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ground rose above the quftgniirg,. At such times obstructions and quarrels were frequent, and the path was
no sometimes blocked up during a long time by carriers, neither of whom would break the way. It happened, almost every day, that coaches stuck fast, until a team of cattle could be
Ik procured from some neighbouring
X^farm, to tugthem out of the slough.
"But in baaseasons the traveller haA to encounter inconveniences still more serious. Thoresby, who was in the
120 habit of travelling between Leeds and the capital, has recorded, in his Diary, such a series of perils and disasters as might suffice for a journey to the Frozen Ocean or to the
125 Desert of Sahara. On one occasion he learned that the floods were out between Ware and London, that passengers had to swim for their lives, and that a higgler had perished in
iso the attempt to cross. In consequence of these tidings he turned out of the high road, and was conducted across some meadows, where it was necessary for him to ride to the saddle
186 skirts in water. In the course of another journey he narrowly escaped being swept away by an inundation of the Trent He was afterwards detained at Stamford four days, on
i« account of the state of the roads, and then ventured to proceed only because fourteen members of the House of Commons, who were going up in a body to Parliament with
146 guides and numerous attendants, took him into their company. On the roads of Derbyshire, travellers were in constant fear for their necks, and were frequently compelled to alight
160 and lead their beasts. The great route through Wales to Holyhead was in such a state that, in 1685, a viceroy, going to Ireland, was five hours in travelling fourteen miles,
166 from Saint Asaph to Conway. Be
tween Conway and Beaumaris he was forced- to walk great part of the way; and his lady was carried in a litter. His coach was, with much difficulty, and by the help of 160 many hands, brought after him entire. In general, carriages were taken to pieces at Conway, and borne, on the shoulders of stout Welsh peasants, to the Menai Straits. In some parts Ibs of Kent and Sussex, none but the strongest horses could, in winter, get through the bog, in which, at every step, they sank deep. The markets were often inaccessible during several 170 months. It is said that the fruits of the earth were sometimes suffered to rot in one place, while in another place, distant only a few miles, the supply fell far short of the demand. 176 The wheeled carriages were, in this district, generally pulled by oxen. When Prince George of Denmark visited the stately mansion of Petwortb in wet weather, he was six hours in iso going nine miles; and it was necessary that a body of sturdy hinds should be on each side of his coach, in order to prop it. Of the carriages which conveyed his retinue several is5 were upset and injured. A letter from one of the party has been preserved, in which the unfortunate courtier complains that, during fourteen hours, he never once alighted, except 190 when his coach was overturned or stuck fast in the mud.
One chief cause of the badness of the roads seems to have been the defective state of the law. Every 196 parish was bound to repair the highways which passed through it. The peasantry were forced to give their gratuitous labour six days in the year. If this was not sufficient, 200 hired labour was employed, and the expense was met by a parochial rate. That a route connecting two great towns, which have a large and thriv
205 ing trade with each other, should be maintained at the cost of the rural population scattered between them is obviously unjust; and this injustice was peculiarly glaring in the case of
210 the great North Road, which traversed very poor and thinly inhabited districts, and joined very rich and populous districts. Indeed it was not in the power of the parishes of Hunting
216 donshire to mend a highway worn by the constant traffic between the West Hiding of Yorkshire and London. Soon after the Restoration this grievance attracted the notice of
220 Parliament; and an act, the first of our many turnpike acts, was passed, imposing a small toll on travellers and goods, for the purpose of keeping some parts of this important line
225 of communication in good repair. This innovation, however, excited many murmurs; and the other great avenues to the capital were long left under the old system. A change was at
230 length effected, but not without much difficulty. For unjust and absurd taxation to which men are accustomed is often borne far more willingly than the most reasonable impost which
235 is new. It was not till many toll bars had been violently pulled down, till the troops had in many districts been forced to act against the people, and till much blood had been shed,
240 that a good system was introduced. By slow degrees reason triumphed over prejudice; and our island is now crossed in every direction by near thirty thousand miles of turnpike
On the best highways heavy articles were, in the time of Charles the Second, generally conveyed from place to place by s^age waggons. In the 250 straw of these vehicles nestled a crowd of passengers, who could not afford to travel by coach or on horseback, and who were prevented by infirmity,
or by the weight of their luggage, from going on foot The expense 255 of transmitting heavy goods in this way was enormous. From London to Birmingham the charge was seven pounds a ton; from London to Exeter twelve pounds a ton. This was 260 about fifteen pence a ton for every mile, more by a third than was afterwards charged on turnpike roads, and fifteen times what is now demanded by railway companies. The cost of 255 conveyance amounted to a prohibitory tax on many useful articles. Coal in particular was never seen except in the districts where it was produced, or in the districts to which it could 270 be carried by sea, and was indeed always known in the south of England by the name of sea coal.
