remainder they snap, up, weigh; and such is of, the letters are carried to two double desks, their attention to their duty, that we re- severally divided into twenty-one compartmarked they were oftener wrong in their sus- ments, to each of which there is attached a picions than right. The letters detected as sorting clerk. As these compartments are underpaid are of course consigned to their each only two feet nine inches in breadth, proper punishment.

the clerks are about as close together as While this interesting operation is proceed friends seated at an ordinary dinner-table; ing, red postmen in waiting are carrying off their territory, however, in depth is only half in armsful all approved letters to two other as narrow as in breadth, and yet, most strange tables, as which, if possible with still greater to say, within these tiny limits (for all these celerity, their stamps are obliterated by the sorting clerks perform exactly the same duty) right hands of twenty stampers, who, from is the whole of the correspondence of the long practice in their regicidal duty, can des- United Kingdom, not only with itself, but with troy from 6000 to 7000 queen's heads in an every region of the habitable globe, primarihour, or, for a short time, 140 per minute ! ly arranged! The little desk of each clerk The mixture by which this operation is ef- is divided at the back into two tiers of pifected is, like some of M. Lamartine's radi- geon-holes, into which, taking up handful afcal speeches about liberty, equality, and fra- ter handful of letters, he very dexterously disternity, composed of linseed oil, lampblack, poses of them among great arterial lines as sweet oil, and a secret ingredient.

fcllows:These preliminaries having been disposed /

[blocks in formation]

Under the above arrangement it is curious FOREIGN DEPARTMENT.—In the white to observe the whole of the transmarine massive wall of the north side of the great (colonial and foreign) correspondence of double-sorting hall, on the ground-floor, the Great Britain (excepting the large“ packets,” stranger observes a lofty arch, over which is which we have stated are disposed of else- | inscribed in large black letters the words where) cooped up in a pigeon-hole only four COLONIAL AND FOREIGN Division. Into and a half inches broad!

this vestibule, which is only 30 feet long by Between the sorter's double and single | 18 feet broad, all the letters from all the little desks, which may be said to extend length-pigeon-holes marked “ Foreign," are brought ways from one end of the great double-sort- and thrown down upon a narrow table, 12 ing hall to the other, there are passages five feet long by 2 feet broad, covered with green feet six inches broad, along which red postmen cloth, lighted by one gas-lamp, and divided are seen busily carrying letters from one set of into four compartments, each, of course, tables to others.

about three feet broad. We must, however, for a short time, take The back of each of these compartments is leave of the interesting scene, to view busi- subdivided into a double row of pigeon-holes ness which is simultaneously going on in 44 inches broad, marked as follows: other portions of the Inland Post-office.

[blocks in formation]

As fast as by a sorting-clerk the letters, | 6 feet long, at the side walls, on which are like a pack of cards, are rapidly dealt out separately reinscribed the words France, , into these little holes, each class of them is i Southampton, &c., as above, and

their carried off to a corresponding compartment, respective tables the letters, with the excep



tion of those for "India," " America," "Ship" At five minutes only before 8 o'clock, the and “Blind,” are finally arranged for des- hour at which these metallic boxes are actupatch. The letters for America are des- ally despatched, a curious and very interestpatched night and morning to Liverpool, ing process takes place. Within each lid, where they are sorted; the Ship letters are which is made securely to overlap the recepforwarded through a wooden shaft into a tacle for the documents, there are welded to room above; the Blind ones to the Blind a strong iron frame six stout notched square room; and those for India, which, however, bolts, about 6 inches long, so adjusted as to it may be observed, seldom arrive until three fit exactly into the same number of corresor four days before the departure of the ponding spring catches within. No sooner mails, to the end of the foreign vestibule, to therefore does a loud snap suddenly announce be disposed of as follows.

that the union has taken place than, like that To avoid the inconvenience of quarantine, of another description, it is out of the power and from other weighty considerations, it of any human being to divorce “the parties,” has been deemed proper by the Post-Master- or, without metaphor, to open the box; as General to protect all letters, and even an additional precaution the interstices benewspapers, for our Eastern dominions, tween the lids are then, all the way round, which have to travel through France, by carefully soldered up; and lastly, by means every possible precaution. Accordingly, the of a red-hot iron, the Post-Office seal is afoverland mails forwarded from London on fixed in solder. the 7th of every month to Bombay, from On the outside of the top of each box whence the various bags are sent to their there are inscribed the words “India Mail, respective destinations, are packed in outwards," and on the side " India Mail.” On wrought iron black boxes, 1 foot 8 inches the arrival of all these coffins in India the long, i foot wide, 107 inches deep, and lids are forcibly cut open by chisels, and which weigh 13 lbs. (the newspapers,' about their contents extricated. 220 in each box, are in like manner general- There now only remains for us to say that ly packed separately); and as the letters soon as the Post-Office clock strikes 8 tied up in unequal sized parcels were one set these black and variegated boxes are from after another deposited or lowered into these the door of the vestibule (all other foreign narrow coffins, we could not, as we stood mails being lowered by a rope and pulley witnessing the operation, but anticipate their from a window in the story above) packed resurrection in the Eastern world—and re- into an “accelerator" omnibus under the espeflect how much happiness--and, alas ! where cial care of "the officer in charge,” who never black seals or edges were visible, what deep leaves them until he hands over his imporaffliction would be created!

