Page images
PDF
EPUB

sions favorable or unfavorable to the spirit contained in the above extract we have, of of our institutions and people. As a speci- course, nothing to do. But its sentiments men of this generalization, which, however are precisely like those of the entire foreign gratifying to our vanity, or to a desire for press. It accuses us, as a nation, of a pronotoriety which may exist in a portion of clivity to political and social recklessness, our journalism, can hardly be said to pro- from which we are, to say the least, as free ceed from a fair review of facts, we quote as most of our neighbors; and ascribes to the following from an article in the Foreign New-York newspapers an influence to which Quarterly, published a few years since in their vanity, even in its most inflated mood, reply to certain statements on the part of can hardly lay claim. And we are told one or two American prints, which had given that the New-York press is imitated by that great offense in England :

of other cities, and the nation at large, not “ It will not do, after this,” says the reviewer, in its literary excellence, or its enterprise, or " to speak of the 'Herald' but as the most popular its range of information, but in that Jawlessand largely circulated sheet in America. It is ness and grossness from which it has not at popular in the proportion of its infamy and inde all times been exempt. We are given to cency. It is accounted clever, only because fright- understand that New-York is the centre of fully reckless of all moral restraints; a recklessness most effective in that condition of society. Have criminality for the United States, and that no money dealings with my father, for, dotard as its journals are the radiations by which its he is, he will make an ass of you. What money evil influences extend to all parts of the gives to the miser, the utterly reckless man, no Union. We think differently. We think matter how imbecile and ignorant, is endowed with by the party passion of America. It gives bim that the newspapers of New-York maintain what stands in the stead of intellect, of honesty the larger share of that influence which they and virtue. The extraordinary influence of a great may possess throughout the country, through English advocate used to be explained by the re- the commercial and industrial power of the mark, that there were twelve Scarletts in the witness box. We cannot explain the hundred metropolis whence they emanate. Their thousand readers of the New-York Herald'except ability, the good sense and the good writing on the supposition of a hundred thousand Bennetts which their columns contain, and the sagaciin America."

ty for which we must give them especial “If we are asked whether we suppose it possible to check the further advances of the democratic credit, are also not without weight in comtendency in the United States, we answer, No; but mending them to the careful notice of all that most possible and practicable it would be, by American readers. But their occasional a very different course from that which is now pur- derelictions from political honesty or persued, to guide, to elevate, to redeem it

, to conduct sonal candor do not meet with that general it to a noble and enduring destiny. As it is, every thing swells the forces of society in one direction, sympathy which our national enemies might against which not a single effective stand is made wish to see. Many of the severest lectures in any one quarter. In this state of things the they have received have been read them by · New York Herald’ made its appearance, some the country press. Many of the sharpest eight or nine years ago, and found society thor- criticisms to which their sentiments have oughly prepared for its career of infamous success. In one immense division, utter recklessness; in the been subjected have proceeded from jourother, where safety lay, utter indifference. And nals in other cities, or in the interior. And what a lesson for some present resistance against so well are their opinions sifted before they dangers still to come, is embodied in the past are received into the creed of our citizens, course and influence of this terrible foe to decency and order! All those vices of the republic which that it is a little surprising they should só should have been gradually wearing away—the entirely represent the nation abroad. For prying, inquisitive, unwholesome growth of a young we are safe in saying that one half of inteland prematurely forced society-have been pam- ligent Englishmen and Frenchmen who read nothing breeds so rapidly as vermin, the · Herald their own papers imagine, from the origin brood, within this brief space of years, has almost of the transatlantic extracts therein concovered the land. We are told, and we can well tained, that New-York is to the United believe it

, that the 'Herald has imitators and States what London is to England, or Paris worthy disciples in very nearly every small village, town, or city in America. It seems at first to France. This may pass for what it is incredible that no strong effort should have been worth, as a tribute to our metropolitan made to resist all this, but a little reflection ex- vanity. plains the cause."

If it were not that the cheapness of With the charges against the Herald American newspapers has ceased to elicit surprise at home, we should be disposed to | reckon the quantity of editorial matter at indulge in a few paragraphs of admiration 14,400 words, equal to eighteen pages of at the quantity and quality of reading mat- this Review. The remainder of the original ter which we purchase for two cents in a matter, consisting of correspondence, reports, copy of the Tribune, or in the frequent and financial intelligence, swells the amount double sheet of the Herald, or for one cent to upwards of 24,000 words, equal to thirty in a copy of the Times. We dare say this pages of this Review. When we consider cheapness is to be easily and satisfactorily that this quantity of matter is renewed accounted for. The Times is an experi- daily, and can never be suffered to decrease; ment; but as its proprietors know very well that its preparation requires the constant what they are doing, we see no reason why services of a large force of sub-editors and we may not speak of it as a fixed fact in reporters, who must be fairly remunerated New-York journalism, and rank it among for their labor ; that the quality of what is the profitable sheets we have just mentioned. written must never fall below a standard These papers have, then, in the first place, which the taste of those readers at whose an immense circulation. The daily issue of patronage a first-class paper

