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ried out in the ordinary way, with modern birth—including the cheapeight large pages of type to set; est and by no means the least atbut this difficulty was met by a tractive-had gone the way of the friendly arrangement for putting rest at the time of which I speak; the title of the defunct journal to but the veteran 'Globe' still carried the types of another paper some on, though its whole circulation morning, after this other paper said to be far short of a had been printed off. The office thousand copies. (At threepence of the Morning Chronicle' was apiece, however.) And unless my in dingy old premises nearly op- memory is at fault, there was no posite Somerset House. Once, other evening journal in existence. when I was a lad, I ascended its This account of the condition of stair, but never again—so rough the newspaper press in the early was my reception by a very able sixties does not seem to bear out yet very warm - tempered editor. my statement that it was a forNot that he went so far with me as tunate time to start with ; but it he could go, or as when he put his Journalism was at turningprinter on the fire in consequence point. A poor order of things of a typographical error!
was passing away; a better order It is not forgotten, of course, of things - mainly signalised by that two great additions to daily the victorious advent of the 'Satjournalism in London (one spring- urday Review,' and, as I have ing from Whitefriars, the other said, by the attraction of many from Peterborough Court) must be fresh, bright, strong, and scholarly set against these changes and minds to journalism as a powerfatalities. On the other hand, Mr was coming in, and coming in upon Bright's 'Star' died out, and one well-prepared ground. As one conentire system of journalistic pub- sequence, the Pall Mall Gazette' lications had perished. In the started under more favourable conearlier years of the century the ditions than we were sensible of at London evening papers seem to
the time—an admission volunteered have been both prosperous and to chasten pride and cool conceit influential, ranking close after the when I add that this same little morning papers. Yet when my paper gave a great stimulus to the little paper was started in 1865 revival. If its distinguishing insome of them were dead and for- tention had to be explained in a gotten, while others were forgotten sentence, it was to bring into daily though they still lived. That seems journalism (but with more legerity hardly possible, for a newspaper, and less of the doctorial) the full but it is as nearly true as measure of thought and culture be. It seems that there was which was then found only in a 'St James's Chronicle' extant, the few Reviews. So, indeed, its proexistence of which was then and spectus said ; and though the intenafterwards a secret from all but its tion so expressed may seem bumpproprietor and printer. Certainly tious to the later generation of it was a secret from me till after I newspaper readers, they have a had been fifteen or twenty years milder opinion of it who rememin the trade, when Mr Newdigate ber what the daily press of Eng. told me that he was the owner of land really was just before the the
paper, and showed me the first breaking of its better day. Some and only copy of it that I ever unaccustomed emulations were
Some evening papers of more now roused; others were stimu
lated ; and, powerful influences of nalistic maxim of the time: mark various kinds concurring to aid the maxim. Acknowledging the the change, the newspaper press inconvenience of “dashing off” a moved on to a higher place and to first-night criticism“ before you great prosperity. The evening go to bed,” he further said that papers, which had almost gone out to wait till next morning would of existence, were speedily restored be wiser. But what would you ? in greater numbers and to greater "The facts of competition, and favour. In London alone there that people generally prefer a have been seven or eight of them thing done soon to having it done for years; and their aggregate well, compel an immediate notice." sale is not reckoned by single The number of persons per thouthousands, as in '65, but by hun- sand who prefer criticism done soon dreds of thousands.
