes. In one instance, the box of a new double break came off and pitched me astride across the pole between two young horses; I once had the top of the pole come off when driving two high-couraged horses; a horse set to kicking, and ran away with me in single harness. As I was of course pulling at him very hard, my feet went through the bottom of the dog-cart, he kicking furiously all the time. Fortunately I escaped with only a few bruises. On another occasion, in single harness, a mare began kicking, and, before I could get her head up, she ran against the area railings of a house in Princess Square, Plymouth, broke both shafts, and split the break into matches; myself and man nearly went through the kitchen window, into the arms of the cook; she did not, however, ask us to stop and dine.

I could mention many little events of a similar kind, and consider myself very fortunate in having never had anything more serious than a sprained ankle or wrist during my tolerably long career. I will now commence my instructions.

[8]

RULE I.
SELECTION OF THE TEAM.

The first thing the pupil should do, is to select four horses as nearly as possible of the same temper. Never keep a puller, for it takes your attention from things that require all your care, makes your arm ache, in fact, does away with all pleasure. I should recommend hiring or purchasing four horses that will give you no trouble, and when you can pull them about, and do nearly as you please with them, you can then get your permanent team, which will require a very judicious selection, particularly if you intend to pride yourself upon colour as well as action. I was told by a gentleman, that he was ten years, getting a perfect team of black browns; he did not confine himself to price, and he certainly now has a very nice team—and they ought indeed to be perfect, after all the time, labour and expense that have been bestowed upon them.

RULE II.
MOUNTING THE BOX.

Put the forefinger of your right hand through the leading reins, and the third finger between the wheel reins, feel your wheel horses’ mouths lightly, take your near side reins a little shorter than your off, so that in case your horses attempt to start before you are properly seated, you have the reins all of the same length, and, being properly separated, you can put them into your left hand as quickly as possible, and at once have your horses under control; this will, if attended to, always prevent accidents. Some gentlemen get on the box and have the reins handed to them by a groom, who does not know how to separate them; this is not only an unbusiness-like, but a dangerous practice.

[9]

RULE III.
THE SEAT.

Place yourself well on the box, sit upright, but easily, with your knees a little bent. Some gentlemen almost stand, with a thick cushion reaching above the rail of the box, and their toes several inches over the foot-board. This is not only unsightly, but attended with risk, for if you came in contact with the curbstone, or any trifling obstruction, you might very readily, and most likely would, be thrown from your seat. The rail of the box, ought always to be a few inches above the cushion.

RULE IV.
TURNING.

In going round a corner, “point” your leader—that is, take hold of your leading rein, and get your leaders well round; then take hold of your wheel rein as well, all four horses will come round as evenly as though they were on a straight road. Most persons are careless about the mode of going round a corner; as long as they get round safely, they think it quite sufficient; they take hold of both reins and haul away; the consequence is, they get the fore part of the carriage and the wheel horses round before the leaders are square. This, I think, looks very bad, for it is a really pretty sight, to see four horses coming round straight, and thus showing that they are under perfect control. Always steady your carriage before attempting to turn, in case you should chance to meet anything coming in the opposite direction. Besides, there is no object in going fast round a corner. Even if pressed for time, always use precaution, for in driving, as in other phases of life, you will find it much easier to keep out, than to get out, of grief!

[10]

RULE V.
DESCENDING A HILL.

In going down a hill, steady and feel the weight of the carriage you have behind you; go off the top as quietly as you can, for you will discover before you get half way down, if it is at all a steep hill, the impetus will be so much increased, that you will have quite enough to do, to keep your coach steady and your horses under control. The patent drag is a great boon, which we had not in the old coaching days. I have many times gone off the top of a hill, and, before I got half way down, wished that I had put on the shoe; but another coach coming behind, with perhaps a lighter load than I had, they would have passed me while I was putting on the drag; this was the reason we sometimes neglected it, but you can always go faster down hill, with the drag, than without it.

RULE VI.
POSITION OF THE HANDS.

Keep your left hand up, within about ten or twelve inches of your chest, with your arm and wrist a little bent; you will then have your reins in such a position, that your right hand will be able to assist the other, without throwing your body forward to reach them. Many, instead of putting their right hand just in front of the left, and drawing the reins back towards them, put the right hand at least a foot before the other, and push the reins, consequently they lose nearly all power over the horses, and draw the reins away from the left hand. Besides being unskilful, this has a very ugly appearance.

[11]

RULE VII.
UNIFORMITY OF DRAUGHT.

To drive slowly, is much more gentlemanlike, and, at the same time, more difficult than going fast. Keep your horses well together; to do this properly, you must know how to arrange their couplings. I think I cannot better explain this, than to ask my readers to notice the working of the horses. If you see one a little in front of the other, you may judge that he is either stronger or more free, consequently his coupling requires shortening, or that of the other horse lengthening. To shorten it, you must bring the buckle towards you; and to let it out, put the buckle towards the horse’s head. Most inexperienced persons resort to the whip, not knowing what is the cause of the fault they wish to remedy; this will make the strong or free horse, throw himself more into his collar; the other, meanwhile, cannot get up to him, however much he may try; the result is, he becomes more and more disheartened. If you use the whip at all, it must be very lightly and quietly, so that the freer or stronger horse may not hear it. At the same time, hold them both well together; if he is not a sluggard, he will gradually work up to the other. Again, if you notice one horse carrying his head unpleasantly, you may judge there is some cause for it; perhaps he is curbed too tightly, or his coupling is too short, or his rein ought to be over that of the other horse instead of under it, for, as may be supposed, all horses do not carry their heads alike; but all these little matters require watching and studying, and, with practice, they will all become familiar enough; and you will notice whether or not, all your horses go pleasantly together, for, depend on it, the more pleasantly they go, the more pleasure and comfort you will experience in driving them; and, as the old coaching term expressed it, when you can “cover them over with a sheet,” you may conclude they are going about right.

[12]

RULE VIII.
THE USE OF THE WHIP.

I will now come to the whip, the use of which, most young beginners want to acquire in the first instance. Let me advise them to practice the art of “catching it” in their sitting or bed-room, for if they try to learn it when they are driving, they annoy their horses. A gentleman, whom I was teaching, said it was so simple, he would not go to bed till he could catch it properly. I saw him a fortnight afterwards, but he had not even then succeeded; he told me he had not been to bed; but I will not vouch for the accuracy of this part of the anecdote. The art, like many others, is very easy when you know how to do it. The turn of the wrist, with a slight jerk of the elbow, is the proper way to accomplish it.

The less the whip is used while driving, the better, for it will only get you into trouble if used improperly. If a horse shies, never flog him for it; timidity is generally the cause of shying, unless his eyes are defective. Of course whipping can do no good in that case; speak kindly to him, that is the best way, if he be young; as he becomes better acquainted with objects and gains confidence, he will most likely give up the trick. I will make a few more observations on the whip. If you can use it well, use it seldom, and before you strike a horse, always take hold of his head; if you do this, you will find the slightest touch will have the desired effect. It is a pretty art, to be able with certainty, to touch a leader under the bar, without making a noise with the lash or letting any of the other horses know anything about it. The near leader is the most difficult one to reach, as you must completely turn your wrist over. Very few can do it well; in fact, many of the old professionals could never do it neatly.

[13]I trust that some will benefit from these instructions, for there are really few more agreeable sights than that of a good-looking team handled neatly by a gentleman, who sits well, with, perhaps a lady beside him on the box. I am much pleased to find that the taste for four-in-hand driving is increasing of late, and am glad to say, some gentlemen drive very well. It is easy enough, to detect those who are self-taught from those who have received instruction from a professional man. Many think that driving can be acquired without teaching. I wonder if any gentleman would like to dance in a ball-room without first taking lessons; and yet some, do not hesitate to drive four horses—a feat attended with much danger, not only to the public generally, but to themselves and those who accompany them, if undertaken without due knowledge.

