Louis Houck.

Collectanea, fourth series ; online

. (page 27 of 34)
Online LibraryLouis HouckCollectanea, fourth series ; → online text (page 27 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and presented him with a little gold, for old acquaintance' sake.
Some time after, the soldier received a letter from the War Office
to fill up, and was entitled to a very good pension — and all through
the very great interest and true kindness of the gentleman that
occupied the box-seat.
p. 45 If I remember [a]right, about 50 years ago, a trial took place in
the Town Hall, Oxford, before Judge Park, when INIr. W. Bowers
was examined as to character by one of the learned counsel. 'I
believe your name is Bowers ? ' * It is.' ' You drive the London
coach ? ' 'I do.' ' Considered a good coachman 1 ' ' Yes ; I never had
a upset.' ' And now, sir, you are sometimes called " Black Will ? " '
* Yes, by blackguards ; gentlemen calls me ]\Ir. Bowers.' Roars of
laughter, the judge joining in. Counsel asked no further questions.

On our journey up, when we got to Weston, about three miles
from Ross, the pole broke short in two from the middle. Horses,
of course, were taken off and left in charge of the passengers, while
myself and coachman repaired the pole. In the field just above us
was a sheep-fold. ' Fowles, do you see that hurdle ? ' ' Yes.' ' Fetch
it.' I took it to pieces, nailed the long parts on each side of the pole,
bound a strong cord round [as] tight[ly] as I could, then some
wedges; drove them well home, as the builders do a scaffold-pole,
[and put] a chain on each side from the roller-bolt to the cock of the
pole. We put the horses to, and started on our journey, delayed
altogether twenty minutes. The repaired pole took me safe to
London and back to Oxford, when we changed coaches.

p. 46 The Erin-go-bragh night coach from Shrewsbury through Birmingham



COACHING IN AND OUT OF OXFORD 291

brought a valuable stock foxhound from the Earl of Shrewsbury for
.Squire Villebois\ Master of the Hampshire Hunt; round the collar
of the dog the direction, ' Villebois ', Esq., Sandwell Priory 2, near
Newbury.' It was amply fed at Oxford, and the same morning it was
given in charge of Bayzand for its destination. He put the hound
in the hind boot for safety, as the hamper the dog came in Bayzand
did not like the appearance of; and when the coach arrived at
Abingdon, there was a large hole in the door and the hound gone —
to the very great astonishment of the bewildered coachman. So,
when the coach arrived at the Priory, there was the Squire. ' Good
morning, Bayzand. You have my hound safe, I hope ? ' ' No, sir,
I am sorry to tell you I put him in the hind boot for security, and he
gnawed his way out.' * Well, I am very much annoyed and dis-
appointed. I shall expect you to pay for it. I can assure you the
dog [is] very valuable.' Bayzand expressed his sorrow, and assured
the Squire it was no fault of his. The coach took the regular journey
to Southampton and back to Oxford. On its road to Southampton,
the following day, the coach would have passed the Priory, but the
Squire Villebois ^ stopped it. ' Bayzand, the hound [is] all right. He
found his way back to Shrewsbury Kennels the same day — 112
miles.' I will leave you to judge [of] the delighted feelings of the
coachman.

On our down journey we had crossed the bridge and [were] p. 47
opposite the little inn called the Dog, at Over. The cock of the pole
broke, liberating our leaders, taking the three bars with them, and
running their reins, that were fortunately unbuckled, from the coach-
man's hand. Fowles, our coachman, went after [the] leaders, as fast as
he could run. They were stopped by a countryman ; and when Fowles
got up, he found them uninjured, positively only a billet broken and
the main bar missing. By the time our coachman and the horses got
back, I had repaired the pole with a cock, which I always carried
■with me. Luckily, the bolts fitted. [I] replaced the bar, put the
horses to, and was ready for a start, to the great astonishment and
surprise of our passengers, who were about to sit down to a comfort-
able game of cards, thinking I should have to go to Gloucester for
another pole. From the time we were stopped till the time we
Started did not exceed half-[an]-hour.



