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irregular dash, which may mean anything or nothing. In addressing letters to persons entitled to more than ordinary consideration, it is now a pretty common practice to write etc., etc., etc.,' after the name and designation. Without being able to speak positively on the subject, I am inclined to think that this is a comparatively recent 'innovation."1 In jocular allusion to the late Sir John Sinclair's numerous titles and distinctions, his humorous correspondent Sir Adam Ferguson once addressed a letter to him thus:
Imperfectly Addressed Letters.
Notwithstanding a somewhat prevalent opinion to the contrary, a very large amount of trouble is expended by the post-office authorities upon insufficiently or wrongly addressed letters, which, 'considering that the time of the department is the property of the country,' as
1 The subject of Esquires and other names of worship is treated in a very learned, as well as very amusing manner by Dr. Nares, in his curious work entitled Heraldic Anomalies.
the Postmaster-General truly remarks, 'ought scarcely to be given, to make up for what generally arises from the carelessness of the writers, without an additional charge.' terms of the official regulations, whenever a letter is found, the address of which is illegible or incomplete, it is passed at once to the blind officer,' whose duty it is to try to decipher the writing, to correct any evident mistake or omission, and to put the letter in course to reach its destination. The blind officers' are supplied with all the principal Directories, Guides, and Gazetteers, by the help of which, and of their own intelligence, they generally succeed in making out the destinations of the letters referred to them. Like the compositors of a printing establishment, these 'blind officers' appear to possess the faculty of deciphering the most illegible handwriting, and cases might, no doubt, be adduced where they have been able to interpret addresses which the writers themselves would have failed to read a few days after the despatch of their letters. Occasionally we see in the newspapers specimens of very extraordinary addresses, remarkable not only for their utter disregard
of orthography, but also for their ingenious combinations and divisions of words, all in strict accordance with phonetic principles. Thus, Hagness Itchcock, Oileywhite, Amshire (Agnes Hitchcock, Isle of Wight, Hampshire)—John Orsel, Ash Bedles in Such, Lestysheer (John Horsel, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire)-Coneyach lunentick a Siliam (Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum)—and Schromphraydavi (Sir Humphrey Davy). In his interesting account of the British Post-Office-under the title of Her Majesty's Mails-Mr. Lewins gives the following as a specimen of the long and involved addresses that frequently appear on the letters of our Irish fellow-countrymen :- To my sister Bridget, or else to my brother Tim Burke, in care of the Praste, who lives in the parish of Balcumbury in Cork, or if not, to some dacent neighbour in Ireland.'1 The same writer once saw a letter bearing the name of a large town in the West of England, on which the remainder of the address was, Mary H-, a tall woman with two children.' He pays a great compliment to our own portion of the kingdom, when he says that the Scotch people exhibit the greatest care in such matters. .
1 See Appendix, No. V.
Their poorer classes,' he continues, are certainly better educated, and whilst seldom profuse on their letters, they are cautious enough not to leave anything of consequence unwritten.' Time was, however, when even in enlightened Scotland, quaint superscriptions were not entirely unknown. The following examples are given, under the head of ' Postal Arrangements,' in Captain Dunbar's curious work entitled Social Life in Former Days, chiefly in the Province of Moray, the relative letters being all dated at the beginning of the eighteenth century :
'ffor Mr. Archbald Dumbarr of Thundertoune to be left at Capt. Dumbar's writing Chamber at the Iron revell third storie below the Cross north end of the close at Edinr.'
For Captain Philip Anstruther off Newgrange att his lodgeing a litle above the fountain-well south side of the street Edenbrough.'
'ffor Mrs. Mary Stowel at Whiteakers in St Andrew Street next door save one to the blew balcony near the sun dyall near long aiker London.'
At a still more recent date, an 'unsophisticated Highlander' is said to have thus addressed an epistle to his brother in the Scottish Metropolis:- Heer she coes to Embro to Tonald my proather doon a pack closs 3 stares
upp-if this winna fin' er oot the deil winna fin' er oot.'
When it has been fully ascertained, after much elaborate procedure, that nothing further can be done to effect the delivery of a letter-if it contains an address, it is returned to the writer on the same day that it reaches the Returned or Dead' Letter Branch; and when possible, this is done without breaking the seal or examining the contents, by means of information on the outside of the cover.
According to the latest Report of the Postmaster-General, the correspondence of the kingdom has risen from about 70,000,000 of letters in 1839 (the last year preceding the introduction of penny postage) to 808,118,000 letters in 1868. Several causes have combined to bring about this vast increase of correspondence. The reduction of postage-thanks to Sir Rowland Hill--the growth of the population, the increase of trade, the spread of education, and the improvements (over and above the reduction of postage) which the post-office