Imagens das páginas

the goal; and all as soon as one can write-almost as soon as one can speak it. I have stood upon a bridge twenty feet across, as a long train came up at full speed, on the side of its approach, and gazed at it till the engine came directly under my feet, all braced for a spring to the other side, and before I could reach it, with my utmost agility, the whole train, twelve or fifteen rods long, would be gone from under me, and flying away like a bird on the wing! All this was very amusing and delightful, as well as astonishing, before the accident. It impresses one with some sense of the grandeur of the possible achievements of human art, and with awe in the contemplation of the yet unascertained powers of the human mind..

But after our disaster, on the same day, I went out from Manchester and perched myself on a bridge, to witness these movements again. But how different my thoughts and emotions! The opportunities of observation there are better than at the end towards Liverpool, as the trains can be seen approaching at the distance of two or three miles, perhaps more. But instead of pleasure, it was all anxiety. My mind was occupied solely in calculating the chances of an accident, and the consequences that might result. I could imagine scores and hundreds of possible and not very improbable things, that might occasion a disaster. Instead of welcoming the approach of this shooting train, I trembled; the nearer it came, the more uneasy I felt; I pitied those on board of it; I blamed the presumption of the engineer for flying at such a rate, when so near the end of his race; and imagined it possible that he would not be able to stop it in season to save them from rushing headlong into the town and streets of Manchester. But still no accident occurred, except in my creative imagination, where, indeed, and in spite of all my sounder logic, they rushed in throngs upon each other's heels.

A foreigner in a strange land will naturally and very prudently endeavour to acquaint himself with such manners and customs as he may have been unaccustomed to; so far at least as may be convenient to himself, or necessary to save him from being troublesome or unacceptable to others. All travellers will probably agree, that a first breaking-in of this kind, in passing from one country to another, is more or less embarrassing. Do the best any one can—be he ever so conscientious in his efforts to conform to innocent customs - he will notwithstanding be doomed to mistakes, annoying to himself or to others, and sometimes ludicrous. From Liverpool I began to travel in England, and to acquire by experience what I had failed to learn from other sources, of that knowledge which is essential to a traveller's comfort. In all countries one has need to be vigilant against

the tricks and impositions of the agents and contractors of public conveyances; and in England an American has to learn how to satisfy the servants of inns and hotels, the coachman and guard, and such other subsidiaries to his comfort (or, as it often happens, subsidiaries to his annoyance) as may happen to fall in his way. In America, servants of all public conveyances and houses of entertainment are paid by their employers; and no traveller, or guest, is ever obliged to put his hand in his pocket for any thing but a single and general bill, wherever he is indebted for conveyance, or lodgings, or other services-excepting only for the porter, who is always his own man, and the shoeblack, or, as in England they call him, the boots. This is generally true in the Northern States, except in some of the largest establishments in the principal cities; and in some places of public resort, gratuities, in latter years, are in vogue. This is an unworthy aping of European custom. In the Southern States, from the similarity of the relation between the master and slave to that between the old European lord and serf—where the custom doubtless originated to secure the affection and purchase the fidelity of the servant-gratuities to slaves and coloured servants are also expected. In England there is more or less of the ancient servility and debasing obsequiousness in the character of servants, which makes them willing to depend on the law of “what you please, sir;" but it is notwithstanding a recognised law of society, and stands up in the shape of a legalized and just demand. For the most part, I believe, servants of all public conveyances and houses depend on their gratuities for their wages in whole or in part; and where travelling is great, and guests are constantly changing, the proprietors and masters of these establishments sell the places of their servants to those who fill them, according to their value.

To the article of imposition:- What traveller has not a full budget of this kind? The first step I made out of Liverpool and in England, I was doomed to suffer vexatiously in this particular; which, in justice, I must put down to the credit of Brotherton's coach-office, where they were guilty, first, of the impropriety of taking my fare to Birmingham by the railway ; and next, of the shameful injustice of signifying to me, when I arrived at Manchester too late for the coach of that day on account of the accident, that they had no interest or responsibility in the railway; that they were glad the accident had happened ; that I had forfeited my passage to Birmingham by not being at Manchester in proper time, the coach having been gone two hours; that it was good enough for me for having patroni. sed the railway; and they refused to enter my name for the next day, without payment in full from Manchester to Bir

mingham, which they had received once that morning at Liverpool! For the railway they had purchased and given me a ticket, which I afterward discovered was their practice, for the sake of securing passengers by their own coach.

