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The French deputies and peers have no franking privilege; in England it has been abolished for members of parliament since the establishment of the penny postage. Yet even with these instances, and the demonstration of the great abuse before us, we are not prepared to agree with Mr. Plitt in regard to a total abolition of the franking privilege. Our members of Congress
stand politically, and, when at Washington, locally, in a different position from the representatives of other nations. But the abuse, it seems, might be wholly put a stop to, if a fixed number of stamps, making a liberal allowance for each day's correspondence, so long as the session lasts, were delivered to every member.
Our author desires the postage of newspapers to be charged by weight, which we think highly proper, indeed, the merest justice would demand it. He thinks that the privilege of editors to receive exchange papers free of all postage, ought to be abolished, in which
we are inclined to agree with him. Although the papers are vehicles of knowledge — not all, indeed, of useful knowledge - this is no proof why they ought to be so much privileged a vehicle. There are many other channels of knowledge, and of very important knowledge too, which are not privileged. Newspapers are daily op weekly letters, written to a number of persons at once. They may be good or bad, sound or vicious, as any other letters; and the intensity of their action is increased by the multiplying process of printing. This action may be good or bad ; if, therefore, the community is believed to stand in want of newspapers, as we certainly believe it does, in a very great variety of ways, it is already going very far to grant them the privilege of a greatly reduced rate of postage. It does not strike us that those who prepare them, and derive profit from them, ought to be privileged in addition, by receiving their material gratis. Commerce is indispensable to every civilized community, to civilization and peace; and pricecurrents are indispensable for the merchant; yet they enjoy no such privilege. Mr. Plitt finally demands that all postage upon papers and periodicals should be prepaid. We own that many advantages, and some important ones among them, for the owners of newspaper establishments, would result from the adoption of this regulation. But it could not be carried out without an unconditional demand, on the part of the editors, of pre-payment of the whole sum due for a paper. This undoubtedly would ultimately be of the greatest service to the whole of the periodical press; but we could only arrive at this result through a total revolution of this branch ; and whether the disadvantages connected with such a revolution would not be too great, we are not at present prepared to say. Here, however, we would again propose conditional pre-payment. Let newspapers be charged according to weight, and make the difference between pre-paid and after-paid postage for them so striking that it would become a strong inducement for subscribers to send their money for the paper and the postage in advance to the editors, and we believe the latter would very gladly accept of such a law. It ought not to be forgotten that it is printed matter” which weighs down our mails, causes frequently their irregularity, and great loss to the department. This, therefore, is in duty bound to use all lawful means to abolish the evil. The amount of newspapers and other periodical publications remaining unclaimed in the offices is startling. Mr. Plitt gives the following
“Statement of the average number of newspapers remaining weekly in the post-offices of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore, viz :
No. of papers. In New York,
750 In Philadelphia,
400 In Boston,
500 In Baltimore,
The number of periodicals and other publications remaining dead in these post-offices is in about the same proportion. If the postage upon these papers and pamphlets had been paid in advance, the probability is that they would have been called for; or, if not, the department would at least have received its legal equivalent for their transportation. Suppose that the 13,500 post offices in the Union have a proportionate quantity of dead printed matter, respectively, and that all this could and would be excluded from the mails if pre-payment were demanded, what an immense weight would at once be taken away!”
We can only express our entire agreement with Mr. Plitt's advice to establish special agents and mail-guards. They exist in all the most civilized European countries, yet none of them stand so much in want of these functionaries as ourselves, owing again to our extensive territory, and the great variety of means of conveyance in this country. The safety of the delivery is at present wholly unguarantied.
In conclusion we would suggest to the consideration of Congress the following points :
Printed sheets, not belonging to periodicals, pay at present a very high postage. It is only in the most urgent cases that books can be sent by mail; on the other hand the mail is the only conveyance by which many people can obtain books. Should not this postage, therefore, be reduced ?
Should not the department become responsible for money mailed, according to a certificate of a post-master in presence of a witness? We think the post-office, not only undertaking the carriage of letters, but prohibiting private citizens from establishing similar chains of transmission, is bound to make good these losses. The sum to be transmitted in this manner might be limited; and a stamp on the letter might indicate to the delivering post-master that there is money in the letter, and that he must demand a receipt for the delivery.
