Page:Omnibuses and Cabs.djvu/224

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204
Omnibuses and Cabs

too ponderous for his hands, the hackney-coach offers its services, and is one of the most expert conveyances. Its other employments are many, and equally meritorious, and doubtless society would find a vacuum in its loss. Yet we cordially wish that the Maberley brain were set at work upon this subject, and some substitute contrived."

Hackney-coaches died hard. In 1841, there were four hundred plying for hire, but before the Great Exhibition of 1851, nearly all the proprietors who possessed sufficient capital had sold their hackney-coaches at breaking-up prices, and started cabs. Nevertheless, as late as 1858, hackney-coaches were to be seen occasionally in the streets.

The origin of the word "hackney" cannot be decided. In all probability it was derived from the old French word "hacquenèe," which was applied to horses—and sometimes coaches—let on hire. The claim that Hackney was the first place where coaches could be hired, and gave its name to the vehicles, does not bear investigation.