Before concluding, I will relate some of the difficulties we had to encounter in foggy weather. We were obliged to be guided out of London with torches, seven or eight Mails following one after the other, the guard of the foremost Mail lighting the one following, and so on till the last. We travelled at a slow pace, like a funeral procession. Many times I have been three hours going from London to Hounslow. I remember one very foggy night, instead of my arriving at Bagshot (a distance of thirty miles from London, and my destination) at eleven o’clock, I did not get there till one in the morning. I had to leave again at four the same morning. On my way back to town, when the fog was very bad, I was coming over Hounslow Heath when I reached the spot where the old powder-mills used to stand. I saw several lights in the road, and heard voices, which induced me to stop. The old Exeter Mail, which left Bagshot thirty minutes before I did, had met with a singular accident; it was driven by a man named Gambier; his leaders had come in contact with a hay-cart on its way to London, which caused them to turn suddenly round, break the pole, and blunder down a steep embankment,[14] at the bottom of which was a narrow deep ditch filled with water and mud. The Mail Coach pitched on to the stump of a willow tree that over-hung the ditch; the coachman and outside passengers were thrown over into the meadow beyond, and the horses went into the ditch; the unfortunate wheelers were drowned or smothered in the mud. There were two inside passengers, who were extricated with some difficulty; but fortunately no one was injured. I managed to take the passengers, with the guard and mail-bags, on to London, leaving the coachman to wait for daylight before he could make an attempt to get the Mail up the embankment. They endeavoured to accomplish this, with cart-horses and chains. They had nearly reached the top of the bank when something gave way, and the poor old Mail went back into the ditch again. I shall never forget the scene; there were about a dozen men from the powder-mills trying to render assistance, and, with their black faces, each bearing a torch in his hand, they presented a curious spectacle. This happened about thirty years ago. Posts and rails were erected at the spot after the accident. I passed the place last summer; they are still there, as well as the old pollard willow stump.

I recollect another singular circumstance occasioned by a fog. There were eight Mails that passed through Hounslow. The Bristol, Bath, Gloucester and Stroud, took the right-hand road from Hounslow; the Exeter, Yeovil, Poole, and “Quicksilver,” Devonport (which was the one I was driving), went the straight road towards Staines. We always saluted each other when passing, with “Good night, Bill,” “Dick,” or “Harry,” as the case might be. I was once passing a Mail, mine being the faster, and gave my wonted salute. A coachman named Downs was driving the Stroud Mail; he instantly recognised my voice, and said, “Charlie, what are you doing on my road?” It was he, however, who had made the mistake; he had taken the Staines, instead of the Slough, road out of Hounslow. We both[15] pulled up immediately; he had to turn round and go back, which was a feat attended with much difficulty in such a fog. Had it not been for our usual salute, he would not have discovered his mistake before arriving at Staines. This mishap was about as bad as getting into a wrong train. I merely mention the circumstance to show that it was no joke driving a night Mail in those days. November was the month we dreaded most, the fogs were generally so bad. A singular event happened with the Bath Mail that ran between Bath and Devonport. Its time for arriving at Devonport was eleven o’clock at night. One eventful evening, they had set down all their outside passengers except a Mrs. Cox, who kept a fish-stall in Devonport Market. She was an immense woman, weighing about twenty stone. At Yealmpton, where the coachman and guard usually had their last drain before arriving at their destination, being a cold night, they kindly sent Mrs. Cox a drop of something warm. The servant-girl who brought out the glass, not being able to reach the lady, the ostler very imprudently left the horses’ heads to do the polite. The animals hearing some one getting on the coach, doubtless concluded that it was the coachman; at the same time finding themselves free, and being, probably, anxious to get home, started off at their usual pace, and performed the seven miles in safety, passing over the Laira Bridge and through the toll-bar, keeping clear of everything on the road. Mrs. Cox meanwhile sat on the coach, with her arms extended in the attitude of a spread-eagle, and vainly trying to attract the attention of those she met or passed on the road. She very prudently, however, abstained from screaming, as she thought she might otherwise have alarmed the horses. They, indeed, only trotted at their ordinary speed, and came to a halt of their own accord at the door of the “King’s Arms” Hotel, Plymouth, where they were in the habit of stopping to discharge some of the freight of the coach. The boots and ostler came running out to attend to their accustomed duties, but, to their astonishment, beheld no[16] one but the affrighted Mrs. Cox on the coach and two passengers inside, who were happily, wholly unconscious of the danger to which they had been exposed! The coachman and guard soon arrived in a post-chaise. Poor Mrs. Cox drank many quarterns of gin to steady her nerves before she felt able to continue her journey to Devonport, where she carried on a prosperous trade for many years. Many people patronised her, on purpose to hear her narrate the great event of her life. I often used to chaff her, and hear her repeat the history of her memorable adventure.