tant charge to the commander of the British By the overland mail on the 24th the let- steam-packet at Marseilles. ters and newspapers, averaging from 6000 The letters for India, &c., despatched to 7000 of the former, and from 8000 to from Southampton in steam-packets on the 9000 of the latter, for our Eastern domin- 20th of each month, are packed in pine boxions, including Australia and Java, are in the es (painted the same colors as the iron ones following proportions packed into these iron above) 2 feet 3 inches in length by 1 foot 3 boxes, painted (not all in black, like those inches in width, as also in depth. The numsent on the 7th) but in the undermentioned ber usually despatched is as follows :colors of the brightest hues :

1850.-On the 20th of January, 154; on the No. of Boxes. Colors.

20th of February, 161 ; on the 20th of March, Bombay


141. Calcutta


Those at least of our readers who have Madras


relations and friends in India will, we trust, Ceylon


Red. forgive the minute details we have just ofHong Kong

fered. 5

Black. Canton

PACKETS.-On its being notified by the Aden, via Malta 4


Postmaster-General, immediately after the

establishment of Mr. Rowland Hill's Penny 54

System, that, at progressive rates of postage The number of iron boxes forwarded on

letters and “packets” of any description the 7th and 24th have been as follows :

might-provided they did not exceed in

weight 16 ounces-be forwarded by post, 1850.-Jan. 7, 61 ) 24, 49

" 24, 67
125 |

I it was no doubt expected that there would



Feb. 7, 58


Mar, 7, 43

“ 24, 68


[ocr errors]

suddenly appear a crowd of rectangular | Brunswick-square, a fish; also several packparcels of various lengths, breadths, and ages of plants in wet moss. From Hastings thicknesses—some sealed, some wafered, to Bath, a bunch of grapes; also shrimps. some tied, but all containing written or From Kingston to Westminster-Bridge-road, printed documents of more or less import- to Mrs.

a roast duck. A flask of

gunpowder. Fifty-three separate “packets," It appears, however, from a certain most containing each a box of lucifer matches, one extraordinary ledger which we were permit- of which, on being handled, exploded in the ted to peruse, that a portion of the public Post-Office. A traveller or bagman wrote availed themselves of this inestimable literary to his beloved wife for his pistol ; she affecindulgence with about as much considera- tionately sent it, merely labelled, loaded altion as a herd of very hungry pigs might be most to the mouth with powder, ball, and expected to evince on being allowed, for re. slugs. To the Countess of a pair of creation, to walk in a garden of beautiful flesh-brushes; the mail-cart in coming from tulips; and certainly, if the ghost of our ex- the West was upset into a brook, which discellent old friend, the late Sir Francis Freel solving the paper covering of these brushes, ing, could but by conjuration be made to read they, probably fancying they had arrived at the list of the “packets ” which have been their journey's end, instantly set to work and transmitted and delivered by post, it certain-destroyed a considerable portion of the episly, like that of Hamlet, would exclaim to tolary contents of the bag. To Mr. our energetic Postmaster-General

a live spake. From London to Wellington, “O, horrible! O horrible! most horrible !

Somersetshire, a very long cucumber. To a If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.”.

naturalist in London, a live mouse, two china

teacups, and a box of live spiders. From For instance, it appears that there have been Oxford street to Merion-square, Dublin, adtransmitted as “packets”—From Blackburn dressed to Miss

a most beautiful in Lancashire to Spitalfields, London, two head-dress of the genus Jigamaree. From canary- birds, delivered by the postman alive London to Sudbury, two sweetbreads. To and well. From Devonport to London, a

a human heart; a partridge; a pork pie. To London, a woodcock, also a mackerel; a paper of fish-hooks; a human pair of piebald mice, which were kept in the stomach, &c. &c. &c. Post-Office a month, fed, and at last delivered to the owner, who called for them. From TAE BLIND-MAN.-Our readers will have Manchester to Castle-street, Borough, two observed that in the first operation of dividrabbits and one_bird—fifteen parcels of ing into fourteen main classes the whole of plum-pudding. From Bognor to Plymouth, the letters for the United Kingdom, as well a lobster. In one day 31 letters containing as for all foreign countries, which pass daily wedding-cake. On more than one occasion, through the Inland Department of the Lonwithout any envelope, a bank.note (one was don Post-Office, there exists among the above for no less than £50) the two ends being number of pigeon-holes one marked Blind. merely folded upon each other, wafered, and

