The million-peopled city
Recent Efforts of Omnibus Servants themselves to Improve their Condition.
Some of the omnibus men are themselves now seeking to
|have their condition elevated. The following is an extract from a speech delivered at one of the Meetings which have been recently held by them for that purpose. It is from the -|
" He said they were met to consider the present condition of a large and industrious class of men, and to devise some means for the improvement of their condition, which was a great deal harder than the public were aware of. It only required that the attention of a benevolent public should be drawn to their condition, in order that it might not only be alleviated, but entirely reformed. Whenever great evils were found to exist in this land, such was the national spirit, that from the moment of its discovery its hours were numbered. Improvements were sometimes slow, but when the public was once aware of the nature of the evil, the improvement was always sure. So it had been with the mining population, until recently; they had suffered under all the evils arising from children and females working in the mines, but the public became acquainted with it, remedies were applied, and their condition had undergone, and was now undergoing, the greatest amelioration. The omnibus servants might rest assured that the public would not show less gratitude to men from whose services they derived such manifold convenience. Ie was not very old, but he could well recollect the different state of things with regard to conveyance under the hackney-coach regime, and the public too well appreciated the conveniences and advantages of the present system of transit, not to be quite willing to support the drivers and conductors in any scheme which would tend to their improvement either in a social or religious point of view .... He inquired the other day of a driver about their meal times, and found that the time allowed them for their dinners was only seven and a half minutes! and the breakfast which they had before starting, was almost the only meal they had during the day, which deserved the name.
|It was true that a driver might occasionally have a day's rest, but it was only by paying a substitute, and even that was unwillingly accepted, because the horses got accustomed to their regular driver, and did not go well with strangers. The situations of the conductors were even more precarious; many of them were only daily servants, and how was it possible for them to take any interest in the prosperity of their employers, when they were not sure of remaining with them a single day ? The sure way to render a servant not trustworthy, was not to trust him. Another of the crying evils of the present mode was the drinking habits which it almost forced upon the men. Could it be possible for men to avoid drinking, when they stopped at public-houses, wet, cold, and weary from the continued fatigues of a long day ? ... He entered into a long detail of the various circum- stances which led to the untimely deaths of large numbers of the omnibus servants, and for the accuracy of which his having attended their dying moments enabled him to vouch, and concluded with an earnest appeal to the public sympathy on behalf of such a hardly-used and hardly-worked class of men. The proprietors took care to let the horses rest 1 day out of every 4; and why should not a man, having a family to provide with comforts, an eternity to attend to, a death to prepare for, and a Saviour to meet, have the same indulgence allotted to him as to the brute creation ?"|