Esoteric London

No. 514: Downham Road, N1

Posted in Literary London, Transport by esotericlondon on February 16, 2012

Downham Road, London, N1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens, 1837:

It was within a week of the close of the month of July, that a hackney cabriolet, number unrecorded, was seen to proceed at a rapid pace up Goswell Street; three people were squeezed into it besides the driver, who sat in his own particular little dickey at the side; over the apron were hung two shawls, belonging to two small vixenish-looking ladies under the apron; between whom, compressed into a very small compass, was stowed away, a gentleman of heavy and subdued demeanour, who, whenever he ventured to make an observation, was snapped up short by one of the vixenish ladies before-mentioned. Lastly, the two vixenish ladies and the heavy gentleman were giving the driver contradictory directions, all tending to the one point, that he should stop at Mrs. Bardell’s door; which the heavy gentleman, in direct opposition to, and defiance of, the vixenish ladies, contended was a green door and not a yellow one.
‘Stop at the house with a green door, driver,’ said the heavy gentleman.
‘Oh! You perwerse creetur!’ exclaimed one of the vixenish ladies. ‘Drive to the ‘ouse with the yellow door, cabmin.’
Upon this the cabman, who in a sudden effort to pull up at the house with the green door, had pulled the horse up so high that he nearly pulled him backward into the cabriolet, let the animal’s fore-legs down to the ground again, and paused.
‘Now vere am I to pull up?’ inquired the driver. ‘Settle it among yourselves. All I ask is, vere?’
Here the contest was renewed with increased violence; and the horse being troubled with a fly on his nose, the cabman humanely employed his leisure in lashing him about on the head, on the counter-irritation principle.
‘Most wotes carries the day!’ said one of the vixenish ladies at length. ‘The ‘ouse with the yellow door, cabman.’
But after the cabriolet had dashed up, in splendid style, to the house with the yellow door, ‘making,’ as one of the vixenish ladies triumphantly said, ‘acterrally more noise than if one had come in one’s own carriage,’ and after the driver had dismounted to assist the ladies in getting out, the small round head of Master Thomas Bardell was thrust out of the one-pair window of a house with a red door, a few numbers off.

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