Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/161

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many letters are detained for poor people till they can raise the amount of postage. The letter-carriers offer them in the first instance, and then they remain in the Post Office, perhaps two or three weeks, till the postage can be raised."

The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. Porter, of the Statistical department of the Board of Trade, which, while it tends to strengthen the probability of the above results, is valuable also for the view it takes of their moral importance.

"In the present, and still more, I trust, in the future condition of society in this country, post communication may be placed among the wants of the poor; but it is a want which now must for the most part be left ungratified. The opportunities which I have of procuring franks enable me to contribute towards keeping alive feelings of kindliness and affection on the part of separated relatives which might otherwise become blunted or obliterated by disuse. May we not presume that many young persons of both sexes, who are continually drawn to this metropolis from distant parts of the kingdom, and are thenceforth cut off from communication with their early guardians, might, under different circumstances, be kept from entering upon vicious courses, to which the temptations are so great, and against which the restraints, in their case, are so few."

The vast importance (financially speaking) of opening the Post Office to these numerous classes, will appear on comparing the amount of revenue derived from the duty on those articles of which they are the principal consumers, with that obtained from articles, the use of which is limited to the wealthy. Thus, for instance, the duties on malt and ardent spirits (which, beyond all doubt, are principally consumed by the poorer classes) yield a yearly revenue of about thirteen millions, while the annual revenue obtained from wine (the beverage of the wealthy) is only seventeen hundred thousand pounds. The wish to correspond with their friends may not be so strong, or so general, as the desire for fermented liquors, but facts have come to my knowledge tending to show that, but for the high rate of postage, many a letter would be written, and many a heart gladdened too, where