Stanley Paine: Edinburgh Mail Coach
Artist: Stanley Paine
From the start, the watchword of the Royal Mail has always been the same: that the post must get through. And perhaps this has never been realized so well as in the fateful winter of 1831. It was February, and snow and cold raged as the Edinburgh Mail Coach left on its route. At Moffat, the Coach and horses became stuck in a drift. All efforts at freeing the snowbound vehicle seemd futile. In accordance with their duties as servants of the Royal Post, the coachman and guard mounted the horses, the all-important mails flung over their shoulders in letter bags. They took with them two postboys and headed across the bleak, snow-covered country, hoping to reach the next stage safely. The passengers were left behind to fend for themselves. But, as the little mounted band went on, they realized the snow was too deep even for their horses. They decided to send them back with the postboys, the two men continuing on, on foot, carrying the heavy mail bags with them. They never reached their destination. The next day, the bags were found lashed to a post beside the road, the men's bodies were dug out of a snowdrift some time later. The two, James MacGeorge and John Goodfellow, exemplify the honor felt by Britain's early postal employees and the sacrifice and devotion they were willing to impart to the sacred trust of delivering mail in their beloved homeland.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Great Britain 16p Edinburgh Mail Coach stamp issued July 31, 1984.
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