Page:Omnibuses and Cabs.djvu/210

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190
Omnibuses and Cabs

good for twenty-one years. The same Act of Parliament ordained that the number of hackney-coaches should not exceed seven hundred.

In the early part of the following year William Congreve, the poet, was appointed a Commissioner for Licensing Hackney-Coaches, at the moderate salary of £100 a year, and retained the position until October, 1707. Possibly the Hackney-Coach Licence Office was not loved by Congreve, and when he left it each day he banished all thought of it until the morrow. The idea of writing anything about it, in all probability never occurred to him. " Who would be interested in hearing anything concerning that dull, wearisome office?" he might have asked had any one made the suggestion, and possibly very few people of that day would have troubled to read anything on the subject. But to us an account of his duties, with some description of the hackney-coach proprietors and drivers with whom he came into contact daily, would be of more than ordinary interest.

Early in the eighteenth century several thieves, not sufficiently daring to attack stage-coaches, cut through the backs of hackney-coaches, snatched off the passengers' wigs and decamped with them.