Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

We need not stop to point out that the newspaper in this country which would come out with such conceited nonsense, would soon feel its existence to be extremely uncomfortable; though, indeed, such a violation of good taste would never be attempted among us.

Then there are the "amenities” of journalism, than which nothing has served so much to degrade the character of the American press. In this country we never exchange such compliments as pass between our brethren there, and we would certainly never dream of exchanging leaden bullets or drawing bowie-knives. It happened the other day, that an Edinburgh editor designated a clever though an erratic and eccentric Edinburgh professor“ an Athenian grasshopper," upon which the Greek professor retorted on the editor, “Anglofied puppy.” It is very rare, however, that the British press goes even so far as this in want of dignity; and the reason is, that it is guided by the principle of attacking public opinions, not private characters—measures, not men. A Yankee newspaper, on the other hand, cannot engage in controversy with any of its contemporaries without addressing the editor by name; and ten to one, before it is done, dubbs him coward or rascal—the two bandiest words in an American editor's vocabulary. Numerous instances might be given, but one must suffice.

The Savannah correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, in a letter dated the 19th June last, describes a fatal · difficulty' which had occurred at Leavenworth: ‘A communication appeared in the Daily Conservative, in which the author vaunted his exploits of the day previous in capturing a Secession flag at Iatan, Mobile, and intimated that there was no one who had pluck enough to interfere or stop him. This communication was generally known to have been written by Daniel R. Anthony, the proprietor of the Conservative. The next day the Daily Herald stated that Mr. Anthony, instead of frightening every body at Iatan, was himself so badly scared that he fled precipitately to the boat. The morning this appeared in the Herald, Mr. Anthony, accompanied by a friend, sought out Robert C. Satterlee, publisher of the Herald, and after some hot words had passed, both parties drew their pistols and fired. Anthony's first fire accidentally took effect in the body of the friend who accompanied him, inflicting a dangerous wound. Satterlee fired once, but missed his mark. Anthony then pursued Satterlee down the street, fired three more shots at him, and killed him. Anthony is post-master at Leavenworth, and is a rabid Abolitionist. Anthony was held in 10,000 dollars bail for his appearance at the next term of the district court.'”

If American justice be as lax as it is sometimes said to be, it is not improbable that this assassin may still be vaunting his exploits in the columns of the Daily Conservative.

So numerous are the “ difficulties," settled by recourse to fire-arms, among editors, that it looks like the natural inference, that the satisfactory discharge of the duties of the editorial office in some parts of America is an impossibility apart from the use of murderous weapons. In the office of one newspaper, we understand, a graceful festoon of revolvers hangs over

a

[ocr errors]

a

the sanctum table, within reach of the editor, and three ominous-looking guns rest in the corner. Descending to the composing and press room, is found each man quietly at work in his proper place, with “something that would shoot” lying near him. For aught we know, this may be the general and approved outfit for Transatlantic newspaper establishments. At all events, our cousins themselves tell us that it requires three editors to start a paper in New Orleans,-one to get killed in a duel, one to die of the yellow fever, and one to write an obituary of the defunct two.

Still the courtesies of American journalists are not always so mortal as those described. They have their amusing side. Mr. Prentice, of the Louisville Journal, who has the reputation of being the Sidney Smith of the American Press, is famous for humorous hits at his brother editors. Here is a sample of Prenticeana :

" The editor of the Hemisphere says there is reason in all things. His own skull is certainly an exception."

“The editor of a Pennsylvanian paper says that he once saw stripes publicly inflicted upon a man in Rhode Island for petty larceny. We wonder if he didn't feel them to.”

“ The editor of the P. L. boasts that his single head 'keeps no less than fifty operatives in full employment. His case is a bad one; the use of a fine comb might not come amiss."

“ The editor of the thinks that we cannot, with a pistol, hit a watercask ten feet off. If he chooses to set himself up at that distance, we might try whether we cannot hit a brandy-cask.”

"The editor of the Eastern Argus is melancholy in his reflections upon the close of the year. He says he shall soon be lying in his grave. When he gets there, it will be time for him to stop lying. The ruling passion is often strong in death, but seldom after it.”

He notices the present of a silver cup to a contemporary thus : “ He needs no cup.

He can drink from any vessel that contains liquor, whether the neck of a bottle, the mouth of a pickle-jar, the spill of a keg, or the bung of a barrel.”

