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do to forward the Commercial Interests.
SOUTHERN QUARTERLY REVIEW.
ART. 1-1. The North American Review, No. CXIII.
October 1841. Boston: Published by James Munroe &
Co. 2. The New-York Review, No. XVIII. October 1841.
New-York: Published for the Proprietor by Alexander
V. Blake. 3. The United States' Magazine and Democratic Re
view, No. XLII. December 1841. New-York: J. &
H. G. Langley. 4. The Charleston Courier, No. 11,954. December 1841.
Charleston, S. C. 5. The Richmond Enquirer, No. 62. December, 1841.
We have placed at the head of this article, the titles of certain Reviews and Newspapers, as a text upon which to offer some remarks upon the Newspaper and Periodical Press of the United States.
The discovery of the Art of Printing about four hundred years ago, gave rise to the publication of books, among which the Bible, next the classical works of antiquity, next the ponderous tomes of divines and schoolmen, and then works of science and literature, were among the earlier triumphs of the Art. No mode of publishing and giving durability and almost immortality to the works of genius, VOL. 1.-NO 1.
including the speculations, researches and discoveries of the learned in various fields of inquiry, could have been devised more eligible than this, and no treasure, to those who entertained a proper appreciation of the value of knowledge, could be regarded greater than a library of valuable books. But in the earlier history of the Art and in its ruder stages, before ingenuity had improved materially upon the original plan, and carried it to the perfection it has attained in our day, the publication of books was attended with many difficulties; small editions of them were issued, and they were sold at high prices, which placed the procuring of them only within the means of the affluent. The great majority of the people were deprived of the benefits resulting from this most useful discovery, and it became necessary to devise some method by means of which all classes of society, the poor, as well as the rich, should be supplied with a cheaper kind of literature, less elaborate perhaps more accessible, and better suited to the popular needs. This necessity gave rise to periodical issues, first of newspapers, then to essays, like the Addison Papers, then to Magazines, published monthly, like “The Gentleman's,” embracing criticisms of books, and, lastly, to Quarterly Reviews, in which the merits and demerits of authors, in all the departments of science and literature, were examined and pointed out with a fearless spirit, and topics of public interest
, embracing political relations, were discussed in a thorough, learned and statesman-like manner.
In considering the subject before us, the Newspaper Press, which is a highly interesting branch of it, and well deserving of the attention of an enlightened community, comes first in order.
The Newspaper is the greatest agent in promoting civilization known to modern times. The power it has exerted on popular opinion, and the information it has diffused through all classes of society upon subjects of vital interest, political, commercial, statistical, literary and religious, is great beyond calculation. The Newspaper, as its name imports, is a vehicle of news of intelligence, -of knowledge for the people. Men knew little, formerly, of what was passing beyond the limits of their own immediate neighborhood, but now, through the agency of the newspaper press, town and country, state and nation, and the most distant parts of the world are brought together, and whatever is new, rare and important, is conveyed with rapidity to every reader,-is set forth in the most succinct manner, and in a style adapted to the comprehension of all. In a commercial aspect, the value of newspapers can scarcely be estimated at too high a rate. The information they afford of the state of the markets and of the wants of mankind, is indispensable, as the world is now constituted, and neither foreign nor domestic trade could be carried on advantageously, if at all, without their instrumentality. In a political point of view, they exert immense power, being the organs through which opinions are canvassed, the principles of government explained and upheld,-measures of reform promulgated and discussed the claims of rival candidates for office debated, and all other matters bearing upon the welfare of the community in its most important relations, investigated and set forth in a lucid, faithful and able manner. Literature even owes something to the Newspaper, for although men of letters generally employ books and Reviews, as organs better suited to their purpose, yet the discoveries of men of science are usually first promulgated to the world through the more popular vehicle of the Newspaper. It notices also the passing publications of the day, and entering the province of the quarterly periodicals, ventures often to question the justice of their criticisms. Truth compels us to admit
, that the editors of our daily and weekly prints are occasionally critics of no despicable character, and that some of the most masterly strictures on the fugitive compositions of the day have proceeded from their pens. The “National Gazette," edited by Mr. Walsh, for a long period exerted a decided influence upon the public taste. The same may be said of the “Sunday Morning News,” published in New York, which, when we were acquainted with it, was always replete with interesting literary intelligence and fair and judicious criticisms. The eagerness with which all classes of readers, from the learned professor down to Miss at a boarding school, seize hold of those leviathan sheets, the “Brother Jonathan," the “New World," the Universal Yankee Nation,” and other papers of that class, affords pretty fair evidence of the interesting materials they furnish in the lighter departments of literature. It is true, the editors of a daily or weekly newspaper cannot be ex
pected to write sheets of criticism, but the very necessity of the case leads them to concentrate more their ideas, and to embody much that is apt and pithy in a narrow compass. Their duties are very onerous, and the wonder is, not that they are sometimes capricious, crusty and superficial, when they attempt to adjudge and settle the claims of candidates for fame, but that in the midst of their multiplied avocations, which draw constantly and largely upon the intellectual resources of the faithful editor, they are able to devote as much attention as they do, to the fair claims of our ephemeral literature.
The newspaper appeals to so many interests and represents so many, that human affairs could not well be carried on without its agency. How dull and stupid a city or a village must be, where there is no newspaper! We can scarcely conceive, in our day, of any community being in so forlorn a condition--of none certainly that lays much claim to advancement. What would life be worth, in an enlightened age, and in a country full of plans and projects, reforms and changes,—where all is bustle, movement and activity,—where facts and information of prime importance must be speedily known, in order to be promptly acted upon, without some such organ of intelligence, regularly published, on whose statements the people might rely with perfect confidence? A well conducted newspaper ranks next in value and consideration,---at least so the world thinks,—to the mens sana in corpore sano, and is usually placed in the same category, for whenever the question is propounded, “How is your health ?" the next question that invariably follows is, “What is the news ?" and it may perhaps be doubted, whether most persons do not regard the news that is stirring, if any there be,-of far greater importance than the health of any merely private individual.
The morning print, in our commercial cities, is important an article of daily food for the moral man, as bread is for the physical. Observe, how it goes the rounds. It is called for first by the master of the family, and after its ample sheet is expanded and dried before the fire, he devours its contents with an eagerness that shows how deeply his whole soul is in it. It then passes into the hands of the good lady of the house, who is usually satisfied with a pe