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Sunday, 27 January 2013

ESAH Sunday Series: Travel

From Revd. EHL Reeve's Commonplace Book of 1881.

Abraham Reeve of Hadleigh, Suffolk

He was a man “hard as iron”, as no doubt also “as true as steel”.  In the coldest weather he would crack on to his sides, and call it “wholly warm” while meaner specimens of humanity were nearly dead with the cold (e.g. returning from Bury [St Edmunds] one day with his son Edward, with icicles hanging from his wig).  His power of endurance was unbounded, and he is said to have been capable of undergoing any amount of fatigue.

On one occasion he took his two sons to London, and spurning the coach the trio rode up together – a journey of about 60 miles – ponies having been obtainable for the purpose suitable to the boys.  After a hard days riding it would not be a matter of surprise in this degenerate age if such mere boys as they were at the time should feel slightly sleepy and overcome in the evening, especially if seated after a comfortable dinner in a crowded theatre.

Market Day

In the old days when Abraham Reeve took his celebrated rides into market there were no banks in the country, and no cheques wherewith to pay off large sums in a convenient form.  Once a week therefore or at longer intervals Abraham had to take pocketsful of hard cash over with him – and (shall I say more often?) bring hard cash back.  Such was the weight, jolting upon his as he rode, would make him stiff and sore at the end of the day.

Fast horse

Let not the fame of George Tompson of Yarmouth sink into oblivion, whose favourite mare, according to the account given by himself to the Rector of Raydon [Revd. Thomas Reeve], could trot 16 miles within the hour.

Destination mistaken

Capt. Reeve once took his seat in a coach in a London yard in order to go to Leamington in Warwickshire.  He shortly found himself journeying towards Lymington in Hampshire.  The coaches started from the same yard, and he had embarked upon the wrong.  However, he was pleased with the day, the scenery was delightful, and it is said that he was induced to take a house in Lymington for the summer months.

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