Travel in Sense & Sensibility ~ Part V ~ Carriages ~ Regency Sports Cars!

We have looked at travel and the various carriages of the Regency Period in four previous posts.  You can re-visit them here:

R. Havell – Roe, Sporting Prints

Now the fun part – on to the Regency sports cars! – those carriages that Austen assigns her young men and her rakes, those vehicles that Georgette Heyer made famous in her works, driven by all manner of her Regency bucks, and in many cases by her independent heroines.  We start with the Phaeton, the last of the four-wheeled vehicles but much more stylish than the larger, practical coaches we have looked at previously…    

 
 
 

 

Phaeton (Georgian Index)

 

The Phaeton:   termed “deliciously dangerous”

  • from the Greek “to shine” – in Greek mythology, the boy who tried to drive the sun chariot
  • a light 4-wheeled carriage with open sides in front of the seat; the front wheels were usually smaller that the rear
  • sleigh-like single body, for two passengers, luggage below
  • some had a folding top [a calash or callech = folding top] – a fair-weather carriage
  • for pleasure driving, it is owner-driven with no box or postillion
  • usually 1-2 horses or ponies
  • the largest and most varied of all pleasure carriages, the phaeton remained popular until the end of the carriage era
  • often called a “chaise” in England, a “cabriolet” in France
  • variations:  High-Perch Phaeton or “High-Flyer” – fast, sport driving with two horses – the favorite of the Prince Regent, later George IV who had six horses!  –  he used a low Phaeton after his weight increased to such a degree that he could not get into the high carriage!
  • Who in Austen?:  only Miss DeBourgh who has a pony phaeton; Mrs. Gardiner wants “a low phaeton with a nice little pair of ponies”  

Phaeton – NY Coachmakers

Two fashionable ladies in a “high-Perch Phaeton” driving about to see and “be seen”: 

 

High-Perch Phaeton

 

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The Curricle: [only English] – the “Regency sports-car”

  • name from the Latin: curriculum = running course, a (race) chariot
  • a two-wheeled vehicle driven by a pair of horses that are perfectly matched, a bar across the back of the horses to carry the pole
  • has a folding hood
  • owner-driven, holds two passengers
  • C-springs – after 1804, equipped with elliptical springs
  • the popular Regency show-off vehicle – for long distances or park rides
  • cost @ 100 pounds
Curricle

A picture of the Marquis of Anglesey:

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Curricle (Georgian Index)

 

In Sense & Sensibility: Willoughby has a curricle though he cannot afford it:

-Willoughby on Colonel Brandon:  “He has found fault with the hanging of my curricle…”     

-Narrator on the carriage drives:  …they might procure a tolerable composure of mind by driving about the country.  The carriages were then ordered.  Willoughby’s was first, and Marianne never looked happier that when she got into it.  He drove through the park very fast, and they were soon out of sight; and nothing more of them was seen till their return, which did not happen till after the return of the rest.   “Did not you know,” said Willoughby, “that we had been out in my curricle?” 
[Willoughby to Mrs. Jennings]

-then later, Marianne explains the impropriety to Elinor: “We went in an open carriage, it was impossible to have any other companion.”

Who else in Austen? – Mr. Darcy, Henry Tilney [sigh!], Charles Musgrove, Walter Elliot, Mr. Rushworth, and Charles Hayter; and Austen’s brother Henry Austen [see Letter 84, where Henry drives Austen back to London in his “Curricle”].

 

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The Gig:  

“Many young men who had chambers in the Temple made a very good appearance in the first circles and drove about town in very knowing gigs” 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Chair back gig

 

  • Similar to the curricle, but more popular and economical; women could easily drive
  • Two-wheeled, but pulled by one horse, two passengers, owner-driven
  • Better suspension, easy to turn, more sophisticated than a chaise [often called a “one-horse chaise”]
  • Had various names and modifications:  the Dennet, Tilbury, Stanhope
  • one common variation:   a single seat behind the box for a groom, or a tiger
  • cost:  about 58 pounds
  • Who else in Austen?  the Crofts in Persuasion– they offer Anne a ride in their 2-passenger seat; Mr. Collins, Sir Edward Denham in Sanditon  

Persuasion – Croft’s gig (Jane Austen’s World)

-and of course, John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, the most horse-obsessed character in all of English literature!

