8th August

Born: Dominic Baudius, jurist and philologist, 1561, Lisle; Jacques Basnage de Beauval, Protestant theologian and historian, 1653, Rouen; Francis Hutcheson, moral philosopher, 1694, North of Ireland.

Died: Cardinal Peter d'Ailly, ecclesiastic and author, 1419, Copiègne; Pope Alexander VI (Roderic Borgia), infamous pontiff; 1503; Dr. Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York, eminent Protestant prelate, 1588; Dr. Antoine Arnauld, celebrated opponent of the Jesuits, and friend of Pascal, 1694, Brussels; Louis Francois Armand du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu, captor of Minorca, 1788; Sir Richard Worsley (History of the Isle of Wight), 1805, Appledurcombe, in Wight; George Canning, statesman, 1827, Chiswick; Thomas Crofton Croker, author of Irish Fairy Tales, 1854. London.

Feast Day: Saints Cyriacus, Largus, Smaragdus, and their companions, martyrs, 303. St. Hormisdas, martyr.


There is a certain moral grandeur popularly ascribed to the doctrinaire which is denied to the statesman. There are few politicians who receive the unreserved admiration accorded to those who have done nothing but write books, or yielded their lives to the advocacy of a single cause. The doctrinaire-the propounder of a fixed set of opinions-advises mankind, but does not under-take to manage them. Through a long series of years he may publish his convictions with pertinacious uniformity, without hindrance and without responsibility. Such consistency is sometimes contrasted with the wavering tactics of the statesman, to the unfair disadvantage of the latter. A statesman sets himself to lead a people, and is less careful to entertain them with his private convictions than to discover what principles they are inclined to accept and to commit to practice. The doctrinaire's business is to proclaim what is true, whether men hear or reject; the statesman's is to ascertain and recommend what is practicable.

The statesman is often compelled to defer his private judgment to popular prejudice, and to rest content with bending what cannot be broken. Sir Robert Peel was a free-trader long before free-trade was possible. These reserves are inseparable from statesmanship, nor need they involve dissimulation. A statesman, being a practical man, regards all speech as lost labour which is not likely to be reproduced in action. There is, as all know, a base statesman-hip, which does not aspire to lead from good to better, but which panders to popular folly for selfish ends. Of this we do not speak. We merely note the f act, that the consistency of the doctrinaire is an easy virtue compared with the statesman's arduous art: the first tells what is right; the other persuades millions to do it. A statesman who has led with any credit a free people, has necessarily encountered difficulties and temptations of which the solitary student has had no experience, and possibly no conception.

George Canning, whilst one of the ablest European statesmen of the present century, was not doctrinally far in advance of his generation; yet for England he did much worthy service, and through his genius English principles acquired new influence the world over. He was born in Marylebone, London, on the 11th of April 1770. His father was a young gentleman, whose family had cast him off for making a poor marriage; and, while Canning was an infant, he died, it is said, of a broken heart. His mother commenced school-keeping for her support, but it did not pay, and then she tried the stage, but with little better success. An uncle meanwhile intervened, and sent Canning to Eton, where he quickly made his mark by his aptitude for learning, and by starting, at the age of sixteen, a small periodical work, entitled The Microcosm. It was written by himself and three school-fellows, and was published at Windsor, weekly, from November 1786 to August 1787. Canning's articles, in their elegance and wit, fore-shadowed the future man.

The Microcosm provoked the Westminster boys to commence The Trifler. To their first number they prefixed a caricature representing Justice in the act of weighing their merits against the Etonians, the latter being aloft, while their rivals rested on the ground. Young Canning took his pen, and thus interpreted the symbol:

What mean ye by this print so rare,
Ye wits-of Eton jealous-
But that we soar aloft in air,
And ye are heavy fellows?'

From Eton he passed to Oxford, and thence to Lincoln's Inn, with the intention of studying for the bar; but such was his readiness in debate, that his friends persuaded him that politics were his true vocation. At this time he was on familiar terms with Sheridan and Fox, and other leading Whigs, but to their disappointment he sought alliance with Pitt, and under his auspices he entered parliament in 1793. As soon as by trial Pitt had tested the quality of his young recruit, he placed him on active service, and left him to bear the brunt of some formidable attacks. Canning enjoyed and grew under this discipline, and found wit and eloquence equal to all demands. With the Anti-Jacobin periodical-begun in 1797 and concluded in 1798, to resist and ridicule democratic opinions-he was largely concerned, and its best verses and jeux dèsprit were written by him. His Needy Knife-Grinder, a burlesque of a poem by Southey, is known to everybody, being a stock-piece in all collections of humorous poetry.

