Anthony Trollope: Autobiography of Anthony Trollope


In the spring of 1868,--before the affair of Beverley, which, as being the first direct result of my resignation of office, has been brought in a little out of its turn,--I was requested to go over to the United States and make a postal treaty at Washington. This, as I had left the service, I regarded as a compliment, and of course I went. It was my third visit to America, and I have made two since. As far as the Post Office work was concerned, it was very far from being agreeable. I found myself located at Washington, a place I do not love, and was harassed by delays, annoyed by incompetence, and opposed by what I felt to be personal and not national views. I had to deal with two men,--with one who was a working officer of the American Post Office, than whom I have never met a more zealous, or, as far as I could judge, a more honest public servant. He had his views and I had mine, each of us having at heart the welfare of the service in regard to his own country,--each of us also having certain orders which we were bound to obey. But the other gentleman, who was in rank the superior,--whose executive position was dependent on his official status, as is the case with our own Ministers,--did not recommend himself to me equally. He would make appointments with me and then not keep them, which at last offended me so grievously, that I declared at the Washington Post Office that if this treatment were continued, I would write home to say that any further action on my part was impossible. I think I should have done so had it not occurred to me that I might in this way serve his purpose rather than my own, or the purposes of those who had sent me. The treaty, however, was at last made,--the purport of which was, that everything possible should be done, at a heavy expenditure on the part of England, to expedite the mails from England to America, and that nothing should be done by America to expedite the mails from thence to us. The expedition I believe to be now equal both ways; but it could not be maintained as it is without the payment of a heavy subsidy from Great Britain, whereas no subsidy is paid by the States. [Footnote: This was a state of things which may probably have appeared to American politicians to be exactly that which they should try to obtain. The whole arrangement has again been altered since the time of which I have spoken.]

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