"The Pall Mall Gazette"

W. T. Stead (The Review of Reviews, vol. VI, July, 1892) p. 47

Mr. Massingham, in his interesting series of articles on the "Great London Dailies," in this month's contribution to the Leisure Hour, gives the first place of the penny evening papers to the Pall Mall Gazette. He gives deserved praise to Mr. Cook. He is an old worker in University Extension, an Oxford man who once thought of entering the Civil Service, a fervent disciple of Ruskin, and a man with a singular knack for the presentment of arguement, and for the suggestive criticism of politics and society. Mr. Massingham says:—

Of all the editors who have in turn sat in the well-worn chair in Northumberland Street, the man who has left the deepest mark on the character of the paper is Mr. Stead. Mr. Cook, the present editor, would not hesitate to call himself a disciple of a chief whom he served with singular loyalty and zeal. He stands, however, midway between the revolutionary school of journalism, in which Mr. Stead is the prime innovator, and the extreme conservatism of the editor of Mr. John Morley's type. Mr. Morley had doubtless some of the gifts which go to make a journalist, as well as many which belong to the nobler craft of literature, but a passionate zeal for his profession, the journalist's flair for news - a coming crisis, an interesting personality, a picturesque event — he never had. When the Pall Mall passed in 1880 from Mr. Greenwood's and Mr. George Smith's hands into Mr. Yates Thompson's, and then into Mr. John Morley's, the price changing from twopence to a penny, it became the medium of an honourable, severe, able, but limited school of political Radicalism. Mr. Morley's essay-like leaders, written with less warmth of colour than his best literary work, but models of pure and nervous English, were read, but his paper was not. When Mr. Stead, who had served under Mr. Morley with a warm affection for his chief, with great ability, but with a constant sense of repression, succeeded to the editorship, the nature of the rebound can be measured by the difference in the character of the two men. Mr. Morley, old-fashioned, cold and formal in manner, though not at heart, keen and sensitive, but never exuberant; Mr. Stead, flamboyant, expansive, full of ideas transmuted by the rough and ready alchemy of an impressionable nature, a born subeditor, a brilliant, incisive, though not faultless writer, and a man of impetuously daring temperament—it would indeed be difficult to imagine a more sweeping mental and moral contrast. In one respect, however, both editors achieved a similar success. The Pall Mall, both with Mr. Morley and Mr. Stead, was a power.

Mr. Morley used it to reverse the Irish policy of Mr. Forster. Mr. Stead employed it to work up a feeling for a big navy[,] to get Gordon sent to the Soudan, to represent the Russian side of the controversy about Penjdeh, and finally, to enter on such a crusade as was never before preached by a journalistic Peter the Hermit.

While Mr. Stead edited the Pall Mall, it always sparkled with the salt of personality; but it went too fast for Mr. Yates Thompson's quieter tastes.

Mr. Massingham gives high praise to Mr. Charles Morley for the ability with which he conducts the Pall Mall Budget, and praises not more highly than they deserve the admirable caricatures of Mr. Gould. Mr. Massingham points out that the Pall Mall represents an example of thoroughness and good organisation in its method not simply in representing its news but in preparing it. No other English newspaper troubles itself so minutely about the organisation of fact and information. Mr. Massingham praises the work of the news editor, Mr. Hill, an experienced journalist, and compliments Mr. Garrett, Mr. Cook's very brilliant young assistant, of whom he says a brighter, more strenuous more gifted pen has rarely been enlisted in the service of daily journalism. the Pall Mall Gazette is essentially a young man's paper, the majority of its staf[f] being under forty.

The Pall Mall Gazette to-day performs the useful function of an organ of independent Liberalism critical on some points of the party programme, but careful to march in the main with the general movement. On social questions, and in relation to what may be called the new Collectivism, it is more advanced than the Daily News, and occupies a mid position between that paper and the Daily Chronicle. Mr. Cook has perhaps dropped the imperious tone which in Mr Stead's days used to lead the average party man to vow that the wickedness of the Pall Mall Gazette was only a shade less pronounced than that of the Times. The Irishmen have always laid it to Mr. Stead's charge that its opposition to the twenty-fourth clause of the Home Rule Bill involved the destruction of that measure. That may or may not be true. Certain it is that the Pall Mall is to-day, as a punning critic expresses it, "a trifle steadier than in the days of Mr. Stead."


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I founded this website in 2001 to assist me in my own research on W.T. Stead, little knowing then that it would become the largest online resource on Stead's life and career. Today this site is used by students, scholars and institutions around the world and has significantly contributed to the Study of W.T. Stead and the evils which he campaigned against.

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Owen Mulpetre, BA (Hons) MPhil