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salaries and debentures, in and belonging to this office. Ho has a salary of 500l. per annum. In his office are several clerks, ordinary and extraordinary.
12. SECRETARY AT WAR. This officer may not improperly be styled the minister of the war department. He is, in fact, military secretary to the king, and conveys all his Majesty's orders, to all the generals, and military governors, at home and abroad, relative to the troops and garrisons, under their respective commands; and with him they correfpond, and to him they make their returns and reports, (as well as to the commander in chief ), and he lays the business before his Majesty, for his inspection, and directions. All orders for marching, quartering, encamping, and recrụiting the army, are figned by him, by his Majesty's command; and all military commishons are made out at the war office, situtate at the Horse Guards, Whitehall, and by him, or the commander in chief, carried to his Majesty to be signed. The trust reposed in this officer is very great, and the profits of his office are confiderable ; he is always
a member of the privy council.
In the war office, are a deputy secretary and first clerk, four principal, and many subordinate clerks, a paymaster of widows! penfions, who has 10671. per annum, and a deputy; an examiner of army accounts, with allftants, mefengers, and other officers,
13. "The PaY MASTER GENERAL OF THE Forces. This of. fice was one of the most lucrative in his Majesty's gift, not so much from his falary, (which was only 3000l. a year), and the perquisites of office, as from the immense sums of public money which necessarily remained in his possession, for a long space of time; as all the money voted by parliament for the land forces passed through his hands, and the balance was not paid into the treasury until his accounts were settled. In the year 1982, this office underwent a reform, and the pay master general, deprived of this and all other extraneous sources of emolument, was allowed a fixed salary of 4000 l. and his deputy of 1500l. per annum.
The pay master general, is constituted by letters patent, under the great seal, and is always of the privy council. It has not been unusual, of late years, to appoint two persons to this office, as joint paymasters, in which case the salary is not augmented but divided.
The principal persons in the pay office, besides the deputy or deputies, for this office too is divided, are the accountant general, who has 1200l. per annum, and an affiftant; the cashier 1000l. an assistant ledger keeper 800l. an assistant calliier of half pay 700l. and computer of off-reckonings 6ool. There are besides many clerks and other persons in subordinate employments.
14. PosTMASTER GENERAL. Before any account is given of the particular duties of this officer, it will be proper to notice the origin, and other circumstances attending the eitablishment, over which he presides.
The necellity and advantage of a speedy and secure conveyance of letters to all parts of a state, and to foreign countries, must at all times have been sensibly felt by every government, and when once the ruling power bail contrived an eltablifument, calculated to produce thote effects, it would inevitably follow, that, if the country were free and prosperous, the nobility, the men of property, and above all, the commercial part of the community, would obtain the same benefits, either by participation, or by rivalthip. The conveyance of letters, either of business er kindness, by the tardy, insecure, and uncertain mode of ordinary or accidental travellers, or even of persons employed on purpose, unless adequate provision were made for their speed and protection, muft from the early periods of civilization, have been felt as a serious inconvenience. In England it was remedied, at first by provisions expensive to government; subkequent improvements removed the defects of the first contrivance; a judicious establishment obviated uncertainty in the effect, and the danger ariGng from injudicious rivalfhip; experienced utility, procuring general favour, thewed a dawn of profit to the state, and finally, the vigilance of the financier, aided by the ingenuity of sagacious projectors, converted that which had been originally a burden, jato a most fruitsul, secure, and popular source of revenue.
To travel poít (currere equis pofitis ) must have been usual in England, from the time when the effect of her admirable laws began to render the roads secure, and to afford at once protection and encouragement to those, whom business or pleasure led to visit places distant from their own abodes; but the first recorded instance of an attempt to apply the benefits of such'a mode of journeying to the conveyance of letters occurs in 1479, when Edward IV. introduced an eftablishment of riders, with poft horfes, to be changed every twenty miles; who by handing letters from one to another, in two days forwarded them two hundred miles, apparently the furthest extent of the plan; but this improved mode of conveyance, like that in France, from which it was copied, had no connexion with commerce or public accommodation, unless it may be confidered as the first rudiment of the present establishment. In the reign of Henry VIII. anno 1543, it is recorded, that letters dispatched from London reached Edinburgh on the fourth day; a degree of speed nearly equal to that of modern times, but this was only effected by means of a temporary arrangenient, made for the use of government.
