Where are All the Cars? Not Getting Around in the 1700s

A common argument against Pamela's innocence is "If Mr. B's advances truly upset her as much as she claims, why doesn't she just leave?"

In the fourth installment of Mr. B Speaks! Mr. B defends Pamela's failure to act by explaining that Pamela didn't have access to transportation. How was she supposed to get home?
Gentleman with His Horse

This is another difference between us and the world of the pre/early-Industrial Revolution, one so blatant yet so easily by-passed, it rather staggers the mind. So many moderns are hung up on the idea that (1) life in the historical past used to be simpler; (2) the separation between rich and poor just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

While it is true that the rich now-a-days are richer than the rich of the past, simpler is not automatically better--or fairer. The level of poverty experienced by every-day, supposedly well-off people in the 1700s is incomprehensible to just about everybody in the modern, Westernized world (and yes, I am including people who depend on soup kitchens).

There was no RTP. No buses. No bikes. Pamela couldn't climb on her moped. She couldn't call a taxi. She couldn't get a lift from a friend (not if that friend answered to someone who didn't want her to leave).

And she couldn't just go get herself a horse.

Because horses are unmechanized and bucolic and cute, many moderns (and unfortunately too many historical writers) assume that horses are also easy and cheap to care for.

Not at all.

Horses, then and now, are expensive. Remember poor Jane, sent on a soggy horse ride to visit Bingley's sisters? How her father wasn't sure if the horses were available to take her in the family carriage?

Mr. B and Pamela later go for a
ride in a carriage like this one.
The horses wouldn't be available because letting even one horse sit around in a stable, doing nothing, was something only an exceptionally wealthy man could afford. Darcy can afford to keep extra horses in his stables at Pemberley, but Darcy doesn't bring his carriage and horses to Netherfield. He brings his horse, nothing else. Gallivanting around in a carriage is something Darcy keeps for special occasions and emergencies, not for visiting a friend.

Pamela's best hope is to get a ride with a servant--performing an errand for Mr. B on one of Mr. B's horses--or with a farmer. She would still need Mr. B's permission to take advantage of the first option. Regarding the second option, farmers are kind of busy guys. In fact, a truly stunning portion of the book is spent trying to figure out HOW to get hold of transportation (and then pay for it).

Compare that to the 21st century kid who works at McDonald's to pay for his car insurance--because he's got to have a car. Not that I have a problem with this, any more than Eugene--cheap, easy transportation that allows one to MOVE, rather than tying one to a parcel of land, is the true democracy.

Pamela could walk home, but pastoral countrysides--like horses--are not automatically positive just because they are (also) cute. Circa 1740, London may have been more dangerous; that didn't make the countryside safe. (In any case, Romantic imagery promoting the supposedly untouched, peaceful countryside was a few decades in the future.)

Pamela has principles, but she doesn't actually want to end up raped by a highwayman. Much better to  hold off her master with her wits.

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