The million-peopled city
Testimonies given to Mr. Mayhew, as to the Severity of the Labour, by a Driver, a Conductor, and a Time-keeper.
reports interviews which he had with an omnibus-driver, conductor, and time-keeper, in which the driver said-" I'm an unmarried man. A 'bus driver never has time to look out for a wife. Every horse in our stables has one day's rest in four, but it's no rest for the driver." The conductor's statement was-" I never get to a public place, whether it is a chapel or a play-house, unless, indeed, I get a holiday, and that is not once in two years. I've asked for a day's holiday, and been refused. I was told I might take a week's holiday, if I liked, or as long as I lived. . . . In winter I never see my three children, only as they're in bed." The observation of the time-keeper was- "Mine is not hard work, but it's very tiring. You hardly ever have a moment to call your own. If we only had our Sundays, like other working-men, it would be a grand relief. It would be very easy to get an odd man to work every other Sunday, but masters care nothing about Sundays . . I can't be said to have any home-just a bed to sleep in-as I'm never 10 minutes awake in the house where I lodge."
The severe toil of the drivers in general (and that of the conductors is probably even still greater) is thus stated by the same writer :-" Their work is very hard, their lives being almost literally spent on their box. The most of
|them must enter 'the yard' at a quarter to 8 in the morning, and must see that the horses and the carriages are in a proper condition for work, and at half-past 8 they start on their long day's labour. They perform (I speak of the most frequented lines) 12 journeys during the day, and are so engaged until a quarter past 11 at night. Some are on the box till past midnight. During these hours of labour they have 12 'stops,' half of 10, and half of 15 minutes' duration. They generally breakfast at home, or at a coffee- shop, if unmarried men, before they start, and dine at the inn where the omnibus almost invariably 'stops,' at one or other of its destinations. If the driver be distant from his. home at his dinner hour, or be unmarried, he arranges to dine at the public-house. If near, his wife or one of his children brings him his dinner in a covered basin, some of them being provided with hot-water plates to keep the contents properly warm; and this is usually eaten at the public-house, with a pint of beer for the accompanying beverage. The relish with which a man who has been employed several hours in the open air enjoys his dinner can easily be understood, but if his dinner is brought to him on one of his shorter stops, he often hears the cry before he has concluded the meal, ' Time's up !' and he carries the remains of his repast to be consumed at his next resting-place. His tea, if brought to him by his family, he often drinks within the omnibus, if there be an opportunity. Some carry their dinners with them, and eat them cold. . . . From a driver I had the following statement:-' I have been a driver 14 years... . It's hard work, is mine, for I never have any rest but a few minutes, except every other Sunday, and then only 2 hours,-that's the time of a journey there and back. If I was to ask leave to go to church, and then go to work again, I know what answer there would be-" You can go|
|to church as often as you like, and we can get a man who doesn't want to go there." "|
 Letter lxxi.