Into this little hospital for the destitute or the back of the note then directed! Innu- houseless poor, are thrown, by each sorter merable leeches in bladders, several of which throughout the department, all letters bearhaving burst, and the water having wetteding either an illegible, an incomprehensible, the letters, many of the poor creatures were or an inadequate address. It appears, from found crawling over the correspondence of several experiments which have been made the country. From Plymouth to “Hunman in the Post office, that of any given number by," a bottle of cream. From a mother to of letters taken up at random as they are her son, a pottle of strawberries, which, be-poured out of the bags, about one tenth of ing smashed in the bag, completely destroy them have not, on their addresses, any post ed a “packet" full of very valuable lace ad- town! On one day, 3559 letters arrived at dressed to the late Queen Dowager. A St. Martin's-le-Grand addressed “ London" ship-biscuit, the address being on a very only; most of them being to petty shopkeepsmall piece of paper pasted thereon. From ers, who, with a turkey-cock's desire to look Totness to Dublin, an uncovered bottle full grand, had struttingly supplied their country of liquor, merely labelled with an address and correspondents with this single word as their the words “sample of cyder.” From Ex- sufficient address; and yet, such is the intelmouth to Hastings, half a pound of soft soap ligence of the Post-office-such its triumph in thin paper. From Bishop's Stortford to l'of mind over matter that every one of these letters was delivered to the person for whom | readily learn to understand " broad” Yorkit was meant !

shire, broad Devonshire, broad Scotch, or We must here pause for a moment to ob- any other patois, so it is not, on reflection, serve, that it would relieve the servants of surprising that a gentleman of ready abilities, the Post-office from infinite vexation and should, in due time, learn to decipher“ broad trouble, and, to the advantage of all classes, writing”-such as “ sromfredevi," for Sir would consequently materially expedite the Humphrey Davy; “ Ner the Wises,” for near delivery of letters, if the public, of their own Devizes ; “ Biley Rikey,” for Billericay ; accord, would, or by the imposition of a “Steghelhester Sussexese,” for Chichester, heavy extra postage could be required to, re- Sussex ; " Wardling Street, Noher Londer verse the existing foolish fashion by writing Brutz Schibseed,” for Watling street, near legibly, as the first word of the address of London Bridge, Cheapside ; "Wharan Que every letter—the only one out of the present ner Ne Wcasal Pin Tin,” for Wareham Quay, confused irrelevant mass which the sorter near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, &c. &c. But wishes to discover, and has now to search where the direction is incorrect, or, as in the for-namely, THE POST TOWN ; after which generality of cases (especially in circular the name of the pretty little village, of the tracts addressed by rellgious societies to our county, of “the hall," “ the lodge,” “the clergy at their parish “rectories,” “ vicargrove”—or anything else might at any length ages,” &c.,) the post towns are omitted, the be most harmlessly inserted—with, lastly, difficulty is not only clearly evident, but it at that which is of no earthly importance ex- first appears to be insuperable; nevertheless, cept to the postman who actually delivers in attentively watching the blind man's back, the letter, the name of Hobbs, Dobs, or it is astonishing to observe how easily and Snobs ; in short, of the person or personage fluently he does his work. For a considera to whom it is addressed.

ble time he is to be seen, evidently from The duty of solving all the enigmas, and memory, writing post-haste the omitted post of deciphering the astonishing specimens of towns on each letter, as rapidly as he can writing that are continuously afflicting the handle them. Now and then, as if his gasInland Post-office, is imposed upon a gentle lamp had, without any apparent reason,

half man selected from all the sorting clerks, and fainted away, he holds a letter before him who, from being gifted with extraordinary for a few moments, turning it a little on this memory, very sharp wits, and above all, with side, and then on that, until he suddenly what Mr. Samuel Weller termed “ a pair of deciphers it. In extreme cases, he is occapatent double-million-magnifying-gas-micro- sionally obliged convulsively to scratch the scopes-of-hextra-power-eyes,” is gravely dis- side of his bead, just above bis right ear, for tinguished throughout the department, as half a second with the sharp-pointed black well as in its books, by the title of “ The holder of his iron pen; however, on he goes, Blind Man.” Accordingly to his little desk, placing occasionally beside him, at the left five feet long, two broad, modestly leaning extremity of his desk, those letters for which against the wall of a small chamber close reference to his little library, arranged before to the “ Foreign" room, and adjoining the him, is necessary; and thus, with the help large double sorting hall, are brought all the of about half a dozen thick well-thumbed letters which every sorter bas, in despair, books, and of an intelligent assistant who sits chucked into his "blind” pigeon-hole ; and beside him, he usually manages by the evenas, gazing for several minutes at nothing but ing mail, or, at all events, by that of the folthe blind man's back, we beheld one basket lowing day, to despatch the mass of mysfull of botherations after another brought to teries which have been so mercilessly imhim, we could not—when we considered that posed upon him. this badgering is mercilessly continued throughout every day, week, month, and Dead-LETTER OFFICE.-Dead letters and year of his life-help wondering why the dead newspapers are such as cannot be deSociety for the Prevention of Cruelty to An- livered to the persons to whom they are imals has not yet come to his rescue ! written for one or more of the following co

