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himself. It must be said of him, dustry – which were then equally however, that he was then what protected-as freely as we have seen would now-a-days be called an Ad- the Coventry ribbon weavers resent vanced Liberal. Under his guid- the French treaty in our own days. ance the Morning Chronicle’advo- The Malthusian theory was uncated bolder and broader views of popular from the beginning, never political questions than it had done had the ghost of a chance of obtainunder the mild and jovial-tempered ing popularity, and in our days of Perry. On those subjects that were extended commerce and wide-spread purely political indeed, he never emigration has died a natural death. proceeded so far as to break away But the most unpopular topic of the from the bulk of his party; and the day was to attack the old poor law. 'Morning Chronicle' remained, all That law was regarded as the palthrough Black's management, the ladium of the labouring man's liberrecognized organ of the Whig party. ties; and as the daring speculations But in those questions of a moral of the new school of philosophy had and social nature which were then ventured to call in question its just beginning to force themselves economy and wisdom, it was natural upon public notice, and which may that the opponents of the law should be called the neutral ground of all be stigmatised as hardhearted, unparties, Black became conspicuous feeling men, sycophants of the rich, as the advocate of the most extreme grinders of the faces of the poor, opinions. In the 'dreary science of men whom it behoved every Engpolitical economy he was a willing lishman with a heart in his bosom pupil, and a frequent exponent of to oppose, persecute, and put down. the theories of Ricardo, Malthus, and Those who remember with what an the other sages of that branch of insane vehemence the alteration in science; and there can be no doubt the law was assailed by the Times,' that the circulation of the paper was under the inspiration of the late Mr. somewhat checked, though its influ- Walter, may imagine how fiercely ence among the thinkers of society the battle was fought at an earlier was heightened by the often-repeated stage of the controversy; those who exposition of those opinions which do not, will find some amusing speciwere caviare to the million,' and mens of it in the publications of which, as far as they were under- William Cobbett Cobbett was as stood, were rather distasteful to the ardent a friend of the people as ordinary class of readers. It is said either Black or Mill, but his friendthat much of this was due to the ship started from a different point, influence which James Mill, the his- and led to a very different result. torian of India, exercised upon the He cared little for their elevation mind of the editor. The two Scotch- in the moral scale; his advocacy men lived in the same quarter of the was mainly directed to an increase town, and were in the frequent habit in their material comforts: that the of meeting and of walking together. labourer should have his jug of beer Congenial tastes rendered them in- and his hunch of bread and cheese, timate, and the higher and harder with a joint of meat now and then, nature of Mill soon asserted its pre- and, over and above all things, that dominance over Black. The editor he should be saved from the miserbecame the pupil of the philosopher; able doom of eating potatoes—that and these sworn and sincere friends was the labourer's paradise as it of the people conversed together on appeared to the eyes of William principles and adopted views of Cobbett; and we need not add, that society, in which, as rendered in the such a vision readily commended iteditorial columns, the mass of the self to the bulk of the labourers people had no sympathy. The days themselves. With these views, it of the popularity of free trade had may easily be conceived how he not come; the artisans had no objec- would regard the more austere, but, tion to the free importation of food, as we now believe, the higher vision but they resented the application of of the labourer's future, set forth the same principles to articles of in- in the columns of the Morning
Chronicle. Cobbett's pen has rarely Mill, than which it would be diffikan matched in the power and pas- cult to imagine anything more sion of scolding. We believe pas- severely didactic, or less enlivened sages might be picked out of his with the play of fancy or gleams of Writings which would bear a com- humour. Full of matter his leaders parison with Timon's celebrated always were, grappling most fully curse of Athens ; and the whole with the subject on which they provenom and vitriol of his style was fessed to treat; and what he gave concentrated on the head of the himself in this way he scrupulously Scotch feelosopher, Dr. John Black. exacted from his coadjutors. His He is never weary of holding him great complaint against those writers up to reproach and ridicule. "The who sought for employment on his Register, Twopenny Trash,' the staff was, that they did not bite.' on Evening Post,' in fact, all the pub- their subjects; and if this were lications he started during this often repeated, employment would period, are filled with the same sub- not long be forthcoming for them on ject--abuse of the man's erroneous the staff of the Morning Chronicle.' principles, and their exposition in The consequence was, that the paper the Whig organ.