' [MS. Vilabose.]

* L? mistake for Sandleford Priory. Sandwell Priory is in Staffordshire.]



292 COLLECTANEA. IV

48 In going down a tremendous hill called the Lea Line, with a very
heavy load, I put the drag on, and, for safety, the hook-chain as well.
I was scarcely seated, when both the skid and hook-chains broke
away from the bed of the fore-carriage. Had I been one moment
longer, I must have been killed. The wheel at liberty, we galloped
the rest of the way, and, with great good luck, reached the bottom of
the hill without further mishap — the chain and drag left behind.
But the hook-chain did its work with a vengeance. Swinging round,
[it] broke horn-basket and horn all to pieces, tore the lamp to pieces,
broke the lamp-iron, and twisted round the fore-wheel. So fixed was
it that we were obliged to have a blacksmith to extricate it, and he
was compelled to cut the chain in two with a cold chisel, before it
was free. I made the skid secure with a trace-chain. We then
proceeded on our journey, after a delay of not more than an hour.

49 The Defiance coach, on its road to Oxford, driven by John Adams,
while at Dorchester changing horses, a countryman presented him,
with his master's compliments, — Mr. D., a farmer close by, — with a

■ bundle of fresh-cut turnip-greens. ' Oh, is that all Mr. D. sent ? '
' Yes, sir.' ' Take them back, and tell your master the greens are
of no kind of use to me, without one of your fat, barn-door fowls,
or a piece of home-cured bacon.' Next morning, the same man was
there, with two large bundles of greens, [aj splendid fowl, and [a]
piece of bacon. ' Tell Mr. D. that is more like business, and I\Ir.
Adams [is] very much obliged to him ; and here['s] a shilling for
your trouble.' The countryman looked downright pleased, pulled his
billycock two or three times, and thanked the coachman, and bid him
a 'Good morning, sir.' ,

50 No travelling at night could be better lighted than the Mazeppa,
through uncommon[lyj wooded, narrow roads, — generally speaking,
exceeding[ly] dark and uneven, — abounding in short and long pitches.
On the footboard, a bull's-eye with twelve burners, throwing a light
between the wheel-horses, along the pole, pole-chains, bars, traces,
and sending a reflecting light, with the other lamps, three parts of
a mile in front of a coach ; four large lamps, two on each side, one on
each side of the box-seat, each lamp with twelve burners, one on each

• front-seat, [with] the same number of burners ; my bull's-eye behind,
with twelve burners, throwing a reflection [a] quarter of a mile, at
least. The farmers that stopped late from Ross market, woe betide
them I For, the moment they saw the coach coming, [they] would
turn the horse['s] head round, saying, We cannot face that fiery



COACHING IN AND OUT OF OXFORD 293

furnace ; if we do, we shall, perhaps, [bej served the same as Farmer
Briggs was, [and] find ourselves in the ditch, with a pair of broken
shafts, or something worse.'

On ' going down the hill into Witney, I had to put the skid on, and P« 5^
being a wet day, the road was what we called greasy. The skid flew
out of my hand ; at the same time, I unfortunately slipped, and found
my right foot skidding the fore-wheel, my left fast hold of the roller-
bolt. I was in that predicament some little time, when the box-
passenger told the coachman there was something wrong. Bray
pulled up as quick[ly] as possible, and I was released, with the bone
of my great toe broken. They lifted me inside; we reached the
Staple Hall Hotel, Witney. [They] put me to bed, sent for the
doctor, who dressed it, and he sent a lotion to bathe the foot. I have
heard say, accidents never come alone. The poor woman that acted
as nurse, without looking at the directions on the bottle the doctor
sent, gave^ me the lotion to drink, and I thought I was poisoned.
The doctor came, [and] administered something to counteract, which
had the desired effect. After some time, I was enabled to be con-
veyed home in a chaise and pair to Oxford. I was laid up one
month before [being] capable of resuming my duties.

