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ONE of the sights of London which foreign friends to see is the General Post-Office at the time when the last great rush is made to catch the evening mail. If your foreign friends have been rather a bore to you of late you had better quietly allow them to become entangled with the crowd. If you do this you should always take your adroitly you will see nothing more of them for hours; indeed, they will be lucky if they don't get into the wrong box and ﬁnd themselves despatched with other unconsidered triﬂes to remote arts of the United Kingdom, not to say the world. We once hear of a small boy who was taken to witness the scene at St. Martin's-le-Grand, and became inextricably mixed-up with the rush. His agonised parent saw him disappear, and he was not heard of again until he was returned from a place in the north of Scotland, where he had been refused on account of the excess of postage charged on him. This may seem improbable — in fact, we think it very likely it does appear so, but that is no fault of ours; all applications on the subject may be made to the Postmaster-General, and, by the way, there is no necessity to enclose a stamp for the reply.
As it approaches six the idler, by lounging in the immediate neighbourhood of the Receiving Department, and throwing himself in the way of the general public, will be able to gather the public's opinion of him with great ease. This is a mode of study we can hardly recommend to those who possess sensitive minds, as under the circumstances the public is apt to be candid. If the lounger prefers, he can gather some insight into the internal workings of the Department by tapping at any of the little doors and engaging the clerk within in a friendly conversation about the recent meteors, the length of Mn. FALCONER'S new drama, and the probability of MR. DISRAELI'S bringing-in a Reform Bill. Or he can give the pleased official a rapid sketch of ARTEMUS WARD's lecture, the Christmas books, and a description, with whistled illustrations, of MELLON’S Concerts. He must make the best use of his opportunity of getting an insight into the workings of the Department, as we cannot disguise the fact that he will probably only get a very brief glimpse of the interior.
Some amusement may be got out of the window where the newspapers are posted. It maybe reﬁned into a highly ingenious and seasonable game, which you cannot obtain of ASSER and SHERWIN, PARKINS and GOTTO, or CREMER junior. You must ﬁrst of all insert a notice of your own birth, death, or marriage — or all three at oncein one of the principal London papers. You must then buy up the whole edition, ask up the copies separately, and direct them to all your friends an acquaintances-and everbody else you don't happen to know. This may be easily done with the help of a few directories. Having packed an addressed your papers, you employ one or two men to carry them, and when the window opens you amuse yourself by pelting the clerks inside with them. With a little practice you will be able to hit your man to a certainty — and even seriously injure him if there happens to be a heavy article in the paper, which is frequently the case.
- The General Post Office, One Minute to Six by George Hicks (1860)
- Victorian Letter Writing and the Visual Arts
Last modified 28 April 2016