The image of was, even in its best days, rather Dr. Black, indeed, seems to have admired than enjoyed; it was quoted haunted him; for whatever topic as an authority rather than adopted he may have begun to write about, as a companion. During his reign it is rare indeed but that in some the paper once or twice changed way or other, he contrives to intro- hands; but each new purchaser reduce a fling at the Scotch editor. spected the abilities and high-hearted This is amusingly illustrated in one principles of the editor, and he was of his best known and still popular undisturbed in his position. The works, his 'Rural Rides.' The work first of these changes occurred soon contains many a sweet bit of de- after Black had become editor, when scription, many a piece of vivid word- the paper was sold for 42,000l. Some painting, setting bodily before the years afterwards it again changed eye the rich English landscape of hands, Mr. Easthope-afterwards Sir our southern and south - western John-being one of the principal counties. But the best of these proprietors. It must be noted, to descriptions are often disfigured by Black's credit, that though there a sudden and savage attack upon
was no trace of sentiment or fancy in the bugbear of his thoughts. Is he his own composition, he was not describing & state of comparative slow to discern or averse to honour comfort in which he found the la- it in others. Dickens was a reporter bouring population - Now, Dr. on the Chronicle' while Black was Black, this is the condition of the editor. The genius of the young people that your hardhearted sys
gallery man was early discerned by tem would break up.' Or has he
the hard, dry editor; and Dickens's stumbled upon a village remarkable
papers the 'Sketches by Boz' for its ignorance and wretchedness
--were first given to the world in -Now, Dr. Black, how would your
the columns of the 'Evening Chro' feelosophy” deal with a case of this kind ? Refuse them all work
nicle'-a late reprint of the morning house relief, I warrant, and give
edition. Most, if not all, of them were written in the sub-editor's room of that establishment: and to the latest hour of the existence of that ill-starred journal, the people employed upon it used to point with pride to the table & plain, unwieldy machine, as all newspaper belongings are-at which Dickens was wont to sit, while his fancy
revelled in the scenes portrayed in modelled upon that of his friend
these sketches, and even his rapid pen—it is said he could transcribe and Cabinet Ministers.'
them instead lectures upon the good of education and the curse of marriage. The object of all these rabid attacks, in the mean time, went calmly on his way, not deigning to reply to the showers of abuse that were weekly discharged upon him. His own style, it must be owned, was hardly of the kind which would commend itself to the public. It was
his notes of reports at the rate of a feast was graced with some of the column an hour! - could scarcely statesmen who had held office in the keep pace with the outpourings of Cabinet before Sir Robert Peel cut his vivid imagination. Another short the thread of Whig official name, too early lost to literature, existence. When their hearts were owed its first friendly help to Dr. merry with wine, one of these magBlack Angus Bethune Reach, a nates proposed the health of the native of Inverness, and an alum
proprietors, making sundry graceful nus of Edinburgh University, sud- allusions to the important place they denly had his prospects clouded by filled in society, and the importance domestic calamities, and came up to of their property as an enlightener London, nearly penniless, to push and guide of public opinion. One of his fortune. Other employment the firm-not Sir John Easthopefailing him, he bravely set to work acknowledged the toast, expressed in that lowest grade of literary em- himself duly grateful for the comployment-a penny-a-liner. In this pliments which he evidently thought, way he earhed for some time a pre- however, were not undeserved, and carious livelihood, till the great fire then wound up by proposing the of the Tower took place. It was health of the editor. It is possible just the occasion which afforded that Black was nettled at the order room for the display of Reach's in which his health had been placed vividly-descriptive powers. His ac- possible, too, that he fancied count of the conflagration was ac- the proprietor took more credit to cepted at the 'Chronicle,' as at most himself for the influence of the of the other papers. But Black was paper than was properly his due; not content with its insertion. He
at all events, he astonished the comwas struck with the powers dis- pany by following up the proprietor's played in the narrative, and was remarks on the importance of newssatisfied that the writer was capable
paper property, by an ad hominem of better things. He sent for him, illustration, which was felt to be offered him a regular engagement singularly out of place. Yes,' said on the newspaper, which Reach re- the Doctor, 'there is no doubt of the tained through all future changes of importance of the newspaper press, management till his untimely death or the advantage which a connecin 1853
tion with it brings. For instance, The termination of Black's own there are you and I, Mr. (turnconnection with the Chronicle' ing to the proprietor who was pantcurious and characteristic. We have ing with the effort of delivering his already intimated that he had not speech): 'We both came out of Scotthe quick, versatile, ambidextrous land about the same time, with power which more than any other barely a sixpence in our pockets; man is essential to a newspaper edi- only difference between us was, that tor; his mind ran in one groove,
I had shoes on my feet, and you had and from that groove the busy none; and yet our connection with world appeared to be moving away. the newspaper press has helped us The proprietors were beginning to into the worshipful society of Lords be dissatisfied with his manage
It was ment, admitting it to be excellent about the only joke the man ever in itself, indeed, but no longer that made — and the dearest. Very which the temper of the new age soon afterwards the world was inrequired. It was said, however, formed that Dr. Black had ceased to that the catastrophe was precipi- be editor of the 'Morning Chronicle.' tated by a curious incident. It was He lived in the enjoyment of learned the proud custom of the proprietors and well-earned leisure for several of the great Whig journal to give years afterwards. an annual dinner to the gentlemen A minor newspaper writer, but engaged on their establishment, and one who made some noise in the to invite some of the leading Whig earlier career of Black, and Sterling, parliamentary celebrities to attend and Barnes, was William Jerdan. the festival. On one occasion the He has taken care that the world,
or at least that portion of it which blunder was in the choice of an devours all the issue of the circulat- editor, whom they seemed to have ing libraries, should know a good selected more on account of his deal about him, his character, and familiarity with their bar-parlour his adventures; for after the fashion than his literary qualifications. He of sundry other second and third is thus described by Jerdan: 'Our class authors, after all other sources editor was originally intended for of literary interest failed, he the kirk, and was a well-informed coined his own life into money, person; but to see him at or after and published his autobiography. midnight in his official chair, when Queer, rambling, gossiping, egotis- writing his leader, was a trial for a tical books the most of them are, in philosopher. With the slips of paper which a good story, or a curious bit before him, a pot of porter close at of local history, or some half-for- hand, and a pipe of tobacco in his gotten incident of parliamentary mouth, or newly laid down,'
ho warfare is found overlaid with proceeded secundum artem. The heaps of rubbish. Jerdan's is no head hung with the chin on his exception to the general class; but collar-bone as in deep thought--a in the earlier volumes there is a whiff—another—a tug at the beergood deal of information about and a line and a half or two lines newspaper men, and newspaper committed to the blotting-paper. By work, over which the reader skims this process, repeated with singular pleasant enough, if only he can at rapidity, he would contrive, between the outset surrender himself to the the hours of twelve and three, to illusion that of all the men there produce as decent a column as the described, Jerdan was foremost-of ignorant public required.' all the scenes he was the hero.
Perhaps it was to Mr. Jerdan a William Jerdan was born at Kelso, conclusive proof of the ignorance of in Roxburghshire, where his father, the public, that when he became a local magnate, established a news- editor of the 'Aurora,' the public paper for the purpose of uphold perversely refused to admit that ing the good old cause of Church that made any difference, and deand King. The journal still sur- serted the journal in such numbers vives, and is, we believe, still the that the proprietors dropped it property of the family. William altogether. Neither Mr. Jerdan nor Jerdan may therefore be said to any one else, however, could have have been born in the midst of made head against such insane newspaper work; and after some management of the committee, as abortive attempts to begin life, both he describes in the following as a merchant and as a lawyer, first sketch :in London and afterwards in Edin- Our Aurorian establishment burgh, he finally found his way up went on very well for a while, but to London again, and gravitated to- as the great morning paper recently wards the press.
