« AnteriorContinuar »
during no one year of his office had his | However, so far as I am concerned, income from that source exceeded three the reporter may go. I only hope bis shillings and four pence."
newspaper will provide him with a But the mistakes that occur in Par- cloak and an umbrella in order to preliamentary reporting in our days may vent the rain from playing any more chiefly be traced to the high pressure pranks with his note-books." at which the work is necessarily done, But O'Connell did not rest there. for the integrity no less than the ability He gave the Parliamentary reporters of the members of the reporters' gal- as a body what he called himself “a lery is universally admitted. Reporters lick of the rough side of his tongue,' have political opinions like most peo- pouring on them all the powers of sarple ; they have also their favorites and casm and vituperation of which he was aversions among members of Parlia- an unrivalled master, charging them ment; but unlike Dr. Samuel Johnson, with “cooking " their reports to his one of their most distinguished prede- detriment, or else ignoring his argucessors, who confessed that in his day ments, while the arguments of his oppohe took care that the “Whig dogs" neuts were given fully. The reporters always had the worst of it, they never retaliated. They sent a communication allow their prejudices or their tastes to to O'Connell that unless he made an color their reports. Members of Par- ample apology for his attack they would liament may complain, and often do cease to report him. And they carried complain, of the scanty allowance of out their threat ; O'Connell's name print given to their speeches.; but they was not even mentioned in the report never attempt to say that they have of the next debate in which he took been wilfully misrepresented in the part. But if he were not to be reported newspapers of their political oppo- he would take care that no one else nents. That happy state of things was. At the opening of the next sithas not always existed. The records ting he called the speaker's attention to of the House of Commons, for in- the presence of strangers, and under a stance, show that O'Connell frequently rule of the House, which has since complained of the mutilation and sup- been amended, the galleries were pression of his speeches by the Parlia- cleared. The reporters, however, mentary reporters. In the session of would not give way, and as they were 1833 he brought under the notice of the supported by their editors, and as House, as a breach of privilege, the O'Connell was determined to exclude report of one of his speeches on church them from the House while they were tithes in Ireland, which had appeared in that state of mind, it is impossible to in a London paper not alone grievously say how long the quarrel might have abbreviated, but, as he complained, in lasted, had not some mutual friends arsome passages entirely perverted. The ranged a compromise at the end of a reporter was brought to the bar of the week, during which not a line about House, where he made à most remark- Parliament appeared in any London able defence. He said that during his paper. walk from Westminster to Fleet Street, This conflict between O'Connell and the rain, which was falling heavily the Parliamentary reporters is all the at the time, had most unfortunately more curious because three-fourths of streamed into his pocket, and washed the reporters at that time were Irishout the notes he had made of O'Con- men. William Cobbett, who also got nell's speech. “Well, Mr. Speaker,” into difficulties with them, was in the said O'Connell, “ that was the most habit of referring to them derisively in extraordinary shower of rain I ever his writings and speeches as the “rayheard of ; for it not only washed out porthers,” in imitation of the Irish the speech I made from this gentle- pronunciation. They seem to have man's note-book, but washed in an- been up to all sorts of pranks. The other and an entirely different one.' most famous of the band was Peter
Fioperty. He was the only represen- / short of marvellous. It was in the tative of the press in the strangers' year 1852 that the acquisition of the gallery one evening in 1830, so that telegraph system by the State was first when his colleagues, arriving towards suggested, but not until late in the the end of the sitting, asked him if year 1867, when Mr. Disraeli was anything of importance had happened, chancellor of the exchequer, did the he was able to play a most audacious government definitely determine to practical joke upon them. He dictated take the matter up. At that time, as to them an extraordinary speech on the Mr. Baines, C.B., tells us in his revirtues of the Irislı potato which he cently published book (Forty Years at said had been delivered by William the Post-office; a Personal NarraWilberforce, who was then one of the tive, by F. E. Baines, C.B. 2 vols. most sedate and solemn members of London : Richard Bentley & Son), the House, and whose name is insep- "Five powerful telegraph companies