In 1800, Canning was married to Joan Scott, a daughter of General Scott, who brought with her a dowry of £100,000. Canning's life, from 1793 to 1827, is inwrought with the parliamentary history of England, sometimes in office, and sometimes in opposition. He was a steady enemy of the French Revolution and of Napoleon; he advocated the Irish union, the abolition of the slave trade, and Catholic emancipation; but resisted parliamentary reform, and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. As secretary of state for foreign affairs, he was peculiarly distinguished. His sympathies were heartily liberal; and the assertion of Lord Holland, that Canning had 'the finest logical intellect in Europe,' seemed to find justification in his state-papers and correspondence, which were models of lucid and spirited composition. Against the craft of the Holy Alliance he set his face steadily, and was always ready to afford counsel and help to those who were struggling after constitutional freedom. With real joy he recognised the republics formed from the dissolution of Spanish dominion in America, and one of his last public acts was the treaty which led to the deliverance of Greece from the Turks.

Canning was only prime minister during a few months preceding his death. On the resignation of the Earl of Liverpool, through illness, Canning, in April 1827, succeeded him as premier; and as a consequence of his known favour for the Catholics, Lord Eldon, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, and other Tories threw up their places. Canning had, therefore, to look for support to the Whigs, and with much anxiety and in weak health he fought bravely through the session to its close in July, when he retired to the Duke of Devonshire's villa at Chiswick, and there died on the 8th of August 1827.

M. Guizot, in an account of An Embassy to the Court of St. James's in 1840, relates a curious anecdote of Canning's death, in connection with a description of Lady Holland. He writes:

Lady Holland was much more purely English than her husband. Sharing with him the philosophic ideas of the eighteenth French century, in politics she was a thoroughly aristocratic Whig, without the slightest Radical tendency, proudly liberal, and as strongly attached to social hierarchy, as faithful to her party and her friends This person, so decidedly incredulous, was accessible, for her friends and for herself, to fears childishly superstitious. She had been slightly ill, was better, and admitted it. 'Do not speak of this,' she said to me, 'it is unlucky.' She told me that, in 1827, Mr. Canning, then ill, mentioned to her that he was going for change and repose to Chiswick. She said to him: 'Do not go there; if I were your wife, I would not allow you to do so.' 'Why not?' asked Mr. Canning. 'Mr. Fox died there.' Mr. Canning smiled; and an hour after, on leaving Holland House, he returned to Lady Holland, and said to her in a low tone: 'Do not speak of this to any one; it might disturb them.' 'And he died at Chiswick,' concluded Lady Holland with emotion.


In the seventeenth century, there was no such term as editor, implying a literary man devoted to the general management of a journal, with a share in such original composition as it required. We only hear of the printer, or at most of the publisher. In those days, the printer found himself surrounded with difficulties, and often, from the imperfection and simplicity of his arrangements, he was thrown into positions by no means dignified.

The following curious notices, &c., are from some of the earliest English newspapers; circ. 1620-1626.

The Stationer to the Reader:

We should also present you with the French News, but for that some, who neither know what hath past before, nor how businesses depend one upon another, have patcht up a Pamphlet with broken relations, contradicted newes of Sea-fights, and most non-sense Translations of matters of State, wee cannot but informe you, how you have been wronged, and wee prevented, by those who would thrust out any falsitie, if they were but persuaded that the novelty will sell it.

The above is from a paper published in 1622. It is not very clear, certainly, but at anyrate that which the 'stationer' (publisher) means to convey to his readers may be arrived at without much difficulty. We have copied it literally, as illustrative at once of the typography, orthography, and punctuation of that age.

The annexed quaint notice is from a correspondent of one of these periodicals in the same year. Having given intelligence of the wars at that time being waged abroad, with running comments thereon, the writer concludes by saying to the editor:

And thus, sir, I end a long letter, wherein I have dilated the discourse, by attempting to give the reasons of each motion, and to describe the persons and places, to give light to the storie, which you shall doe well to keepe by you, for it will make you the better to understand whatsoever shall be written of these wars.

Here is another (same year) from a military correspondent to a similar journal, and who seems to have suffered some loss in his calling:

Now, courteous Reader, having heard the truth of the matter, moderate your griefe, and doe not discourage a young brave warrior, by lamenting for some small losse by him sustained, seeing also that commonly the issues of battailes and warlike actions are variable and inconstant, and that many times it happeneth, that those that the one day have the worst, the next day bane the better hand.

In publishing an account of what had occurred to the Spanish fleet in America, in 1623, the translator (and printer) thus apologetically introduces his intelligence:

The Printer to the Reader.-This Spanish originall comming to my hands most opportunely, tooke the advantage of my liking it, and sudden apprehension, that it would please the Reader, whosoever: not so much because thereby is proposed a kinde of variety of newes, as in that the glory of God is made apparant in His workes, and wonderfull Providence, that can preserve men out of raging seas, and afford His mercy when wee thinke that it is quite denied vs: and although I may incurre an imputation by leaning more to the true sense then to the words as they lye in order: yet I will be bold to say, that the sentences here extended, shall neither receive exoticke interpretation, nor bee carryed with any wanton hand from the true meaning: be therefore thus favorable, I pray, to reade it without a strict comparison of the originall: and accept of an honest intent, that aymeth as much at the satisfaction of worthy deseruers, as any profit can arise out of so meane a worke.

