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told him what had passed, and showed him what he
proposed to write to Turin, when the emperor said,
" No, don't write at all ; take no notice of the publica-
tion. The fact is, I sent the letter myself to ' The
Tunes' ' correspondent ! " A most extraordinary pro-
ceeding,' Greville adds, ' and showing the extreme
difficulty of all diplomatic dealing between the two
governments. The emjjeror is by way of being in-
dignant with " The Times," and never fails to pour out
abuse of the paper to whomever he converses with.
He did so to Cobden, for instance, to whom he gave an
audience at Paris. But who can tell whether this is
not a pretence and a deceit, and whether he may not
all the time have a secret understanding with " The
Times " ? ' 1

The political connections of ' The Times ' gave it an
immense advantage over all the other newsf)apers. Its
ample resources, moreover, enabled it to spend a great
deal more money than any other journal had at com-
mand in paying for good work, whether done in London

^ OreviUe Memoirs (Third Part), vol. ii. pp. 273, 274.


or elsewhere. Abraham Hayward and Vernon Har-
court were two old writers on ' The Morning Chronicle '
who were glad to contribute to ' The Times,' while, at
the same time, they were writing for its angry critic,
' The Saturday Review ' ; and scores of other able men,
professed journalists and competent amateurs, were on
its staff. The enterprise that had been so useful in
procuring William Howard Russell's letters concerning
the Crimean War was continued on all occasions, and
Russell himself was employed as a special correspondent
respecting grand spectacles like the coronation of the
Tzar Nicholas at Moscow in 1856, and momentous
catastrophes lilce the Indian Mutiny. It was George
Wingrove Cooke who acted as special correspondent
for ' The Times ' duriiag the Chinese War of 1857, the
account of which was reprinted under the title of ' China
and Lower Bengal ; ' another work, ' Conquest and
Civilisation in Northern Africa,' being made up of
letters written by him during a mission to Algeria. The
example set by ' The Times ' in such developments of
journalistic work as these was already being freely fol-
lowed by other papers ; but they had not yet contrived
to vie with it successfully.

All these and all such extensions of newspaper
enterprise were concurrent with, and partly incidental
to, the abolition of ' the taxes on knowledge' ; and nearly
every newspaper profited by the change, though not in
equal measure, and the public profited yet more. In
the weekly press, moreover, the revolution brought
about was in some respects quite as remarkable as m
the daily press.

' The weekly newspaper, whether sectional or general,'
as it was said in the preliminaiy announcement of ' The
Saturday Review,' ' aims at givuig a digest of aU the
news of the week, together with comments in the shape

1855-1861. 'THE SATURDAY REVIEW 247

of leading articles "which, from the nature of the case,
must be few in number, and either partial or perfunctory
in scope. What " The Saturday Review " proposes is
to make its speciality consist ia leading articles and
other origiaal matter.' As this writmg could be done
leisurely during the week, it undertook to offer ' more
measured statements and more deliberate thought' than
could be looked for in the work done hastily for the
daily papers, and at the same time it pointed out that
' its comparative frequency of publication wUl enable it
to occupy a position in the way of direct and immediate
usefuhiess which periodicals published at the rare inter-
vals of one month or three months necessarily fail to
maintain.' Most of its writers, it was added, ' who are
known to each other, and none of whom are unpractised
m periodical literatm'e, have been thrown together by
affinities naturally arising from common habits of
thought, education, reflection, and social views ' ; and
they proposed ' to address themselves to the educated
mind of the country, and to serious, thoughtful men of
all schools, classes, and principles, not so much in
the spirit of party as in the more philosophical attitude
of mutual counsel and friendly conflict of opinions.'
' In politics,' it was further said, ' " The Saturday
Review " is independent both of individual statesmen
and of worn-out pohtical sections ; in hterature, science,
and art, its conductors are entirely free from the in-
fluence or dictation of pecuniary or any other connec-
tions with trade, party, chque, or section.' And, in token
of their independence, it was notified that ' the con-
ductors decline to receive books, prmts, &c., gratuitously
for review,' and ' will provide for themselves the works
which they may select for criticism.' ^

There was some arrogance, or bumptiousness, in
' Saturday Review, November 3, 1855.


