How to Pack – A Carpet-bag and Travelling Reticule

Another in my drafts folder…..  From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

CARPET BAGS – The best carpet-bags are those that are made with large gores at the sides, as they hold much more that when of two straight pieces only . It is well to have the owner’s name engraved on the lock. Articles of dress that cannot be compressed into a small compass, should not be put into a lady’s carpet bag, which should hold the flannel, linen, stockings, night-clothes, shawl, shoes, &c., that she may be likely to want during her journey; those that she will require the first night to be placed at the top, where also she should have a bag containing her comb, hair-brush, &c. For want of a bag, these things may be pinned up tightly in a towel; and she may do the same with her shoes if she has no shoe-bag.

A TRAVELLING RETICULE – A reticule for traveling may be so made, as to contain many useful articles. Get (for instance) three quarters of a yard of the thickest and best colored India silk, such as called senshaw. Divide it into two pieces, about a quarter and a half a quarter in each, but the outer piece a little deeper than the inner. Then lay them together so as to be double, and divide them into four compartments, by making three downward rows of stitching or running: when you have sewed up the side edges of the bag, you will have four divisions. Leave sufficient at the top of the inner lining for a hem; and the outside must rise a little beyond the inside and be hemmed down so as to form a case, to be drawn with ribbons, of broad silk braid. Gather the bottom of the bag, and draw it up as close as possible, so as to finish it with a tassel, or a bow of ribbon at the gathering place. This bag will be found very useful in travelling; as in the different divisions, you may carry a comb, hair-brush, tooth-brush, smelling-bottle, a cake of soup, purse, needle-book, keys, &c., so arranged, as not to interfere with each other inconveniently; leaving the space in the middle of the bag for your handkerchief, which you can take out without bringing the other things along with it. These large reticules will be found less troublesome to carry, and better in every respect than a travelling hand-basket.

 

Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to Pack – A Trunk

I found this buried in my drafts folder….. From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

To Fold a Dress for Packing – spread the dress, right side out, on a bed; and, taking it by the hem, make the bottom exactly even all round. Next, double the skirt lengthways in half, then fold it lengthways in four, turn up crossways about one-third of the folded lower part of the skirt; then give the remainder of the skirt a fold backwards, terminating at the gathers at the waist. Next, turn the body backwards, with the front uppermost, and the back resting on the folded skirt beneath. Lastly, spread out the sleeves; vie each of them a fold forward at the shoulders, and a fold backward at the elbows, and lay them across each other evenly on the fore-body.

Fold the pelerine right-side out. First, double it in half, beginning down the middle of the back. Next, give the doubled pelerine a fold backwards, then a fold forwards, and then another fold so as to leave the corners uppermost.

A belt-ribbon, for packing, should be rolled on a block, and fastened with two pins.

A lady’s travelling dress should be made to fasten at the side or in front, pelisse-fashion; that, during her journey, she may be able to dress herself without assistance.

It may be well to have a camphor-bag sewed to each of her night-gowns, that she may be less liable to attacks from insects when sleeping in such beds as are frequently met with in travelling.

To Pack a Large Trunk – Have all the things laid out ready, the light things divided from the heavy ones; and keep at hand a quire of soft wrapping paper. Spread a clean thick towel over the bottom of the trunk, and place on it the hard flat things, such as portfolios, music-books, a writing desk, boxes, books for reading, &c,; taking care to fit them well together, so as to be even at the top; and filling up the crevices with small articles that will not be injured by compressment, each of them, however, wrapped in paper, to prevent their scraping of defacing the other things. Never use newspaper for packing, as the printing ink will not fail to rub off and soil whatever it touches. You may stick in a pair of shoes here and there, each laid together as flat as possible, and tied round with their own strings. Some persons have shoe bags made of flannel or cloth, and stitched into compartments, each division containing a pair of shoes. Over the layer of hard flat things in the bottom of the trunk, spread a towel; and on this lay your flannels, linen, &c., filling up the interstices with stockings and gloves. Then cover them with another towel, and put your dresses, the muslin ones uppermost; filling in the corners with pocket handkerchiefs. On the top of your dresses lay your pelerines, collars, and caps, (if you have no other way of carrying them,) &c., finishing with a thin towel over the whole.