to criticism done well may be It was a good time for journal- larger than some of us could have ism, that seventh decade of the supposed; but what compels an century, for another reason that immediate notice, good, bad, or seems quite worth mentioning. indifferent, is evidently “the facts Whether employed upon a morn- of competition.” That the dramatic ing or an evening paper, the criticism of the newspapers would political and even the literary be bettered if written "next mornscribe wrote in much more fa- ing” is not an inflexible matter vourable conditions than he does of certainty, considering how much now, or has done for some years. depends on the training and the Shortly stated, the explanation of idiosyncrasy of the critic. Change the difference is that in those the wording a little, and the days he wrote under pressure just same thing may be said for other strong enough to produce warm critics, and even for those who and spirited work, while nowadays convey political instruction under the pressure is often too great the same law of devil take the for a comfortable and satisfactory hindmost. An apt and ready mind, deliverance. Here again, of course, constantly employed in beating as in many another place, I speak over certain departments of politiin generalities, exceptions being cal study, is usually prepared with always implied and I hope under- an opinion upon whatever may stood. In this case, however, the happen within its own range of exceptions are not very numerous, observation and expectancy. This and they are probably becoming is the answer to the reproach of fewer; for the aim of modern jour writing at an hour's notice on the nalism more and more is to write most important political events. of the latest turn of the latest No political event is unrelated to matter of interest at the last past and present. hour allowed by the printer. This phecies, more or less distinct, of is called being “up to date," and what is to come. Either as likely in nothing is there greater rivalry. or unlikely, therefore, most politiBeing up to date is, of course, the cal events are matters of speculalife of journalism, as its name tion before they happen; and bespeaks; but even here it is though a sudden piece of news possible to run to excess. A may sometimes throw the most dramatic critic exactly illustrated judgmatical observer into confumy meaning the other day in a sion, it more often has a contrary sentence which embodied à jour effect, - instantly consolidating a
Both are pro
whole series of beliefs and expec- way precisely the young man tations theretofore held in sus- wrote every day for a year; by pense. In a moment, long vistas which time he found the dinners of speculation, with their bypaths, “such a tie" that he got release become solid ground, over which from them. the political writer is able to con- This was in 1842. Before 1862 duct his public with confidence at leader-writing bad lost much of an hour's notice.
the ease and fireside charm which But the hour's notice — the Frederic Rogers enjoyed, but yet hour's notice is very desirable. its practice was more unem barIt gives the writer ease ; it rassed and deliberate than the adsmoothes his way; it may even be vance of civilisation allowed it to accounted necessary for his own remain. The one fact that thengood and the good of his work; a-days there were no Atlantic or but he does not get it so often as other long - distance submarine in times of old. By a few precious cables to pour news into "the minutes at every stage of the day's office" from all parts of the earth, business, there was a more leis- at all hours of the day and night, urely way of doing things thirty marks a great difference in favour years ago.
Step back twenty of the scribe. Mainly on this years farther, and see how leading account, he now begins to write articles were written for the most at about eleven o'clock at night, exigent and enterprising news- —often without knowing what paper of the period. Describing new facts may come in before the beginning of his connection twelve to make rewriting neceswith the "Times,' Lord Blach. sary, or what may “transpire" ford says: “I dined with Mr before breakfast-time next mornWalter and his son in Printing. ing to belate his premisses or house Square at five o'clock, and throw doubt on his conclusions. found that I was expected to write in consequence, not seldom is he an article then and there on one driven to hedging ingenuities of of the subjects of the day. I pro- locution which enfeeble what he tested my inability, not supposing has to say. But a worse result of myself capable of doing such a the endless stream of rumours, thing in less than a week. This reports, and "revelations,” towas pooh-poohed. I tried, found gether with the imperative up-toit possible, and found also that I date competition deplored by our was expected to repeat the process dramatic critic, is one that seems next day. Same hour, same din- to be gaining ground fast. Every ner, short conversation after din novel and plausible rumour being ner, when the subject was the rumour most up to date, it is nounced, and I was left alone till allowed an importance that very tea-time, when Mr Walter ap- rarely belongs to it. The leaderpeared, read aloud what I had writer feels that it must not be done, with criticisms, and, after supposed to have escaped his vigicorrection, carried off the copy to lance; he must take notice of it: the printer. When the article,” in doing so he must search out its taken up for completion after tea, remotest inner meanings for what
was finished, the same process ever up-to-dateness they may rewas repeated; and when I was veal; and the consequence is that disburdened of the whole article I reports which in nine cases out of went home to bed.” And in this ten are born to flutter for a day
and then to perisb, are discussed finance, the wires are used to proas gravely as if they were in pagate impressions and alarms every sense the last word.
