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POST-OFFICE MONEY-ORDERS.

IN 1792, when the true British sailor was
stoutly preparing to defy the French in
various parts of the globe at thirty shillings
a-month; and when British military valour
was fighting Tippoo Saib, in India, at a shilling
a-day; it was felt as a great hardship, that the
affluent warriors of both services could not
transmit, safely and speedily, to their sweethearts
and wives, even from one part of the
United Kingdom to another, their surplus
capital. The Governmentseeing the danger
of allowing the savings of its servants to burn
holes in their pocketswas good enough to
concoct a snug little "job," by means of
which such pocket-conflagrations might be
extinguished. The monopoly of transmitting
money from one place to another was conceded
to three gentlemen, in connection with the
Post-office. Their terms wereeight-pence
for every pound; but, if the sum exceeded
two pounds, a stamp-duty of one shilling was
levied by Government, in addition. Five
guineas was the highest amount which could
be thus remitted; and the charge for that sum
was four shillings and sixpence, or nearly
five per cent., besides the price of the postage
of the letter which contained the advice
perhaps a shilling more.

Now, happily, the days of monopoly have
passed, and Mr. Rowland Hill does the same
thing for the odd sixpence, with an odd
penny, at a profit to the Government of about
seven thousand pounds a-year; exclusive of
the gain derived from the enormous number of
letters of advice which Post-office orders have
created. When the privilege was extended
from soldiers and sailors to the general public,
the three monopolists of the last century could
divide between them, on an average, no more
than six hundred and fifty pounds per annum.
No longer ago than the year 1838, the Money-
order Office was absorbed into the Post-office;
and, although the charges were reduced to a
commission of sixpence for sums not exceeding
two pounds, and of one shilling and
sixpence for sums up to five pounds (which
was, and is still, the limit), a chief clerk and
two assistants were appointed to do all the
business the public brought to them; and
even they could only do it at a loss to the
department.  People could not afford to increase
even the reduced charges for commission,
by the eight-penny and shilling postages,
for their letters of advice.

Penny Postage, therefore, is the parent of
the gigantic Money-order system, which now
flourishes in full activity. In estimating the
advantages of that great stroke of economical,
administrative, and commercial sense, many
of its less prominent agencies for good are
overlooked. The facilities it has afforded for
epistolary intercommunication are so
wonderful and self-evident, that we who benefit
by them, are blinded to the hidden impulses
it has given to social improvement and to
commerce. Regarded only as the origin of the
present Money-order system, Penny Postage
has occasioned the exercise of prudence,
benevolence, and self-denial; it has, in many
instances, stopped the sufferings of want by
timely remittances; and it has quickened
the under-currents of trade by causing small
transactions to be easily and promptly effected.
These advantages can only be estimated by a
consideration of the following facts.

During the advent-year of penny postage,
the commission on Post-office orders was
reduced to threepence and sixpence for sums
not exceeding two pounds and not exceeding
five pounds respectively. In that year the
number of orders granted in the United
Kingdom was (in round numbers, which we
shall use throughout, for the reader's greater
convenience) one hundred and eighty-eight
thousand, for an aggregate amount of three
hundred and thirteen thousand pounds. Even
this was a great advance on the business
previously done at the old prices; but what are
the figures for the tenth year of penny
postage? During the year 1850, the number
of orders granted in the United Kingdom was
four million four hundred and forty thousand,
for amounts making up eight million four hundred
and ninety-five thousand pounds;—only
a million less than the yearly produce of the
income and assessed taxes put together! This
marvellous increase can, perhaps, be better
appreciated by being seen through a diminished
medium. In the first month of the penny
postage (1840), the issue of orders was about
ten thousand in number, for something over
sixteen thousand pounds; but in the month
of December, 1851, the number of orders
issued was more than three hundred and

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