into the slits, or, if paid in money, have been loosed the other, lifts from above the panting delivered on the counters or at the windows flanks of the poor Post-Office animal a of 259 receiving-houses by a quarter be leathern valise containing the bags, which fore 8 A. M., are at 8 o'clock conveyed are instantly carried off into the portion of the through the streets in the hands or on the office appropriated to receive them. The drishoulders of letter-carriers, either to the vers and boys deliver to the time-keeper their chief office at St. Martin's-le-Grand or to the time-bills," on which, in one column appear, undernamed eight branch offices, from certified by various receivers and time-keepwhence they are conveyed to the main office ers the precise periods at which they ought in the following manner :

to have started ;--ought to have called at

each receiving-house in their road' or From Charing Cross, by mail-cart.

• ride ;'-ought to have arrived ; and in a North-row,


second column are noted the hour and minPortland-street, ditto.

ute at which at each station they actually Pimlico, ditto.

did arrive. Sidmouth-street, cart and riding-boy. II. As soon as the forefinger of that Shoreditch, ditto ditto.

steady man of business, the Post-Office clock, Stepney, ditto ditto. Southwark, riding-boy only.

points to 8. 10, a gang of men, each either carrying on his declined shoulders a huge

letter-bag, hugging one in his arms, or with After the arrival of these carts, the whole

one or two dangling from his hands, are obforce of the office is employed in what is served following each other through a pastechnically termed “opening collections,"*

sage into the sorting-room. Of the bags and as for this heavy amount of work only thus collected those containing newspapers one brief hour is allowed, we will endeavor only are taken into the great sorting-office, to explain the admirable arrangements by 96 feet 4 inches long and 71 feet broad, to a which the first great London District deliv- small table, 21 inches broad by 12 feet long, ery, termed “the nine o'clock despatch,” is beneath which there are standing gaping in performed.

a row eight large white basketsI. As fast as the red mail-carts, ornament

1 for General Post, ed with the royal arms, after whisking round 6 for Country Divisions, the north and south angles of the Postoffice, 1 for London District within the threesuddenly pull up-or rather, as soon as the mile circle. poor jaded horses, mero molu, of their own

The bags containing letters and “packets” accord, suddenly stop at the, to them, well- are carried to tables 18 inches broad by 5 known entrance of the District Department feet in length. To these tables, which are -the driver of each vehicle, throwing down divided into very small compartments, there his reins, and standing up in his cart dos-a.

are appointed ten or twelve clerks, whose dos to his horse, hauls out from beneath his duty it is on receiving each bag first of all seat, one after another, a series of milk-white, carefully to inspect its seal ; if perfect, to cream-colored, and gingerbread-colored bags, cut it open, empty its motely contents on his With these thrown over his shoulders, and portion of the table, and lastly turn the bag with his time-paper in his mouth, he without inside out to prevent being fined half-a-crown delay enters the passage, delivering his charge for any letter left within it to a porter, whose duty it is to check the III. The contents of the bags, having number of his bags.

been thus piled in a heap before each openIn like manner and at the same mo-ing clerk, his first process is to take up and ment little riding-boys, each giving to his examine the “ bill of its contents, to see if horse as he almost brushes the corner a val- there are any registered letters in the mass ; edictory touch of the spur, have hardly stop- if so, he selects and despatches them to the ped, when leaning backwards in their sad registrar-clerk, who gives a receipt for the dles, they quickly unbuckle one strap, while same. He then checks the number and a porter in waiting, as soon as he has un- amount of “paid” letters which the receivers

have been required to tie up separately, to * The number of collections made up by the let- ascertain that they correspond with the ter receivers per day within the three-mile circle number and amount in the bill. These preamount to 2563. The number of collections made up by the coun

liminary examinations having been completry receivers per day within the three-mile circle-ted, he next separates the London letters are 198.

