Fifteen Things a Good Georgian Coachman Would Not Do

The Georgian coachman was the person entrusted with the management of a person’s carriage and horses and people like Napoleon Bonaparte, Eliza de Feuillide, and Madame Récamier were some of the people who had their own carriages and their own coachman. It was important Georgian coachmen be reliable, honest, and wise, as a traveler’s safety depended on these traits. For instance, when traveling in a coach, loose nuts and bolts occurred frequently. “A Careful Coachman” was said to be the person willing to check the coach every fortnight for such possibilities and then screw these items tight. However, such coachmen also needed to be able do it with such “care [as to] not to injure the Paint with the Wrench.”

Georgian coachman

Georgian coachman. Author’s collection.

Besides all the things that a good Georgian coachman would do there were also fifteen things a good Georgian coachman would not do. Here they are in their entirety.

  1. He will not gratify a greedy Innkeeper, Hackney man. Hay Fanner, Coachmaker, Sadler, or other Tradesman, at the expense of his Employer; but, in laying out his Master’s Money, will be as careful as if it was his own.
  2. He will not leave his Master to the care of the Waiter and his Horses to the Hostler, and think only of Himself; but take care and attend to both, and be particularly careful that his Horses are well dressed, well fed, and well littered, and that their Shoes, Saddles, &c. are in proper condition to continue their Journey.
  3. He will not, in disagreeable weather, urge the Hostler to say the Roads are bad, in order to detain him till the weather is better, or to go round a particular way.
  4. He will not recommend Strong Beer to his Horses, or Brandy to their Heels, in order to gratify a thirsty palate, at the expense of his own Head, and his Master’s Pocket.
  5. He will not contrive to have a Horse’s Shoe loose, or drive in a Stone to make him halt, in order to shorten or delay a day’s Journey; or advise his Master to stop under pretence of the Horses being faint and weak.
  6. He will not recommend particular Inns out of favour to the Landlord or the Hostler, or with a view of getting an extraordinary Dram for such recommendation.
  7. He will not, if he is employed to purchase Hay or Straw, &c., trot up and down the Market till he has found the Cheapest, and then charge it to his Master as the Dearest. 
  8. He will not, when leading his Master’s Horse from one part of the country to another, suffer it to be hard ridden, either to oblige an old acquaintance, or to put half-a-crown into his own Pocket.
  9. He will not, when sent alone to any distance, go round or out of his way to see an old friend, and then, to fetch up the time, gallop his Horse till he can scarce stand upon his Legs.
  10. He will not, when Airing his Horses, play tricks with them, gallop them against other Horses for a Pint and a Pipe, or leap them over places that may stake them or spoil them.
  11. He will not, to save his attendance in the Stable, fill the rack to the top with Hay, and the Manger to the brim with Oats, so as to occasion either being wasted; nor, to save his trouble, let the dirty litter stand under a Horse the whole day.
  12. He will not, when he is to carry his Master’s Great Coat in a strap behind him, wrap his own Coat up in it, or leave his Master’s Coat outwards to get Wet, in case it should Rain.
  13. He will not, when he comes to an Inn. after a hard day’s Journey, in cold and dirty weather, leave his Horses to a Stable Boy, to splash them up to their bellies in Water, in order to wash them; suffer them to drink their fill, and then gallop them full speed a mile to warm them, whilst he is indulging himself with Purl and Hot Pot by the Kitchen Fire, although ” Some Grooms are quite as curious in providing good Cheer for Themselves as they are for their Horses,” says the Sieur Solysell, in his Compleat Horseman.
  14. He will not, if his Horse drops a Shoe, gallop him as hard as he can to the next Smith, to the danger of his feet, but will travel on gently.
  15. He will not, if he wants to spend an hour at an Ale-house, go out with an old Girth or Stirrup Leather in his hands, under pretence of getting it mended.

References:

  • Kitchiner, William and John Jervis, The Traveller’s Oracle, 1827

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