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JOHN GOODWIN - STAGE-COACH GUARD AND POET

 

A stage coach guard c. 1832
A stage coach guard in 1832

 

From West Country Poets

by William Henry Kearly Wright, published in 1896

"We record in other parts of the present volume, postmen-poets, railway poets and others in ordinary walks of life. We now make a brief note relative to John Goodwin, one of the olden race of stage-coach guards.

Although a native of Cambridgeshire, he was for some years on the "Great Britain" coach which plied between Kingsbridge and Plymouth. At another period of his life he was on the coach "Nonpareil" which ran between Bristol and Devonport. Few men could blow the bugle so well as Goodwin, and many were the testimonials of bugles and cornopeans* which he received from admiring patrons.

The coming of the iron horse into the West compelled him to abandon his out-of-door life, and he ended  his days as a billiard-marker at Plymouth. He was an ardent fisherman, and once played a pike off and on for twenty four  hours. The fish weighed twenty-five pounds. He h ad also a considerable talent in the making of verses, his principal theme being coaching. He sung of the days when there was such a thing, if we may so phrase it, as the poetry of locomotion, and his lines reveal how much his avocation meant to him.

In all there is a genuine ring, showing that a true spirit of love of the road prompted him in the writing of them. There is, too, a tinge of sadness when he alludes to the steam engine causing such a revolution in the mode of travelling, and sweeping away one by one the old institutions that had been so dear to  him.

He issued, about twenty years ago, a little volume entitles "Carmina Viæ", continuing such of his poetical effusions as were thought worthy of publication. We give a short piece as a sample of his rude verification. "

 

Driving four-in-hand
Driving four-in-hand

 

THE OLD STAGE COACH

(BY AN OLD STAGE COACH GUARD)

 

In days gone by with four-in-hand

We used to spank along;

The guard on bugle well could play,

Or tip a jolly song.

In mind the time when I was  guard

The lord, the duke, or squire,

Would travel by the old stage-coach,

Or post-chaise they would hire.

Alas! no more those  happy days,

They seem but like a dream;

The road has ceased to be "the road"

since introducing steam.

The roadside inns have dwindled down,

The 'pikes have shared the lot;

The guards' and coachmen's race is run

They're nearly all forgot.

John Goodwin

 

 
 
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