Saturday, June 24, 2017

Here is a fictional excerpt from Trollope on the Big newspaper of his day

Big Media Gods of today? Here is a fictional excerpt from Trollope on the Big newspaper of his day. 

"The Warden" by Anthony Trollope,1855 from chapter 14 Mount Olympus

..."He next thought of the newspapers.  The case had been taken up by more than one; and he was well aware that the keynote had been sounded by
The Jupiter...  
 Who has not heard of Mount Olympus,--that high abode of all the powersof type, that favoured seat of the great goddess Pica, that wondroushabitation of gods and devils, from whence, with ceaseless hum ofsteam and never-ending flow of Castalian ink, issue forth fiftythousand nightly edicts for the governance of a subject nation?
Velvet and gilding do not make a throne, nor gold and jewels a
sceptre.  It is a throne because the most exalted one sits there,--and
a sceptre because the most mighty one wields it.  So it is with Mount
Olympus.  Should a stranger make his way thither at dull noonday, or
during the sleepy hours of the silent afternoon, he would find no
acknowledged temple of power and beauty, no fitting fane for the
great Thunderer, no proud façades and pillared roofs to support
the dignity of this greatest of earthly potentates.  To the
outward and uninitiated eye, Mount Olympus is a somewhat humble
spot,--undistinguished, unadorned,--nay, almost mean.  It stands
alone, as it were, in a mighty city, close to the densest throng
of men, but partaking neither of the noise nor the crowd; a small
secluded, dreary spot, tenanted, one would say, by quite unambitious
people at the easiest rents.  "Is this Mount Olympus?" asks the
unbelieving stranger.  "Is it from these small, dark, dingy buildings
that those infallible laws proceed which cabinets are called upon to
obey; by which bishops are to be guided, lords and commons controlled,
judges instructed in law, generals in strategy, admirals in naval
tactics, and orange-women in the management of their barrows?"
"Yes, my friend--from these walls.  From here issue the only known
infallible bulls for the guidance of British souls and bodies.
This little court is the Vatican of England.  Here reigns a
pope, self-nominated, self-consecrated,--ay, and much stranger
too,--self-believing!--a pope whom, if you cannot obey him, I would
advise you to disobey as silently as possible; a pope hitherto afraid
of no Luther; a pope who manages his own inquisition, who punishes
unbelievers as no most skilful inquisitor of Spain ever dreamt of
doing;--one who can excommunicate thoroughly, fearfully, radically;
put you beyond the pale of men's charity; make you odious to your
dearest friends, and turn you into a monster to be pointed at by the
finger!"  Oh heavens! and this is Mount Olympus!

It is a fact amazing to ordinary mortals that _The Jupiter_ is never
wrong.  With what endless care, with what unsparing labour, do we not
strive to get together for our great national council the men most
fitting to compose it.  And how we fail! Parliament is always wrong:
look at _The Jupiter_, and see how futile are their meetings, how vain
their council, how needless all their trouble!  With what pride do we
regard our chief ministers, the great servants of state, the oligarchs
of the nation on whose wisdom we lean, to whom we look for guidance in
our difficulties!  But what are they to the writers of _The Jupiter_?
They hold council together and with anxious thought painfully
elaborate their country's good; but when all is done, _The Jupiter_
declares that all is naught.  Why should we look to Lord John
Russell;--why should we regard Palmerston and Gladstone, when Tom
Towers without a struggle can put us right?  Look at our generals,
what faults they make; at our admirals, how inactive they are.  What
money, honesty, and science can do, is done; and yet how badly are our
troops brought together, fed, conveyed, clothed, armed, and managed.
The most excellent of our good men do their best to man our ships,
with the assistance of all possible external appliances; but in vain.
All, all is wrong--alas! alas!  Tom Towers, and he alone, knows all
about it.  Why, oh why, ye earthly ministers, why have ye not followed
more closely this heaven-sent messenger that is among us?

Were it not well for us in our ignorance that we confided all things
to _The Jupiter_?  Would it not be wise in us to abandon useless
talking, idle thinking, and profitless labour?  Away with majorities
in the House of Commons, with verdicts from judicial bench given after
much delay, with doubtful laws, and the fallible attempts of humanity!
Does not _The Jupiter_, coming forth daily with fifty thousand
impressions full of unerring decision on every mortal subject, set all
matters sufficiently at rest?  Is not Tom Towers here, able to guide
us and willing?

Yes indeed, able and willing to guide all men in all things, so
long as he is obeyed as autocrat should be obeyed,--with undoubting
submission: only let not ungrateful ministers seek other colleagues
than those whom Tom Towers may approve; let church and state, law and
physic, commerce and agriculture, the arts of war, and the arts of
peace, all listen and obey, and all will be made perfect.  Has not Tom
Towers an all-seeing eye?  From the diggings of Australia to those of
California, right round the habitable globe, does he not know, watch,
and chronicle the doings of everyone?  From a bishopric in New Zealand
to an unfortunate director of a North-west passage, is he not the only
fit judge of capability?  From the sewers of London to the Central
Railway of India,--from the palaces of St Petersburg to the cabins of
Connaught, nothing can escape him.  Britons have but to read, to obey,
and be blessed.  None but the fools doubt the wisdom of _The Jupiter_;
none but the mad dispute its facts.

No established religion has ever been without its unbelievers, even
in the country where it is the most firmly fixed; no creed has been
without scoffers; no church has so prospered as to free itself
entirely from dissent.  There are those who doubt _The Jupiter_!
They live and breathe the upper air, walking here unscathed, though
scorned,--men, born of British mothers and nursed on English milk, who
scruple not to say that Mount Olympus has its price, that Tom Towers
can be bought for gold!

Such is Mount Olympus, the mouthpiece of all the wisdom of this great
country.  It may probably be said that no place in this 19th century
is more worthy of notice.  No treasury mandate armed with the
signatures of all the government has half the power of one of those
broad sheets, which fly forth from hence so abundantly, armed with no
signature at all.

Some great man, some mighty peer,--we'll say a noble duke,--retires to
rest feared and honoured by all his countrymen,--fearless himself; if
not a good man, at any rate a mighty man,--too mighty to care much
what men may say about his want of virtue.  He rises in the morning
degraded, mean, and miserable; an object of men's scorn, anxious only
to retire as quickly as may be to some German obscurity, some unseen
Italian privacy, or indeed, anywhere out of sight.  What has made this
awful change? what has so afflicted him?  An article has appeared in
_The Jupiter_; some fifty lines of a narrow column have destroyed all
his grace's equanimity, and banished him for ever from the world.
No man knows who wrote the bitter words; the clubs talk confusedly of
the matter, whispering to each other this and that name; while Tom
Towers walks quietly along Pall Mall, with his coat buttoned close
against the east wind, as though he were a mortal man, and not a god
dispensing thunderbolts from Mount Olympus..."

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