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great variety of flying sheets of news were, indeed, issued during the Civil War; but Milton in vain attempted to persuade the Long Parliament to abolish the licensing of books.

Newspapers appear to have had the same origin in all the countries of Europe. They were at first mere manuscript collections of intelligence respecting the events of the day,2 which were compiled for the use of readers; and either passed from hand to hand, or were exhibited in an office, where public notices and advertisements were sometimes also received and registered.3 In England, these manuscript papers were called news-letters; and, after the institution of posts, copies of them were often sent into the country, like other letters. By degrees, these news-letters began to be circulated in print-at first at irregular intervals, then weekly, and at last daily; but, till after the middle of the last century, they were confined to the statement of a few articles of news, of general interest, and such as could be obtained without much expense, or the maintenance of an extensive correspondence or staff of reporters. The names of newspapers (as News-letter, Diurnal, Journal, Giornale, Mercury, Courant, Courier, Public Intelligencer, Intelligenz-blatt, Postreiter, Relation, Correspondent, Zeitung) allude to their character as vehicles of intelligence concerning the passing events of the day-such as might be sent privately by correspondents through the post, or by a messenger.5 Some periodical essays of a political character, as the Examiner, Freeholder, Craftsman, &c., were, indeed, published in England as early as the reign of Queen Anne, and even earlier; and a bill to restrain the licentiousness of the press was ordered to be brought into the House of Commons on the 2nd of


1 See Chalmers' Life of Ruddiman, pp. 102-24, and App. 6; Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature, p. 55 (ed. 10); Johnson's Life of Addison, vol. VII. p. 429. On the meaning of news, see above, p. 97.

2 Called at Venice notizie scritte, where they were first circulated, about the year 1563. The German Relationen were first published in the same century, in the form of letters. The earliest known authentic newspaper printed in England is of the date 1619. See Knight's Political Dictionary, art. Newspapers.

* See Beckmann, Hist. of Inventions, vol. II. p. 481, ed. 8vo, (art. Papers for conveying Intelligence.) Upon the combination of advertisements with newspapers, see the Idler, No. 40, (Jan. 20, 1759.)

* Upon the news-letters, see Macaulay's History of England, vol. I. pp. 388–91. 5 Newspapers were sometimes printed so as to resemble manuscripts-Tatler, No. 178 (1710); or a blank page was left, on which a letter could be written.-KNIGHT'S Pol. Dict. ubi sup.

• For this class of Essayists, see the account in Chalmers' Preface to the Guardian. -British Essayists, vol. XVI. pp. xxvi. —xlvi.

June, 1712, having for its main object the prevention of anonymous publications,' which was doubtless directed against writings of this class. But the importance of the daily newspapers, as vehicles of political discussion and as organs of political party, in addition to their function of registers of news, dates in this country from about the close of the American war.2 On the Continent, none of the political journals contained more than a mere statement of news before the era of the French Revolution. The Allgemeine Zeitung, the first newspaper of Germany which added original discussion to reports of events, was established in 1798. Even, however, in England, where the licensing of publications had been abolished for a century, the intellectual character of the newspaper press was at a low ebb at the outbreak of the revolutionary war; and it is principally since the Peace that the standard of its writers has been raised. From that time, it has been progressively rising, and, for several years past, all the current political questions have been discussed in the daily and weekly papers with great ability, research, and intelligence. During the same period, its character as a vehicle of information has also been much improved. Not only domestic news, but full and accurate reports of important public proceedings, and accounts of contemporary events in all the countries of the world, furnished by competent correspondents together with criticisms of newly-published books, works of art, &c., are to be found in a well-conducted modern newspaper.

§ 24. The extraordinary cheapness of the newspaper, in proportion to the cost of its contents,3 the regularity as well as celerity of its publication, its circulation gratuitously, or at low rates of postage, through the Post-office, and the variety and interest of its information, and of its comments on passing events, cause it to be

16 Parl. Hist. 1141.

2 With respect to English newspapers, considered as mere vehicles of intelligence, see the remarks of Johnson in the Idler, No. 7, 27 May, 1758. He there says-' All foreigners remark that the knowledge of the common people of England is greater than that of any other vulgar. This superiority we undoubtedly owe to the rivulets of intelligence which are continually trickling among us, which every one may catch, and of which every one partakes.' As to the news-writers in Queen Anne's time, see Tatler, No. 18, (by Addison.) On the avidity for news, Spectator, No. 452, (1712.) Compare No. 457. See also Connoisseur, No. 45, (1754.)

The profit derived from the advertisements in a newspaper lowers its price to the public, and improves its quality. If there were no advertisements, the price of a newspaper of equal quality with the present must be greatly increased, and probably no such newspaper could be published.

diffused widely, and to be read by a large part of the public; to whom it not only furnishes the materials out of which their opinions on the questions of the day are chiefly formed, but often suggests the opinions themselves.

A newspaper affords every day the intelligence which each person wants, without the interruption of a visitor or messenger— and suggests opinions on political and other subjects, without the formality or apparent presumption of a personal adviser. It is a daily supply of information and discussion, of which everybody can take as much or as little as he pleases, and at the times most convenient to himself, without being guilty of any slight or breach of propriety.

