Friday, December 7, 2007

License to Drive

Marissa’s in the clouds over her cover (and who wouldn’t be!), but I’m still dreaming of driving. Carriages, that is.

Now teens learn to drive cars, taking driving courses, getting permits, practicing.
Young people could drive carriages much earlier in nineteenth century England. If you were lucky and a bit wealthy, your parents allowed you a pony cart, a jaunty box on two wheels pulled by a pony, to drive about the country estate. Usually only the gentlemen graduated to something bigger, but it was not unknown for a lady to have her own curricle built for two.

Just like when you study for a driver’s license for a car today, manuals were available to study to learn to drive carriages. Here’s what Hints to Horse-Keepers by Henry William Herbert had to say in the 1890s:

“The eyes of the driver should be always on his horses, yet always about him. While he should see every strap and buckle within eye-shot, every movement of the horses’ ears, every toss or shake of their heads, and every step that they take, he should also see every vehicle coming toward him, every object by the roadside or elsewhere, which might possibly frighten his team, and every stone or uneven place in the road on which they are likely to step, or which may come in the way of the wheels. To sit in this manner, and to be thus watchful while driving a pair of lively horses, and at the same time to appear perfectly at ease, is no small accomplishment; still it may be attained by practice, and is essential to elegance in driving.”

Yeah, that’s what I want for Christmas: elegance in driving. I’ll work on that.


Unknown said...

Cute post. I know a lot of people in Los Angelegs could use a little more elegance in driving. I love the description.

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, Georgie! LOL--I imagine a number of cities could use a little elegance in driving!

Hey, where did you get the picture for your Avatar? I've been looking for something like that for the website for La Petite Four.

Unknown said...

The picture is from the Getty Museum and its of Napoleon's nieces. It's always been one of my favorites. Check out the British National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum, they have lots of great pictures on their website.

Regina Scott said...

Great! I appreciate the info!