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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/198

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192
MAIL COACHES.

theory should be adopted; and Mr. Palmer was installed at the post-office as comptroller-general, which promotion enabled him to perfect all arrangements, and the first mail-coach left London for Bristol on the evening of August 4, 1784. The era of mail-coaches lasted for about half a century; these safely guarded and well-appointed vehicles increasing in number till within two years of their eclipse by the railway, when they had mounted to as many as twenty-seven, which started from the general post-office and Piccadilly every evening. "A short time before the hour of starting, the mail-coaches arrived in the yard around the post-office, from their respective inns, with the passengers already in their places. Through the iron railings, by the light of innumerable lamps, the public could see the process of packing the mail-bags. It was really a fine sight to see twenty of these vehicles drawn up, each occupying the same station night after night; the horses fine and spirited animals; the harness unexceptionally neat, and the coachmen and guards wearing the king's livery. . . . As the clock struck eight, the post-office porters dragged out huge bags, of which the guards of the different mails took charge. In a few minutes each coach, one by one, passed out of the yard, and the sound of the guard's horn became lost in the noise of the streets." About six of the mail-coaches started from the western end of Piccadilly, the bags for their mails being conveyed in light carts under the care of guards. The starting of these was a sight for the people of the West End. At about twenty minutes past eight the mail-carts drove up at great speed, the guards' horns warning passengers to make way; the bags transported to the mail-coaches, the bugles sounded, and each coach successively took its departure. So spirited was the mail-coach travelling, that we find English gentlemen of that period declaring "five years of life" to be "worth giving up" for the privilege of an outside place on a mail-coagh. Crowds would stand all along the line of the mail-coach route from London, to see it dashing past, and to catch the earliest news, especially during the occurrence of stirring events. The result of Queen Caroline's trial was shouted to the waiting crowds from the top of the mail-coach as it fled swiftly through the country roads. Such a brilliant reputation had the post-horses, that all the noblemen in England greatly desired their favorite steeds to make at least one journey with the letter-mail. A sight indeed after the hearts of the English was that of the mail-coach, with horses whose strength, celerity, and spirit were renowned throughout Europe, guards powerful and trusty, and the whole enlivened by the sound of the post-horn.




Hurry and "High Pressure." — It is the pace that kills; and of all forms of "overwork," that which consists in an excessive burst of effort, straining to the strength, and worrying to the will, hurry of all kinds — for example, that so often needed to catch a train, the effort required to complete a task of head-work within a period of time too short for its accomplishment by moderate energy — is injurious. Few suffer from overwork in the aggregate; it is too much work in too little time that causes the break down in nineteen cases out of twenty, when collapse occurs. Most sufferers bring the evil on themselves by driving off the day's work until the space allotted for its performance is past, or much reduced. Method in work is the great need of the day. If some portion of each division of time was devoted to the apportioning of hours and energy, there would be less confusion, far less "hurry," and the need of working at high pressure would be greatly reduced, if not wholly obviated. A great deal has been written and said of late, to exceedingly little practical purpose, on the subject of "overwork." We doubt whether what is included under this description might not generally be more appropriately defined as work done in a hurry, because the time legitimately appropriated to its accomplishment has been wasted or misapplied. Hurry to catch a train generally implies starting too late. High pressure is, says the Lancet, either the consequence of a like error at the outset of a task, or the penalty of attempting to compensate by intense effort for inadequate opportunity. If brain is bartered for business in this fashion, the goose is killed for the sake of the golden eggs, and greed works its own discomfiture.