網頁圖片
PDF

box one by one. One by one they must be taken out, stamped, marked, assorted for the different directions in which they are to be carried. They must be made up into bundles, and enclosed in wrappers, —this bundle for one post-office and that for another. And so from beginning to end of the whole operation of reception, transportation, delivery, and collection, the department in dealing with letters is doing a retail business of the smallest kind. The publisher, on the other hand, of a newspaper or of any other periodical, brings his papers or pamphlets to the office by the wheel-barrow load. They are already, or should be, enclosed in wrappers and made up into bundles for the offices to which they are destined; and there is nothing to be done but to put them upon the scales and ascertain their weight, and then tumble them into the bags for transportation. In brief, with letters the the transportation of them as freight from one office to another is the smallest part of the expense ; but with newspapers and other periodicals this is, or should be, the greatest part of the expense; and for this reason the postage on all sorts of periodicals, if paid by the publisher in the lump at the time of putting them into the post-office, may well be very far below the postage on letters. Pre-payment of postage on periodicals, in other words payment of postage by the publisher, will be found essential to any equitable arrangement for the lowest possible reduction of the postage on this kind of matter. The importer of dutiable goods pays the duties at the custom house, with the expectation that his customers will repay him that expenditure; and the duties paid become in this way, to the importer, to the retailer, and to the customer, one part of the cost of the production of those articles. So

the manufacturer of any periodical Vol. III.

which depends on the post-office for its circulation, should pay the postage with the expectation of getting it back from his customers; and the postage would thus become, to the manufacturer and to the customer, one item in the cost of the manufacture. Would it be more satisfactory to the importer—would it operate more kindly on the interests of commerce—would it be anything less than bankruptcy to the revenue and an intolerable nuisance to the people—if the duties on imported merchandise, instead of being paid by the importer of a cargo in sums of hundreds and thousands of dollars, were collected, by a legion of publicans, in dollars and dimes, and half dimes, and in those swarthier coins which southern chivalry disdains to pay because they are too insignificant to come within the notice of a gentleman 2 What wisdom is there then in attempting to collect the postage on periodicals in millions of insignificant payments from the consumers, when it might be collected from the publishers of periodicals with so much more convenience to all parties concerned, and with so much advantage to every interest. And here we insist distinctly that in this matter of postage, there should be no difference between newspapers and periodicals of other names and of more unfrequent issue. Or if there is any difference, it should be in favor of the bulkier and more unfrequent pamphlets rather than in favor of the weekly or daily sheet. The publisher of a weekly newspaper issues four sheets in a month, each weighing, we will suppose, one ounce. Four times in a month, this sheet of one ounce weight is taken in at one post-office and given out to the subscriber at another. Four times in a month, the post-master at the place of delivery collects the postage from the subscriber, unless as a matter of mutual convenience, the postage is paid in advance quarterly. Suppose now these same four sheets, for the month of January are stitched together in the form of a monthly magazine weighing four ounces. What a saving of labor is this to the department. Admitting that the expense of transporting the four ounces at one conveyance is no less than the expense of transporting the four ounces in four separate conveyances, which is certainly a liberal concession,-every other expense on the four ounces is diminished three quarters. So if the thirteen sheets which the publisher of a weekly newspaper issues every quarter, are put into the form of a quarterly review, the labor of taking in that quarterly review at one office, added to the expense of giving it out and collecting the postage on it at another office, is to the corresponding expenses on the thirteen numbers of the newspaper, as one is to thirteen. What reason is there, then, for charging the monthly or the quarterly periodical with more postage by the ounce than is charged upon the weekly or the daily P A third principle of great importance in the framing of a post-office system is this, Every practicable arrangement should be made with a view of reducing the postage to as low a rate as possible. The postoffice is the birthright of the million, not the luxury of the few. The million therefore have a right to demand that every arrangement which will save labor at the post-offices, and which will thus tend to make postage cheap, shall be introduced by the government with the least possible delay. In this point of view, the new law seems to us exceedingly defective. In the first place, it does not abolish the necessity of instituting an inquiry over every letter as to the distance of the place to which it is directed, and of marking the postage at one rate or another according to the distance. A uniform rate of postage saves labor at the post-office by dispensing

