The Romance of Modern London (1893) by Fred T. Jane
A mildly amusing description of 1893 London "in the small hours," by Fred T. Jane, later to produce the "Fighting Ships" books. I've included the text with some of the pictures. Some of the pictures have a second signature that I'm not certain I can make out. Looks something like "Andre & Siegl."
As found in Google books.
The English illustrated Magazine, Volume 10, Page v
ROMANCE OF MODERN LONDON. By Fred T. Jane.
With numerous Illustrations by the Writer.
I. London Railway Stations 658
II. In The Small Hours 705
III. Round The Underground On An Engine . . . 737
The English illustrated Magazine, Volume 10, July, 1893, Pages 706-711
The Romance of Modern London
II-In the Small Hours
[by Fred T. jane]
PUBLISHING TIME IN FLEET STREET. ABOUT 4 A.M.
From half-past twelve, when the public-houses shut, till five in the morning, when they open again, London is assumed to be asleep. The sleep is more apparent than real, however, for so varied are the occupations and pleasures of the inhabitants of this modern Babylon, that it is well-nigh impossible to pass through any important thoroughfare, no matter what the hour, without encountering some of one's fellowmen. The ubiquitous policeman, railway servants on night-duty, printers, compositors, firemen, drunkards who cannot find their way home, wretched people who have no homes to find, prowlers, loafers, loungers, and " shady cards" innumerable —these are some of the many who pass along the so-called deserted streets.
Not till the public-houses are closed does the London night really begin; the extinction of the huge moth-attracting lamps of the gin-palaces, and the lowering of the street lights bring a desolation and darkness like to that caused in more open districts by a heavy cloud passing over the moon. With the darkness come forth innumerable cats, fighting over the scraps that get thrown into the streets, prowling and caterwauling without let or hindrance. Cats are not the only food-seekers, for every now and then some slouching half-famished wretch comes along, looking with eager eyes into the doorways where the better class of poor people are apt to put their stale bread and other unneeded food, and many are the hungry ones who have cause to bless this simple act of charity.
About one in the morning is the hour for footpads, garotters, and others of that ilk to get to business; and as the street traffic lessens, from side alleys and courts emerge queer-looking customers who hang singly about in doorways, or stand together under lampposts to consider the plan of campaign. Under a lamp they are more noticeable than in a dark corner, but for that very reason attract less attention from the police. I saw the three men I have attempted to sketch do a bit of business with a householder who was standing in his open doorway about 1.30 one morning. He was the other side of the street to them, so they separated, and one going down the road some distance crossed over and sauntered innocently back again; the other two passed over higher up, one very drunk—for the time being —and then turned to meet their confederate. The three met just outside the quarry's door, and fell against it; but the worthy householder had been one too many for them and slammed the door just in the nick of time to save his household goods from the grasp of the marauder.
Many and various are the devices employed in the pursuit of wealth in the small hours of the morning. About Christmas time last year a doctor was passing up Holborn shortly after midnight when some one behind him placed his hands over his eyes saying — "Guess who I am." At the same moment the doctor was laid on the ground, guessing and remonstrating with his supposed friend in jocular fashion; nor was it until the quondam jokers had disappeared that he found that his watch and money had gone with them. There were plenty of people about, it was a big public thoroughfare, and the hour was not late, for London; yet the robbery was carried out with perfect impunity.
Another interesting dodge I watched for several nights is that employed by a fatherly old gentleman in the style of cap patented by Mr. Keir Hardy, and a young man who knocks him down, brutally ill-uses him, and makes off with his cash. The benevolent passer-by flies to the old party's assistance and acts the good Samaritan; but no sooner is he out of sight than the drama is repeated with varying success. Bedford Row, Russell Square and thereabouts used to be the usual haunt of these two accomplished actors, but they have passed on elsewhere of late,—perhaps on a provincial tour.
Variations of this trick are plentiful enough: sometimes it is a man and wife dispute—though this is pretty well played out—another time an ill-used cripple who can run like the wind if need be; but whatever means are employed, the aim and object is to get the projected victim to interfere in other people's affairs preparatory to interfering with him.
