Thursday 3 February 2011

Cab Rage

There are lots of stories about cabbies and customers arguing about fares, but here's one that reminds us that it's probably a good thing the modern cab-driver doesn't still carry a whip:

WORSHIP-STREET.—John Powter, a cabman, wearing the badge No. 3,537, was brought up in custody, before Mr. Hammill, charged with the following scandalous outrage :-
    Mr. Richard SP. Cohen, a gentleman residing at Shacklewell-green, who exhibited a severe laceration extending several inches down his cheek in a lateral direction from the upper part of his forehead, stated that shortly before eleven o'clock on the preceding night he arrived in town by one of the trains, at the Shoreditch-station of the Eastern Counties Railway, and as it was raining heavily at the time, he made the best of his way to the front of the station in search of a cab to carry him home to his residence. After passing the outer gates he met the defendant, who was driving at a slow pace in the direction of the cab rank at the side of the platform, and observing that his cab was unoccupied, he at once hailed him, but the defendant merely answered him by an insulting laugh, and proceeded on without any further notice. Feeling greatly exasperated at such treatment, witness hastened after him and demanded his number, at the same time insisting that he should convey him to his destination. The prisoner, however, paid no regard whatever to either request, and as he continued driving on with the same contemptuous indifference, witness seized hold of his horse's head with the intention of detaining him till the arrival of a policeman, but he had no sooner done so than the defendant commenced lashing him with his whip about the head and face with all his force. Witness was uncovered at the time, having a bouquet of flowers in his hat which he had brought up from the country ; and after cutting at him until the blood streamed down his face and he was partially stunned, the prisoner drove rapidly off, but he was instantly pursued by some gentlemen who had witnessed the outrage, and after a sharp chose he was overtaken and given into custody.
    On bring called upon for his defence, the prisoner said that he was compelled to refuse the fare, as his horse had travelled upwards of forty miles that day, and was completely exhausted; and the complainant having suddenly seized the animal by the head, and backed it with such violence that his cab was nearly upset, he considered himself justified in resorting to the only means in his power to induce him to relinquish his hold.
    Mr. Hammill severely commented upon the outrageous conduct of the prisoner and ordered him to pay a penalty of £5, or to be committed in default for two months to the House of Correction.
Morning Chronicle, 1853

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