from the Inland. The latter, without a moment's delay, and without being stamped, thus examined, sorted into districts, and are packed in a box and transmitted via the stamped, they are carried into a large airy, subterranean tunnel to the Inland Office. well-lighted room, called the Letter-carriers' All newspapers are thrown into a basket be- Office, where they are distributed among 57 hind him, from whence they are by another letter-carriers in blue uniform coats with red clerk separated into two parcels, namely, collars, seated about 2 feet 4 inches asunder, "London" and “ Country"—including trans- at double desks. marine. Lastly, whatever parcels termed About two-thirds of the London letters “packets” may appear in the heap, whether are divided among these intelligent men, who for town or country, are selected, and for- rapidly sort them into “walks ;" the remainwarded to a separate sorting-desk.

ing one-third are deposited on one long Having got rid of all newspapers, of all double desk; and here, without further proletters not belonging to the London distriot, cess, they are carefully examined, previous and of all “ packets,” his next operation is to their being despatched to Charing-cross with a rapidity which unless witnessed could and to the other principal receiving-housesscarcely be credited—to divide the letters where, for the object of relieving the main which remain into two classes, “stamped and office in St. Martin's-le-Grand, they are unpaid,” and “paid." Each class are by him sorted into walks by the blue-coated postnot only separated, but are placed with their men who subsequently actually deliver them faces all looking one way; and as fast as at the houses to which they are addressed. they accumulate they are carried off in At the principal receiving-houses of each armsful to the upper end of the office by of the nineteen stations within the three-mile porters who deposit all of one sort on one circle, as also of the fifty-three stations bedouble desk, and the remainder on another. tween the three and the twelve mile circle,

IV. The stamped and unpaid lelters at the there is established a room in which the letdouble desk, above described, are divided ter-carriers assemble to receive and finally among eighteen sorters, by each of whom prepare their letters for delivery, by arrangthe stamped letters are simultaneously sub- ing them not only in streets, but consedivided into a double tier of pigeon-hole cutively in the numbers, thereof. To each boxes as follows:

of these districts there is appointed å 1. General post. 2. Ten town districts, "charge-taker," whose duty it is to attend to namely: North-west, West-city, Lombard - the accounts, and who, therefore, is charged street, North-east, East, Southwark, Port- with the postage on all unpaid letters. The land-street, North Row, Charing-cross, Pim- wages of the letter-carriers are from 20s. to lico. 3. Six Country districts, namely, 258. a week, those acting as charge-takers Hounslow, Barnet, Enfield, Woolwich, Croy receiving an additional allowance of 3s. The don, Hampton.

letter-carriers are usually employed from The unpaid lellers are transferred to a nine to ten hours per day; the number of table 2 feet 2 inches by, 14 feet 6 inches miles they walk per day average from fifteen long, where, after being similarly subdivided, to twenty-four. they are stamped merely as “unpaid.” The The “ country letters," at six tables, each paid lellers are transferred to a table 2 feet about 18 feet long, are similarly sorted by 2 inches broad by 17 feet 9 inches long, clerks into “roads,” formerly called “rides, where they are stamped merely as "paid. and are then packed into canvas or leathern

V. As fast as these operations are con- bags. Three minutes only before the period cluded, the letters as they accumulate are at which these bags are despatched, the carried off to a double desk, on one side of boys and drivers who are to convey them are which every town-letter receives, first of all, called in to assist in tying up their mouths, from a stamper standing sideways a violent which are no sooner sealed with red flaming blow on its face, which cancels its stamp, wax by the stampers, than each driver and and then from another stamper, posted be boy, like an ant carrying a grain of corn, hurhind the first, another violent blow on its ries off with his burden to his mail-cart or back, indelibly marking thereon the hour, horse. The driver packs his own cart; the the day of the month, and the year at which boy nimbly hopping into his saddle, and it is to be despatched. At the opposite side leaning backwards, as before described, is of the same table the whole of the country assisted by the porter, who, if he can manletters are in like manner doubly belabored age to buckle the right strap of the valise by two stampers and two date markers. quicker than the Aibbertigibbet he is waiting

VI. The whole of the letters having been on can fasten the left one, exclaims grufily,

[ocr errors]

