“Travelers and Traveling” from 1860

Today’s reblog

If I Had My Own Blue Box:

I stumbled across this article, “Travelers and Traveling” by Mary A. Denison in Peterson’s Magazine from 1860.

I rather enjoyed the first part, but then it took quite a twist.

“Think for a moment of the masses moving in every direction. From homes of wealth and of poverty they come – from the emigrant’s little cabin of mud by the wayside, and the palace of the titled noble – on the they throng, men, women, and children – sick and well – joyful and sorrowful. Some are in the first flush of wedded happiness, on their bridal tour – some are leaving the home of youth and childhood, where they have been sheltered and fondled, to seek a scanty living in a heartless world. Some go at the call of husbands to the land of the golden mountains – some to while away a leisure that is wearisome, to fill…

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Published in: on October 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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 Bonnet Cover

Ooops. This wasn’t supposed to post until this weekend. But given the weather I am about to venture out into, I’ll leave it.

From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

A BONNET-COVER – When travelling in dry weather on a road that is likely to be dusty, you may effectually protect your bonnet from injury, by taking with you a cover for it. To make this cover, get a yard of white glazed cambric muslin, and cut it into the form of a large straight hood; gathering it close at the back of the head upon a small circular piece about the size of a half-dollar. Slope it away at the sides of the neck, and put a case with a drawing-string of fine tape along the edges of the front: the string to tie at the side.

If you commence your journey by water, you can roll up this bonnet-cover, and keep it in your reticule while in the steam-boat; putting it over your bonnet, and drawing round your face, just before you get into the vehicle in which you are to ride. You will find when you take it off, that it has effectually screen your bonnet and its ribbons from the dust and sun. It must, of course, be made very large and loose, that it may not flatten or discompose the trimming.

We have seen bonnet-covers of green silk; but, if it chances to get wet, the green dye will run down and stain the bonnet. This same thing may happen, if the cover is of coloured muslin. White is undoubtedly the best for this purpose; and when soiled, it can be easily washed.

After being out in the damp, do not immediately put away your bonnet; but wipe the front and crown with a clean handkerchief, and put some wadding or tissue paper into the bows, to keep them from losing their shape: taking it out, however, as soon as the ribbon is perfectly dry. Also, never put away a shawl or cloak while it is in the least damp. Do not always fold a shawl on the same creases, lest it wear out along the wire edges of the folds. When you take off a veil, stretch it evenly on the bed, and let it remain there an hour or two, in case there should be any dampness about it.

When ever the atmosphere is cloudy or humid, it is well to take the feathers out of your bonnet before you go out, lest they loose their curl, or their whiteness.

EDIT TO ADD: Deanna asked for a sketch of my interpretation. This is what I picture from Eliza Leslie’s description. I would want a bavolet/curtain to cover that part of my bonnet as well. I would think the gathers of the light weight fabric allow for the least amount of weight on the bonnet decorations underneith. I’m not sure how well this bonnet cover would do in any amount of wind or moisture. Honestly, I am still bothered by the recommendations of traveling caps for men but bonnet covers for women. I’ve been looking at paintings of travel scenes trying to determine what each woman has on her head. A traveling hood seems far, far more practical then a delicate fashion bonnet.


Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 6:00 am  Comments (6)  
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“The Three Traveling-Bags” part 2


  “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.


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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“Travelers and Traveling” from 1860

I stumbled across this article, “Travelers and Traveling” by Mary A. Denison in Peterson’s Magazine from 1860.

I rather enjoyed the first part, but then it took quite a twist.

“Think for a moment of the masses moving in every direction. From homes of wealth and of poverty they come – from the emigrant’s little cabin of mud by the wayside, and the palace of the titled noble – on the they throng, men, women, and children – sick and well – joyful and sorrowful. Some are in the first flush of wedded happiness, on their bridal tour – some are leaving the home of youth and childhood, where they have been sheltered and fondled, to seek a scanty living in a heartless world. Some go at the call of husbands to the land of the golden mountains – some to while away a leisure that is wearisome, to fill a void no earthly pleasure can satisfy. What endless packing of trunks and bags is perpetually in progress from the rising of the sun till its going down! Did you ever think of it, reader? How all th avenues of commerce are crowded with the constant coming and going of articles needed for transportation. Fourteen trunks carried off from the steps of our next door neighbor, who is going to show her two or three dozen new “loves” of dresses at Saratoga. “That place where really noblemen go sometimes, dear!” Truly man (and woman too) is a living locomotive, under full pressure, flying flashing from town to town, from country to country, never at rest, puffing and blowing, and steaming it through the world. Those who have pockets full of money, and can afford to wait for detention of boat or car, ought to enjoy all the delights of traveling. They can stop when they please, put up at the most expensive hotels, keep a hody-guard of waiters about them, all the time, by a liberal supply of the cash – be stared at, talked about, admired, and envied to their hearts’ content. To such, there is scarcely a higher pleasure than to make a sensation. They love to hear the sly side of communication, “Guess he’s rich.” They love to sit in state, on the right hand of the master of ceremonies – to have the wants of their wives and daughters attended to first, and themselves listened to as “Sir Oracles.” So, their little hearts are contented. Then they smack their lips, and talk smoothly of the little things, whose cognizance has chanced to pass through the avenue of their very limited brains. Others, languid and faint, to whom a straw is a burden, endure with indescribable anguish the discomforts of travel. How often have we seen some pale face, touching in its uncomplaining sorrow, leaning wearily upon the seat of car or steamboat! When the bosom is burdened with sighs, and brain and heart are throbbing with pain, the loud laugh of the throughtless, the chit-chat of the happy, the bounding steps of the little child – how strange they seem! One thought only fills the mind – one star shines through the deep gloom – it is the thought and the star of home! They are going home! The dear, old mother is there. At her touch the fires of the brain will sink into slumber; the heart will throb less heavily. The pillow and the couch are waiting there – the voice of love – the prayer of faith. So long the earth –weary for heaven! Sometimes there is a fugitive from justice on board, who sits in sullen silence, with clenched hands and teeth, and hat drawn over his brows. He dares not look at a single face, for he feels that on his own is branded an indelible mark. As the train nears the village or the town, he cowers in deadly fear, for he knows the very lightnings[sic] have proclaimed his guilt, and the officers of outraged justice are on his track. Poor, guilty wretch! was the paltry gain worth all this shame and anguish? The selfish traveler makes his mark. The windows shall be shut and opened, as his sovereign will dictate; though the winds, soothing to him, strike the chill of death through a tenderer frame, he never disturbs his precious self. He is an unabated nuisance – turn him out. It is passing strange, that many travelers, especially mothers with little children, will not take the precaution to provide themselves with water for the journey; a flask and dipper, or tumbler, would not take up an inconvenient amount of room, and would save much annoyance. Once, in traveling, we were seated near a little family, consisting of a mother and two children – one of whom was quite ill – and an aged grandparent. For the first part of the journey all went well, water could be obtained at the depots, to cool the parched lips of the little stranger. But night came on – a stormy night of wind and tempest, and the child grew very sick and impatient; we seem to hear her moaning little voice, faint, weak, and imploring; we see those large, languid blue eyes floating in tears. “Drink, mamma! – drink, drink, mamma!” resounded at constant intervals, accompanied sometimes with bitter cries. We wondered that we had not thought of obtaining water. The mother, worn out with watching and fatigue, burst into teas and sobbed piteously, while the little voice kept up its pleading, monotonous cry, “Drink, mamma, drink!” The fever burned her lips; her cheeks blazed; her breath was like fire – yet no water could be had for love or money, along the route of the rushing train. Think of it, the child was dying of thirst – absolutely perishing for water – and the thoughtless mother had no resort but teas. Could they but quench the poor child’s thirst, we could have wept till morning. Alas! when morning came the little sufferer had put on wing. She died in the cars, and – here we will leave the subject. It may induce some to think.”

Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)