1790: The joys of stage coach travel


Mail Coach leaving the Post Office, Brighton

While researching the early history of The Talbot Inn, Cuckfield I came across the following poem, I know it doesn't mention Cuckfield - but Cuckfield was a busy stage coach stop. We have to recognise that people must have greatly welcomed the new joys of train travel and the end of stage coach travel after the following experiences! But the traveller's recollections also do bring back memories of travel on some cut price airlines!


The Comforts of a Stage Coach


A country friend to visit, I, a cit*,

Bespeak my passage in a God-permit.

Th' impatient coachman warns us to prepare,

And, long ere sunrise, mounts his daily care.

Scarcely awake, in dreaming mood I rise,

Enter the coach, and ope my wondering eyes

On two old females of the Falstaff size ;

No choice is left me, so, between the two,

On each side elbow'd, I am doom'd to stew.

A nurse, a child, a soldier swelled with pride,

And a fat landlord, fill the other side.

Day scarcely dawns, before the rugged road

From this to that side jolts the motley load,

One beldame coughs, the other scolds and stares,

The landlord snores, child pukes, and soldier swears.

Of God-permits, if these the comforts be,

My feet, thank Heaven, still can carry me.


Public Advertiser, 1790


* a town dweller


Poem and illustration from Brighton and its coaches by WCA Blew, 1894


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.