The English Mail-Coach and Other Essays

I spent the afternoon being jostled along reading De Quincey’s essays, including “The English Mail-Coach” (1849?) which keeps popping up in my life. The mail-coach was an entertaining read and held up best among all the other works. De Quincey gives you a thrill ride on the mail coach, sitting outside on the box, of course, because that’s where the fresh air and action is, and perhaps you’ll be able to catch the reins and drive for awhile. The essay celebrates this royal form of mail delivery while hinting that it’s soon to perish, mentioning the railway and its requisite boredom. Best parts were riding along and bringing fresh news from London to the surrounding areas of all the battles during the Napoleonic wars. He also tackles whether tis better to die suddenly or not, in the context of an accident he witnessed on the road when the driver was asleep and the coach was hurtling on the wrong side of the road toward a flimsy carriage.