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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/118

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tions. Another matter to be considered is the distinction between the maritime and terrestrial transits; the former is ordinarily more expensive than the latter, in consequence of the subsidies granted by many countries to steamers on their navigable rivers, and in some countries the railroads transport mail-bags gratuitously. The treaties have therefore to regulate the transit, the manner in which it is to be effected, and the remuneration. It must also regulate a great many other matters: for instance, what will be carried by the mails? Formerly, at great distances, letters only were exchanged; now journals and pamphlets of every kind are carried, packages of merchandise, and even money and valuables.

The system of isolated postal treaties between different countries has had its day, and what progress was possible under it has already been attained. Certain countries, which until recently remained outside of the international movement, have now entered into it with ardor. Thus in the year 1872 Russia, besides her postal treaty with France, signed postal agreements with Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. By an examination of the numerous arrangements which at this period were formed for postal relations, it is easy to ascertain a uniform tendency toward the development of international exchanges by lowering the rates of postage and by the simplification of operations. In 1862 the postal administration of the United States called the attention of foreign postal departments to this matter, and indicated the number of obstacles to foreign correspondence resulting from the difference in the principles as well as in the detail of postal arrangements—obstacles that could not be remedied but by an international concert of action. Consequently, it invited the members of the postal departments of the different nations to an international conference. This conference took place at Paris in May, 1863, and was composed of delegates from fifteen countries; its object, as declared by its president, was "not to discuss or to regulate certain practical facts which pertain to a sphere of negotiation beyond our powers, but to argue, or at least to consider and proclaim, certain general principles, certain speculative doctrines, which hereafter we may be forced to adopt in the interest of the public and of the Treasuries of our respective Governments." The different problems of the postal exchanges were discussed with considerable acumen, and the result of the deliberations was the enunciation of the general principles, which were "of a nature to facilitate the relations of people with each other by way of the post, and to serve as a basis to international conventions looking to a regulation of these relations." This conference of 1863, although bringing about no immediate result, had nevertheless a considerable influence: it showed the possibility of an understanding and the advantages of discussion. Some of the ideas recommended soon afterward passed into practice. With the progress of time their practicability became more apparent; and a new conference was called,