The Aberdeen Herald, May 11, 1861
The public I do not believe have the least idea what they owe to newspapers, and, consequently to myself as being part of a newspaper. I do not mean, of course, to say that there are not plenty of other people who are so much wiser, so much worthier, so much more didactic than myself, that when I take up a book written by those wiser, wittier, or didactic people I hang my head for shame. But then these persons can write or not as they please. They can put down their pens and be off to Norway or Crim Tartary as their fancy leads them, and we may be assured that when their fancy leads the public is not much consulted. But newspaper people might well be excused if they have no fancies; if the whole realm of fancy were killed out of them; so unused are they to obeying its call. The inexorable evening comes and write I must. I may fancy all sorts of things, but one thing I must do - write . . . On Saturday, say I, the Herald appears. What would the subscribers to that precious print, and consequently what would Aberdeenshire say were I to fail? No, Sir, and like a virtuous Saint Anthony, I go down to my desk and defy the temper . . . Few persons know what it too often costs to produce that mass of print for which they are so eager every breakfast time. Few persons can tell, too, and it is this, too, which suggested the remarks I have taken the liberty to make, what it costs me to write today.
No place matches London for misery in wet weather. The streets flow with turbid streams, incessantly ploughed by a myriad of vehicles which dash and splash the filthy compound over everybody who ventures to walk the pavement. Not a cab is to be had, and if you venture into an omnibus the unventilated reeking atmosphere is felt to be almost poisonous. The rain, too, as it comes down, instead of being the pure healthy heavenly distilled liquid which dashes in your face as you stride along the cliff at Brighton, is stained with a nasty greasy soot which is deposited in the solid state with every drop.
The news must be told. Let us see what it is. Was there ever such a coincidence! There is not a cheerful bit of intelligence in the list from beginning to end. There is nothing to demand a moment's light-heartedness. Everything, happily, looks miserable.