The Custom House Pier, Liverpool.
Finally, emerging from this ordeal, we seat ourselves in a curious equipage, which bears the name of "four-wheeler." Have any new four-wheelers been manufactured during the last twenty years? I should really like to know; for all that I have seen have been back numbers with dila p idated bindings. They are, in general, the shabbiest and most antiquated cabs that ever rattled over cobblestones. The roof seems hardly strong enough to bear a quilt of eider-down; yet on this, with the utmost recklessness, are piled trunks, bundles, and portmanteaus, till our hair stands on end as we creep in below them. When two of us are wedged beneath the threatening avalanche, and two more try to take the opposite seat, a shriek is usually heard, followed by a profuse apology. For time and skill are needed in a cab like this to fit into their proper places eight human legs and feet which, finally, have to interlock like knife-blades, while not a single passenger can move without a revolution of the entire company. But, perhaps, some of the party in despair leave this uncomfortable box and seek a hansom. By this invention England has redeemed herself, for hansoms rank, to-day, among the most essential luxuries of city life. We are accustomed now to these models of conciseness, but how astonished was the public when they first appeared! The driver sits upon his perch behind, below which hangs the horse's grain. The passenger steps upon the iron platform, sits down within the pretty cab, closes before him, as a partial screen, the folding doors, and then is driven quickly through the streets with nothing to obstruct his view; while, if he wishes to address the coachman, an opening in the roof permits them to converse like Pyramus and Thisbe. What wonder that Lord Beaconsfield poetically called hansoms the "gondolas of the London streets"?
Almost all prominent cities of America now possess them; yet it was not long ago that, amid shouts of laughter from the bystanders, an American cow-boy who had never seen a hansom climbed over its closed doors to get inside, and, having there by frightful contortions twisted himself around, considered ruefully how he was ever to get out again. If from the window of one of these vehicles we should behold a horse-car, we might at first mistake it for a private advertising scheme of "Lewis the Tailor," for on all English trams and omnibuses the amount of advertising is so great that it is sometimes difficult to know whether the vehicle is going to Piccadilly or "Mixed Pickles," to Maiden Lane or the "Gaiety Girl." These cars are somewhat like those of American cities, with the exception of an upper story, where those who choose to climb the winding stairs obtain a fine view of the city at small expense. But whether one rides on the inside or the outside of an English tram-car, he is never crowded; for, quite unlike our social way of trampling on one another in public con-veyances, each person here has a seat, and when the seats are occupied, no other passengers are admitted.
For elegance and comfort, the drawing-room cars of the United States surpass all others in the world; but there are certain features of English railroad management which might well be adopted everywhere. One is the host of uniformed porters, who spring forth to assist on the arrival of the train, relieving us of bags and parcels; bringing our baggage from the van: calling a cab; assisting us into it with our satchels, and tell ing the driver our destination: all of which is so quietly and quickly done that, were I asked to name a specimen of almost perfect service, I should say "that of an English railroad porter".
A Railway Station.
An English Railway Engine.