should aim has the Tribune is about twenty thousand copies, already set very high; and that the white and that of the Herald often equals twenty- paper on which it is printed costs about two five or thirty thousand. The Times, at its thirds of a cent; we cannot but think that present low rates of subscription, may confi- the science of newspaper production has dently reckon on an equal, and perhaps a been pretty faithfully studied. How large greater circulation. One great element of a circulation will justify this extreme cheapcheapness, a wide sale of the manufactured ness we have no means of accurately deterarticle, is thus attained. Printing machinery inining, but we think it must at least equal has been brought to a degree of perfection twenty thousand copies. The Times probawhich leaves us almost nothing to hope for, bly reckons on thirty or forty thousand subso long as we doubt the possibility of ob- scribers, and we do not see how it can diviating friction, or of discovering a more vide fair profits on its invested capital with economical motive-power than steam. The a less number. labor of the composing and the press-room

The Tribune and the double-sheet Herald has been systematized, until human fingers each consist of eight six-columned pages. have arrived at their ultimate capabilities. Five of these pages are filled with reading The philosophy of advertising has been in- matter, by far the largest part of which is geniously pushed to its ripest development. editorial and correspondence. The price of Editors and sub-editors have probably learn- these sheets is two cents each, and the paper ed to compose sentences as rapidly as their on which either of them is printed cannot fingers will transcribe them. All this fa- cost less than one and a quarter cents. cilitates

economy, and goes very far towards They are each liberal pay-masters to all in doing away with what might otherwise their employ, and afford handsome remuneseem an inexplicable wonder.

ration for accepted contributions. The numA page of the Times is made up of six ber of advertisements in each by no means columns, each column containing one hun- equals that of any one of several other city dred and sixty-five lines of leaded type, or journals, while their subscription prices are two hundred and ten lines of close type, or much lower; yet such is the largeness of two hundred and fifty lines of newspaper their circulation, that they are yielding what minion. Of the twenty-four columns of the may seem to some enormous profits. It paper, from eighteen to twenty are filled was stated a few months since, on as good with reading matter, two thirds of which is authority as financial gossip can ever lay editorial, consisting of articles on political claim to, that the dividend of the Tribune subjects and current affairs, reviews of new for the past year was over seventy thousand books,“ city items," and condensed para- dollars. graphs from the mails. A leaded column We have mentioned these examples of of the Times contains over twelve hundred cheap journals in New-York, not for the words; and as much of its editorial is print- purpose of comparing them with journals in ed in smaller type than that on which we other countries, beyond all of which they have based our estimate, we can safely I are vastly cheaper, but simply because they are the most complete triumphs of capital sober verity we mourned over the death of and skill which we have thus far witnessed the Globe, for it was a very well-disposed, in the history of the American press. well-conducted sheet, and seemed killed Leaving their qualities out of view, of which more by fatality than by bad management. indeed it would be invidious to speak, in the It was very much better than any of its prematter of cheapness they are without rivals decessors, and died much harder; and as its in our largest cities after New-York-Phila- successor is decidedly better than all, we delphia, Boston and New-Orleans; and we hope it may hold on to life with more toneed hardly say, in the country at large. nacity. We like the tone in which the ediThe wonder they excite abroad is perfectly tor of the National Deinocrat speaks of his natural. The Londoner who pays five pence paper, and the causes of the ill success of for a copy of the Times may well be sur- its forerunners :prised at seeing the Tribune, containing nine tenths the quantity of reading matter editorials of first numbers of new papers, and es

“ We have had some experience in writing the of his favorite journal, sold for a penny. pecially Democratic papers in this city. If they And his surprise is all the greater because have failed, after we left them, to make their he has all along regarded its more costly appearance daily, the fault was not ours. We neighbors, such as the Courier and Enquirer

never had any charge of them when it became and Journal of Commerce, as prodigies of necessary to write their valedictory; nor have we cheapness—papers which most of our citi- more good by dying than they did while living. zens would think it decidedly extravagant The vitality that was in them was of that effemito buy.

pate character that it would have been difficult to A singular feature in the journalism of decide whether it did really belong to any active, New-York is its political complexion. Most

intelligent, and living commodity.

