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within a mile of the town, by two highwaymen, well mounted and masked; they robbed one inside passenger of half a guinea; they swore bitterly that one of the outside passengers, whom they pointed at, had been that day to receive twenty pounds, and if he did not immediately deliver the money he was a dead man. The poor man declaring that he had no such sum, one of them struck him a violent blow across the wrist with the butt-end of his whip, and, after telling the coachman he had a set of dd poor passengers, gave him a shilling, and rode off."Old British Spy, January 4th, 1783.
We have selected these from among a host of such paragraphs which every old newspaper presents, but one of the most daring of these outrages was committed on the "Devizes chaise" on the 3rd of June, 1752, by a single highwayman, near the Half-way House at Knightsbridge. The evidence of the man who captured the robber gives a graphic account of the affray.
"William Norton examined-The chaise to the Devizes having been robbed two or three times, as I was informed, I was desired to go in it to see if I could take the thief, which I did on the 3rd of June, about half an hour after one in the morning. I got into the chaise; the postboy told me the place where he had been stopped was near the Half-way House, between Knightsbridge and Kensington. As we came near the house, the prisoner came to us on foot, and said, 'Driver, stop! He held a pistol tinderbox to the chaise, and said, 'Your money directly! You must not stay-this minute your money!' I said, 'Don't frighten us; I have but a trifle-you shall have it.' Then I said to the gentlemen (there were three in the chaise), 'Give your money.' I took out a pistol from my coat-pocket, and from my breeches-pocket a five-shilling piece and a dollar. I held the pistol concealed in one hand and the money in the other. I held the money pretty hard. He said, 'Put it in my hat.' I let him take the five-shilling piece out of my hand, and, as soon as he had taken it, I snapped my pistol at him: it did not go off. He staggered back, and held up his hands, and said, 'Oh, Lord! oh, Lord!" I jumped out of the chaise; he ran away, and I after him, about six or seven hundred yards, and then took him. I hit him a blow on his back; he begged for mercy on his knees: I took his handkerchief off, and tied his hands with it, and brought him back to the chaise; then I told the gentlemen in the chaise that was the errand I came upon, and wished them a good journey, and brought the prisoner to London.
"Question by the prisoner-Ask him how he lives?
"Norton-I keep a shop in Wych-street, and sometimes I take a
Not the least remarkable feature of this affair is that this footpad, who did not hesitate in stopping a chaise with five individuals in it, ran away on having a pistol presented at him, which, after all, did not go off," and merely crying, "Oh, Lord! oh, Lord!" allowed himself to be taken by a single man. If the postboy and passengers had shown some resolution on the first occasion, the chaise would, one would think, not have been stopped "two or three times," or on the last and decisive one. It is not impossible that the coachmen might in some instances, as the charioteers of Mexico at the present day, have had a proper understand
ing with these freebooters-but we will not indulge these uncharitable thoughts: coachmen were always proverbially honest!
Of the stage-waggons, which were the only means of transit for poorer passengers, we have said as yet little, and nothing of the pack-horses, which in Roderick Random's time (1739) formed the only goods conveyance in Scotland. By one of the former Random and his friend Strap were conveyed to London from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in somewhere about a fortnight, for the moderate fare of ten shillings, his fellow-passengers being an aged usurer, a lady of pleasure, and a captain in the army with his wife-a combination of characters and conditions which would seem to argue that the company by these conveyances was somewhat mixed.
Of the metropolitan conveyances, hackney-coaches or sedan-chairs were the only vehicles in which the streets of London could be traversed, as there were few short stages even to the immediate suburbs, and none at all from one part of the city to the other; in fact, London was then scarcely extensive enough to require a public conveyance from the heart of it to the outlying districts, or even from the east to the west ends. In unfavourable weather, and for short distances or state visits, the chair was the favourite vehicle, carried, as we have already described, by two stout Irishmen, and of which the fares, in 1724, were one shilling per hour, or a guinea if rented by the week. Hackney-coaches almost belong to our own time; but only in name: their glory departed with the progress of improvement in the paving, draining, and lighting of the town. They were generally worn-out gentlemen's carriages-many of them retaining on their panels the richly emblazoned and coroneted armorial bearings of their original possessors-drawn by a pair of wretched horses, and driven by a many-caped, and heavy-coated Jehu. These old hackneycoachmen, to the full as extortionate as modern cabmen, presumed upon the impunity which a defective system of police had so long secured to outrage, and were desperate characters as any on the road. Passengers in private conveyances dreaded meeting a hackney-coachman almost as much as encountering a highwayman; for we find that, in 1733, a combination or conspiracy existed among them for upsetting all private carriages of any description which they might meet, under the pretence of an accidental collision, as they considered it as a crying grievance, and detrimental to their interests, that people should be allowed to ride in their own vehicles instead of hiring a hackney-coach. A regular fee was established by this body for every carriage upset, or, as it was termed, "brought by the road;" and a premium held out to all postboys, postilions, grooms, and coachmen who assisted them in the destruction of their masters' carriages; and if they aided in effecting a collision by driving purposely in the way, with the perfect appearance of its being accidental, or attributable to the restiveness of the horses, or what not, or allowed themselves to be overtaken and upset, they were compensated for injury, defended from prosecution, and paid for the "job" out of the General Coachmasters' Fund. The Weekly Register of December the 8th, 1733, gives an account of a hard chase given by one of the body to a chaise and pair, which he pursued from Knightsbridge to beyond Brentford, where he contrived to upset it, and escape!
