Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
By Horace Greeley (18111872)
[Born in Amherst, N. H., 1811. Died at Pleasantville, Westchester Co., N. Y., 1872. Recollections of a Busy Life. 1868.]
THE TRIBUNE, as it first appeared, was but the germ of what I sought to make it. No journal sold for a cent could ever be much more than a dry summary of the most important or the most interesting occurrences of the day; and such is not a newspaper, in the higher sense of the term. We need to know, not only what is done, but what is proposed and said, by those who sway the destinies of states and realms; and, to this end, the prompt perusal of the manifestoes of monarchs, presidents, ministers, legislators, etc., is indispensable. No man is even tolerably informed in our day who does not regularly keep the run of events and opinions, through the daily perusal of at least one good journal; and the ready cavil that no one can read all that a great modern journal contains, only proves the ignorance or thoughtlessness of the caviller. No one person is expected to take such an interest in the rise and fall of stocks, the markets for cotton, cattle, grain, and goods, the proceedings of Congress, Legislatures, and Courts, the politics of Europe, and the ever-shifting phases of Spanish-American anarchy, etc., etc., as would incite him to a daily perusal of the entire contents of a metropolitan city journal of the first rank. The idea is rather to embody in a single sheet the information daily required by all those who aim to keep posted on every important occurrence; so that the lawyer, the merchant, the banker, the forwarder, the economist, the author, the politician, etc., may find here whatever he needs to see, and be spared the trouble of looking elsewhere. A copy of a great morning journal now contains more matter than an average twelvemo volume, and its production costs far more, while it is sold for a fortieth or fiftieth part of the volumes price. There is no other miracle of cheapness which at all approaches it. The Electric Telegraph has precluded the multiplication of journals in the great cities, by enormously increasing the cost of publishing each of them. The Tribune, for example, now pays more than one hundred thousand dollars per annum for intellectual labor (reporting included) in and about its office, and one hundred thousand dollars more for correspondence and telegraphing,in other words, for collecting and transmitting news. And, while its income has been largely increased from year to year, its expenses have inevitably been swelled even more rapidly; so that, at the close of 1866, in which its receipts had been over nine hundred thousand dollars, its expenses had been very nearly equal in amount, leaving no profit beyond a fair rent for the premises it owned and occupied. And yet its stockholders were satisfied that they had done a good business,that the increase in the patronage and value of the establishment amounted to a fair interest on their investment, and might well be accepted in lieu of a dividend. In the good time coming, with cheaper paper and less exorbitant charges for cable despatches from the Old World, they will doubtless reap where they have now faithfully sown. Yet they realize and accept the fact, that a journal radically hostile to the gainful arts whereby the cunning and powerful few live sumptuously without useful labor, and often amass wealth, by pandering to lawless sensuality and popular vice, can never hope to enrich its publishers so rapidly nor so vastly as though it had a soft side for the Liquor Traffic, and for all kindred allurements to carnal appetite and sensual indulgence.
Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; riches take wings; the only earthly certainty is oblivion; no man can foresee what a day may bring forth; while those who cheer to-day will often curse to-morrow: and yet I cherish the hope that the journal I projected and established will live and flourish long after I shall have mouldered into forgotten dust, being guided by a larger wisdom, a more unerring sagacity to discern the right, though not by a more unfaltering readiness to embrace and defend it at whatever personal cost; and that the stone which covers my ashes may bear to future eves the still intelligible inscription, Founder of The New York Tribune.