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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

§ 9. The Stuarts and The Morning Post

Daniel Stuart bought The Morning Post in 1795, when its circulation was only 350 copies daily; in seven years, this rose to between 4000 and 4500—more than twice that of any other daily paper. Stuart is sketched in Charles Lamb’s Newspapers Thirty-five Years Ago:

  • “He ever appeared to us,” writes Lamb, “one of the finest tempered of editors. Perry, of The Morning Chronicle was equally pleasant, with a dash, no slight one either, of the courtier. S. was frank, plain, and English all over.”
  • Lamb asserts that the “sixpence a joke” which he received was thought high remuneration. Daniel Stuart and his brother Peter had already made their mark as printers and publishers. The Morning Post was whig in politics; the new proprietors turned it over to the tory side. James (afterwards Sir James) Mackintosh married the Stuarts’ sister, and wrote much for them. Lamb was introduced to Daniel Stuart by Coleridge, to whose work De Quincey, writing of the newspaper press as a whole, pays a fine tribute—
  • Worlds of fine thinking lie buried in that vast abyss, never to be disentombed or restored to human admiration. Like the sea, it has swallowed treasures without end, that no diving bell will bring up again; but nowhere, throughout its shoreless magazines of wealth, does there lie such a bed of pearls, confounded with the rubbish and purgamenta of ages, as in the political papers of Coleridge. No more admirable monument could be raised to the memory of Coleridge than a republication of his essays in The Morning Post, but still more of those afterwards published in The Courier.
  • He contributed to The Morning Post the famous satirical poem, The Devil’s Thoughts. The connection was broken by his second tour in Germany and Italy, and it is said that, while he was abroad, Fox declared that his articles had led to the rupture of the truce of Amiens. Most, if not all, of Coleridge’s prose contributions to The Morning Post were reproduced in his Essays on His Own Times. In his absence, Southey wrote occasionally for The Morning Post, chiefly, if not wholly, verse; as also did Wordsworth, and Lamb’s Birmingham friend, Lloyd.

    The Morning Post represented an energetic foreign policy, and supported Palmerston in the Aberdeen ministry. Upon the formation of the Palmerston ministry, in 1855, Greville wrote: “Palmerston will soon find the whole press against him, except his own papers, The Morning Post and The Morning Chronicle, neither of which has any circulation of influence.” It is noteworthy, as bearing upon the curious question of the actual effect which newspaper writing may have upon national opinion, that, despite this overweighting of the press against him, Palmerston steadily advanced in popularity. The Morning Post came eventually into the hands of a Lancashire papermaker named Crompton, and, about 1850, Peter Borthwick, who had migrated from Scotland to London, obtained a position in the office as what his son, the late lord Glenesk, called gérant. He had already a position in politics and society, as M.P. for Evesham from 1835 to 1847, and was known favourably as a vigorous and resolute conservative speaker. His only son Algernon was sent to Paris as correspondent. He

  • could speak French like a native, as well as write in it, not only all necessary prose, but some very passable verses, if some way after those written in the same language by another Paris correspondent, Frank Mahony (“Father Prout”), The Globe’s representative on the Seine during later years of the same period.
  • On the death of Peter Borthwick, in 1852, his son took his place, and, it was said, “afforded a fresh justification for the Caledonian boast that the London press was a Scottish creation, and that Flodden had avenged itself in Fleet Street.” With the help of Andrew Montagu—a Yorkshire millionaire related to his mother—Algernon Borthwick purchased The Morning Post. He attacked Palmerston for his ecclesiastical appointments—Palmerston’s bishops being evangelical and Borthwick a high churchman; but, otherwise,
  • the polite world looked to the Post, not for news, but to see the whole mind of Palmerston, which often meant only the whole mind of Borthwick.… The briefs prepared by Palmerston to direct the manufacture of leaders often proved full enough, and finished enough, for wholesale production in the leader columns.
  • A great friendship subsisted between Borthwick and count Walewski, French ambassador in the fifties; and there was a popular belief that Napoleon III subsidised the paper. Similar statements as to subsidies to other papers have been made with much greater probability: The Morning Post was not in pecuniary difficulties. It was the last of the London papers in the century (1882) to reduce its price to one penny. Always maintaining its reputation as a record of the doings of the aristocratic and wealthy, and as an advocate of a forward foreign policy, The Morning Post, also, followed high ideals in its literary and artistic articles. It is said to have been the first London daily paper which, early in the century, printed regularly notices of plays, operas and concerts, and this feature has always been well maintained. Towards the end of the century, its articles on military topics, too, began to attract much attention. It was protectionist in the days of Peel, and in those of Chamberlain.