Worse than all, it destroys the soul. The day must come when the worthless scrip will fall out of the clutches of the stock-gambler. Satan will play upon him the “cornering” game which, down on Wall street, he played upon a fellow-operator. Now he would be glad to exchange all his interest in Venango County for one share in the Christian’s prospect of heaven. Hopeless, he falls back in his last sickness. His delirium is filled with senseless talk about “percentages” and “commissions” and “buyer, sixty days,” and “stocks up,” and “stocks down.” He thinks that the physician who feels his pulse is trying to steal his “board book.” He starts up at midnight, saying: “One thousand shares of Reading at 116-1/2. Take it!” Falls back dead. No more dividends.... Swindled out of heaven. STOCKS DOWN!
The newspaper is the great educator of the nineteenth century. There is no force compared with it. It is book, pulpit, platform, forum, all in one. And there is not an interest—religious, literary, commercial, scientific, agricultural, or mechanical—that is not within its grasp. All our churches, and schools, and colleges, and asylums, and art-galleries feel the quaking of the printing-press. I shall try to bring to your parlor-tables the periodicals that are worthy of the Christian fireside, and try to pitch into the gutter of scorn and contempt those newspapers that are not fit for the hand of your child or the vision of your wife.
The institution of newspapers arose in Italy. In Venice the first newspaper was published, and monthly, during the time that Venice was warring against Solyman the Second in Dalmatia. It was printed for the purpose of giving military and commercial information to the Venetians. The first newspaper published in England was in 1588, and called the English Mercury. Others were styled the Weekly Discoverer, the Secret Owl, Heraclitus Ridens, etc.
Who can estimate the political, scientific, commercial, and religious revolutions roused up in England for many years past by Bell’s Weekly Dispatch, the Standard, the Morning Chronicle, the Post, and the London Times?
The first attempt at this institution in France was in 1631, by a physician, who published the News, for the amusement and health of his patients. The French nation understood fully how to appreciate this power. Napoleon, with his own hand, wrote articles for the press, and so early as in 1829 there were in Paris 169 journals. But in the United States the newspaper has come to unlimited sway. Though in 1775 there were but thirty-seven in the whole country, the number of published journals is now counted by thousands; and to-day—we may as well acknowledge it as not—the religious and secular newspapers are the great educators of the country.