Sunday 17 May 2009

Dog Carts


I've finished what I'm digitising by James Grant - the first few chapters of his Lights and Shadows of London Life from 1842 (not to be confused with James Payn's book of the same title). It's incomplete, because I can't lay my hands on the second volume at present, and the last chapter of the first book looks a little boring. Nonetheless, there are some interesting snippets, not least on the 'dog-cart'. In general Victorian parlance, this was a small trap for quick journeys, as pictured above. But, there was a much more literal predecessor ...

These latter observations lead me to say a word or two about another class of vehicles, which until the beginning of 1840, were quite common in the streets of the metropolis. I mean the very small carts which were drawn entirely by dogs. These lilliputian carts were used for a variety of purposes, and were sometimes drawn by one dog, although occasionally by as many as three. The dogs were duly harnessed as if they were horses, and were trained to their duties as drawers of these vehicles in a wonderful way. In many cases the persons, mostly boys or young men, charged with them, or to whom. they belonged, sat in the carts themselves, and drove the tractable creatures whip in hand, just as if they were horses. They proceeded at an amazing celerity through the streets; frequently exceeding hackney coaches and cabs in the rapidity of their movements. The only thing to be regretted was, that they were not only often overburdened, but very cruelly used by those who had the charge of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment