« PreviousContinue »
continuance during the whole year. Afterwards it was lighted by lamps suspended from ropes hung across the street, which, though aided by reflectors and kept well cleaned, served for little else than to make darkness visible, which was very much the case with the old gas lamps in our own streets, though just before they were supplanted by the electric light they had been considerably improved.
The light of my early days was not gas or electricity, but oil, and considerable economy was generally displayed in using that.
In other directions than lighting the progress of science and invention has greatly conduced to the increase of convenience.
Most people recollect the days before the telephone, but few, like myself, remember the time when the electric telegraph first came into use.
What a marvellous thing it was considered to be! All sorts of amusing stories used to be told about the way unsophisticated people took the wonderful new inventions.
One old woman, it was said, hung an umbrella on the post to go by telegraph! Another good old soul at Gateshead addressed a new pair of boots to her son in the Crimea, and hung them to the telegraph wires! The next morning she found an old pair in their place-not an unlikely thing to occur. "God bless the lad!" she exclaimed, "that is good of him. I never thought he'd have sent his old ones back to be repaired."
"Mother," asked a child, "how do they send messages by those bits of wire without tearing them to pieces?"
"They send them in a fluid state, my dear," was the reply.
Perhaps, however, the greatest instance of rustic naïveté was the countryman who, in the early days of photography, entered Whipple's daguerreotype saloon, and ordered a daguerreotype of his uncle.
Bring him here and I will take his likeness," said the proprietor.
"Oh, he's dead!" was the simple reply; "but I've got a description of him in an old passport."
The greatest and most far-reaching change I remember is the enormous development of the Press, due, of course, to popular education.
In old days there were not many papers, and except in the case of the "Times" very little was known as to those who wrote for them, the names of the editors, managers, and staff of the principal London journals being, as it were, supposed to be shrouded in mystery. Perhaps this was why so many bowed down before the editorial "we," and wondered at the sagacity displayed by that plural pronoun, which has now pretty well lost its power.
The influence of the "Times" in old days was very considerable, and even great statesmen were supposed to stand in fear of its power. When in 1859 Mr. Disraeli appointed Sir Charles Trevelyan, a Whig, to the Governor-generalship of Madras, it
was alleged that the appointment was merely a sop thrown by the Tories to the "Thunderer," as the "Times" used to be called.
The modern daily newspaper, compared with that of the past, is a marvellous production. As a writer of the past once said, it clasps the world's daylight. Bound in its daily columns the world, with all its passing events, circles. "In it the steamship arrives and unloads her freightage; in it the lightning flashes from thought; in it the City booms, the corn blades glitter, the wheat rustles its golden heads, the cattle low from a thousand hills, and the market hums; in it the poet sings, and with his song the low wind comes fresh and sweet over old meadows, and happy faces gleam from forgotten doors." Yes, the world turns every day in the daily newspaper. Its columns are freighted with the world's merchandise. Through their avenues ring merrily the marriage bells, and through them the hearses move and funeral knells are tolled.
Since my childhood a good many newspapers have come and gone. Well do I remember the starting of the "Pall Mall Gazette," orginated by a friend of mine, Mr. Greenwood.
His original idea was to publish a new journal which should reproduce the form and spirit of Canning's Anti-Jacobin, but the plan of the evening newspaper, as eventually agreed upon with the late Mr. George Smith, whose firm assumed the pecuniary responsibilities, was widely different.
THE "PALL MALL”
The name "Pall Mall Gazette," it should be added, was chosen by Mr. Smith in allusion to the journal that Thackeray invented for the benefit of Arthur Pendennis.
February 7, 1865, saw the issue of the first number, which was a large quarto in form, and cost twopence. The first leading article, written by Mr. Greenwood, the editor, dealt in a sympathetic manner with "The Queen's Seclusion," whilst a long letter by Anthony Trollope made a strong appeal on behalf of the North in America. It also contained the first of a series of letters from Pitt Crawley, Bart., to his nephew Pitt Crawley about to enter Parliament-this was the work of Sir Reginald Palgrave. The first number of the "Pall Mall" fell rather flat, only some four thousand copies being sold to an indifferent public. Before long, however, the new publication began to flourish. At present, under its new and brilliant editor-my friend Mr. Garvin,—the success of the "Pall Mall" seems more assured than ever.
Far younger than the "Pall Mall" is the well written "Westminster," so admirably edited by clever Mr. Spender, -its daily cartoon is always attractive. Though strongly Conservative, I must confess that I could never help taking great delight in the whimsical work of the first of our modern English caricaturists-Sir F. Carruthers Gould. As a political cartoonist he, of course, stands absolutely alone, while his gifted pencil generally carries far greater conviction than the impassioned
harangues of most politicians. Though he has mercilessly lampooned most of our public men, he somehow contrives never to give offence, whilst always amusing and never lacking in spirit. I do not think that anyone has ever been offended by any of his clever caricatures; as a matter of fact, even when the sarcasm is a little biting, the victims probably find their consolation in the fact that if they were not deemed forces to be reckoned with they would not be caricatured at all, for Sir Frank Carruthers Gould is about the best judge alive as to who interests the public and who does not.
I remember the days when "Punch" was yet undreamt of, and I have known a great many of the clever people connected with it, including Thackeray.
As is well known, the famous novelist was an accomplished penman, and used to pride himself on the neatness and dexterity with which he could cram the greatest possible number of words into the smallest possible space. A few weeks before his death he was present at the usual Saturday dinner, at which the contributors to "Punch" were accustomed to meet and arrange the programme for the next week's number. The conversation turning upon Mr. Thackeray's skill in this way, he was challenged to give an illustration, whereupon he produced a fourpenny-piece, and, having marked the circle of the coin with a pen on a piece of paper, he drew in the