“ arably associated with a very different were in existence : the Electric and subject. On the next morning accord- International, the British and Irish ingly half London was amazed to read Magnetic, the United Kingdom, the how the famous champion of the negro Universal Private, and the London had said : “Had it been my lot to be and Provincial Companies. There born in Ireland, where my food would were others of less importance. Terms have principally consisted of the po- had to be made with all of them. tato, that most nutritious and salubri. The railway interest had to be considous root, instead of being the poor, ered, and the submarine companies to infirm, shrivelled, stunted creature, be thought of, though not bought." you, sir, and lionorable gentlemen, With strong and well-organized internow behold in me, I would have been ests like these fighting hard to secure a tall, stout, athletic man, and able to for themselves the very best possible carry an enormous weight.” The terms, the government had not uunatspeech was the one topic of conversa- urally to submit to a hard bargain betion throughout the day, and great was fore they could obtain from Parliament the merriment it provoked. Wilber- the powers which they required. Howforce was naturally anuoyed at being ever, after a severe struggle, the necmade the laughing-stock of the me-essary bill was successfully passed, and tropolis. He brought the matter under the consequent Money Bill became law the notice of the House, and denounced in the following session. As the rethe report as a mendacious invention. sult of this action, the telegraplis be“If I were capable of uttering such came the property of the State upon
is here put into my the 29th of January, 1870, aud upon mouth,” said he very truly, “instead the 5th of the following month the of being a member of the House, I actual transfer took place. The step should be the inmate of some lunatic seems to have been taken none too asylum.”
soon, for under the companies the telegraphs had been worked in a manner far from satisfactory to the public. Many districts had been completely
neglected, and even between important THE STATE AND THE TELEGRAPHS.
centres the service had been quite inIt is now twenty-five years since the adequate. Moreover, charges had been telegraphs of the United Kingdom high, and exasperating delays of frepassed into the hands of the State, and quent occurrence. the changes which have taken place Six million pounds was the sum first during that period in the volume of the voted by Parliament for the purchase business transacted, the rapidity in of the telegraphs, and this was practhe transit of messages, and the charges tically all swallowed up in compensamade for sending telegrams, are little Ition. The Electric and International
From Chambers' Journal.
Company received £2,938,826 ; the Mag- office Telegraph service should be urged netic Company, £1,243,536 ; Reuter's to work up to that standard. Such a Telegram Company, £726,000; the result would cover the cost of working, United Kingdom Company, £562,264 ; and the sum necessary for payment of the Universal Private Company, £184,- interest on the debt incurred in the 421 ; and the London and Provincial purchase of the telegraphs." In reCompany, £60,000. But large as these gard to this question of cost, Mr. amounts were, they only made up Baines most truly remarks that the about one-half of the expenditure real stumbling-block of the department which the government had to incur, was, and still is, “the interest payable and the total cost ultimately reached on £11,000,000 capital outlay, equal at, the enormous sum of eleven millions. say, three per cent to a charge of Some idea of the manner in which the £330,000 a year.” extra five millions was expended may The transfer of the telegraph to the be gathered from the fact that between State was immediately followed by a October, 1869, and October, 1870, about startling increase in the number of fifteen thousand miles of irou wire, messages sent. In fact the public, nearly two thousand miles of gutta- attracted by the shilling rate, poured percha-covered copper wire, about one in telegrams so fast, and were so well hundred thousand poles, and a million supported by the news-agencies, who other fittings were purchased and fixed took full advantage of the reduced scale, in position, thirty-five hundred tele- that there was at first some danger graph instruments and fifteen thousand of a collapse. Fortunately, however, batteries were acquired, and about the staff was equal to the emergency, twenty-four hundred new telegraphists and after the first rush was over, and temporary assistants were trained. everything worked with perfect smoothThe total expenditure was so vast that ness. The figures relating to 1870, as the Treasury eventually took fright, set out week by week in the postmasand in 1875 a committee was appointed ler-general's report, seem, it is truc, “to investigate the causes of the in- small enough when compared with creased cost of the telegraph service those appertaining to later years, but it since the acquisition of the telegraphs must be remembered that in those by the State.”