I will add a little anecdote of Bob Pointer, who was on the Oxford road. Giving his ideas on coaching to a young gentleman who was on the box with him, on his way to college, he said:—“Soldiers and sailors may soon learn to fight; lawyers and parsons go to college, where they are crammed with all sorts of nonsense that all the Nobs have read and wrote since Adam—of course, very good if they like it—but to be a coachman, sir, you must go into the stable almost before you can run alone, and learn the nature of horses and the difference between corn and chaff. Well can I remember, the first morning I went out with four horses; I never slept a wink all night. I got a little flurried coming out of the yard, and looking round on the envious chaps who were watching me—it was as bad as getting married—at least, I should think so, never having been in that predicament myself. I have escaped that dilemma, for,” he concluded, “when a man is always going backwards and forwards between two points, what is the use of a wife, a coachman could never be much more than half married. Now, if the law—in the case of coachmen—allowed two wives, that would be quite another story, because he could then have the tea-things set out at both ends of his journey. Driving, sir, is very like life, it’s all so smooth when you start with the best team, so well-behaved and[17] handsome; but get on a bit, and you will find you have some hills to get up and down, with all sorts of horses, as they used to give us over the middle ground. Another thing, sir, never let your horses know you are driving them, or, like women, they may get restive. Don’t pull and haul, and stick your elbows a-kimbo; keep your hands as though you were playing the piano; let every horse be at work, and don’t get flurried; handle their mouths lightly; do all this, and you might even drive four young ladies without ever ruffling their feathers or their tempers.”


[18]

My readers will not, perhaps, deem it altogether an inappropriate conclusion to this very humble little treatise, if I annex for their amusement, if not for their edification, “The last Dying Speech of the Coachmen from Beambridge,” and some two or three other mementoes of a period and of an institution which have both, alas! long since passed away—and for ever.


THE LAST DYING SPEECH OF THE COACHMEN FROM BEAM BRIDGE.


The days, nay, the very nights of those who have so long “reined” supreme over the “Nonpareils” and the “Brilliants,” the “Telegraphs” and the “Stars,” the “Magnets” and the “Emeralds,” are nearly at an end, and the final way-bill of the total “Eclipse” is made up. It is positively their last appearance on this stage.

In a few weeks they will be unceremoniously pushed from their boxes by an inanimate thing of vapour and flywheels—by a meddling fellow in a clean white jacket and a face not ditto to match, who, mounted on the engine platform, has for some weeks been flourishing a red hot poker over their heads, in triumph at their discomfiture and downfall; and the turnpike road, shorn of its glories, is left desolate and lone. No more shall the merry rattle of the wheels, as the frisky four-in-hand careers in the morning mist, summon the village beauty from her toilet to the window-pane to catch a passing nod of gallantry; no more shall they loiter by the way to trifle with the pretty coquette in the bar, or light up another kind of flame for the fragrant Havannah fished from amongst the miscellaneous deposits in the depths of the box-coat pockets. True, the race were always a little fond of raillery, and therefore they die by what they love—we speak of course of professional demise—but no doubt they “hold it hard,” after having so often “pulled up” to be thus pulled down from their “high eminences,” and compelled to sink into mere landlords of hotels, farmers, or private gentlemen. [19]Yet so it is. They are “regularly booked.” Their “places are taken” by one who shows no disposition to make room for them; even their coaches are already beginning to crumble into things that have been; and their bodies (we mean their coach bodies) are being seized upon by rural loving folks, for the vulgar purpose of summer-houses. But a few days and they will all vanish—

