Imatges de pÓgina
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who, while insinuating that the sys- asmuch as the subordinates of jourtem of journalism is mercenary nalism are by no means in the pothroughout — mercenary in origin, sition of mere barristers. It would mercenary in management, mercen- be simply impossible for an editor to ary in every detail, has stated the work with subordinates who had not case against the individual writers a general sympathy with him in his with a distinctness and a formality views and aims, however they might with which it is not usually consi- differ from him in details. It somedered safe to invest sneers of this times happens, no doubt, that a writer kind. Mr Cony beare wrote various may be called upon to discuss a subarticles in the Edinburgh Review ject with regard to which he has which he collected and republished ; absolutely no opinion, so that he is but as if not satisfied with the cir- ready to take whichever view of the culation thus given to his opinions, case may suit the management of the he threw some of these articles into newspaper. But in this instance his the form of a novel, wbich he pub- position is not that of a barrister; it lished under the title of Perversion; is that of the member of a ministry a Tale for the l'imes. The most who has not a seat in the cabinet; prominent character in the novel is who, having a perfect sympathy with à person named Archer, a man with the leaders of his party, follows their out conscience, who is represented guidance implicitly; who is willing as writing leading articles on for- to sacrifice his own crotchets, if eign policy for a daily newspaper of need be; who rises in the House of vast circulation. In a conversation Commons to explain or to defend with this personage, which occurs in what personally does not interest the second volume, the principles him, or what may be opposed to his of newspaper management are dis- own private views. Is it wrong in cussed, the general conclusion being an Under-Secretary of State to act this-that journalism is a mass of in this way? Does he lose in selfcorruption, and that all its high- respect-does he deceive the public sounding professions are but a fraud by becoming the mouthpiece of a upon the public. No one, of course, ministry with which he is united in would charge the English press with sympathy? Is he, thus acting, to the vulgar sort of corruption-with be regarded as a mere barrister talkthe acceptance of bribes, with the ing for a fee – ready to defend a levying of blackmail. The charge murder to-day and a burglary tois that there is no sincerity in the morrow? The under-secretaries of individual writers, and that the con- the press are exactly in the position ductors of the press have ulterior of the under - secretaries of State ; views. It is with the writers that but even if they were in the position we have here to do, and of these he of barristers, the argument of Mr says that they are precisely in the Conybeare would be utterly false. position of barristers writing for a The argument is, that the speech of fee ; that there is nothing indeed a barrister is fraudulently presented degrading in the duty of a barrister, to the public as if it were the charge but that, nevertheless, there is a of a judge. It is forgotten that, fraud practised on the public when according to the barrister theory, he who is nothing but a barrister the leading article in question is assumes the position of a judge. A supposed to have been commissioned leading article, which is but the by the conductors of the journal, speech of an advocate, is presented that it is accepted by them and pubto the public as the charge of an im- lished as their opinion-their judipartial judge, and the public, in all cial opinion, which indeed it is, simplicity, accept it as such. It is whatever may be the individual not without a sense of the humilia- views of the penman. Therefore, to tion involved in answering such trash speak of a deception is the merest that we proceed to point out that nonsense; and in dismissing this part this reverend censor of the press is of the subject, we can only smile at wrong in fact, and wrong in argu- the poverty of thought and ignoment. He is wrong in fact, in- rance of human nature displayed by

VOL, LXXXV.NO. DXX.

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ile region of a majority; gold. But among a people who think

Akp'usuance of life, from for themselves, who decide for themspolehlike to the pay- selves, who during two centuries have

tie spitiva of the ma- regarded the vote of a majority as the

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voice of an oracle, and who, so far process, by which the English press from repenting such a practice, have makes it a primary object to collect good reason for the utmost confi- intelligence, to give every possible dence in it, there is something ex- information on every possible subquisitely absurd in the idea that a ject, and to publish without fear journal obtains great favour and even the attacks that are made upon great sale by pandering to prejudice, itself, is that day by day its power is or that any real good can accrue to at once increased and diminished. It it from the maintaining of a policy is increased as the information which which, however popular at the mo- it supplies becomes more and more ment, and however stimulating to complete, and becomes more than the appetite for news, is in the end ever a recognised necessity. It is