more useful to the senders of the It will be understood at once, message than to anybody else. of course, that these remarks more Obviously, it was a very great particularly apply to journalistic advantage to be
be comparatively comment on foreign affairs, which free of such irruptions, to be are now and are likely to remain ourselves rarely disturbed by by far the most important of them, and to write for a public English affairs; and no one who that did not go wild twice a week studies them in the newspapers over sensational telegrams prepared will accuse me of exaggeration on with too little care or a vast deal this point. It can be explained, too much. “Prodigious fabricaof course, if explanation which tions are evidently taking the offers no hope of remedy is of any place of serious and carefully comfort; but never till now has sifted news.” It even goes as far there been such an inpour of as that, according to one of the startling reports, unexpected de- most moderate and soft-speaking velopments, surprising portents, of London journals. keys to the situation, revelations of the most authorised descrip- These developments confirm tion-yet nearly all factitious or rather than weaken an old opin. fanciful; and never before bas ion that the most difficult and there been such eager snatching least satisfactory service of the at the latest supply of a Press in Britain is the Foreign modity which, in its effect on the correspondent's. Its difficulty is consumer, resembles West Coast indeed so great, even
as pracgin : exciting much but debilitat- tised by the worthiest among an ing more. That is the evil of it. able and honourable set of men, As for the leader - writers, "the that it seems nearly unattainable. facts of competition, and that Consider what the position of a people generally prefer a thing Foreign Correspondent is. As done soon to having it done well, agent of a British firm, he is sent compel a notice" of these rumours to some great capital to obtain and reports which otherwise would a constant supply of a valuable never be wasted on them. As for commodity. It is of different the public, before long the public qualities this commodity the mind tires under the profitless most esteemed being, as usual, confusion so assiduously provided the sort that is hardest come by. for it; and it would be strange if The new, the secret, the unknown the instructors of the public mind in international politics are the did not sicken a little too. Mean- greatest prizes; but even the most while, what is most substantial precious of these loses 95 per and most necessary to keep in cent of the value it would otherview is in danger of being over
wise have for the firm at home laid and forgotten. Here at the when it is not "exclusive.” That least is a very great nuisance, the it should be exclusive is everywhich we were spared when tele- thing that is to say, that no graphic enterprise gave less facility other correspondent of a similar for a traffic which is not always firm should have a share in it. innocently distracting; for some- But in every great capital a dozen times in politics, as sometimes in correspondents of similar firms
VOL. CLXI. --NO, DCCCCLXXIX.
compete against each other; and all; for it is impossible to say very keen the competition is, be- when any one of them may not cause the success of one man is have reasons of State for worryin its own exact measure a re- ing another by the revelation of a proach and a humiliation to the half-formed scheme or the publicarest. And with all this competi- tion of a compromising despatch. tion, what have the rival seekers Above all, the Foreign Corre. after the new, the secret, the un- spondent must stand well with known, to offer for it? Nothing: the Government of the country nothing tangible, of course. In he lives in; and the only way France a good deal of business is of keeping well with these highdone in this commodity on & solid est dispensers of information is footing; but there the inquiring to take a friendly view of their firms are mostly financial, oper- policies and proceedings whenever ating for bourse-purposes and by it is possible and as long as it is no means to supply the public possible. with news. The Own Corre- Now as the British journalist spondent has no commission to pay carries the spirit of independence a political functionary's debts or abroad with him, and is, accordanything of that sort, and would ing to my observation and belief, not consent to work in any such remarkably sensitive to the proway. He has nothing to offer but fessional point d'honneur, he has his card and his civilities, wher- an extremely troublesome time of ever he may seek what he is it between what is expected of in want of daily. Even for the him at home and the pressure to means of carrying on an inferior which he is subject in the capital though still important part of his where he is stationed. That it canduties, he must studiously com- not be otherwise is in the nature pete with the rest of the dozen of men and things; and no man in being agreeable. It is his needs another's glasses to see the business to make himself persona length and breadth of the facts. grata with all the more lofty It is only a ruder and coarser functionaries in Court and Govern embarrassment for the corresponment, or how shall he hope for a dent in France, in Germany, in good place for describing State Austria, when his editor, acting festivities or on grand ceremonial upon an independent opinion, occasions? And then as to higher writes in persistent hostility to things, how else is he to stand a the Government in either of these chance of getting choice political countries. And what is the reinformation: To be sure, there is sult? The result that might be resort to the British Embassy in expected is a good deal of comthe capital to which he is ac- plaisance. As a matter of fact, credited; but though our Foreign however, there is very much Office officials abroad are a trifle less of it than might be inferred more yielding, I believe, than without excess of suspicion. But they in Downing Street are, there yet, as I have had occasion to are no flintier sources of political remark before now, it is at this revelation in the world than the point that the independence of the British secretariat. The other English press is weakest. Here Embassies afford better sport, and it is most often exposed to subit is a matter of great importance version—to subversion of a very to be on friendly terms with them subtle kind; and unfortunately