“Look sharp!”—which convulsively affect- agreeable specimen of the English counteing the child's spur, away the poor horse nance, and indeed of the unassuming characstarts. The drivers in their red carts soon ter of a mild, bold English boy, could scarcely follow; and in a few seconds, cleverly be met with. Ever since this little fellow worming their way through the variety of was eleven years and a half old, he has been two-wheeled and four-wheeled obstacles that riding on her Majesty's service for six days obstruct them, all are to be seen strenuously in the week-beginning at a quarter before radiating to their respective destinations. eight and ending at half-past seven-thirtyThe number of horses daily employed in this five measured miles per day! He has done manner by the District Department alone is this for two years and a half continually, 150. The rate at which they go may be with the exception of one week only, when exemplified by the single instance, that he was sick. "His journey is from the Posttwelve minutes 'only are allowed from the Office to Shoreditch Church and back; and, General Post-Office to Charing-cross. The in spite of carts, carriages, cabs, busses, &c., interesting operation, or rather the series of he performs it regularly ten times a day. operations, which we have thus faintly Not to dwell upon the storms of wind, rain, sketched, is, excepting Sundays, repeated snow, and sleet, to which, in daylight as well during the day, for-ten “town” deliveries ; ; as in darkness, he must be occasionally exseven beyond the town and within the three- posed, his greatest trouble, and indeed danmile circle ; five within the three and six- ger, proceeds from the slippery state of his mile circles; three within the six and twelve- road in frosty and in what he termed to us mile circles. During upwards of fifteen “greasy” weather. As the poor boy has hours out of the twenty-four, consequently, no father, and as his mother is a charwoman, the interior of the London District-office ex- 1 it is of course almost impossible to hurt him ; hibits a succession of labor of a very ex- nevertheless he told us very artlessly that in hausting description; while beyond its walls bad weather his horse had repeatedly slipped there are, in darkness and in daylight, ex- up with him, as often as three or four times posed to every sort of weather, a brigade of a week; but, as Sam Weller has very justly men, of boys, and of poor horses, vibrating, observed, "Who ever knowed a churchyard with short intervals of rest, between St. vere there was a postboy's tombstone, or Martin's-le-Grand and their respective sta- ever seed a dead postboy ?" tions.

On the Queen's birthday these riding-boys In the rear of the London Post-Office we receive a hat with a fine gold band and cockobserved a small narrow stable, into which ade, a bright scarlet jacket, a beautiful blue in rainy weather there are stuffed, on the waistcoat, and—just as if Joseph Hume had principle of first come first served, seventeen then suddenly clasped them round the waist or eighteen horses—the remainder having to nothing more! We should be sorry to seek for shelter elsewhere. The drivers and implant in their light hearts a seed of disconboys are selected for their duties by a steady tent, yet, when we reflected on the everlastmiddle-aged man whose office it has been for ing bumping work they have to perform, we many years to watch their departures and must own that, from a very slight experiarrivals, and who accordingly, having very ence in such matters, it occurred to us that naturally lost his voice in such an inclement her Majesty's Postmaster-General, who not service, utters bis valedictions as well as his improbably knows some of the uses to which maledictions in a tone, as nearly as possible, buckskin can be applied, might surely take half way between a whisper and a bark. an opportunity of explaining in respectful, The riding-boys are mostly from thirteen to appropriate, but in most pathetic terms, that sixteen years of age;

“after which,” our these fine little boys, who convey the corprofessional adviser hoarsely informed us, respondence of the commercial metropolis of

they mostly grows into drivers.” As re- the world, are unscientifically covered at the gards the outline of their stomachs, they are, wrong end, that it would be more creditable every one of them, apparently of the French- to a great nation to clothe them all over ; pig or greyhound breed ; and their clear and that at all events it would be infinitely complexions also indicate high condition and

more agreeable to them to joyous health.

We particularly noticed Richard Martin, who, we were half-softly

“ go with their heads bare and half-gruffly informed by his governor, is Because they've got no hats to wear,” not only best rider, bu in point of conduct, the best boy in the service. A more than, as at present, the contrary.