Wit itself is a great feature of the Yankee press, particularly the “Western” and “down-East” portion of it. Thereaway it may be said that every paper is its own Punch. They “air rather 'cute in those parts, we guess.” Without entering upon the character of Yankee wit, which may be generally described as the wit of broad exaggeration, we are tempted to give one or two specimens, some of which may, perhaps, be new to the reader.

“A paper notorious for its veracity says that a man in New Hampshire went out gunning one day this spring; he saw a flock of pigeons sitting on a branch of an old pine, so he dropped a ball into his gun and fired. The ball split the branch, which closed up and caught the toes of all the birds on it. He saw that he had got them all; and so he fastened two balls together, and fired; cut the branch off, which fell into the river ; he then waded in, and brought it on shore. On counting them, there were 300 pigeons, and in his boots were two barrels of shad.”

“An American editor acknowledges the receipt of a bottle of brandy forty-eight years old, and says : This brandy is so old that we very much fear it cannot live much longer.'”

“The most recent case of absence of mind is that of an editor who lately copied from a hostile paper one of his own articles, and headed it, Wretched attempt at wit.'"

“ A Western editor, in noticing a new and splendid hearse, says he has no doubt it will afford much satisfaction to those who use it !"

“A newspaper advertises for compositors • who don't get drunk;' and adds, that · the editor does all the getting drunk necessary to support the dignity of the establishment!'”

“A country editor thinks that Columbus is not entitled to much credit for discovering America, as the country is so large he could not well have missed it."

“An American editor thus notices some poetical communications : The effusions of Irwin' and 'Mac' are inadmissible. Reason: the rhythm sounds something like pumpkins rolling over the barn-floor ; while some lines appear to have been measured with a yard-stick, and others with a ten-foot pole.""

As regards the literary ability, and the appearance or “make up,” of American papers,—that there is plenty of smart, clever, talented writing among them, cannot be denied; but their egotism, personality, and coarse familiarity are their bane. Search throughout the length and breadth of the great U-nited States, and you will fail to find that scholarly, dignified, tasteful leader-writing which gives such a power and charm to the Times, the Daily News, and the other leading London newspapers, and, it may be said, which characterises the English newspaper press in general. In arrangement, Transatlantic papers can bear no comparison with English. As a rule, the paper upon which they are printed is inferior; the type less readable, often indeed perplexingly small; there is no recognised or prescribed place for the news; little care, little regularity; altogether a sort of hotch-potch business. This is equally true of the advertisements—of the great majority of provincial newspapers, at least. The advertisement-page of one of these papers, with its prodigious coal-black blotched letters, its steamers, houses, bottles, men, and horses (nearly as large as life), all huddled together, as if with the express intention of insulting good taste, order, and the agreeable, remind one forcibly of some gable-end to which the bill-sticker has paid many a visit and left many a striking impression. They do every thing on a large scale in America; and their advertisements are no exception, for they are more like placards than newspaper advertisements. This repulsive disfigurement is in a great measure due to the desire to give a ready publicity to quack advertisements, with which every American paper is filled. But, above all, the American press wants that high moral tone, that true enlightenment, and that sterling independence, which make the British press the palladium of the people's rights, and the glory and happiness of the country.

R. K.

The Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous. .

A NARRATIVE IN PLAIN ENGLISH,

ATTEMPTED BY

GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA.

CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH.

I FALL INTO THE ILANDS OF RECREANT PAYNIMS, AND AM REDUCED TO A STATE OF

MISERABLE SLAVERY. I think I should have been much better off, if, stopping at Naples, I had fallen into the blazing Crater of Vesuvio, and have cast up again into the air in the shape of Red-Hot Ashes. I think it would have been better for me to be Bitten by the Tarantula Spider (which is about the size of a small Nutmeg, and when it bites a person throws him into all kinds of Tumblings, Anger, Fear, Weeping, Crazy Talk, and Wild Actions, accompanied by a kind of Bedlam Gambado), than to have gone upon the pretty Dance I was destined to Lead. However, there was no disobeying the commands of his Eminence, who, in his Smooth Italian way, told me at Paris that those of his Servants who did not attend to his Bebests, were much subject to dying Suddenly after Supper; and so, Willy-nilly, I sped upon my Dark Errand.

