Wherever a group of men is formed, the post office does what the Roman municipi did in the past with an army in the field; it settles down and forms the city.
On the Champ de Mars, the post office and its younger brother, the telegraph, naturally leaned against the building where the Exhibition staff met, long before the Exhibition opened.
One of the ministerial immunities enjoyed by the Exhibition staff was to be able to send letters and dispatches free of charge, first to the members of the admission committees, then to the international jurors and even to the exhibitors. And no one, you may imagine, has refrained from taking advantage of this immunity. There is something particularly pleasant about sending and receiving a letter free of charge; and Mr. Vandal's diligent and practised army has had time to get acquainted with our names and writings, principals or addressees.
The Champ de Mars post office has sent out many more letters than it has received: and this is easily explained. The Champ de Mars" is not a home for anyone. Everyone passes through it; no one stays there. It is like an exhaust machine; everything comes out of it, nothing goes into it
I am mistaken: complaints rain down on it from outside and inside; and through what channel do they pass, if not through that impassive and irresponsible intermediary known as a postman? When one does not know the address of a notable man, where else can one write to him but at the Champ de Mars? The honourable civil servant who runs this office can alone gauge the importance of a man involved in the Exhibition: it is by the number of letters transmitted.
The post office of the Imperial Commission, although it did not bring in much to the administration in the rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, was therefore no picnic; I have just said why. So I pay my most sincere compliments to the employees who ran this department. I don't think anyone had to complain about it. Everything was done with admirable order and regularity.
It would be a case of comparing the postal administration with the administration of the Imperial Commission. But we must not hurt anyone's feelings.
I prefer to note that the telegraph, installed in the same premises as the post office, has lived, this time, in good harmony with its elder sister, although they do not have the same guardian: but this will come, I hope, before the time of the majority.
I don't know who may have received a telegraphic message at the Champ de Mars, unless it was at the remaining office. But if they did not receive any, they sent a lot, if only to call a car. For, as you know, the first necessity of the telegraph at the Champ de Mars was revealed by the absence of vehicles. For 25 centimes, one was quickly convinced that there were no cars available in the vicinity.
Shall I tell you about (the Morse, Caselli and other devices, about the installation of the telegraph service on the Champ de Mars? The pretext would not be sufficient; and I would rather leave to one of my collaborators the more opportune opportunity of telling you about the various telegraphic systems exhibited in the great machine hall.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée