in the Queen, as represented by her Postmaster-General and her Secretary of State. "Neither the sender nor the person to whom it is sent can claim to interfere with a letter whilst it is in the Post Office. Only the warrant of a Secretary of State can stay its delivery." Once a letter is dropped into a letter-box it is like a spoken word, it cannot be recalled.
After letters come postcards, which were introduced into this country in October, 1870, and have proved a great convenience to many people, saving them both time and money. By means of reply postcards you can make sure of an answer from a correspondent without putting her to any expense or to any trouble worth mentioning.
The back of the postcard is for the message; nothing must be put on the front except the address. This limitation of space is useful for the cultivation of brevity; but those who have a great deal to say may derive consolation from the fact that on the back of a postcard you can, by writing small, easily put at least four hundred and sixty words! We do not, however, say that such a performance, good enough for amusement, would be like that of a woman of business.
All business letters ought to be preserved. They should be folded neatly longways and all of a size, and docketed, as it is called—that is to say, the date and the name of the sender and his (or her) address, and the subject, should be put on the back thus:
6th September, 1886.
Martin Rose and Co.,
Remittance, £10 19s. 2d.
Do not, however, crowd these particulars together, as has been done here for convenience in printing; leave a considerable space between the first and second, and the third and fourth lines. When letters are folded and docketed they should be tied up in the order of their dates, or put away in pigeon holes under the different letters of the alphabet. One can never tell when it may be necessary to refer to old letters on matters of business, so it is prudent to keep them all. Doing so and turning them over occasionally is also useful for giving us a humble opinion of ourselves; we see by the light of additional experience how we might often have managed things much better than we did.
Besides letters and postcards, telegrams furnish another means of communication. For a telegram sent to any place in the United Kingdom, the charge is sixpence for the first twelve words, and a halfpenny for every word after the first twelve. Addresses are charged for, so a sixpennyworth of telegraphing does not represent a long message, but by ingenuity—and a business woman is nothing without ingenuity—a few words may be made to mean a great deal. The cost of a reply to a telegram may be prepaid.
About the newspaper post, the book post, and the parcel post, not much need be said. Always be careful about wrappers. A great many newspapers and books escape from their wrappers every day, and land in the returned letter office. In sending parcels the packing is often a weak point; it is not so much that people are either handless or stupid, they are just thoughtless. "It must be borne in mind," says the Postmaster-General, "although, of course, every care will be taken by the officers, that a parcel with fragile or perishable contents must be several times handled before it reaches its destination, and will probably have to be packed with many others of a different kind and shape, or more weighty and bulky. Eggs, butter, and fruit, especially delicate fruit, such as grapes and peaches, should be placed in strong boxes and so placed as not to shift. Fresh flowers should be carefully packed in strong boxes; but cardboard boxes should not be used for the purpose, as they are often reduced to pulp by the moisture which exudes from the contents. Fish or game should be carefully packed in strong boxes, or hampers, or in perforated boxes."
Remember that some things are forbidden to be sent by post—live animals, for instance. This prohibition is very little regarded by some people. Last year, in Dublin alone, two hens, eight mice, and two hedgehogs were stopped on their way through the post. One of the hens which was addressed to a veterinary surgeon in London, was in bad health, and though carefully attended to, died in the office. The rest of the animals were given up alive to the senders.
Certificates of the posting of parcels can be got at all post offices. If you have any doubt about the trustworthiness of the person entrusted with the posting of a parcel, instructions should be given to bring back a receipt. A few months ago the Post Office was charged at Liverpool with the non-delivery of a bottle of wine and a box of figs. It turned out, however, that the missing goods had never come under its charge, the person to whom the packet had been given to post having eaten the figs and drunk the wine.
Parcels can also be insured against loss and damage by the payment of a small sum. Paying a penny insures to the extent of £5 and twopence to the amount of £10.
In order to understand the outs and ins of the Post Office—and it is a subject with which every sensible person should be familiar—let a girl invest sixpence in a copy of the Post Office Guide, a publication of which an edition is issued every quarter. She will there find everything necessary to be known about the posting of letters, postcards, newspapers, book packets, and parcels to places in the United Kingdom, or abroad, the sending of telegrams, the rates for money and postal orders, and the regulations of the Savings Bank. To turn over its 300 pages or so is decidedly interesting. One sees what a complicated machinery is now employed for the convenience of the public, what wonders—to speak of letters alone—can be done for a penny, and how thousands of miles can be reduced to insignificance by the magic of twopence-halfpenny.
In the twelve months from the 31st of March, 1885, to the same day of this year, the number of letters delivered in the United Kingdom was 1,403,547,900, giving an average of 38.6 to each person in the kingdom. The total number of postcards was 171,290,000. Adding to the letters and postcards the book-packets, newspapers, and parcels which passed through the Post Office during the twelve months, we have a grand total of 2,091,183,822, which shows an average to each person of 57.5.
The "Woman of Stenay."
"And so you have not heard the story of the 'Woman of Stenay'?" said a Lorraine peasant. "It was in war-time, and she offered a barrel of wine to a detachment of Austrians, saying—
"'You are thirsty, friends. Drink. You are welcome to all my store.' And as she spoke she drank a cupful in their honour.
"The soldiers accepted with pleasure, and in a few minutes four hundred men were writhing on the ground in agony.
"Then the 'Woman of Stenay' rose, and with her dying breath shrieked out—
"'You are all poisoned! Vive la France!'
"She then fell back a corpse."
This is the legend of Lorraine, and the memory of its heroine is revered by the peasantry as highly as that of Charlotte Corday.
Tusser, in his "Points of Huswifry united to the Comforts of Husbandry," published in 1570, recommends the country housewife to select servants who sing at their work as being usually the most painstaking and the best. He says—