The million-peopled city
The extensive Use of London Cabs on Sundays, and its injurious Effects on the Drivers.
There are 3 especial difficulties in the way of the moral and religious improvement of this class of the population. The first of these is that they have no Sabbath. Most of them
|are employed as drivers by proprietors, who will not allow of their ceasing work on that day. They must either relinquish their situations, or violate the sanctity of that holy day. And yet Sunday is by far the least profitable day of the seven to the cab proprietor. This is so fully admitted that a less amount of money is required by him to be brought home then than on other days, notwithstanding which more drivers are discharged on Sundays than during the week, for not being able to bring home the required amount which is expected from them. There is a general feeling on the part of cab-drivers that it is a degradation to them to be employed on Sundays. Although they very seldom recognise the fact of the holy character of the day as a day especially to be devoted to religious improvement and the worship and service of God, they yet are most averse to being employed on that day in their worldly callings. Their customers, moreover, on that day are either pleasure-takers or professedly religious persons, and it is generally con- sidered that the custom of the latter is even greater than that of the former, while it is also more steady and regular throughout the year. Persons who have not mixed inti- mately with the drivers of cabs can scarcely imagine the stumbling-block which this presents to their favourable regard of the claims of the Gospel. They entertain the idea that, if it were not for religious people, they would have their Sundays, as they believe that it would not otherwise be worth their masters' while to send them out on that day, except under special circumstances. So strongly does this circumstance produce an antipathy to religious persons on the part of cabmen, that some will even try to avoid taking fares to churches and chapels, simply because of their dis- gust at the practice of persons professing to be religious employing them for such purposes. The manner in which cabmen in general, in their intercourse with each other, swear at religious people, and especially at Christian|
|ministers, as a sort of humbugs, is most awful to listen to, according to the testimony of those who are in a position to hear it. No words are too bad in their vocabulary, where- with they curse them. Sometimes, when religious people hire cabs to take them to church, they will say to the driver, as they get out, probably to relieve their conscience for the act, "We hope you attend some place of public worship." It is related in a recent pamphlet, entitled, " The Omnibus Men of London," that a cab-driver not long since answered a lady who thus addressed him, "No, ma'am, we drives about such as you." When cabmen are expostulated with by other religious persons, who avoid Sunday riding them- selves, on the evil of their violation of the Sabbath, their common reply is, that there can be no more harm in their driving their cabs than in religious persons riding in them. Thus they justify themselves in their sin. And so decided is their impression against religious persons on account of it, that they may often be heard to say that the sound of the church bells makes them unhappy. It operates also prejudicially on their minds, that harder bargains are generally made with them by religious persons who ride in cabs on Sundays than by pleasure-takers. Indeed, cabmen in general lay it down as a truism that parsons are their worst customers, whether on Sundays or on other days. They place them even before lawyers in this respect. The missionary of the employed among cabmen, was accustomed, when he first began his work of visiting the stands, to wear a white neckcloth. But he soon found that they mistook him from this circumstance for a minister, and that they would give no heed whatever to what he said. But on going among them subsequently with a black handkerchief the difference of his reception was almost incredible. He has always since found it most important to retain the latter dress. There are occasions on which it is possible much may be said for, as well as|
|against the use of cabs on Sundays, to convey Christian people to the house of God, and especially those who have to conduct these services, and whose residences are un- avoidably at a distance. But in the great mass of cases, it admits of no defence, and the writer believes that if the fact were known, of the extreme injury which is actually done (whether rightly or not it matters not to inquire) to the mind of the cab-driver by the practice, Christian persons would feel they could no longer conscientiously be parties to it, but would submit to even a large amount of personal inconvenience to avoid it. The strong feeling of London cabmen with reference to Sunday work is shown in between 2,000 and 3,000 of them having this year signed a petition against the opening of the Crystal Palace on the Lord's-day.|