I am reading The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815, a fascinating social-economic history of Europe's early modern age.
Reading about life in those days and all the problems people faced -- wars, plagues, famine, lack of deodorant -- makes me glad to be living in this industrial age, even if industry does cause global warming.
Anyway, the book's author, historian Tim Blanning, describes how an enterprising Englishman named William Dockwra created a private postal system to serve London in the 1680s.
Writes Blanning, "Recruiting hundreds of taverns, coffee houses and shops as collecting stations, he was able to provide a service more rapid than anything on offer today, as collections and deliveries were made as often as every hour during the daytime."
Of course, the King soon closed it down because it competed too efficiently with the monopoly he had granted to collect the mail.
The more things change...