A HEART-RENDING DRAMA
All the fights one chances on are by no means artificial, however, and when a real one is on the tapis it is wonderful how quickly a crowd fills the previously almost empty street. The passing cabman reins up and watches with keen interest; to him there is always the off chance of securing a hospital job. Some of the "fares" cabbies get in the small hours are quaint indeed and often enough troublesome; but on the other hand the remuneration is generally far above that to be obtained in the daytime, though they frequently experience much bother in getting it. One night not long ago I saw a man, not over sober, get out of a hansom outside his door and promptly go to sleep on the pavement. On the cabman waking him and demanding his fare, the gentleman, after much fumbling, pulled out a small pocket looking-glass, and handing it to the driver told him to give him half-a-crown change. The cabby, waxing wroth, gave vent to the time-honoured "Wot's this?" The man promptly got into the cab again and ordered the driver to take him to the nearest police-station, where he intended to give the cabman in charge for demanding more than his legal fare. Often the frequenter of the tap-room, hopelessly trying to find his way home, concludes that the roadway is his bed, and peacefully slumbers there till, with a clatter and a shower of sparks, a hansom is pulled up just clear of him; he indignantly rebukes the cabman, but in spite of his remonstrances is likely to finish his night's slumber on one of the couches provided by his country for the puzzled wanderer.
A HOSPITAL JOB
But gradually the less sober wanderers disappear, either with the assistance of policemen, or with the kindly aid of watchful loafers, who help them into dark corners or blind alleys where they remove their valuables; and, if their clothes are worth taking, assist them to undress, soon as the public-houses shut the all-night coffee-stall opens, and here for a modest sum one can purchase coffee, whelks, or 'ot taters—good stuff too— and the stall-keepers drive a brisk trade, especially in the early morning. The Prince of Wales is said to have eaten a 'ot tater at one of the stalls, and the owner thereof ever after labelled himself—
HOT POTATER PURVEYOR TO THE ROYAL FAMILY.
But though I have hunted for him long we have never met; and I fear he must be relegated to the same bourne as the "Pawnbroker to Her Majesty."
THE ALL-NIGHT COFFEE-STALL
By 2.30 the streets are silent save for the heavy thud of an occasional policeman trying the doors on his beat, moving along with a peculiar swing common to the Force. Resting on the foot nearer the wall he bends down that side, the other leg swinging in the air, which fashion of walk enables him to inspect the door fastenings without stopping in his stride.
THE POLICEMAN'S SWING
Occasionally one passes an enterprising cabman remaining all night on the stand, and every here and there the men on duty at the fire-stations are to be seen leaning against the escapes—and queer are the tales they can tell of what they see during the night-watches. Under lamp-posts and round corners one comes now and again upon fellows watching the "copper" out of sight; and once I saw a dim form crawling across the leads of a roof—presumably Bill Sykes professionally engaged.
Another night, while wandering round, one sees lodgers "doing a moonlight flit," shifting out their furniture in the dead of night in preference to having it seized for arrears of rent; and when the landlord happens to come upon the scene the play becomes lively. More often than not, however, the landlord anticipates this move, and in the streets where cheap unfurnished lodgings abound it is no uncommon thing to see locked-out tenants hammering away at a door, while from an upper window the landlord looks out and threatens fearful things in the way of upsetting bucketfuls of dirty water on them, calling the police, and invoking the aid of stipendiary magistrates.
About two o'clock along any tram route one is apt to encounter an immense cloud of dust that grows larger the faster one hurries on. Some few minutes later the inquiring pedestrian discovers its raison d'etre when he overtakes a huge contrivance of brushes, drawn by a single horse, which clears the dust out of the tramway lines, and drives all save the most hardy and persevering out of the street in its wake.
SWEEPING THE TRAMWAY LINES.
