Thursday, 31 July 2014

Complaining about the habits of Victorian railway passengers

It seems that the gripes Victorian railway travellers had about their fellow passengers were very similar to ours...

London Bridge, 1858
"Once I found myself racing north alone with an elderly spinster of forbidding aspect. She had long since left the “springs of fifty years” behind. She was gaunt, grey, and bony, She wore gleaming spectacles. She was like the elderly Englishwoman dear to Parisian caricature. And the first words she uttered of sepulchral tones were these: “I always travel in a ladies’ compartment when going even the shortest journey, for you never know what might happen!” This prudent spinster, it will be seen, was gifted with that priceless possession, a vivid imagination. With her, I remember, I was moved to formulate my views as to the Ideal Train. I argued that the whole classification of passengers required immediate rearrangement. There should not only be separate carriages for children, but compartments for the newly-wed, for men who smoke inferior cigars, for schoolboys, for people who want to discuss their private affairs, for folks recovering from dangerous illnesses, for ugly people, for “engaged” couples – or those who ought to be – for young ladies who giggle (there is no form of nerve-torture to compare to this on a long journey), and for people who regard railway travelling as an excuse for gnawing chicken-bones, drinking, potent-smelling liquors, and strewing themselves and everybody else with crumbs."

Miss Hepworth Dixon, Ladies Pictorial, August 1896

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