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ance, and cupidity exhibit themselves frequently, often to the amusement, but still more often to the annoyance and disgust, of thinkers; but in the good- old days, when a spade was a spade, and when people did not seek to gloss over their weaknesses and frivolities, as they do now, by a pretence of virtue and coldness, which, after all, imposes only on the weak and credulous, advertisements gave a real insight into the life of the people; and so, in the hope that our researches will tend to dispel some of the mists which still hang over the sayings and doings of folk who lived up to comparatively modern days, we present this work to the curious reader.
It is generally assumed—though the assumption has no ground for existence beyond that so common amongst us, that nothing exists of which we are ignorant—that advertisements are of comparatively modern origin. This idea has probably been fostered in the public mind by the fact that so little trouble has ever been taken by encyclopaedists to discover anything about them; and as time begets difficulties in research, we are almost driven to regard the first advertisement with which we are acquainted as the actual inaugurator of a system which now has hardly any bounds. That this is wrong will be shown most conclusively, and even so far evidence is given by the statement, made by Smith and others, that advertisements were published in Greece and Rome in reference to the gladiatorial exhibitions, so important a feature of the ancient days of those once great countries. That these advertisements took the form of what is now generally known as "billing," seems most probable, and Rome must have often looked like a modern country town when the advent of a circus or other travelling company is first made known.
The first newspaper supposed to have been published in England appeared in the reign of Queen Elizabeth during the Spanish Armada panic. This journal was called the English Meratrie, and was by authority "imprinted at London by Christopher Barker, Her Highnesses printer, 1583." This paper was said to be started for the prevention of the fulmination of false reports, but it was more like a succession of extraordinary gazettes, and had by no means the appearance of a regular journal, as we understand the term. It was promoted by Burleigh, and used by him to soothe, inform, or exasperate the people as occasion required.* Periodicalsand papers really first came into general use during the civil wars in the reign of Charles I., and in the time of the Commonwealth; in fact, each party had its organs, to disseminate sentiments of loyalty, or to foster a spirit of Tesistance against the inroads of power, f The country was
* This paper seems to have been an imposture, which, believed in at the time, has been comparatively recently detected. A writer in the Quarterly Review, June 1855, says, "The English Mercurie of 1588 [Qy. 1583], which professes to have been published during those momentous days when the Spanish Armada was hovering and waiting to pounce upon our southern shores, contains amongst its items of news three or four book advertisements, and these would undoubtedly have been the first put forth in England, were that newspaper genuine. Mr Watts, of the British Museum, has, however, proved that the several numbers of this journal to be found in our national library are gross forgeries ; and, indeed, the most inexperienced eye in such matters can easily see that neither their type, paper, spelling, nor composition are much more than one instead of upwards of two centuries and a half old." Haydn also says, "Some copies of a publication are in existence called the English Mercury, professing to come out under the authority of Queen Elizabeth in 1588, the period of the Spanish Armada. The researches of Mr J. Watts, of the British Museum, have proved these to be forgeries, executed about 1766. The full title of No. 5° is ' The English Mercurie, published by authorilie, for the prevention of false reports, imprinted by Christopher Barker, Her Highnesses printer, No. 50.' It describes the Spanish Armada, giving ' A journal of what passed since the 21st of this month, between Her Majestie's fleet and that of Spayne, transmitted by the Lord Highe Admiral to the Lordes of Council.'"
\ The Quarterly mentions a paper which appeared late in the reign of James I. : " The Weekly News, published in London in 1622, was the first publication which answered to this description; it contained,
accordingly overflowed with tracts of every size and of various denominations, many of them displaying great courage, and being written with uncommon ability. Mercury was the prevailing title, generally qualified with some epithet; and the quaintness peculiar to the age is curiously exemplified in the names of some of the news-books, as they were called: the Dutch Spye, the Scots Dove, the Parliament Kite, the Screech Owle, and the Parliamentary Screech Owle, being instances in point. The list of Mercuries is almost too full for publication. There was Mcrcurius Acheronticus, which brought tidings weekly from the infernal regions; there was Mercurius Democrilus, whose information was supposed to be derived from the moon; and among other Mercuries there was the Mercurius Mastix, whose mission was to criticise all its namesakes. It was not, however, until the reign of Queen Anne that a daily paper existed in London—this was the Daily Courant, which occupied the field alone for a long period, but which ultimately found two rivals in the Daily Post and the Daily Journal, the three being simultaneously published in 1724. This state of things continued with very little change during the reign of George I., but publications of every kind increased abundantly during the reign of his successor. The number of newspapers annually sold in England, according to an average of three years ending with 1753, was 7,411,757; in 1760 it amounted to 9,464,790; in 1767 it rose to 11,300,980; in 1790 it was as high as 14,035,636; and in 1792 it amounted to 15,005,760. All this time advertising was a growing art, and advertisements were beginning to make themselves manifest as the main
however, only a few scraps of foreign intelligence, and was quite destitute of advertisements." And then, as if to prove what has been already stated by the Encyclopedia Britannica, the writer goes on to say, " The terrible contest of the succeeding reign was the hotbed which forced the press of this country into sudden life and extraordinary vigour."
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