A few weeks ago, I started sharing, in small weekly morsels, the chapter on tandem driving in the first volume of  The Sports Library (by Mr. T. F. Dale), published in 1899.

You can read part of the book’s introduction (and the introduction to our look back at this nineteenth-century book) here. The first part of our “reading” of Chapter 10 is here, the second part is here, and the third part is here.

Today, the fourth part:

… But all this time, nothing has been said about the whip, which is a most important help to tandem-driving. It is possible to drive a coach some distance without unfolding your thong, and there are a good many men who drive four horses who are shy of using their whips in public. This part of his education, however, the would-be tandem-driver must not shirk; he must absolutely gain considerable skill with the whip if his is to make a creditable appearance. Nothing betrays awkwardness so certainly as the whip of the tandem-driver. It may, and will, unless used deftly, catch in all sorts of places in the harness or even wind itself around the axle. Therefore, it is necessary to handle the whip lightly and quickly, and above all to catch it neatly, or some such humiliating accident may happen as occurred to the writer.

I have already told how I used a tandem as a means of conveyance along the frontier roads. There was one part of the road leading to a large village where the going was not bad, save for the fact that the native farmers had built right across it little bunds, or banks about two feet in height, and with water-channels on the top. The object of these was to irrigate the fields on the other side of the road to that on which the wells were situated. Thus, at every hundred yards for about half a mile before the village was reached, there was one of these banks. It was plain that the best way to take them was to go fast and keep straight, especially as my wheeler was a mare somewhat given to jibbing if checked suddenly. Accordingly, I straightened my team, hit my wheeler with the double thong, and let out the lash so as to catch the leader under the bar and make him tighten his traces at the critical moment.

Once this happened, we flew the little obstacle in capital style. But in the excitement of the moment I failed to bring back the lash to my hand — it was in the early days — and it flew back, wound round the neck of my syce, who was sitting behind, at the very moment when the cart bounded up into the air, and shot the man out. The effect was to break a new whip, far away from all means of having it mended, and very hard work it is to drive a tandem one hundred and fifty miles without a whip. Then I learned to realize how important a part in tandem-driving the whip plays, far more than in any other kind of driving. The tandem coachman’s whip, then, must be always ready. …