Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/26

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four a month, and to the United States four a week.

With such indifferent postal facilities, our readers will not be surprised to learn that in England and Wales, at the commencement of Her Majesty's reign, each person received, on the average, a letter only once in three months; in Scotland, only once in four months; and in Ireland, only once a year. The business of the Post Office, in those days, instead of keeping pace, as it does now, with the growth of population and trade, had become stationary, no increase whatever having taken place in either the gross or net revenue of the Post Office during the twenty years ending with 1835.

Such was the state of things when Mr. (afterwards Sir) Rowland Hill, rather more than fifty years ago, turned his attention seriously to the question of postal reform.

It is a remarkable fact that until Sir Rowland Hill had thoroughly imbued the Post Office with his own earnestness for improvement, nearly all the great reforms effected in the postal service originated with persons wholly unconnected with that department—Mr. Dockwra, who in the time of the Commonwealth instituted the town and local "penny posts," Mr. Allen, who about the year 1750 established cross posts, and Mr. Palmer, who in 1784 effected the substitution of mail coaches for horse and foot posts, having all been "outsiders;" and history again repeated itself in the case of Sir Rowland Hill, who,