Brock – NA (Molland’s)

“I defy any man in England to make my horse go less than ten miles an hour in harness… look at his forehead; look at this loins; only see how he moves; that horse cannot go less than ten miles an hour: tie his legs and he will get on.  What do you think of my gig, Miss Morland? a neat one, is not it?  Well hung; town built; I have not had it a month… curricle hung you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing boards, lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron-work as good as new, or better… etc. on and on! 

-And the Narrator who must have her say, so we know just how Catherine and the Narrator feel about John Thorpe [and Henry Tilney!]:

“A very short trial convinced her that a curricle was the prettiest equipage in the world…But the merit of the curricle did not all belong to the horses; – Henry drove so well, – so quietly – without making any disturbance, without parading to her, or swearing at them; so different from the only gentleman-coachman whom it was in her power to compare him with! – To be driven by him, next to being dancing with him, was certainly the greatest happiness in the world.”

[ Brock, Northanger Abbey (Molland’s)]
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In Sense & Sensibility, there are many instances where Austen does not name the specific carriage:  we can assume by the context that it was a post-chaise or owner-owned chaise:

-the Narrator on Colonel Brandon when he leaves to get Mrs. Dashwood: “The horses arrived before they were expected, and Colonel Brandon…hurried into the carriage; it was then about twelve o’clock” [he returns the following day sometime after 8pm]

When Willoughby travels from London to Cleveland, a distance of about 124 miles, he is in a chaise with four horses, it takes 12 hours, 8am – 8pm, a trip that would normally take two days:

-the Narrator on Elinor:  …she heard a carriage driving up to the house … the flaring lamps of a carriage were immediately in view.  By their uncertain light she thought she could discern it to be drawn by four horses; and this, while it told the excess of her poor mother’s alarm, gave some explanation to such unexpected rapidity.  – [and she runs downstairs to find it is Willoughby…!

 
 
 
 

 

 

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Other Carriage terms:  not all are found in Austen 

  • Hackney = for hire, often discarded carriages of the wealthy
  • Dog Cart = a gig with a ventilated locker for dogs; for 4 people, 2 behind the driver seat back-to-back
  • Sulky = driver-only – one passenger, one horse
  • Tandem = a two-wheeled carriage drawn by 2 horses one in front of the other – Sidney Parker in Sanditon 
  • Whiskey or Chair – an early chaise; a light 2-wheeled vehicle without a top, in The Watsons 
  • Sedan-Chairs  – a seat in a box with 2 poles 10-12 ft long, carried by two men. In efforts to lessen the crowded streets in London, but by 1821 there were only a half dozen public sedans, by 1830 there were none.

  • “Britzochka” = German origin, most common of all carriages, for traveling [ called a “Brisker” or “Briskey”]
  • “Droitzeschka” = “Drosky” – Russian origin, low to ground for “the aged, languid, nervous persons and children”

 And finally, what did Jane Austen have? 

  • At Chawton she had a donkey cart
  • Henry Austen had a curricle and a barouche:  

“The Driving about, the Carriage [being] open, was very pleasant. – I liked my solitary elegance very much, & was ready to laugh all the time, at my being where I was. – I could not but feel that I had naturally small right to be parading about London in a Barouche.”  [Ltr. 85, 24 May 1813, p. 213-14] 

I love to think of Austen “parading” around London and enjoying her “solitary elegance” and laughing all the while! – one of my favorite passages from her letters…

Final post:  a Carriages Bibliography ~ Stay tuned!