Another writer of the same period, at the conclusion of his intelligence as to 'the State of Affairs of Europe,' oddly says:

In this manner stand the affaires of Europe, which I cannot compare better then to a wounded man, newly drest, and in great danger of life, so that uuntill his second opening, and taking the aire, the surgion himselfe cannot tell what will become of him: but if you, gentle Reader, affect to understand (by way of indulgencie and desire of his well-doing) the state of his health & body, I will myself attend the next dressing, & according to the effect of the surgery certifie you, what hope there is of recovery, that is to say, if ever these commanders take the field; these threatning armies meet one another; these prepared forces make any encounter; and these martial affairs come to deciding, I will come toward you with honest information, and not hide my talent in a napkin, but acquaint you with as much as falls to my poore portion to know.

Here is an apology for some news-letters omitted for want of space:

Reader, I cannot let thee have the letters for want of roome until next weeke.

Another journal, of a date somewhat later, contains the following apologetic notice on account of an error:

Whereas there is notice given in the Gazette published yesterday, that one Mr. Fox has been scandalized in this paper: This is to certify that there was never any such relation printed in any intelligence published by Benjamin Harris; but by some others that have counterfeited his title. But as for the mistakes in the elections at Rye, and other places, we do once for all acknowledge that, taking them up on common fame, we have sometimes been mistaken; but we are resolved for the future to be so very cautious and careful, as to endeavour not to give the least offence upon this or any other account to any person whatsoever.

'TOUCHING FOR THE KING'S EVIL-In 1664 occurs the following announcement on this subject, of course with the direct cognizance of his majesty Charles II:

'His sacred majesty having declared it to be his royal will and purpose to continue the healing of his people for the evil, during this month of May; and then to give over till Michaelmas next. I am commanded to give notice thereof, that the people may not come up to the town in the interim, and loose their labour.'

'NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS' IN OLDEN TIMES: At the foot of a newspaper of the early part of the seventeenth century, an invitation to amateurs is given in the following quaint terms:

Ale persons who are pleased to favour us with any comical or sollid stories, may repair to the 'Three Kings,' Ludgate, and they shall have them very carefully put in.

The circulation of newspapers may be considered as having reached perfection, when a penny could buy the sheet and another penny insure its quick and safe transmission to any part of the country. In such a state of things, it becomes difficult to imagine or recall the difficulties which beset the obtaining of a newspaper only a few years ago. When we cast back our thoughts twenty years, we find the sheet costing fourpence-halfpenny at the least; when we go back twenty or thirty years more, we find it was seven-pence, the greater part of which sum went into the public exchequer. The number of sheets printed by any journal up to 1814 was usually a few hundreds; only two or three came to thousands. It was, indeed, mechanically impossible that there should be a newspaper circulation above two or three thousand, for, before any larger number could be thrown off, the news would have been cold, and the next number in requisition.

When we go back a century, or a century and a half, we find that the journals of the empire were but a handful. There was not one north of Edinburgh till 1746; there was not one established on a permanent basis in Edinburgh till 1718. News were in those days sent about in private letters, and in the gossip of conversation. The wandering beggar, who came to the farmer's house craving a supper and bed, was the principal intelligencer of the rural population of Scotland so late as 1780. In Queen Anne's time, to receive a regular news-sheet from the metropolis was the privilege of lords, squires, and men of official importance. At an earlier time, this communication was not a printed sheet at all, but a written sheet, called a News-letter, prepared in London, copied by some process or by the hand, and so circulated from a recognised centre.

When such a sheet arrived at the hall, with any intelligence unusually interesting, the proprietor would cause his immediate dependants to be summoned, and would from his porch read out the principal paragraphs (see illustration below). So did the news of William's landing at Torbay, of King Charles's restoration, of his father's tragic death, reach the ears of a large part of the people of England. The reader of our national history will have a very imperfect comprehension of it, if he does not bear in mind how slowly and imperfectly intelligence of public matters was conveyed in all times which we now call past, and how much of false news was circulated. In the case of an insurrection, the whole surrounding circumstances might be changed before a fourth of the nation was apprised of what had taken place, or was prepared to move. Or, supposing that a landing was expected on the south coast. in connection with party-movements within the empire, the heads of the conspiracy might all be in the Tower before any one could be sure that the fleet was even in sight.

reading the news

One peculiarity of the newspaper management of old days is sufficiently obvious to any one who examines the files. There was no adequate system of home-reporting. It seems to have been mainly by private and arbitrary means that a domestic paragraph came to the office. An amusing illustration of this primitive system of reporting occurs in the Caledonian Mercury for March 3, 1724:

We hear,' says the paper, 'that my Lord Arniston, one of the ordinary lords of session, is dead.

In next number appears this apologetic, but certainly very awkward, paragraph:

It was by mistake in our last that Lord Arniston was dead, occasioned by the rendezvous of coaches hard by his lordship's lodging, that were to attend the funeral of a son of the Right Honourable the Earl of Galloway; wherefore his lordship's pardon and family is humbly craved.