« السابقةمتابعة »
TRAVELLING EN FAMILLE. going fast down hill with four or five persons and a cruelty-van ; but, in the first place, such men have no business driving at all ; secondly, if people want to travel by the dozen and luggage with one horse, they deserve to get into danger; most especially if they condemn an unfortunate horse to be driven by a man who knows nothing of what he is about. If they wish to go the same pace with one horse that their neighbours do with two, they must let it be done in the most advantageous manner to the animal, or let them travel en famille, and get over the ground like Wombwell's elephant, in a walk, with a jog trot by way of a treat occasionally. If I had (which God forbid !) the driving a whole family with one horse, they should go fast enough on occasions, but it should be when, I will answer for it, they would all hold on by the sides of the vehicle. Let coaches walk down hills, their horses would not walk long.
Alluding to trotting down hills, I have allowed that with a driver who has no hands it is to a certain degree dangerous; but there is danger in most things, and danger must be encountered in most of our pursuits, as it is said, “'tis dangerous to eat, to drink ;” but going a fair pace down hill is not so dangerous, where a coachman does it, as many people imagine. If an accident does happen while doing so, the effects may or may not prove more fatal than if it had happened at a slower pace; but of this I am quite satisfied, that where one horse falls in going eight miles an hour, half-a-dozen would do so at five. When I use the term hill, of course I do not mean a precipice.
Although I once before made some observations on that very clever invention, Mr. Tongue's drag, I 152
MUFFS AND MUDDIES. must do so again in this place; and if the generality of persons knew the effort it is to horses to hold heavy carriages in going down hills, they would not be surprised at my doing so. I am quite sure they are more punished by doing this than they are by drawing the same carriage up hill, setting aside the danger to those behind them; and in this respect its great utility is to the full as pre-eminent when applied to light vehicles as to heavier, as few men are intrusted with the latter who are not more or less coachmen; whereas, God knows, we have a pretty copious sprinkling of regular muffs who intrust themselves with the charge of the former. When I am quite tired of my life, as a less culpable act than direct suicide, such a gentleman shall drive me; till then, “I thank him very much, but prefer walking." A very low phaeton running on the haunches of a spirited horse may be a very safe vehicle, but I don't fancy it; many people do. Give me a proper carriage and good tackle, I am not very nice as to what horses do; but in a low phaeton I feel myself in the situation of a man sitting on a chair behind a horse's heels, and touching him up to see whether he will in return send those heels in the face, an experiment I hold as somewhat dangerous. Now going down a sharp hill in one of these muddies is really no joke, but a drag makes it as safe as a level. If I learn that Mr. Caudle has ever driven his wife down hill in a low phaeton without one, I shall feel certain all her accusations are well founded. No lady should ever drive herself without one : not only as to hills, but supposing a bolt on the part of her horse, if this drag, which can be set in a minute, is attached to the carriage she drives, that worst of casualties that can
happen to her — namely, a regular runaway — will be prevented. If only one case of this sort was prevented by this clever drag, its inventor deserves the acknowledgments of our fair friends, and ten thousand times more our own.
In this particular attention to the well-doing of their horses, our Continental neighbours give us an example we should do well to follow. Even their two-wheeled carriages, where the weight on them is great, are all furnished with a drag, or rather a stopper, to the wheels; and I understand this is also done in some parts of Scotland: but here a horse is allowed to risk breaking his neck with a cart and a ton and a half to hold down the steepest hill. .
Various have been the inventions for stopping horses when running away ; some by peculiar bits; some by disengaging them from the carriage; some, or one at least, by throttling the horse — I dare say all very clever in their way: but I rather, though very humbly, conceive, that, supposing horses were running away down a hill, bringing them suddenly down by choking them might prove rather an awkward experiment, even supposing the choker, or whatever it is called, did act to admiration. I was told that, finding themselves choking, the horses would gradually stop. I rather think the person who told me so, though a much cleverer man than myself, has not had quite so much to do with runaway nags as I have, or he would know, that, when, running away horses really will lose all sense of danger or pain, lose all instinct, and are in fact like mad horses, and will face certain death. Now, as to the disengaging them from the carriage, of course when horses are going away we may fairly conclude something like from sixteen to eighteen
miles an hour would be the pace, and if I know any. thing of pace, or carriages, I conceive the carriage, on being disengaged, would not lose its impetus at once, but a few yards would get it on the lock. If then some bones and necks were not smashed, they must be of some tougher material than iron or steel. I have a vague idea that when horses run away in harness the carriage generally runs after them; but if the carriage will not run, the horses cannot. Upon this principle it strikes me, that instead of puzzling our brains about stopping the horses, the far simpler thing would be to stop the carriage. This the drag will do, not at once I allow, and so much the safer; nor will it stop the horses at once, or bring them on their heads like the choker, but it will very shortly bring them to a confortable little toddle, nor will they object to be brought to a stand-still, which will give them time to consider what fools they have been making of themselves. This is better than making mincedmeat of their master, or, worse, their fair mistress. People should consider, that with a heavy weight, as with a coach for instance, the lives of sixteen or eighteen persons depend on four things principally, a flaw in either of which is all but certain death to some and fractured bones to others : these are, the pole, the pole chain, the ring in the hames, and the hame strap. If only one of these gives way going down a hill, good night, for one wheeler can't hold a coach; and should a pole snap there is nothing to hold her. Thus, whether we take it as safety to ourselves, or safety and ease to horses, the coachman or driver, be he who he may, shows that he is neither, if he risks his own, his passengers' and his horses' limbs, without a drag to his carriage in hilly countries. I hold
" FRONTI NULLA FIDES.”.
it equal to a day's rest to a horse in the week, and that is in fact money in his master's pocket.
With respect to the difference of weight as applied to the horse between two and four-wheeled carriages, much may be said for and against both, also as to their danger to the passenger.
Personally, perhaps from habit, I certainly prefer two wheels for one horse, and feel perfectly satisfied, in anything like a level country they are beyond all comparison easier to the horse, and in some respects safer. If a horse falls, certainly the four-wheeled carriage has the advantage; but should he become restive, I really know of no more dangerous carriage than a low phaeton. It is true we can jump out, and this renders them safe for ladies ; but for a man who knows how and means to make his horse do what he wants, he is all but powerless ; in such a carriage in a runaway the thing is truly awful. With two wheels, if the horse shies or bolts, he takes the carriage with him; you have him still straight before you, and you are all right: but in a phaeton, if he does this, and your carriage does not lock under, he gets you on the lock, and over you toddle, the carriage very likely acting as an extinguisher and putting your light out at once, whether it does your lamps or no if they are lit. If the carriage does lock under, your horse can stare you in the face before you have time to anticipate such an investigation, and then get him back as you can. If he does no mischief in such a case, he must be a quieter one than has usually fallen to my share to drive.
So much for the safety of the two carriages. Now as to the weight. The regular family take-em-alls now so much in use, if only for a short drive and on