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merly; the prize, therefore, to be contended for by a new competitor, is now much larger than it formerly was. There is a virtual monopoly, we grant; but that monopoly can instantly be broken through, or at least a participation in its profits can be secured, if a sufficient amount of capital be brought to bear against it. The amount required is large. The smallest capital with which a new morning paper could be prudently started, would be 50,000l. ; but let public confidence once be gained, and the profits would be more than proportioned to the risk incurred. And the Liberal party are so seriously injured by the present condition of the daily press, that they are in duty bound, if they believe in the justice of their own cause, to make some effort for the establishment of efficient vehicles for the promulgation of their opinions.
It may be imagined by some, that a new Liberal morning paper would only divide the patronage of the public with the Liberal papers that already exist, and that the new competitor could raise his own sale, only by drawing away customers from those who are now fighting the battle of the people. If we entertained such a belief, we should still urge the expediency of strengthening the Liberal party by the establishment of a new organ for the expression of their opinions, for we believe that the emulation to which rivalry would lead, would give increased energy to the old advocate, while it stimulated the new one to the most unremitting exertion. But we have other motives for wishing to see the cause of Reform strengthened by the establishment of one or two new Liberal papers. We must not disguise it from ourselves, that the loss of the Times has been one of the most formidable blows that the Liberals have sustained since the passing of the Reform Act. But the blow has been so formidable, simply because there has been no paper in existence as a rival to the apostate. The Morning Chronicle for instance, is not a paper that affords the merchant the information he wishes for, and which he does find, though even there in a very imperfect form, in the Times. The latter paper, therefore, is read almost universally by the mercantile public of London; and this circumstance it is that makes its advocacy of such great value to the Tory party. The Chronicle and the Post rarely find their way into any hands but those of persons who have long held the opinions of the respective papers. The Times, on the other hand, not being read on account of its politics, but on account of the more judicious selection of its mercantile information, commands a large circle of readers who dissent from its doctrines, but who, if they are not persons of more than average intelligence, are gradually and imperceptibly influenced by the arguments daily forced on their attention. This is the evil to the removal of which the zeal of the Reform party ought to be directed. A Liberal paper to rival the Times is what we wish to see established, and if conducted with judgment, the undertaking is one than which we know of none more likely to yield an amply remunerating profit to its authors.
We have endeavoured to show that a virtual monopoly has been created in the daily press, but that that monopoly is one that may be broken through if a large capital be once brought to act against it. That capital, if too large to be risked by an individual, may be subscribed in small sums; and those to whom the institutions of their country are dear, would do well to inquire a little into the mischievous effects of the present state of things. It will be found on examination, that the discouragement and division of the Liberal party has given much greater strength to the revolutionary than to the Tory faction. The extreme Radicals evidently look upon Sir Robert Peel as a much less serious impediment to revolution than Lord John Russell; hence they have been for some time zealous to pull down the latter, and place the former at the head of affairs. If Reform were the object in view, this would be a most suicidal policy; but where Revolution is the thing wished for, we are by no means certain that the manoeuvre is not calculated to attain the desired end. There is nothing that could tend more to promote the views of the Chartists and other anarchists, than the accession of a Tory ministry. Such, at least, is their own belief, and that belief it is which makes them so inveterate in their animosity against a Liberal administration. It is by enlarging the action of a sound and Liberal press, that this unnatural coalition between two extreme parties can be most advantageously counteracted; and to all those who wish to see Reform prosper and Revolution discouraged, we would address our urgent entreaties, that they leave no effort untried to re-establish that preponderance of liberal doctrines in the daily press, by the aid of which Earl Grey was able, in 1831, to struggle so successfully against a boroughmongering oligarchy; but for the apostacy of so large a portion of that press, the defeated oligarchs would not so soon have been able to recover from the blow they then received.
Should the press continue under Tory control, the Tory party will be strengthened, the Liberal party discouraged ; and in proportion as the hope of Reform fades away, anarchy and revolution will become more and more to be apprehended. If our opinion on this point is at all well-founded, we think Government ought to inquire whether, by some new fiscal arrangement, means may not be found to relieve the press from the fetters by which it is at present “cabin'd and confined."
In the first place we would recommend Government to offer the most strenuous resistance to every future motion for the publication of the stamp returns.
