Now, a proprietor’s right to have his property managed according to his own ideas needs no emphasizing. The sad thing is that such proprietors should get hold of such property. It all comes, of course, of the modern vulgarization of wealth. Time was when even mere wealth was aristocratic, and its possession, more or less implied in its possessors the possession, too, of refinement and culture. The rich men of the past knew enough to encourage and support the finer arts of life, and were interested in maintaining high standards of public taste and feeling. Thus they were capable of sparing some of their wealth for investment in objects which brought them a finer kind of reward than the financial. Among other things, they understood and respected the dignity of literature, and would not have expected an editor to run a literary venture in the interests of the illiterate. The further degradation of the public taste was not then the avowed object of popular magazines. Indeed—strange as it sounds nowadays—it was rather the education than the degradation of the public taste at which the editor aimed, and in that aim he found the support of intelligent proprietors.
Today, however, all this is changed. Wealth has become democratic, and it is only here and there, in its traditional possessors, that it retains its traditional aristocracy of taste. As the commonest man can be a multi-millionaire, so the commonest man can own a magazine, and have it edited in the commonest fashion for the common good.
As a result, the editor’s occupation, in the true sense, will soon be gone. There is, need one say, no lack today of men with real editorial individuality—but editorial individuality is the last thing the capitalist proprietors want. It is just that they are determined to stamp out. Therefore, your real editor must either swallow his pride and submit to ignorant dictation, or make way for the little band of automatic sorters of manuscript, which, as nine tailors make a man, nowadays constitute a sort of composite editor under the direction of the proprietor.