No one, however, who has watched the gent reasons :facility with which every compositor in a 1st. Because they have no addresses at all. printing office can read bad writing, would 2ndly. Because their addresses are--even be much surprised at the ease with which to the “blind”-illegible. the blind man gets over that portion of his 3rdly. Because the persons to whom they troubles. And again, almost any person can are addressed refuse to receive them. VOL. XXI. NO. I.




[ocr errors]

4thly. Because the persons to whom they | tucky, called at a log-hut for refreshment: are addressed cannot be found.

The young woman of the hovel, that she 5thly. Because the person to whom they might quiekly spread the table, gave him are addressed is found to be "dead and gone. her iņfant to hold, and in a few minutes lay

The number of dead letters and dead ing before him a homely meal, she then newspapers received at the London Dead- modestly returned to her work. The longLetter Office, from the 5th of January, 1848, backed man, naturally enough, was enrapto the 5th of January 1849, with the amount tured at the sight of the repast, and overof postage due thereon, was as follows: whelmed by conflicting feelings of gratitude

to the young woman, of admiration of the Postage. lovely infant that sat smiling on his knee,

£ S. d. From country postmas."

and of extreme hunger—in a fit of absence of *ters and foreign stations 1,002,118 7,250 15 4 mind, exactly such as caused the person in From inland carriers in

England to post a letter containing £1500 London

161,323 1,602 10 10 without any address, he, to the horror of the From London District car

hostess, all of a sudden, with great energy, riers

280,905 616 16 4 Packets allowed to the

kissed the loaf,-buttered the letter carriers by the

child's fące,—and cut its head off!-at least President in Packet

so runs the story in Kentucky. Book

2,925 1,311 17

Each postmaster in the United Kingdom Foreign letters neglected to be paid


is required to send up to London every Mon

day, enclosed and addressed to “The InspectTotal 1,476,456 £10,681 3 1 or of Dead Letters,” his dead letters and

newspapers, of wl ich he forwards a monthly Of the above letters 10,972, on being account, which is settled quarterly. The opened, were found to contain property of London inland carriers transmit their dead the value of nearly half a million, as follows: letters and accounts twice a-week; the Lon

don district carriers, daily.

The Dead-Letter Office in London is comIn bills, amounting to 411,980 11 7 posed of six rooms-besides the chamber of In cash, bank notes, &c. 9,569 15

death, exclusively occupied by the president £421,549 13 0

—whose clerks, thirty-two in number, are

employed for six hours a-day in opening dead Of dead letters, a considerable number,

letters :containing property valued in two consecu

1. from the London district. tive years at upwards of £10,000, have ac- 2. From all parts of the United Kingdom, tually been posted without any address at all !

excepting the London district. indeed, many years ago, a blank undirected

3. From transmarine countries. letter, on being opened at the Dead-Letter

4. Packets and letters apparently containOffice in London, was found to contain in

ing property. In this room one clerk is notes no less than £1500 !

also exclusively occupied in opening The only way in which this extraordinary

letters unpaid or unstamped. and, at first, almost incomprehensible fact

Formerly very few dead letters were can be accounted for is that the attention of turned from America to this country; the good lady or good gentleman who had

but by a treaty with the United States, folded and sealed such a valuable

which came into operation on the 6th of letter, had been so hysterically exhausted by March, 1849, the Americans being now debthe desire to do both with extreme cautior

ited with the postage of the charged letters, that, under a moral syncope, there had not there have lately been transmitted to London remained between the crown of the head and from the United States, by one return, the soles of the feet strength of mind enough 24,000, and, by the following return, 25,000 to enable her or him to finish the operation; paid and unpaid letters, which could not be in short, the neglect had proceeded from delivered to the persons to whom they had what is properly enough called "absence of

been addressed. mind,” which in a digression (for which we

The Dead-Letter Office in London is evihumbly beg pardon) we will endeavor to dently one of high trust and honor ; and, in exemplify by the following anecdote:

accordance with the principles by which it

should be governed, it is a rule in this deAn overtired Yankee, traveling in Ken- 1 partment NEVER to open a letter if it can




« VorigeDoorgaan »