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“Orchestral Parts” in a Symphony of Motion

The Aesthetics of Coaching in the Golden Age of Horse and Carriage

Markus Poetzsch

Drawing on the work of Alfred de Vigny and Thomas De Quincey, this article examines the aesthetic appeal of coaching, a ubiquitous but little theorized mode of transport, in the golden age of horse and carriage (c. 1805–1825). The roots of Vigny's nostalgia for the shepherd's caravan and De Quincey's thrill ride on the mail-coach lie in the sympathetic connections that coaching, unlike train travel, establishes between living beings. These connections or “inter-agencies” serve in vital ways to rupture the solipsism and self-assurance of the solitary traveler, revealing his limited role in the vast plexus of nineteenth-century transport and motion.