Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/59

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and bouquets—of all the little gifts that the Post Office can convey. It would be agreeable that a small adornment of such graces should accompany the grand utilities of the system, but when it is considered to what an extent this benefit spreads, that not a day of any year passes that a multitude of sick and infirm are not thus cheered, these humanities and graces command a gratitude seldom due on so large a scale.

Then, again, there is a diffusion of the advantages gained by one member of a family or society, so that the recompense of one person's talents or merits becomes a benefit to many. If one member of a family attains a position in literature, or any other pursuit which gives him a command of information or other interests, he needs no longer to confine it to himself for want of means to communicate the luxury. The infirm father, the blind mother, whose pleasures are becoming fewer and fewer, may now not only enjoy the fame of an eminent son and daughter as a matter of complacency, but may share that portion of the results which consists in correspondence.

Instead of the weekly letter of one single sheet, there comes now a frequent packet, enclosing letters from all parts of the world—tidings on a host of subjects of interest, political, scientific, or literary—a wealth of ideas to occupy the weary mind, and of pleasures wherewith to refresh the sleepless affections. As for the advantages of a more business-like character arising from the present facilities for the transmission of family letters and papers, they are so great as to defy description, and so obvious as not to need it.

Some persons seem to think all these considerations of too private and delicate a character to be openly connected with any fiscal arrangement. The more unusual such a connexion the more carefully, in my opinion, should it be exhibited. The more infrequent the occasions when a Government can, by its fiscal arrangements, directly promote the social and domestic virtue and happiness of a whole people, and engage its gratitude and affection, the more eagerly should such occasions be embraced. The present is such a one as, I imagine, has never before presented itself in the history of legislation. The best that one can ordinarily say in regard to revenue arrangements is that they produce the smallest practicable amount of evil, and that that amount of evil ought to be cheerfully borne for the sake of the indispensable object.