“And like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not a trace behind.”

No, not even a buckle, or an inch of whipcord; and if, some years hence a petrified whipple tree, or the skeleton of a coachman, should be turned up, they will be hung up side by side with rusty armour and the geological gleanings of our antediluvian ancestors.

We cannot part with our civil, obliging, gentlemanly friends of the road without a feeling of regret, and an expression of gratitude for the benefits they have done us. It was pleasant, after a warm breakfast, to remove our heels from the hob, and ensconce oneself by the side of our modern whip—to establish a partnership in his cosy leathern apron—to see him handling his four spirited bays as though his reins were velvet—and having, with a few familiar words and a friendly cigar, drawn the cork from the bottle of his varied information, to learn, as we slapped along at ten miles an hour, whose park it was, stretching away to the left, to listen to his little anecdotes of horse and flesh, and his elucidation of the points of the last Derby. “Peace to the manes and to the names” of our honest coachmen, one and all of them, and of their horses too—we speak of their whippish names, for in the body we hope they may long tarry, and flourish to boot, in other departments of the living.


[20]

AN OLD FRIEND AND A NEW FACE.


To the Editor of the “Exeter and Plymouth Gazette.”

Sir,

You will oblige me by inserting the following in your paper, which may be amusing to some of your readers:—

It is a fact well known that when the subscription coaches started, in the year 1812, William Hanning, Esq., a magistrate of the county of Somerset, residing near Ilminster, was a strenuous advocate for their support, and it was in great measure owing to his exertions that they were established. This gentleman, from some motive or other, or perhaps from his known fondness for new speculations, is now the avowed supporter of a new coach, called, above all other names, the “Defiance,” and it is professedly meant as an opposition to the subscription coaches. It started from Exeter for the first time on Sunday, April 13th, 1823. One really would have supposed that under such patronage a name better calculated to keep the peace of his Majesty’s liege subjects, and to preserve harmony and good-will among men, would have been adopted for this coach, and that some other day might have been selected for its first appearance. However, the “Defiance” started on the Sunday afternoon, amidst the shouts and imprecations of guards, coachmen, and ostlers, contending one against the other, and having one ill-looking outside passenger, whose name was Revenge.

An interesting occurrence took place at Ilminster. The new “Defiance” was expected to arrive there, on its way from town, between nine and ten on the Sunday morning, and it was determined to honour it with ringing the church bells. The heroes of the belfry were all assembled, every man at his rope’s end, “their souls on fire, and eager for the fray;” the Squire was stationed about a mile from Ilminster, and seeing the coach, as he thought, coming at a distance, he galloped through the street in triumph, gave the signal, and off went the merry peal. Every[21] eye was soon directed to this new and delightful object, when, guess the consternation that prevailed upon seeing, instead of the new “Defiance,” the poor old Subscription trotting nimbly up to the George Inn door, and Tom Goodman, the guard, playing on the key-bugle, with his usual excellence, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” The scene is more easily imagined than described; it would have been a fine subject for Hogarth. The bells were now ordered to cease; the Squire walked off and was seen no more. Honest Tom was not accustomed to this kind of reception; he had enlivened the town with his merry notes a thousand times, but now every one looked on him with disdain, as if they did not know him. He could scarcely suppress his feelings; but after a few minutes’ reflection he mounted his seat again, and, casting a good-tempered look to all around him, went off, playing a tune which the occurrence and the sublimity of the day seemed to dictate to him—“Through all the changing scenes of life.” Some of the good people of Ilminster who were going to church admired Tom’s behaviour, and said it had a very good effect. Tom arrived safe with his coach at Exeter about one o’clock, having started from London one hour and a half after the “Defiance,” and performed the journey in nineteen hours and a half. The “Defiance” arrived about an hour after the Subscription; but the proprietors of the latter did not approve of this system, and gave Tom a reprimand, directing him in future to keep on his regular steady pace,[21-*] and not to notice the other coach, which he promised to attend to, but said he only wished to show them, on their first journey, the way along. This, under all the circumstances, was admitted as an excuse. Tom went away much pleased with the adventures of his journey, and said he should never meet the Squire again without playing on his bugle “Hark to the merry Christ Church bells.”