No trunk should be packed so full as to strain the hinges. If your trunk has a false top, you can fill that with any articles that may be rolled up tightly. Shoes should on no account be packed without covers, as the colour (particularly, if black)will rub off, and disfigure any white things that may be near them. Avoid putting any eatable articles in a trunk of box that contains things which cannot be washed, as they may be much injured by grease or stains. On no consideration, carry ink, even though locked up in a writing desk. You can always at the place which you are going, buy yourself six cent worth of ink in a small square bottle, which will also serve for an inkstand. It is well, however, to take with you a few sheets of good writing paper folded in the form of letters, each with a wafer stuck on one edge, to be ready, in case you have occasion to write before you reach your journey’s end, or immediately after. It is well to have read tapes nailed across the inside of the lid of your trunk, for the purpose of slipping letters and papers between them.

There are traveling trunks with a sort of movable tray fitting in near the top. This tray can be lifted in and out, and is for the purpose of containing pelerines, collars, scarfs, ribbons, laces, &c. Some very large trunks have a partition at one end, to hold a bonnet or other millinery.

It is best, however, to have a proper bonnet-box, either of painted wood or leather. To keep the bonnet steady, sew to it in convenient places under the trimming, pieces of tape, the other ends of which should be secured with tack-nails to the floor and sides of the box. In the corners, you may lay a few caps, &c., as light as possible.

Leather trunks generally have brass plates on which is engraved the name of the owner. It is now very customary to have the name painted on both ends of the trunk, and also on the bonnet boxes. Besides which, if you are travelling with several articles of baggage, it is well to have them all designated by a piece of red tape or something of the sort tied round the handles of each. A lady, before setting out on a journey, should be provided with a card or paper, on which she has written a list and description of her trunk, box, carpet-bag, &c. Previous to the hour before starting, she should give this list to the gentleman under whose escort she is to travel and it will save him much trouble in finding out and taking care of her baggage.

The best paper for wrapping light articles that are to be packed in trunks, is the thin, soft sheets of light blue, buff, gray, and other colours, that are retailed at six cents per quire. It is well to keep a supply of it always in the house.

For heavier articles, (books, &c.,) the nankeen paper will be preferable to any other, as it is both smooth and strong.

In putting a paper parcel to go any distance over twenty miles, it is better to secure it only with sealing-wax, (putting always a wafer under the seal,) than to tie it round with twine, as in the course of transportation, the twine is very apt to rub and cut through the paper.

When putting up a newspaper or any other printed sheet to go by mail, always leave the cover open at one end.

Ladies’ Luggage

A bit of baggage humor from Punch, November 19, 1859:

“Ladies’ Luggage; or Hard Lines by a Brute”

How happy is the single life
Of all those priests and monks!
Not one of whom has got a wife
To bother him with trunks,
And bandboxes, a load to gret
For man or horse to bear,
Which railways charge for, over-weight.
And cabs ask double fare.
 
Fell care as with your bride you post
Distracts your anxious mind,
Lest this portmanteau shall  be lost,
Or that be left behind;
Ther baggage as you travel down
Life’s hill, weighs more and more,
And still, as balder grows your crown,
Becomes a greater bore.
 
Outstretched by Fashion vile and vain,
Hoop-petticoats and vest,
Now British females, to contain,
Require no end of chests.
To which bags, baskets, bundles, add,
Too mumerous to name,
Enough to drive a poor mad mad,
A job with rage inflame.
 
The cab keeps awaying o’er your head,
With luggage piled above,
Of overturn you ride in dread,
With her whom you should love;
Then you, the station when you gain,
Must see that lumber stowed,
And fears about it in the train,
Your heart and soul corrode.
 
Thus does your wife each journey spoil
Of yours that she partakes,
Thus keeps you on the fret and broil,
Your peace and comfort breaks.
With all these boxes, all her things,
(How many!) to enclose,
The fair Encumbrance on you brings
A waggon-load of woes.

 

Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Railway Photographs

Today we have a longer story looking at travel: “Railway Photographs” published in The Continental Monthly, 1862.

Click the title for the PDF, Please.

Published in: on March 23, 2013 at 7:59 am  Comments (1)  
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A Springy New Series – Another Look at Millinery

As we move into spring, Oh, Happy Spring, my Saturday posts are going to move from travel to millinery. Don’t worry, I am continueing my travel research. The forthcoming millinery posts will primarily focus on theories, ideas, trends and storys revolving around millinery rather than just straight fashion.