In every civilised country, therefore, in which the newspaper press is not strictly coerced by the government, it exercises a great influence upon the opinions of the community at large, in different directions and by different means; partly by supplying facts as the groundwork of opinions, partly by argumentative discussion, and partly by its mere authority.

§ 25. Now, in looking on the newspaper press as one of the principal guides of public opinion, and as an authoritative source of practical convictions to a large part of the community, the most prominent characteristic which strikes the observer is, that it is anonymous-that all the writers officially connected with a newspaper are unknown to the reader, and strictly maintain their incognito. This is certainly the general character of the newspaper press in all countries. The editorial articles are always anonymous in form, and generally anonymous in fact; though, in some cases, their authorship may be disclosed in private, or may be ascertained upon inquiry.

§ 26. The anonymous character of the newspaper press is so important and distinctive a feature, and is so closely connected with the nature of its influence as an authoritative guide to opinion, that it is necessary to inquire what are the motives and causes, and what the operation of this system.1

It may be said, in general, that the author of a writing is desirous that his authorship should be known. If the composition contains nothing of which he is ashamed, there is no reason why he should not avow his own production. He probably thinks that the publicity of the fact will contribute to his reputation. There

Compare the remarks upon anonymous testimony above, ch. III. § 2.

must, therefore, be some cogent reason for the universal and studious concealment of authorship practised by newspaper writers.

This reason is to be found in the facilities which it affords for the free expression of opinion on contemporary transactions. A newspaper writer undertakes the invidious office of a public censor. He cites before his tribunal kings, potentates, statesmen, churchmen, demagogues, officers of the government, members of political bodies, and men in every variety of relation in which they play any public part, however exalted or however humble. The high are formidable by their influence and station-the low, by their numbers and powers of union. Having no powerful party or connections to support him in undertaking a conflict, in which the superiority of strength is so much against him, it is necessary that he should, by self-concealment, avoid the retaliation which he is sure to provoke. Being unequally matched against so great a preponderance of force, he is compelled to fight in ambush in order to gain the victory. He throws down his gauntlet in the lists, and challenges all the world to the combat; but before he enters the field, he is forced to lower his vizor.

Writers in newspapers resemble the guests at a masquerade, who, by disguising their faces, are able to comment with freedom, and without fear of consequences, upon the errors or foibles of their neighbours. They are, as it were, disembodied voices, admonishing people of their faults or omissions-like the airy tongues that syllable men's names,' which, in times of alarm and superstition, have been heard to give warning of public danger. In this respect Junius, the magni nominis umbra, the mysterious monitor and castigator of men in high stations, who was never identified with any living person, is the prototype of the newspaper


The anonymousness of newspaper writing rests on the same ground as the vote by ballot for electoral purposes-viz., the protection against intimidation or undue influence which, in either case, the secrecy affords. Both in writing upon public events, and in giving a vote at a public election, secrecy is 'vindex tacitæ libertatis.' Unless the writer concealed his name, he would in many cases be exposed to personal quarrels and threats, and, in still more, to personal solicitations and remonstrances, if he wrote with freedom. If, on the other hand, he avowed his authorship, he would find it necessary, or at least prudent, to suppress

unpleasant truths, to spare certain individuals, to avoid giving offence to the powerful, and, in short, to make the same sacrifices to personal feeling and interest, as are made by those who discuss openly the conduct and character of their contemporaries. That this would be the case is proved by the practice, not only of editors and the regular paid contributors to newspapers, but also of most of their casual correspondents, who write under assumed names. If the descendants of every celebrated person of a former age thought it their duty to defend their ancestor's memory, and to fasten a quarrel upon a historian who censured him without reserve, it would be necessary for historians of the past to conceal their names, not less than the contemporary chroniclers who write in newspapers. Bayle, who wrote at a time when it was dangerous for a man to discuss philosophical and religious subjects with freedom, resorted to various devices of false dates and fictitious prefaces, in order to divert suspicion and to conceal his authorship.

As an example of the dangerous hostility which a free-spoken newspaper writer may excite, the case of Junius may be cited. Sir William Draper, when attacked with severity by Junius, called upon him to drop his anonymous character, and to decide the quarrel by arms. Junius declined this challenge, saying in reply, that 'it was by no means necessary that he should be exposed to the resentment of the worst and the most powerful men in this country;' and 'that while Sir William Draper would fight, there were others who would assassinate.'—(Letter 25.)1

Hence, a person attacked by a newspaper is in the same position as a knight in a tale of chivalry, who finds himself, through the arts of an enchanter, assailed by the blows of an invisible. hand, which he feels without being able to perceive their author. Under cover of their concealment, these writers can pass everywhere unimpeded: they can act as the privileged spies of the public, without being subject to the danger of being hanged, if caught within the enemy's lines. They have the same defence of obscurity which the goddess is described as conferring on Æneas and his companions, in order to enable them to enter the walls of Carthage with safety, and to scrutinize its inhabitants without being stopped or challenged by the guards.

On Junius's concealment, see Johnson on the Falkland Islands, vol. VI. p. 204.

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