Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XII.

Joseph forms another engagement-Writes leading articles

for two papers of opposite politics—An awkward mistake Its consequences.

Very few of those engaged as reporters for the daily journals confine their services to them. They look out, and in almost every instance, with more or less success, for other kinds of literary employment. In no case does the common remark, that one thing leads to another, hold more true than in that of literature. Many of those engaged on the daily press of London, average from two to three guineas per week by working for weekly papers, in addition to their stated salary, which on most of the morning journals is five guineas per week. Joseph, in the course of a few months after his engagement as reporter for the daily journal which has been repeatedly referred to, entered into an arrangement with the proprietor of two weekly papers to furnish for each a leading article, averaging a column in length. For this he was to receive two guineas weekly. Beyond writing the leading articles, he had no concern with, nor influence over, the papers. Arrangements of this nature, though unknown in the provinces, are quite common in London. Neither of the papers had a large circulation, and it was only by transferring the “general intelligence” of the one to the other, and in that way saving the expense of a second composition, that the proprietor got them to pay. The two journals, though belonging to the same proprietor, were as much opposed in character as it was possible, perhaps, to be. One was thoroughly democratic, and bore a title_" The Leveller” – which sufficiently indicated the destructive principles it advocated. It weekly launched the most terrible denunciations at the

devoted heads of the aristocracy, representing them as a confederacy of tyrants, who lived to feed and fatten on the industry of the working classes; and plainly hinted that their estates would be fair subjects for spoliation. The labouring classes were held up as the true nobility, because they were a nobility of nature's workmanship. While to the higher classes was ascribed every vice under the sun-and sometimes vices which even the sun itself has never witnessed—the masses were represented as possessing not only all the virtues which actually exist, but many which have never existed at allexcept in the columns of " The Leveller.” The farmers were the objects of that journal's unceasing and most virulent vituperation; no week was suffered to elapse without a full share of coarse abuse being heaped on them. The other paper, “The Constitutionalist,” took (as already intimated) a directly opposite course. With it the aristocracy were everything; they were the glory, as they had proved the stay, of the

VOL. I.

H

land. Without the higher classes, this country could not exist an instant in its present moral grandeur. The farmers, too, were a most. worthy and singularly intelligent body of men. It was a “Farmer's Friend" journal. Agriculture was the life-blood of England's prosperity ; trade and manufactures were nothing. The industrial portion of the community were the dregs of English society. The population of all large towns were a body of reckless democrats, having no respect for the rights of property, and undeserving the protection of a constitutional Government.

To undertake the writing of the leading articles of two papers, of such antagonist views on all the leading questions of the day, was what no honest man could have brought himself to do. Joseph, however, knew not what honesty in politics or literature meant. He had no compunctious visitings, no scruples of any kind, on the point. He at once accepted the offer, when made to him, to write the leading articles for

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ The Leveller” and “ The Constitutionalist.”
But though untroubled by any reproaches of
conscience on the subject, he felt that, if the
circumstance of his furnishing the editorial arti-
cles to papers whose principles were so tho-
roughly antagonist, were to transpire, it would
not have the effect of raising his character in the
estimation of his friends; neither could it fail to
operate very injuriously to him if, on any future
occasion, he should attain distinction—which he
fondly hoped he one day would—as a public man.
He therefore stipulated with the proprietor of
the
papers,

that his name should be kept a profound secret in connexion with the authorship of the articles. He himself, of course, took care not to breathe a whisper of the circumstance to his own acquaintances. All went on smoothly enough for a season. He possessed great readiness and versatility in writing on the topics of the day. What was more-lawyer-like, he could appear to great advantage on either side of a question. Before he had been three months

« PreviousContinue »