Copyright @ 2011, Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

Travel in Sense & Sensibility ~ Part IV ~ Carriages, cont’d

Finally, the next part of my post on travel and carriages in Sense & Sensibility!

You can re-visit the first three posts here:

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Now on to the specific types of coaches of the Regency era, the great coaching age of travel, pre-steam, pre-railroad, an age where the roads saw improvement, carriages became more comfortable [slightly, that is!], and the higher classes traveled more easily from place to place – it is good to remember that the majority of people still traveled by foot.   Austen knew her carriages and is often very specific in what type of carriage a character has – as stated before, we know in just learning a little about the costs of carriages, the cost of horses and their upkeep, that Willoughby in Sense & Sensibility is living far beyond his means by owning a curricle, that his giving a horse [Queen Mab] to Marianne is outrageous, not only in its impropriety but also its lack of fiscal responsibility.  Austen does this throughout her works, and even if she does not specifically tell us the type of carriage or the exact income, we understand, as the readers of her day would have understood, another piece of the puzzle about any given character.

The last post ended with the generic term “Coach” – so now some specific types:

The Stage Coach:

  • very colorful
  • four passengers inside, up to eight outside
  • stopped at various pre-appointed stages, usually every 10 miles to pick up / drop-off passengers and to change horses

Stage Coach

 

The Royal Mail Coach:  [after 1784] – there were 50 mail coaches in 1784, 700 in 1835

  • set paint color:  red wheels, maroon doors and lower body; black upper body; royal arms on each door
  • speed and excellence of Royal Mail service, usually six horses – faster because there were no tolls
  • held four inside passengers, and up to eight outside
  • Guard – a 3′ tin horn
  • cost about 1 penny / mile more than the stage coach but safer for passengers because of the guards

Royal Mail Coach

 

Private Coaches: 

  • simple color schemes with coat of arms on doors and boot
  • a fine carriage with owner livery, postilions, etc
  • expense:  coachman, postilions, under coachman, stable boys, footmen
  • not common because of the expense:  taxes on carriages and horses; even the wealthy often borrowed carriages and rented horses
  • cost in 1796 @ 130 pounds
  • in Sense & Sensibility:  Elinor and Mrs. Jennings visit Kensington Gardens by carriage, where Elinor connects with Miss Steele:   Miss Steele to Elinor:   “Mrs. Richardson was come in her coach to take one of us to Kensington Gardens”; and “He [Mr. Richardson] makes a monstrous deal of money, and they keep their own coach.”
  • who else:  the Bennet’s, the Musgroves [both large families]

Town Coach

 

Chaise:

  • an enclosed 4-wheel carriage, almost 1/2 the size of a full coach, seating up to three people, making this very tight, with one forward-facing seat, and often with a pull-out seat to add 2 more people
  • no coach box, driven by a postilion [rider mounted on one of the horses, the rear or left horse], usually two horses
  • cost @ 93 pounds in 1801 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Mrs. Jennings, the John Dashwoods; Robert Ferrars
  • a note on Mrs. Jennings’s carriages:  she has a chaise and a chariot, but did she have two carriages or as Chapman suggests, was Austen being uncharacteristically forgetful?  

“It will only be sending Betty by the coach and I hope I can afford that, we three will be able to go very well in my chaise.” 

Narrator:  Thomas seeing Mr. Ferrars and Lucy Steele ~“They was stopping in a chaise at the door of the New London Inn.”

  • who else?:  Mr. Bingley [ chaise & four]; General Tilney [a chaise & four]; Lady Catherine; Lady Bertram; Sir William Lucas;  and Mr. Gardiner

The Post Chaise = a chaise used with rented horses; always yellow; overlap with “hack-chaise”;

  • often a larger chaise with four horses with postilions on both lead horses and left near horse; you had more control over your trip rather than on the Stage Coach
  • a traveler who owned a carriage and horses would travel the first stage with them and then send them home with servants and rent horses the rest of the way

In Sense & Sensibility:  when Mrs. Jennings asks the Miss Steeles on their arrival in London: “Well my dear, how did you travel?”   Miss Steele to Mrs. Jennings:  “Not on the stage I assure you,” replied Miss Steele with quick exultation; “we came by post all the way and had a very smart beau to attend us.  Mr. Davies was coming to town, and we thought we would join him in a post chaise; and he behaved very genteelly, and paid ten or twelve shillings more than we did.”

 
 
 

Post Chaise

 

Chariothas the same body as the chaise, the difference is the addition of a coach-box and driver.

  • driver’s box, with four horses, four passengers, two seats facing forward like an automobile 
  • a classy vehicle, lighter than a coach, comfortable, speedy 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Mrs. Jennings, John Dashwoods:  Narrator on Fanny Dashwood:  …the great inconvenience of sending her carriage for the Miss Dashwoods [we know that the John Dashwoods have a chariot]
  • who else?:  Mrs. Rushworth


Barouche:
 

  • member of the coach family, a medium-sized, heavy 4-wheeled coach with two seats facing each other for four people with a folding top that covers only the rear seat
  • four horses with a driver box on outside for two people
  • aristocratic vehicle, for dress occasions, mainly used in town 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Palmers [her second carriage], though the narrator on Fanny about Edward:  It would have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche.  But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches. 
  • others:  Lady Dalrymple, Henry Crawford 

 

Barouche

 

Landau [coach family]: 

  • a four-wheeled light carriage, two seats facing each other
  • two or four horses
  • high driver’s seat
  • two soft folding tops that close and lock in the middle [often made of leather], a low door
  • expensive to build and maintain:  cost @ 185 pounds, but it was popular due to its versatility in all weathers
  • In Sense & Sensibility: no one

  

Landau

Landaulette: 

  • landau for two passengers only; cost @ 156 pounds
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  no one
  • who else?  Anne Elliot Wentworth in Persuasion

Landaulette

 

Barouche-Landau:  “approach in awe”!

  • features of both, but not very popular 
  • a high driving seat
  • a rumble for two servants 
  • in Austen:  the only specific carriage named in Emma – Mrs. Elton’s sister, Mrs. Suckling
  • Chapman in the 1954 edition of Minor Works  finally supplies the illusive illustration [from Beau Monde, 1806] 

Barouche-Landau

Up next:  the sports cars of the Regency Period… [i.e Willoughby and friends!]

Copyright @2011, Deb Barnum, Jane Austen in Vermont

Travel in ‘Sense & Sensibility’ Part III ~ Carriages

We will now [finally!] get to how they traveled ~ you can review the previous posts on ‘Travel in Sense & Sensibility‘ here:

There is much that we do not know about Jane Austen, and the much that we do “know” has been pieced together from letters and family remembrances and historical contexts. But one thing we know for sure is that Austen was familiar with ALL the carriages of her day.  This is best illustrated by her Juvenilia piece “The Memoirs of Mr. Clifford: an Unfinished Tale” [MW 43],  written between 1787-90, when Austen was 12 – 15 years old:  this is what she says:

Mr Clifford lived at Bath; and having never seen London, set off one Monday morning determined to feast his eyes with a sight of that great Metropolis.  He travelled in his Coach & Four, for he was a very rich young Man & kept a great many Carriages of which I do not recollect half.  I can only remember that he had a Coach, a Chariot, a Chaise, a Landau, a Landaulet, a Phaeton, a Gig, a Whiskey, an Italian Chair, a Buggy, a Curricle & a wheelbarrow.  He had likewise an amazing fine stud of Horses.  To my knowledge he had six Greys, 4 Bays, eight Blacks & a poney. 

[what! no barouche!!] 

Austen used carriages in her novels as a way to indicate income and social status but also as a way to delineate character – for example, we know most everything about John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey by just listening to the way he describes his horse and carriage! [Thorpe has been called the most horse-obsessed character in all of literature!]; we know that Willoughby cannot afford the carriage and horses that he has, that he is a fast driver, and that his driving a large chaise with four horses to visit Marianne when he thinks she is dying show how much he wants to get there and quickly, at any cost [but of course he is now married to Miss Gray, so cost does not matter to him…]. 

Coaching Inns:

Austen would have also known the Coaching Inns of her day – she would have stayed in them during her own numerous travels. But in Sense and Sensibility there are only two mentions:  Edward staying at an Inn when he leaves London after he is disinherited, and Robert and Lucy Ferrars at the New London Inn in Exeter following their marriage.  But all the characters would have stayed at Inns for any of the longer trips, as was explained in the previous post.  

Carriages:

There are numerous specifically noted carriages in S&S.  “Carriage” is a general term: there were many variations in nomenclature and design, and big discrepancies even among the same “named” vehicle.  There were differences in “construction, function, size, speed and appearance.” [Rogers]  And there was a full class-system of horse-drawn vehicles; the wealthy often had unique designs made to order.  

Some understanding of the parts of a carriage helps to identify a particular type:  see this link at The Georgian Index for a glossary of carriage terms, as well as this diagram:

So, just a few carriage part terms:  

1.  C-Springs:  a curved spring of C-shape, made up of several overlapping plates or leaves. They where introduced in the late 18th century (shortly after the S-Spring) and replaced the primitive wooden pillar attached to the axle, from which braces extended to the coach body. 

2.  Elliptical spring: Carriage spring made up of two sets of overlapping steel plates or leaves bolted together in elliptical or semi-elliptical form. It was invented by Obadiah Elliot in England (1804) and made the ride much smoother and the carriages more stable.

3.  Lights:  called “moons” [as per Chapman]:  for dress carriages: the simplest were wax candles in tin tubes in a circular casing; for traveling coaches –  lamps with oil in square casing [Adams]

In the country, social engagements were dependent upon the moon, traveling at night unsafe:  for example in S&S, Sir John Middleton has asked other neighbors to join their party, but “it was moonlight and everybody was full of engagements.”

A few definitions about the people of the horse and carriage era:

1.   Postilion or post boy: a person who rides the leading nearside horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, when there is no coachman 

2.  Groom:  a male servant employed to care for horses; at times accompanying an owner’s carriage 
 

3.  Ostler:  a groom or stable boy employed at an Inn to take care of guest’s horses 

4.  Tiger:  a boy or small man employed as a groom on the back of a curricle or other small carriage.  Name derived from the yellow and black striped waist coat worm by the groom  [OED:  A smartly-liveried boy acting as groom or footman; formerly often provided with standing-room on a small platform behind the carriage, and a strap to hold on by; less strictly, an outdoor boy-servant. obs. slang. ] 

5.  Livery:  historical- distinctive dress or uniform worn by an official, retainer, or servant (and given to him or her by the employer) [term from c1290 in Old French] – a footman’s livery of two suits would cost about £20, as much as his year’s wages 

  

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And now to the carriages ~ I will post about each type and how and where they appear in Austen’s works over the next several days:


FOUR WHEELED VEHICLES:   
 

1.  Long Wagon:  

-similar to the American covered wagon

-carried goods and passengers – did “the practical work of the nation” with 6-8 draft horses

-not specifically mentioned in Austen, except off stage

 2. Carts

 3.  the Coach:  “Kings of the Road” – called the most dignified of moving objects 

•           a large, enclosed 4-wheeled carriage, a fixed head, doors and windows

•           pulled by at least four horses, for long-distance travel, traveled @ 7 miles / hour

•           4-6 passengers, in two seats facing each other; also passengers on top

•           C-springs helped as shock absorbers

•           public use OR persons of wealth or high rank

[the term “hackney coach”  is what we would call a modern day taxi, and were most often cast-off coaches from the original owners]

Coach builders

Stay tuned for various types of coaches…

Tiger in carriage

 

Postilion