Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pursuing Glory and Profits

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...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight as I'm trying to figure out what you are trying to communicate...

Are you trying to compare a small city wide postal service to Canada Post that has to service all of Canada?
You do realize that we do have "private" systems in Canada: They are called couriers and quite efficient (for a price of course). Then again you have UPS and FedEx amongst others....

Or maybe you are trying to make a point that we should have more Dockwra's who made rather particular business choices for his personal gain while at the employ of the Penny Post (he was dismissed for irregularities).

Or maybe you admire Dockwra for opening and detaining mail?

You are correct, the more things change.... So I wonder when we will see Mr. Mulroney with bells on?