A Juvenile’s Plea for Equality in the Law
Sir, – Your columns, I believe, are open to the little as well as the big. I am a small boy, nine years old and I want to ask you why children’s perambulators and bath-chairs are allowed on the pavement, but children’s velocipedes are not? I have one which my brother brought me over from Paris the other day and when riding it a few evenings back on the broad pavement where there is very little traffic, near Queen’s-gate-garden, I was stopped by a man in plain clothes, who it turns out was a detective and asked my name and address, which I gave him. Since that I have been handed a paper which is called a “summons.” I showed it to our butler and asked him what it meant; he says I must go before a magistrate at the police-court next Monday and that perhaps I shall get two months’ imprisonment and be fed on bread and water. I told my eldest brother this, who says our butler, was only joking and that I shall not be sent to prison this time. I hope he is right; but I think the policeman might have told me I must not ride on the pavement before he took my name and address, but he did not. At all events, Sir, if I am sent to prison, I am sure the nursery- maids who wheel the perambulators and the men who draw bath-chairs ought to be sent to prison too, as my velocipede is much smaller and takes up much less room than either of these. – Hoping, Sir, you will take my part, I remain, yours truly, Hugh.
28 Queen’s gate-gardens, May 14
The Morning Post, May 15, 1869; pg. 3