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writer. The messenger by whom the packet
was delivered was frequently instructed to
ascertain that he made no mistake, by asking
the person into whose hands the letter was
delivered, whether he could tell by the impression
who had written it.

As for the transmission of letters, the word
"post " is a Roman word, and derives its
name from people who were placed or posted
at fixed distances, to run and pass from hand
to hand the missives of the state. A magnificent
and costly postal system was established
by the Roman Emperors, but it was wholly
for the use of Government, and the defence of
provinces. It did not take the letters of the
people, and the post-horses were only used by
subjects when permission had been given by
the Emperor. We have not leisure now for
any connected sketch of the world's progress
to (what is yet a dream) an universal postal
system. But the work that has been done in
this way may be estimated very fairly by any
one who will turn to some details in the first
pages of " Household Words," under the head
"Valentine's Day at the Post Office," and
remember that in this country there was little
trace of any post establishment at all up to
the twenty-third year of Queen Elizabeth.

Thus, then, we perceive, that although there
be gentlemen among us who profess to teach
the art of writing in six lessons, yet a simple
invitation written to a friend, and sent by
post, contains the result of human activity
sustained over a period of some three thousand



THE moorland was wide, level, and black;
black as night, if you could suppose night
condensed on the surface of the earth, and
that you could tread on solid darkness in the
midst of day. The day itself was indeed fast
dropping into night, although it was dreary
and gloomy at the best; for it was a November
day. The moor, for miles around, was
treeless and houseless; devoid of vegetation,
except heather, which clad with its gloomy
frieze coat the shivering landscape. At a distance
you could discern, through the misty
atmosphere, the outline of mountains apparently
as bare and stony as this wilderness,
which they bounded. There were no fields,
no hedgerows, no marks of the hand of man,
except the nakedness itself, which was the
work of man in past ages; when, period
after period, he had tramped over the scene
with fire and sword, and left all that could not
fly before him, either ashes to be scattered by
the savage winds, or stems of trees,and carcases
of men trodden into the swampy earth. As
the Roman historian said of other destroyers,
"They created solitude, and called it peace."
That all this was the work of man, and not of
Nature, any one spot of this huge and howling
wilderness could testify, if you would only turn
up its sable surface. In its bosom lay thousands
of ancient oaks and pines, black as
ebony; which told, by their gigantic bulk,
that forests must have once existed on this
spot, as rich as the scene was now bleak.
Nobler things than trees lay buried there;
but were, for the most part, resolved into
the substance of the inky earth. The dwellings
of men had left few or no traces, for they
had been consumed in flames; and the hearts
that had loved, and suffered, and perished
beneath the hand of violence and insult, were
no longer human hearts, but slime. If a man
were carried blindfold to that place, and
asked when his eyes were unbandaged where
he was, he would say—" Ireland!"

He would want no clue to the identity of
the place, but the scene before him. There is
no heath like an Irish heath. There is no
desolation like an Irish desolation. Where
Nature herself has spread the expanse of
a solitude, it is a cheerful solitude. The air
flows over it lovingly; the flowers nod
and dance in gladness; the soil breathes
up a spirit of wild fragrance, which communicates
a buoyant sensation to the heart.
You feel that you tread on ground where
the peace of God, and not the " peace " of
man created in the merciless hurricane of
war, has sojourned: where the sun shone on
creatures sporting on ground or on tree, as
the Divine Goodness of the Universe meant
them to sport: where the hunter disturbed
alone the enjoyment of the lower animals by
his own boisterous joy: where the traveller
sung as he went over it, because he felt a
spring of inexpressible music in his heart:
where the weary wayfarer sat beneath a bush,
and blessed God, though his limbs ached
with travel, and his goal was far off. In
God's deserts dwells gladness; in man's
deserts, death. A melancholy smites you
as you enter them. There is a darkness
from the past that envelops your heart,
and the moans and sighs of ten-times perpetrated
misery seem still to live in the very

One shallow, and widely-spread stream
struggled through the moor; sometimes between
masses of grey stone. Sedges and the
white-headed cotton-rush whistled on its
margin, and on island-like expanses that here
and there rose above the surface of its middle

I have said that there was no sign of life;
but on one of those grey stones stood a heron
watching for prey. He had remained straight,
rigid, and motionless for hours. Probably his
appetite was appeased by his day's success
amongst the trout of that dark red-brown
stream, which was coloured by the peat from
which it oozed. When he did move, he sprung
up at once, stretched his broad wings, and,
silent as the scene around him, made a circuit
in the air; rising higher as he went, with
slow and solemn night. He had been startled