There is one eminent characteristic of the small hours in London; the deep suspicion with which an ordinary wayfarer looks on whoever he may meet. I remember losing myself late one night in the mazes around Russell Square; in my wanderings I met a policeman and asked him how to get out. "Out where?" he inquired with the surprise of one familiar to the district.
"Holborn, Oxford Street, anywhere!" I replied.
"Now look here," said the guardian of the peace, "first you wants Oxford Street, which is second right, third left, first right; and then you sez Holborn, which is t'other way entirely. Take care you don't get run in afore you're done!" This was not hopeful, so I hastened to follow the t'other way, soon got lost again, and finally ran into the same policeman again. He looked at me very suspiciously and remarked, as I hastily passed him, that he'd got his eye on me. Finally, I encountered a sailor who, in answer to my query, said he was going into Holborn, and that I might "sail in company with him if I kept the other side of the street." We kept up a sort of conversation at this distance, but on his finding out that I knew something of his ship he gradually decreased it, and on our reaching Holborn tenderly advised me to repent and give up the footpad business! It seems to be an axiom that any one wandering about in the small hours is a footpad, unless wearing the top hat of respectability. In such a case the wearer walks rapidly down the middle of the street, for in doorways and corners lurk many ready enough to pounce on the unprepared. They have their decoy ducks out likely enough, and are awaiting their prey, but they never neglect a good chance that comes by accident. Many and terrible are the stories of men decoyed at night into strange deathtraps, but the majority of them are too well known to be worth repeating here.
A fire at night is the great chance which the restless wanderer dreams of. A grand thing indeed it is to look upon. A small thing at the beginning, just a little wreath of smoke, a policeman kicking at a door, terrified people helped out of windows, a few flames and a cloud of smoke; then flames bursting out of windows writhing and twisting, a great snake of fire shooting upwards into a cloud of sparks, engine after engine thundering up in a mad gallop scattering the bystanders right and left, a crowd of riff-raff following in the train of each, black figures prancing like demons in the fierce golden glare, and overhead the heavy crimson pall. Policemen rapidly collect, force back the onlookers, and make a clear space around the engines—a charmed circle into which none save members of the press may enter :—nominally, at least, for in practice pretty well anybody can pass the cordon by saying "Press;" though of late the inquiries of suspicious policemen have rendered it necessary to give such answers as, Isle of Dogs Times, Harrow Road Mirror, Walham Green Gazette. But it is worth a harmless momentary deviation from truth to get a good view of a London fire.
By three o'clock the great city is at its quietest and pedestrians few and very far between. Along the big thoroughfares one sees crouching figures moving along in the gutters, grubbing for anything of value that may have been lost during the past twenty-four hours—these are the first heralds of the coming day. Instinct seems to guide them, for they move very quickly and yet leave nothing of any value whatsoever in their tracks. Later on they may be seen again, this time hunting in the dust-boxes that are put out the first thing in the morning.
Very solemn and still do the bridges look, deserted save for some homeless wretch crouched on the stone seats or wearily gazing down on the dark water which reflects his life in its turbid current. It is in the. darkness of the night that we pierce behind the veil, and see the price that has to be paid for the day time's glitter and show; the sorrow and suffering, and all the things best left hidden in the darkness since they cannot be told. Let any one, in guise that will not attract attention, wander through the great city in the small hours of the morning for a week or two, and he will learn how very little civilization has done to make the world better, he will see the eddies of the stream of progress.
But the market carts are rolling in from the country-sides; gradually the streets fill again. Fleet Street is the first to wake up. Here one sees crowds of newsagents’ men in front of the offices of the daily papers – men whose day’s work is practically over by 9 A.M.
With the cold morning light, which sets forth London in a purity to be found at no other hour, a whole series of fresh actors come upon the stage, and the darker side is hidden for a while beneath the brighter raiment of the day.
Last edited by TradeName : 04-15-2012 at 03:33 AM.
