I found another fun book in the CAA’s Library. This one, Down the Road: Reminiscences of a Gentleman Coachman, was written by C. T. S. Birch Reynardson and published in London in 1887.

This particular chapter recounts the sad tale of Mr. Wiggins …

“Perhaps more by luck than judgment, I never came to any grief in my coaching days. I never upset a coach, and I never was upset by anyone else; I never killed anyone, and I never was killed myself, which I have often thought a wonderful fact, for I have often seen queer things happen, and have had various ‘touch and goes,’ which even now make my hair stand on end, that is to say, the little of it that remains. I believe I never killed or ran over anything that I ought not but once, and then I ran over and killed a pig.

“Poor ‘Mr. Wiggins!’ he was turned into pork at a moment’s notice in a way he could hardly have expected, but which, perhaps, was quite as much to his taste and quite as dignified as being confined in a sty, and fed up for weeks, and doomed at last to undergo the process of being shaved at Christmas and turned into pork pies or sausages.

“It happened thus. I was driving the Nettle coach, which ran from Welchpool to Liverpool. I had a real good load, four in and twelve out, and luggage in proportion, when going through the toll-bar close to Llanymyneck, near which place I had a friend living whose house I was going to look at, with the intention of hiring it. Just as I got my leaders well through the toll-bar, who should pop out by my friend ‘Mr. Wiggins’ right under the near wheel of the coach. I shall never forget the sound of the wheel cutting through him; it was just the sound that would be produced by driving over a washerwoman’s wicker clothes-basket, or something like the horrible crunch that is heard in one’s head when a double tooth is being wrenched out. I’d half a mind to pull up to see if the poor fellow required any assistance; but the guard said, ‘Never mind him, sir; he’s as dead as mutton.’

“And as the Nettle was then running opposition to the Royal Oak, the pace was too good to stop and inquire after him. It so happened that this took place on a Saturday; I got off at my friend’s house about two miles further on, and on Sunday went with my friend to Llanymyneck Church, and had to pass through the said toll-bar. On our return we went into the toll-bar with an excuse to get a light for a cigar, and there, spread out on a clean white tablecloth, were evident signs of my acquaintance of yesterday, cut up and looking very like very nice pork. ‘The deuce take it,’ said I, ‘you surely don’t kill pigs on a Sunday in this country!’ ‘No, sir,’ said the toll-bar keeper; ‘it’s a pig that met with a little bit of an accident yesterday; the coach went over it and killed it. But it will make a very nice bit of pork for all that, and I don’t see that it will be much the worse, though it aren’t perhaps quite so fat as it might be to kill in the usual way.’

“I said, ‘Did the coach really kill the pig? I suppose that it was all the coachman’s fault, and that he was driving too fast, or something of that kind.’ ‘Well, no, sir; I don’t see how anyone was to blame this time,’ he said. ‘To be sure they do race a bit sometimes, the Oak and Nettle do; but I don’t see that the coachman or anyone was to blame but the pig himself. I’ll tell you how it was, sir; my missis oftentimes gives the pig a bit of victuals inside that rail which you see is broken,’ pointing to a part of the garden fence which ran up close to the door, and out of which just enough rails were broken out to admit poor piggy; ‘and just as the coach was going through the gate out he pops right under the wheel, and, to be sure, there was no help for him, and the coach did fairly cut him in two.’ Introducing me at the same time to the piece of his ribs that the wheel had gone over, he held it up for my edification. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it couldn’t be helped, I suppose. What might such a pig as that be worth?’ ‘Well, sir, it might be worth a couple of pounds; it’s only a little one yet, do you see.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘you’re a good fellow for not blaming the coachman; here’s a sovereign for you to get some applesauce to eat with him. I was driving, as it so happened, and if you’d blamed the coachman I should have kept my sovereign in my pocket.

“He seemed astonished and not a little pleased at the transaction.

“I hired my friend’s house for three or four years, and often as I passed the toll-bar I went in and lit my cigar, and had a little chaff about the ‘gentleman coachman’ turning pork butcher. I need not say that during the time I lived there we were sworn friends; and often as I drove the coach through the toll-bar, when he touched his hat to me, I acknowledged it by ‘Mind your pigs.'”