Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/169

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101
PAYMENT IN ADVANCE.

letters, and their late delivery (the unavoidable, not factitious consequences of their being unpaid) would, I think, in a short time, so greatly reduce their number, that the option might be withdrawn without difficulty. The expense to the Post Office resulting from this anomaly might be reduced, if necessary, by restricting the delivery of unpaid letters to once per day, in places enjoying a plurality of deliveries, selecting for this purpose the most convenient hour of the day. And for the sake of simplicity in the accounts, I would recommend that the option should be confined to letters not exceeding half an ounce in weight, so that the postage on each should be an invariable sum. No one could object to this restriction, as the conveyance of greater weights is for the most part a novelty.

It has been urged as an objection to the required payment in advance, that it would destroy the security for the delivery of letters which is now derived from the letter-carrier having to account for the receipt of postage—that an idle letter-carrier might destroy the letters to save himself the trouble of making his round. In reply to this objection I would remark, that the present security, such as it is, applies only to part of the correspondence, there is nothing to prevent the destruction of franked or paid letters. But it is said that a letter-carrier is now obliged to make his round for the delivery of the unpaid letters, and, therefore, that as it would save but little trouble, there is slight temptation to destroy the others. As regards an important part of the correspondence, it appears then, that, under the present arrangements, the only security afforded for the delivery of the letters is that the letter-carrier is obliged to make his round. Now let us examine the security afforded by the proposed arrangements. At page 76 a plan is suggested which will enable any one, for a small fee, to obtain a receipt for any letter put into the Post Office. The fee is so trifling, (only a half-penny,) and the trouble would be so little, that there can be no doubt the plan would come into extensive operation. Every letter-carrier would therefore know that, as regards many of his letters, receipts had been taken, and that if any of these letters were destroyed, inquiry and detection would