[These verses from the point of view of a the driver of a Victorian omnibus offer rare sympathetic view of men who transported Londoners across their city. “Lyrics of Locomotion” also reveal that a cad was a bus conductor. — George P. Landow]

Fourteen hours a-top of a box,
Whero our legs might as well be set in the stocks.
Jerking the horses and jolting about,
Working a ’bus the long day out;
Cramped in our knees, and thankful for ease,
When scrambling down to our dinners and teas;
Think as you ride of the likes of us,
Earning a living by driving a ’bus.

Many a man who holds these reins,
For easier work has had greater gains,
Has driven short stages in days of yore,
Has handled the ribbons of coach and four;
Now with no rest, from east to west,
Backwards and forwards, for little at best.
Early and late go the likes of us,
Out in all weathers a working a ’bus.

Poked in tho ribs with fingers and sticks,
Getting each day fewer halfpence than kicks,
Think of the cad, who, worried behind,
Patient and civil you look for to find;
It’s cheap enough, too, but the passengers
who Pay pence for their fare, always think he’s a “do,”
And ’stead of a “thankee,” is growled out a “cus,”
To be shared 'twixt the driver and cad of the ’bus.

Moved on by police with significant hints,
With nought but abuse in tho papers and prints;
With never a day, scarce an hour our own,
And with rarely a word in a kind-spoken tone,
On through the throng we rumble along,
But somewhere we fancy that something is wrong,
When man of his follow-man thinks the wus,
For getting his living—not lift—by tho ’bus.


“Lyrics of Locomotion: The Ballad of the ’Bus Man.” Fun (2 August 1862): 200. Hathi Digital trust Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 12 February 2016. Abbyy FineReader software was used to convert the Hathi page images into text.

Last modified 17 February 2016