The bad newspaper stops not at any political outrage. It would arouse a revolution, and empty the hearts of a million brave men in the trenches, rather than not have its own circulation multiply. What to it are the hard-earned laurels of the soldier or the exalted reputation of the statesman? Its editors would, if they dared, blow up the Capitol of the nation if they could only successfully carry off the frieze of one of the corridors. There are enough falsehoods told at any one of our autumnal elections to make the “Father of Lies” disown his monstrous progeny. Now it is the Mayor, then the Governor, now the Secretary of State, and then the President, until the air is so full of misrepresentation that truth is hidden from the view, as beautiful landscapes by the clouds of summer insects blown up from the marshes.
The immoral newspaper stops not at the unclean advertisement. It is so much for so many words, and in such a sheet it will cost no more to advertise the most impure book than the new edition of Pilgrim’s Progress. A book such as no decent man would touch was a few months ago advertised in a New York paper, and the getter-up of the book, passing down one of our streets the other day, acknowledged to one of my friends that he had made $18,000 out of the enterprise.
In one column of a paper we see a grand ethical discussion, and in another the droppings of most accursed nastiness. Oh! you cannot by all your religion, in one column, atone for one of your abominations in another! I am rejoiced that some of our papers have addressed those who have proposed to compensate them for bad use of their columns, in the words of Peter to Simon Magus: “Thy money perish with thee!” But I arraign the newspapers that give their columns to corrupt advertising for the nefarious work they are doing. The most polluted plays that ever oozed from the poisonous pen of leprous dramatist have won their deathful power through the medium of newspapers; the evil is stupendous!
O ye reckless souls! get money—though morality dies, and society is dishonored, and God defied, and the doom of the destroyed opens before you—get money! Though the melted gold be poured upon your naked, blistered, and consuming soul—get money! Get money! It will do you good when it begins to eat like a canker! It will solace the pillow of death, and soothe the pangs of an agonized eternity! Though in the game thou dost stake thy soul, and lose it forever—get money!
The bad newspaper hesitates not to assault Christianity and its disciples. With what exhilaration it puts in capitals, that fill one-fourth of a column, the defalcation of some agent of a benevolent society! There is enough meat in such a carcass of reputation to gorge all the carrion-crows of an iniquitous printing-press. They put upon the back of the Church all the inconsistencies of hypocrites—as though a banker were responsible for all the counterfeits upon his institution! They jeer at religion, and lift up their voices until all the caverns of the lost resound with the howl of their derision. They forget that Christianity is the only hope for the world, and that, but for its enlightenment, they would now be like the Hottentots, living in mud hovels, or like the Chinese, eating rats.