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lairds bammering away, with pain and labor, | he breathed his last, full of years and honors, to make themselves mutually understood, in at Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, of which parish most execrable French. Great was the re- he had been nineteen years the rector. His lief, and potent the laughter, when the host life must, on the whole, be pronounced a interrupted their colloquy with his plain fortunate instance of the union of rare talents English Good-morning.
with high principle and amiable manners; Tranquil and placid were the last years of and few of our modern poets have, to the the poet's life, but they present few incidents writer's mind, a greater claim on the respect for the biographer. At length, on the 3d of and regard of Englishmen than George February, 1832, in the 78th year of his age, ) Crabbe.
The Athenæuin has the following remarks | excitement. The misery of the woman is as upon the last work of Nathaniel Haw- present in every page as the heading, which, THORNE :
in the title of the romance, symbolizes her “ This is a most powerful and painful punishment. Her terrors concerning her story. Mr. Hawthorne must be well known strange elvish child present retribution in a to our readers as a favorite of the Alhenæum. form which is new and natural :-her slow We rate him as among the most original and and painful purification through repentance peculiar writers of American fiction. There is crowned by no perfect happiness, such as is, in his works, a mixture of Puritan reserve awaits the decline of those who have no and wild imaginaton, of passion and descrip- dark and bitter past to remember. Then, the tion, of the allegorical and the real, which gradual corrosion of heart of Dimmesdale, some will fail to understand, and which others the faithless priest, under the insidious care will positively reject,—but which, to our of the husband, (whose relationship to Hester selves, is fascinating, and wł.ich entitles him is a secret known only to themselves,) is to be placed on a level with Brockden Brown appalling; and his final confession and exand the author of Rip Van Winkle.' "The piation are merely a relief, not a reconciliaScarlet Letter' will increase his reputation tion. We are by no means satisfied that with all who do not shrink from the inven- passions and tragedies like these are the tion of the tale ; but this, as we have said, legitimate subjects for fiction : we are satisis more than ordinarily painful. When we fied that novels such as · Adam Blair,' and have announced that the three characters are plays, such as The Stranger,' may be justly a guilty wife, openly punished for her guilt, charged with attracting more persons than
-her tempter, whom she refuses to unmask, they warn by their excitement. But if Sin and who, during the entire story, carries a fair and Sorrow in their most fearful forms are front and an unblemislied name among his to be presented in any work of art, they have congregation,—and her husband, who, re- rarely been treated with a loftier severity, turning from a long absence at the moment purity, and sympathy, than in Mr. Hawof her sentence, sits himself down betwixt thorne's 'Scarlet Letter.' The touch of the the two in the midst of a small and severe fantastic befitting a period of society in which community to work out his slow vengeance ignorant and excitable human creatures conon both, under the pretext of magnanimous ceived each other and themselves to be unforgivenness,-when we have explained that der the direct rule and governance of the *The Scarlet Letter’ is the badge of Hester Wicked One, is most skillfully administered. Prynne's shame, we ought to add that we the supernatural here never becomes grossly recollect no tale, dealing with crime so sad palpable :-the thrill is all the deeper for its and revenge so subtly diabolical, that is at action being indefinite, and its source vague the same time so clear of fever and of prurient and distant.”
From the Quarterly Review.
MECHANISM OF THE POST-OFFICE.
Valentine's Day at the Post Office.—Household Words, a Weekly Journal,
conducted by Charles Dickens. No. 1. 1850.
Her Majesty's Postmaster-General is the lic department is enjoying its siesta, we wil Commander-in-Chief of an army of great endeavor to offer to our readers a rough outmagnitude, quartered not only over the whole line of the scene of its operations. surface of the United Kingdom, and in al- When the present London Post-Office was most every portion of the British Empire, completely finished in 1829, it was found, but also at many Foreign Ports. His Secre- after all, to be barely large enough for its taries form his Staff; his Surveyors are Com- business; and accordingly its first effort to manders of Districts, to whom Postmasters obtain additional accommodation was, in report, and from whom in most cases they 1831, to construct upon iron canti-levers a receive their orders. The General Post-Of- gallery halfway between the floor and the fice in London-his Head-Quarters—is com- roof of one-half of the great sorting champosed of a force of 2903 persons, divided ber, which was originally, as indeed it still into two Departments, each of which, with is, a vast lofty double hall 109 feet long, 80 out further flourish of trumpets, shall now feet 6 inches broad, and 28 feet high. In rapidly pass in review before our readers. 1836, to obtain further accommodation, it
was determined to eject the secretary from The Island and Foreign DEPARTMENT, com- the building, and to appropriate his very monly called the GENERAL Post. handsome suite of apartments therein to the
uses of the office. The daily labor of this office is composed Soon after our Parliament adopted Mr. of two very violent convulsions,-namely, Rowland Hill's bold proposal of the penny the morning delivery and evening despatch, post, the brick and mortar boot, which had and two comparatively slight aguish shivers, always been too tight, was found to pinch so caused by a tiny arrival and departure of intolerably, that various expedients, one after letters by the day mails.