REVENUE.—The early origin of the En- What a contrast the above forms with the glish Post-office is involved in obscurity al- fact, that by the night mail only there are most amounting to total darkness, and there occasionally despatched from the metropolis fore—without endeavoring to detail in what on one arterial line—the London and Northmanner, by what exertions, and at what rate Western Railway—the contents of ten Postthe happy few who could read and write office four-wheeled accelerators full of letmanaged, like flies crawling across a treacled ters and newspapers ! plate, to communicate with each other over As in this paper we purposely avoid all pathless tracks or through miry roads, that topics of political controversy, we will, withoffered to the transmission of a bag of let-out referring to bygone arguments on the ters greater physical difficulties in a few hun- subject, briefly state, that by the adoption of dred miles than are now encountered in its Mr. Rowland Hill's system, the rates of Entransit across the Atlantic or even in its pas- glish postage, de facto, from being the sage to Bombay—we will merely refer our heaviest, became almost at a blow the lightreaders to the following advertisement, by est on the surface of the globe. If we comwhich it would appear that letters which now pare the letters of the year ending 5th Janweigh as nearly as possible three tons, and uary, 1838, with those for the year ending which at present are conveyed at a speed of 5th January, 1850, we find in their numfrom 30 to 40 miles an hour, were only sev- bers an inerease of from 76,000,000 to enty years ago packed into the valise of a 337,000,000 ; and as far only as the gross single post-boy whose average progress was revenue of the Post-office is concerned, it about 3} miles per hour.

appears, by returns which will shortly be laid before Parliament, that for the year end

ing 5th of January last, the gross receipts General Post-office, Feb. 22, 1779.

under the penny system have amounted to The Post-boy carrying the Mail which was des- £2,165,349 178.-9fd., being £174,888 0s. 6d. patched from this office last Friday night, was less than the gross revenue for the end robbed by two footpads with crapes over their faces, on Saturday night at ten o'clock, at the ing 5th of January, 1838, Now, Mr. Macbottom of Hack Lane, near Long Compton, be- aulay in his History of England states that tween Enstone and Shipstone, in Oxfordshire, of on the accession of William III, the revenue the whole Mail, containing the following bags, of the United Kingdom was about two milviz:

lions per annum-about £165,000 less than

was last year collected, principally in pennies, Warwick, Preston,

by our Post-office alone; and we may add Stratford-on-Avon, Blackburn, Shipston-on-Stour, Lancaster,

that such has been the astonishing increase Ledbury, Kendal,

of wealth of the British people, that the Hereford,

Wolverhampton, gross receipts of the London and NorthBromsgrove, Shrewsbury,

Western Railway Company for last year Worcester,

Bridgenorth, Stone, Stafford,

(£2,227,242) were also larger than the Newcastle-under-Lyne, Shiffnal,

whole revenue of the British Crown in the Macclesfield,

Namptwich, Middlewich,

Chester, Holms Chapel, Northop,

BRITISH POSTAL SYSTEM.—Having conKnutsford, Manchester, $t. Asaph,

cluded our slight sketch of the interior of Stockport, Bangor,

the London Office, we will now endeavor to Liverpool,

Holyhead, and the delineate the few leading principles upon Warrington, Irish Mail.

which the transmission of the correspondWigan,

ence of Great Britain, under the uniform “ The persons who committed this robbery were

penny postage system, appears to be regu

lated. small-sized men, but it being a dark, foggy night, the boy cannot give any further description of

The daily arrival and despatch of about a them.

million of letters and newspapers from and “Whoever shall apprehend and convict, or to, not only all parts of the United Kingdom, cause to be apprehended and convicted, both or but all portions of the globe, as at present either of the persons who committed this robbery; arranged, somewhat resembles the arterial will be entitled to a reward of Two Hundred and venous circulation of the human system. Pounds over and above the reward given by Act of Parliament for apprehending highwaymen.