Reason: Credit Google
JANE, Fred. T.; naval author, artist, novelist, etc.: b. 6 Aug. 1865 ; e. s. of Rev. John Jane, Vicar of Upottery, Devon ; m. 1892, Alice, d. of late Hamilton Beattie; one d. Educ.: Exeter School. Inventor of the Naval War Game; naval correspondent for the Engineer, Scientific American, and Daily Chronicle; special naval artist Illustrated London News; contested Portsmouth, 1906. Publications: Blake of the "Rattlesnake,'' 1895; The Incubated Girl, 1896; To Venus in Five Seconds, 1897 ; The Lordship, the Passen, and We, 1897; The Violet Flame, The Port Guard Ship, 1899; All the World's Fighting Ships (naval annual); The Torpedo in Peace and War, 1898 ; The Jane Naval War Game (naval kriegspiel), 1898; The Imperial Russian Navy, 1900; Ever Mohun, 1901; Hints on Playing the Jane Naval War Game, 1902; The Jane Coast Operations War Game for the Instruction of Garrison Artillery in Coast Defence, 1903; The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1904; Heresies of Sea Power, 1906. Recreations: croquet, kite-flying, experimenting with explosives, motoring, aeronautics, shooting. Address: 17 Elphinstone Road, Southsea. T.A.: Jane, Southsea. T.: 717 Corporation, Portsmouth, M.: BK 49 and BK 97
The Year's Art (London: J.S. Virtue, 1892), Page 338
by Marcus Bourne Huish, David Croal Thomson, Albert Charles Robinson Carter
Directory of Artists
Jane, Fred. T. The Studios, 41, Gray's Inn-rd., London, W.C.
The Romance of a London Omnibus (1894) by Fred T. Jane
Thanks, Cogidubnus, LC, K-453, Carol and Harry the Hawker.
Here's another Jane piece in a similar vein, with gratuitous futurism, courtesy of Mr. Google.
Opinions stated are those of Mr. Jane alone.
The English Illustrated Magazine, Volume 11, April, 1894, Pages 691-699
THE ROMANCE OF A LONDON OMNIBUS.
BY FRED T. JANE.
“Angel, Stoke Newington, ‘Igate—Hangel, Hangel,” roared a ‘bus conductor in a voice that would have made the fortune of a Trafalgar Square orator.
“Do you go to the Angel?” inquired an old lady of the type these busmen know all too well.
"Yes 'um—Angel. Any more for the Angel, Hangel, Angel!"
"Conductor," said the same old party, "are you quite sure you go to the Angel?"
"Well, mum," came the answer," it's writ all over the 'bus, and I've been callin' it for the last 'arf hour, so I believe we do; but I'll arsk a policeman if you like."
The trodden worm had turned; but how very gently.
And yet they class the conductor under the head of unskilled labour—a man who must be born, not made —he must be dead to all sensitiveness and feeling. Study his back on a muddy day, and you will see it covered with innumerable dark spots; each of these represents a dig from the umbrella point of a female rider who has wanted to alight!
The Angel incident, recorded above, first drew my attention to what may be termed the hidden side of bus traffic. All of us are familiar with the bus itself, and most of us know how to distinguish the particular vehicle we want to travel in, but our knowledge ends here; we only know that it comes from somewhere and goes on to somewhere. On the fare board inside are names of places it passes on its journey, but to most people they are names only. Queen of England, Windsor Castle, World's End, Weavers' Arms, Sands End, Crooked Billet, and a host of other unknown spots confront us on the fare boards of different conveyances, and we fall to wondering in a dim sort of way whether Windsor Castle is the Windsor, or merely a "pub" of that name, and if Sands End is where henpecked Johnnie Sands enacted the historical scene with Mrs. S., until by and by the places get enshrined in our memories with a good substantial halo of romance around them. To systematically visit all these localities would be almost impossible; the buses of the London General Omnibus Company alone pass along no less than sixty-seven different routes. Besides this company, which by the way owns 1,037 buses, 10,000 horses and employs 4,000 men, there is the Road Car Company with 310 buses, 3,248 horses, and 1,523 men to manage them; Tilling's, Andrew's "Star" Buses, the "John Bull," Bus Proprietors' Association, Railway Buses, and legions of "pirate" buses and private enterprises. In addition to these come numerous trams (which are but buses running on rails), halfpenny buses, and one-horse trams.
