It is not law which ever renders the press free and independent. Nothing is free or independent in this world which is not powerful. Therefore, the editor who would conquer the opportunity of speaking his mind freely, must do it by making his paper so excellent as a vehicle of news that the public will buy it though it is a daily disgust to them.
The Herald has thriven beyond all its competitors, because its proprietor comprehended these simple but fundamental truths of his vocation, and, upon the whole, has surpassed his rivals both in the getting and in the display of intelligence. We must pronounce him the best journalist and the worst editorialist this continent has ever known; and accordingly his paper is generally read and its proprietor universally disapproved.
And finally, this bad, good paper cannot be reduced to secondary rank except by being outdone in pure journalism. The interests of civilization and the honor of the United States require that this should be done. There are three papers now existing—the Times, the Tribune; and the World—which ought to do it; but if the conductors of neither of these able and spirited papers choose to devote themselves absolutely to this task, then we trust that soon another competitor may enter the field, conducted by a journalist proud enough of his profession to be satisfied with its honors. There were days last winter on which it seemed as if the whole force of journalism in the city of New York was expended in tingeing and perverting intelligence on the greatest of all the topics of the time. We have read numbers of the World (which has talent and youthful energy enough for a splendid career) of which almost the entire contents—correspondence, telegrams, and editorials—were spoiled for all useful purposes by the determination of the whole corps of writers to make the news tell in favor of a political party. We can truly aver, that journalism, pure and simple,—journalism for its own sake,—journalism, the dispassionate and single-eyed servant of the whole public,—does not exist in New York during a session of Congress. It ought to exist.
[Footnote 1: We copy the following from Mr. Gowan’s narrative:
“Dr. Benjamin Brandreth, of well and wide-spread reputation, and who has made more happy and comfortable, for a longer or shorter time, as the case may be, by his prescriptions than any other son of Aesculapius, hailed me one day as I jumped from a railroad car passing up and along the shores of the Hudson River, and immediately commenced the following narrative. He held in his hand a copy of the New York Herald. ‘Do you know,’ said he, holding up the paper to my face, ’that it was by and through your agency that this paper ever became successful?’ I replied in the negative. ‘Then,’ continued he, ’I will unfold the secret to you of how you became instrumental in this matter. Shortly after my arrival in America, I began looking about me how I was to dispose of my pills