Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/61

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THE RULE OF THE ROAD 57

aftercomers. The club, spear, sword or pole must be held in the right hand and the reins in the left; the horses and riders passed neces- sarily to the left. There could have been no game or reality of battle if the passing were to the right. The holding the spear, lance, ax or pole was dictated by right-handedness, and to fight each other they had to pass to the left. Thus right-handedness begot left-passing, owing to the peculiar conditions of the battling or jousting.

The conclusion draws itself: this must have settled the fashion of horses (and riders) passing to the left wherever chivalry was merged into wagoning by an evolutionary process. I judge it was thus trans- formed in Italy and England, and that on the continent the wagon and post-chaise were not slowly derived from the fashion of chivalry. We have a capital proof of the fact, as regards England, where anti- quarian research demonstrates that the postilion phase of development was not long-continued or generally practised. For the postilion period (dominative and even tyrannical in France, as her literature shows) must evolutionally be considered as the intermediate between horseback- riding, and driving from the wagon-seat or box. In England the driver, as it were, jumped directly upon the wagon-seat from the ground, or on the back of the horse without a vehicle, while on the continent, for hundreds of years, the horse of the rider hauled a vehicle behind him, and the representative of the former knight and rider became a postilion. Lack of information compels me to confess that the actual and detailed steps of the evolution in Italy are not clear to me. But in England the postilion's office was short or non-exist- ent, and in early times the drivers of wagons, carts, etc., walked, of course, on the left or near side of the horse or team. Probably the walking was because a single horse, instead of two or four, w r as the rule, as the costermonger's cart and the Irish car to-day illustrate. On the continent the teams were of two, or four, or more horses, and the pos- tilion rode one of the " near " horses ; this may be seen in pictures of Paul Lacroix, " The Eighteenth Century," especially that of the " Cara- bas," on page 448. By the seventeenth century, as is shown on pages 6, 44, etc., the driver had mounted on the box, but the postilion was continued on the wheel-horse or, in case of three or four pairs of horses, on the near leader of the team. There can be no doubt that those who have explained the rule of the road for vehicles, as due to the position of the driver or postilion on the box or seat, took post hoc for propter hoc; the custom had already been long established before either variant arose. The extreme of the post hoc argument is seen in the frequently adduced statement that to have the whip-hand free, the driver sits on the right side of the seat, and hence passes to the left in order that he may better see that the wdieels of the two vehicles do not collide. A similar illusory explanation credits the English left-

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