The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

IV. The Growth of Journalism

§ 14. The Daily Telegraph

Of those who took a leading part in the production of The Daily Telegraph, the first lord Burnham died while this chapter was passing through the press. To his constant care and unrivalled experience of affairs, the paper has owed much of its success. It was launched in 1855, and, in the course of a few months, passed into the hands of the Levi-Lawson family, who issued it as the first penny newspaper published in London. It was edited by Thornton Hunt, a son of Leigh Hunt, and early obtained celebrity for its enterprise and somewhat flamboyant style. Matthew Arnold scoffed at it; and a grandson of the first proprietor says that, when at Oxford, his tutor admonished him to “try not to write like Sala.” To borrow a simile from the art of painting, the writers who gained reputation for The Daily Telegraph were, of choice, colourists. During many years, among the leading members of its staff was Sir Edwin Arnold, one of the brilliant Oxonians of the newspaper press, who is reported (by J. M. Le Sage) to have said that

  • whether the chief—whom we loved—asked him (Arnold) to write the first leading article, the description of some great historical event, or an ordinary news paragraph, he would do it to the utmost of his ability; that the test of loyalty was not to do some big thing, but some small thing—and to do it well.
  • The loyalty and affection here indicated, shared, as they were, by the whole staff, played a great part in making The Daily Telegraph so successful that, for some time before the advent of the halfpenny newspapers, it was able to boast that it possessed “the largest circulation in the world.” The influence of the style of The Daily Telegraph upon the newspaper press of this country has been great; being, indeed, the basis of popular journalism. Not that the latter repeats the styles of Sala, of Edwin Arnold, of Edward Dicey, of Bennet Burleigh and of other men who long were looked upon as representing The Daily Telegraph; for, with features showing their influence has been combined a greater directness of statement; but the picturesqueness at which they aimed has had enduring effect. The loyalty of the staff accounted for the success of the paper in obtaining early information. Its enterprise has been shown in other directions. In 1873, George Smith was commissioned by it to make and describe archaeological exploration on the site of Nineveh, and among his discoveries were a number of fragments of the cuneiform narrative of the Deluge. Two years later, The Daily Telegraph joined The New York Herald in sending Henry M. Stanley into central Africa, where he surveyed lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, and traced the source of the Congo; later, for the same papers and The Scotsman, he was sent to rescue Emin pasha from Equatoria; but Emin refused to be rescued, and escaped from the rescue party. In 1884–5, it was associated with Sir Harry Johnston’s exploration of Kilima-njaro, and, in 1899–1900, with Lionel Decle’s journey from the Cape to Cairo. Its foreign staff have interviewed monarchs and statesmen; Bismarck, some time before the Franco-German war, confided to Beattie-Kingston that the military authorities had pressed him to quarrel with France—a course to which he was then opposed.

    Its musical and dramatic criticisms by E. L. Blanchard, Joseph Bennett and Clement Scott were always read by the chief members of the professions affected.

    Another morning newspaper established successfully during the century is The Daily Chronicle. Its founder, Edward Lloyd, was already the prosperous owner of Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper. In 1842, intending to compete with The Illustrated London News, he published Lloyd’s Illustrated London Newspaper, unstamped. The authorities intervened, and, in 1843, he rearranged his publication without illustrations, calling it Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper. In this form, it competed with other Sunday publications, such as The News of the World, Reynolds’s Weekly Newspaper, The Weekly Times, The Weekly Dispatch. Of these papers, The Dispatch was long the most prominent. Its owner had been in the front of the fight against the stamp duty; but Lloyd’s Weekly soon became well established, especially under the short editorship of Douglas Jerrold from 1852 to 1857, and, thereafter, under that of his son Blanchard, who had among his coadjutors Hepworth Dixon, better known as editor of The Athenaeum, from 1853 to 1868.

    In 1877, Edward Lloyd purchased a daily paper which had been started as The Clerkenwell News, but had expanded its name to The London Daily Chronicle and Clerkenwell News. He reduced the title to The Daily Chronicle, and adopted an independent radical policy. The venture prospered, and has latterly become one of the leading halfpenny morning papers.