On byroads, and generally throughout the country north of York and 275 west of Exeter, goods were carried by long trains of packhorses. These strong and patient beasts, the breed of which is now extinct, were attended by a class of men who seem to have 2»> borne much resemblance to the Spanish muleteers. A traveller of humble condition often found it convenient to perform a journey mounted on a pacjtaaddle between two baskets, 2*6 under the care of these hardy guides. The expense of this mode of conveyance was small. But the caxaxan— moved at a foot's pace; and in winter the cold was often insupportable. aso
The rich commonly travelled in their own carriages, with at least four horses. Cotton, the facetious poet, attempted to go from London to the jjgatwith a single pair, but 395 found at Saint Aran's, that the journey would be insupportably tedious, and altered his plan. A coach and six is in our time never seen, except as part of some pageant The fre- 300 quent mention therefore of such equipages in old books is likely to mis
lead us. We attribute to magnificence what was really the effect of a very
805 disagreeable necessity. People, in the time of Charles the Second, travelled with six horses, because with a smaller number there was great danger of sticking fast in the
310 mire. Nor were even six horses always sufficient Vanbrugh, in the succeeding generation, described with great humour the way in which a country gentleman, newly chosen a
sis member of Parliament, went up to London. On that occasion all the exertions of six beasts, two of which had been taken from the plough, could not save the family coach from
320 being imbedded in a quagmire.
Public carriages had recently been much improved. During the years which immediately followed the Restoration, a diligence ran between Lon
320 don and Oxford in two days. The passengers slept at Beaconsfield. At length, in the spring of 1669, a great and daring innovation was attempted. It was announced that a vehicle,
330 described as the Flying Coach, would perform the whole journey between sunrise and sunset This spirited undertaking was solemnly considered and sanctioned by the Heads of the
335 University, and appears to have excited the same sort of interest which is excited in our own time by the opening of a new railway. The Vicechancellor, by a notice affixed in all
340 public places, prescribed the hour and place of departure. The success of the experiment was complete. At six in the morning the carriage began to move from before the ancient front
sio of All Souls College; and at seven in the evening the adventurous gentlemen who had run the first risk were safely deposited at their inn in London. The emulation of the sister
:ioo University was moved; and soon a diligence was set up which in one
day carried passengers from Cambridge to the capital. At the close of the reign of Charles the Second, flying carriages ran thrice a week 355 from London to the chief towns. But no stage coach, indeed no stage waggon, appears to have proceeded further north than York, or further west than Exeter. The ordinary day's 300 journey of a flying coach was about fifty miles in the summer; but in winter, when the ways were bad and the nights long, little more than thirty. The Chester coach, the York 305 coach, and the Exeter coach generally reached London in four days during the fine season, but at Christmas not till the sixth day. The passengers, six in number, were all seated 370 in the carriage. For accidents were so frequent that it would have been most perilous to mount the roof. The ordinary fare was about twopence halfpenny a mile in summer, and 37s somewhat more in winter.
This mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the present day would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our ancestors wonderfully ssu and indeed alarmingly rapid. In a work published a few months before the death of Charles the Second, the flying coaches are extolled as far superior to any similar vehicles ever w> known in the world. Their velocity is the subject of special commendation, and is triumphantly contrasted with the sluggish pace of the continental posts. But with boasts like 390 these was mingled the sound of complaint and invective. The interests of large classes had been unfavourably affected by the establishment of the new diligences; and, as usual, 3% many persons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to clamour against the innovation, simply because it was an innovation. It was vehemently argued that this mode 400 of conveyance would be fatal to the breed of horses and to the noble art of horsemanship; that the Thames, which had long been an important
405 nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief tiboroughfare from London up to Windsor and down to Gravesend; that saddlers and spurriers would be ruined by hundreds;
410 that numerous inns, at which mounted travellers had been in the habit of stopping, would be deserted, and would no longer pay any rent; that the new carriages were too bot in
4i6 summer and too cold in winter; that the passengers were grievously annoyed by invalids and crying children; that the coach sometimes reached the inn so late that it was impos
420 sible to get supper, and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to get breakfast On these grounds it was gravely recommended that no public coach should be per
425 mitted to have more than four horses, to start oftener than once a week, or to go more than thirty miles a day. It was hoped that, if this regulation were adopted, all except
4so the sick and the lame would return to the old mode of travelling. Petitions embodying such opinions as these were presented to the King in council from several companies of
486 the City of London, from several provincial towns, and from the justices of several counties. We smile at these things. It is not impossible that our descendants, when they read
440 the history of the opposition offered by cupidity and prejudice to the improvements of the nineteenth century, may smile in their turn.