But to the more amusing part of servants, porters, &c.Having made diligent inquiry at Liverpool what class of servants were to be “remembered," and by what consideration, I believe I succeeded tolerably well in rendering satisfaction, as I left my lodgings at the Talbot Inn. A little extraordinary in England, the servants and porters connected with the Manchester railway, who help us on and off at the extremities, are not permitted, as was understood, to accept of gratuities. The getting on, therefore, as we passed from the omnibus to the railway cars, was easily and pleasantly accomplished. But as we did not get through in the ordinary way, it was natural enough, perhaps, that the getting off should also be signalized by some out-of-the-way incidents. We came to the Manchester extremity of the railway out of time and out of order : but as I had never been there before, it was not for me to know that every thing else in that place was out of order; that our upset and consequent delay had deranged these remote affairs, and collected an unusual crowd to see what the matter might be. I had understood that we should be carried off in the same manner and style as we were brought on, by the servants and coaches connected with the railway, and dropped in town at a definite place; in short, that the beginning and end of the railway were at the offices in Liverpool and Manchester, and that we had nothing to do but to remain passive, till we had used up our purchased and assigned privileges. Of course I obeyed instructions, and kept in the passive state ; but being out of time, and anxious lest I should lose my seat in the coach for Birmingham, I was willing to be carried into town by whatever hands should first offer for that service. Instantly as we arrived, a mob of porters presented themselves, touching their hats, with—“A coach, sir ?"_"A coach, sir?"_“Yes.”_" Any luggage, sir ?”—“Yes, here it is.” Immediately myself and friend, with our several articles of luggage, were stowed away in a hackney-coach by as many hands as could find a hold at both ends of each portmanteau, of the umbrellas, great-coats, travelling-desks, &c.; for, still passive, we gratefully accepted of any and all assistance that was offered, imagining that the abundance of it was kindly owing to the sympathy felt in our misfortunes. Well, being in the coach, and having given directions where to drive, and not a little impatient even for the least unnecessary delay, it seemed to us rather unaccountable that all remained at a stand, and this half

score of kind hands, who had helped us with our luggage off the railway into our then present place, and whom we had already thanked, standing without, gazing at us through the window, lifting their hands to their heads, bowing, &c. &c.! Indeed, these attentions seemed very extraordinary. They must be very kind people here, and this is the manner of expressing their sympathy, and their congratulations for our deliverance. Still I thought we could ill afford the time for such ceremonies, and I put my head out of the window, and bid the coachman-“Drive on :" I had not yet learned to say~ All right!" Still he waited. I then bid him authoritativelyDrive on!" Still we found ourselves the subjects of a shower of these kind and congratulatory offices. As the coach drove off, they followed us at either side, and seemed unwilling to give us their last blessing, as long as they could keep pace with us.

Poor fellows! I have often wished I could meet with them again; I would certainly render to them double for all their kindness; for it does not take long in England to learn what such attentions mean. Indeed, had we not been, by a common understanding, under the protection of a free passport, we might, perhaps, have discovered it even then : but, being strangers in the realm, it was not our business to know the nice shades of difference in different characters; or, that a servant of the railroad company wore a glazed hat, and a common porter no hat at all that the former was able to have a coat, and that the latter wanted a shirt.

Having presented ourselves at the coach-office, learned that we were too late, and received the very civil answer of the agent, that we had forfeited our money, &c., as a due reward for our bad conduct in patronising the railway, we pocketed the insult, and took lodgings at the Star Inn. Having thought over this treatment a little, I returned to the coach-office, left my name and address, and told the clerk I would give him two hours to reconsider his decision; after which, if I should not hear from him in the meantime, he need not be surprised if the business were put into other hands for adjustment. In about half an hour he sent me word that my name was booked to Birmingham for the next day, with a notice of the hour when the coach would take me up.

[merged small][ocr errors]

English and American Stagecoaches—The high state of English Agri

culture and Horticulture—The artificial Beauties of English Land. scape-Journey from Manchester to London-Curious Names of Inns in England—Warren's Blacking--Profits of Empiricism.

It must be conceded that there is nothing in the world, of the same kind, equal to the English stagecoach system -if that may be called system which is the accidental result of the enterprise of many thousands of individuals, each of whom is opposed to all the rest in the way of competition. It is impossible to be months and years in England, and have occasion to traverse it frequently and in various directions by means of these conveyances, without appreciating the perfection of the system, in comparison with that of other countries, where the subjects of such comparison have fallen within one's observation. In itself alone it is admirable. Take London as a centre : count the number of offices devoted to this business, the coaches that belong to each, and find the sum of all the passengers that contribute to their support for a year, a month, or a day; estimate, if it were possible, the gross expense of these establishments as an outfit, and the expense of maintaining them, and in that way arrive at what must be paid by the public to make the business profitable : observe the discipline under which they are brought; the precision of their time; the exactitude and celerity of their movements; the certainty of accomplishing their stages as promised ; the beauty and speed of the horses, and neatness of their harness; the well-painted and polished vehicle, light in itself and commodious in all its parts; the coachman well dressed, well fed, and well satisfied ;-in a word, take the system all in all, there is little fault to be found with it-it ought to be praised, if it were not above praise the impositions of the agents always excepted.

An English stagecoach will generally carry sixteen pas. sengers-four inside and twelve out; the fare of the inside being perhaps on an average, in excess of the outside, as twenty to twelve. In pleasant weather the outside is preferable; to a stranger, who wishes to view the country as he passes along, it is indispensable; but in a rain there is no protection when the seats are all occupied. The raising of umbrellas only turns the streams that flow from them into somebody's neck or lap; each one inflicting torrents on his neighbour, which are even more comfortable to be received in drops, as the clouds dispense them. A complete

« AnteriorContinuar »