THE "WEAVERS' ARMS," LONDON, N.
STAMFORD BROOK, BUS HEADQUARTERS, LONDON W.
Most people have noticed the huge umbrella that marks the Metropolitan Railway's vehicles, the more modest star of the District Railway, or the flag of the Road Cars, and the broom sported some short while since by the strikers from the L.G.O.C.L.—unfortunately suggestive of a similar emblem hoisted by the Dutch admiral Van Tromp, and equally short-lived. The "London General" have no distinguishing mark save the inscription of the Company's name, which is of great benefit to "pirates," who imitate it near enough to deceive all save the most observant. "London General Post Office" is the usual beginning, and so they capture the country cousin who has been directed to get a "London General"; and the sequel thereof usually consists of double fares, or else just after paying to go to some distant destination he finds that the bus "don't go no further this 'ere jerney." The law has taken to interfering in this last case, but the difficulty has been got over before now by a wheel that goes wrong—after the fares have been collected. This necessitates stoppage, the passengers tired of waiting get into another bus, and then the programme is re-enacted. In the case of the double-fare buses, grumblers are referred to the fare board, where they note that what looks like Piccadilly to Oxford Circus, 1d., is really a big black 1 with a gray 2 painted over it. Some pirate conductors go so far as to wear a strap and bag in imitation of the bell punch and ticket-roll of the Companies' buses.
All buses not belonging to the well-known companies are known as "pirates," but it is only fair to state that many of them make merely the regulation charge. A propos of pirates, I once overheard a dear old lady remark to a friend as she gazed at a "Road Car" with a somewhat ancient flag, "Now you mustn't get into that bus, it's a 'pirate'; don't you see the black flag!" and forthwith they got into a "London General Post Office, etc.," that was following astern.
The pirate conductor is usually, as his name would imply, a scowling and bearded bully, and old ladies never prog him in the back; in return for which he'll book them to all parts of London, and both ways at once.
A conductor's life cannot be a happy one; his notion of heaven is probably a place where no women are! This ungallant idea is fostered by the way in which three women living next door to each other will each stop the conveyance at her own door, utterly regardless of the unfortunate horses, which would probably last eight years instead of five if men were the only passengers. Men are of course better able to jump in and out of a moving bus; but, apart from all this, it is a melancholy fact that they are the sex who show the most consideration, despite the fact that the great majority of members of the R.S.P.C.A. are women.
A very mysogynistic conductor recently gave me some of his experiences with women passengers. They ranged from the excitable female, who having forgotten her purse (as usual) wants to ride on the credit system, down to the lady, who finding she has got into a bus going in the wrong direction threatens to call the police unless it turns round and drives her way. He dwelt sorrowfully on one carrying an umbrella and sunshade, whose first act on boarding is to hurl them violently to the other end of the bus, leaving him to settle with damaged passengers; and he said grievous things of another who had stopped the bus and sent him to ask the price of some dress material displayed in a shop window! He had many more tales, but I forbear.
Certain parts of London are centres from which bus and tram traffic radiates, and the "Helefant an' Cawsle" in South London is perhaps the principal of these, six roads, each with its service of bus or tram, meeting there. The "Elephant" itself is an ordinary enough public-house, pleasantly situated in a square well strewn with cabbage stumps, and surrounded with fish stalls; and not very far off is the now historical Old Kent Road. Next in importance come the "Angel," Islington; Charing Cross; Piccadilly Circus; and other spots too well known to need either illustration or description.
