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Omnibuses --- Coaches --- Cabs --- Vehicles of various kinds.
NOTHING more forcibly strikes the mind of a stranger on his first visit to
the metropolis, than the immense number of vehicles he sees plying in all
directions in the leading streets. Where they all come from, or how they all
find sufficient employment, are matters which next engage his attention and fill
him with surprise. In passing through Fleet Street, Cheapside, and some of the
other principal thoroughfares, the entire open space before the pedestrian, with
the exception of the pavement on either side, appears on some occasions as if it
were blockaded for the purpose of impeding the advance of [-244-]
some hostile army.
Sometimes the vehicles are so densely wedged together, that if, as I had once
occasion to remark in a previous work, one could walk on horses' backs, and on
the tops of waggons, omnibuses, coaches, cabs, and so forth, without the risk of
slipping his foot, he might proceed two or three hundred yards without once
touching the causeway. The progress made on such occasions by those who are
inside of the vehicles, must, it is needless to say, be necessarily slow. I have
often seen fifty or sixty vehicles of all kinds, compelled to come to a dead
stand of some minutes' duration, in consequence of the interruption offered by
one of the number. The time which is, on some occasions, required to pass along
Cheapside, though only about a quarter of a mile in length, in any two or
four-wheeled vehicle, is from fifteen to twenty minutes. Those therefore with
whom time is an object, should always employ their legs instead of vehicles,ˇ
no matter of what kind, in passing along that crowded part of the metropolis.
The noise which is heard in the leading [-245-] thoroughfares of London, where omnibuses, coaches, cabs, and other vehicles thus prevent each other proceeding on their journey, is sometimes of a very disagreeable kind. I refer to the altercations and recriminations which take place among the drivers and conductors. The language used by these persons is not at any time particularly pleasing to "ears polite:" on such occasions it is peculiarly coarse. They swear at each other at a furious rate, and always at the full stretch of their voices,--- which as every one who has been in London will bear me witness, are of first-rate capabilities. I have a shrewd notion that were Stentor himself alive, he would have the mortification of seeing, or rather hearing. himself surpassed in the power of his lungs, by the London "vehicle-men" of the present day. But their achievements in the way of abusing one another are still more extraordinary. They pour out the richest vituperation on each other without a seeming effort. To talk abuse of the coarsest and heartiest kind appears to be a matter of course to them. Cobbett used to be considered [-246-] pre-eminent among his contemporaries for the richness and copiousness of his abuse. Among contemporary writers, I believe, he was entitled to the palm of distinction in that way. But if cabmen and omnibusmen were to be taken into the account, Cobbett's abuse was unworthy of the name. In the art of vituperation, he could, as compared with this class of persons, be considered as at best but a mere pigmy. One of them would speak in a couple of minutes much more real genuine abuse, than ever Cobbett, even in his happiest moods, could have written in a whole "Register."
It is worthy of observation that in all those cases in which cab and omnibus-men vituperate each other i whether that vituperation proceeds from the one fancying that the "vekel," as they themselves say, of the other, interferes with the progress of their "'un," or from any other cause,--- it is I say worthy of observation, that notwithstanding all their seeming violence of manner, they never come to blows. A fight between two omnibus or other vehicle-men, is one of the rarest sights in London; and yet no [-247-] stranger could pass down Cheapside, or any other leading thoroughfare, without feeling a conviction in his own mind from the loud altercations and vehement manner of the parties, that the abuse that is going on must end in down-right blows in at least forty out of fifty instances. To pull one another's nasal organs, to extinguish each other's luminaries, and to do sundry other things to which I dare not allude, are among their favourite threats. And yet they never, or at least not in one case out of a million, either lay their hands or their whips on one another. They are the best specimens of genuine Bobadils that ever existed.