To start, here is a passage from “Aesthetics of Dress” from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine,  1845. It takes a different look at bonnets than we are accustom.

Bonnets, however, have more to do with women than with men; and we defy our fair friend to prove that these articles of dress, about which they are always so anxious (a woman – a regular genuine woman, reader – will sacrifice a great deal for a bonnet), are either useful or ornamental. And first, for their use; if they were good for anything, they would protect the head from the cold, wet, and sunshine. Now, as far as cold is concerned, they do so to certain degree, but not a tenth part so well as something else we shall talk of by and by: as for wet – what woman ever trusted her bonnet in a shower of rain? What woman does not either pop up her parasol, or green cotton umbrella; of if she had not these female arms, ties over it her pocket-handkerchief, in a vain attempt to keep off the pluvious god? Women are more frightened at spoiling their bonnets than any other article of dress; let them but once get their bonnets under the dripping eaves of and umbrella, and, like ostriches sticking their heads under ground, they think their whole persons safe – we appeal to any man who has walked down Cheapside with his eyes open, on a rainy day, whether this be not true. And then for the sun – who among the ladies trusts to her bonnet for keeping her face from freckling? Else why all the paraphernalia of parasols? why  all these endless patents for sylphides and sunscreens of every kind, form, and colour? why can you never meet a lady in a summer-walk without one of these elegant little contrivances in her hand? Comfort, we apprehend, does not reside in a bonnet: look at a lady travelling, whether in a carriage or a railroad diligence – she cannot for a moment lean back into one of the nice pillowed corners of the vehicle, without running imminent risk of crushing her bonnet: her head can never repose; she has no travelling-cap, like a man, to put on while she stows away her bonnet in some convenient place; the stiffened gauze, or canvass, or paper, of which its inner frame-work is composed, rustles and crackles with every attempt at compression; and a pound’s worth or two of damage may be done by a gentle tap or squeeze. Women, if candid, would allow that their bonnets gave them much more trouble than comfort, and that they have remained in use solely as conventional objects of dress – we will not allow, of ornament. The only position in which a bonnet is becoming – and even then is only the modern class of bonnets – is, when they are viewed full front; further, as we observed before, they make a nice encadrement for the face; and, with their endless adjuncts of lace, ribands, and flowers, they commonly set off advantage. But it is only the present kind of bonnet that does so; the old-fashioned, poking, flaunting, square-cornered bonnet never became any female physiognomy; it is only the small, tight, come-and-kiss-me style of bonnet now worn by ladies, that is at all tolerable. All this refers, however, only to that portion of the fairer half of the human race which is in the bloom of vigour of youth and womanhood; those that are still in childhood, or are sinking into the vale of years, cannot have a more inappropriate, more useless, covering for the head than what they now wear, at least in England. Simplicity, which should be the attribute of youth, and dignity, which should belong to age cannot be compatible with a modern bonnet: fifty inventions might be made of coverings more suitable to these two stages of life.  

I also want to add – Isn’t it interesting what we find inspiring or what spurs ideas for us? This particular passage takes a very different look at bonnets than we are used to. Within it is a basic notion that has been bugging me for some time now in my research. The way this gentleman phrases this concept has planted an idea, more like framework, in my head. Yes, I am being vague on purpose. This framework could either become a facinating conference presentation or blog series. Which is tbd.

 

“The Three Traveling-Bags” part 2

Continued….

  “The Three Traveling-Bags” (The Continental Monethly, 1862)

Chapter III

When the train stopped at Camden, four gentlemen got off, and walked, arm-in-arm, rapidly and silently, up one of the by-streets, and struck off into a foot-path leading to a secluded grove outside the town. Of the first two, one was our military friend in a blue coat, apparently the leader of the party. Of the second two, one was a smiling, rosy little man, carrying a black valise. Their respective companions walked hasty, irregular strides, were abstracted, and apparently ill at ease.

The party stopped.

“This is the place,” said Captain Jones.

“Yes,” said Doctor Smith”

The Captain and the Doctor conferred together. The other two studiously kept apart.

“Very, well. I’ll measure the ground, and do you place your man.”

It was done.

“Now, for the pistols,” whispered the Captain to his fellow-second.

“They are all ready, in the valise,” replied the Doctor.

The principals were placed, ten paces apart, and wearing that decidedly uncomfortable air a man has who is in momentary expectation of being shot.

