I didn't want to include this print in today's James Pollard post because it wasn't by Pollard, and because it's so melancholy, even sentimental. But it really does belong near the Pollard paintings, so here it is as a bonus post.
We tend to think that we're the only disposable age, ready to toss out the old technology in favor of new at a moment's notice. But this 1850 print, Past and Present Through Victorian Eyes, shows how swiftly "progress" was already taking hold in the 19th c. as well. While less than twenty years have passed since James Pollard was painting the glories of travel by coach, the once-grand mail coach is now relegated to a make-shift hen-house, its wheels broken and its horses and passengers long departed. In the distance we can see an early Victorian steam engine puffing along with a tidy row of passenger cars in tow, representing the unstoppable future. Yet how many discarded railroad cars now sit in fields and junkyards, having faced the same fate as the old coach? Progress, indeed.
Above: Past and Present Through Victorian Eyes, printed by Leighton Brothers, 1850. Science Museum, London.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.