Economic Sophisms/203

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"JACQUES: What remains is to pay the postage. The servant is sent to the grocer for change. After a delay of twenty minutes he returns, and the postman is at length set free, and rushes from door to door, to go through the same ceremony at each.

JOHN: Go on.

JACQUES: He returns to the post-office. He counts and recounts with the postmaster. He returns the letters refused, and gets repayment of his advances for these. He reports the objections of the parties with reference to weight and distance.

JOHN: Go on.

JACQUES: The postmaster has to refer to the registers, letter-bags, and special slips, in order to make up an account of the letters which have been refused.

JOHN: Go on, if you please.

JACQUES: I am thankful I am not a postmaster. We now come to accounts in dozens and scores at the end of the month; to contrivances invented not only to establish, but to check and control a minute responsibility, involving a total of 50 millions of francs, made up of postages amounting on an average to 43 centimes each (less than 4½d.), and of 116 millions of letters, each of which may belong to one or other of 242 categories.

JOHN: A very complicated simplicity truly! The man who has resolved this problem must have a hundred times more genius than your Mons. Piron or our Rowland Hill.

JACQUES: Well, you seem to laugh at our system. Would you explain yours to me?

JOHN: In England, the government causes to be sold all over the country, wherever it is judged useful, stamps, envelopes, and covers at a penny apiece.

JACQUES: And after that?

JOHN: You write your letter, fold it, put it in the envelope, and throw it into the post-office.

JACQUES: And after that?

JOHN: "After that"—why, that is the whole affair. We have nothing to do with distances, bulletins, registers, control, or accounting; we have no money to give or to receive, and no concern with hieroglyphics, discussions, interpretations, etc., etc.