“You will fire, gentlemen, simultaneously, when I give the word,” said the Captain. Then, in an undertone, to the Doctor, “Quick, the pistols.”

The Doctor, stooping over and fumbling at the valise, appeared to find something that surprised him.

“Why, what the devil –“

“What’s the matter?” asked the Captain, striding up. “Can’t you find the caps?”

“Deuce a pistol or a cap, but this!”

He held up – a lady’s night-cap!

“Look here – and here – and here!” holding up successively a hair-brush, a long white night-gown, a cologne-bottle, and a comb.

They were greeted with a long whistle by the Captain, and a blank stare by the two principals.

“Confound the luck!” ejaculated the Captain; “if we haven’t made a mistake, and brought the wrong valise!”

The principals looked at the seconds. The seconds looked at the principals. Nobody volunteered a suggestion. At last the Doctor inquired.

“Well, what’s to be done?”

“D—d unlucky!” again ejaculated the Captain. “The duel can’t go on.”

“Evidently not,” responded the Doctor, “unless they brain each other with the hairbrush, or take a pop at each other with the cologne-bottle.

“You are quite sure there are no pistols in the valise?” said on of the principals, with suppressed eagerness, and drawing a long breath of evident relief.

“We might go over to the city and get pistols,” proposed the Captain.

“And by that time it will be dark,” said the Doctor.

“D—d unlucky,” said the Captain again.

“We shall be the laughing-stock of the town,” consolingly remarked the Doctor, “if this gets wind.”

“One work with you, Doctor,” here interposed his principal.

They conferred.

At the end of the conference with his principal, the Doctor, advancing to the Captain, conferred with him. Then the Captain conferred with his principal. Then the seconds conferred with each other. Finally, it was formally agreed between the contending parties that a statement should be drawn up in writing, whereby Principal No. 1 tendered the assurance that the offensive words “You are a liar” were not used by him in any personal sense, but solely as an abstract proposition, in a general way, in regard to the matter of fact dispute. To which Principal No 2 appended his statement of his high gratification at this candid and honorable explanation, and unqualifiedly withdrew the offensive words “You are a scoundrel.” They having been used by him under a misapprehension in the intent and purpose of the remark which preceded them.

There being no longer a cause of quarrel, the duel was of course ended. The principals shook hands, first with each other, and next with the seconds,  and were evidently very glad to get out of it.

“And now that it is so happily settled,” said the Doctor, chuckling and rubbing his hands, “it proves to have been a lucky mistake, after all, that we brought the wrong valise. Wonder what the lady that owns it will say when she opens ours and finds the pistols.”

“Very well for you to laugh about,” growled the Captain; “but it’s no joke for me to lose my pistols. Hair triggers – best English make, and gold mounted. There aren’t a finer pair in America.”

“Oh, we’ll find’em. We’ll go on a pilgrimage from house to house, asking if any lady there has lost a night-cap and found a pair of dueling-pistols.

 

Chapter IV

In very goo d spirits, the party crossed the river, and inquired at the baggage-room in reference to each and all black leather traveling-bags arrived that day, took notes of where they were sent, and set out to follow them up. In due time they reached the Continental, and, as luck would have it, met the unhappy bridal pair just coming down the stairs in charge of the policeman.

“What’s all this?” inquired the Captain.

“Oh, a couple of burglars, caught with a valise full of stolen property.

“A valise! What kind of valise?”

“A black leather valise. That’s it, there.”

“Here! – Stop! – Hallo! – Policeman! – Landlord! It’s all right. It’s all a mistake. They got changed at the depot. This lady and gentleman are innocent. Here’s their valise, with her nightcap in it.”

Great was the laughter, multifarious the comments, and deep the interest of the crowd in all this dialogue, which they appeared to regard as a delightful entertainment, got up expressly for their amusement.

“Then you say this ‘ere is yourn?” said the policeman, relaxing his hold on the bridegroom, and confronting the Captain.

“Yes, it’s mine.”

“And how did you come by the spoons?”

“Spoons, you jackanapes!” said the Captain. “Pistols! – dueling-pistols!”

“Do you call these pistols?” said the policeman, holding up one of the silver spoons marked ‘T.B.”

The Captain, astounded, gasped “It’s the wrong valise again, after all!”

