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opportunity, was little likely to attract young ambition, or to draw into it the kind of men who not long afterwards strove for a place on that cloud-capped Olympus, the 'Times,' or to share the Byronic glories of the Saturday Review.' And there are signs that when journalism was a new employment, writing for a newspaper was thought more respectable than to edit it. Nor, for intelligible reasons, is that an extinct prejudice yet. Amongst writers of the superior sort there are many whose feelings inform them that, whatever the difference in emolument and authority, it is better to range at large as independent contributors than to sit in the editorial chair. Two generations ago it was a prevalent feeling. Scott seems to have been much disturbed upon hearing that Lockhart might become editor of a newspaper which there could be no discredit in writing for; and the same distinction gleams out clearly in the late Lord Blachford's story of how he came to write for the 'Times.' At the age of twenty-nine, before he had made choice of a career, he was repeatedly pressed by the proprietor of that journal to take its editorship. This he declined to do; but being then urged to write for the paper, he almost thinks that he will try his hand. Not that Frederic Rogers (as he then was) quite liked it. However, "this unattached way of doing things seems to me very feasible. No one will know anything about the matter except my own private friends, and I can do just as much and as little as I please." No one will know! This was in 1840, when the newspaper press had already made considerable progress in gentility, and a yet more pronounced advance to the authority of a Fourth Estate of the Realm.
Bohemianism was its reproach, and the poverty which, in denying the means of cultivating the graces and refinements of life, provokes in some hurt minds an affectation of despising them. But journalism was practised out of Bohemia as well as within that vanished land. All newspaper proprietors were not as Thackeray's Mr Bungay, nor all journalists like Captain Shandon and Jack Finucane. The author of 'Vanity Fair' knew the world to which those gentlemen belonged very well. Most willingly, he had been in it; never willingly would he have remained in it for an hour; finding therein a vast deal that he despised, and despised with a certain hate and a certain fear which, in combination, formed a very lively and a rather worrying sentiment which he did not get rid of to the end of his life. It certainly checked and hampered him when he came to write of young Arthur's excursion into journalism; and so it is that even in Pendennis' we have but faint uncertain glimpses of an underworld which has never been well described to this day. There are fields of observation which no satirist less stout than Swift can hope to traverse, pen in hand, with comfort and composure; and, feeling this, the Muse of Titmarsh allowed a tormentingly inviting theme to repose at the bottom of his inkpot. True, Bludyer was fished up, but not as a contemporary specimen. To avoid unpleasantness, Thackeray explained that Bludyer was no actual denizen of Fleet Street, but belonged to an anterior period. He was to be regarded as representing a lingering "monster of the ooze"; though, truth to tell, his race was not yet quite extinct. I myself knew a very perfect Bludyer years after Pendennis' came out,—his end so miserable, from the fairest be
ginning, that one should be a Psalmist to describe it. Yet the Thackeray picture is a true one so far as it goes, and true as showing that in the novelist's earlier day the George Warringtons and young Pendennises were shouldering with the Shandons and Finucanes, who were soon to know their place no more.
Yet were I to talk of Bohemia, it would not be in the respectable and running-down vein. I'd rather choose to make the best of it. I would say that the manners and customs of that land were not all that they were understood to be in the neighbouring country of Clapham; where the place to which men most resort for sober reflection (the club smoking-room) is still mistaken for a haunt of impropriety. I would wedge in the remark that the Bohemia of Britain was always as unlike the Bohemia of some other nations as an English school is different from a French lycée. Where it needs excuse, I would urge that manners
and customs in our Bohemia were survivals from a tavern-and-coffeehouse time-not very remote when no one blamed them or shrunk from them. For hundreds of years the whole nation was more social and less formal than it afterwards became, and in Bohemia old ways which the pious Dr Johnson took pleasure in survived longer than anywhere else. Further to make the best of it, I should add that the free-and- easy smokingconcerts that are coming into vogue are an acknowledgment that there was more in this pleasure which the good Doctor took with his Goldsmiths, and Reynoldses, and elegant Bennet Langtons, than should be quite abandoned; and that it is a pleasure which our fine new clubs fail to supply on account of the frost there. I should even
speak of some observations of my own in Bohemia-though rather touch-and-go, and taken, perhaps, in a less lively time, foreboding the submergence that was soon to come. And in answer to the question whether the hours were not very late, I should say they were; and if there was not too much drinking, I should reply that there was. Yet not for everybody, and not but what much of it seemed to exhale at once in the breezy laughter and the battling talk of a Bohemian night's entertainment. For that it was appointed; and by that a bowl of punch or two was (I almost think we might say) justified.