The omnibuses are of recent origin; they date no farther back than twelve or fourteen years. They are clumsy vehicles, but extremely convenient. They are licensed to carry twelve persons inside; a few of them are licensed to carry fourteen. They have no outside passengers, except in very rare cases; and these are always when the vehicle plies to some place in the suburbs. The omnibuses usually measure about twelve feet in length, by four in [-248-] breadth, and three and a half in height. There is a cushioned seat on each side, with a range of small panes of glass, through which the passengers can see everything in the streets as the vehicle wends its way. The conductor or guard, stands on a sort of step at the entrance, about a foot lower than the bottom of the vehicle. The fare is exceedingly cheap for those who have to go any distance. From Paddington to the neighbourhood of the Mansion House, and the Royal Exchange (which must be a distance little short of five miles), the fare is only sixpence. In returning the same distance, the charge is also a sixpence; indeed, in no instance is the charge for going from one part of the metropolis to another more than a sixpence. You are charged, however, the same sum though you only go a distance of a hundred yards. This arrangement is, perhaps, necessary; there would be no chance in such a place as London, of satisfactorily conducting what is called an omnibus business, on a scale of charges varying with the distance. The omnibuses stop to take up passengers in any part of town, and they [-249-] also stop to put them down,--- wherever the passengers may wish, as a Yankee would say, to be "deposited." Nothing therefore could be more convenient than these vehicles. They ply in every part of London; only each one always adheres to a certain line, and that line as a matter of course is one of the leading thoroughfares. Strangers must be struck with the rapidity, notwithstanding what Sir Robert Peel would call their "ponderous appearance," with which they proceed along the streets: the horses are often at a hard gallop. Omnibuses always drive as rapidly in the heart of London, as a stage coach does in the open country, except in those cases, formerly referred to, in which the streets are blocked up by vast numbers of vehicles all meeting in one place. And yet notwithstanding the amazing rapidity with which the omnibuses proceed through the streets of the metropolis, comparatively few accidents occur. This is owing to the superior skill of the drivers. It is surprising how closely they run to each other, and how near they often are in running over passengers; and yet without any accident occurring, [-250-] The most experienced drivers of coaches in country towns, could not drive one of these omnibuses a single day along the streets of London, at the rate at which they are usually driven, without the occurrence of some disasater.
It is a hint which may be of no small advantage to those who visit the metropolis, that when intending to travel by an omnibus from one part of town to another, they should always choose those omnibuses which contain the greatest number of passengers. This is the only way to make sure of an expeditious journey. Though the law only allows them to stop three minutes, for the purpose of resting the horses in one or two places in the course of a journey of four or :five miles, the drivers under one pretext or other always contrive to make pauses on the way, until they have picked up a sufficient number of passengers. In cases where they had only two or three passengers, I have often known them take a quarter of an hour to go a quarter of a mile. And yet you have no remedy. They will not allow you to go out and walk, [-251-] or take any other vehicle, though you may not have been in two minutes,--- without paying the full fare. As for remonstrances, you might as soon address these to the horses. You will only get the worst language and most ruffianly treatment in return for any representations, no matter how mild, you may make on the subject of the unjustifiable delay the drivers are causing you in your journey. It is true, that you may summon the proprietors to the police-offices, and they will be fined in a penalty, varying according to circumstances, from 1l to 5l but this is attended with a world of inconvenience; and the fellows who conduct the vehicles, know this so well, that they always calculate on escaping the legal consequences of the vexation and delay they occasion to passengers. But if you go into an omnibus which is nearly full of passengers, you are sure, always excepting where there are unavoidable obstructions. to get expeditiously to yourˇ journey's end. Having got their complement of passengers, or very nearly so, the drivers make no pauses on the way.
[-252-] A more desperate and reckless set of fellows than those connected with the London omnibuses, never existed in a civilized country. They are almost daily brought up to the police-offices for assaults on passengers who remonstrate with them for their delays, or for the offensive language which the least circumstance causes them to use; but the examples which have been made in this way by fine and imprisonment, seem to have no beneficial effect on others. Alderman Sir M. Wood has for three or four successive sessions brought in a bill to Parliament, with the view of abating the omnibus nuisance; but fromˇ some cause or other it has always been lost. In the meantime, a partial diminution of the evil has been effected by some private gentlemen having entered into a partnership among themselves to run a certain number of omnibuses in different parts of town. Hence, from the choice of servants which has been made, civility to passengers, and the avoidance of all unnecessary delays, are insured.. The omnibuses of these gentlemen are painted in a peculiar way, and [-253-] the servants wear livery round their hats, to distinguish their vehicles from others. Whenever a stranger sees one of these omnibuses he should give it the preference, if he have any regard to expedition and civility of treatment. A project was some time since set on foot for forming a large joint-stock association, with a capital, if I remember rightly, of 50,000l., to run 500 omnibuses; but as I have not heard anything of it for some time, I suppose it must be abandoned.