I beg leave to remain, Mr. Editor,

Your obliged Servant,

A Friend to the Subscription Coaches.

[21-*] The regular time is to perform the journey in twenty-two hours—to leave London at six in the evening, and arrive in Exeter at four the following afternoon.


[22]

All the world is a Stage Coach: it has its insides and outsides, and
Coachmen in their time see much fun.
”—Old Play.


Tune—“The Huntsman Winds his Horn.”

Some people delight in the sports of the turf
Whilst others love only the chace,
But to me, the delight above all others is
A good Coach that can go the pace.
There are some, too, for whom the sea has its charms
And who’ll sing of it night and morn,
But give me a Coach with its rattling bars
And a Guard who can blow his horn.
But give me a Coach, &c.

When the Coach comes round to the office door,
What a crowd to see it start,
And the thoughts of the drive, cheer up many who leave
Their friends with an aching heart.
The prads are so anxiously tossing their heads,
And a nosegay does each one adorn,
When the Dragsman jumps up, crying out “sit fast,”
While the shooter blows his horn.
When the Dragsman jumps up, &c.

[23]

Now merrily rolls the Coach along,
Like a bird she seems to fly,
As the girls all look out from the roadside Inns,
For a wink from the Dragsman’s eye,
How they long for a ride with the man who’s the pride
Of each village through which he is borne,
On that Coach which he tools with so skilful a hand,
While the Guard plays a tune on his horn.
On that Coach, &c.

How the girls all dote on the sight of the Coach,
And the Dragsman’s curly locks,
As he rattles along with eleven and four,
And a petticoat on the box.
That box is his home, his teams are his pride,
And he ne’er feels downcast or forlorn,
When he lists to the musical sound of the bars,
And the tune from the shooter’s horn.
When he lists, &c.

I have sung of the joys one feels on a Coach,
And the beauty there is in a team,
So let us all hope they may ne’er be destroyed
By the rascally railroads and steam.
There are still some good friends who’ll stick by the old trade,
And who truly their absence would mourn,
“So here’s a health to the Dragsman, success to the bars,
And the Guard who blows his horn.”
So here’s a health, &c.

[24]

Tune—“The Queen, God bless her.”

1.

See that splendid fast Coach, well-named “TALLY HO,”
With prads that can come the long trot;
Do their twelve miles an hour—like flashes they go,
Spinning smoothly along as a top.

2.

With Ward and John Hex, or Hardcastle and Judd,
How devoted they are to the fair;
In their vests there you find the red rose in the bud,
Perfuming the Summer soft air.
Tally Ho, &c., &c.

3.

Four within and twelve out, see they usually start,
And the horn sounding right merrily;
Good humour and glee do these gay lads impart,
And their management’s right to a T.

4.

But, how shall we grieve, when the fam’d “Tally Ho,”
Shares the fate of those now long gone by?
Yet—we’ll toast its fond mem’ry wherever we go,
For the sound of its name shall ne’er die.
Tally Ho, &c., &c.


Printed by Jas. Wade, 18, Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.






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