these declarations, and all the promises were not kept ;
but the first number of ' The Saturday Review,' giving
six articles on pohtical or other concerns of the day, three
short essays of a more miscellaneous sort, and five reviews
of books, was a striking production, and the plan was
fairly well adhered to after it was found expedient, at
the end of two years, to increase the size of the paper
so as to give, in about twenty pages, about twenty
articles of various sorts every week, the price being
raised from fivepence to sixpence. There was no lack of
energy in its management, its chief originator, A. J. B.
Beresford Hope, being also one of its contributors under
its able editor ; and among other contributors, besides
Abraham Hayward and Vernon Harcourt, being Edward
Alfred Freeman, George Smythe, who died as Lord
Strangford, and Lord Robert Cecil, who became Lord
Sahsbury ; to whom were added, somewhat later, James
Fitzjames Stephen, Henry Maine, John Morley, and
many more. No collection of writing so thoughtful,
vigorous, or diversified, was at that time given in any
other weekly paper, and ' The Saturday Review,' speedily
winning favour among a large body of readers, not only
exerted a very considerable iafluence upon them, and,
through them, upon a much larger circle, but also,
coinciding with other iafluences, had very marked eflfect
upon weekly journalism as a whole.

' The Examiner,' nearly half a century before, had
begun as bravely, and, to say the least, with as high
purpose, as ' The Saturday Review ; ' but ' The Exa-
miner' had scarcely moved with the times. Leigh
Hunt had done splendid work in it, excellent on political
and on literary grounds, during more than one decade ;
and Albany Fonblanque, during much more than an-
other decade, had revived and carried on that work, on
somewhat different lines, but with equal earnestness

1855-1861. 'THE EXAMINER ' AND ' THE SPECTATOR ' 249

and honesty, and more pungent wit. Fonblanque,
however, had been made chief of the statistical depart-
ment of the Board of Trade by Lord John Russell in
1849, and, though still writing often for ' The Exa-
miner ' witli much of his old fire, was to some extent
associated with one of the ' worn-out pohtical sections '
at wliich ' The Saturday Review ' sneered ; and John
Forster, his successor in the editorship, was, with all
his literary tastes and political sympathies, a man of
uncertam mood. Neither he nor Fonblanque was in-
clined to face the opposition of ' The Saturday Review '
by reconstructing ' The Examiner ' as an outspoken and
comprehensive exponent of later Radicalism. Though
Forster had a staif of brilliant and trenchant "waiters
imder him, including Eyre Evans Crowe, Edwin Chad-
wick, Torrens McCullagh, and Henry Moiiey, who
before long took Forster's place as editor, there was
small room for their work in the old-fashioned sheet, of
which only two or three pages were spared for original
articles, and the rest was occupied by Dudley Costello,
the sub- editor, with extracts of news fi.'om the daily
papers. ' The Examiner ' was allowed to fall behind in
the race for which new conditions were prescribed by
' The Saturday Review.'

' The Spectator ' was more enterprising. From its
commencement, Rintoul had provided in it so much
space for original writing, and had been so careful as
to the selection and condensation of news, that its
assimilation to ' The Saturday Review,' in outward
form and general scope, was comparatively easy. The
paper had of necessity aged somewhat with the man
during the thirty years of his editorship and ownership ;
but after his death, on April 22, 1858,^ ' The Spectator'
fortunately passed mto hands well able to manage it.

' Spectator, May 1, 1858.


Meredith Townsend brought to his task considerable
experience as a travelled politician and business apti-
tude controlled by high principle, and when he was
joined by Richard Holt Hutton, a deep thinker and
polished writer, an altogether suitable partnership was
established for making ' The Spectator ' a formidable
critic and an active guide of public opinion. Narrower
in its range than ' The Saturday Review,' and more
systematic in its aims, it was a consistent teacher and
advocate of views in politics, religion, philosophy, and
literature not more different than the lapse of a genera-
tion almost necessitated from the views and aims which
Rintoul had propounded as the friend and disciple of
men like George Grote and Joseph Hume.