As the rough and tumble of football is good for the muscles and the temper, so the rough and tumble of such encountering talk was good for the wits and the temper: so I thought then, and I am not otherwise persuaded now. A dangerous country to tarry in, this Bohemia, however, and one that no careful man would have ventured the speculation of taking a lad into. But, as I knew it, it was not a land of sojourn. They who were drawn thither made the tour, came forth, threw off the loose cap of travel, donned the smooth and shining tile of civilisation, and thenceforth roamed no more. Young men who afterwards became palaced artists, or high scribes and scholars, or grave judges and counsellors of the Queen, resorted there awhile for nothing more than a jovial clamour of wit and clash of word—a laughing jail-delivery of thoughts and sentiments which otherwise might never have got release. However, Bohemia is now where Atlantis is, and there let it lie.
The precursor of the newspaperwriter was the pamphleteer and he too was held in small esteem
generally. Nevertheless, pamphleteers were sometimes very considerable persons, and, whether for attack or defence, the power of the pamphlet was well understood by Governments far less dependent on popular opinion than these that we know. When the newssheets, taking the bread out of the mouths of the pamphleteers, made a regular business of political criticism, they soon gained an influence which forced acknowledgment even from the loftiest scorners of Grub Street. As the news-sheets prospered with the spread of education, the advance of trade, and the multiplication of interests and events, this influence rose; and to share it and increase it became an ambition unknown to the earlier promoters of Mercuries and Gazettes. The Grub Street wage moved up; the hack and his rider began to drop into the rear; and, thanks a good deal to the enterprise and liberality of one or two daily papers, furthered not a little by the recent establishment of the 'Saturday Review,' journalism had advanced to a far higher stage of authority and consideration at the time when I found myself one of its junior captains.
Morning Chronicle' was then a recent event, and remarkable because not many years before it was still a formidable rival to Mr Walter's "Thunderer," which journal it once over - topped. The
Chronicle's ' decease was also remarkable because it never had so brilliant a staff of writers as in the last year of its existence. Nor were these gentlemen at all antiquated or in any sense behind the times; the proof of which is that the busiest of them were among the best of that memorable little band of writers who, when the 'Saturday Review' started, took the town by storm.
And yet amidst all this there was much sickness, and there had been a good deal of mortality not long before. One morning journal, since restored to greatness, had dropped into a sort of elegant retirement; another, which was heard of in all quarters when I was a boy, was already on the road to the land of forgotten things; a third, after living for many years, I believe, a vigorous life, had changed its too discredited name for another, under which it began a far more fortunate, more reputable, and more influential
career. The decease of
There was a common superstition among journalists, I remember, that the 'Morning Chronicle was not really dead when it did die. Though there is no lack of imagination in Fleet Street there is little romance, yet here was a fancy which resembled the departed journal with those heroes of old who could not die; whose death was but a sleep; who, at the winding of a horn or the drawing of a sword would come forth more gloriously alive than ever. And there really was something in that superstition; for, unknown to many if not to all who held it, once a-year the entombed 'Chronicle' stirred into life, was called by its name and answered to the call, at the same time declaring the day of the week and the month of the year in which it reawoke to momentary existence. So the tale was told to me, but in the prose of the expounder of myths and the analyst of fairytales: as thus. In order to keep a newspaper legally and technically alive, though its publication to the world had ceased, what you might do was to print three or four copies of the paper once ayear. A costly expedient if car
ried out in the ordinary way, with eight large pages of type to set; but this difficulty was met by a friendly arrangement for putting the title of the defunct journal to the types of another paper some morning, after this other paper had been printed off. The office of the Morning Chronicle' was in dingy old premises nearly opposite Somerset House. Once, when I was a lad, I ascended its stair, but never again-so rough was my reception by a very able yet very warm - tempered editor. Not that he went so far with me as he could go, or as when he put his printer on the fire in consequence of a typographical error!