A foreign post was originally established by the alien merchants, residing in London, who claimed the right of electing a perfon, in whom they could confide, to direct the undertaking, As the business grew extensive, the election became a source of discord, which occafioning many feuds, the citizens of London, in 1568, requested queen Elizabeth to consign that duty to one of her English subjects. This petition does not seem to have been attended with immediate effect, for the firt regular nomination of a post-master, on record, was made by Jimes I. who conferred that title on Matthew de Queller, or de l'Equester; but this was only for foreign letters; and after that period, as well as before, the business occasionally fell into the hands of private undertakers. In 1631, Charles I. granted by patent the re version of the foreign post ofice to William Frizell and Thomas Witherings, and strictly enjoined, that none but his foreign post masters should prefume to exercifo any part of that office. In 1635, the same monarch, observing that there had been no certain intercourse between the kingdoms of England and Scotland, iilued a proclamation, commanding his posta master of England for foreign parts to settle a running post, or two, to run night and day between Edinburgh and London; to go and return in fix days, and to take with them all such leta ters as should be directed to any post town in or near that road; and that bye-posts should be placed at several places out of the road, to bring in and carry out the letters from and to Lincoln, Hull, and other places. T'he like rule was also to be observed to West Chester, Holyhead, and thence to Ireland ; also to Plymouth, Exeter, and other places on the west road : and as soon as possible the like conveyance to be fettled for Oxford, Bristol, and other towijs in that direction; also to Colchester, Norwich, and divers other places on that road. The same proclamation fettled the price for conveyance of letters, and for the hire of horses for that purpose, and ordained that ro other messengers, nor any foot posts should carry letters, excapt to places where the king's post did not go. This part of the edict being frequently evaded, now proclamations were iffued to enforce it, and the undertaking was in a state of some profperity before the commencement of the civil war, which terninated in the murder of Charles I. The well conducting of this post had already engaged the vigilance of government; Witherings was sup rseded for abuses in the execution of bis office, which was confided to Peter Burlamachy; to be exercised under the controul of the secretary of state. The civil war, in course, impeded the operations of the post, but when that was terminated, the protector and parliament, in 1656, erected a new general post office, which was formed by the fame person who held the contract during the life of the king. The prosperity of the plan probably incited the merchants of London to attempt one in opposition, but they were restrained by a vore of the house of commons; and the ordinance made during the republican government, Itates, that the establishing one general post office, besides the benefit to commerce, and the convenience of conveying public difpatches, “ will be the best means to discover and prevent “ many dangerous and wicked designs against the commona wealth.”
Such was the origin of this most important and beneficial establishment, the succeeding efforts of legislation being confined to the regulation of its operations, the extension of its utility, and the augmentation of its profits. Omitting the tedious and uninteresting details of intermediate attempts, it is highly necessary to notice the great amendment introduced in 1783, by adopting the plan of reform and improvement, invented by John Palmer Esq. and carried into effect by bis great ability and perfevering industry, fo necessary in all reforms, which oppose the prejudices of long habit. From an undeviating adherence to an established system, and the accumulation of indulgences and abuses, the poft office had fallen into a state of general mismanagement in itself, and the revenue was injured, while the public fuffered many inconveniences from those causes, as well as from the incorrect and injudicious system practised in the inland department of the office. The plan of conveying and distributing letters, having been unvaric i for upwards of a century, the post, instead of being the most fafe and expeditious, was become the most infecure and tarcy conveyance in the kingdom ; the mails being intrusted to boys, wi'o were mounted on bad horses, incapable of defending themieives, were often plundered. Hence it happencd, that, in deicance of every law that could be devised for preventing it, many persons preferred fonding, at ? very advanced price, their letters by any of the numerous vehicles, which che improved state of the turnpike roads enabled to travel with expedition, and which were defended by guards constantly attending and well armed. Comparing the dispatch used by the vehicles called diligences, with that which could be effected by the mail, and which considerably exceeded the proportion of two in one, Nír. Palmer rationally diimisled every thought of cramping private enterprize by prohibitions, againit which the necefii. ties of every ciass in the community meit have been perpetually Itruggling, and recommended, that government should take advantage of the facilities which the advanad state of the country presented, and make contracts with the proprietors of the dili. gences for conveying the government mails. The train of teafoning which he pursued on the whole of this subject was
plain, rational, and convincing; he shewed the best mode of insuring the punctual performance of the contracts, the precise observance of fixed times for arrivals, and the faithful escort of guards. His project embraced also the means of increasing the revenue, and diminishing the expence of the new project, by exempting the mail carriages from payment of turnpikes; a heavy tax perhaps on the proprietors of the roads, but an exCraordinary saving to the nation at large.
Besides a proposition for regulating the privilege of franking, which was adopted and extended, Mr. Palmer's plan embraced and accomplished a salutary reform throughout the interior of the office; a reform beneficial to the clerks and persons employed, who previously suffered in their health from the nature of their duties, and highly advantageous to the public. Since the establishment of Mr. Palmer's system, expedition, security, punctuality, and facility in transacting business, have been the characteristics of the post-office of this kingdom. The time of making up the bags, leven in the evening, instead of midnight as it was before, has produced, perhaps, more than could be expected, a radical change in the arrangements of life; a long busy morning, being now fucceeded by a late dinner, and a convivial evening, instead of the fystem which formerly prevailed, particularly on post nights, of making the most pressing exertions at a late hour, to forward those letters, which would elfe perhaps be delayed for several days.
The revenue of the post-office is at this time very confiderable, and perhaps none is paid with greater pleasure, or collected with less difficulty. In fact, the payment of postage is not a tax, but a moderate compensation for an essential service; it is the only one which remains of the numerous monopolies, formerly in the power of the crown. The amount of this revenac, always progreflivc, has been in the last few years exceedingly extended by judicious management, and by occasional additions to the charge of postage. The progress of improvement since the first establishment of the post-office cannot be clearly ascertained, because the records of the early expenditure are not preserved, so as to afford means of calculating the net produce; and of Jate years, the increased commerce of the country has caused a prodigious augmentation in the expence of paciets, which is charged on the gross receipt of the poit-office. Yet some estimate of its progress may be formed from the following stateinent of the sums rendered, either nett or gross at different periods.
In 1652, the revenue was farmed at 10,000!. before which government paid to the post-mafter for a weekly conveyance of letters, 7oool. per annum.