early days circumstances were entirely This committee found that the fol- different. The following may be taken lowing were the three main causes of as examples of the numbers of mesthe increase : (a) The salaries of all sages forwarded per week in that year the officials of the telegraph companies from postal telegraph stations in the had been largely increased after their United Kingdom — in the week ending entry into the government service ; (b) 5th February, 11,918 ; in the week the supervising staff maintained by the ending 1211 February, 128,872 ; in the State was much more costly than that week ending 18th June (Ascot week), forinerly employed by the companies ; 200,294 ; and in the week ending 31st and (c) a large additional outlay had December (Christmas week), 144,041. been forced upon the government in During the next four years the enconnection with the maintenance of largement of business was simply the telegraph lines. “ It would not,” extraordinary. In 1875 the rate of inthey say in their report, “ be possible, crease was not maintained at quite so in our opinion, for various reasons, for high a level, but nevertheless nearly the government to work at so cheap a one million six hundred and fifty thourate as the telegraph companies, but sand more messages were dealt with ... a reasonable expectation might be than during the previous year. The entertained that the working expenses quantity of matter transmitted for press could be kept within seventy or seventy- purposes was also much greater than it five per cent. of the gross revenue, and had ever been before, and amounted to the responsible officers of the Post.' more than two hundreil and twenty million words. The number of post- | received in the corresponding month offices open for the transaction of the year before. On the 8th of April telegraph busiuess was at the close in the year dealt with in this report, of the year 3,730, being an addition of the introduction of the Home Rule Bill thirty-one during the twelve months ; occasioned great pressure at the Cenand there were also 1,872 railway sta- tral Telegraph Office, the number of tions at which public telegraph busi. words sent out from London being one ness could be transacted. Through million five hundred thousand. The the five succeeding years work contin- greatest number previously sent out on ued to grow rapidly. In 1880 the mes- any one day had been only eight hunsages sent reached 29,966,965, exceeding dred and sixty thousand. the number of the previous year by The report for 1890-91 informs us 3,419,828. The number of new offices that the ordinary inland telegrams opened during the year was 107, the numbered 54,116,413, as against 50,total number at ils close being 5,438. 813,354 during the previous year, and
The postmaster-general's report for that the increase of receipts from this the year 1885–86 called attention to the source was £90,125. This year some great change effected by the introduc- improvements are noted as having been tion of the reduced rate for inland made in the Wheatstone automatic messages. The new rate came into receiver in use on fast-speed telegraph operation on the 1st of October, 1885 ; circuits. " These instruments,” the consequently, there were during the report stated, “as improved by the financial year six months under the old department, can now, under experirate, and six months under the new mental conditions, record no less than ode. These two periods may fairly be six hundred words a minute, transcompared with one another on equal mitted over a single wire, while a terms, for while the first six months of speed of about four hundred words a the financial year see, as a rule, the minute can be conveniently and safely transaction of considerably more tele- used in practical working
a very graphic business than the second six satisfactory result compared with the mouths, the latter period had on this modest rate of sixty or seventy words a occasion the advantage of a general minute which obtained in 1870.” election. The number of inland wes- The last report issued deals with the sages sent during the first six months, year which ended on the 31st of March, when the old rate was in force, was 1894. In it the number of telegraph 11,314,423, and this number produced offices at post-offices is given as 7,028, £604,436. In the last six months, un- in addition to 2,182 at railway stations, der the new rate, the number was or a grand total of 9,210. The number 16,787,540, and the amount produced of ordinary inland messages sent dur£564,203. There was therefore an ing the year was 1,189,563 in advance increase of forty-eight per cent. in the of the number sent during the previnumber of messages, but a decrease of ous twelve months -- an increase of £40,233 in the revenue. “If, bow-two