a to be reprobated and recanted. The diminished, inasmuch as it cultivates periodical press of this country have the faculty of judgment in readers, so little faith in such an idea, that by gives them the most ample means far the larger portion make it their of judging, therefore voluntarily dechief business to present their readers prives itself of the power to err with not with advice but news, not with impunity, and of all that is arbitrary opinions, but with facts, by which in its function. Its power is enorthey can for opinions for them- mously increased, but only on condiselves. “This indeed,” said the tions that effectually prevent the Times lately (10th September 1858), arbitrary exercise of it. The more in commenting upon the character of powerful the monarchy of an editor, newspapers," is the guarantee which the less absolute it becomes and the the Press offers for the proper use of more limited. It is the universal its power. It cannot hope to per- law. The slave who has no power vert the judgment of those whom it is comparatively free - he has few furnishes daily with elaborate details responsibilities, and no cares. His on all the subjects treated of. The master is a greater slave than he, newspaper which will be most read, and the more his power is inereased, and, consequently, the articles of he is surrounded by all the more rewhich will have the widest influence, sponsibilities and checks. “Whoever will be precisely the one which gives will be chief among you, let him be in another column the fullest narra- your servant,” is a natural law as tive of the event it comments on, well as a divine command ; and those with, perhaps, a verbatim report of who look with jealousy on the inhalf-a-dozen speeches by men of creasing power of the press, may take widely-differing views. In the dis- comfort in the assurance that the semination of accurate intelligence, more this power is increased, the then, lies the advantage of both more is it delegated, the more is it press and public, and it is a happy amenable to the public conscience, sign that of late years a taste for the more must it defer to truth and descriptions both comprehensive and minute has been created, and that And this brings us to the point every series of events in the most on which we desire mainly to insist. remote parts of the world is laid We stated in the outset of this paper before the British public with a that the course of events had introcompleteness which until lately was duced a new element into the present unknown. The influence of this discussion which enabled us to give daily instruction on our country- a more satisfactory solution of the men is remarkable, and must strike problem as to the destiny of the press any one who compares the conversa- than was possible, say about the tion of average Englishmen with that quarter of a century back. Now, the of far more studious and bookish view of the press which was taken Continentals. For a knowledge of some twenty or thirty years ago will contemporary history, at least, we be found in its most philosophical would back the newspaper-reading form in de Tocqueville's work on Englishman against half the diplo- America, and in its most common matists and privy councillors in form might be stated somewhat in Europe.” Now the result of this this fashion : "The press is a very

reason.

terrible engine, and threatens society. opinion that were to be created by It is so beneficial, and yet so danger- the increase of newspapers, and as to ous, that it is ditficult to say whether the manner in which these differences its extinction or its preservation were were to neutralise each other so that better. We have only a choice of the result should be zero, we ask, is evils before us. What a blessing it this to be the sum total of our faith would be if we could only preserve in education, in the march of intelthe press and yet control it ! Unfor- lect, in the flight of ignorance? On tunately a censorship, or anything the contrary, we believe that educalike an external control, is out of the tion tends to unanimity, that "truth, question. There is but one cure; the like a torch, the more it's shook it press must cure itself. We have only shines;" that discussion is not an to increase the evil and we shall cure evil, and that the result is not chaos. it. Let us multiply the newspapers. We confidently appeal to the facts, The multiplication of newspapers and ask whether the multiplication will create a Babel of opinions which of newspapers, and the increased will neutralise each other. The more power of the press, has not produced, newspapers, the weaker each will be, with regard to subjects that have the more harmless will be the aggre- been sutticiently handled and properly gute result.” Such were the views sifted,-so far from chaos, most of American statesmen which de startling unanimity? This is the Tocqueville regarled as self-evident, great fact which the history of the and which he clothed with all the last quarter of a century proves, charms of his style. It is not im- and which every day's experience probable that they apply with toler- renders more and more clear. What able accuracy to the United States, is the complaint which we hear on where the newspapers may fairly be every side but this, that we are all described as the organs of individuals. too much agreed ; that party govBut if they were meant to apply, as it ernment is no longer possible, that would seem, to the press generally the change of a Ministry is a change and universally, they are open to not of principle but of men? It is a criticism. De Tocqueville was right result which we may fairly attribute in supposing that the multiplication to the advance of education, to the of newspapers must create differences, extension of the periodical press, and and must, apparently at least, dimin- to the ample opportunities of discusish the power of the press ; but hesion which it has created. Thus the was utterly wrong in his calculation theoretical anticipations of men reas to the manner in which this result markable for their power of thought, must intallibly be obtained. It was and strong even in their democratic natural, we say, that the multipli- sympathies, have been completely cation of newspapers should be the battled by the experience of the last multiplication of differences. We twenty years. The multiplication of have done our best to show that mul- newspapers has produced endless tiplication necessarily entails a differ- differences, but not the differences ence of some kind ; that, in the upon which they had calculated—not technical phrase of the physiolo- differences of opinion. And de Tocgists, all growth proceeds on a law queville and the American statesmen of differentiation; and the reader were equally wrong in the idea that may perhaps remember our homely the dissemination of newspapers must parable of the increase of public diminish their influence by causing houses, But it was wrong to sup- a confusion. The apparent diminupose that these differences must of tion of influence is the result not necessity be differences of opinion. of neutralised opinions and nullified Every fresh paper must have its efforts, but of harmony, of success, of speciality, but its speciality, in the creating a public opinion in the this country at least, is determined main so true to reason, and therefore, tot by differences of opinion, but by in spite of differences and distortions Testriction of subject and by distinc- innumerable, so unanimous in the Laith of interest. When we read these end, that the authority of any indi. synsulations as to the differences of vidual journal is forgotten in the universal sentiment. This is a dimi- for; and we point with no misgiving nution of power which the press has to the fact, as showing pretty clearly no cause to regret, for it is the victory what has been the aim of journalists of reason—it is the triumph of opin. in the interest of a commercial specuion-it is the perfect achievement of lation, and what has been the result all that journalists have ever sought of their endeavours.