“Stop! Not so fast!” said the police functionary, now invested with the great dignity by the importance of the affair he found himself engaged in. “IF so be as how you’ve got this ‘cre lady’s valise, she’s all right, and can go. But, in that case, this is yourn,  and it comes on you to account fro them ‘are stole spoons. Have to take you in charge, all four of ye.”

“Why, you impudent scoundrel!” roared the Captain; “I’ll see you in-. I wish I had my pistols here; I’d teach you to insult gentlemen!” shaking his fist.

The dispute waxed fast and furious. The outsiders began to take part in it, and there is no telling how it would have ended, had not an explosion, followed by a heavy fall and a scream of pain, been heard in an adjoining room.

The crowd rushed to the scene of the new attraction.

The door was fast. It was soon burst open, and the mystery explained. The thief, who carried off the Captain’s valise by mistake for his own, had taken it up to his room, and opened it to gloat over the booty he supposed it to contain, thrusting his hand in after the spoons. In so doing he had touched one of the hair triggers, and the pistol had gone off, the bullet making a round hole through the side of the valise, and a corresponding round hole in the calf of his leg. The wounded rascal was taken in charge, first by the policeman, and then by the doctor; and the duelists and the wedded pair struck up a friendship on the score of their mutual mishaps, which culminated in a supper, where the fun was abundant, and where it would be hard to say which was in the best spirits, – the Captain for recovering his pistols, the bride for getting her night-cap, the bridegroom for escaping the station-house, or the duelists for escaping each other. All resolved to ‘mark the day with a white stone,’ and henceforth to mark their names on their black traveling-bags, in white letters.

 

Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Three Traveling-Bags”

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying lost or mixed-up baggage stories. This story, “The Three Traveling-Bags” is from The Continental Monethly  of 1862.

Chapter 1

There were three of them, all of shining black leather; one on top of the pile of trunks; one on the  ground; one in the owner’s hand; all going to Philadelphia; all waiting to be checked.

The last bell rang. The baggageman bustled, fuming, from one pile of baggage to another, dispensing chalk to the trunks, checks to the passagengers, and curses to the porters, in approved railway style.

“Mine! – Philadelphia” cried a stout military-looking man, with enormous whiskers and a red face, crowding forward, as the baggageman laid his hand on the first bag.

“Won’t you please to give me a check for this, now?” entreated a pale, slender, carefully-dressed young man, for the ninth time, holding out bag No. 2. “I have a lady to look after.”

“Say! be you agoin’ to give me a check for that ‘are, or not?” growled the proprietor of bag No. 3, a short, pockmarked fellow, in a shabby over coat.

“All right, gen’l’men. Here you are,’ says the functionary, rapidly distributing the three checks. “Philadelfy, this? Yes, sir, -1092-1740.11-1020. All right.”

“All aboard!” shouted the conductor.

“Whoo-whew!” responded the locomotive; and the train moved slowly out of the station-house.

The baggageman meditatively watched it, as it sped away in the distance, and then, as if a thought suddenly struck him, slapping his thigh, he exclaimed,

“Blest if I don’t believe – “

“What?” inquired the switchman.

“That I’ve gone and guv them three last fellers the wrong checks! The cussed little black things was all alike, and they bothered me.”

“Telegraph,” suggested the switchman.

“Never you mind,’ replied the baggageman. “They was all going to Philadelfy. They’ll find it out when they get there.”

They did.

Chapter II

The scene shifts to the Continental Hotel, Philadelphia. – Front parlor, up stairs. – Occupants, the young gentleman alluded to in Chapter I, and a young lady. In accordance with the fast usages of the times, the twain had been made one in holy matrimony at 7.30 a.m.; duly kissed and congratulated till 8.15; put aboard the express train at 8.45, and deposited at the Continental, bag and baggage, by 12.58.

They were seated on the sofa, the black broadcloth coat-sleeve encircling the slender waist of the gray traveling-dress, and the jetty moustache in equally affectionate proximity to the glossy curls.

“Are you tired, dearest?”

“No, love, not much. But you are, arn’t you?”

“No, darling.”

Kiss, and a pause.

“Don’t it seem funny?” said the lady.

“What, love?”

“That we should be married.”

“Yes, darling.”

“Won’t they be glad to see us at George’s?”

“Of course they will.”

“I’m sure I shall enjoy it so much. Shall we get there to-night?”