Myself and friend were one night at the Bell Inn, Cornmarket, P- 5^
Oxford, kept by Mrs. Charlton, when the Paul Pry coach from
Abergavenny stood at the Star Hotel for supper. The bettermost, or
upper tens, supped at the Hotel, and the rest of the passengers, [who]
were Welshmen, would go to the smaller house for cheapness — tea
and coffee, &c., 6d. each. Five came out, and Mrs. Charlton showed
us a sixpence. ' There,' she says, * that is all I have received for the
five, and they have been there for the 20 minutes before a good fire
and gas.' I said, ' We will show you a better way to-morrow night,
Mrs. Charlton, with your sanction ; and let me act as landlord.' She
agreed ; and the next night there were eight Welshmen came into the
little room. I said, * Now, Mrs. Charlton, you are quite sure there is
plenty of tea, coffee, toast, and bread ? ' ' Yes,' she said, ' ample.'
* Then give me the key of the little room door.' The time allowed
nearly up, the guard blew his horn; a rush was made to the door.
In the door, one of the panes of glass opened, so that we could see
and hear all that was going on. 'Now, Mr. Morgan, now Mr. Jones !
Evans ! Evans 1 Williams ! the coach is ^ ready. Come, come, open

[' MS. lo.] » [MS. she gave.] » [MS. was.]

IV. U



294 COLLECTANEA. IV

the door.' Guard blew his horn. ' Open the door.' ' ]\Iy demand
is four shillings. On the receipt of that sum, I will then open the
door.' Another blast, when Mr. Williams offered \s. 6d. ' That was
for the three gentlemen that have had ^ tea and coffee.' ' No matter ;
there was plenty for all. I shall not open the door till the 4s. is paid.'
The last blow, and all the Welshmen, in a great funk, in fear of being
left behind, the money was paid, and the Welshmen released.
After that night, no complaint was ever made ; they would all go in
and have their sixpennyworth.

53 I must tell you, the Bell was not the only house open for the
Oxford boys fond of coaching. At that time it was a regular custom
to finish up at the Star tap, kept by old Parlour, or the Angel tap,
kept by Mr. Allsop, to see the Royal Mails and Prince of Wales
coach off [at] 3 o'clock in the morning, and then home to bed. At
the time I am speaking of, we had no police. We could muster six
old Charleys, that went their rounds, calling the hour and the state
of the weather.

The Mazeppa coach, while changing horses at Northleach, the
Isis coach came up from Cheltenham, on its road to Oxford, when
two country boys passing, one said to the other, ' My eye, what
rummy names for coaches ! ' ' Ha, so they be. Well, that's 'Zeper.'
* Well, what's t' other ? ' ' Oh, I don't know.' ' I do though ; 'tis
a funny un for a coach. Why, it is I S I S.' The name was written
in Egyptian letters all the same thickness.

To pass the time away, now and then, I used to ask my passengers
two conundrums, — made by myself, I believe, for I never heard them
ask[ed} before, — when I could see the railways were sure to^ supersede
the stage-coach. Why are the proprietors of a railway like a
spendthrift ? Because they make a way with their money. Why are
the shareholders of a railway like bad actors ? Because they ruin the
stage-proprietors.

54 One night, at the Bolt-in-Tun, 'Fleet Street, one of my inside
passengers from Cheltenham wanted a hackney-coach to take him
home. The porter got one. I must tell you, I invariably took the
number — rather a singular one, the three sixes, the year of the great
fire in London. The following day, I went my usual journey down
to Hereford, and back to London, when Mr. Robert Gray, our
proprietor, said, * Bayzand, we have had a Jew, one of your inside

* [MS. was have] " [MS. was sure would.]



COACHING IN AND OUT OF OXFORD 295

passengers, inquiring for his cloak, left in your coach. His claim for
it is 15 guineas. He describes it as being a rich camlet, lined with
real fur, &c., &c.' ' Indeed, I am positive he did not leave it in the
coach. For, don't you recollect, in shutting the door of the hackney-
coach, the tassel of his cloak caught between the door and door-
pillar ? ' ' Now you mention it, Bayzand, I do remember the
circumstance. He promised to call to-morrow morning.' 'If he
does, tell him from me, if the hackney coachman 666 turns out to be
honest, he will find his valuable cloak at the Receiving Office,
Somerset House, Strand.' The Jew, according to promise, came,
and young Mr. Gray accompanied him, and, sure enough, there was
the valuable cloak — worth, in reality, as many shillings. The Jew
took his cloak and was off like a shot, fearful [that] Mr. Gray might
give him in charge for trying to extort money under false pretences.

Yes, if I called a coach or cab, it was my invariable rule to enter
the number in my pocket-book. If you notice, your driver looks old
at you, but never mind that, remember you [will] always be right in
taking down the number for many ' reasons.

At the White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, a gentleman that came p. 55
outside passenger from Ross left us. He paid the coachman his fee.
When I asked guard['s] fee, ' Oh, dear no ; did not want a guard for
a day coach.' I made no answer. He called a cab, and away he
went. A thought struck me. Our porter gave me a black leather
bag belonging to the gentleman that did not require a guard. I put
the rest of the passengers down by the time we reached the Bolt-in-
Tun, Fleet Street, our destination, and sure in the front boot there
was the bag. So, the next morning, we sent the bag to the Receiving
Office, Somerset House, Strand, for all left articles. About 1 1 o'clock
the next morning, the gentleman came to the Bolt-in-Tun to find his
bag. The book-keeper said, ' The guard sent it this morning to
Lost Parcel Office, Somerset House, Strand, and if you are the owner,
by giving a description of its contents and finding the key, no doubt
you will get it.' Some time after, the same gentleman, with a ' Good
morning, — hat-box, carpet-bag belonging' to me, — I am going to
Gloucester with you.' He sat with me, was very pleasant and
talkative, and I was to him communicative. We had a very agreeable
journey. He never made the slightest allusion respecting his bag.
Arrived at Gloucester, I gave him his luggage, and, without asking
him for my fee, he thanked me and gave me a crown piece. I had

* [MS. many many.]
U 2



296 COLLECTANEA. IV

him as a passenger many times. He always gave his luggage in[to]
my charge, and never once alluded to the adventures of his black bag
[which] he found at the office.

p. g6 [On] my journey to Hereford an inside passenger left us at the Lea
for the Forest of Dean. An old-fashioned servant, dressed in a drab
coat, [with] a white horse and yellow phaeton, [came] to meet the gentle-
man. I put his luggage in the carriage. He gave me my fee, without
asking, — several pieces of money, [which I] slipped into my small
side-pocket, — [and we] went into Lodge's ^, the White Hart, myself and
coachman, to have our usual cup of tea. Fowles, our coachman,
said, ' That is the most liberal passenger I ever drove. He has given
me two sovereigns and a sixpence.' ' Well, let me see what he has
given me'; when, to my great astonishment, there were six sovereigns,
one shilling and sixpence. Under the circumstance[s], what could we
do ? We thought it evidently a mistake. It went on for a journey or
two, or more ; so we asked the landlord who the gentleman was ; if
he knew him or not. ' Oh, yes ! know him ? I should think I did.
He is rolling in riches, and gives his money away like dirt. He
carries his money all together in his coat-pocket behind ; hands it out
anyhow ; don't know whether it's sovereigns, shillings, or pence — or do
he care.' About a month after, there stood the old man in drab, the
white horse and yellow phaeton, and the liberal gendeman. When
he asked for an inside place to London, — ' Yes sir,' — I looked at the
coachman, and the coachman looked at me. Not a word was said.
At Cheltenham, he gave Fowles 2^. 6d. ; arrived in London, he paid
me ; and we ever after remembered his liberality.

