13.0555 Macaulay quotation

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 25 2000 - 07:20:55 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 555.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 07:20:42 +0100
             From: Haradda@aol.com
             Subject: Re: 13.0550 not Macaulay...

    In a message dated 4/19/2000 2:21:13 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
    willard@lists.village.virginia.edu writes:

          [1] From: "Michael S. Hart" <hart@prairienet.org> (26)

          [2] From: GBAssoc@aol.com (12)
                Subject: Re: [CONTENT:474] 13.0522 text-analysis tools for

                Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 21:13:32 +0100
                From: "Michael S. Hart" <hart@prairienet.org>
                Subject: Re: 13.0545 quotation from Macaulay
    > <<
    > "The 19th-century historian Macaulay maintained that the only true
    > history of a country is the newspapers".
    > >>
    > I believe that the quote it is from Macaulay's History of England
       I looked in both volumes of: History of England from James II
       and didn't see the word "newspaper" or "news-paper" there at all. . . .
       Also did searches on "history" but got too many hits to scan them all.
       Suggestions for other searches? >>

    This was what I was thinking of but it doesn't quite say what I thought that
    it said when I responded previously.

    David Reed

    History of England from James II [Volume 1]
    by Thomas Babington Macaulay


    No part of the load which the old mails carried out was more
    important than the newsletters. In 1685 nothing like the London
    daily paper of our time existed, or could exist. Neither the
    necessary capital nor the necessary skill was to be found.
    Freedom too was wanting, a want as fatal as that of either
    capital or skill. The press was not indeed at that moment under a
    general censorship. The licensing act, which had been passed soon
    after the Restoration, had expired in 1679. Any person might
    therefore print, at his own risk, a history, a sermon, or a poem,
    without the previous approbation of any officer; but the Judges
    were unanimously of opinion that this liberty did not extend to
    Gazettes, and that, by the common law of England, no man, not
    authorised by the crown, had a right to publish political
    news.162 While the Whig party was still formidable, the
    government thought it expedient occasionally to connive at the
    violation of this rule. During the great battle of the Exclusion
    Bill, many newspapers were suffered to appear, the Protestant
    Intelligence, the Current Intelligence, the Domestic
    Intelligence, the True News, the London Mercury.163 None of these
    was published oftener than twice a week. None exceeded in size a
    single small leaf. The quantity of matter which one of them
    contained in a year was not more than is often found in two
    numbers of the Times. After the defeat of the Whigs it was no
    longer necessary for the King to be sparing in the use of that
    which all his Judges had pronounced to be his undoubted
    prerogative. At the close of his reign no newspaper was suffered
    to appear without his. allowance: and his allowance was given
    exclusively to the London Gazette. The London Gazette came out
    only on Mondays and Thursdays. The contents generally were a
    royal proclamation, two or three Tory addresses, notices of two
    or three promotions, an account of a skirmish between the
    imperial troops and the Janissaries on the Danube, a description
    of a highwayman, an announcement of a grand cockfight between two
    persons of honour, and an advertisement offering a reward for a
    strayed dog. The whole made up two pages of moderate size.
    Whatever was communicated respecting matters of the highest
    moment was communicated in the most meagre and formal style.
    Sometimes, indeed, when the government was disposed to gratify
    the public curiosity respecting an important transaction, a
    broadside was put forth giving fuller details than could be found
    in the Gazette: but neither the Gazette nor any supplementary
    broadside printed by authority ever contained any intelligence
    which it did not suit the purposes of the Court to publish. The
    most important parliamentary debates, the most important state
    trials recorded in our history, were passed over in profound
    silence.164 In the capital the coffee houses supplied in some
    measure the place of a journal. Thither the Londoners flocked, as
    the Athenians of old flocked to the market place, to hear whether
    there was any news. There men might learn how brutally a Whig,
    had been treated the day before in Westminster Hall, what
    horrible accounts the letters from Edinburgh gave of the
    torturing of Covenanters, how grossly the Navy Board had cheated
    the crown in the Victualling of the fleet, and what grave charges
    the Lord Privy Seal had brought against the Treasury in the
    matter of the hearth money. But people who lived at a distance
    from the great theatre of political contention could be kept
    regularly informed of what was passing there only by means of
    newsletters. To prepare such letters became a calling in London,
    as it now is among the natives of India. The newswriter rambled
    from coffee room to coffee room, collecting reports, squeezed
    himself into the Sessions House at the Old Bailey if there was an
    interesting trial, nay perhaps obtained admission to the gallery
    of Whitehall, and noticed how the King and Duke looked. In this
    way he gathered materials for weekly epistles destined to
    enlighten some county town or some bench of rustic magistrates.
    Such were the sources from which the inhabitants of the largest
    provincial cities, and the great body of the gentry and clergy,
    learned almost all that they knew of the history of their own
    time. We must suppose that at Cambridge there were as many
    persons curious to know what was passing in the world as at
    almost any place in the kingdom, out of London. Yet at Cambridge,
    during a great part of the reign of Charles the Second, the
    Doctors of Laws and the Masters of Arts had no regular supply of
    news except through the London Gazette. At length the services of
    one of the collectors of intelligence in the capital were
    employed. That was a memorable day on which the first newsletter
    from London was laid on the table of the only coffee room in
    Cambridge.165 At the seat of a man of fortune in the country the
    newsletter was impatiently expected. Within a week after it had
    arrived it had been thumbed by twenty families. It furnished the
    neighboring squires with matter for talk over their October, and
    the neighboring rectors with topics for sharp sermons against
    Whiggery or Popery. Many of these curious journals might
    doubtless still be detected by a diligent search in the archives
    of old families. Some are to be found in our public libraries;
    and one series, which is not the least valuable part of the
    literary treasures collected by Sir James Mackintosh, will be
    occasionally quoted in the course of this work.166

    166 I take this opportunity of expressing my warm gratitude to
    the family of my dear and honoured friend sir James Mackintosh
    for confiding to me the materials collected by him at a time when
    he meditated a work similar to that which I have undertaken. I
    have never seen, and I do not believe that there anywhere exists,
    within the same compass, so noble a collection of extracts from
    public and private archives The judgment with which Sir James in
    great masses of the rudest ore of history, selected what was
    valuable, and rejected what was worthless, can be fully
    appreciated only by one who has toiled after him in the same

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