In spite of the attractions of the
446 flying coaches, it was still usual for men who enjoyed health and vigour, and who were not encumbered by much baggage, to perform long journeys ou horseback. If the traveller
wished to move expeditiously he rode at p^osL Fresh saddle horses and guides weTe to be procured at convenient distances along all the great lines of road. The charge was threepence a mile for each horse, and fourpence 456 a stage for the guide. In this manner, when the ways were good, it was possible to travel, for a considerable time, as rapidly as by any conveyance known in England, till vehicles m were propelled by steam. There were as yet no post chaises; nor could those who rode in their own coaches ordinarily procure a change of horses. The King, however, and the great is officers of state were able to command relays. Thus Charles commonly went in one day from Whitehall to Njjjgmackejj a distance of about fifty-five miles through a level 470 country; and this was thought by his subjects a proof of great activity. Ejgjvj^performed the same journey in company with the Lord Treasurer Cliffori The coach was drawn by 47s six horses, which were changed at Bishop Stortford, and again at Chesterford. The travellers reached Newmarket at night Such a mode of conveyance seems to have been con- 480 sidered as a rare luxury confined to princes and ministers.
Whatever might be the way in which a journey was performed, the travellers, unless they were numerous iso and well armed, ran considerable risk of being stopped and plundered. The mounted highwayman, a marauder known to our generation •oSjFfrohi books, was to be found on every 490 main road. The waste tracts which lay on the great routes near London were especially haunted by plunderers of this class. Hounslow Heath, on the great Western Road, and Finch- 496 ley Common, on the great Northern Road, were perhaps the most celebrated of these spots. The Cam
bridge scholars trembled when they
6oo approached ^Bftiilff ¥ifr""°f even in broad daylight Seamen who had just been paid off at ffoptiiam were often compelled to deliver their purses on Qfljjshill, celebrated near a
606 hundred years earlier by the greatest of poets as the scene of the depredations of Falstaff. The public authorities seem to have been often at a loss how to deal with the plunderers.
eio At one time it was announced in the Gazette that several persons, who were strongly suspected of being highwaymen, but against whom there was not sufficient evidence, would be
6i6 paraded at Newgate in riding dresses: their horses would also be shown: and all gentlemen who had been robbed were invited to inspect this singular exhibition. On another oc
620 casion a pardon was publicly offered to a robber if he would give up some rough diamonds, of immense value, which he had taken when he stopped the Harwich yiail. A
626 short time after appeared another proclamation, warning the innkeepers that the eye of the government was upon them. Their criminal connivance, it was affirmed, enabled banditti to
infest the roads with impunity. That Bso these suspicions were not without foundation, is proved by the^dyjng 8peecJifis_oi some penitent robbers of that age, who appear to have received from the innkeepers services much 535 resembling those which Earquhar's Boniface rendered to Gibbet
It was necessary to the success and even to the safety of the highwayman that he should be a bold 540 and skilful rider, and that his manners and appearance should be such as suited the master of a fine horse. He therefore held an aristocratical position in the community of thieves, 546 appeared at fashionable coffee-houses and gaming-houses, and betted with men of quality on the race ground. Sometimes, indeed, he was a man of good family and education. A Bbo romantic interest therefore attached, and perhaps still attaches, to the names of freebooters of this class. The vulgar eagerly drank in tales of their ferocity and audacity, of 6&c their occasional acts of generosity and good nature, of their amours, of their miraculous escapes, of their desperate struggles, and of their manly bearing at the bar and in the cart 660
THE DEATH OF CHARLES II.
[From The History of England, Ch. IV (1848)]
The death of King Charles the Second took the nation by surprise. His frame was naturally strong, and did not appear to have suffered from
5 excess. He had always been mindful of his health even in his pleasures; and his habits were such as promise a long life and a robust old age. Indolent as he was on all occasions
10 which required tension of the mind, he was active and persevering in bodily exercise. He had, when young, been renowned as a tennis player,
and was, even in the decline of life, an indefatigable walker. His ordin-15 ary pace was such that those who were admitted to the honour of his society found it difficult to keep up with him. He rose early, and generally passed three or four hours a 20 day in the open air. He might be seen, before the dew was off the grass in St James's Park, striding among the trees, playing with his spaniels, and flinging corn to his -a, ducks; and these exhibitions endeared