Asa Greene.

A glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. online

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 6 of 11)
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cal and fancy sketches, and notices of new
publications. Both these magazines sustain
a high character. They have enlisted, and
still continue to employ, some of the best
talents in the country. But though their
general scope is the same, there is neverthe-
less some diversity in their character. The
Knickerbocker, to our taste, is rather the
most agreeable. It has more sprightliness, more
variety, and more good nature in its critical
remarks. Both these magazines have now
subsisted for some years ; having attained
to eight or nine volumes each ; which is no
slight achievement in the life of any American


magazine. They are both, we believe, healthy
and flourishing. The former is edited by
Willis Gaylord Clark ; the latter, by Charles
K. Hoffman and Park Benjamin. The price
of each is $5 per year.

The course of the Naval Magazine is very
similar to that of the two above described ;
the principal difference being a more special
devotion to subjects connected with the sea.
Like them it is composed entirely of original
articles. It is edited by the Rev. E. S. Stew-
art ; and, though still in its infancy, gives
promise of eminence. The price is ^3 a

The Ladies' Companion is also devoted to
general literature ; but of a lighter and more
ladylike kind — consisting m.ore of tales, bits of
romance, and scenes of love. It is made
up partly of original and partly of selected
matter ; and does not burn its fingers with
criticisims. It is an agreeable and popular
melange ; has now been living for about three
years ; and is believed to be in a thriving con-
dition. The price is $S.


The Anti-Slavery Magazine is devoted to
the cause of immediate abolition of slavery in
the United States. . What encouragement it
meets with we know not. The price is
only $1.

The Mechanics' Magazine — which is also
a Journal of the Mechanics' Institute — a useful
association in this city — is devoted, as its name
indicates, to the dissemination of knowledge
and improvement in the mechanic arts. It i&
composed both of original and selected arti-
cles, and is a work of great value. It has
reached the 9th volume, healthy and strong.
The price is $S.

The New York Farmer and American
Gardener's Magazine has attained to a still-
higher age, being now in its tenth year. Its
character and object are expressed in its
name. Price $3.

The Journal of the American Institute is
devoted to the doings of that distinguished as-
sociation, and to the general improvement of
America in manufactures, and the various arts


of life, both useful and ornamental. It is a
valuable journal ; but still young, though
managed by old heads, Its price is ^4,



Yoa were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report.


The ancients were fond of characterizing the
several ages of the olden time, by certain me-
talic epithets : as the golden, the silver, the
brass, and the iron. Perhaps the present could
not be better characterized, than by calling it
the age of newspapers — or the newspaperial age.
But in giving it this distinctive appellation, we
would not be understood to hint that the me-
tals, which gave name to the ages of antiqui-
ty, should all be excluded from our ideas of
the present. On the contrary, the gold
and the silver — yea, and the brass — to say
nothing of the iron — are exceedingly requi-
site for the due and successful discharge of
the newspaperial functions.


How the republics of Greece and Rome
ever lived, flourished, and made so much
noise in the world, without newspapers, is, to
us, very mysterious, It is strange how they
eould support their free governments : expose
the tricks of designing knaves ; pull off the
mask from the sham patriot ; put the bad out
of office and put the good in ; and advance
the true interests of the republic ; without the
efficient aid of an editorial corps. It is equal-
ly strange how they could manage without
newspapers, in the important affairs of reli-
gion, morals, manners, and tastes ; and espe-
cially how the citizens of Athens and Rome
could get through a rainy day, pass a long
winter evening, or make their breakfast, with-
out a newspaper.

Never were a people better fitted by cha-
racter, for the encouragement and support of
newspapers, than the Athenians : for, St.
Paul assures us, that they " spent their time
in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear
some neiv thing.^^ There would have been a
capital chance for the penny-a-liners ; an ex-


cellent one for "a snapper-up of unconsidered
trifles ;" and a very general field for the cir-
culation of horrid accidents and the latest
specimens of town scandal. An editor, pro-
perly fitted for his task, might have made his
fortune at Athens in a very short time.

But the blessing of newspapers was reserved
for "the latter days." Immortal Faust I how
much are we indebted to thee ! Vilely indeed
hast thou been libelled by those who have
represented thee as being too familiar with
the Arch Enemy of man. Such representa-
tion is, in its very nature, contradictory : for
the devil — unless his skill and cunning are
greatly overrated — is not such a blockhead
as to help mankind to the invention of an art,
which, in the suppression of ignorance and
the advancement of morals and religion, is
every day making greater and greater inroads
upon his kingdom.

But though printing was invented as early
as the middle of the 15th century, newspapers
seem not to have been thought of, until near
the close of the 17th, when the first paper


was printed in England — not far from 150
years ago.

America was not far behind the mother
country. To the Bostonians belongs the
credit of printing the first newspaper on this
side of the Atlantic. It was commenced on
the 24th of April, 1704, was entitled The
Boston News Letter, and was published
weekly on a half sheet of paper, pot size — by
John Campbell, bookseller and Postmaster.*

Philadelphia was fifteen )^ears behind Bos-
ton, in the introduction of a newspaper. The
first published there was the American
Weekly Mercury, by Andrew Bradford, dated
Dec. 22, 1719. Like its Boston prototype,
it was on a half sheet of pot paper.

New- York followed Philadelphia at an in-
terval of six years ; and Boston at an interval

*It was veiy common, for some time after the first intro-
duction of newspapers into the American colonies, for the
Postmasters in the towns where they were printed, to be
also the pubhshers. Franklin was Postmaster, as well as
printer, in Philadelphia. The privileges belonging to the
former office were doubtless useful in advancing the in-
terests of the latter.


of twenty-one. William Bradford published
the first paper in this city, on the 16th of
October, 1725. It was called The New-
York Gazette, and was published weekly,
on a whole sheet of foolscap. Thus, though
New-York was behind her sister cities in start-
ing her first newspaper, she greatly exceeded
them in the size of her pubhcation.

How must the Philadelphia and Boston
printers have been astonished at receiving the
first number of the New-York paper, twice as
large as their own at the time of birth !
Did they not nearly burst with envy ? The
difference, indeed, was but a few square
inches ; and would not be noticed in the super-
ficies of a modern newspaper. But the diffe-
rence of" a few inches in the length of a man's
nose" was thought something of in those days
of moderate views and limited attainments.

Eight years after the commencement of
Bradford's paper, John Peter Zenger started
the New-York Weekly Journal. The first
number had the imprint of " M^mday, October
5, 1733.'»


The contrast between the size of the first
paper published in this city, nearly 112 years
ago, and those of the present time, is very re-
markable ; and still more so is the difference
in the amount of reading contained in the
papers of these different dates. Bradford's
Gazette was printed on type of the English
size. Our modern papers use nothing larger
than brevier, and set up their advertisements,
and frequently their editorials, in type much
smaller. The superficies of Bradford's paper
was scarcely a twelfth part of that of the size now
in use. His paper, to use a printer's term, would
not have contained more than ten thousand
ems ; while the Courier and Enquirer, or the
Sunday Morning News, of the present date,
contains not less than three hundred thousand.
A man and boy would easily have set up Brad-
ford's paper, entire, in one day. Whereas it
would require fifty full grown men to com-
pose one of our mammoths, entire, in the same

Newspapers, a hundred years ago, were
"good for sore eyes." At least, if they did


not cure, neither did they cause them. They
could be speedily read, and that without glass-
es. Now it is a day's work ; and as to the
eyes — to use the language of a great man.
their " sufferings is intolerable, and cries aloud
for relief." But then, on the other hand, it is
to be hoped, that, as much as the outward
lights are injured, the inward light will be
brightened and improved.

The whole number of papers, published at
the present time in this city, is about fifty. Of
these, fourteen are daily ; eight semiweekly ;
and the remainder, weekl3\ Of the daily
papers, ten are of the large kind, commonly
denominated " sixpenny," to distinguish them
from the smaller, or penny papers. The
largest of these latter, however, are very little ?
inferior in size to the smallest of the former.
There is much more difference in the price,
than in the size.

