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PRINTING IN AMERICA.
HISTORY OF NEWSPAPERS,
FROM THE PERIOD WHEN THEY WERE FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BRITISH
COLONIES, TO THE TIME OF THE REVOLUTION, WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THOSE PUBLISHED IN EUROPE.
To an observer of the great utility of the kind of publications called newspapers, it may appear strange that they should have arisen to the present almost incredible number, from a comparatively late beginning. I would not be understood to intimate that ancient nations had no institutions which answered the purposes of our public journals, because I believe the contrary is the fact. The Chinese gazettes may have been published from a very remote period of time. The kings of Persia had their scribes who copied the public despatches, which were carried into the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the Persian empire “ by posts ;” and, it is probable, they transmitted accounts of remarkable occurrences in the same manner. The Romans also adopted the custom of sending into their distant provinces written accounts of victories gained, and other remarkable events, which took place in that empire.'
It has already been mentioned, that the Mexicans were very expert at engraving and painting. It has been repre
Newspapers were foreshadowed among the ancients by the Acta Diurna of the Romans- daily official reports of public occurrences.-H. * Vol. i. p. 19.
sented as probable that they likewise executed hieroglyphical gazettes ; for when the Spaniards first arrived on the Mexican coast, some of the subjects of Montezuma II sent to him such a description of the Spanish ships, men, etc., as not only terrified him with the strangeness of the sight, but also astonished the Spaniards themselves, by the accuracy of it, when the paintings were afterward shown to them.
These kinds of hieroglyphical gazettes were not unknown, it is said, among the natives of the more northern parts of America. Annexed is an engraving of a copy of an Indian gazette, taken many years since by a French officer from the American original, with an explanation of the same. It relates to an expedition of a body of Canadian warriors, who, soon after the settlement of this part of America, took up the hatchet in favor of the French against a hostile tribe that adhered to the English. It was communicated to me many years ago, and, soon after, I had it engraved for the Royal American Magazine. It had previously appeared in several works published in Europe.
In the year 1531, a newspaper was printed at Venice, for which the price charged was a Venetian coin called gazetta ; and hence is derived our word gazette; the name of the coin having been transferred to the paper.'
The first newspaper produced by the English press, was entitled The English Mercurie, printed and published on the 28th day of July, 1588, in London, by Christopher Barker,
? I will here take leave to remark, that the statement of facts respecting the origin of newspapers, as published in the introduction to the History of Newspapers in the first edition of this work, was taken from writers whose authority I considered unquestionable. Among the works I consulted was the British Encyclopedia ; but farther researches convince me that the encyclopedists made some erroneous statements on this subject. These errors I discovered, and corrected at the close of the volume which contained them, before it came from the press. In this edition the corrections are made in their proper place.
who was printer to Queen Elizabeth. A copy of this paper is preserved in the British Museum.'
Another paper was printed in London, anno 1622, the title of which was The Weekly Courant. In 1639, a paper was printed at Newcastle upon Tyne, by Robert Baker. The Mercuries succeeded, being first published August 22, 1642, and continued occasionally through the protectorate of Cromwell, and after his death. One was entitled The Mercurius Rusticus, or “the Countrie's Complaint of the Barbarous Outrage began in the year 1642, by the Sectaries of this once Flourishing Kingdome;" edited by Bruno Ryves. These papers were generally in quarto, and sometimes contained two sheets; but neither of them obtained a permanent establishment.
The oldest English newspaper I have seen, is one now in my possession, which was published weekly on Thursdays, anno 1660. The title of it is Mercurius Publicus,“ Comprising the Sum of Forraign Intelligence: With the affairs now in agitation in England, Scotland, and Ireland, For Information of the People. Published by Order.” This publication was begun that year; it contained two small quarto sheets. A number of books and medicines for sale, by various people, are advertised in that paper, which was printed in London “ by J. Macock and Tho. Newcomb.” I cannot determine if any other periodical work was published in England at that time; but Sir Roger L'Estrange published a paper called The Public Intelligencer, in 1663.2
Mr Thomas Watt, the distinguished bibliographer, ascertained that the copies of this alleged newspaper, in the British Museum, were forgeries, executed about the year 1766.- Letter to Antonio Panizzi.-H.
