system for transporting documents and other small packages

Mail, or post, is a system for transporting letters and other tangible objects: written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes, and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world.


  • The Post Office Department is like a great root spreading many feet under ground and nourishing the mighty oak. It is the tap root of civilization.
  • Belshazzar had a letter,—
    He never had but one;
    Belshazzar's correspondence
    Concluded and begun
    In that immortal copy
    The conscience of us all
    Can read without its glasses
    On revelation's wall.
  • Carrier of news and knowledge
    Instrument of trade and industry
    Promoter of mutual acquaintance
    Of peace and of goodwill
    Among men and nations
    Messenger of sympathy and love
    Servant of parted friends
    Consoler of the lonely
    Bond of the scattered family
    Enlarger of the common life
    • Charles W. Eliot, revised by Woodrow Wilson, inscriptions on the main Post Office, Washington, D.C.; reported in Inscriptions Written by Charles William Eliot (1934), p. 40. In 1877 Charles W. Eliot, then president of Harvard University, was asked to provide an inscription for a Civil War monument. "The brevity, cogency, and lyric quality of what he wrote … won wide acclaim and … he was constantly asked to provide inscriptions" until his death in 1926. He achieved considerable "success in this difficult form of composition…. it meant not only the happy exercise of his gift for concise and descriptive phrasing, but also appealed to his experience as a mathematician" because the words had to fit particular, sometimes restrictive spaces. "In 1911, at the close of a long day's work at Northeast Harbor, Maine, Mr. Eliot went out on his boat in company with two or three friends. Presently he produced a scrap of paper and an infinitesimal pencil and began to write. When he had finished, he read aloud the original draft of the two inscriptions for the Post Office at Washington. Possibly he had meditated these inscriptions for some time, but it appeared to those present like an inspiration of the moment. In time they came, unsigned, to the notice of President Wilson who made a few alterations and consigned the inscriptions to the stonecutters. Only later did he learn the name of the author." Inscriptions Written by Charles William Eliot (1934), Foreword by Grace Eliot Dudley, p. 7, 9.
  • Dockwra's innovations—charging by weight (instead of number of letter sheets), prepayment, and a uniform low rate of postage—long predated and provided a successful local-scale molde for Victorian postal reform.
  • It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day's journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.
    • Herodotus, Herodotus (1924 translation by A.D. Godley), vol. 4, book 8, verse 98, p. 96–97. A paraphrase of this motto—"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"—is carved over the entrance to the central post office building in New York City. The method of carrying messages Herodotus describes was a Persian invention and enabled the messengers to travel swiftly. In this fashion King Xerxes sent a message home to Persia that the Greeks had destroyed his fleet off Salamis in 480 B.C. George Stimpson, A Book About a Thousand Things (1946), p. 69–70.
  • Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
    That well-known name awakens all my woes.
  • Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
    Led thro' a sad variety of woe:
    Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
    Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
  • Heav'n first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
    Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid.
  • We beg leave to transport the reader to the back-parlour of the post-master's house at Fairport, where his wife, he himself being absent, was employed in assorting for delivery the letters which had come by the Edinburgh post. This is very often in country towns the period of the day when gossips find it particularly agreeable to call on the man or woman of letters, in order, from the outside of the epistles, and, if they are not belied, occasionally from the inside also, to amuse themselves with gleaning information, or forming conjectures about the correspondence and affairs of their neighbours.
  • I have a letter from her
    Of such contents as you will wonder at:
    The mirth whereof so larded with my matter,
    That neither singly can be manifested,
    Without the show of both.
  • I read
    Of that glad year that once had been,
    In those fall'n leaves which kept their green,
    The noble letters of the dead:
    And strangely on the silence broke
    The silent-speaking words.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 617-18.
  • (He) put that which was most material in the postscript.
  • He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
    Cold and yet cheerful; messenger of grief
    Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some.
  • The welcome news is in the letter found;
    The carrier's not commission'd to expound;
    It speaks itself, and what it does contain,
    In all things needful to be known, is plain.
  • Carrier of news and knowledge,
    Instrument of trade and industry,
    Promoter of mutual acquaintance,
    Of peace and good-will
    Among men and nations.
    • Charles W. Eliot, Inscription on Southeast corner of Post-office, Washington, D. C.
  • Messenger of sympathy and love,
    Servant of parted friends,
    Consoler of the lonely,
    Bond of the scattered family,
    Enlarger of the common life.
    • Charles W. Eliot, Inscription on Southwest corner of Post-office, Washington, D. C.
  • Every day brings a ship,
    Every ship brings a word;
    Well for those who have no fear,
    Looking seaward well assured
    That the word the vessel brings
    Is the word they wish to hear.
  • Sent letters by posts … being hastened and pressed on.
    • Esther, VIII. 10. 14.
  • Thy letter sent to prove me,
    Inflicts no sense of wrong;
    No longer wilt thou love me,—
    Thy letter, though, is long.
  • Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
    • Herodotus, Inscription on the front of the Post office, New York City.
  • Letters, from absent friends, extinguish fear,
    Unite division, and draw distance near;
    Their magic force each silent wish conveys,
    And wafts embodied thought, a thousand ways:
    Could souls to bodies write, death's pow'r were mean,
    For minds could then meet minds with heav'n between.
    • Aaron Hill, Verses Written on a Window in a Journey to Scotland.
  • An exquisite invention this,
    Worthy of Love's most honeyed kiss,—
    This art of writing billet-doux—
    In buds, and odors, and bright hues!
    In saying all one feels and thinks
    In clever daffodils and pinks;
    In puns of tulips; and in phrases,
    Charming for their truth, of daisies.
  • A piece of simple goodness—a letter gushing from the heart; a beautiful unstudied vindication of the worth and untiring sweetness of human nature—a record of the invulnerability of man, armed with high purpose, sanctified by truth.
  • A strange volume of real life in the daily packet of the postman. Eternal love and instant payment!
  • My days are swifter than a post.
    • Job, IX. 25.
  • Kind messages, that pass from land to land;
    Kind letters, that betray the heart's deep history,
    In which we feel the pressure of a hand,—
    One touch of fire,—and all the rest is mystery!
  • Good-bye—my paper's out so nearly,
    I've only room for, Yours sincerely.
  • Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parceque je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
    • I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter.
    • Blaise Pascal, Lettres provinciales, 16 (Dec. 14, 1656).
  • Ev'n so, with all submission, I
    * * * * *
    Send you each year a homely letter,
    Who may return me much a better.
  • And oft the pangs of absence to remove
    By letters, soft interpreters of love.
  • I will touch
    My mouth unto the leaves, caressingly;
    And so wilt thou. Thus, from these lips of mine
    My message will go kissingly to thine,
    With more than Fancy's load of luxury,
    And prove a true love-letter.
  • A woman seldom writes her Mind, but in her Postscript.
  • Go, little letter, apace, apace,
    Fly to the light in the valley below—
    Tell my wish to her dewy blue eye.
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