E. M. Forster’s “Howard’s End” (Penguin 1941) has several general descriptions of motoring at the beginning of the century: –
The elderly Mrs. Munt settled herself into a luxurious cavern of red leather, and suffered her person to be padded with rugs and shawls …., The great car began to rock, and the form of Mrs. Munt … sprang agreeably up and down among the red cushions. The wind was in their faces … blowing the dust into Mrs.Munt’s eyes. They drew up he turned round in his seat, and contemplated the cloud of dust that they had raised in their passage through the village. It was settling again, but not all into the road from which he had taken it. Some of it had percolated through the open windows, some had whitened the roses and gooseberries of the wayside gardens, while a certain proportion had entered the lungs of the villagers. “I wonder when they’ll learn wisdom and tar the roads,” was his comment. Wedding guests arrived at the station and were met by cars. Smart travelling hats changed for smart motor hats. Dust cloaks put on.
Bank Holiday “jams” were obviously a thing of the past!
The chauffeur could not travel as quickly as he had hoped, for the Great North Road was full of Easter traffic.
The book was written between 1908 and 1910 the analogy between the author’s apparent distaste for the motor car and present-day anti-pollutionists is interesting.
And month by month the roads smelt more strongly of petrol, and were more difficult to cross, and human beings heard each other speak with more difficulty, breathed less of the air, and saw less of the sky.
Not once in the book did Forster name or embellish a car with a description other than “vermillion” and he obviously little cared for their intrusion upon the scene as the following passages show:
A motor drive, a form of felicity detested by Margaret, awaited her… Did not a gentleman once motor so quickly through Westmorland that he missed it?
Margaret … had chickens and children on the brain. “They’re all right,” said Mr. Wilcox “They’ll learn like the swallows and the telegraph wires.” “Yes, but, while they’re learning” “The motor’s come to stay,” he answered. “One must get about. There’s a pretty church oh, you aren’t sharp enough. …”
She looked at the scenery. It heaved and merged like porridge. Presently it congealed. They had arrived.
Watlington ALISON WOOLNOUGH