The incident of the religious fanatic who broke a window on Ludgate Hill was alone enough to set them up in good copy for the night. But when the same man was brought before a magistrate and defied his enemy to mortal combat in the open court, then the columns would hardly hold the excruciating information, and the headlines were so large that there was hardly room for any of the text. The Daily Telegraph headed a column, “A Duel on Divinity,” and there was a correspondence afterwards which lasted for months, about whether police magistrates ought to mention religion. The Daily Mail in its dull, sensible way, headed the events, “Wanted to fight for the Virgin.” Mr. James Douglas, in The Star, presuming on his knowledge of philosophical and theological terms, described the Christian’s outbreak under the title of “Dualist and Duellist.” The Daily News inserted a colourless account of the matter, but was pursued and eaten up for some weeks, with letters from outlying ministers, headed “Murder and Mariolatry.” But the journalistic temperature was steadily and consistently heated by all these influences; the journalists had tasted blood, prospectively, and were in the mood for more; everything in the matter prepared them for further outbursts of moral indignation. And when a gasping reporter rushed in in the last hours of the evening with the announcement that the two heroes of the Police Court had literally been found fighting in a London back garden, with a shopkeeper bound and gagged in the front of the house, the editors and sub-editors were stricken still as men are by great beatitudes.
The next morning, five or six of the great London dailies burst out simultaneously into great blossoms of eloquent leader-writing. Towards the end all the leaders tended to be the same, but they all began differently. The Daily Telegraph, for instance began, “There will be little difference among our readers or among all truly English and law-abiding men touching the, etc. etc.” The Daily Mail said, “People must learn, in the modern world, to keep their theological differences to themselves. The fracas, etc. etc.” The Daily News started, “Nothing could be more inimical to the cause of true religion than, etc. etc.” The Times began with something about Celtic disturbances of the equilibrium of Empire, and the Daily Express distinguished itself splendidly by omitting altogether so controversial a matter and substituting a leader about goloshes.