The sixpenny papers are sold, by the single
copy, for six and a quarter cents, alias a New-
York sixpence : hence the title. But at the
yearly .price, of ^10, each paper comes to


about three and a quarter cents. The penny
papers, as their name implies, are sold for a
penny a copy. The yearly subscription, when
sent abroad by mail, is S3. In the city,
subscribers take them by the week, and
pay the carrier, every Monday morning, for
the papers of the previous week. Thus there
is no hazard in the case of any subscriber, be-
yond a single sixpence. The carriers pay the
publisher two thirds of a cent for each copy*
In addition to these weekly subscriptions,
many papers are circulated by the boys, who
sell them about the streets. And in this manner
the children of many poor people are kept
from starvation — nay, find profitable employ-

In fact, the introduction of the penny
press, in this country — -in which New York
took the lead — deserves to be recorded as an
important era in the history of our newspa-
pers. The first successful attempt was made
by Day & Wisner. They commenced the
Sun towards the close of 1833, on a medium
half sheet. Two or three months afterwards.


the Transcript was begun, of the same size,
by Hayward Lynde & Stanley. Both these
papers have since been repeatedly enlarged,
and now give little indication of their original
size. The Sun is now published by Benjamin
H. Day ; the Transcript by Stanley & Prall. ,

Sundry other penny papers have at differ-
ent times, been ushered into the world,
breathed a few days, and then died. But,
being defunct, it is not necessary to name

The next living penny publication, viz. the
Herald — now changed to a two-penny — was
started in 1835, by James Gordon Bennett ;
by whom it is still published. The New Era,
by Locke & Price, followed in 1836. Mr.
Locke is now sole Editor.

These four papers, it is believed, circulate
about 50,000 copies : furnishing employment,
in printing and distribution to some hundreds
of persons ; and reading to at least a hundred
thousand — for it is not saying too much to
assert that each copy, on an average, finds two
readers. A large proportion of these copies


go into the hands of those who take no other
papers; and, were it not for the cheapness of
these, would be entirely destitute of any spe-
cies of reading, or of any information in rela-
tion to public events.

We may indeed, therefore, call it an impor-
tant era, when so many thousand persons are
provided with information, instruction and
amusement, where there was none of a similar
kind before. Not only is the mind greatly en-
larged and improved, but the morals are
amended — as they always are, where the
mind is enlightened. By having an agreea-
ble source of amusement, many persons are
kept from devoting their leisure hours to bad
company, to drink, to gaming, and to many
other vicious, foolish, and unworthy pursuits.
There are few men, who have not some leisure
hours, when, if they are not reading, they will
be very likely — especially in a large city, full
of dram-shops — to be doing worse. It is inter-
esting to see thousands of persons as we now
do daily, poring over a newspaper, who, if they

could not have one brought to their hand for


a penny, would, in all probability, be at the
next shop, pouring down liquor— ^and chiefly
from the mere want of something to do. A
carter may be now seen sitting on his cart ;
a barrowman on his barrow ; and a porter at
his stand : each perusing a penny paper, while
waiting for a job.

The sixpenny papers have accused the
penny press of a mischievous tendency. But
is knowledge mischievous because it is cheap ]
The accusers do not make so absurd a charge.
But they allege against the penny papers, that
they print false statements, that they circulate
libels, and that they stir up the mob. The
penny papers retort the accusation. They
point to the anti-abolition, and to certain politi-
cal mobs, and ask, who stirred up these 1 In
regard to libels, they point to certain prosecu-
tions, convictions and suits for damages against
some of the sixpenny editors ; and in regard
to false statements in general, they say, " Let
him that is without sin among you, cast the
first stone." To recriminate, however, even
where the recrimination is just, is not to


prove one's own innocence. But it does proVe,
as in the case before us, that the faults, with
which the penny papers are charged, admitting
them to exist, are not chargeable upon them
alone ; but that they are equally shared by
their older and more aristocratic brethren.

