Few families of distinction, of either the former or present time, visit the Continent without being accompanied by a courier; and although the difference between the present and former mode of travelling is so great, still it does not do away with the ability and usefulness of this class of servant. The courier should be a man of undeniable character, proved by testimonials of those whom he previously travelled with; he should be acquainted with the languages, the geography, and the capabilities of the countries the family travels through.
The office of courier has many varieties, but we shall here treat only of the private or family courier.
These men have been always expected to be fully conversant with the language, the coins, the routes, the principal hotels and inns of each country through which their family travel; and they themselves generally precede the family on horseback, defraying all expenses, and making the arrangements at such places as their families sojourn at, and so rendering travelling agreeable, easy, and select for the wealthy.
Since the immense facilities given by railway transit have increased, many regret to observe that this valuable body of men have been gradually disappearing from the scene of their once most active and highly useful services. The courier is generally a perfect horseman, and numerous are the anecdotes current of his feats of riding and driving, of his dangers, his personal fatigues, and his privations.
The Household Manager, By Charles Pierce, 1857, Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged, 1863