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support and `chief source of profit of newspapers, as well as the most natural channel of communication between the buyers and sellers, the needing and supplying members of a vast community.
The victories of Cromwell gave Scotland her first newspaper. This was called the Mercurius Politicus, and appeared at Leith in October 1653; but it was in November 1654 transferred to Edinburgh, where it was continued until the 11th April 1660, when it was rechristened, and appeared as the Mercurius Publicus. This paper was but a reprint, for the information of the English soldiers, of a London publication. But a newspaper of native manufacture, we are told by a contemporary writer, soon made its appearance under the title of Mercurius Caledonius. The first number of this was published at Edinburgh on the 31st December 1660, and comprised, as its title sets forth, "the affairs in agitation in Scotland, with a summary of foreign intelligence." The publication, however, extended to no more than ten numbers, which, it is said by Chambers, "were very loyal, very illiterate, and very affected." After the Revolution the custom was still to reprint in Scotland the papers published in London, an economic way of doing business, which savours much of the proverbial thrift peculiar to the Land o' Cakes. February 1699 the Edinburgh Gazette, the first original Scotch newspaper or periodical, was published by James Watson, author of a "History of Printing;" but he, after producing forty numbers, transferred it to a Mr John Reid, whose son continued to print the paper till even after the Union. In February 1705, Watson, who seems to have been what would now be called a promoter of newspapers, established the Edinburgh Courant, but relinquished it after the publication of fifty-five numbers, and in September 1706 commenced the Scots Courant, with which he remained connected until about 1718. To these papers were added in October 1708 the Edinburgh Flying Post; in
August 1709 the Scots Postman, " printed by David Fearne for John Moncur;" and in March 1710 the North Tatler, "printed by John Reid for Samuel Colvil." In 1715 the foundation was laid of the present splendid Glasgow press by the establishment of the Courant, but this did not in any way affect the publications in the then far more important town of Edinburgh. In March 1714 Robert Brown commenced the Edinburgh Gazette or Scots Postman, which was published twice a week; and in December 1718 the Town Council gave an exclusive privilege to James M'Ewen to publish three times a week the Edinburgh Evening Courant, upon condition, however, that before publication "the said James should give ane coppie of his print to the magistrates." This journal is still published, and it is but fair to assume that the original stipulation is yet complied with. The Caledonian Mercury followed the Courant on the 28th of April 1720, and was, like its forerunner, a tri-weekly organ. In these, as well as in those we have mentioned, advertisements slowly but gradually and surely began to make their appearance, and, as the sequel proves, to show their value.
It is stated by several writers that the earliest English provincial newspaper is believed to be the Norwich Postman, which was published in 1706 at the price of a penny, and which bore the quaint statement, that a halfpenny would not be refused. Newspaper proprietors, publishers, and editors were then evidently, so far as Norwich is concerned, less strong than they are now in their own conceit, and in their belief in the press as an organ of great power This Postman was followed in 1714 by the Norwich Courant or Weekly Packet. York and Leeds followed in 1720, Manchester in 1730, and Oxford in 1740. It was not, however, until advertising became an important branch of commercial speculation. that the provincial press began in any way to flourish. Now the journals published in our largest country towns
command extensive circulations, and are regarded by many advertising agents, whose opinions are fairly worth taking, as being much more remunerative media than our best London papers. For certain purposes, and under certain circumstances, the same may be said of colonial newspapers, which have, of course, grown up with the colonies in which they are published; for it must be always borne in mind that the essence of advertising is to place your statement where it is most likely to be seen by those most interested in it, and so a newspaper with a very limited supply of readers indeed is often more valuable to the advertiser of peculiar wares or wants than one with "the largest circulation in the world," if that circulation does not reach the class of readers most affected by those who pay for publicity. It would seem, however, that the largest class of advertisers, the general public, who employ no agents, and who consider a large sale everything that is necessary, ignore the argument of the true expert, and lose sight of the fact that, no matter how extensive a circulation may be, it is intrinsically useless unless flowing through the channel which is fairly likely to effect the purpose for which the advertisement is inserted. It is customary to see a sheet, detached from the paper with which it is issued, full of advertisements, which are, of course, unread by all but those who are professedly readers of public announcements, and who are also, of course, not only in a decided minority, but not at all the people to whom the notices are generally directed. The smallest modicum of thought will show how grievous is the error which leads to such a result, and how much better it is to regard actual circulation but as so much evidence as to the value of an advertisement only, and not as a whole, sole, and complete qualification. Not in any incautious way do those who are most qualified to judge of value for money act. Turn to any paper of repute, and it will be seen that the professional advertiser, the theatrical manager, the publisher, the auctioneer, and
the others whom constant practice has made wary, lay out their money on quite a different principle from that of the casual advertiser. They have learned their lesson, and if they pay extra for position or insertion, they know that. their outlay is remunerative; whereas, if it were not governed by caution and system, it would be simply ruinous. In fact, advertising is a most expensive luxury if not properly regulated, and a most valuable adjunct when coolness and calculation are brought to bear upon it as accessories.
The heavy duties originally imposed upon newspapers, both on them and their advertisements, were at first a considerable check to the number of notices appearing in them. For, in the first place, the high price of the papers narrowed the limits of their application; and, in the second, the extra charge on the advertisements made them above the reach of almost all but those who were themselves possessed of means, or whose business it was to pander to the unholy and libidinous desires of the wealthy. This, we fancy, will be extensively proved by a reference to the following pages; for while it is our endeavour to keep from this book all really objectionable items, we are desirous that it shall place before the reader a true picture of the times in which the advertisements appeared; and we are not to be checked in our duty by any false delicacy, or turned from the true course by any squeamishness, which, unfortunately for us in these days, but encourages the vices it attempts to ignore.
The stamp duty on newspapers was first imposed in 1713, and was one halfpenny for half a sheet or less, and one penny "if larger than half a sheet and not exceeding a whole sheet." This duty was increased a halfpenny by an Act of Parliament, 30 Geo. II. c. 19; and by another Act, 16 Geo. III. c. 34, another halfpenny was added to the tax. This not being considered sufficient, a further addition of a halfpenny was made (29 Geo. III. c. 50), and in the thirty-seventh year of the same wise monarch's reign (c. 90) three-halfpence more was all at once placed to the debit
of newspaper readers, which brought the sum total of the duty up to fourpence. An Act of 6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 76 reduced this duty to one penny, with the proviso, however, that when the sheet contained 1550 superficial inches on either side, an extra halfpenny was to be paid, and when it contained 2295, an extra penny. An additional halfpenny was also charged on a supplement, which may be regarded, when the use of supplements in the present day is taken into consideration, as an indirect tax on advertisements. In 1855, by an Act 18 & 19 Vict. c. 27, this stamp duty was abolished, and immediately an immense number of newspapers started into existence, most of which, however, obtained but a most ephemeral being, and died away, leaving no sign. There are, however, a large number of good and useful papers still flourishing, which would never have been published but for the repeal of the newspaper stamp duty. To such repeal many rich men owe their prosperity, while to the same source may now be ascribed the poverty of numbers who were once affluent. At this time, of course, the old papers also reduced their rates, and from thence has grown a system of newspaper reading and advertising which twenty years ago could hardly have been imagined. Up to the repeal of the stamp duty few people bought newspapers for themselves, and many newsvendors' chief duty was to lend the Times out for a penny per hour, while a second or third day's newspaper was considered quite a luxury by those whom business or habit compelled to stay at home, and therefore who were unable to glance over the news-generally while some impatient person was scowlingly waiting his turn-at the tavern bar or the coffeehouse. Now almost every one buys a penny paper for himself, and with the increase in the circulation of newspapers has, in proportionate ratio, gone on the increase in the demand for advertisements. The supply has, as every one knows, been in no way short of the demand. The repeal of the paper duty in 1861 also affected newspapers