Lastly, would it not be advisable to adopt in our country, in which it is far more difficult to make payments of very small sums at a great distance, than in many other countries, the regulation which prevails in England, Prussia, and several parts of Europe, that money-orders, for a small amount, upon any post-master, may be obtained from any postmaster upon paying the amount? In England sums under £5 may be thus transmitted. The small receipts of some of our country offices might not allow of so general an arrangement; but the post-offices might be easily divided into two classes for this purpose. Even though the sum thus allowed to be drawn by one post-master upon the other, should not be higher than ten dollars, we feel assured that even this would be of great convenience for the community:
Cheapness is one of the great objects of the mail; and both cheapness and regularity are greatly promoted by simplicity; for which reason we have recommended so urgently the plan of an advantageous pre-payment, and a discount on the buying of adhesive stamps by the thousand. We are fully aware that the last recommended measure would in a slight degree increase the complexity of business, rather than promote the simplicity, but it seems to us that the advantage accruing to the community would overbalance the inconvenience.
Note.- We have said nothing on the subject of conveying letters by private persons, because it seems scarcely to admit of any NO. XVII._VOL. IX.
discussion in the United States. The post-office is established for the convenience of the people, and for no other purpose.
It is established in order to make the transmission of letters cheap, safe, and quick ; and private persons are prohibited by law from making up mail bags between places which are connected by United States mails, because the post establishment is expensive, and must, in many parts, cost far more than it can yield. The whole, therefore, must be made to work together, lest the United States should be unable to carry the mail through thinly inhabited regions, had they not the sole privilege of carrying the mail in the densely inhabited parts of our country. But, if a person can get bis letters carried cheaper, quicker, or safer, by private opportunity than the mail can do it, it would be very hard indeed, to prohibit him from doing so, and to force him to pay, where he may obtain the same service gratis. Besides, how should the prohibition be carried out? Shall we have police officers looking into our trunks? In principle as well as in execution, the law would be wholly repugnant to our feelings. We are well aware that the number of letters carried by private opportunities between some places — for instance, between New York and Boston - is enormous. And what of it? Have we ever declared that the carrying of letters was a privilege, a right, a prerogative of government; or, have we said to government, we cannot singly carry our letters, therefore, be our carrier? All that government can do in this case, is fairly to enterinto competition, and induce the letter-writer by reduced postage together with the less degree of trouble and greater certainty of speedy delivery, rather to send letters by public mail than by private hand. We were not a little surprised when, during the late administration, a paper universally understood to be the official organ, spoke of this conveying of letters by private opportunity, as a post defraudment. It required all the insolence of placemen, believing themselves safe, to utter such inconsistency in the United States. In all countries on the European continent, the transmission of letters by private opportunity is prohibited by a heavy fine, because there the post establishment is made use of to obtain a revenue, and is declared a prerogative of the crown. Do those gentlemen wish to imitate these governments? They may go further still. If one has travelled in Prussia with post-horses, and wish to take private horses, he must pay first a considerable fine, or wait three days, and no coachman can carry bim more than a few miles without paying a certain sum to the post-office. These arrangements may do very well there, but to any one who would be daring enough to propose their introduction here, we should only say, it will never do for us.
Before, however, a post establishment complains of the enormous number of letters carried by private opportunity, it ought to see whether it fulfils the objects for which alone it has been founded. Does it carry the letters rapidly? There were several routes on which letters might be sent quicker by private opportunity. Does
it carry letters safely? We know two commercial houses that ran a daily private mail between the two cities in which they were established. The heads of these houses have repeatedly assured us, that the saving of postage was no object; and, in fact, frequently the transmission of the box, with but few letters, costs far more than the regular postage would amount to. Their only object was safety ; because they have almost daily to transmit valuable papers, and ihey dare not entrust them to the mail. Their fear was produced by many sad occurrences, and they consider themselves justified in thus acting against the law, because, as they believe, the post does not secure safety. Whenever party violence becomes the standard of claim for office, respectability, honesty, and efficiency must, of course, be disregarded - an effect most disastrous to post establishments.
Art. III.—1. A New and Copious Lexicon of the Latin Lan
guage ; compiled chiefly from the Magnum Totius Latinitatis Lexicon of Facciolati and Forcellini, and the German works of Scheller and Lünemann. Edited by F. P. LEVERETT. Boston: J. H. Wilkins and R. B. Carter. pp. 996.
2. An Abridgment of Leverett's Latin Lexicon ; particularly
adapted to the Classics usually studied preparatory to a Collegiate course. By FRANCIS GARDNER, A. M., Instructor in the Public Latin School in Boston. J. H. Wilkins and R. B. Carter. 1840.
3. An English-Latin Lexicon, prepared to accompany Leverett's
Latin-English Lexicon. J. H. Wilkins and R. B. Carter.
The very great labor involved in the preparation of any book which professes to compare two languages, the idioms of which are so essentially different as are the English and Latin, demands for it a favorable consideration. When, however, as in the volumes named above, an attempt is made to go into the minutest details of the idiom, etymology, prosody, and, to a certain degree, of the syntactical grammar of the languages; to investigate classical habits, manners and philosophy; to study the turn of thought and the peculiarities of the literature of classical antiquity; to examine the strik