In regard to stirring up the mob, we can
scarcely believe that any newspaper, of what-
ever kind, would designedly be guilty of such
a crime against the peace of community ;
though certain articles in its columns, by the
warmth with which grievances, either real or
imaginary, are stated — may have a tendency
to arouse the people to acts of violence and
outrage. In regard to erroneous statements,
which happen too often in newspapers, it is
to be hoped they are generally unintentional ;
and arise, for the most part, from the hurry
incident to the business of making up a paper,
especially a daily one. Of deliberate libels,
we must say, they are of too foul a nature to
be charged upon a whole class of publishers,
whether of a cheap, or a more expensive arv


We had originally intended to give, not only
the amount of circulation of all the papers in
New York, but likewise that of each individual
paper. We have, however on mature reflec-
tion, relinquished that design, and for these
reasons : in the first place, it would be exceed-
ingly difficult, if not impossible to get at the
exact truth ; some of the publishers would be
unwilling to make any such exposure of their
private affairs, and others would greatly exag-
gerate respecting the prosperity of theirs : in
the second place, the truth, if given, might
prove invidious, and possibly injurious to
some of the persons concerned, without being
of any great use to the public ; and lastly, if
an erroneous statement were put forth, not
only individuals would be injured, but the
public would be deceived.

Our general estimate, it is believed, will
not differ essentially from the truth ; and if it
should vary a few hundreds among so many
thousands, it will, as Thomas Jefferson said
on a more important subject, *' neither pick a
man's pocket nor break his leg."

l^EWSPAPERS. . 137

The circulation of all the papers in New-
York is supposed to be about 225,000. Of
these, 75,000 are assigned to the daily press ;
20,000, to the semiweekly ; and 130,000, to
the weekly. To the penny papers — including
the Herald — ^we have, above, allowed 50,000.
Perhaps they will something exceed that num-
ber ; and perhaps the sixpenny dailies will fall
a little short of 25,000.

The ten large daily papers are — to com-
mence with the most venerable in age — the
New-York Gazette, published by the heirs of
John Lang, and now in its 49th year ; Courier
and Enquirer, James Watson Webb ; Jour-
nal of Commerce, Hale and Hallock ; Mer-
cantile Advertiser, Amos Butler ; Express,
Townsend and Hudson. The above are all
morning papers, and of whig, or opposition,
politics. The Times, Holland, Sanford, and
Davies, is also a morning paper ; its poli-
tics are loyal. The evening papers are the
Commercial Advertiser, Francis Hall & Co. ;
American, Charles King ; Evening Star,
Noah & Gill ; Evening Post, Bryant and


Others. The three first are Whig ; the latter

The Gazette, the Comraercial Advertiser,
and the Evening Post were Federal papers,
in the days when Federalism was ; which days
ended a little after the close of the last war
with Great Britain. The Post was distin-
guished by the contributions of Hamilton, and
other great men of his party, who flourished
at the commencement of the present century.

The penny papers are all published in tiie
morning ; and eschew politics. The price of
advertising is ^30 per annum, in all the daily
papers, both great and small, except the Cou-
rier and Enquirer, in which paper it has re-
cently been raised to $50.

The semiweekly papers being all issued
from the daily oiBces, most of them bearing
the same designation as the daily paper, and
in all cases made up from its columns — it is
not necessary to particularize. The same
may be said of some of the weekly papers :
particularly those issued by the penny press,
of which each office has its own ; and those


issued at two or three of the sixpenny offices.
They may in all be estimated at 10,000.

The circulation of the weekly papers, not
issued from the daily offices, is believed to be
not less than 120,000. Of these, about 70,
000 are published by the diffigrent religious
presses, of which the following are the prin-
cipal, namely ; The Christian Advocate and
Journal, Methodist ; New York Observer,
Presbyterian ; Protestant Vindicator, Anti-
Catholic ; New York Evangelist, New Light ;
Truth Teller, Roman Catholic ; Churchman,
Episcopalian ; Christian Intelligencer, Dutch
Reformed ; Zion's Watchman, Abolition-
Methodist ; Weekly Messenger, not particu-
larly sectarian.

