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Old 16 January 2015, 02:15 PM
Samwise Z Samwise Z is offline
 
Join Date: 02 December 2014
Location: Highland Park, IL
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From 1859, Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, Book II, Chapter 7, "Monseigneur in Town" (I'm copying from Gutenberg edition):
Quote:
It appeared, under the circumstances, rather agreeable to him to see the common people dispersed before his horses, and often barely escaping from being run down. His man drove as if he were charging an enemy, and the furious recklessness of the man brought no check into the face, or to the lips, of the master. The complaint had sometimes made itself audible, even in that deaf city and dumb age, that, in the narrow streets without footways, the fierce patrician custom of hard driving endangered and maimed the mere vulgar in a barbarous manner. But, few cared enough for that to think of it a second time, and, in this matter, as in all others, the common wretches were left to get out of their difficulties as they could.
So, while there may not have been laws, there was clearly a problem with horses and carriages in roadways. (There's a question of whether this was really the situation in the 1780s in Paris where the story is set, or whether Dickens was describing 1850s London because those were streets he knew. I don't think it matters, he's clearly raising the point, way before automobiles.)

The story goes on with the famous incident of the Marquis killing a child, throwing a coin, etc, but the next paragraphs are relevant:
Quote:
With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.

But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses' bridles.
Note especially: "But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not?" Implies to me that this isn't a post-automobile problem...
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