Memory Fragment

I think this happened some time in the early 18th century, probably in England but it could have been anywhere in Europe as far as I can tell.  I was among young boys but I don’t know if I was a boy myself.  I think I might have been, by the way they interacted with me.  I don’t know my station in life, whether I was middle class or a beggar’s child, but the streets looked a bit mean, muddy, and dilapidated, like the slums of London in that era, though strangely few people on them apart from us.

One of the boys came running down the street, shouting something.  We saw a regally-fitted retinue of white horses, coachmen, footmen, riders in powdered wigs (one of them was clearly aristocratic by the blue velvet coat accented with intricate brocade he wore).  The carriage itself had a Gothic look, very upright and boxy and made of turned black dowels with panels of muted color and golden accents.

We got out of the way and stood along the side streets.  One of the boys pushed me forward and I nearly stumbled into the carriage as it passed.  I turned and pushed him back.  Strangely, he didn’t get up and hit me like I would expect him to; he laid there in the muck looking defeated and hurt that I’d shoved him harder than he’d shoved me.  The other boys laughed.

I also remember something about an old gate made of rickety wood that we would simply jump over rather than bothering to open and close, and an area where there was slightly more space between the houses and pigs, chickens, and dogs roamed the streets (or maybe that’s East Coker much later).

The carriage is an interesting detail.  I only know a brief gloss of the history in England during this time period so I can only hazard a guess that it was a bishop faithful to the “High Church” tradition in that carriage.  I’m going to have to poke around and see if I find any matches though that doesn’t really prove anything since I might have seen such an artifact if a carriage like that still exists.

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