THE STABLES

In treating of the stables and the domestics connected with them, whose services are generally required when in town, it is not here attempted to compete with what may be caprice as to the particular duties which a servant may be looked upon to perform. For instance, it may be the will of an Amphitryon not to require more of his town coachman than his merely gracing the reins held for him on his ascending his box; or than his pad-groom preserving the precision of his seat on horseback, so as to be without detriment to his "admirables, or the racy,'' as a certain style of the stableman's dress is termed; or than that his tiger may not be required to do more than excel in dress; — providing that those essential duties which fall to the lot of the coachman, of the pad-groom, or of the tiger, be in his stables performed by other hands. Therefore with such kind of service there are no rules; and these remarks are solely confined to the customs of our best English families, who require, beyond dress or personal appearance, the sterling qualities of the English servant. The servants who are connected with the stables, and generally required in town, consist of the—
First and second coachmen,
Postillion and the helpers,
First and second grooms and their helper.

To the coachman is given the management of the carriage department in coach, curricle, gig, cab, etc.; and to the head groom that of the saddle-horses.

Stable servants in town are usually on board-wages, but should they be placed on housekeeping with the rest, they are not even by that in any way, except on extraordinary occasions, connected with the in-door servants; on the contrary, their habits and manners are generally different, and they prefer to confine themselves to servants of their own class.

On the occasions of large parties, the coachman may be seen in the ante-chamber, or in the entrance-hall, usually stationed nearest the door.

And then the second coachman, and others, may render themselves useful.

It is not meant that the foregoing comprises the whole of the stable department; for that purpose the following must be added to the list: — The stud-groom, and perhaps, in the country, the master of the horse, the huntsman, the whippers-in and helpers, hunting-groom, and extra grooms who mostly remain in the country, and therefore are not added to the household in town.

The town coachman should know town well, and be a good driver, and not like to Mrs. Bamington's coachman, as shown in "The Spa Hunt"; but rather let him be one who handles his reins free of all theatrical show, well measuring his distances at all times in either fast or slow driving, and preserving a thorough command of himself, whether it be on court-day, or at opera, balls, or routs; and on which occasions, though it may not be thought so by some, yet a town coachman requires the greatest skill in coachmanship and control of temper, as the regulations obliged to be enforced by the police with regard to the setting-down and taking-up are often to him perplexing and vexatious.

Though the regulations on the above occasions may seem stringent, yet on giving the subject the least attention, it will at once plainly appear how thoroughly impossible it would be, without infringement of order, to give a large party without the aid of the police at any of the following places: say — at Buckingham Palace, the Duchess of Gloucester's, Apsley House, Cambridge House, the Duke of Devonshire's, the Russian Embassy, the Duke of Buccleuch's, Sutherland House, Miss Burdett Coutts's, and many others.

The town coachman occasionally has several boys placed under his charge in riding and driving, and no other than a first-rate coachman is considered capable for this. He endeavours to turn out such boys as good postillions. Stablemen consider this as a test of a first-rate coachman, and that no one can be formed into a good postillion without first undergoing this training.

The coachman is at all times proud to turn out his horses and carriage with a cleanliness and neatness not to be surpassed.

He ought to be extremely neat in his person, and if he be inclined to corpulency, he will then, in the opinion of many, be considered best suited to set off his hammercloth. But the best mode of judging of him is in the manner of his managing his stables, and of the state of the various articles under his charge; insomuch that a well-regulated stable will tell for itself, as there is very little connected with the duty of a stableman but will show when neglected.

The pad-groom well mounted, denotes at once the rank and taste of his master. He should be what is termed "a pretty rider," sitting with ease, whilst showing a perfect mastership over his high-spirited animal.

He cannot appear too clean or too neat.


The Household Manager, By Charles Pierce, 1857, Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged, 1863