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of this kingdom.' A total revolution in the best thing of the kind in the world is not a very satisfactory proposition ; but there is in addition a very confusing antagonism of idea as to what the revolution is to consist of. Some of the Association think it will make papers infinitely more numerous - others that it will make them less numerous, though of greater circulation. For instance, Mr. Cole (2755) thinks that the grand benefit will consist in enabling newspapers to be set up without capital; while the leading witness on the same side, Mr. Whitty, says (617), “to publish cheap papers would require about four « times the capital that is required to publish a paper at present;' and again (631), ' at present it does not cost much, but then you 'could not commence a newspaper certainly under 10,0001!' Now, which of these two things are we to regard as the probable and the desirable one — papers set up by anybody everywhere, or papers set up nowhere but in great fields and by nobody but large capitalists?
Till further explanation we may continue to doubt whether either result would not be a misfortune. The hypothesis of a few monster or monopolising papers is suggestive of many evils and inconveniences — for instance, in a country where parties
are so many and so keen, it would inevitably lead to the expedient lately existing in France of supporting newspapers by party subsidies, a practice destructive of integrity and independence. But there is more need, we suspect, to look at the opposite hypothesis -- the multiplication of petty papers in petty localities. And we would beg the reader to mark well both the probability of this result coming about, and the great deal that it signifies. At present, for instance, a London paper is as cheap at Inverness as at London, and so of an Inverness paper the London papers go freely to Inverness and the Inverness to London; and thus there is a constant interchange and commingling of events and ideas, as between district and district, to the great benefit of both readers and writers. Under the proposed change, the paper of each locality will be cheaper there by at least the price of carriage than the paper of any other locality; and inevitably people would more and more see only the paper of their own locality, and as inevitably that paper would write down to that locality, its topics, its prejudices, and its scandals. This cannot be gainsaid by those who ascribe to a penny such potency for good or evil, and who point to the United States press as a model — for their American witness stated (3004) that the
circulation is more local than in this country :' (2997) 'a * paper is published in each district of 10,000 inhabitants; and (2982) · as a rule, the papers do not penetrate into counties and
• towns in which other papers are published.' Nay, we have direct evidence from the agitators not only of what is likely but of what they desire: one of the witnesses, we have already seen, hopes the effect would be very considerably to exclude even the London papers even from so great and wealthy a place as Manchester; and another of them (Whitty, 624) says that the grand effect will be that 'three persons out of four will take • two local papers. Now, this looks as if the blessing were to consist not so much in giving a paper to those who had none, as in giving two to those who had one; but, letting that pass, look what is the balance of gain and loss by this change. The person who is afterwards to take two local papers, formerly took only one, which he sent to a friend in London in exchange for a London paper - a great benefit to both, not likely to be continued when the transmission cannot be made without the trouble and sacrifice of a fresh payment. It seems impossible to conceive a system better fitted than the one we have for making ' the British press national and great — nor one better fitted than that with which we are threatened for making it local and petty.
When – in looking for an explanation of the desire to substitute a system glaringly bad for one admittedly good — we go further up we fare much worse. In various shapes it comes out that Mr. Cobden and his friends are actuated by the feeling that from the press, as at present constituted, they do not receive sufficient support as a party, or proper courtesy as individuals. Time after time Mr. Cobden querulously questions the witnesses thus:
• Is not the tone of the leading articles in the French press more courteous than those of England towards public men?'
• Has it not struck you that in the press of Spain (!) and • Germany there is greater courtesy shown towards individuals ?'
Such manifestations of soreness in a man so eminent are equally surprising and saddening. One who has played so roughly and so successfully at bowls surely ought not to be so very. tender and irritable as to rubbers. A man of such powers might be expected to add to his other qualities, if not magnanimity enough to take in good part, and even take to heart, the advices of the honest and sensible, at least equanimity enough to despise the assaults of the unscrupulous and the silly. At all events, the punishment at which he aims seems vastly too great for the provocation. Everybody must heartily wish that newspapers of a certain class, in speaking of and to Mr. Cobden, would pay more regard to truth, and taste, and
sense, if not to his talents and achievements; but, nevertheless, we cannot but think that “a total revolution' by Act of Parliament is too tremendous and indiscriminate a retaliation. The offenders are, so far as we have seen, only a few of their class, but his great revenge has stomach for them all.'
Nay, it would be well, or rather less ill, if even this were all. But, unfortunately for himself, and fortunately for the forewarning of the public, Mr. Cobden has, since the Committee sat, still more fully revealed his designs and motives. For instance, the following passage, from a speech be delivered to a Mechanics' Institution at Holmfirth last February, has an importance so painful as almost to entitle it to the name of the Second Holmfirth Catastrophe:
• People would resort to newsrooms, not to read the leading articles --for, with all respect for the talented writers of the 'public press, I regard the leaders as of far less importance than • the articles of news in the paper. Take a newspaper up, and '
you will find news brought from all parts of the world ; nine• teen-twentieths of the whole paper consist of news, and only
one-twentieth part of original articles or leaders; therefore, * with all respect to the editors of these newspapers, I believe these original articles, so far as guidance and direction are concerned, are the least useful and interesting parts of their papers
facts and intelligence being more sought after by readers. • There are far more newspapers in America than here, but they • have less political influence.'
