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displace the official religion, and to form the
connecting link of transition between Europe
and Asia.


SIR,— I regret exceedingly that I am under
the necessity of opening this letter by alluding
to a purely personal matter. To do this is
against my principles, but if I would give full
weight to what is to follow, it is absolutely
necessary that those principles should be
sacrificed. Let me state, then, that I have recently
had the misfortune to partially lose my speaking
voice. The inconvenience of this loss is very
great, for though I can manage, under specially
favourable circumstances, to make myself
heard when conversing quietly with my friends
in a corner, I can do no more. When I am in a
room in which general conversation is being
carried on in at all a loud key, when I am in the
street and exposed to competition with all sorts
of street noises, above all when I am riding in
a carriage of any sort or kind, however easy or
skilfully hung, any remarks I may be tempted
to make are totally inaudible.

Imagine, then, to what a condition of
complete practical dumbness I find myself reduced
when rattling over the London stones in a
street cab. The tremendous din, the rattling,
the bumping, the jingling, and the grinding
which attend the progress of these noisy
little vehicles through the streets of our
metropolis are familiar to us all. We all
have to shout at the top of our voices when
we desire to make a remark, and the
consequence is that it may be observed that most
people when making a cab voyage are decidedly
prone to be taciturn.

But, however uncommunicative we may be
with regard to our fellow-passengers,
however severely we may repress our conversational
tendencies, dismissing many a tempting
observation which rises to our lips, and steadily
and consistently repressing any inclination to
the narration of anecdote, there is still one form
of conversation which we cannot dispense with,
and that is the kind of conversation which,
under certain circumstances, is carried on in
yells and shouts between the passenger in the
interior of the cab, and the driver on the box.
Dialogue of this sort there is, for the most
part, no evading. It is true that if you want
to go to the Polytechnic Institution, or the
St. James's Hall, you can inform your cabman
of your desire at starting, and he will
probably drive you straight to your destination;
but when you are bound for some little
known, and, above all, some new neighbourhood
in the suburbssome Elizabeth-terrace,
or Upper Shrewsbury-gardens, Notting-hill,
for instancethen, from the moment of your
leaving the great main thoroughfare which
leads in the direction of your suburb, it behoves
you to have your head and the greater part of
your body out of window, and to howl
unintermittingly, "To the right!" "To the left!"
"No, no, not up therestop! you can't get
through you must turn back!" and the like.
This is a highly disagreeable exercise. The
possessor of the strongest voice can barely
make himself heard by dint of immense
exertion, and even that favoured personage
generally finds that he has been carried some
quarter of a mile past his proper turning before
he has been able to convince the driver that
his road lies to the right or left instead of
straight on. Living in Elizabeth-terrace, as
above, for some years, I used to find the wild
screams of wanderers in cabs as they were
driven about that intricate neighbourhood,
towards dinner time, a serious and alarming
annoyance. No cab ever approached which did
not exhibit a contracted human being protruding
through its window, howling and gesticulating

But what is this necessity of making one's
voice heard above the noise ground by the
wheels of a cab out of a newly macadamised
street; there is not traffic enough to wear the
road smooth in Elizabeth-terrace; to one whom
circumstances and asthma have temporarily left
in a nearly voiceless condition! Carried past
any turning with which I had any concern,
whirled round corners entirely out of my line
of route, unable to reach the driver with my
umbrella, unable to let down the front windows,
in consequence of an absence of straps for
that purpose, and wholly incapable of making
myself heard though trying till I was black in
the face, and presenting so alarming an appearance
to passers-by, that they would stop in
their walk expectant of my demise by suffocation,
I have sometimes sunk back in my seat,
and, giving way to despair, have suffered
inexorable Fate to conduct me whither it would.

It has been necessary for me to enter into
all these particulars, for which I beg humbly
to apologise, in order that I might make known
to you, Editorial Sir (and through you to a
discerning public), how it came about that,
urged on and stimulated by that necessity which
is the mother of invention, I came to hit upon
an idea.

That idea is, that those who ride in cabs
should have the means of directing the driver
which way to go, without moving from their
seats, without putting their heads and bodies
out of window, without screaming themselves

There are two ways in which this might
be accomplished: either by means of a flexible
speaking tube passing through the front of
the vehicle, and with its mouth brought
close to the cabman's ear; or, still more
simply, by means of a couple of check-strings,
one attached to the right arm, and the other
to the left arm of the driver. To the first of
these plans objection may be made. Although
the speaking tube answers perfectly well for
private carriages, it might not be equally
suitable to public conveyances. In the case
of your own carriage you know who uses the
instrument; but in the case of a cab many
persons might object to put their lips to a