From London-the heart of the comBy command of the Postmaster-General,

mercial world—letters, newspapers, and ANTHONY TODD, Secretary. packets, by two great pulsations, the one

year 1689!


between 9 and 10 A.m., and the other at In the venous progress of letters and docprecisely 8 P.M., are, under the arrangement uments toward London, the propelling powwe have described, diurnally projected along er, in like manner, although inversely, mobilisix arterial railways to about 600 principal tale viget viresque acquirit eundoincreases towns, at most of which there are “forward as it proceeds; but as all foreign mails, inoffices,” for despatching, sometimes with stead of being allowed to accumulate, are out opening them, all bags addressed by the despatched to the metropolis as fast as they London department to remoter points. As arrive, and as the great flood of newspapers our correspondence—the blood of the coun- is, out of London, arterial, not venous, the try-is rapidly flowing along these six lines, pulsations, from being more frequent, are proit repeatedly, mechanically by turn-tables, portionably of a smaller amount. The main but apparently of its own accord, branches principle of the circulation of British corresaway at diminished speed, and at angles pondence between the metropolis and the more or less acute, upon other rails ; and remotest regions of the globe having been when each of these iron ways has come to thus arranged, the next great object for conan end, it continues at a still slower rate, by sideration was, at what hours the two great an infinity of ramifications, to progress upon pulsations from London should take place. high roads—then upon bye roads-and | If economy had only been consulted, the eventually to meander upon paths—until not mails would all have been ejected from Lononly every inland letter forwarded from the don by day; for as the public prefer to trametropolis to 8000 provincial post-offices vel at that time, and indeed, except in cases has, at foot-pace, been delivered to the per- of emergency, generally speaking, now deson to whom it was addressed, but every cline to do so by night, it would evidently foreign document also is at its port ready to have been necessary (as indeed is the case) be forwarded by steam-packets, by sailing to pay the railway companies four or five packets, by vessels of almost every descrip- times as much for the conveyance of mails by tion, to its trans-marine destination.

night as by day; for it is obvious that-alIn this arterial circulation, the projecting though in a long, well-remunerating passenor centrifugal power, like that which at this ger-train a railway company could, in sunmoment is feebly working within us, dimin- shine, afford to convey a tender full of letterishes in proportion to its distance from the bags for a trifling sum—to do so in an alheart or centre of action. At each of the most empty train by moonlight, an apparentLondon termini there is in readiness for the ly exorbitant indemnification might, after all, conveyance of every morning or evening leave the company losers by the impressmail at least one noble steam-engine of in- ment. The great object, however, of a postvincible power, fresh as a bridegroom from office is to do as much of its work as is posbis chamber, rejoicing like a giant to run his sible while the nation is fast asleep, or in course; or in more appropriate terms, smok- other words to begin its work as soon as men ing and hissing, already, at the waving of a of business have ended theirs. Accordingly, tiny fing, to whistle and be off. On the of all the documents that leave London daibranch railways there are also in waiting a ly, about two-thirds, regardless of the extra similar set of engines, but of weaker power. expense, are despatched by night mails, and On the high roads the letter-bags are for about one-third by morning ones : and we warded occasionally in four-horse coaches, may here observe that the invention of railthen in pair-horse“ busses ;" as they pro- ways has not only enabled the Post-office gress, many are transferred to a one-horse thus to propel from London a bulk of cormail-cart, then to postilions on horseback, respondence, &c., which would have altogethen to men who carry them over their ther overwhelmed the tiny seats and recepshoulders on foot;—in one instance to a red tacles of our mail-coaches, but by propelling wheelbarrow ornamented with the royal these letters in the same time over an infiarms. On approaching the extremities they nitely greater extent, it has in fact enabled the are finally carried up lanes, along paths, department to do a much larger proportion across meadows, through streets or alleys, of its work in darkness. For instance, the and into courts by postmen or post-women, night mails now reach Carlisle at nearly the until the rejecting power has absolutely same hour (in depth of winter about daylight) dwindled from the magnificent London as under the old, slow, gouty, horn-blowing steam-engine into a little ragged, rosy-faced system of 1838, they used to arrive only at boy—“If you please, mum, here's a letter Birmingham. As far, therefore, as corres

pondence is concerned, it might almost be


you !"

« VorigeDoorgaan »