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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Boston to NYC, 1704 style

Bright and early (7AM!) I am hopping on a bus to NYC en route to, as Kelly B. says, “the dirty Jerz.” I thought it would be fun to contrast a 21st-century four-hour Megabus trip (air conditioning, WiFi, &c., &c.) with this description of the same trip made in colonial times:

In October 1704, Sarah Kemble Knight, aged thirty-eight, set out alone on horseback on a trip from Boston to New York. She picked up companionship along the way, often with the post rider, for New England had a mail service now. She endured shabby inns where village topers often kept her awake at night; meals that varied from the unpalatable to almost decent; rocky, unmarked ways that sometimes led into dead ends; but not once did anyone attempt to rob her or threaten her with bodily harm. It did not disconcert her to wake up one night and find she was sharing the room with two men in a nearby bed. The few times she thought her heart might stop came while crossing a stream in a tippy dugout canoe or on a ride to the next stage during a moonless night “that rendered every object formidable,” when “every lifeless trunk with its shatter’d limbs appear’d an armed enemy, and every little stump a ravenous devourer.”

(From David Freeman Hawke’s Everyday Life in Early America. Professor Hawke does not specify how long Mrs. Knight’s journey actually took.)


1 Comment to Boston to NYC, 1704 style

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    August 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    You would definitely have a better feel for the distance when you’re doing it that way 😉

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.