"THE HELEFANT AN' CAWSLE"
Hammersmith Broadway; the "Weavers' Arms ;" King's Cross; the "Salisbury ;" these, and many others, have their meed of buses. The "Salisbury" is a great starting place for Road Cars, and likely enough inspired the
"Is ab ille, heres ago,
Fortibus es in aro"
that we have most of us puzzled over in our school days. Places like the "Queen of England" and the "Crooked Billet" represent the Ultima Thule of bus traffic, and adjacent to them are sheds and stables belonging as a rule to the ubiquitous L.G.O.C.L. Beyond these points trams connect with the outlying suburbs.
"THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND," STAMFORD BROOK, W.
THE CROOKED BILLET, UPPER CLAPTON
The "Crooked Billet" in Upper Clapton is a strange sort of place altogether, a passenger between it and the '' Weavers' Arms " being so rare that the outward bound one asking for a ticket for " all the way" is never booked beyond the latter place.
There is a good deal of rivalry between the different companies, factories and stables being jealously guarded, and races between their 'buses are common scenes. Sometimes these terminate disastrously for all concerned, and woe betide the crawling "growler" that does not get out of the way. Steering these huge vehicles, the "ironclads of the streets," is always difficult, but the "rule" simplifies it—
"The rule of the road—make way for the bigger,
But as for the small, why, we don't care a jigger."
Occasionally, when a bus starts on a new route, a rival appears and tries to drive it off by competition. Two blue ones have for some time been running between King's Cross and Camberwell, each ever trying to get ahead of the other; and as along every portion of the route at least three other lines of omnibuses are running, somebody must be losing money, for to start and keep a bus going costs a deal more than most people are aware of, and the profits are apt to become a deficit on most roads unless the price of horses' keep is low.
Another sort of bus race is that of the passenger who, getting to the corner just after the thing has started, tears down the street amidst the cheering of small boys, and the encouraging "'Urry up, guv ner," of the conductor. Passengers are always very persevering in their effort to save time by attempting to catch the conveyance ahead of the one they could easily reach; and I remember seeing a man rush some hundred yards up Holborn after a bus. Near the Tottenham Court Road he caught it. "Marble Arch," he gasped, as he stumbled into the conductor's arms. "No, Piccadilly Circus; yours is the one you've been running away from," came the answer wrapped in a sardonic smile. The last tram or bus is always a scene of excitement; there is a mad rush of passengers to fill the empty seats — commonly enough there is room for them all twice over; but this is a detail that never enters into their calculations.
"'URRY UP, GUV'NER."
On the variety of form and shape in buses much might be said, but since the majority of people care nothing whatever about the conveyance so long as it takes them where they want to go to, it is best left unwritten; yet, at the risk of being prolix, I would remark on the great advantage of the modern "garden-seat" bus over the old '' knife-board " it is superseding, though the latter are regretted by those who daily use the same bus, and look on a certain seat beside the driver as their own especial place. Somebody or other has remarked that the garden-seat, and its consequent isolation of the driver, has evolved a new type of Jehu, surly-tempered and un-Weller-like. If this be true, the L.C.C. will doubtless endeavour to remedy matters at some future date. The knife-board bus has decided disadvantages; everybody kicks everybody else when getting on or off the roof; the four seats beside the driver can only be reached after a perilous climb; and when a big man getting down from one gives the final jump into a crowded street accidents are apt to occur.
A DESCENT FROM A KNIFEBOARD
The origin of the term "knife-board" is lost in obscurity; some asserting that it is due to the shape of the board whereon the Jehu rests his legs, while others are of opinion that it is a corruption of "knave-bored" — referring to him who sits beside the driver and listens to his yarns.
There is plenty of room for other improvements in omnibuses besides the arrangement of seats; something to obviate the jolting one experiences in them would be decidedly welcome, and pneumatic tires loom in the near future. With them will probably come the electric bus that was mooted in 1890, and has already been tried in London. Benzine has also been used as a motive power in Germany. Vienna has the smoking bus, divided into two compartments with a door between the wheels; and since these are controlled by the directors of the London General, it is strange that we have not yet had them introduced here.
