Our able and spirited cotemporary. The Telegrapher, has from the first looked with disfavor upon the proposition to establish a Government postal telegraph in this country. In its issue of the 3rd of July it devotes a leading article to the subject. It says: " By recent telegraphic advices by cable, we are informed thatthe cost to the British Government for the purchase of the telegraph lines of the country, will be 6,500,000, equivalent to $32,000,000 in gold. For this enormous expenditure the government gets only the lines and equipments as at present established and in use. An additional large amount will be required to extend the wires, and establish oflices as proposed by the postal telegraph advocates. When this is done the system cannot be as cheaply worked as by private enterprise, and there is no doubt but that for some years to come there must be an annual loss, not only of the interest on the capital invested, but also on the actual working expenses. These facts are having a decided efi'ect on the minds of the members of Parliament, and they seem to be in no hurry to appropriate the money necessary to carry out the bargains of the Disraeli Government, and it is by no means certain but that the schemes of the postal telegraphers in England may yet come to grief from the disinclination of any government to take the responsibility of wasting such a sum as is required to carry out the postal telegraph project. " We commend these facts and figures to the serious consideration of those in this country who have been inclined to favor the schemes for a Government telegraph, advanced and directed by B. Gratz Brown, E. B. Washburne, Gardiner G. Hubbard, and the JS'eiw York Herald. Mr. Hubbard's scheme of a Postal Telegraph Company is an absurdity and can never be carried out." Now, as we are one of those inclinect to favor a Government telegraph, we have looked at these figures with attention and we do not accept the inferences that TJie Telegrapher thinks must be drawn from them. We agree that " if the Government is going into the telegraph business it must do it boldly and unequivocally," but we do not agree that it is necessary to make it a " Government monopoly " although we think that, after a short time, it would be wise to do so, to the extent which the present postal system may be so called. The postal system now competes in the carrying of small parcels and newspapers with the express lines throughout the country. It also permits the carrying of letters by those not appointed specially for that purpose, if they are stamped. If it is thought best to purchase existing lines, upon honest appraisal, the property purchased would be worth the money paid for it. The Telegrapher does not seem to take into account the effect likely to be* produced by the large reduction in rates proposed. Such reduction would render the telegram an ordinary means of communication, rather than an exception, as is now the case, and consequently for a given extent of line the aggregate returns would be greatly increased without a corresponding increase of expense in the working of the lines, and the profits would be greater. Having said this much we are ready to admit that although there is something to be said in favor of a Government telegraph, there is also much to be said against it. The way in which the business of the Government is now transacted, does not greatly encourage the wish to place in its hands any wider patronage than it now possesses. The chances are that were the telegraph property of the entire country to be bought up, a series of jobbing would be inaugurated which would enrich the present holders of the property, and rob the people. The interests of the difi'erent lines as well as the public would, we believe, be so greatly enhanced by a large reduction in present rates of transmission, that all thought of change would be at least for a considerable period, banished from the public mind. The present rates over many lines are preposterously exorbitant, and of course their business is limited by them. Give any one of ihese lines all the business it can do, and the rates might be made extremely small, compared to current charges. We believe the converse would also be found true; and that were the prices of transmission very much reduced, both business and profits would be enormously increased. Whether competition brings this about or not, one thing is ertain, the public will not long be deprived of cheap telegraphic communication. Heat never performs work except in passing from one ody to another. It is then only partially converted into work.
This article was originally published with the title "The Proposed Postal Telegraph"