per cent. — and the receipts from ever," says the report, "we add the sum that source had increased by £22,691. of £18,214 received on account of the Press messages, on the other band, large additional number of abbreviated showed a decrease of 9,472, but this telegraphic addresses, the actual loss of falling off in number did not affect the revenue involved in the introduction of revenue derived from such telegrams, the reduced rate was only £22,019.” which had in fact increased by £5,471. Moreover, it was shown that in three Though post - office and telegraphs, months following the close of the finan- taken collectively, bring profit to the cial year such a considerable further national exchequer, the telegraph deimprovement in the receipts had taken partment, if the interest on the debt be place, that in June the revenue was included, shows a large deficiency. .actually £2,800 in excess of the amount For the year 1893-94 Parliament voted
for posts and telegraphs, £10,264,607 ; " special wires." Some of the leading the actual receipts from the post-office, papers in the provinces receive ten or after all necessary deductions, Mr. more columns of specially telegraphed Baines puts at £10,250,000, and from news on nights when important mattelegraphs £2,500,000 — collectively ters are under discussion in Parlia£12,750,000, and showing on the de- ment; and from this some idea may partment as a whole a profit of £2,- be formed of the amount of business 500,000 in round numbers.
now transacted between the press and In regard to the great increase of the telegraph department. pace in the transmission of telegraphic Want of space has prevented any messages, Mr. Baines tells us that, reference being made to the telephone “ looking back fifty years, we see wires in this article, and even in regard to working at the rate of eight words a the telegraphs it has uot been possible minute, or an average of four words to give, within such narrow limits, per wire per minute, over relatively more than the merest sketch of the short distances. Now, there is a po- work accomplished during the past tentiality of four hundred words — nay, twenty-five years. Probably, however, even six hundred or seven hundred enough has bee said to show with words per wire per minute, over tolerable clearness how vastly televery long distances. As the invention graphic busiuess has grown during that of duplex working has been supple- period, and how successfully the telcmented by the contrivances for mul- graph department has contended with tiplex working (one line sufficing to difficulties and dangers. Whether the connect several different offices in one old companies, if they had been allowed part of the country with one or more to continue in existence, would have offices in another part), it is almost been able to show a record anything impossible to put a limit to the carry- like so good, is more than doubtful; ing capacity of a single wire.” In and, be that as it may, the public may 1866 the time occupied in sending a well be content with things as they are, telegram between London and Bourne- for State telegraphy most certainly mouth was two hours, and between gives them at the present time “cheap, Manchester and Bolton two hours and extensive, swift, and accurate service, a quarter; while in 1893, the times and in the transınission of news for the occupied were ten minutes and five press has done wonders for the general minutes respectively.
benefit." Press telegrams have enormously increased in number and length since the purchase of the telegraph system by the State. When the companies owned
From The Month. the wires, the news service from London to the provinces was ordinarily not The group of mountains known as more than a column of print a night. the Tatra or Central Carpathians is At the present time the news service situated south of Cracow, between of the Press Association alone over the Poland and Hungary, about half the post-office wires to papers outside the mountain peaks being in the former, metropolis averages fully five hundred half in the latter country. Zakopane, columus nightly. Since 1870 this asso- Krynica, and Stawnica are the chief ciation has paid the post-office £750,000 watering-places on the north, Tatra, for telegraphic charges, and in addition Tured, and Csorba the principal ones to this, very large sums have been on the south or Hungarian side. Compaid by the London and provincial ing from Vienna the difference between daily papers for the independent trans- Germans and Slavs strikes one very mission of news and by the principal forcibly ; there is a natural refinement journals in the country for the exclu- about the latter which the former lack, sive use, during certain hours, of and whatever may be his faults, the
ACROSS THE TATRA.