Secondly, we would again urge the expediency of forwarding the French mail to London by express, immediately on its arrival at Dovor; and the same plan we would recommend for adoption with respect to the Lisbon and West Indian mails on their arrival at Falmouth, and with respect to the American steamers on their arrival at Portsmouth, Bristol, and Liverpool.
Thirdly, we would impress upon Government the necessity of keeping faith w
the newspaper proprietors, by putting down the unstamped press.
Fourthly, and lastly, we would recommend for consideration, either the entire abolition of the remaining stamp-duty, and the substitution of a penny postage on newspapers; or, what would perhaps be more advisable, the adoption of a halfpenny or farthing stamp for papers of a smaller size, or for those published at a lower price than is now charged.
With respect to the mischievous effects arising from the publication of the stamp returns, we have already sufficiently expressed our opinion.
By the regular despatch of post-office expresses, in case of important arrivals at any of the outports, a very great facility would be afforded to the press, more particularly to newly-established papers ; and thus would an important service be indirectly rendered to the public. The morning papers are now obliged to run these expresses on their own account, and it is by excluding new papers from the advantage of joining in the expense, that one great impediment is thrown in the way of a new establishment." The Dovor express alone, we have seen, imposes an extra expenditure of 9001. a year upon any individual, or company, that attempts the publication of a new morning paper. To this petty tyranny Government has it in its power to put an immediate end, without imposing one farthing's expense upon the public. Let a regular system of expresses from the outports be organised, and not only every daily newspaper establishment in London, morning as well as evening, but also a great many mercantile houses would secure a share in the advantage, by paying any moderate fee that the post-office would deem it just to impose.
To permit the continued publication of unstamped newspapers, is not only a gross injustice towards the fair trader, but an act very closely approaching to perfidy. The present Lord Monteagle, unless we have been misinformed, solemnly pledged himself that when the penny stamp came into force, the unstamped publications should be put down. His lordship’s pledge, we grant, was perfectly unnecessary to show the crying injustice of winking at the open violation of an act of Parliament by one set of traders, while the law was rigorously enforced against another set. Let us take one of the most respectable of the unstamped press as an example. Is the Court Journal a newspaper, or is it not? If it is not a newspaper, why does its name occur in the periodical newspaper stamp returns? If it is a newspaper, why is it allowed to be openly sold unstamped in every newsvender's shop in the . metropolis? The greater part of the impression is sold unstamped, but a small number of copies are printed on stamped paper, for the facility of transmitting them through the post-office. This is a fraud on the regular newspaper press, and a criminal neglect of duty on the part of Government, to whom alone the law reserves the right of instituting proceedings against the offender. And in this instance, not only does Government not enforce a law placed under its peculiar guardianship, but it even encourages the infraction. Either the stamp-duty ought to be enforced on all, or all ought to be relieved from it.
Our own wish would be to see all relieved by the abolition of the remaining duty. We do not believe the revenue would be any loser, for there would be a considerable increase in the advertisement duty, and a trifling postage on the transmission of newspapers, pamphlets, books, &c. would make up no inconsiderable portion of the deficiency. As, however, the revenue is not just now in a condition to allow of any doubtful experiments being tried, a middle course might be found advisable. The Mirror, a publication sold at twopence, will become liable to the stamp-duty the moment Government redeems its pledge by enforcing the law equally against all
. But it would be extremely hard to make the diminutive Mirror pay the same stamp-duty as the gigantic Times. Why not have a graduated stampduty ? A certain surface of printed matter is at present liable to a stampduty of one penny. Might not a paper one-fourth the size of the Times be ushered into the world under the sanction of a halfpenny or a farthing stamp? The enormous size of our daily papers is already a positive nuisance to most people; and the public, we are satisfied, would see with pleasure the publication of twopenny and threepenny newspapers, of a more wieldly bulk and a more judicious condensation. On the Continent, even in countries where no pretence exists of a free press, the stamp is scarcely ever so high as a penny. In France, the graduated scale has long been in force, the larger papers being liable to a heavier stamp-duty than the smaller ones. In Hamburg the stamp on all newspapers is a farthing, and in most other parts of Germany it is equally low; yet, when the difference in the amount of population is considered, the farthing stamp-duty in Hamburg, we have no doubt, produces an amount of duty quite as large as that derived from the penny duty in England. The adoption of a graduated scale of stamps, regulated either by the
size of the paper, or by the price at which it is sold, would break down the present monopoly in a very short time, and confer an important benefit on the public. The reduction to a uniform duty of one penny has had no effect in destroying the monopoly, but on the contrary, accompanied as it has been by a tyrannical and inquisitorial measure, it has created a monopoly where none before existed, or at all events none that can for a moment be compared with that which has arisen during the last few years.
