One mile = 6 Cabman’s miles

by Instant Noodle


The question of “What is a Mile?” is likely to take its place by the side of the important question “What is a Pound?” in the annals of political—or some other kind of—economy. Since the new Act has come into force—or rather into operation, for its potency is not yet much felt—there has been a fearful conflict of opinion between the cab-drivers and the public as to what is a mile. It is evident that there must be an appendix added to all the books on arithmetic, for the purpose of including Cab Measure, which is quite distinct from any other measure we have yet met with, and is about as diametrically opposed to Long Measure, as chalk is to any caseal or curdy compound. In the eyes of a cabman, “a miss is as good as a mile;” in fact, anything is as good as a mile for his—that is to say for his passenger’s—money.

Any one who takes a cab from the West End to go over the water, whether by Westminster or Waterloo, may think himself fortunate if he is not involved in a sort of “Six-Mile-Bridge affair,” by the demand of the cabman for three shillings, as the fare for passing one of the bridges. We can scarcely wonder at the easy familiarity of a cab-driver; for there is no one who seems so utterly incapable of keeping his distance. We trust, however, that the new Act will enable us to have justice brought to our own door, by handing a cabman at once over to the police, when a driver gives us a good setting down in a double sense, by insulting us after taking us to our destination. We may, in fact, now hope that a cabman’s abuse—as well as his distance—will have to be measured.

(October 1856)