The influence of ' The Saturday Review ' was shown
in many other weekly papers which need here be only
named, or not even named. Stich papers as ' The
Guardian ' and ' The Athenaeum ' were unproved in
quality, and thereby both the proprietors and the public
gained. Others, like ' The Leader,' started by George
Henry Lewes in 1849,^ and ' The Press,' favoured by
Benjamin Disraeli, were hastened towards decay and
death. Others, like ' The London Review,' commenced
by Charles Mackay in 1860,^ with Lawrence Oliphant
for one of his partners, attempted to vie with the already
mighty autocrat of Southampton Street, and soon found
their efforts futile.

The passing of the Newspaper Stamp Act, and the

' In 1859, 'talking of The Leader to Lewes, Carlyle asked, "When
will those papers on Positivism come to an end?" "I can assure you
they are making a great impression at Oxford," says Lewes. " Ah ! I
never look at them ; it's so much blank paper to me. I looked into
Comte once ; found him to be one of those men who go up in a balloon
and take a lighted candle to look at the stars." ' — Arme Oilchrist : her
Life and Writings, p. 72.

^ Mackay, Through tlie Long Day, vol. ii. pp. 201-212.

1855-1861. OTHER WEEKLY PAPERS 251

prospect of a speedy removal of the paper duty, led to
a great many fresh experitnents in weekly journalism
which, if most of them were disastrous so far as the
projectors were concerned, encouraged or compelled by
their competition much advance in those journals which
were strong enough to hve and thrive. So it was
especially in the case of ' The Illustrated London News,'
to which, on account both of its large size and of its
large cii'culation, the withdrawal of the fiscal burdens
was of exceptional advantage. In opposition to it
were started ' The Pictorial Times,' ' Pen and PencU,'
' The Coloured News,' and several more, besides ' The
Illustrated Times ' ; but of these only the last-named,
swallowing up some of the others, obtained any hold on
the public.

' The Illustrated Times ' was begun on June 9, 1855,
six days before the Newspaper Stamp Bill became law,
with David Bogue for its proprietor and Henry VizeteUj'^
for its editor ; and was interesting, not only on account
of its clever pictures, but also because m it what was
almost a new line of jom-naUsm was opened up by a
young and afterwards famous journalist. With the
third number Edmund Yates commenced a weekly
article entitled ' The Lounger at the Clubs.' ' For six
or seven years,' he says, ' I kept up a continuous com-
ment on the social, Hterary, and dramatic events of the
day, and it was, I beUeve, Mr. VizeteUy's opinion that
my flippant nonsense did as much for the paper as the
deeper and drier wisdom of the day.' Yates was in
good company. ' Many of the rising men of the day,'
he adds, ' George Sala, Robert Brough, James Hannay,
Frederick Greenwood, Sutherland Edwards, Augustus
Mayhew, Edward Draper, were on the statF of the
little paper, which did well — so well that the proprietor
of its big predecessor found it necessary to purchase


it, and thenceforward let it fly with partially clipped
wings.' ^

The weekly papers that gave pictures, such as ' The
Illustrated Londoii News' and its rivals, the weekly
papers that gave jokes, among which ' Punch ' had no
rival worth mentioning, and some others with special
aims — among which 'The Field,' started in 1853 by
Horace Cox, ' The City Press,' started in 1857, ' The
Army and Navy Gazette,' projected by William Howard
Russell, and ' The National Reformer,' projected by
Charles Bradlaugh, both in 1860, were particularly note-
worthy in their several departments — held intermediate
place between the papers claiming to be solely critical,
with ' The Saturday Review ' now at their head, and
the papers intended to be chiefly if not exclusi\?ely
newspapers, according to the narrower meaning of the
word. Among these latter the effects of the fiscal
reforms of the period we are now considering were
very remarkable. Hardly any paper of the least im-
portance, except those which were merely advertise-
ment sheets or strictly trade organs, has, of course,
been published during the last two centuries, which
has offered nothing but news to its readers, and even
the huitiblest journals have done something to in-
fluence public or local opinion, not only by their bare
statement of facts, but by their modes of stating them,
and by their few or many comments thereon. Even the
humblest, too, were influenced, and more or less im-
proved, by the growing demand for instruction which
caused the abohtion of ' the taxes on knowledge,' and
by such example as was set by ' The Saturday Review.'
More comment or criticism than heretofore was given,
or attempted, along with the bald recital of events, in
nearly every newspaper. A great cleavage began, how-

' Yates, BecoUections and Experiences, vol. i. p. 278.


ever, or was then first apparent, about the middle of
the nineteenth century, and it was very distinct before
the day when the paper duty was done away with.