P* 57 Old Mr. Bayzand was a regular attendant, during the term, at
St. Mary's Church to hear the University sermon. On the Monday
morning, at the Mitre Hotel booking-office, there was a gentleman
outside passenger to Whitchurch. He took the box-seat, and four
Fellows of New College for Winchester took the front seats, and when
we got to Hincksey Hill, — long and steep, — when Bayzand asked
the passengers if they would kindly oblige the horses by a walk up,
the gentleman on the box asked Bayzand what time he reached
Whitchurch. ' One o'clock, sir.' Changed horses at Milton Hill,
a short and very steep [one] ; another walk up. The gentleman on
the box, ' What time did you tell me you got to Whitchurch ? ' ' One
o'clock, sir.' Change horses at Ilsley Hill, a nasty, crooked, long

' [or Lodye's ?]



COACHING IN AND OVT OF OXFORD 297

rise, where Bayzand was the third time obliged with a walk up, when
the gentleman on the box said, 'Coachman, you will never get to
Whitchurch, walking as you do. Why don't you drive the horses
faster? Pitch into them right and left, and make them gallop.'
Bayzand : ' Oh, dear me. Oh ! I wish you had been with me at
St. Mary's Church and heard the clergyman give out his text that
" a merciful man is merciful to his beast." ' The Fellows roared with
laughter, and the gent on the box looked unutterable. Bayzand at
Langley stopped to leave a parcel, and the box-passenger got inside.
One of the Fellows said, 'Bayzand, it was too bad of you!' 'Oh,
why so ? ' ' That was the very man that preached the sermon.' Well,
to be sure 1 I did not know that.' Arrived at Whitchurch, Bayzand,
pointing to the clock just on the stroke of one : ' You see, I was not
far out in the time I told you, sir.' ' Oh, dear, no. I will pay the
difference of my fare and your fee ; thanks,' and was gone out of
sight quick[ly].

The name of the coachman that drove opposite ^ days with [John] p. 58
Bayzand was Bill Taylor '^, and, at that time, the coaches used to drive
down Oriel Lane, — which was exceedingly narrow, — the back way to
the Angel Hotel, and finish in the yard. At the corner of Oriel Lane,
Loder and Gunner carried on business. Mr. Loder named the two
coachmen. Bayzand he called ' the sweeper,' as he always made
a good long turn down the lane ; Taylor just the reverse, — he cut the
corner very sharp, — and they called him ' the scraper.'

Ned Burford, a nephew of Mr. Costar, drove the Isis from Oxford
to Cheltenham and back in the day. A clergyman at the Plough
coach-office took the box-seat for Oxford. The book-keeper said,
* I don't think you will feel yourself at home with the coachman.'
' Why ? ' ' Oh, he occasionally talks rather so so.' ' Oh, never mind
that.' In coming up Dowdeswell Hill, a long, winding, and, in
places, steep [one], the coachman said, 'There, sir, I call that
downright wicked and presumptuous in the extreme, those balloons
trying to solve more than they ought.' ' I think so, too, coachman ' ;
and the clergyman thought the hint from the book-keeper was
uncalled for. At that moment, one of the horses stumbled and nearly
[fell] down. The coachman began to curse, whip, and swear in

* [i. e. alternate.]

* [MS. The coachman that drove opposite days with Bayzand's name was Bill
Taylor.]



298 COLLECTANEA. IV

a frightful manner. When the coach reached Andoversford, the
clergyman got inside.

p. 59 Our book-keeper came out a short way from London, got up
behind, [and] said, ' Bayzand, have you got any turkeys ? ' ' Yes.'
' Very well ; mind, I have had a West-end poulterer at my office, and
[he said], " I will tell you my business here. The Norwich ]\Iail and
all the North of England coaches are stopped in the snow. I haven't
got a turkey, and I doubt if any one else has. Perhaps, you [can] tell
me if the coaches from the West of England are likely to bring any
up." ' Our book-keeper said, ' There is only one coach to come ; the
guard may have some.' ' Introduce him to me, will you ? ' After
I had settled the bill, and left my parcels, Mr. Southam, our book-
keeper, said, ' Bayzand, have you got any turkeys for sale ? ' ' Yes.'
The poulterer introduced himself by saying, ' My good fellow, oblige
me by letting me purchase all you have got. I will give any price
you ask.' ' Well, I have twenty ; but one I must have for my own
dinner.' ' Do, pray, let me have the nineteen. I will give you twenty
guineas for them.' He paid with two ten-pound Bank of England
[notes] and one sovereign. ' I will bring you the hampers and cloths
back.' He came himself, was delighted with the turkeys, thanked me
for obliging him, and hoped I was satisfied with the price he gave me.
I said, ' Yes.' ' And so am L For if you had said thirty or forty
pound[s], or guineas, I would willingly have given it. I was bound to
have [them], if I had a chance. I did well by them.' So we were
both pleased with our transaction.