“Yes, love, if – “

Rap-rap-rap, at the door.

A  hasty separation took place between man and wife – to opposite ends of the sofa; and  then –

“Come in.”

“Av you plaze, sur, it’s an M.P. is waiting to see yez.”

“To see me! A policeman?”

“Yis, sur.”

“There must be some mistake.”

“No sur, it’s yourself; and he’s waiting in the hall, beyant.”

“Well, I’ll go to – No, tell him to come here.”

“Sorry to disturb you, sir,” said the M.P., with a huge brass star on his breast, appearing with great alacrity at the waiter’s elbow. B’lieve this is your black valise?”

“Yes, that is ours, certainly. It has Julia’s – the lady’s things in it.”

“Suspicious sarcumstances about that ‘ere valise, sir. Telegraph come this morning that a burglar started on the 8.45 Philadelphia train, with a lot of stolen spoons, in a black valise. – spoons marked T. B. – Watched at the Ferry. Saw the black valise. – Followed it up here. – Took a peek inside. Sure enough, there was the spoons. Marked T. B., too. Said it was yours. Shall have to take you in charge.”

“Take me in charge!” echoed the dismayed bridegroom. “But I assure you, my dear sir, there is some strange mistake. It’s all a mistake.”

“S’pose you’ll be able to account for the spoons being in your valise, then?”

“Why, I – I – it isn’t mine. It must be somebody else’s. Somebody’s put them there. It is some villainous conspiracy.”

“Hope you’ll be able to tell a straighter story before the magistrate, young man; ‘cause if you don’t, you stand a smart chance of being sent up for six months.”

“Oh, Charles! This is horrid. Do send him away. Oh dear! I wish I was home,” sobbed the little bride.

“I tell you, sir,” said the bridegroom, bristling up with indignation, “this is all a vile plot. What would I be doing with your paltry spoon? I was married this morning, in Fifth Avenue, and I am on my wedding tour. I have high connections in New York. You’ll repent it, sir, if you dare arrest me.”

“Oh , come, now,” said the incredulous official, “I’ve been hearn stories like that before. This ain’t the first time swindlers has traveled in couples. Do you s’pose I don’t know nothin’? ‘Tan’t no use; you’ve just got to come along to the station-house. Might as well go peaceably, ‘cause you’ll have to.”

“Charles, this is perfectly dreadful! Our wedding night in the station-house! Do send for somebody. Send for the landlord to explain it.”

The landlord was sent for, and came; the porters were sent for, and came; the waiters, and chambermaids, and bar-room loungers came, without being sent for, and filled the room and the adjoining hall, some to laugh, some to say they wouldn’t have believed it, but nearly all to exult that the unhappy pair had been ‘found out.’ Now explanation could be given; and the upshot was, that, in spite of tears, threats, entreaties, rage, and expostulations, the unfortunate newly-married pair were taken in charge by the relentless policeman, and marched down stairs, en rout for the police office.

And here let the curtain drop on the melancholy scene, while we follow the fortunes of black valise No. 2.

 Continued…..

Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Where’s My Trunk?” part 2

And so it really was. At the head of the pier at Newport, there is a  shed with seats within where people wait for the ferry-boats;and there, perdu beneath a form, lay the enchanted trunk, having been so disposed, in the bustle of unloading,  by means which nobody could pretend to understand. The guard, with a half frightened look approached the awful object, and soon placed it with other things on board the ferry boat.

On our landing at Dundee pier, the proprietor of the trunk saw so well after it himself, tat it was evident no accident was for this time to be expected. However, it appeared that this was only a lull to our attention. The tall gentleman was to go on to Aberdeen by a coach then just about to start from Merchant’s Inn; while I, for my part, was to proceed by another coach which was about to proceed from the same place to Perth. A great bustle took place in the narrow street at the inn door, and some of my late fellow travelers were getting into the one coach, and some into the other. The Aberdeen coach was soonest prepared to start, and just as the guard cried ‘all’s right,’ the long figure devolved from the window, and said, in an anxious tone of a voice –

“Guard, have you got my trunk?”

“Your trunk, sir!” cried the man; “what like is your trunk? – we have nothing here but bags and baskets.”

“Heaven preserve me!” exclaimed the unfortunate gentleman, and burst out of the coach.