The lowering of the cost of production, jjartly due
to legislative action, and partly to other causes which
will presently be referred to, and also the increasing
demand of the public for newspapers along with other
sorts of hterature, brought gi-eat advantage to almost
all newspapers. With its expenses lowered, even if its
circulation was not mcreased, eveiy journal not driven
out of the field by the quickening competition, was a
better commercial property after 1855, and yet more
after 1861, than it had been before ; and many proprie-
tors were satisfied with this. But the more intelligent
portion of the pubUc were not satisfied. If our grand-
fathers and great-grandfathers were perforce content to
pay fivepence or sixpence, or it might be eightj)ence or
tenpence, for a small news sheet, of which, say, half was
actual news, one fourth advertisements, and the remain-
ing fourth more or less forcible original writing, our
fathers had some reason for grumbling if the same sort
of provision, or even a little more, on a larger sheet, but
in the same proportion, was oflTered to them with a
reduction of only a penny or so on the old price. Cheap
jjapers were wanted ; and, especially as the want was
met by enterprising caterers, the caterers without enter-
prise, though they might not be ruined, and might even
find their profits somewhat enhanced, were at a dis-
advantage in comparison with their bolder rivals.
Hence we find that papers of great repute in former
days, like ' The Examiner ' and ' The Weekly Dispatch,'
running in the old grooves, and charging fivepence for
the unstamped sheet instead of sixpence for the stamped
sheet, were eclipsed by papers like ' Lloyd's Newspaper,'
which gave nearly as much news and comments for a


penny. Eeaders who could aiford to pay fivepence or
sixpence for a weekly paper preferred, especially as they
could now get news from the daily penny papers, to
buy ' The Saturday Review ' or ' The Spectator,' with
its ample supply of original writing. Those whose
means were scantier, or who knew the value of money,
bought ' Lloyd's.'

The circulation of ' Lloyd's Newspaper ' exceeded
100,000 for the week in which it reported- the death and
funeral of the Duke of Wellington, and in 1853, when
it was ten years old, its average sale was about 90,000.
The abolition of the advertisement tax in that year
nearly doubled its receipts from advertisers, and enabled
its energetic proprietor to improve the quality of his
paper. Of much greater importance, however, was the
abolition of the compulsory stamp which reduced the
price for all who did not receive their copies by post —
these, in the case of publications like ' Lloyd's,' being
the great majority of customers — from threepence to
twopence. The sale increased so rapidly that it
amounted to 170,000 in September 1861, when, antici-
pating by a few weeks the abolition of the paper duty,
Lloyd reduced the price to a penny. This bold step
involved serious risk and much present loss of monev,
and, as it also halved the profits of the newsvendors
on each copy they sold, it was angrily condemned by
them. It was persisted in, however, and as a conse-
quence the circulation had risen to nearly 350,000 in
1863, a number which was added to in nearly every
succeeding year.

It was to meet this unparalleled demand that in
1855 liloyd opened negotiations with Hoe & Company,
the inventors of rotary printing machines in New York
and he was the first in England to make use of their
appliances for rapid printing, these being improved and


adapted to meet the special requirements of the Sahsbury
Court establishment. The Walter press, introduced
in ' The Times ' office in 1856, was suggested by Lloyd's
innovation, and to his eager adoption of other expe-
dients for facihtating the work of printing and distri-
buting newspapers by hundreds of thousands, his rivals
and compeers are largely indebted. K the process of
type-setting still in vogue shows little advance on the
arrangements of our ancestors, all its sequels, as in
stereotyi^ing, ' machining,' counting and folding the
copies issued from the press, and so forth, have been
elaborated and modified to a wonderful extent in answer
to the demand for prompt supply of newspapers in quan-
tities and varieties that our ancestors never dreamt of.

These mechanical appliances were the direct out-
come of the growth in the newspaper trade. Others,
quite as helpful, were the causes rather than the con-
sequences of further growth. The construction of rail-
ways was of immense service alike in the collection and
in the distribution both of news and of newspapers.
The electric telegraph proved yet more useful as an
agent for collecting and distributing news, though
newspapers could not be conveyed by it. The changes
thus brought about, or conduced to, first by the one
agency and then by the other, were very noteworthy,
and to them quite as much as to the fiscal reforms of
the sixth decade of the nineteenth century must be
attributed the remarkable development of newspaper
enterprise during this period.

