The million-peopled city
There can be no question that this rapid increase in the number of London cabs has very greatly promoted the comfort and added to the convenience of the London popu- lation. But, as a class, cab-drivers are far behind most others in their moral and religious habits, and they have received, to the present time, a very small measure indeed of the attention of those who have shown themselves in the most praiseworthy manner ready in deeds of benevolence towards classes, the claim of whom on their regard and aid is perhaps far less strong.
As compared, indeed, with the old hackney-coachmen of 30 years since, the cab-drivers of the present day are in many respects a different class of men. In speed and alacrity they are the very opposites of their predecessors, with their 4 or 5 miles an hour pace. The old hackney- coachmen were accustomed to spend regularly 7s. a-day in eating and drinking ! An old hand thus described the daily course of himself and comrades, apparently with entire truth, to the compiler of "Labour and the Poor." "Breakfast ls., good tea and good bread and butter, as much as you liked, always with a glass of rum in the last cup, for the 'lacing ' of it. Always rum, gin weren't so much run after then. Dinner was ls. 6d., a cut off some good joint; beer was included at some places, and not at others. Any extras to follow was extra to pay. Two glasses of rum and water after dinner, ls., pipes found, and most of us found our own baccy-boxes. Tea same as breakfast, and 'laced' ditto. Supper the same as dinner, or 6d. less, and the rest to make
|up 7s. went for odd glasses of ale or 'short' (neat spirits). Take day and night, and 1,200 of us was out, and perhaps every man spent his 7s." So that the 1,200 old hackney- coachmen spent no less in their own eating and drinking than 4201. a-day, 2,940l. a-week, and 152,880l. a-year. How sad an illustration did they present of low animal life. They were also as ignorant as they were self-indulgent. Very few of them could read or write. They seemed, in fact, only to care for the body, and for the present moment.|
The cabmen of the present day are considered by the public in general to be a degraded, profligate class of persons. They are well aware that this is the opinion generally entertained of them, and every man's hand being, as they believe, against them, their hand is against every man's in return. To this there are, however, of course many honour- able exceptions. But the very extensive prevalence of the feeling referred to renders them in a peculiar manner susceptible of the manifestation of kindness. It is the more appreciated by them from the fact that they so seldom meet with it. They are consequently as a class very ready to listen to the counsel and instruction of a Christian visitor, whose soul commiserates with them in their particular difficulties, and is filled with zeal and love for their best interests. The world has been as loud in finding fault with this class of the community as the Church has been silent in presenting to them the grand remedy for every disorder, entrusted to its own keeping to trade with till its Lord's return. They have been almost wholly neglected.