It immediately appeared that the trunk had been deposited by mistake in the Perth, instead of the Aberdeen coach; and unless the owner had spoken, it would have been, in less than an hour, half way up the Carse of Gourie. A transfer was immediately made, to the no small amusement of myself and one or two other persons in both coaches who had witnesses its previous misadventures on the road through Fife. Seeing a friend on the Aberdeen vehicle, I took an opportunity of privately requesting that he would, on arriving at his destination, send me an account by post of all further mistakes and dangers which were to befall the trunk in the course of the journey. To this he agreed, and, about a week after, I received the following letter:

“Dear ——,

“All went well with myself, my fellow-travellers and the Trunk, till we got a few miles on this side of Stonehaven, when just as we were passing one of the boggiest parts of that boggy road, an unfortunate lurch threw us over upon one side, and the exterior passengers, along with several heavy articles of luggage, were all projected several yards off into the morass. As the place was rather soft, nobody was much hurt; but, after everything had again been put to rights, the tall man put some two thirds of himself through the coach window, in his usual manner, and asked the guard if he was sure his trunk was safe in the boot.

““Oh, Lord, sir!” cried the guard, as if a desperate idea had at that moment rushed into his mind, “the trunk was on the top. Has nobody seen it laying about any where?”

““If it be a trunk ye’re looking after,” cried a rustic, very coolly, “I saw it sink into that wellee a quarter of an hour sync.”

““Good God!” exclaimed the distracted owner, “my trunk is gone for ever. Oh my poor dear trunk! – where is the place – show me where it disappeared.”

“The place being pointed out, he rushed madly up to it, and seemed as if he would have plunged into the watery profound to search for his lost property, or die in the attempt. Being informed that the bogs in this part of the country were perfectly bottomless, he soon saw how vain every endeavour of that kind would be; and so he was with difficulty induced to resume his place in the coach, loudly threatening, however, to make the proprietors of the vehicle pay sweetly for his loss.

“What was in the trunk. I have not been able to learn. Perhaps the title deeds of an estate were among the contents; perhaps it was only filled with bricks and rags, in order to impose upon the innkeepers. In all likelihood, the mysterious object is still descending and descending, down the boundless abyss, in which its contents will probably be revealed till a great many things of more importance and equal mystery are made plain.”

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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“Where’s My Trunk?”

How many of us have experienced lost or mis-directed luggage? I certainly have. Here is a fun story of a mysterious black trunk traveling by coach and steam ferry, which saw mishap upon mishap…..