The earliest eiFect of railways upon newspaj^er
enterprise appeared in the speedier, cheaper, and safer
reporting to the London offices of occurrences in the
pro\Tnces and more distant parts. During the first
years of Queen Victoria's reign the metropolitan
journals were able to publish much fuller and more


varied accounts of recent events than liad before been
possible. Londoners were supplied at breakfast time
with news as to anything of importance that had hap-
pened but a few hours before in Bristol or York, and
there was corresponding improvement in the speedy-
bringing to them of news not merely from Paris or
Berlin, but from India and China. The railways, helped
by steam packets and other means of conveyance, which
enabled the London newspapers to publish all this
intelligence, were equally serviceable in carrying the
London newspapers to country towns, and in this way,
while the country papers, at that time rarely published
more than once a week, were made more readable for
those who received them at the week's end, there was
much more advantage for the London daUy papers in
that they could be delivered in all parts of England
before night-time. The country papers gained much
by railways, and by the general social advancement in
which railways played a part, but for a long while after
they had begun to acquire fresh dignity and influence,
they were chiefly important as retailers of such local
news and promoters of such local interests as the
London papers hardly concerned themselves with.
Even the best of them were strictly local papers, giving
outside news only at second hand, and debarred from
discussing general questions till some time after those
questions had been discussed by the London papers
and the London discussions had been brought within
reach of their readers. Beneficial as they were in so
many respects, the railways by themselves hindered
quite as much as they assisted the development of
country newspapers.

This state of things was altered, and in time almost
reversed, by the electric telegraph. WhUe to the
London papers it was of vast benefit that they were


able to obtain in a few minutes news whicb had hitherto
occupied as many hours, and in the case of remote
places as many days, in reaching them, they lost their
old advantage of being the first retailers of general news
in the country towns. That news, or so much of it as
was cared for, could now travel down by telegraph,
■whereas at best the London newspapers could only
travel by train, and though the expenses of transmission,
the comparative poverty of the country newspapers,
and other circumstances retarded the change, a complete
revolution in provincial journalism began almost with
the second half of the present century.

There were influential' country newspapers, with
able editors and writers employed on them, before the
century began, and others followed, as has been briefly
noted in an earlier chapter ; but no daily paper was
published in England, and out of London, until the
year in which the Newspaper Stamp Act was passed.
Manchester led the way. In 1855 its ' Guardian,' in
which, from its starting as a weekly paper in 1821,
Archibald Prentice had propounded sound Radicalism,
and in which, before 1835, Cobden had written boldly
on the need of corn law reform,^ was converted into a
daily paper ; and in the same year ' The Manchester
Examiner,' dating from 1846, and now more Radical
than its compeer, was also enlarged. In 1855, moreover,
' The Liverpool Daily Post ' and ' The Sheffield Daily
Telegraph ' were commenced, and in Edinburgh ' The
Scotsman,' which had flourished as a weekly since
1817, began to be issued daily. ' The Liverpool
Mercury,' bom in 1811, and ' The Birmingham Daily
Post,' a new paper, followed in 1857 ; and in 1858 two
other famous weeklies, ' The Newcastle Chronicle,' dating
from 1764, and ' The Glasgow Herald,' dating from

^ Prentice, History of the Anti-Corn-law League.


1782, were reshaped. Those nine, all of them Radical,
were the only provincial English and Scotch daily
papers before 1860. Ireland, however, had several ;
nearly all of which were Conservative, the only important
exceptions beiag the venerable ' Freeman's Journal,'
and ' The Belfast Northern Whig,' which, a weekly since
1824, was expanded ui 1857. In 1859 'The Irish
Times,' destined to be the most enterprising supporter
of Protestantism in the island, was established in. Dublin,
In Edinburgh the Conservatives ventured on expanding
their venerable ' Courant ' in 1860, and ' The Newcastle
Journal,' enlarged in 1861, was also Conservative.
' The Edinburgh Daily Eeview,' commenced in 1861,

Online LibraryH. R. Fox (Henry Richard Fox) BourneEnglish newspapers; chapters in the history of journalism → online text (page 56 of 70)