Mr. Darcy owned one of these sporty vehicles, as did Mr. Willoughby, Henry Tilney, Mr. Rushworth, and in real life the Prince Regent as shown in the illustration at left. Pulled by a pair of matched horses in size and weight, these speedy but unstable two-wheeled carriages were all the rage with rich young regency gentlemen. Seating only two passengers, curricles were open to the elements, although a folding hood could be pulled forward to protect the occupants. Large wheels made the carriages unstable. They were prone to frequent and serious accidents, turning over when an unskilled driver took a corner too fast. Likened to today's sports cars, curricles looked fashionably dashing and were considered the epitome of style. Willoughby drove Marianne all around the countryside in his sporty carriage and Catherine Morland found the curricle to be the "prettiest equipage in the world." At the inn in Lyme in Persuasion, Charles Musgrove instantly jumped up to compare his curricle to the gentleman's carriage that was being led around the stable yard. His wife Mary exclaimed in vexation when she realized the curricle was William Elliot's: " I hardly looked at him, I was looking at the horses; but I think he had something of the Elliot countenance, I wonder the arms did not strike me! Oh! the great-coat was hanging over the panel, and hid the arms, so it did; otherwise, I am sure, I should have observed them, and the livery too."
Henry Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, and Lady Dalrymple owned the more stately barouche, a larger luxurious family carriage that seated six people. Four people faced each other inside the carriage and two sat on the box in front. A hood could be pulled down partially to protect the two people who sat forward, but generally a barouche remained an open carriage and was the regency equivalent of today's sedan convertible. Used only during warm weather and pulled by two to four showy horses, this carriage was considered a luxury vehicle by the standards of the day. In Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford drove his barouche to Sotherton, Mr. Rushworth's home, with Aunt Norris, Fanny Price, Mary Crawford and Maria Bertram inside. Maria could not contain her jealousy during the journey knowing her sister Julia was sitting next to Henry on the box, a seat she coveted. "There is no hardship, I suppose, nothing unpleasant," said Edmund, "in going on the barouche box." "Unpleasant," cried Maria, "oh, dear. I believe it would be generally thought the favorite seat. There can be no comparison as to one's view of the country." In Emma, Mrs. Elton's friends, the Sucklings, owned the ultimate version of this carriage. Called the barouche-landau, their vehicle sported two hoods that covered the entire passenger area.
Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World