The entire number of omnibuses which are now constantly plying in the streets of London, is between 600 and 700. Those which ply in the suburbs are about 200 in number. It is impossible to calculate accurately the number of passengers who travel from one part of town to another, or from the suburbs to town, in the course of a day, because the number varies considerably with the state of the weather, and the comparatively crowded or thin state of London at different times. Rainy days, or very hot weather; anything, in other words, which makes people prefer riding to walking, [-254-] are best for the omnibus proprietors. The calculations I have made from the best data which are accessible, would give an average of passengers, taking one day with another, to each omnibus, of 120. Supposing then the number of omnibuses to be between the numbers I have already stated; namely, 650, that will make the number of passengers 78,000. This is exclusive of the passengers who travel in the omnibuses which run in the suburbs. The price charged in town for omnibus travelling being sixpence, would give for each omnibus 3l. per day; or for the entire number 1950l.
The omnibus business is not a profitable one. I do not believe that one proprietor out of five gets it to pay the expenses; and yet they cling to it as long as they can, always hoping it will improve. The expenses are very great. First there is the price of the omnibus, which varies from 120l. to 150l. Then there are the expenses of the horses, which are very great in London; next come the expenses of driver and conductor to each vehicle. Then again there is [-255-] the duty; and lastly, there are tear and wear, fines, and other incidentals. As a pecuniary speculation, the running of omnibuses will never answer at the present charges, and the spirit of competition is so great among the proprietors, and the public have been so long accustomed to sixpenny fares, that better prices will never be procured.
The number of Hackney coaches which constantly ply in the metropolis is about 600. The rate of fares the drivers charge those who employ them, is one shilling per mile. That is the lowest fare they ever charge under any circumstances; if you only go twenty yards in a coach, the charge will be the same; but if you employ it for a greater distance than a mile, then you may count on half-miles in payment. A single yard over the mile subjects the party to the charge of an additional sixpence. All the London hackney coaches are licensed to carry four passengers; some of them, however, being old carriages formerly used by noblemen and gentlemen, are sufficiently large to accommodate six; and the driver rarely objects to the [-256-] party engaging the coach, squeezing as many into it as possible. He makes no additional charge, because he is aware the law, instead of sustaining his claim were he to make it, would subject him to a penalty for carrying more than his complement.
There is no greater annoyance to a stranger in going from one part of London to another, than that to which he is subjected by the overcharges of coachmen. They almost invariably overcharge strangers; whom their practised eye enables them to discover at once. They calculate, in the first place, on the stranger's ignorance of the distances between one place and another in London; or where they suppose that the overcharge is so glaring that it cannot by possibility escape the party against whom it is made, they calculate on the improbability of his putting himself to the trouble of summoning the proprietors to a police-office or to Somerset House, for the mere purpose of recovering a sixpence or shilling. Experience has taught them that in these calculations they are right. For one person whom they have [-257-] overcharged, who summons them before the magistrates for the imposition, there are at least a hundred who suffer them to escape. Hence, as the penalty, when they are convicted, seldom exceeds twenty shillings, they find that the number of cases in which they escape, leaves them after all the convictions that take place, a considerable premium on their fraudulent practices.
Decidedly the best way to guard against the impositions of hackney coachmen in London, is to tell them to drive you a certain distance; say two or three miles, as the case may be, in the direction of the place to which you are going. In that case, you shut their mouths against all pretexts for cheating you. When you ask them to drive you to a certain place instead of a certain distance, they will stoutly maintain that the distance is as much greater than it really is, as will correspond to the amount of which they mean to defraud you. When you adopt the course I have recommended, they never dare to ask more than the legal fare. To be sure they will look sulky, [-258-] and greet your ears with an under growl or two; but never mind that; you have paid your proper fare, and all you have now to do is to walk yourself away as comfortably as possible, to the place of your intended destination.