Business now took me to Venice. This is a very grand City, both for the Magnificence of its Nobles and the Extent of its Commerce. The Doge is only a Sumptuous kind of Puppet, the Real Government being vested in the Seignory, or Council of Ten, that carry matters with a very High Hand, but, on the whole, give Satisfaction both to the Quality and the Common. Here are numbers of Priests of a very Free Life and Conversation, and swarms of Monks that are notorious Evil-doers; for during the Carnival (a very famous one lere) they wear Masks, sing upon Stages, and fall into many other Practices unbecoming their Profession. The Venetian Nuns are the merriest in all Europe, and have a not much better Repute than the Monks, many of them being the Daughters of the Nobility, who dispose of 'em in this manner to save the Charges of keeping 'em at home. They wear no Veils; have their Necks uncovered; and receive the Addresses of Suitors at the Grates of their Parlours. The Patriarch did indeed at one time essay to Reform the abuses that had crept into the Nunneries; but the Ladies of San Giacomo, with whom he began, told him plainly that they were Noble Venetians, and scorned his Regulations. Thereupon he attempted to shut up their House, which so provoked 'em that they were going to set Fire to it; but the Senate interposing, commanded the Patriarch to desist, and these Merry Maidens had full liberty to resume their Madcap Pranks.

Here they make excellent fine Drinking-glasses and Mirrors; likewise Gold and Silver Stuffs, Turpentine, Cream of Tartar, and other articles.

[ocr errors]

The Streets mostly with Water running thro' em, like unto Rotterdam, all going to and fro done in Boats called Gondoles,-a di-mal, Hearselooking kind of Wherry, with a prow like the head of a Bass-Viol, and rowed, or rather shoved along with a Pole by a Mad, Ragged Fellow, that bawls out verses from Tasso, one of their Poets, as be plies his Oar. The great Sight at Venice, after the Grand Canal and St. Mark's Place, is the Carnival, which begins on Twelfth Day, and holds all Lent. The Diversion of the Venetians is now all for Masquerading. Under a Disguise, they break through their Natural Gravity, and fall heartily into all the Follies and Extravagances of these occasions. With Operas, Plays, and Gaming-Houses, they seem to forget all Habits, Customs, and Laws; lay aside all cares of Business, and swamp all Distinctions of Rank. This practice of Masking gives rise to a variety of Love Adventures, of which the less said the better; for the Venetian Bona Robas, or Corteggiane, as they call 'em now, are a most Artful Generation. The pursuit of Amours is often accompanied by Broils and Bloodshed; and Fiery Temper is not confined to the Men, but often breaks out in the Weaker Sex; an instance of which I saw one day in St. Mark's Place, wbere two Fine Women, Masked, that were Rivals for the favour of the same Gallant, happening to meet, and by some means knowing one another, they fell out, went to Cuffs, tore off each other's Mask, and at last drew Knives out of their pockets, with which they Fought so seriously, that one of them was left for Dead upon the Spot.

Another Frolic of the Carnival is Gaming, which is commonly in Noblemen's Houses, where there are Tables for that purpose in ten or twelve Rooms on a floor, and seldom without abundance of Company, who are all Masked, and observe a profound Silence. Here one meets Ladies of Pleasure cheek by jowl with Ladies of Quality, who, under the protection of a convenient piece of Black Satin or Velvet, are allowed to enjoy the entertainments of the Season; but are generally attended either by the Husband or his Spies, who keep a watchful eye on their Behaviour. Besides these Gaming-Rooms, there are others, where Sweatmeats, Wine, Lemonade, and other Refreshments may be purchased, the Haughty Nobility of Venice not disdaining to turn Tavernkeepers at this season of the year. Here it is usual for Gentlemen to address the Ladies and employ their wit and raillery; but they must take care to keep within the bounds of Politeness, or they may draw upon themselves the Resentment of the Husbands, who seldom put up with an Affront of this kind, though perhaps only imaginary, without exacting a severe Satisfaction. For the Common People there are Jugglers, Ropedancers, Fortune-tellers, and other Buffoons, who have stages in the Square of St. Mark, where, at all times during the Carnival, 'tis almost impossible to pass along, owing to the Crowd of Masqueraders. Bull Baitings, Races of Gondoles, and other Amusements, too tedious to enumerate, also take place. But among the several Shows wbich attract the eyes of the Populace, I cannot forbear describing one which is re

« EelmineJätka »