We got the idea of 'buses from the French; and it will be seen that the vehicle started in London by one Shillibeer does not differ much from that in use to-day. The L.G.O.C.L. was founded some forty years since, and its early buses were practically the same as those now employed, save in the form of steps by which the roofs are reached. Progress cannot be said to have been very rapid, and any radical change when it comes will probably entail the doing away with altogether of the bus as we know it. Already the pavements in the City cannot properly hold the pedestrians, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that by and bye vehicular traffic will have to be relegated to underground and overhead. About the level of the first-floor windows footways could be erected, alongside which electric trams would run; lifts every here and there leading to higher stations, between which a service of air ships or dirigible balloons would fly. The day may also come when the ever-moving pavement, which one will just step on to to be moved along automatically at speeds up to ten miles an hour, will be something more than the dream of a German engineer. The configuration of our streets is against its practical use now; but there is no reason why it should not work in subterranean passages, ventilated and worked by tidal force.
SHILLIBEER'S OMNIBUS. THE FIRST BUS.
THE TRAM OF A CENTURY HENCE.
REVOLVING PLATFORMS OF THE FUTURE.
To come back from dreams of the future to the realities of the present; this article would be incomplete without some reference to bus fares, both as regards ordinary curiosity thereupon and for the benefit of those who like to know where they can get the most for their money. The longest penny fare is from Hammersmith to Sloane Street. Other distances of two miles or more for a penny are :—
Liverpool Street to Tottenham Court Road, Chancery Lane to Victoria, Tottenham Court Road to Chapel Street, and Charing Cross to Liverpool Street. (Since the above was written the Companies have reduced the distances of some of these fares.) Against these may be placed Queen's Road to Netting Hill Gate, which is little over 500 yards; or Gray's Inn Road, corner of Holborn, to the bottom of Chancery Lane, which is hardly half-a-mile.
The longest route covered by the L.G.O.C.L. is from Fulham to Old Ford; the shortest from Highbury Barn to Highbury Place. The Road Car routes vary from thirteen to seven miles in length.
According to police regulations, every omnibus must once a year undergo a thorough overhaul and re-fitting; and as this takes about a month, the London General has usually about eighty buses "in hospital." At the factory in Islington, buses may be seen in all stages, from the broken-down veteran to the last thing out of the painting shop, spick and span in all the glory of its brilliant colours. A row of newly-painted buses makes a fine bit of colour composition; the colours though bright are not too crude, and make a decidedly harmonious whole. Here, too, may be seen buses in course of construction ; in one case a mere skeleton yet unpanelled, in another, complete save for the paint and cushions.
THE BUS HOSPITAL.
I made a partially successful attempt to discover why bus wheels are painted yellow—"because they always have been, and so it's our colour,"—one of the employees gave as the reason.
Trams have been rather neglected in this article, but after all they are only buses on rails. They have a greater claim to antiquity, the idea of them dating as far back as 1602; though cars for passengers were not employed until 1832. The early rails were of wood; iron was first used in 1767. At the present time one may still see the remains of an old tramway on Hay Tor, Dartmoor. The rails are blocks of granite, a foot or so wide; and a hundred years or more ago it was used for carrying down stone. Apropos of trams, a passenger recently got into trouble for not paying his fare in one of those one-horse trams in which the fare is placed by the payee in a box in the corner. He explained that he had taken it for a collection box, and objected to giving to any fund outside his own parish!
Somehow there seems to be less sentiment attached to trams than to buses, though at first sight there appears to be very little poetry in either. Yet he who will take a long journey on the roof of a well-horsed “carriage and pair of the democracy,”—as the omnibus had been not ineptly termed—on a fine summer morning, will find that it has a vein of sentiment all its own. He will behold human nature as he will not see it elsewhere, and learn things of London that he wotted not of before. From the green trees around suburban villas, past parks and stately mansions, through crowded streets teeming with city life, on and on, past miles of houses, shops, and people, growing ever more congested and more squalid, till he ends in the hopeless misery of the East.
This and much more will he see; but for him to feel it, it must not be his usual wont.