But it may happen --- it often does happen in the case of strangers --- that you have not even an idea of the distance at which the part of town to which you are going, is from the place whence you are to start. In that case, your better way would be, before calling a coach, to inquire of some one --- almost anybody you meet in the streets will tell you --- what the distance is. That ascertained, and if you have luggage which renders it necessary that you should be carried to the very spot, your better plan would be to bargain with a coachman for the fare, before you go into the vehicle. He will probably ask you a half more than the regular fare; but when he sees you know what the legal charge is, he will take it rather than let you employ some rival coachman.
[-259-] It is of great importance I should mention here, that strangers, and even persons who have been long resident in London, are often "taken in" when they have luggage with them, owing to their not expressly stipulating that it shall be included in the charge made for themselves. Several cases have come under my own personal observation --- one, indeed, occurred recently to myself --- in which parties have made an agreement with a coachman to be taken to a certain place for a certain sum, when on being set down at the place of their destination, the driver has charged double the price agreed on, on the ground that the sum named was only for the party himself, and that the additional demand made was for the luggage. To prevent being imposed on in this way, the party should make a distinct stipulation that the luggage be included in the price. This the coachmen, when they find they are otherwise likely to lose their customer, never hesitate to agree to. Some people think it is not legal for hackney coachmen to charge for one's luggage after having charged the full fare from the passengers; but this is a [-260-] mistake. "The law," as Shylock says, " allows it," and a "court" of magistrates will "award it."
The Cabs are small light four-wheeled vehicles, drawn by one horse, and licensed to carry only two persons. They are twice as numerous in London as the hackney coaches. Their number is between 1400 and 1500. They are driven more rapidly than the hackney coaches, but are in great danger of being upset. Formerly a great many accidents occurred to persons in them; for as, until within the last three or four years, they were open at the front, the inmate was sure when the horse fell,--- by no means an uncommon thing in London,--- to be thrown out into the street, and had great reason for gratitude when he was fortunate enough to escape any serious injury by the fall,--- if indeed he was not run over by some other vehicle, before he had time to rise. This objection to cabs, which with many persons was at one time so insuperable as to prevent their ever entering one, has latterly been removed by the general introduction of cabs built on an altogether different prin-[-261-]ciple, though retaining the attribute of equal lightness. A considerable number of these new-fashioned cabs has been brought into use within the last two or three years, and they promise fair to supersede the old ones altogether before a long time has elapsed. They are entered at the side instead of the front, and instead of being open as the old ones are (by which the passenger is exposed to the rain), they are ,as close all round as a coach. As they are not so high built as the others, they run less risk of being upset. Even were they to be so, the party inside would not be in any great danger of receiving much personal injury.
The fare for cabs is one-third less than for hackney coaches. It is, in other words, eightpence per mile. As in the case of hackney coaches., nothing less than a mile is counted in the first instance ; but afterwards half-miles are calculated on. When time is an object, cabs are desirable vehicles to employ, were it not for the danger to the inmates, to which I have already referred. Until within the last eighteen or twenty months, the new ones were not suffici-[-262-]ently numerous to be had at all times; so that when a party was pressed for time, he was obliged to employ one of the old ones, notwithstanding the personal danger to which he thereby exposed himself. This is no longer the cue. The improved cabs are to be met with everywhere. Indeed, the difficulty will soon be to meet one at all constructed on the old principle, should any person feel disposed to give it a preference. The advantage of coaches and cabs over omnibuses is, that the latter always keep the leading streets; they never, on any account, quit them; so that except where one has to visit some place in one of the most frequented streets, they are of little use to him. Coaches and cabs, on the other hand, take you through cross thoroughfares and the most obscure streets, to any part of London you wish, and will put you down at the very door of the house you intend to enter. The advantage of cabs over coaches is that the former are cheaper, and are driven with greater rapidity than the latter.