p. 60 Lord Abingdon always travelled by the Blenheim coach, and had
permission to drive from all the proprietors. One day my lord rode
up with James Castle, and the box-seat was engaged, and his lordship
sat in front. At Wycombe, Castle said, ' My lord, will you take the
ribbons ? ' ' No, thanks, not to-day. Castle.' Arrived at the Gloucester
Coffee House, Oxford Street, the drag was there to meet his lordship.
When he gave Castle his fee, he looked at it, turned it over, and said,
' My lord, half-[a]-sovereign ? ' ' Yes, I did not drive. Castle.' ' But
you might, my lord.' ' Oh, give it me back,' and his lordship gave him
a sovereign. ' Thanks, my lord, that is right. We don't do things
by halves on the Blenheim.'

Sporting Burke, an Irishman living in Oxford, made a wager with
Mr. Dowling of London for £100, that [he] Burke would find two
horses, one to lead, the other to be ridden, [to] make a start with the



COACHING IN AND OUT OF OXFORD 299

Mazeppa coach, take the same route, and arrive in Hereford before
the coach. The coach stipulated to keep its regular time. Bayzand
that day was guard, and he told me, [on] his next journey up, that
Burke performed the feat, but that it was, towards the last [part] of the
journey, cruel work, the distance being one hundred and forty-five
miles.

In going down one night, we left all our passengers at Ross [and] p. 6i
came on with an empty coach, something very unusual. When we
got within two miles of our changing-place, we ran over something
lying on the road. The coach gave a great lurch. I took my lamp,
[and] went back to see what it was. Why, it was a bacon pig, twelve
or fourteen score, in a sack. * Fowles, you must come and help.
I cannot move it myself.' He fastened the reins round his seat, and
left the four horses, with ' wo, wo, wo '-ing, perhaps fifty yards towards
me, then back to quiet them, forward[s] and backwards several times.
He at last reached me, and dragging the pig along, we made a noise.
The horses began to be restless, — back to soothe them, — back again ;
dragged the bacon a little nearer, — horses on the move, — quieted, —
back once more. At last we got the hog to the coach, and, with
great difficulty, made the pig an inside passenger. We did not Want
any one to see the pig, only ourselves. Arrived in Hereford, the
porter was in the act of opening the door. I said, ' There's no one
there.' Our leaders [were] taken off, and the coach drove round
opposite to our house, where the coachman lived, and while the
horse-keeper was in the stable, we had the hog out and in the house.
We salted him, dried, [and] halved him. We pronounced it to be the
best and by far the cheapest bacon we ever had. I have many times
thought what a risk we ran in leaving the four thorough -bred, high-
couraged horses. Suppose they had gone on and left coachman,
guard, and pig; what serious damage they might have done. Our
prize, we suppose, dropped off a wagon going to Hereford. Had
we been in Hereford next day, we should have made some inquiry
respecting the lost pig ; but as we were some miles away, we troubled
no more about it.

I used to have a sack of watercress from Witney, for which I gave p. 62
one sovereign, and the watercress-dealer, Meet [?], would pay me^
two sovereigns. One morning, when he brought the empty sack, a
thought struck me that he did not look well pleased ; so I said to *



Online LibraryLouis HouckCollectanea, fourth series ; → online text (page 27 of 34)