RAWLINSON'S HERODOTUS,

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In an article written about three a mode of thinking on religious years ago,

* in which we reviewed inatters which has led, in later times, Mr Talboys Wheeler's illustrations of to the most astounding aberrations Herodotus, we adverted to two dif- from primeval simplicity of faith; ferent classes of historians, of one of but we should be well content to which, as existing in ancient times, assign to Thucydides the same relawe considered Herodotus-of thé tion with regard to history that we other, Thucydides, as a represen- assign to Luther with regard to tative man." While we qualified faith; and while we consider that Herodotus as a historian of nature, a both of these great men had his misdelightful gossip, full of human sym- sion to fulfil in asserting the legitipathies, laughing and weeping by mate employment of the spirit of turns, according to the circumstances inquiry, and indicating its due bounds of those he meets, and charming by his silence on subjects which he rather than overa

erawing the reader, dared not touch upon in all the conwe spoke of Thucydides as a sage sciousness of mental superiority, we and philosophic historian, in whose must maintain to the last, that as presence we feel inevitably abashed, wide an interval separates Thucy. and of whom in moments of weak- dides from the model philosophic ness we feel afraid, because, whether historian of the present day, as that rightly or wrongly, he claims to re- which lies between the sober reasongard human nature from a pedestal ings of a real reformer and the frantic of intellectual pre-eminence.

and fallacious sophistry of a destrucBut while, in speaking thus of Thu- tive,-in a word, between a Luther cydides, we said nothing of the great and a Voltaire. Athenian which we have since seen If Thucydides was sceptical of cause to retract, we must protest, human goodness in the masses, conwith the greatest possible emphasis, temporary as he was of Euripides against classing him with the philo- and the Sophists, he never for a sophical historian of modern times, moment ceased to believe in indivi. who ignores the hand of God in the dual heroism ; and his personal porworld, and can see nothing grand, or traits of Brasidas, and Demosthenes noble, or heroic, or divine in the the General, will attest, as long as dealings of Man with Man, or the language lasts, even in their sober workings of Man upon Matter, but colourings, his' heart-felt admiration only the

progress of civilisation. It for the true stamp of patriot. If he is true that Thucydides may have mistrusted the Athenian democracy been the unconscious originator of the when its reins were held by the movement which sent history rolling reckless hands of Cleon, he could with increasing velocity and angle of sympathise to the full with its glorifall down the steep of scepticism into ous developments as long as it the abyss of unbelief, as it is pro- obeyed, even in its disobedience, the bably true that Luther inaugurated guidance of the king-like Pericles,

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The History of Herodotus ; a New English Version, &c. By GEORGE RAWLINSON, M.A., late Fellow and Tutor of Exeter College, Oxford ; assisted by Colonel Sir Henry Rawlinson, K.C.B., and Sir J. G. Wilkinson, F.R.S.

Blackwood, Dec. 1855.

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