There are coach and cab stands at certain distances from each other, in all parts of the [-263-] metropolis. Sometimes you will see twenty or thirty of these vehicles standing in the same street, all waiting for what the drivers call " fares," namely, persons to engage them. You will find them on these stands in all sorts of weather, and at all times. There are generally as many to be seen in the middle of the night as in the middle of the day. The horses need little tending while on the stand: custom has made the middle of the street a sort of open-aired stable to them. They look on the stands as their home. There they eat the "vitals" which the drivers provide for them, and which are served up to them in small bags, fastened to their heads. It is amusing to see the ingenuity which the poor animals display in getting at their food when near the bottom of the bag. Some of them are remarkably expert at inverting the bag by a movement of the head, and then catching the contents in their descent; while others lay the bag on the back part of some other coach or cab, and by that means get at the bottom with the greatest ease. In fine weather, after the public houses are shut up for the [-264-] night, the hackney-coach and cab-men sleep on the dickeys: in wet or exceedingly cold weather, they go inside, and then commit themselves to the embraces of Morpheus. Those who know no better, will be surprised when they hear me speak of of coach and cab-men sleeping while their horses are standing in the streets. It will be asked, is there no danger of the horses taking fright and running off through the streets? None whatever. Hackney-coach and cab-horses are "them ere sort of hanimals as never takes fright!" They get too much of what Falstaff would have called "running on compulsion," to show any disposition to move off of their own accord. They are no friends to the "voluntary principle." They bless their stars, and are "thankful to the public," when permitted to occupy the stand in peace and quietness. If any of my readers have restive horses or animals that show too great an alacrity at running away, just lend them for one little fortnight to a hackney-coach or cab-man, and I will answer for it, If "the shine" to use a coachman's expression, will in that short time be effectually taken out of them. There is a [-266-] common saying, "Marry the sea and it will tame her." The meaning is, that marriage has a wonderfully subduing tendency. We have all seen proofs of this in the case both of men and women. Well, then, what marriage is to the human race, a short time in a hackney coach or cab, is to refractory or high-spirited horses.
Hackney coach and cab-men are a singular race. They are a class of men by themselves. They have no intercourse with thE: rest of their fellow men. They are, with very few exceptions, altogether illiterate; they amuse themselves by everlastingly speaking about "vekels and 'oses," and in abusing each other. Were it not for the coarseness of their expressions, I know of no richer scene than to see these men vituperating one another. They are eternally quarrelling among themselves as to who has the best right to particular places on the stand. They are a most obstinate and self-willed class of men; they will a thousand times sooner punish themselves than yield to each other. Some of the best scenes I have ever seen between two of their number, have [-266-] had their origin in their vehicles meeting in some street which was too narrow for them to pass. In all such cases, there is a regular interchange of the choicest flowers of their favourite rhetoric. Neither will "back again" to let the other pass; there they almost invariably remain till some policeman comes up, and compels one to give way to the other. Leave the dispute as to which ought to go back, to be settled between themselves, and I verily believe, that in the true spirit of obstinacy, they would remain there from" noon to eve, from eve to dewy mom."
Hackney coach and cab-men make but a poor living. If on some days they draw ten or twelve shillings, they do not on others earn eighteen pence. I have known them remain two or three days on the stand without being employed in a single instance. When I mention this fact, and also state that the expenses of keeping horse and paying the license, are in no case under thirty shillings per week, it will at once be' seen that even those who are most fortunate, are not likely to enrich themselves by the coach or cab business.
[-267-] Hitherto I have confined my observations to omnibuses, hackney coaches, and cabs. I now proceed to give some account of various other kinds of vehicles.
In walking along the streets of London, especially in the central and eastern parts of it, the stranger is struck with the number of waggons of all descriptions which he sees in every direction. Among these, the good old Saxon wain is particularly deserving of notice. Of this class there are a great many in the metropolis. They are from fifteen to eighteen feet in length, and of proportionate depth and breadth. They are four-wheeled vehicles, and drawn by four, five, or even six horses, according to circumstances. Five horses is the more common number. These waggons are peculiarly adapted for the transit of miscellaneous goods, which is the purpose to which they are chiefly applied. The quantity of goods sometimes carried by them, would appear incredibly great to those unacquainted with what may be stowed into, or rather erected on, them by skilful hands. They are strongly built. Tons [-268-] on tons might be piled on them without injuring them by the weight. Most of these waggons belong to the more extensive city merchants. The proprietors of all the leading wharfs have one or more waggons of this kind. All of them display the City of London arms, which consist of a white shield, with a dagger in one of the compartments. Having the city arms thus affixed to the front of the waggons shows that the owners are free of' the city; and therefore the vehicles are suffered to pass through the tolls in the city, without any toll being exacted. The names of the owners of the waggons are also painted in large conspicuous letters in the front of the vehicle.