But there were still other dangers attendant upon hackney-coach travelling, and they were no more free from the attacks of highwaymen than stage-coaches, although they seldom went far beyond the streets of London. The Postman of October the 19th, 1729, deplores the decline of the hackney-coach business, "by the increase of street robbers; so that people, especially in an evening" (the use of the word "especially" would lead us to infer that there was danger even in the daytime), "choose rather to walk than ride in a coach, on account that they are in a readier posture to defend themselves, or call out for aid, if attacked."
There was also another kind of depredation practised upon hackneycoach travellers, against which the Weekly Journal of the 30th of March, 1717, thus cautions them :-" The thieves have got now such a villanous way of robbing gentlemen, that they cut holes through the backs of hackney-coaches and take away their wigs or the fine head-dresses of gentlewomen; so a gentleman was served last Sunday in Tooley-street, and another but last Tuesday in Fenchurch-street; wherefore this may serve as a caution to gentlemen and gentlewomen that ride single in the night time, to sit on the fore-seat, which will prevent that way of robbing."
As the ladies' wigs were technically called "heads," it must have sounded strange to hear some disconsolate beauty, on arriving home from a ball, complain that she had "lost her head." We should be tempted to reply, it was no more than we had conjectured ever since she had taken to a false one.
The "silent highway," as Mr. Knight has happily called the river Thames, was a favoured thoroughfare for the barges and pleasure-boats of the fashionable world, for many of the nobility had not yet discarded their "state-barges," as Sir Roger de Coverley's expression shows us :"If I was a lord or bishop, and kept a barge, I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg.' And no other road was thought of by the élite for reaching Vauxhall, or even passing to Chelsea, but the water. Probably this may be partly attributable to the dangers by which the roads were beset; but, be that as it may, there were risks even to be encountered on this "silent highway," for, although, for a wonder, we do not remember to have heard of very many river-pirates or waterhighwaymen, the boatmen contrived to make the journey sufficiently uncomfortable, especially to such of their passengers as they might discover to be possessed of weak nerves, by playing off mischievous tricks and pranks for the purpose of frightening them, and which often put their own lives in jeopardy. Daniel De Foe, in his "Great Law of Subordination" (1724), says that he had "many times passed between London and Gravesend with these fellows;" and, after describing their conduct, and on one particular occasion the loss of a tilt-boat with fifty-two passengers, which resulted from their foolhardiness and " larking” propensities, adds, "I have been sometimes obliged, especially when there have been more men in the boat of the same mind, so that we have been strong enough for them, to threaten to cut their throats, to make them hand their sails and keep under shore, not to fright, as well as hazard the lives of their passengers, where there was no need of it." The fact was, no doubt, as he suggests, "that the less frighted and timorous their
passengers are, the more cautious and careful the watermen are, and the least apt to run into danger; whereas, if their passengers appear frighted, then the watermen grow saucy and audacious, show themselves venturous and contemn the dangers which they are really exposed to."
The fares by the Gravesend boats, in 1724, were announced to be"by tilt-boat, sixpence" (the "tilt-boat" was so called from its having a tilt spread over the passengers); "by wherry, one shilling," the wherry being the faster and more select conveyance. These are two more instances of the moderate fares charged by public conveyances in the early part of the century; as the accommodation, expedition, and safety were increased, the prices were raised in even a greater ratio, till now, when those essentials to pleasure or business-travelling are nearest to perfection, the prices have dropped down to their original rate.