One of his ear- observed, “If you want anything liest engagements was upon the 'Au- spoiled or ruined, you cannot do rora,' a daily newspaper that was better than confide it to the managestarted about the beginning of the ment of a committee.” The truth century by the hotel-keepers of the was exemplified in the present case, West End. These gentlemen had and proof afforded of what I have observed the success which attended always seen since that period, the establishment by the licensed namely, that there must be a devictuallers of the Morning Adver- spotic power at the head of a perioditiser,'and they aimed at the establish- cal publication, or it must fall to ment of a journal which should be as pieces. Now, our rulers of the much superior to the Radical paper, hotel dynasties, though intelligent as their own showy and pretentious and sensible men, were neither hotels were to the dingy public- literary nor conversant with journalhouses in the City. But they must ism : thus, under any circumstances, have had strange notions of news- their interference would have been paper management. Their first injurious; but it was rendered still
VOL. V.-NO. XXVIII.
more fatal by their differences in we believe, that he witnessed the political opinion, and two or three tragic fate of the Prime Minister, of their number setting up to write Mr. Spencer Perceval. At that “ leaders" themselves. The clash- time there was one entrance from ing, and want of ensemble, was the street for members and strangers, speedily obvious and detrimental; and Mr. Jerdan, who, of course, our readers became perfect weather- does not fail to communicate the cocks, and could not reconcile them- fullest details of what he witnessed, selves to themselves from day to relates how he was in the act day. They wished, of course, to be of pushing open the swing door led, as all well-informed citizens are, that opened into the lobby, when by their newspaper; and they he observed the Prime Minister would not blow hot and cold in the coming up the steps immediately manner prescribed, for all the coffee- behind him. To give precedence to room politicians in London. In the the minister, holding open the door interior, the hubbub and confusion to allow him to pass, was a natural of the republic of letters was mean- act of courtesy, repaid by a smile while exceedingly amusing to the and a cheery nod from the man who looker-on. We were of all parties was stepping forward to his doom. and shades of opinion; the pro- While in the act of turning round prietor of the “King's Head” was to close the door, Jerdan heard the an ultra-Tory, and swore by George report of a pistol, and turning III. as the best of sovereigns. The sharply round, he saw the man who “ Crown Hotel” was very loyal, but had passed him in high health the more moderate. The Bell Inn" instant before, stagger into the arms would give a strong pull for the of a bystander. He never spoke Church, while the “Cross Keys” more. Jerdan, with another man, was infected with Romish predilec- seized the assassin, and he secured tions. The “ Cockpit " was warlike the pistol, which he retained till it --the “Olive Tree” pacific; the was given up at the coroner's in
Royal Oak” patriotic; the "Rum- quest. But the newspaper work on mer” democratic; the “Hole in the the Morning Post,' on which Mr. Wall” seditious. Many a dolorous Jerdan most prided himself, was the pull at the porter-pot, and sapien- part he took in the trial of the tious declination of his head, had the Duke of York, at the instance of perplexed and bemused editor, before Colonel Wardle, for the illegal sale he could effect any tolerable com- of army commissions. We need not promise of contradictions for the revive the details of that scandal; morning's issue; at the best, the it is enough to say, that the general sheet appeared full of signs and impression on the public mind was wonders.
that the duke was guilty. That Public vacillation and internal impression the ‘Morning Post, as discord soon produced their inevi- the court and fashionable paper, set table effects. Aurora," "the pride itself to dispel; and they employed of the day,” passed her meridian and Mr. Jerdan as the most efficient began to get low in the horizon. writer for the purpose—with what Her gold scattering turned out to success may best be told in his own be rather an artistic fancy in paint- words :ing her than a substantial reality. Of 'my writings in the “MornI had succeeded to the uneasy post ing Post," the most effective, in of editor on the exhaustion of the
one sense, were & continuation of pot and pipe; but vain were my “ leaders".
'-as editorial comments efforts, and the darkness of night are designated-pending the memoovertook the bright divinity of the rable charges brought by Colonel morning.'
Wardle against the Duke of York, Mr. Jerdan afterwards found his and sustained by the evidence of way to the 'Morning Post,' and was Mary Ann Clarke. In these I made for some years employed on that an abstract of the parliamentary establishment. It was while en- proceedings, from night to night, gaged as a reporter on this journal, and earnestly maintained the cause