There is something very interesting in seeing one of the better class of waggons moving along the streets of London. A writer of more poetical temperament than myself, would . represent it as imposing, if not even sublime, to see the fine large horses which draw these vehicles, with their flowing manes and ample tails, proceeding with measured and majestic step,--- the coal-black and well-scrubbed har-[-269-]ness, decorated in many places with small pieces of shining brass, to say nothing of the brass star which dangles on the forehead of the animals;--- to see this in conjunction with the " comfortable" self-complacent appearance of the driver of the team, walking with whip in hand within a few feet of the horses, and rejoicing in the peculiar conformation of his hat, his smock frock, and quarter boots, tightly laced, and boasting soles half an inch thick, exclusive of the huge hob-nails with which they are studded from heel to toe; --- to see all this is to witness a picture of a decidedly interesting and national character.
There is an immense number of coal waggons in London. The coals are all carried ~ small bags from the different wharfs to the houses of the inhabitants. Each bag contains two hundred weight, and the waggons usually carry thirty-six of these bags, making the entire load upwards of three tons and a half. I like to see the coal waggons proceeding in all directions, because of the jolly-looking countenances of the drivers, notwithstanding their artificial [-270-] ebony complexion. They are a hearty, good-humoured race of beings, and "if so be as they get summut to drive the dust down their throats," they envy nobody. If you give them the wherewith to procure a pint of porter, they will not only touch the leather cowls which they patronise as substitutes for hats, but they will show the whites of their eyes and their teeth --- the only white parts of their physiognomies --- in what a cockney would call a "reg'lar grateful smile."
There is another kind of waggon which is pretty generally to be met with in London. I allude to the light waggons or vans usually employed for the removal of furniture from one part of town to another. These vehicles are drawn by one horse, and are kept on speculation by persons who make a living by letting them and a horse to persons who are about to move from one house to another. Sometimes they are let out by the hour, at other times the proprietors charge so much for a certain distance. When let by the hour, the charge varies according to the circumstances [-271-] of the parties employing the owner, from two shillings upwards. When by the distance, the usual charge made is five or six shillings per mile; only that after going one mile a reduced charge is generally made for the remaining distance.
Of the carts which crowd the streets of London, it is not necessary for me to lay much. They are of all sorts and sizes, and are used for all imaginable purposes. There are some carts which are made for carrying street manure of an immensely large size, and so strong that no weight that can be put into them will. do them the slightest injury. In rainy weather the street manure is so weighty, that six or seven of the strongest horses that can be procured are sometimes employed to draw them. The drivers of these vehicles, though usually patched in all parts of their persons, if not indeed plastered all over from top to toe, with the muddy commodity they are employed to transfer from place to place, are a merry-hearted race of men. They are always in excellent spirits, and are very often engaged, when they have a leisure [-272-] moment, in playing all descriptions of tricks at each other's expense. Some of them display a "wonderful alacrity" in getting drunk, as Falstaff's ponderous body did in sinking when thrown into the Thames. When any of them do thus quaff such prodigiously large potations of "Barclay, Perkins, & Co's Entire," or Thompson's blue ruin, as to be incapable of preserving their equilibrium, some of their thirsty brethren throw them into one of their carts with as little ceremony as they would a shovel of street manure, and carry them home with as little concern as if they were a mere mass of inanimate mud. I speak with all seriousness when I say, that I have often wondered that some of them, in these cases, do not choke from a too close intimacy with the contents of the carts, when the weather is sufficiently dry to give the rakings of the streets less of a liquid appearance than they have after heavy showers of rain. I have repeatedly seen them lying on their faces on the top of a load of street manure, in a state of perfect unconsciousness, with their mouths literally "in the dust." And yet, [-273-] though I am convinced that a few minutes in the circumstances in which I have seen these men, would prove fatal to other individuals, it does not appear to cause them the slightest injury, or even a momentary inconvenience.