“Where’s My Trunk?” The Monthly Traveller, or, Spirit of the Periodical Press. Badger & Porter, Boston: 1833.
It is well know in Scotland that the road from Edinburgh to Dundee, only forty-three miles in extent, is rendered tedious and troublesome by the interposition of two arms of the sea, namely, the Firths of Forth and Tay, one of which is seven, and the other three miles across. Several rapid and well conducted stage coaches travel upon this road; but, from the frequent loading and unloading at the ferries, there is not only considerable delay to the traveler, but also rather more than the usual risk of damage and loss to their luggage. On one occasion it happened that the common chances against the safety of a traveller’s integuments were multiplied in a mysterious, but most amusing manner – as the following little narrative will show: –
The gentleman in question was an inside passenger – a very tall man, which was so much the worse for him in that situation – and it appeared that his whole baggage consisted of a single black trunk – one of medium size, and now way remarkable in appearance. On our leaving Edinburgh, this trunk had been deposited in the boot of the coach, amidst a great variety of other trunks, bundles, and carpet bags, belonging to the rest of the passengers.
Having arrived at Newhaven, the luggage was brought forth from the coach, and disposed upon a barrow, in order that it might be taken down to the steam boat which was to convey us across. – Just as the barrow was moving off, the tall gentleman said –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” answered the guard; “you may be sure it’s there.”
“Not so sure of that,” quoth the tall gentleman; “whereabouts is it?”
The guard poked into the barrow, and looked in vain among the numberless articles for the trunk. At length, after he had noozled about for two or three minutes through all the holes and corners of the mass of integuments, he drew out his head, like a terrier tired of earthing a badger, and seemed a little nonplused.
“Why, here it is in the boot!” exclaimed the passenger, “snug at the bottom, where it might have remained, I suppose, for you, till safely returned to the coach yard, in Edinburgh.”
The guard made an awkward apology, put the trunk upon the barrow, and away we all went to the steam boat.
Nothing further occurred till we were all standing beside the coach at Pettycur, ready to proceed on the principal terraqueous part of our journey through Fife.
Every thing seemed to have been stowed into the coach, and most of the passengers had taken their proper places, when the tall gentleman cried out –
“Guard, where is my trunk?”
“In the boot, sir,” answered the guard; “you may depend upon that.”
“I have not seen it put in,” said the passenger, “and I don’t believe it is there.”
“Oh, sir,” said the guard, quite distressed, “there can surely be no doubt about the trunk now.”
“There! I declare – there!” cried the owner of the missing property; “my trunk is still lying down yonder upon the sands. Don’t you see it? The sea, I declare, is just about reaching it. What a careless set of porters! I protest I was never so treated on any journey before.”
The trunk was instantly rescued from it somewhat perilous situation, and, all having been at length put to rights, we went on our way to Cupar.
Here the coach stopped a few minutes at the inn, and there is generally a particular discharge of passengers. As some individuals, on the present occasion, had to leave the coach, there was a slight discomposure of the luggage, and various trunks and bundles were presently seen departing on the backs of porters, after the gentlemen to whom they belonged. After all seemed to have been again put to rights, the tall gentleman made his wonted inquiry respecting his trunk.
“The trunk, sir,” said the guard, rather pettishly, “is in the boot.”
“Not a bit of it,” said its owner; who in the meantime had been peering about. “There it lies in the lobby of the inn!”
The guard now began to think that this trunk was in some way bewitched, and possessed a power, unenjoyed by other earthly trunks, of removing itself or staying behind, according to its own good pleasure.
“The Lord have a care o’ us!” cried the astonished custodier of baggage, who, to do him justice seemed and exceedingly sober and attentive person. “The Lord have a care o’ us, sir! The trunks no canny.”
“It’s canny enough, you fool,” said the gentleman sharply; “but only you don’t pay proper attention to it.”
The fact was, that the trunk had been taken out of the coach and placed in the lobby, in order to allow of certain other articles being got at which lay beneath. It was now once more stowed away, and we set forward upon the remaining part of our journey, hoping that there would be no more disturbance about this pestilent member of the community of trunks. All was right till we came to the lonely inn of St Michael’s, where a side road turns off to St Andrew’s, and where it happened that a passenger had to leave us to walk to that seat of learning, a servant having been in waiting to carry his luggage.
The tall gentleman, hearing a bustle about the boot, projected his immensely long slender body through the coach window, in order, like the lady in the fairy tale, to see what he could see.
“Hello, fellow!” cried he to the servant following the gentleman down the St Andrew’s road; “is that not my trunk? Come back, if you please, and let me inspect it.”
“The trunk, sir,” interposed the guard, in a sententious manner, “is that gemman’s trunk, and not yours: yours is in the book.”
“We’ll make sure of that, Mr Guard, if you please. Come back, my good fellow, and let me see the trunk you have got with you.”
The trunk was accordingly brought back, and, to the confession of the guard, who had thought himself fairly infallible for this time, it was the tall man’s property, as clear as brass nails could make it.
The trunk was now the universal subject of talk, both inside and outside, and every body said he would be surprised if it got to its journey’s end in safety. All agreed that it manifested a most extraordinary disposition to be lost, stolen, or strayed, but yet every one thought that there was a kind of special providence about it, which kept it on the right road after all; and, therefore, it became a fair subject of debate, whether the chances against, or the chances for, were likely to prevail.
Before we arrived at Newport, where we had to go on board the ferry steam boat for Dundee, the conversation had gone into other channels, and each being engaged about his own concerns, no one thought any more about the trunk, till just as the barrow was descending along the pier, the eternal long man cried out –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes,” cried the guard very promptly, “I’ve taken care of it now. There it is on the top of all.”
“It’s no such thing,” cried the gentleman who had come into the coach at Cupar; “that’s my trunk.’
Every body then looked about for the enchanted trunk; the guard ran back, and once more searched the boot, which he knew to have been searched to the bottom before; and the tall gentleman gazed over land, water, and sky, in quest of his precious encumbrance.
“Well, guard,” cried he at length, “what a pretty fellow you are! There, don’t you see? – there’s my trunk thrust into the shed, like a piece of lumber!”
My Apologies – On to part 2

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Looking inside a Railroad Car

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Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 7:38 am  Comments (4)