Sunday 10 October 2010

Walking the London Streets

"Walking the streets of London with safety and speed, is an accomplishment not to be acquired without experience, and a diligent use of one's eyes in every direction from which danger may be apprehended. Considering the immense number of carriages, and the throng of foot passengers, it is surprising that so few accidents happen. I witnessed one, however, a few mornings since, which it was distressing to behold. A poor women, with a child in her arms, was knocked down in crossing a street, and got entangled under the coach horses, where she was severely bruised before she could be rescued. Before the by-standers could sufficiently recover their self-recollection to yield her any assistance, a well dressed lady actually sprang under the horses and snatched away the child, with no small personal risk to herself—a gratifying instance of female intrepidity. To observe the apparently reckless manner in which coaches are driven, one would imagine they could hardly pass the length of a street without causing accidents. But pedestrians learn to look to their own safety ; and for this, an ever-vigilent circumspection becomes necessary. Were a coach to pull up till an opening was made in the throng of foot passengers, it would be in the predicament of the clown, who waited for the river to run by before he attempted to cross. The driver must make his way through, or come to a dead stand. If a passenger before him happens to be inattentive, which is not often the case, he ejaculates his accustomed heigh! in a tone so sharp, as to put the most heedless on their guard. The streets of London are no place for the reveries of an absent man."
Nathaniel S. Wheaton, A Journal of a Residence during Several Months in London, 1830

1 comment:

  1. What would he think of today's traffic in London, I wonder? Anyone in collision with a vehicle today is likely to suffer more than bruises.

    The modern fad of setting up space shared by vehicles and pedestrians may very well produce conditions similar to those on London's streets in Victorian times.