The Pequod Review:
Dr. Johnson’s London is an engaging social history of everyday life in London during Samuel Johnson’s era, or approximately 1740-1770. Liza Picard has the curious and witty eye of Bill Bryson, and brings the city’s history alive as she draws upon first hand sources to explore: personal hygiene habits, the condition and uses of city parks, the nature of work, how illnesses impacted daily life, interior architecture, the speech patterns and manners of common people, and even the forms of street pollution (“a rich, glutinous mixture of animal manure, dead cats and dogs, ashes, straw, and human excrement”).
And here is Picard on the very specific annoyances and dangers of traveling by horse carriage:
In the country the roads were abominable unless they had been “turn-piked” and were maintained by a private company which charged for its services (like an autostrada now). In London the best that could be hoped for was… granite setts and a skillful driver. If the coachman was wicked he would follow a “one horse chaise, passing so close to it as to brush the wheel, and by other means terrifying any person that may be in it.” This incitement to road rage was known as “hunting the squirrel.”