with this inquiry and marking altogether. In the second place, this new law contains no provisions to ensure or encourage pre-payment of postage. Nothing is plainer than that postage could be afforded much cheaper if every letter were paid for at its entrance into the office, than when every letter is taken with the risk of never being paid at all. An arrangement to secure the prepayment of postage by doubling the postage upon everything not paid for in advance, would speedily exclude a great mass of matter that now makes a great deal of trouble and pays nothing at all. In the third place, the new law contains no provision to facilitate the payment of postage in large sums by the sale of stamps to those who want to use them. A revenue of three or four millions of dollars is still to be collected in the smallest possible dribblets. And why? Because some chivalrous ass in Congress brayed lustily against the indignity of proposing the use of stamps on letters to free-born Americans whose fathers protested against “the stamp act.” If there is any other reason, we have yet to learn what it is. We propose a fourth principle, of no little consequence in a practical point of view. The idea of compelling the people to use the United States mails, for the conveyance of certain sorts of matter, when they can do better, must be abandoned as obsolete. The notion that because Congress by the Constitution has power to establish post-roads, therefore it has the exclusive right of carrying letters and newspapers and everything else which it may choose to call “mailable matter,” is one of those notions that get currency for a season, “while men sleep,” but upon examination turn out to be unreal. The federal government might deduce from the power to establish post-roads an exclusive right of carrying passengers upon any and every route or thoroughfare which it may choose to call a post-road, as legitimately as it can deduce from that power an exclusive right of carrying letters. The only way in which Congress or the Post-Master General can permanently put down the private expresses, is to put down the government postage to the lowest possible rate and to keep it there. This is not done by the new law. Postage on letters can be cheaper than it now is, and in one way or another it will be. Sooner or later, it will be half what the lowest rate now is. The quarter of a dime will one day suffice to carry a letter from Maine to Texas, may from the mouth of the Hudson to the mouth of the Oregon. When we name two and a half cents, or a quarter of a dime, as a convenient rate of uniform postage, we imply, of course, the adoption of such arrangements on the part of government as shall make it convenient. Let postage stamps, like those used in Great Britain, or like those so recently used in this country by all the private expresses, be prepared under the authority of Congress, and sold at every post-office, and by other licensed venders wherever needed, at the rate of forty for a dollar; and chivalry itself will soon learn to buy them, and will find the use of them. A serious objection to the reduction of postage below the smallest of our silver coins was found in the fact that in all the southern and southwestern states, cents are as much unknown to white men as cowries. But give us the convenience of a postage stamp, at the rate of two for a half-dime, and that difficulty will be obviated. Should Congress also cause a coin to be struck, of the same value—not copper, nor silver, for a silver coin of that value would be too small, but of some suitable mixed metal which would permit it to be not larger than a dime—such a measure would supply an obvious defect in our present system of coinage. It was

well shown by Mr. Adams in his celebrated “Report on Weights and Measures,” that though the decimal arrangement has very great advantages, the most popular system, or in other words the most convenient to the people at large in their daily transactions, is that which admits of constant division and subdivision by halving. A perfect system, therefore, of weights and measures—and coins come into the same category —is one which combines the decimal method of division and subdivision, with equal facilities for halving and quartering. Accordingly, our coinage provides for a division by halving as low as the half dollar. In gold we have eagles, half eagles, and quarter eagles; and the quarter eagle, the smallest gold piece, is easily halved in silver. So in silver we have the dollar, the half dollar, and the quarter; but there this kind of division is interrupted. The necessity of halving the quarter of a dollar keeps in circulation that old worn out Spanish piece, which the Yankees call a ninepence, New Yorkers a shilling, and Philadelphians a levy. But, in deference to the same law of convenience which is overlooked in this instance, the mint, when it gives us dimes, forgets not to give us also half-dimes. But give us now this one coin more— the postage-penny, of the value of a quarter of a dime; and then as the quarter of an eagle is halved by a dollar and a quarter, so the quarter of a dollar will be halved by a dime and a quarter, without employing the idiot head of a Spanish Bourbon or the deformity of the Mexican cactus. Such a coin would circulate everywhere; and cents would be of little use, except with children to buy sugar plums, and with misers to put into the contribution box. We have one more criticism to offer upon this new law. It will fail because it does not meet the actual exigency. It is only a law for a partial reduction of postage. It is only an attempt to patch up the existing system instead of creating a new one. A true statesmanship, we think, would have seen that the entire system of the post-office department must ere long be reconstructed, and would have instituted legislative inquiries with a view to its being re-constructed in accordance with the recent advancements of civilization. The present law may reasonably be accepted as a temporary expedient—a first step of progress; so far as it goes it is an improvement; but it does not go far enough to be successful. It is an attempt to graft cheap postage— which yet is not cheap enough to stimulate epistolary correspondence sufficiently—upon an old system, which, administered so long by unscrupulous party politicians for party purposes, has become one great system of political corruption. Let the people institute the inquiry whether some system can not be contrived for the appointment and accountability of deputy post-masters, or rather of men to do the work now committed to those functionaries,—which shall secure the services of competent and responsible men at the cheapest rate of compensation, instead of committing that office to noisy and vulgar politicians, to whom the pay and perquisites are not simply a fair com garb. This high demand is one of the minister's embarrassments. He is obliged to appear before the people of his charge, week after week, to address them on subjects not widely dissimilar; to present truths which are familiar to all, and unpalatable to many; and this it is his office to do in fair weather and foul, in health and in debility, whether his mind is active or obstinately sluggish, his heart warm or cold. With these difficulties in his way, what wonder is it that sometimes when his people look up they are not fed, and again, when he has gleaned a rich morsel for hungry souls, sleep will not allow them to look up that they may be fed 2 It is a practical question then with the preacher, how he shall secure the attention of his audience. It is indeed desirable that he possess vigorous and well disciplined logical powers; that he have a pleasant voice and an attractive manner; but these are not all that is wanted. He would not be thoroughly furnished without the possession and proper use of the imaginative faculty. By this is meant, not a skittish fancy, roaming in quest of flowers at the expense of fruit, but ideality in its highest and noblest form, controlled by a sound judgment. The preacher's peculiar business is to prepare and to deliver divine truth; let us consider the proper office of the imagination in discharge of each of these duties. I. In the preparation of truth. The minister, having entered his study shuts the door and begins his arduous, but delightful weekly toil. He implores the aid of Him who inspired holy men of old. Having selected a passage of Scripture as the theme of research and future delivery, he consults, perhaps, the original languages for an accurate meaning of the text. The dictionary affords him all its possible aid when it gives the signification of the words. Then he has indeed the