There is another class of carts which is very common in London, altogether different from the strong and large vehicles of which I have been speaking. I allude to those carts which are often used by butchers and other tradesmen, for the purpose of conveying small quantities of goods --- and sometimes individuals --- from one place to another. They are a sort of square box, light, yet strongly made, and resting on springs,--- so that one sits in them, as far as motion is concerned, as comfortably as if he were in a gig. The only drawbacks to their convenience are, that they are open above, so that there is no protection against cold or rain, and there is nothing against which to lean one's back. The seat consists simply of a board about a foot broad, which stretches from one side to the other, a little towards the front. They are usually about five feet in length by [-274-] four feet in breadth; their depth is about two feet. The horses are invariably of that class used for coaches and cabs; and they are driven as rapidly as these vehicles. The peculiar form in which these carts are built, exempts the proprietors from the license exacted on gigs.
To enumerate the various other vehicles which are to be seen in the streets of London, would be impossible; they are always changing in size and form. There is a kind of vehicle called the truck, which is employed by many persons in business for the conveyance of goods from their premises to the houses of their customers. This vehicle is somewhat in the shape of a large box, with a lid which opens double at the top. It usually measures between three and a half and five feet in length, by three in breadth, and two and a half in depth. It runs on large but light wheels, and instead of being drawn by a horse, is .drawn by young men by means of a pole, not unlike that of a coach, two or three feet in length in the front. In very many cases the young man who may be thus said to be yoked into the truck, used to be very greatly assisted [-275-] by a large dog underneath, and trained to "draw" in the same way as if he were a horse. There are other trucks which have two spokes at the farther end, somewhat resembling, though of course much lighter, the shafts of a gig. The party who has to move a truck constructed in this way, pushes it before him in the same manner as if he were driving a wheelbarrow, only that in almost every case he was, until the commencement of last year, most materially assisted by a dog harnessed to the vehicle underneath. These dogs were admirably trained for the purpose; and drew weights which would appear incredible to those who had not witnessed their achievements in that way. They were for the most part very spirited animals, seldom needing the application of the lash. Indeed, so great was the exertion they made, that they often worked themselves to death.
In the sessions of 1839, an act was passed prohibiting the use of dogs in London trucks, from and after the commencement of 1840.
These latter observations lead me to say a word or two about another class of vehicles, [-276-] which until the beginning of 1840, were quite common in the streets of the metropolis. I mean the very small carts which were drawn entirely by dogs. These lilliputian carts were used for a variety of purposes, and were sometimes drawn by one dog, although occasionally by as many as three. The dogs were duly harnessed as if they were horses, and were trained to their duties as drawers of these vehicles in a wonderful way. In many cases the persons, mostly boys or young men, charged with them, or to whom they belonged, sat in the carts themselves, and drove the tractable creatures whip in hand, just as if they were horses. They proceeded at an amazing celerity through the streets; frequently exceeding hackney coaches and cabs in the rapidity of their movements. The only thing to be regretted was, that they were not only often overburdened, but very cruelly used by those who had the charge of them.
No one can be in the streets of London without being struck with the di1ferent appearance which vehicles present in the various parts of the [-277-] town. In the city many ponderous waggons meet one's eye, and assail one's ears in every direction. Carts, omnibuses, hackney coaches. cabs, &c., are also very numerous; but a splendid carriage or even a handsome cabriolet is a sight which is seen but comparatively seldom. In Regent Street, Bond Street, and the other parts of the West End, matters are completely reversed. There splendid equipages of all descriptions dazzle your eye in whatever quarter you turn; you seem to be in a fairy land where everything around you is glare and glitter. The waggon or cart is only seen at intervals in the western parts of the metropolis. So great is the contrast which the West End and City present to each other, in regard to the class of vehicles most common in each, that I am sure any one who has been any length of time in London, would be able, were he led blindfolded either to the City or West End, to decide which of the two he was in by the testimony of his ears alone. If in the City, the everlasting rumbling and rattling of waggons, carts, and other vehicles for commercial purposes, would at once admonish him of the fact. The absence of this peculiar kind of rattling, and the slight noise caused by the light and rapid movements of carriages and gigs at the West End, would inform him with equal certainty, that he had been conducted to the locality selected by the aristocracy for their residence when in town.