another, were resorted to: and it was first of Throughout the department, at any period all determined to construct, over the double between these paroxysms, there reigns a si- hall we have just described, another set or lence and solitude similar to that which, dur- suite of the same dimensions, which, instead ing the hours of divine service, so creditably of resting on the ceilings of the old ones, distinguishes the streets of Edinburgh on the were to be suspended from a strong arched Sabbath day. The stranger, as he paces iron girder roof by iron rods. In effecting from one large hall to another, save the tick however this ingenious operation the inevitaing of the great clock, hears nothing but his ble result has been that the principal hall on own footsteps; and with the exception now the ground floor has been deprived of its and then of a dark-coated clerk popping out sky-lights, and to the serious inconvenience of one door into another; of a bright red of the poor fellows who work in it, and we postman occasionally passing like a meteor must add to the discredit of the country, across the floor, and of a few other over- this important portion of the London, and tired men in scarlet uniform sitting and lying consequently of the largest post-office in the fast asleep in various attitudes, like certain world, is now lighted almost entirely during persons in the galleries of “another place,” the whole sunshine, even of summer, by no human being is to be seen. While, there- stinking gas! Then, even the increased acfore, this well-regulated and well-worked pub-commodation thus obtained not fully meeting
system, hollow quadrangle, built for lighting another that the force assembled for the sorting of portion of the establishment, was on the letters exceeded its work, and cspecially that ground floor converted into a little office; by some unaccountable mystery the publicaand finally, these efforts not affording suffi- tion of newspapers, for the despatch of cient room, the money-order office, president, which the whole of the upper halls were in clerks, window-men, ledgers, documents, pa- readiness, had been interdicted. On lookpers and all, were ordered to swarm or emi- ing, however, into the large bins beneath the grate from the post-office into an immense slits for receiving letters, white packets of hive or building purposely constructed to re- all sizes and shapes are observed at about ceive them.
this period to drop down in arithmetical proBy these patch-work arrangements the of-gression, increasing in number so rapidly that fice is at present sufficiently large for its du- it soon occupies the attention of a sturdy ties, for the performance of which great fa- porter to keep sweeping them with a broom cility has been derived by the construction at into a heap, which, as fast as it can be tumeach end of the large double halls on both bled into baskets, is carried into the large floors of a very ingenious contrivance, sug- sorting halls. gested by Mr. Bokenham, called “the lift- The fluttering, flapping, and flopping of ing machine.” Within a set of iron bars all these letters—their occasional total cesabout 3 inches asunder, and altogether sation for a few seconds—and yet the almost about 10 feet broad, reaching vertically from awful rate at which they keep increasing, the floor of the lower halls to those suspend- form altogether a very exciting scene. ed above them, there are in strata a series of As however the clock is unrelentingly proplatforms 9 feet 6 inches broad by 4 feet gressing towards 6 P. M. we must reluctantly deep, resembling the cages in which wild beg our readers to move with us from the beasts at country fairs are usually confined, letter bins to an adjoining compartment for which, by the irresistible power of a steam- the purpose of witnessing a moving picture engine, are made on one side to rise 28 feet of still greater interest. from the lower to the upper halls, and then, At three quarters past five a few newspapassing through a slit in the wall, to descend pers, only by twos or by threes at a time, in like manner on the other side : the whole are to be heard falling heavily through the thus circulating like the buckets of a dredg- broad slits into the spacious bins for receiving machine. By this contrivance sorters ing them, and the stranger has accordingly and letter-carriers, accompanied by their still reason to think that in the newspaper baskets and bags, instead of having to toil department of this world something someup and down a steep staircase, are quickly where must have gone wrong. In a few and most conveniently transferred from one minutes, however, a professional, businessset of halls to the other.