The Chelmsford Chronicle of December the 3rd, 1784, hints dismally at the doings in the dark on the "silent highway," and at the existence of a race more to be feared even than the Gravesend boatmen :-" The merchants have hired twenty stout men armed with blunderbusses, pistols, &c., to row in boats up and down the river all night in order to protect their shipping from being plundered by the fresh-water pirates."
How suggestive is this paragraph of awful scenes by night on that dark thoroughfare, the Thames-then uncrossed and lighted by the numerous new bridges of midnight murder, the death-struggle, and the last heavy splash in which the record of the deed is washed out, and the victim of the river-pirates sent floating down the river, if found, only to be a doubt to a coroner's jury as to how he came there!
A sea voyage was an undertaking of the greatest peril. Novel introductions into the art and science of navigation have disarmed it of many of the terrors that then hung about it. At the time we would speak of, even the barometer was not employed to give the warning of a coming tempest in time to prepare the ship to meet it. Enemies and pirates were on every sea, besides "dealers in the contraband," almost as troublesome; there were fewer lighthouses, and many shoals, rocks, sands, and dangerous places had to be discovered, perhaps only at the cost of some hundreds of lives, and laid down in the charts. What troubles befel poor Mrs. Sterne in her attempt to cross over only to Ireland! Following the fortunes of her husband (the father of "Yorick"), she had occasion to make two journeys across the Channel, both of which appear to have nearly cost her her life, especially the second one, which is well calculated to show the uncertain state of communication between parts now not a day's journey asunder. "We embarked," says Sterne, in his "Sketch of his own Life," "for Dublin, and had all been cast away by a most violent storm; but, through the intercessions of my mother, the captain was prevailed upon to turn back into Wales, where we stayed a month, and at length got into Dublin, and travelled by land to Wicklow, where my father had, for some weeks, given us over for lost."
DIARY OF A FIRST WINTER IN ROME-1854.
The Forum, by Day-The Coliseum-Golden House of Nero and the Games of the Amphitheatre.
CONGREVE makes one of his dramatis personæ declare "that his name is Truth, and that he has very few acquaintances." Had I lived nearer his time I should have thought he had an eye to me, for I have all my life steadfastly proposed to tell the truth, and have rendered myself unaccountably unpopular by so doing. I also propose to tell the truth in this rough diary-its only merit. I will not admire a statue because Winckelman praises it, or fall into raptures over tottering walls and clumsy pillars because they bear high-sounding names. In my character of truth-teller I propose to visit the Forum. Now, I am certain that no human being ever visited that far-famed valley of glory and misery, for the first time, without positive disappointment, such as I felt; only people are not honest enough to own their feelings, or they prefer displaying their reading, by flying into high-flown classical raptures-raptures in which, indeed, I would willingly join, were association and recollections alone the question; but the Forum, in broad daylight, is in reality a bare, dusty, bald-looking place, with very little indeed to see at all, so entirely are all vestiges of its former magnificence destroyed. The Capitoline Hill, crowned by the modern Campidoglio, built over the remains of the Tabularium, stands on a gentle eminence, and presents all the incongruities attendant on the unfinished back of a building; the windows and the walls might belong to any other house, and be considered rather untidy and unfinished; and the small bell-tower in the centre of the roof would be appropriately placed in front of a dissenting meeting-house. Below, among the foundations, yawn some arches, formed of uncemented blocks, and solid masses of stone-work in deep-down depths-just sufficient to recal to one's memory their fabulous antiquity, and that in those vaults were religiously preserved the Sibylline books, consulted when there was anything rotten in the state" of Rome.
Beneath, and very much below the modern road crossing the Forum on which I take my stand, deep excavations under the base of the hill display the columned remains of various temples, masses of stone, former foundations, capitals, and broken marble pillars, crowded heterogeneously about the still remaining upright pillars, of which there are not a dozen standing, and those, to the eye of a rationalist, piled in such confusion, that, without the aid of books and antiquarian theories, it would be impossible to trace out any imaginable disposition or arrangement. No spot in the world has so fruitfully employed the learned pens of antiquarians; and because it is a Sphinx-riddle no god will reveal, everybody, with equal reason, calls them by a new name-Canina, Murray, Niebuhr, Braun, all employ their own nomenclature-which imposes the scandal of endless "aliases" on the venerable ruins. At first I was so confused I never called them any name-after all, the only refuge for quiet people-for I was sure to be wrong whatever I said, and to