Page:The Post Office of Fifty Years Ago.djvu/84

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16
THE POST OFFICE REFORM.

Taking the number of letters and newspapers to be 126,000,000 (see p. 11), the average apparent cost of the primary distribution of newspapers, letters, &c., within the United Kingdom, is for each 84 hundredths of a penny.

Of which the expense of transit is one-third, or 28 hundredths of a penny.

And the cost of receipt, delivery, &c., two-thirds, or 56 hundredths of a penny.

But it must be recollected that the cost of transit for a given distance will, under ordinary circumstances, be in tolerably direct proportion to the weight carried; and as a newspaper or franked letter weighs on an average as much as several ordinary letters, the average expense of transit for a letter chargeable with postage, is probably about one-third of the amount above stated, or nine-hundredths of a penny.[1]

The smallness of the expense of transit, as here stated, will probably excite some surprise; the following calculation, however, which is founded on more exact data, and is therefore more trustworthy, shows that the expense of transit upon the great mass of letters, small as it appears to be, is probably loaded with charges not strictly appertaining to it, or is greatly enhanced by the carriage of the mail to places which are not of sufficient importance to repay the expense. Whatever may be the cause of the discrepancy between the two calculations, the account of the Post Office expenditure is not published in sufficient detail to enable me to assign it with certainty.

  1. The chargeable letters do not weigh more than about one-fourth of the whole mail.