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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


356 OLD ANI) NEW EDINBURGH. [North Bridge. night. for his journey there and back, the channel of the Gala, which, for a considerable distance was parallel with the road, being, when not flooded, the track chosen as most level and easy for the traveller. At this period and long before, there was a set of horse ?cadgers,? who plied regularly between different places, and in defiance of the laws, carried more letters than ever passed through the Edinburgh office in those days. In 1757 the revenue amounted to A10,623, accorcling to Arnot ; in that year the mail was upon the road from London 87 hours, and, oddly enough, from Edinburgh back 131 hours ; but by the influence of the Convention of Royal Burghs, these hours were reduced to Xz and 85 respec- Postmaster-General, and nine years after, the mails began to be conveyed from stage to stage byrelays of fresh horses, and different post-boys, to the principal places in Scotland; but the greater pxtion of the bags were conveyed by foot-runners j far the condition of the roads from Edinburgh would not admit of anything like rapid travelling. The most direct, at times, lay actually in the channels of streams. The common carrier from Edinburgh to Selkirk, 38 miles, required a fortburgh staff consisted of ten persons, exclusive of the letter carriers. In 1776 the first stagecoach came to Edinburgh on the 10th April, having performed the journey from London in sixty hours. In the same year the penny post was established in Scotland by Peter Williamson, to whom we have referred elsewhere. This man was the Rowland Hill of his day, and the postal authorities seeing the importance of such a source of revenue, gave him a pension for the goodwill of the business, and the Scottish penny posts were afterwards confirmed to the General Post by an Act of Parliament in 1799. In 1781 the number of post-towns in Scotland consisted of 140, and the staff at Edinburgh tively; and 1763 beheld a further improvement, when the London mails were increased from three to five. Previously they had travelled in such a dilatory manner, that in the winter the letters I which left London on Tuesday night were not distributed m Edinburgh till the Sunday following, between sermons. In 1765 there was a penny postage for letters borne one stage; and in 1771, when Oliphant of Rossie was Deputy Postmaster-General, the Edin
Volume 2 Page 356
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