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female relation, who put her questions with undisguised and distressing alarm, the very same people, one and all, assured her that the danger was next to nothing. Not so at present rightly presuming that a haughty cavalier of eighteen, flushed with wine and youthful blood, would listen with disgust to a picture too amiable and pacific of the roads before him, Mr. Spread-Eagle replied with the air of one who feared more than he altogether liked to tell, and looking suspiciously amongst the strange faces lit up by the light of the carriage lamps - Why, Sir, there have been ugly stories afloat; I cannot deny it: and sometimes, you know, Sir,' winking sagaciously, to which a knowing nod of assent was returned, it may not be quite safe to tell all one knows. But you can understand me. The forest, you are well aware, Sir, is the forest: it never was much to be trusted, by all accounts, in my father's time, and I suppose will not be better in mine. But you must keep a sharp lookout: and, Tom,' speaking to the postilion, mind, when you pass the third gate, to go pretty smartly by the thicket.' Tom replied in a tone of importance to this professional appeal. General valedictions were exchanged, the landlord bowed, and we moved off for the forest. Mephistopheles had his travelling case of pistols. These he began now to examine; for sometimes, said he, I have known such a trick as drawing the charge whilst one happened to be taking a glass of wine. Wine had unlocked his heart-the prospect of the forest and the advancing night excited him—and even of such a child as myself, he was now disposed to make a confidant. Did you observe,' said he, that ill-looking fellow, as big as a camel, who stood on the landlord's left hand?' Was it the man, I asked timidly, who seemed by his dress to be a farmer? Farmer, you call him? Ah! my young friend, that shows your little knowledge of the
world. He is a scoundrel, the bloodiest of scoundrels. And so I trust to convince him before many hours are gone over our heads.' Whilst saying this, he employed himself in priming his pistols: then, after a pause, he went on thus: :—6 'No, my young friend, this alone shows his base purposes his calling himself a farmer. Farmer, he is not, but a desperate highwayman, of which I have full proof. I watched his malicious glances, whilst the landlord was talking; and I could swear to his traitorous intentions.' So speaking, he threw anxious glances on each side as we continued to advance: we were both somewhat excited; he by the spirit of adventure, I by sympathy with him—and both by wine. The wine, however, soon applied a remedy to its own delusions: three miles from the town we had left, both of us were in a bad condition for resisting highwaymen with effect- we were fast asleep. Suddenly a most abrupt halt awoke us Mephistopheles felt for his pistols - the door flew open, and the lights of the assembled group announced to us that we had reached Mansfield. That night we went on to Newark, at which place about forty miles of our journey remained. This distance we performed, of course, on the following day, between breakfast and dinner. But it serves strikingly to illustrate the state of roads in England, whenever your affairs led you into districts a little retired from the capital routes of the public travelling-that, for one twenty-mile stage, viz., from Newark to Sleaford, they refused to take us forward with less than four horses. This was neither a fraud, as our eyes soon convinced us, (for even four horses could scarcely extricate the chaise from the deep sloughs which occasionally seamed the road for tracts of two or three miles in succession,) nor was it an accident of the weather. In all seasons the same demand was enforced, as my female protectress found in
conducting me back at a fine season of the year, and had always found in traversing the same route. The England of that date (1794) exhibited many similar cases. At present there is but one stage in all England, where a traveller, without regard to weight, is called upon to take four horses; and that is at Ambleside, in going by the direct road to Carlisle. The first stage to Patterdale lies over the mountain of Kirkstone, and the ascent is not only toilsome, (continuing for above three miles, with occasional intermissions,) but at times is carried over summits too steep for a road by all the rules of engineering, and yet too little frequented to offer any means of repaying the cost of smoothing the difficulties.
It was not until after the year 1815 that the main improvement took place in the English travelling system, so far as regarded speed. It is, in reality, to Mr. M'Adam that we owe it. All the roads in England, within a few years, were remodelled, and upon principles of Roman science. From mere beds of torrents, and systems of ruts, they were raised universally to the condition and appearance of gravel walks in private parks or shrubberies. The average rate of velocity was, in consequence, exactly doubled — ten miles an hour being now generally accomplished, instead of five. And at the moment when all further improvement upon this system had become hopeless, a new prospect was suddenly opened to us by railroads; which again, considering how much they have already exceeded the maximum of possibility, as laid down by all engineers during the progress of the Manchester and Liverpool line, may soon give way to new modes of locomotion still more astonishing to our preconceptions.
One point of refinement, as regards the comfort of trav ellers, remains to be mentioned, in which the improve
ment began a good deal earlier, perhaps by ten years, than in the construction of the roads. Luxurious as was the system of English travelling at all periods, after the general establishment of post-chaises, it must be granted that, in the circumstance of cleanliness, there was far from being that attention, or that provision for the traveller's comfort, which might have been anticipated from the general habits of the country. I, at all periods of my life, a great traveller, was witness to the first steps and the whole struggle of this revolution. Maréchal Saxe professed always to look under his bed, applying his caution chiefly to the attempts of robbers. Now, if at the greatest inns of England you had, in the days I speak of, adopted this Maréchal's policy of reconnoitring, what would you have seen? Beyond a doubt you would have seen what, upon all principles of seniority, was entitled to your veneration, viz., a dense accumulation of dust far older than yourself. A foreign author made some experiments upon the deposition of dust, and the rate of its accumulation, in a room left wholly undisturbed. If I recollect, a century would produce a stratum about half an inch in depth. Upon this principle, I conjecture that much dust which I have seen in inns, during the first four or five years of the present century, must have belonged to the reign of George II. It was, however, upon travellers by coaches that the full oppression of the old vicious system operated. The elder Scaliger mentions, as a characteristic of the English in his day, a horror of ablution in cold water. Nowhere could he and his foreign companions obtain the luxury of cold water for washing their hands, either before or after dinner. One day he and his party dined with the Lord Chancellor; and now, thought he, for very shame they will allow us some means of purification. Not at all: the Chancellor viewed this outlandish novelty with the same
jealousy as others. However, on the earnest petition of Scaliger, he made an order that a basin or other vessel of cold water should be produced. His household bowed to this judgment, and a slop basin was cautiously introduced. 'What!' said Scaliger, only one, and we so many?' Even that one contained but a tea-cup full of water; but the great scholar soon found that he must be thankful for what he had got. It had cost the whole strength of the English Chancery to produce that single cup of water; and for that day, no man in his senses could look for a second. Pretty much the same struggle, and for the same cheap reform, commenced about the year 1805-6. Postchaise travellers could, of course, have what they liked, and generally they asked for a bed-room. It is of coach travellers I speak. And the particular innovation in question commenced, as was natural, with the mail-coach, which, from the much higher scale of its fares, commanded a much more select class of company. I was a party to the very earliest attempts at breaking ground in this alarming revolution. Well do I remember the astonishment of some waiters, the indignation of others, the sympathetic uproars which spread to the bar, to the kitchen, and even to the stables, at the first opening of our extravagant demands. Sometimes even the landlady thought the case worthy of her interference, and came forward to remonstrate with us upon our unheard-of conduct. But gradually we made way. Like Scaliger, at first we got but one basin amongst us, and that one was brought into the breakfast-room; but scarcely had two years revolved before we began to see four, and all appurtenances, arranged duly in correspondence to the number of inside passengers by the mail: and, as outside travelling was continually gaining ground amongst the wealthier classes, more comprehensive arrangements were often