The remaining weekly papers, whose cir-
culation is estimated at 50,000, are of various
character, as specified below. They are as
follows : The New York Mirror, George P.
Morris ; form quarto, character literary, me-
chanical execution beautiful, contents elegant,
price $5 : Spirit of the Times, William T.
Porter; literary and sporting, form quarto,
size large, contents spirited, price $5 :


New Yorker, Greely, Burke & Fisher ; lite-
rature and general news, form both folio and
quarto, politics independent, contents of a
high order, price $2, and $S : Sunday.
Morning News, Samuel Jenks Smith ; litera-
ture and news, size bed-blanket, management
able and judicious, price $S :* Plain Deal-
er, William H. Leggett'; imperial octavo,
literary and political, style vigorous, contents
original and independent, price $5 : Rail Road
Journal, Minor & Schaefer ; imperial octavo,
internal improvements, a highly useful publi-
cation, price $5: Albion, J. S. Bartlett; quar-
to, large size, foreign, literature and news, a
valuable publication, price $G : Emigrant,
this is also published by J. S. Bartlett ; and,
as its name impUes, is designed for the use of
emigrants : the European, published by John
M* Moore, is also designed for that class of
our population.

* This paper, like the penny papers, is sold, in very-
large numbers, in the streets. The price is sixpence per


Taking our previous estimate to be correct,
the whole number of copies of newspapers,
published in New York in one week, is 620,
000 ; and, in one year, 32,240,000 ; which is
upwards of 10,000,000 more than the whole
number published in every part of the United
States, in 1810, according to an estimate in
Thomas's History of Printing, published that

We have hinted at the ability with which
several of the weekly papers are managed. To
say that there is much talent in the conduct of
the dailies, both large and small, will not be
saying too much. There is, however, a stri-
king difference between them, not only as to
the amount but as to the kind of talent em-
ployed. Original articles of great spirit and
vigor may be found in some of the large dai-
lies ; while several others are characterized
neither by vigor, spirit, nor originality. In
fact, there is a plentiful lack of industry in
several of the elderly dailies, which are now
evidently living on their past reputation. In
exertions to obtain the earliest foreign intelli-

142 Newspapers.

gence and Congressional news, the Courier
takes the lead. In local news, police reports,
and city affairs in general, the penn}" papers
are in the front ground. The praise of in-
dustry, in this respect, will be conceded to


Of making many books there is no end.


The loaded press beneath her labor groans,
And printers' devils shake their weary bones.


If New York abounds in the ephemeral
productions of the press — in the " folio of
four pages" — and the other works which
come periodically forth, whether daily, weekly,
or monthly — no less fruitful is she in the more
enduring productions of paper and type — the
octavos, the duodecimos, the eighteens, the
twenty-fours, the thirty-twos, the forty-eights,
the ninety-sixes, and so on, even up to the
one hundred and twenty-eights. We are not
certain, indeed, that the printers of this city
ever proceed so far as the imposition of tri -


fling matters like the last named ; but at the
same time we would not advise any body to
dispute their ability to do so, if they choose.

In nicety of printing we cannot say that
they always equal the best ; but that is not so
much their fault as that of their employers.
Give them fair type, good ink, excellent pa-
per, correct proof readers, and time enough
to execute their work properly , and if it be
not well done, we will own ourselves to be
greatly disappointed.

Does Boston exceed New York in her ty-
pography ] We are afraid it must be confessed.
But then she uses all the

" appliances and means to boot,"

that are requisite for producing good work :
which is merely saying, in other words, that
she has more regard for neatness, beauty,
and all those things which belong to the proper
mechanism of book-making, than is generally
to be found among the publishers of New York
Some very admirable work, however, has
been executed by the press of this city, within


a year or two. Such in particular is the folio
edition of the Common Prayer, published by
Conner & Cooke ; and such are some of the
works issued from the press of George Dear-
born, of Harper & Brothers, &c. &c. In
binding', New York may safely challenge any,
or all, of the cities in the United States. We
have seen nothing superior in strength, beauty,
richness, and taste, to the binding executed by
Heman Griffin, of this city.

But this, it must be confessed, is rather an
exception to the binding generally inflicted on
our books ; many of which fall to pieces on
the first reading ; or, if they do not actually
suffer that catastrophe, are so twisted out of
all shape, so loosened in their leaves, and so
evidently ready to go '* the way of all the
earth," that you are actually afraid they will
perish in your hands, before you have fairly

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 6 of 11)