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The conclusion from these figures cannot be avoided, that, 'unless some check is put on the expenditure, or some means 'devised for augmenting the receipts, the management of the 'telegraphs will become a permanent charge on the finances of 'the country.'
But this is assuming the accuracy of the Telegraph accounts, which we have proved to be fallacious; and, as the table which we have inserted at page 183 shows that the amounts paid in as Telegraph Revenue must have greatly exceeded what was really earned, we may assume that, if the accounts of the earlier years were accurately stated, they would show, not indeed an increasing excess of income over expenditure, but a progressive diminution of deficit; and as the extensions are now nearly completed (none having been made in 1874, and very few in 1873)-a fact involving a cessation in the growth of the expenditure arising from addition to the number of stations and employés-the increase in the telegrams which may be confidently expected cannot fail to augment the net revenue of the service. Under these circumstances, therefore, the necessity of curtailing the advantages enjoyed by the public, which has so impressed the Committee, would seem to disappear. Indeed, these gentlemen, following the natural instinct of their Department, have, it would seem, kept their eyes too closely on the question of immediate profit and loss, forgetting that, revenue being only a secondary consideration with the Post Office, that Department is not in the position of a firm or company carrying on a business, which must, of course, look to profit, but is the servant of the nation, and therefore should primarily consider the benefit derived by the public from the service, and that even some loss may be wisely undergone, particularly where it is probably temporary only, rather than a most important means of communication be curtailed.
The Committee suggests that those telegraph offices which do not pay their working expenses should be closed-that the rate of charges made to the newspaper proprietors for telegraphic messages should be increased-that engineers entrusted with the maintenance of the telegraphs should also undertake the duties of Post Office Surveyors-that the officers and men of the Royal Engineers should be utilised both in maintaining and in working the telegraphs-and finally, that the number of words allowed in a message should be reduced.
The blending of the telegraph maintenance with the duties of Post Office Surveyors would seem to be of very doubtful policy. The Surveyors perform some of the most important functions of the Department. They have been well termed
the eyes of the Post Office,' and to be duly competent to their duty, must undergo a course of official training hardly compatible with learning the profession of a civil engineer. The proposal to employ the Royal Engineers to perform some of the easier parts of the telegraphic duty seems happy. By this means, as the Report shows, the Department would gain the aid of a body of men who, being subject to military discipline, could not obstruct the communication by strikes; and in a campaign the services of soldiers capable of working telegraphs would be very valuable; and further, as the whole of the corps might be in turn practised at the telegraphs, so large a number would be trained to these duties that even the exigencies of war would not necessitate the withdrawal of those actually required by the Post Office.
No part of the statutory arrangements made on the purchase of the Telegraphs appears to us more improvident and unjust than the inordinate concession made to the Newspaper Press. Newspapers acquired a right of transmitting or receiving no less than seventy-five words in the night for one shilling. Such a price is clearly unremunerative, and, in fact, entails a heavy yearly loss on the country. In plain language, a staff of telegraphic night-workers is kept up at the public expense to enable the proprietors of newspapers to carry on their business; and perhaps the hardest and most laborious portion of the telegraph work is done for a price notoriously inadequate. No class of persons derives so much advantage from telegraphic communication as the managers of newspapers. Their business is to supply news to the public, and news is brought to their doors with instantaneous rapidity by a marvellous instrument, constructed and maintained at the public expense. The provincial press has been literally created by the Telegraphs, which enable it to anticipate the arrival of the metropolitan journals. This is all excellent, and we are very glad these facilities of communication exist. But they should be paid for at their cost; and it is strange that the country should be losing 200,0007. a year by the telegraphs, whilst the newspapers are paying at an absurdly low rate for services essential to their own existence. The Press in England is too powerful and too rich to require or to desire to be subsidised in this manner by the State.
With regard to closing telegraph offices on the ground that their receipts are insufficient to cover their expenses, such a course would not seem to be desirable save under very hopeless circumstances; for the disposition to use the telegraph has a strong tendency to grow. Thus we find that in 1872, out
of 3,444 offices, 728, or 21 per cent., were unprofitable, while in 1874, of 3,692, only 449, or 12 per cent., did not earn their working expenses.
So great a progress in two years affords a strong hope that in the course of no long time nearly all the offices may become, if not absolutely self-supporting, so nearly so that the accommodation of the localities will quite justify their retention.
Lastly, the Committee put forward with much confidence some suggestions made by one of their number, Mr. Weaver, a gentleman who seems to possess practical experience of telegraphic working. Believing that the great amount of transmission through the wires has occasioned the large expenditure in plant and current expenses of working, he proposes to diminish this outlay by (in addition to raising the rates charged to the press) diminishing the number of words allowed to the public in a telegram-at present twenty for one shilling over and above the addresses of the sender and addressee, upon which no limit is placed. To sweeten this pill, Mr. Weaver proposes to do away with the shilling tariff, and introduce either a charge of sixpence for a telegram of ten words including the addresses, or a tariff of a penny per word, likewise including addresses, to be diminished to a halfpenny per word when the system may become profitable.