“But our thirty-odd thousand Democrats in this of our readers know that the two great par-city have been so long without a daily morning ties are about evenly balanced in this city. sheet, that they will, undoubtedly, look upon a From an acquaintance among our business pure specimen of the article as quite a curiosity;

and will at least introduce it into their families men one would conclude that New-York was just to see how it looks and what it says. We inWhig, but the election returns show that tend to furnish it to them, we hope, for many we may safely calculate upon an equal num- years to come. We do not enter the field this ber of ins and outs between the Whigs and time at the suggestion of others, having no care Democrats. Our journals, however, would except to receive a certain number of dollars and

cents for what we contribute to the columns of not seem to indicate this. Whig sheets our journal. We wish to try the experiment with crowd upon us as we write their names- a view of ascertaining whether it is not possible to the Courier and Enquirer, the Tribune, the build up a permanent Democratic daily morning Express, the Commercial Advertiser, and sheet in this great metropolitan city. Many are others; but until the appearance of our complish this. This we have not got, nor do we

of opinion that it requires a large capital to aclatest acquisition, the National Democrat, expect to have. But we believe there is enterthe Evening Post has represented the entire prise and means enough among our Democracy to Democratic press of the city. As may be give our project a fair trial. The majority of our readily supposed, this state of things has city population is Democratic; the majority of the not been quietly suffered, and numerous at- majority of the people of this state. When it is

people of the Union is Democratic; and so is the tempts have been made from time to time asserted that they will not support a well-coaductby our Democratic friends to establish a ed journal that advocates pure Democratic docjournal around which, to use their favorite trine, a stigma is cast upon the intelligence and expression, the masses might rally.” Singu- our object to prove that this disparaging assertion

liberality of the Democratic party. It will be larly enough in the history of a party that is untrue. We will labor with energy and zeal in polls votes in this city by tens of thousands, our new vocation. these attempts, although backed, as we have It cannot be denied that every Democratic reason to know, by a good deal of hard this city has lingered out a brief and sickly ex:

journal which has been started of late years in work, have uniformly been failures. Had istence, and then yielded up the ghost, without we written this article a year ago, we should even a natural spasmodic struggle to prolong its have been in time to chronicle the expiring life, and without much seeming disappointment issues of the “Globe,” a Democratic paper party to whose service its columns had been dewhich, after struggling for a twelvemontb, voted, as the exponent of their principles. So was discontinued for lack of support. In I common has been the failure of Democratic

*

[ocr errors]

journals in this city, that it is generally supposed often and faithfully, and our first humorthat after the election is over the paper must go ists” have been engaged to contribute, but down. So often has this prediction been verified,

such dismal sheets as “ Yankee Doodle " without even a single exception, that the people appear to be anxiously awaiting the anticipated and “ The Town” have been the sole conresult, as though it were a fixed fact. We have sequences. Punch's wit is emphatically the no doubt that there are a great many honest and wit of society; society of long duration, ment, feel disappointed if our paper did not break complex institutions and clearly defined feadown immediately after the election. We can see tures, open alike to the most trenchant and no good reason why a Democratic paper should the most delicate satire, and sufficiently rigid not succeed in a city of more than half a million to be often attacked at the same points of inhabitants, and with a natural majority of without losing those peculiarities that have industry, energy, and perseverance will do." -Na- provoked assailants. Foreigners are obtuse tional Democrat, Vol. I., No. 1.

to the wit of Punch. It plays wholly on

the national, and would cease to exist if it It is even true that a city which yields to ceased to be English. But as a matter of none other in the world in readiness to im- fact, we have as yet no society, if we may bibe political feeling and foment political in the term include those different conditions excitement, has for many years supported of ancestry, education, modes of thinking more or less neutral papers, while with a and modes of living which make up the solitary exception those journals that have social life of a body of people whose dispobeen devoted to one of its two great parties sition of circumstances has not been broken have languished and died. The “Sun," a in upon by revolutions or immigration. neutral sheet, possesses a larger daily circu- And so it results that when our pictorial lation than any other journal in New-York, satirists have used up the “ B'hoys “ of the and perhaps than any other in the world. Bowery and the “ Suckers” of the West, The Herald has never suffered from lack they have very little left to fall back upon. of patronage, and several smaller neutral This may partly explain our lack of a napapers within the shadow of the Sun and tional Charivari; and it is also true that we Herald establishments are enjoying the cannot at once change Brother Jonathan's stimulus of very healthy incomes. We are long face to a round one, or occupy ournot aware of any other city whose journal- selves in hunting up materials for laughter ism presents so anomalous a feature. when each one of us has quite enough to do

