The Victorian struggle between active and passive reading has a more concrete consequence for scholars today. To think about reading, in other words, meant to think about difference, between classes, sexes, ages, and eras. The historian David Vincent has noted the paradox underpinning the foundation of secular national school systems in the nineteenth century. Modern scholars are blessed (and cursed) by the Victorians' own obsession with literacy statistics. The eighteenth century bequeathed to the Victorians an association of mass literacy either with universal enlightenment or with mob rule. Early Victorian reformers like Rowland Hill denounced a society in which postage rates sundered families, deadened trade, and silenced ideas. With the introduction of prepaid penny postage, later followed by the adhesive stamp and the pillar box, the volume of letters sent through the post increased dramatically. The fears and fantasies that Victorian intellectuals attached to literacy refracted their own entanglement in the world of print.