* After all that has been written about early newspapers, it is not usual to find perfect accuracy in any one account. The paper which our author refers to as the The Weekly Courant, anno 1622, was The Courant or Weekly Neues from Foreign Parts, established by Nathaniel Butter. Alexander Andrews, author of History of British Journalism, in a communication to Notes and Queries, 1st series, XI, 285, expresses the opinion that it appeared first in 1621. He says also that Butter published Sept. 9, 1622, a paper entitled News from most Parts of Christendom. It was probably the same
The British Encyclopedia, and other works, state, that “the first gazette in England was published at Oxford,” the court being there on account of the prevalence of the plague in London. It was “in a folio half sheet, Nov. 7, 1665. On the removal of the court to London, the title was changed to The London Gazette.” The publication of newspapers and pamphlets was prohibited by proclamation in England, anno 1680, but although this was done away during the revolution in that country, newspapers were afterwards made objects of taxation.
In 1996, The Athenian Gazette was published in London, by John Dunton, whom I have had frequent occasion to mention. In that work Dunton states, that only nine newspapers, the Athenian Gazette included, were then published in England. Newspapers were not published in Scotland till after the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England. In the year 1808, the newspaper establishments in England amounted to one hundred and forty-five. Of this number forty-seven were published in London, viz: nine morning, and seven evening, daily papers; nine were printed three times, and one twice a week; and there were nineteen weekly, including eleven Sunday papers. Ninety-eight were printed in all other parts of England. The same year, nineteen were printed in Scotland, and thirty-five in Ireland, making the whole number published in the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, one hundred and ninety-seven.
The celebrated Horace Walpole observes, that a Gazette was published in France, anno 1631, by Renaudot, a phy
paper as the first named, as may have been that entitled The Weekly News from Italy, Germanie, &c. Butter is regarded as the father of the regular newspapers press. It is stated in Appleton's New American Cyclopedia, that the first attempt at parliamentary reporting was in 1641. But we have before us a fac simile of the 1st No. of Perfect Occurrences 1 of 1 Every Daies iournall | In | Parliament | Of England. | And other Moderate Intelligence | From Tuesday Novemb. 3, to Friday Decemb. 4, 1640. Collected by Hon. Walkar Cleric.-II. See Appendix A.
sician at Paris.' This was prior to the appearance of the Journal des Savans.
That kind of literary journals, called reviews and magazines, appears to have originated in France. The first production, of this description, was the Journal des Savans, which, according to D'Israeli, made its début on the 30th of May, 1665, and was contemporaneous with the London Guzette. It was published by Dennis de Sallo, an ecclesiastical counsellor in the parliament of Paris, in the name of the Sieur de Hedouville, his lacquey. Some suppose de Sallo adopted this method of sending it abroad in the world because he thought so humble an author as his servant would disarm criticism of its severity; or, that the scurrility of the critics would produce less effect than if directed against himself.
The Journal des Savans comprehended a variety of subjects. It contained an account of all books published in
. Europe; panegyrics on deceased persons of celebrity ; it announced all useful inventions, and such discoveries as were beneficial to the arts, or curious in science; chemical experiments, celestial and meteorological observations, discoveries in anatomy, and in the practice of physic; decisions of the ecclesiastical and secular tribunals; and the author intended to publish an account of the censures of the Sorbonne, &c., &c. In the course of a few years many imitations of this journal were published in different parts of Europe.
Dr. Miller, of New York, in his valuable work entitled, A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century, mentions that “ in 1671, appeared the Acta Medica Hafnensia, published by M. Bartholin. To which succeeded, in 1672, Mémoires des Arts et des Sciences, established in France, by M. Dennis ; in 1682, the Acta Eruditorum, of Leipsic, by Menkenius; in 1684, Les Nouvelles de la Republique des
" It was called the Gazette de France,– H.