like tap is heard at the window, and a lean, The floors of both stories are divided into tall, sinewy man-in-waiting within, hitherto long double desks, separated by passages unobserved, who, with his sleeves tucked between each set, averaging about five feet up, has been standing like a statue on the in breadth—each great chamber being over- interior sill, opening the window, receives a looked by two elevated platforms for the dirty pocket handkerchief full of newspapers, “Inspectors," who, just as the Persians which he tumbles into a white wicker basket, worship the sun, regulate the whole of their 2 feet 3 inches cube, standing all ready bemovements by the expressive but ever-vary: neath. He has scarcely, with rather a dising features of the hall's huge round-faced dainful jerk of his hand, returned the filthy clock.
rag to its still dirtier owner, when there is At a few minutes before 5 P.M. the whole pushed toward him a large, long sack, force of the inland department, refreshed by which, in like manner, having been emptied its siesta, having assembled, the business for into the basket, is chucked to its proprietor. the evening begins by the entrance on the Bags, bundles, and sacks of all sizes, shapes lower floors, from various doors, of porters and lengths, now arrive so rapidly, that the and carriers bringing, in various attitudes, man-in-waiting suddenly throws open the bags and basliets full of letters, which have whole of the window, and in receiving, empeither been collected by hand within the tying, and throwing about bags, he comimmediate vicinity of St. Martin's-le-Grand, mences a series of gymnastic exercises which or have been delivered into the slits or at the are astonishing to witness. On the night on windows of its prepaying office,
which we beheld the operation it happened that the newspapers for the India Mail were At about three quarters past five, howto be added to those of the heaviest night ever, the stream of passengers had not only of the week, in consequence of which the evidently increased, but the rule of their number of bags increased so rapidly, that an | conduct seemed gradually to have become assistant porter of the same lean, active reversed; for now the minority only promake, jumping on the broad sill, opened a ceeded soberly on the straight path, while second window. At five minutes before six the majority were observed to be diverging these men were at times so nearly over- or reeling toward the windows of the Inland whelmed with bags of all colors and sizes, Department. Most of the latter multitude that most of those who had brought only had letters in their hands; while others, as large bundles chucked them themselves into they approached the slits, were seen carefulthe office. As the finger of the clock ad- ly taking them out of pockets in the breasts vanced the arrivals increased. As fast as of their coats, or very cautiously out of their the two men could possibly empty and eject hats. Sometimes one of the narrow slits the sacks, the baskets beneath them (each was wholly engrossed by a shabbily-dressed holding on an average 500 newspapers) were man, busily stuffing into it many hundreds of dragged by scarlet postmen into the lifting circulars, all exactly of the same shape, machine, in which, on its platforms, they were brought in several packets, which, without to be seen through the bars of their respect. surrendering his position, one after another ive cages, one set after another, rising to he untied, Clerks and men of business dewards the upper sorting halls. At a minute posited their letters with real as well as with before six the two window-men were appa- affected gravity, and then turning on their rently working for their very lives ;--parcels heels walked seriously away. Boys generalof newspapers like barred-shot hurled past ly came up whistling, and almost invariably them; single newspapers, mostly discharged twisted in their contributions with a flourish. by boys, like musketry, were flying over At the compartment for prepaying letters, their heads. At last the clock mercifully we observed a little ragamuffin throw up his came to their rescue, and though its first cap at the wooden window, which he could five strokes seemed to increase the volley, the not reach, and which, as in duty bound, inlast had no sooner struck than, before its stantly opened. As the finger of the clock melodious note had completely died away, advanced, people bringing unpaid letters rapboth the wooden windows of the newspaper idly increased, until the receiving windows receiving-room of the Inland Department, by were beset by a motley crowd of people, a desperate effort, were simultaneously close apparently bent on obstructing the object of by the two lean janitors, whom, apparentl all by squeezing each other to death. Several exhausted by their extraordinary exertion" were mechanics, in dirty aprons, with bewe observed instantly to sit down on a ba grimed faces, and with tucked-up sleeves, behind them, in order, in peaceful quietness- displaying bare, sinewy, useful arms. Among to wipe with their shirt sleeves the perspi the number of women, each of whom, al. ration which stood in dew-drops on their though under high pressure, had an outpale honest faces.
stretched arm with a penny and a letter at The following evening, at a quarter before the end of it, we observed a short and very six, we happened to witness from the outside stout one holding a child whose whole face the scene we have just described within. was squalling under a purple velvet bonnet
Across the well-known thoroughfare pas- and scarlet Howers. On the extreme left, sage, which separates the Inland, or Gene- people from all quarters were approaching ral, from the London District, or old Two- the newspaper windows, with bundles and penny-post, the public had, during the day, sacks; and although it now wanted only one been passing to and fro in that sort of equa- minute to six, it was curious to observe how ble stream which, strange to say, seems all unconcernedly many of the men employed over London to be, generally speaking, about by the newspaper agents advanced with the same at the same hours in the same their bags, for the delivering of which they places. Occasionally a passenger, diverging evidently well knew, from å glance at the sideways from the track, might be seen dia- clock, that there was “ lots o'time.” gonally walking toward the slits on either At the last moment, however, there cerside for the reception of stamped letters, or tainly was a great rush ; and when the final with a half-crown, a shilling, or a penny, chime of six tolled, at which instance the between his forefinger and thumb to tap at windows of all the receiving compartments a wooden window to pay for his letter. simultaneously closed, one or two'newspapers, thrown by boys, were seen to fall from the all the receiving-houses in London, as well shutters lifeless upon the ground; while at as from that part of the country lying withthe windows for the receipt of pre-paid let in the twelve-mile circle, are in rapid succesters a group of persons for a few moments sion driven up to the door of the main passtood as if, for the amusement of the public, sage, through which, as quickly as they arthey were most admirably acting together a rive, the bags of each are brought into the tableau-vivant of the words, "TOO LATE.” hall, and accordingly, by half past six, the The unfortunates, however, had evidently no Inland Department—through which there appeal ; for, excepting the old scarlet-coated have lately passed, per week, about 2,288,000 porter in waiting, who, as he had been doing letters and 900,000 newspapers—is to be all day, continued slowly and infirmly to pace seen on both floors in full, in busy, and, we up and down before the newspaper and let must add, in magnificent operation. ter windows, no human being on duty was to The contents of the bags, as fast as they be seen.
| arrive, after being duly examined, are, at one It is impossible attentively to observe the end of the lower hall, tumbled in basketsful picture we have just described, and which, upon a large table, twelve feet long by five with more or less coloring, may, excepting on feet broad, entirely surrounded by postmen in Sundays, be witnessed any or every day in scarlet coats-a number of which are very the year, without reflecting how strange it is creditably torn under the arms or across the that so many people of business, as well as shoulders, from over-exertion in hauling about of pleasure, should apparently combine to heavy letter-bags. gether to defer not only till the very last These men at first sight appear like a body moment, but until a very little bit beyond of soldiers playing for their very lives at it, so important an act as the posting of cards, each gambler at the same moment their letters and newspapers. Instead, how- shuffling a separate pack. The object, however, of blaming Themselves, it is not at all an ever, of their manipulations is merely to unusual course for people—on other subjects face" the stamped and paid letters all the very sensible--to complain most bitterly to same way. In doing so, whenever they the Postmaster-general that they were act- come to an unpaid one, they chuck it into ually at the window of the Post-office with the nearest of two baskets in the middle of money in their outstretched hands, to pre- the table. During the operation they also pay the postage of their letters, when at pass from one to another, toward the southsix o'clock precisely the thing - so far as ern end of the table, all large documents regards penny postage—suddenly and in- and “packets,” which, as they accumulate, exorably closed upon them! Hard, how- are carried off by red postmen to a table ever, as it may appear to them, it must appropriated to receive them. Little letsurely be evident to any one else that a ters, like little-minded men, sometimes imseries of vacillating orders, continually al- properly intrude themselves into the domitering the last moment, would not, in the ciles of bigger ones. The act is by “facers” smallest degree, diminish either the pressure called “pigging ;” and it so often occurs or the disappointment of those whose con- that in one week 727 notes had—it was stitutional habit it is invariably to wait ascertained by experiment—"pigged" into until “ the last moment," whatever it may larger envelopes. be, has passed. At six o'clock there is no Ås fast as the letters of the great heap struggle within the Post-office. The hurry, —which, by fresh arrivals, is seldom allowed confusion, and mortification outside have been to be exhausted—are thus unpigged and created solely by the complainants them. “ faced,” they are carried off in armsful by selves; and as they possess the power to porters to the stamping-table, where the remedy the evil, they had better energetical- date is marked on the back of each at the ly determine to do so than make themselves rate of 200 per minute, and they are then ridiculous by complaining of it.
taken to an adjoining table, where six clerks We have said, that as fast as the docu- only perform the arduous but important ments are poured into the windows of the duty of examining whether, in stamps, sufInland-office of St. Martin's-le-Grand, the ficient postage has been paid for each. The letters are taken into the lower double hall, rapidity with which, as the letters lie with while the newspapers are simultaneously their faces uppermost, these officers succesraised by steam-power into the upper one sively touch them with one finger, is most asor distribution and despatch. Shortly af- tonishing. The great bulk, they can at once er six o'clock, however, red mail carts from perceive, have been properly pre-paid ; the