It is not forgotten, of course, that two great additions to daily journalism in London (one springing from Whitefriars, the other from Peterborough Court) must be set against these changes and fatalities. On the other hand, Mr Bright's 'Star' died out, and one entire system of journalistic publications had perished. In the earlier years of the century the London evening papers seem to have been both prosperous and influential, ranking close after the morning papers. Yet when my little paper was started in 1865 some of them were dead and forgotten, while others were forgotten though they still lived. That seems hardly possible, for a newspaper, but it is as nearly true as can be. It seems that there was 'St James's Chronicle' extant, the existence of which was then and afterwards a secret from all but its proprietor and printer. Certainly it was a secret from me till after I had been fifteen or twenty years in the trade, when Mr Newdigate told me that he was the owner of the paper, and showed me the first and only copy of it that I ever saw. Some evening papers of more
modern birth-including the cheapest and by no means the least attractive-had gone the way of the rest at the time of which I speak; but the veteran 'Globe' still carried on, though its whole circulation was said to be far short of a thousand copies. (At threepence apiece, however.) And unless my memory is at fault, there was no other evening journal in existence.
This account of the condition of the newspaper press in the early sixties does not seem to bear out my statement that it was a fortunate time to start with; but it Journalism was at turning
point. A poor order of things was passing away; a better order of things-mainly signalised by the victorious advent of the 'Saturday Review,' and, as I have said, by the attraction of many fresh, bright, strong, and scholarly minds to journalism as a powerwas coming in, and coming in upon well-prepared ground. As one consequence, the Pall Mall Gazette' started under more favourable conditions than we were sensible of at the time an admission volunteered to chasten pride and cool conceit when I add that this same little paper gave a great stimulus to the revival. If its distinguishing intention had to be explained in a sentence, it was to bring into daily journalism (but with more legerity and less of the doctorial) the full measure of thought and culture which was then found only in a few Reviews. So, indeed, its prospectus said; and though the intention so expressed may seem bumptious to the later generation of newspaper readers, they have a milder opinion of it who remember what the daily press of England really was just before the breaking of its better day. Some unaccustomed emulations were now roused; others were stimu
lated; and, powerful influences of various kinds concurring to aid the change, the newspaper press moved on to a higher place and to great prosperity. The evening papers, which had almost gone out of existence, were speedily restored in greater numbers and to greater favour. In London alone there have been seven or eight of them for years; and their aggregate sale is not reckoned by single thousands, as in '65, but by hundreds of thousands.
It was a good time for journalism, that seventh decade of the century, for another reason that seems quite worth mentioning. Whether employed upon a morning or an evening paper, the political and even the literary scribe wrote in much more favourable conditions than he does now, or has done for some years. Shortly stated, the explanation of the difference is that in those days he wrote under pressure just strong enough to produce warm and spirited work, while nowadays the pressure is often too great for a comfortable and satisfactory deliverance. Here again, of course, as in many another place, I speak in generalities, exceptions being always implied and I hope understood. In this case, however, the exceptions are not very numerous, and they are probably becoming fewer; for the aim of modern journalism more and more is to write of the latest turn of the latest matter of interest at the last hour allowed by the printer. This is called being "up to date," and in nothing is there greater rivalry. Being up to date is, of course, the life of journalism, as its name bespeaks; but even here it is possible to run to excess. A dramatic critic exactly illustrated my meaning the other day in a sentence which embodied a jour
nalistic maxim of the time: mark the maxim. Acknowledging the inconvenience of "dashing off" a first-night criticism "before you go to bed," he further said that to wait till next morning would be wiser. But what would you?
The facts of competition, and that people generally prefer a thing done soon to having it done well, compel an immediate notice."
The number of persons per thousand who prefer criticism done soon to criticism done well may be larger than some of us could have supposed; but what compels an immediate notice, good, bad, or indifferent, is evidently "the facts of competition." That the dramatic criticism of the newspapers would be bettered if written "next morning" is not an inflexible matter of certainty, considering how much depends on the training and the idiosyncrasy of the critic. Change the wording a little, and the same thing may be said for other critics, and even for those who convey political instruction under the same law of devil take the hindmost. An apt and ready mind, constantly employed in beating over certain departments of political study, is usually prepared with an opinion upon whatever may happen within its own range of observation and expectancy. This is the answer to the reproach of writing at an hour's notice on the most important political events. No political event is unrelated to past and present. Both are prophecies, more or less distinct, of what is to come. Either as likely or unlikely, therefore, most political events are matters of speculation before they happen; and though a sudden piece of news may sometimes throw the most judgmatical observer into confusion, it more often has a contrary effect,-instantly consolidating a