We have destroyed the greater number of our old rotten boroughs, and we have allowed a power to arise in their place, that may in time be found more dangerous to the institutions of the country, even than the old nomination system.
The object of our remarks has been to direct attention to the existence of an evil, of which the public, we are disposed to believe, scarcely entertain a suspicion. The daily press of London may almost be said to form public opinion, and under a representative Government, public opinion is that before which every other power must in the end yield. Is it not monstrous then, that that which indirectly exercises the predominant influence in the country, should be the property of a few private individuals chiefly belonging to the Tory faction? But is it not yet more monstrous, that so anomalous a state of things should have been created by a Reform government?
A monopoly exists; a monopoly most mischievous to the interests of the public, and one which it would be the duty of any government, but which it is more particularly the duty of a Liberal government, to destroy. An individual, with the command of a large capital, would no doubt find it a most profitable investment for his money to start a new paper, but that would do little towards the removal of the monopoly; it would only enable one more partner to participate in the profits of the present system. There is room in the market for two or three daily papers more than we now have, and all of them if backed by a sufficient command of capital to enable their proprietors to support the loss of the first two or three years, would in the end, supposing them to be well-conducted, become very valuable properties; but that would not destroy the monopoly, to which an act of Parliament alone can give any thing like a decisive blow. We have indicated the measures by which we believe Parliament could unfetter the press; and if those measures, or others equally efficient, be not resorted to, the evil will increase in magnitude. If the present state of things continue, we shall not be surprised, in a few years hence, to find the proprietors of the Times and Chronicle contending for a vested right in the abuse, and demanding a pecuniary indemnity for such interference with the law, as the public interests may at length imperatively demand.
Nearly ten years have now elapsed since the commencement of the unfortunate undertaking of the French against Algiers, which, originally planned as an electioneering manœuvre by the government of Charles X., and carried on with a most insufficient knowledge of the country attacked, and the greatest uncertainty as to its ultimate' object, could scarcely be expected to produce any more favourable results.
The professed intention of assuming only temporary possession of the territory of the Dey, by way of avenging the insult offered by him to the French Consul, might very probably have been sincere in the first instance; but the prize once grasped, the result was such as might have been anticipated. The lively imaginations of the French, always readily tickled with the idea of an extension of territory, were soon intoxicated by the descriptions poured into their willing ears, of the beauties of this sunny but mysterious land, over which, notwithstanding its vicinity to their own shores, an enchanted veil of darkness seemed for ages to have hung. It had rolled away before the thunder of their cannon and the city of alabaster, with its marble courts and sparkling fountains — its rich plains and gardens — its glowing fruits and seas of flowers, lay spread out before them,
while visions of future dominion in the Mediterranean, and of a colonial empire to rival that of the English, arose to strengthen the temptation, and finally render it irresistible.
Instead of a merely temporary military occupation, it soon became manifest, that a regular scheme of colonisation was to be attempted, and the plea put forth in justification of so unwarrantable a step, was one by no means uncommon with those who feel they are about to do wrong; namely, that they “ are no worse than their neighbours.” The English it was said had behaved just as ill in India, and that our protest against the measure was dictated solely by jealousy of their brilliant prospects.
That any feeling of jealousy on the subject ever existed to any extent in the minds of the English people we believe to be a notion totally unfounded and absurd; and certain we are, that the disastrous news of the sufferings of the French troops, and the slaughter of the colonists was received in this country with emotions of unmingled sympathy and sorrow.
It is, however, impossible to look back without astonishment at the strange infatuation which could have led to the attempt to introduce into a country well cultivated, and abundantly peopled, rules of conduct that could be applicable only to an uninhabited wilderness. A plan of colonisation that could be carried into effect only by driving off the native rural population, and substituting a European one, should never have pretended to rest on any other ground than that of open military force; and it appears to have been between the attempt to combine an apparent attention to existing social order, with the real spirit of lawless violence, that the whole scheme has fallen so deplorably to the ground.
The rapidity of the first conquest, which occupied scarcely three weeks — though occasioned rather by the internal divisions in the city than by any want of warlike spirit — the Arabs fighting reluctantly for the Turks, and the Turks hoping, by a private capitulation, to obtain permission to retire from the country with all their property, — seems to have deceived the con