I M A G IN ATION IN

As no man has a higher commission than he who preaches Christ crucified, so none requires a greater assemblage of important qualities to fit him for his station. He has to do with the immortal part of man; he stamps the soul for eternity, and whether faithful to his trust or not, he must meet his solemn account at the judgment. The ordinary busi

ness of life he has left to be trans- .

pensation for the labor performed in the office, but a reward for party services past, present, and to come. Let the people inquire what is the actual duty which the Constitution imposes upon Congress by giving to that body the power to establish post-roads, and whether the chief part of that duty has not been, from the very beginning of the government, utterly neglected save in one solitary instance. Let such points be discussed by the people and before the people, and we shall have light. The necessity of a new system will become palpable, and the outlines of the true system will gradually shape themselves before the public eye. Then, at last, and not till then, the national legislation will reform this great mass of systematized abuses, by utterly removing it.

Whether this new law—which we regard as nothing else than a half-way measure destined to be merely temporary—shall be superseded, and that speedily, by a meas. ure of thorough and complete reform, or shall be superseded by a full restoration of the old system in compliance with the clamor of thousands who will hunger after the unclean profits of old abuses, is a great question in regard to the fu. ture progress of American civilization.

[ocr errors][merged small]

name or index of the thought, but in most cases he must by some expedient, call up the circumstances of the sacred penman before he can have the complete meaning of his words. This is rendered necessary by the nature of the case, and by the influence of early habits. In childhood he was compelled to commit to memory a prescribed number of verses in the Bible, and what he learned by rote so unwillingly, he imperfectly comprehended and soon forgot. The words were only words to him. This method of early training produced some good results, but partly in consequence of it—so far at least as he is confined to an English translation—he remains a superficial student of the Scriptures. Read over the old words as often as he may, if he cannot by some process forget or see through them, he will in one sense, be ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. In such a case the imagination may be of great Service. He has turned, we will suppose, to the devotional Psalms. If he read them as he was once accustomed to—with only a slight historical knowledge of the times in which they were composed, ignorant or forgetful of the customs of the country, the natural scenery from which illustrations are drawn, and without the power of summoning them up at will and grouping them about the writer—this portion of the Bible will be imperfectly understood. A bare knowledge of what the words mean according to the lexicon is only the bone, and a very dry bone; he needs something to clothe it with flesh and impart the warm pulse and hue of life. We should come to strange conclusions were we to interpret Milton's Paradise Lost in the same spirit, and by the same rules with which we read Edwards on the Will; so in perusing the Bible, if the reader would get at the writer's particular thought, he must,

« 上一頁繼續 »