The weekly papers of New-York are at getting his dinner. many in number, and of various charac- Most of the New-York weeklies, like their teristics, exhibiting in a marked degree the contemporaries of Philadelphia and Boston, enterprise that distinguishes our daily press. are intended expressly for country circulaThey outnumber the dailies some two or tion, and are of large size and very heterothree to one, and one who is disposed to geneous contents. It is not uncommon to ascertain their exact number by personal find one of them devoted to a dozen or research will weary himself in stumbling twenty different objects of interest, taste or through the intricacies of Nassau and Ann study, among which literature and the fine streets before he has half completed his task. arts have hardly enough elbow room to Although English writers are apt to speak make themselves visible. Very many of of their weekly journalism as the most perfect our cheap “ blood and thunder" novels, in the world, we are persuaded that our digni- written by “ Harry Hazel,” or “a distinfied and semi-naturalized “ Albion” will not guished naval officer,” or “the most emiyield to the “Examiner,” memorable though nent of our rising novelists,” have first apit be in the name of Albany Fonblanque; peared serially in the columns of certain of and that the “Spirit of the Times” may these weeklies, where, we doubt not, they very well compare with “ Bell's Life in Lon- gave great satisfaction. We have also seen don." We must, however, confess that our in the columns of these identical sheets valuavarious hebdomadal imitations of inimitable ble disquisitions on the deepest matters of “Punch ” have been failures. We are of philosophy, essays on religious subjects that the opinion that a paper precisely like might have been penned by a Doctor of DiPunch cannot be sustained by us at vinity, agricultural treatises whose perusal present. The experiment has been tried, I would benefit a thorough-bred farmer, and candid reasonings on politics and the affairs quantities of labor and terms of compensaof the nation. This versatility, or compre- tion which, it is not too much to say, hensiveness, as Bulwer Lytton would style would not be submitted to by one artisan it, has been also profitably adopted by the or day laborer out of a hundred. Sunday press, in whose columns, in addition To one of impulsive sentiments and little to their overwhelming mass of town gossip, forethought, the profession of a writer for theatrical criticism, and serial fiction, one the city press is undoubtedly fascinating. often meets with sermons from our cele- In sober truth, and without arrogating to brated clergymen, appearing a little awk- newspapers any purities of honor or digniwardly, it must be owned, among their ties of thought which our common sense unwonted companions ; like a sober youth tells us they can never possess, the position suddenly tossed into a party of gay royster- of a journalist, and especially a journalist in ers whose amusements he is somewhat puz- a large and influential city, is necessarily zled to share.

even more than respectable, and can be

made of eminent reputation if its incumbent Notwithstanding the reputation of hard practise those manly virtues which are work and inadequate remuneration attend- deemed necessary to the integrities of priant upon the profession of a journalist in a vate life. It disowns all circumstances of large city, and the precarious future which wealth and fashion, and bespeaks for the is ever represented as forming the bounding man who holds it a reception into the sohorizon of his path, there is no lack of re- ciety of refined and intelligent men and cruits of all ages and of all degrees of talent women, which property, unaided by educato the great army of writers for the press tion, might seek after in vain, and which who find subsistence in New-York. The can only be forfeited by violations of good advice constantly given to all such eager breeding, or derelictions from personal aspirants for the honors and rewards of lit- honor. It at once inducts him into the erature by our leading editors and journal- free-masonry of intellect and art. It throws ists, is regarded by them as fallacious and him professionally among authors, painters, unfounded; and never having been called on musicians, and the favored few whom forto undergo the difficulties against which tune makes the Mæcenases of current gethey are cautioned, and from which it is in nius. It gives him the entrée of the concert their own power to remain aloof, they feel room, the gallery, the senate chamber, and very little hesitation in committing them the studio. It spreads before him an array selves to an undertaking which presents so of privileges, whose purchase would demand many attractive features to the man of a fortune, and which renders him for the talent without capital, and yet in whose suc- time contented with what pecuniary recomcessful prosecution capital is so largely and pense he may receive, and oblivious of all vitally concerned. Upon the establishment drawbacks which the future may have in of a new paper, therefore, in this city, offers store for him. of service in its various departments are Nor are the duties of the novitiate joursure to come in upon the proprietors with nalist so severe as to discourage his ambimost perplexing obtrusiveness, and with a tion, or his ardor for his vocation. Youth pertinacity that in most cases seems to ad- is strong and healthy, and the effects of the mit of no denial. As an instance of this, close atmosphere amid which he performs we may mention that the conductors of the his work, and the sedentary constraints he

Times, in addition to the numberless nega- is obliged to undergo, may be nullified by tives which they dispatched to applicants that exercise in the fresh air, and wholeduring the summer preceding the appear- some carelessness in hours of recreation, ance of their journal, were obliged to let which is common to most young men who sixty or seventy applications lie over to be are placed within reach of the stimulating publicly answered in their first number, owing activities of busy life. His duties have not to sheer want of time to attend to them by yet palled upon him, and he has not letter. And there is no one of our leading reached those anxieties of existence, those journals that does not daily receive offers of murmurings at the superior success of literary service from writers in various parts others, those solicitous longings after better of the country, many of them proposing fortune, which pertain so invariably to men

« PreviousContinue »