Now, as a means of increasing the revenue, with great respect to Mr. Weaver and the Committee, we cannot but characterise this as a most extraordinary proposal. Mr. Weaver seems to forget that the transmission of the words of the message forms but a portion of the work necessitated by each telegram. The Report itself states that the number of service 'words' (necessary signals) of each telegram averages fourteen ; then, it must be sent out by a messenger, entries made in the accounts, &c.—all which sources of expense are the same whether the message comprise one word or a hundred. Again, it should be remembered that the companies originally did charge for the words of the addresses, but ceased to do so because they found that the consequent meagreness of address caused great waste of their messengers' time. To incur this disadvantage and reduce the price by half, in consideration of a small diminution of the number of message-words transmitted through the wires, would seem much more likely to lessen the profits than enhance them. The penny a word scheme, too, would put an end to the uniform rate-that great source of economy in working and of public convenience. Indeed, if any alteration is to be made in the tariff, it ought in justice to be in the other direction, viz. by allowing more than five ad
ditional words for three pence. The goal of a sixpenny tariff can only be arrived at by a lessening of expenditure to be effected in a mode very different from that proposed-a diminution, indeed, which can only be obtained by a radical reformation of the present system. The public documents do not afford much information as to the details of telegraph-working expenditure, but unless it be very different from that of the Savings' Banks, a remunerative sixpenny rate is an impossibility.
Thus the Postmaster-General in his last Report states that the cost to the Post Office of each transaction (including 'postage) in Savings' Bank business, i. e. of each separate deposit or withdrawal, is now about 8d.' Thus every person who deposits a shilling occasions an expense of 8d., and another 8d. when he withdraws it; and yet to receive a message at one post office and to deliver it from another must obviously be more costly than a double Savings' Bank transaction of deposit and withdrawal, as it necessitates the sending of a messenger to the addressee's dwelling. Making every allowance, therefore, for the postage portion of the 1s. 4d., it is obvious that unless the service can be much simplified and cheapened, a sixpenny rate without a serious annual deficit is impracticable.
The history of the Money Order Office, however, affords a hope that such a simplification is not impossible. In 1847 it was found that, although the accounts of that office had been allowed to fall into a state of great arrear, the expenditure upon it was so large as to produce a growing deficit, which had then reached 10,000l. in the year. An investigation was consequently instituted resulting in a reform, which, while permanently abolishing arrears, converted the deficit into a surplus amounting, at the time of the recent reductions in the rates of commission, to 47,000l. yearly. And now, a money order costs 1d. for receiving and 14d. for paying, instead of the 8d. for either transaction of the Savings' Banks. An investigation like that of 1847 into the Telegraphic Service and Post Office Savings' Banks, would probably produce a similar result, and then a sixpenny rate might be practicable-an advantage which was indeed enjoyed by the metropolis, as regards local telegrams, under the old system.
The acquisition of the Telegraphs by the Post Office, too, deprived the public of another advantage-the power of sending money by telegraphic order--which had been conceded to it by the Electric and International Company, and had then existed in Belgium for several years. That six years have passed by without these benefits having been restored is an additional proof that the management of the Department needs a thorough investigation.
ART. VII.-1. Isaac Casaubon, 1559-1614. By MARK PATTISON, Rector of Lincoln College. 8vo. London: 1875.
2. Ephemerides Isaaci Casauboni, cum Præfatione et Notis. Edente JOHANNE RUSSELL, S.T.P., Canonico Cantuarensi, Scholæ Carthusianæ olim Archididascalo. Tomi II. 8vo. Oxonii: 1851.
IN the biography of distinguished authors the interest is commonly divided between the scholar and the man, and in most cases the latter phase of the subject is the more prominent, as well as the more attractive. During life the great writer has generally been known to the public in his books, and what is sought in his biography is to learn what he was in himself. The world expects to obtain in a biography a glimpse of the inner life of the man whom it has hitherto admired at a distance; to follow him into the privacy of his home, and to study him, as well in the unreserved revelations of communion with his own thoughts, as in his multiplied relations with family, with friends, and with general society.
Mr. Pattison in his learned Life of Isaac Casaubon' has departed from this order. His treatment of the literary part of his subject is scholarlike and exhaustive; but to this the personal phase of the biography is made entirely subordinate. The reader will find in Mr. Pattison's book an admirable presentment of the scholar; but he will learn less than he could desire of the man. He will, we fear, rise from the perusal with a half-feeling that he has been engaged with an abstraction rather than with a living individual, and that, while he has learned everything that is to be known about Casaubon's studies and their results in his books, he has received but a vague and shadowy impression of Casaubon himself.
It will appear difficult at first sight to say why this should be so. The times in which Casaubon lived were troubled and full of interest. As a youth he inherited from his father no obscure place in the religious conflicts of the period; and in later life, he was drawn, although reluctantly, into the polemical discussions by which the Church and society in France were agitated. He was brought into frequent contact, if not familiarity, with many of the most distinguished public men of France and England, and even with Royalty itself in both these countries. He was a man, withal, of keen perception, of warm affections, and lively sensibilities. Both his marriages were love-matches; he was tenderly devoted to his children,