What, then, have we here deliberately and explicitly revealed as to the motive and aim of the change laboured for by Mr. Cobden, and recommended by the majority of the Parliamentary Committee? That the British newspaper press should cease to discuss public events and public men, and become a mere reporting and recording machine. And let it not be thought that this fact rests only on the avowal of Mr. Cobden; it appears in the whole spirit, and shines through the whole evidence of the agitators ; nay, one of their chief and most able men, Mr. W. E. Hickson, backed, at least to some extent, by Mr. Ewart, says (3212) that he is willing even that leading • articles should be prohibited !' Newspapers are to be pipes maintaining communication between orators' lips and the public ear, but to emit any sounds on their own account is impertinent and mischievous. * Prythee, let those that play your clowns 'speak no more than is set down for them.'
And, to understand all that is meant, let us ask the same high authorities (we are here dealing only with the leaders of the movement) what they expect to come in place of those dis
cussions which they hope to suppress. Mr. Whitty replies (679), • Real tales from the police office, which are about the * most instructive reading in the world !' (688), “I have
stated that I consider police reports the most instructive and * most desirable reading in the world. Mr. W. E. Hickson
' (3198): “A good account of some trial at the assizes,'
good account of some farmer's stackyard having been burnt • down !' Thus, then, we see the whole case we know what we have, and we are allowed a glimpse of vhat we are to get. We have the freest, the ablest, the most powerful press in the world; but — by reason of its not being invariably courteous to eloquent gentlemen in Parliament—its place is to be given to a press that will, as a necessity of its position, restrict itself to being minute upon murders, and facetious upon rick-burning.
It would surely be superfluous to enter on arguments showing that the British newspaper press, such as it is, free, copious, and able in discussion, has long been, is now, and probably will be for ever, the very life-blood of our political system; and that those propose the infliction of a national calamity, - a violence to the national tastes, habits, and interests, who thus propose to destroy the press as an engine of discussion, and to relegate political speech and power solely to the platform and the inverted tub. If that fact admitted of doubt, or required discussion, it would not be necessary to range over a larger period than that embraced in Mr. Cobden's own not very protracted public life, to find that, without the press, the platform sometimes could not exist at all, and sometimes would exist only for evil. There was a time, not long ago,-though Mr. Cobden seems to have forgotten it, – before the platform could come into play, and when the press was the only means of keeping alive and advancing the great cause with which his name is for ever associated when League lecturers were pumped upon in the agricultural districts, and even in manufacturing towns Mr. Cobden himself could scarcely hold a meeting without a protection, by tickets, froin Chartist and Protectionist inroads; and, for thirty years previously, this use of the press had been exemplified in the history of the whole class of questions of Reform. There is a time at present—and Mr. Cobden seems to know it too sensitively - after the platform has begun to run riot, and when the press makes a stand against crudities and quackeries. The platform is good, though not better than the press, when public attention is aroused and public favour gained, but in evil days the platform sinks away. It is in a discussional press, as in an ark, that good causes are preserved when in adversity, and from it, as from an entrench
ment, that bad ones are assailed when they are prosperous. All this is known to every man that has kept his eyes and understanding open these thirty years. The press as it is — as contradistinguished from what Mr. Cobden would have it to be -is the chief engine through which during this generation political reforms have been wrought in a country where political reforms have been more numerous, peaceful, and beneficial than in any other; and —now that the object is avowed — there may, perhaps, be fewer persons disposed to aid any change which tends to substitute for an engine so safe and so effective either the French barricade or the American stump.'
Art. VIII. — Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical
Painter, with his Autobiography and Journals. Edited and compiled by Tom Taylor, of the Inner Temple, Esq.
3 vols. London : 1853. Tus 'uis is a sadly suggestive, a painfully instructive, book. As
a revelation of a morbid spirit, as a psychological fact, there has been scarce anything since the days of Rousseau to compare with it. Of course we speak without reference to the immorality which deforms the work of that celebrated writer. From any such corruption this book, right manly and English with all its faults, is wholly free. But otherwise, in melancholy interest, in picturesque and vigorous writing, in graphic touches of character, in the conscious exposition of feelings, and the quite unconscious exposition of failings, such as men usually keep earthed up and hidden deep from sight, we question whether the famous Confessions' would not sometimes pale in comparison. Considered merely as a contribution to the history of the Fine Arts in this country, the book has also a peculiar value. Certainly no retrospect of the progress of Art or of opinion as relates to Art during the last forty years, could be written without reference to the remarkable and unfortunate man who stands self-portrayed before us in this extraordinary piece of biography. Haydon overrated himself every way, which is, perhaps, one reason why he was underrated by others. As a power, both artistic and literary, he was in his own time quite misapprehended. By some regarded as a wild enthusiast, who injured his own cause by his exaggerated pretensions and self-opiniated advocacy. By almost all who had begun by admiring and aiding him shunned at last as a most unprincipled and shameless beggar. By not a few denounced as an absolute madman; and, in truth, there seems to have existed from the