+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

will be hung up to dry.—When the noble
lord first rings his bell, does not his valet
know that, however tardy the still-room-
maid may be with the early coffee, he dares
not appear before his lordship without the
' Morning Post?' Would the minister of
state presume to commence the day in town
till he has opened the ' Times,' or in the country
till he has perused the ' Globe?' Could the
oppressed farmer handle the massive spoon
for his first sip out of his sèvres cup till he
has read of ruin in the ' Herald ' or ' Standard? '
Might the juvenile Conservative open his lips
to imbibe old English fare or to utter Young
England opinions, till he has glanced over the
' Chronicle? ' Can the financial reformer
know breakfast-table happiness till he has
digested the ' Daily News,' or skimmed the
' Express? ' And how would it be possible
for mine host to commence the day without
keeping his customers waiting till he has
perused the ' Advertiser ' or the ' Sun? '

In like manner the provinces cannotonce
a week at leastsatisfy their digestive organs
till their local organ has satisfied their minds.

Else, what became of the 67,476,768
newspaper stamps which were issued in 1848 (the
latest year of which a return has been made)
to the 150 London and the 238 provincial
English journals; of the 7,497,064 stamps
impressed on the corners of the 97 Scottish,
and of the 7,028,956 which adorned the 117
Irish newspapers? A professor of the new
science of literary mensuration has applied
his foot-rule to this mass of print, and
publishes the result in 'Bentley's Miscellany.'
According to him, the press sent forth, in
daily papers alone, a printed surface amounting
in twelve months to 349,308,000
superficial feet. If to these are added all the
papers printed weekly and fortnightly in
London and the provinces, the whole amounts
to 1,446,150,000 square feet of printed
surface, which was, in 1849, placed before the
comprehensive vision of John Bull. The
area of a single morning paper,—the Times
sayis more than nineteen and a half square
feet, or nearly five feet by four, compared
with an ordinary octavo volume, the quantity
of matter daily issued is equal to
three hundred pages. There are four
morning papers whose superficies are nearly
as great, without supplements, which they
seldom publish. A fifth is only half the
size. We may reckon, therefore, that the
constant craving of Londoners for news is
supplied every morning with as much as would
fill about twelve hundred pages of an ordinary
novel; or not less than five volumes.

These acres of print sown broad-cast,
produce a daily crop to suit every appetite
and every taste. It has winged its way
from every spot on the earth's surface, and
at last settled down and arranged itself into
intelligible meaning, made instinct with ink.
Now it tells of a next-door neighbour; then
of dwellers in the uttermost corners of the
earth. The black side of this black and white
daily history, consists of battle, murder, and
sudden death; of lightning and tempest; of
plague, pestilence, and famine; of sedition,
privy conspiracy and rebellion; of false
doctrine, heresy, and schism; of all other crimes,
casualties, and falsities, which we are enjoined
to pray to be defended from. The white side
chronicles heroism, charitableness, high
purpose, and lofty deeds; it advocates the truest
doctrines, and the practice of the most exalted
virtue: it records the spread of commerce,
religion, and science; it expresses the wisdom
of the few sages and shows the ignorance of
the neglected manyin fine, good and evil as
broadly defined or as inextricably mixed in
the newspapers as they are over the great
globe itself.

With this variety of temptation for all tastes,
it is no wonder that those who have the power
have also the will to read newspapers. The
former are not very many in this country where,
among the great bulk of the population, reading
still remains an accomplishment. It was so
in Addison's time. ' There is no humour of
my countrymen,' says the Spectator, ' which I
am more inclined to wonder at, than their
great thirst for news.' This was written
at the time of imposition of the tax on
newspapers, when the indulgence in the appetite
received a check from increased costliness.
From that date (1712) the statistical history
of the public appetite for news is written in
the Stamp Office. For half a century from
the days of the Spectator, the number of
British and Irish newspapers was few. In
1782 there were only seventy-nine, but in the
succeeding eight years they increased rapidly.
There was ' great news ' stirring in the world
in that interval,—the American War, the
French Revolution; beside which, the practice
had sprung up of giving domestic
occurrences in fuller detail than heretofore, and
journals became more interesting from that
cause. In 1790 they had nearly doubled in
number, having reached one hundred and
forty-six. This augmentation took place
partly in consequence of the establishment
of weekly paperswhich originated in that
yearand of which thirty-two had been
commenced before the end of it. In 1809, twenty-
nine and a half millions of stamps were issued
to newspapers in Great Britain. The circulation
of journals naturally depends upon the
materials existing to fill them. While wars and
rumours of wars were rife they were
extensively read, but with the peace their sale fell
off. Hence we find, that in 1821 no more than
twenty-four millions of newspapers were dis-
posed of. Since then the spread of education
slow as it has beenhas increased the
productiveness of journalism. During the succeeding
eight-and-twenty years, the increase may be
judged of by reference to the figures we have
already jotted down; the sum of which is,
that during the year 1848 there were issued,
for English, Irish and Scotch newspapers