« السابقةمتابعة »
borative of the fact. I once saw a gentleman driving three ladies in a phaeton with a very fine horse, who was performing sundry and various antics pretty enough in themselves, but by no means desirable in a low phaeton. The gentleman, little as he knew about the matter, knew enough to find out that something was wrong: he stopped, got out, examined the horse and harness, was quite satisfied all was right, so got in again; but on starting again he got his carriage on the dead lock, so, had the horse gone two yards further in the same direction, as a matter of course over they would all have toddled. Out, very wisely, bolted my gentleman again, and, still more wisely, stood at the horse's head till some one came up. This some one happened to be myself, whose assistance was earnestly requested. He could in no way account for the conduct of the horse, that had taken them very quietly to an old lady's house where they had dined close by: he thought it quite extraordinary; I did not. It appears, he had on his return put the horse into the phaeton himself, had passed the traces through the back band tugs, which he thought were intended only for that purpose, had carefully buckled the belly band, leaving the shafts outside the whole : these he had supported by the breeching hip-straps only, and in this way intended to get home safely over eight miles of a hilly road. I put him to rights: the horse, luckily a very finetempered one, went off quietly, and I trust the party got home safely. Now, after all, I will be bound these ladies would again trust themselves to the gentleman, and he would again undertake the driving them.
My next gentleman I met driving a phaeton also,
83 with a pair of queerish ill-matched cobs, and a page covered with buttons by his side. They were travelling along quietly enough, but I saw something was wrong, as each cob seemed by the turn of his head as if he was intently looking for something in the hedge on his own side of the road. Before they quite came up to me, I had discovered the occasion of this, and as there were ladies in the carriage, I took the liberty of stopping the turn-out, and asked the gentleman if he considered the way in which his reins were buckled to his bits as advantageous ? in which case, I of course should bow to his superior judgment. “He was not aware of any peculiarity in their application ?” This was enough. I altered them. The fact was, instead of crossing his coupling-reins, he had applied each to its own side; so of course his horses' heads were pulled into the position of the flukes of an anchor. I had not quite done with him yet ; for finding his traces not drawing quite in the usual line, I found he had passed them through the hip-straps of his breeching, the cobs half carrying the fore-carriage of the phaeton on their rumps, and of course tightening the pole-pieces, so they were kept together as lovingly as possible, so far as their bodies went; their necks and heads, however, being in the direction above described. After altering this also, I took my leave: my friend did the same, very coolly, I am quite confident he thought the alteration of no earthly consequence, and probably considered me an impertinent fellow for my interference. I puzzled myself all the way home as to who my friend might be, and how his horses got put together in such a novel manner: but it was of no use; I could come to no conclusion on the subject. Having occasion some
DENTRIFUGAL COACHMANSHIP. months after to get something done to a tooth, I went to a neighbouring town, knocked at the door of a dentist, when who should open it but the page of buttons innumerable, and of course in the operator I saw my friend the master of the cobs. I then learned he kept them at livery, had on the day I met him been to a pic-nic, and then, with the valuable assistance of the page, had put his cobs to in the novel way I have mentioned, which, par excellence, we will call the dentrifugal plan.
Friend the third appears in the person of an acquaintance who called on me one morning in a very neat phaeton, quite a George the Fourth, a very aristocratic-looking galloway, and a set of harness which he considered perhaps in equally good taste. Oh, ye Dryads and ye Fauns, what a set of harness ! the near side of an old plated double set! I inquired into the origin of this incongruous amalgamation, and found that the phaeton was a present, the galloway had been purchased at ten sovereigns as perfectly sound (worth forty if he had been so), and the harness, literally covered with plated ornaments, he had bought at a sale for two pounds the double set, very economically thinking, that, as the set was a dead bargain, and, as he 'thought, would do equally well for two horses in one way as in another, he might sell the one so as to get the other for nothing for his own use: but he unfortunately found, that although the silvered ornaments destined for each horse to carry would load a hand-cart, no one would look twice at the second set, so he retained them with the comfortable assurance that he was harnessed for life (so he was in truth with his bargain). But the best of the joke, and indeed the only joke in the A GALLOWAY FOR THE MILLION. : 85 anecdote, was this: the harness which the auctioneer guaranteed as complete really was so, and sported a pair of breechings about five inches in width. These of course, as in all double harness, went into the trace buckles, and with a pole and pole pieces were quite adequate to the purposes of breeching: but when used in a phaeton or gig, acted about in the same way to their destined purpose as the strap of a trouser would, if placed behind the leg instead of under the foot. But there was a breeching on the galloway ; so, of course, my acquaintance drove down every hill with perfect confidence. He had as yet met no accident. The truth was, this galloway, which was half blind and broken-winded, by the aid of the dash-board as well as the tugs, stopped the phaeton going down hill. Now had another horse been put in, what would have been the consequence ? why, a kicking match, in which I will back the nag to have the best of it. In a light gig, or in the generality of phaetons, there is danger enough even when properly appointed; but when otherwise, unless the animal that draws it is as quiet as a sheep, the danger is really imminent. '
When I speak of a coachman, I beg it to be understood I do not mean always a stage-coachman or a gentleman's coachman, but use it as we do the word sailor as applied to any one who contributes to or undertakes the management of a vessel, whether seaboy or admiral. I know little, indeed nothing, about these matters; but I imagine a sailor would be considered as having little pretension to that character if he could only steer a vessel in a calm sea with every sail properly set. I apprehend he would be expected to know every rope in his ship, their different uses, be able to detect any thing that was wrong, and be
BITS. equally able to set it right with his own hand. A coachman also is not merely one who, with every thing put right for him, can contrive to turn corners without running against a post, or one who can manage to wend his way along a road or moderately frequented street: he should understand his carriage, know its component parts, and their effects on its safety and running. If he does not know this, he may be driving with something about it loose, cracked, strained, broken, or misplaced, at the imminent risk of his own and his companions' lives; and if not a judge of its running well or ill, his horses will suffer; for the difference between the running of one carriage and another may probably, when loaded, be nearly or quite half a horse. I need scarcely say it is also necessary he should understand the full effect of every strap and buckle about his harness; for on properly harnessing and bitting horses all their comfort and that of the driver depends: more accidents happen from the want of this than from any other cause; and horses are also often very much punished in their work from such neglect. A man ignorant of all this does not know what is likely to lead to danger; and of course, when once in it, is as helpless as a child in adopting perhaps the only means of getting out of it. The reader has doubtless often seen a coachman, before taking hold of his reins, go to all four of his horses' heads, lay hold of their bits, and feel if each horse is properly bitted. Perhaps this to some has appeared a useless precaution: the coachman knows better; he knows that on that a great part of his safety depends.
I should perhaps much surprise many persons by stating that a horse improperly bitted will sometimes set him kicking: they may say, “ What on earth has