So, you had trouble on the air shuttle or an Amtrak train or were annoyed by a delay at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel toll booth while travleing to or from New York. Be thankful you didn't have to run on the schedule experienced by Mary Bagot, the wife of a British diplomat assigned to Washington from 1816 to 1819.
In this, the last of three articles excerpted from Bagot's journals, are observations about travel on the eastern seaboard in that era as reprinted from the 1984 Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington (with original spelling errors preserved):
Aug. 28, 1816: "Charles her husband and I set out in the barouche a four-wheeled carriage about ten o'clock to go Mt. Vernon. Stopt at the Inn at Alexandria for an escort and . . . arrived at Mount Vernon about one. The situation of the house & the view from the back of it the most magnificent I ever beheld -- the house itself in a very bad state of repairs . . . . "
Sept. 15, 1816, in Baltimore on the second day of a trip to New York: "The people not civil . . . . A table spread with ham, slices of nasty looking meat & potatoes. The people in the yard abused England largely & ridiculed the barouche -- the first experience we have had of democratic hatred of England -- this place is famous for its bad principles . . . . "
The trip to New York, now an hour by plane and three hours or more by train, took a full week, including a stop at an inn at Havre de Grace, Md., with a "most beautiful view" of the Susquehanna River. In New York, the Bagots dined with the Gracies at their mansion, which is now the New York mayor's official home.
The next fall the Bagots visited former president James Madison and his wife Dolley at Montpelier, their estate in Virginia's Orange County. Notes on the journey:
Oct. 10, 1817: "Beyond the intersection to Mt. Vernon -- such roads I never behld. Came to Occoquan a scattered gloomy looks -- but very romantic village -- the last qtr of a mile to it -- down a steep precipice -- crossed the river & travelled two miles thro' woods untill we came to Wards where we put up for the night. A simple farm house . . . . We had . . . to squiddle around the fire with three other travelers . . . . "
Oct. 11: " . . . Stafford Court House a wretched looking spot with two or three houses & a square jail. Crossed the Rappahannock just before we came to Fredericksburg . . . just at dusk -- . . . but having heard the accommodations were wretched determined to press on to what is now Chancellorsville . . . . "
The visit with the Madisons went well at Montpelier, a mansion "wildly situated -- surrounded by forest & the blue ridge not capitalized before it." The trip back to Washington, two hours today, took three days and "never was I so sick of a journey."
The following year, 1818, appears to have been less eventful and less ambulatory for the Bagots, with Mary Bagot pregnant. The next January the Bagots were recalled to London. Her final entries:
Jan. 26, 1819: "Our Ball! & never did anything go off as well . . . a flattering testimony from a whole nation . . . .
March 16: "Dined at the President's & took our leave. Dreadfully raw & cold."