Thursday, November 22, 2007


LERY left this interesting comment on my transportation post below, but I thought people might miss it, plus it came across a bit unformatted, so I'll try to clean it up. Thanks, LERY. :)I've copied the picture of a diligence that was with my original post.

(Note from Jo. This account below is from a mid 19th century book, but Louis Simon records something similar earlier in the century. He puts it in England, but I've never heard of such a vehicle in England. However, the concept is interesting enough that it would be surprising if someone hadn't come up with a larger passenger vehicle. It would have to be slower, however, and perhaps travelers in England weren't interested in that. Anyone have more to share on the subject?)

A diligence is a sort of stage coach used in France and Switzerland, and generally on the continent of Europe. It is constructed very differently, however, from an American stage coach, being divided into four distinct compartments. Rollo had seen a diligence in Paris, and so he could understand very easily the conversation which ensued between himself and his uncle in respect to the seats which they should take in the one in which they were to travel to Berne. In order, however, to enable the reader of this book to understand it, I must here give a brief description of this kind of vehicle.

The engraving on page 77 is a very faithful representation of one of them. There are three windows in the side of it. Each of these windows leads to a different compartment of the coach. In addition to these three compartments, there is, over
the foremost of these, on the top of the coach, another, making four in all. This compartment on the top is called the _banquette_.

These coaches are so large that they have a conductor. The man who drives sometimes sits on a small seat placed in front of the banquette, and sometimes he rides on one of the horses. In either case, however, he has nothing to do but to attend to his team. The passengers and the baggage are all under the conductor's care.

The compartment immediately beneath the banquette, which is the front compartment of the body of the coach, is called the _coupe_. The coupe extends across the whole coach, from one side to the other; but it is quite narrow. It has only one seat,--a seat facing the horses,--with places upon it for three passengers. There are windows in front, by which the passengers can look out under the coachman's seat when there
is a coachman's seat there. The doors leading to the coupe are in the sides.

The compartment immediately behind the coupe is called the _interior_. It is entirely separate from the coupe. There are two seats, which extend from one side of the coach to the other, and have places upon them for three passengers each, making six in all. The three passengers who sit on one of these seats must, of course, ride with their backs to the horses. The doors leading to the interior are in the sides. In fact, the interior has within exactly the appearance of a common hackney coach, with seats for six passengers.

Behind the interior is the fourth compartment, which is called the _rotonde_. It is like a short omnibus. The door is behind, and the seats are on the sides. This omnibus compartment is so short that there is only room for three people on each side, and the seats are not very comfortable.

Very genteel people, who wish to be secluded and to ride somewhat in style, take the coupe. The seats in the coupe are very comfortable, and there is a very good opportunity to see the country through the front and side windows. The price is much higher, however, for seats in the coupe than in any other part of the diligence.

The mass of common travellers generally take places in the interior. The seats there are comfortable, only there is not a very good opportunity to see the country; for there are only two windows, one on each side, in the top of the door.

People who do not care much about the style in which they travel, but only desire to have the best possible opportunity to view the country and to have an amusing time, generally go up to the banquette. The places here are cheaper than they are even in the interior, and very much cheaper than they are in the coupe.

The cheapest place of all, however, is in the rotonde, which is the omnibus-like compartment, in the end of the diligence, behind. This compartment is generally filled with laborers, soldiers, and servants; and sometimes nurses and children are put here.

The baggage is always stored upon the top of the diligence, behind the banquette, and directly over the interior and the rotonde. It is packed away very carefully there, and is protected by a strong leather covering, which is well strapped down over it. All these things you see plainly represented in the engraving.

We now return to the conversation which was held between Rollo and Mr. George at the close of their breakfast.

"I have got some letters to write after breakfast," said Mr. George, "and I should like to go directly to my room and write them. So I wish you would find out when the diligence goes next to Berne, and take places in it for you and me."

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