How to Make A Paper
from Sharpe's Mag.
SCENE.—THE SANCTUM AT THE ESTABLISHMENT IN CATHERINE-STREET, STRAND.
The Editor sitting with his hands in his breeches' pockets, leaning
back in his chair, and looking very earnestly at the ceiling. In about ten
minutes he gets up and walks to the window, breathes hard upon the glass,
and flourishes a capital R with his finger in the wet he has made. Looks
at his watch, and rings the Printer's bell. Enter Printer.
Editor. How much matter have you got, Mr. Pica?
Mr. P. (After a pause.) Not more than two columns, Sir.
Editor. The devil!—How many ads * can you muster to-day?
Mr. P. Three columns and a half, Sir, including quacks; but I must
use "When men of education and professional skill," and the "Real blessing
Editor. Have you no standing matter? ** Mr. P. Not a line,
Sir, I used the last of the standing matter yesterday, the account of the
"American sea-serpent," which was left out full two months ago, to make
room for the "Fire in Fleet-street."
Editor. (Musing.) Very well: I'll touch your bell as soon as I have
any copy ready.
** Articles already composed, or in type, but not yet used;
such as good jokes that will keep a week or two—murders in
America—or curious discoveries in the East Indies; that
will read as well at Christmas as in the dog-days.
Mr. P. The men are all standing still, Sir, just now If you have
any matter which you intend to use a week hence, they may as well be going
on with it.
Editor. (Rummages among his papers.) Here, take this "Romantic
suicide." It will do for any day when you want half a column for the back
[Exit Mr. Pica; and a minute after, enter reading boy, in a hurry.
Boy. Copy—if you please, Sir!
Editor. I have just given Mr. Pica half a column.
Boy. Oh—I beg your pardon, Sir—I did not see Mr. Pica—I
came from down stairs. [Exit.
Editor: (Puts his hands into his breeches' pockets again, and begins to
whistle a tune.) This will not do—-I must write something—but
what it is to be about I know no more than the monument. (Nibs his pen—settles
his inkstand—and gets his paper ready). The parliament is up—the
law courts have adjourned for the long vacation—the Opera House and
the Winter Theatres have closed—and at the Haymarket and English
Opera House, they have both brought out pieces which are having a run—nothing
stirring—not even a case of decent oppression in a night constable—or
of tyranny in a police magistrate. Whigs and Tories have shaken hands, and
political delinquencies are too common to be either new or scandalous. The
editor of a daily paper may be aptly compared to a galley slave. When the
winds roar, and the tempest is abroad, and the waves swell, his bark moves
along swiftly; but when the calm comes, and the sky is serene, and the
breeze is hushed, and the sea is smooth, it is then he must ply the oar,
and tug, and pull, and toil, to give the vessel motion.—( Takes
his pen and writes furiously.) That will do for one of those short
leaders * about nothing—. which look very much as if they alluded to
something that could not be mentioned, (Reads.)—"There are
certain rumours afloat—upon a delicate subject which has lately
occasioned a great sensation in particular quarters. We are in possession
of facts connected with this extraordinary affair, which we may perhaps
feel ourselves at liberty to mention in a few days. Meanwhile, all we can
say at present is, that disclosures must take place, however
painful they may be to more than one distinguished individual. We
shall only add, that the Duke of Wellington left town yesterday in his
travelling chariot, with four horses, for Windsor, after a private
interview of nearly three hours with an Illustrious Personage; and that it
is reported his Grace ordered summonses for a cabinet council this day,
before his departure from London. We shall not lose sight of this
business." (Rings the Printer's bell—Mr. Pica enters.) Make
this the first leader, and you may as well put it in double leads. **
* "Leaders", are those important articles in a paper, which
are printed in large letters, and wherein the editorial We
is supposed to utter oracles de omnibus rebus.
** "Double leads" is a technical phrase for a mode of
printing which is employed only when an article is either
supposed to be, or is wished to be supposed, super-import-
ant. The lines stand wide apart, and look like the bars of a
Mr. P. Very well, Sir. There's a long police case just come in, of
a baronet's daughter taken up for shoplifting; and an account of the
bursting of a gasometer, which killed eleven men, three boys, and an old
woman, who lived in a front garret over the way.
Editor. Use them both, the shop-lifting under the head of
"Mysterious Charge of Theft," and the accident to the gasometer under that
of "Tremendous Explosion!—Fifteen Lives Lost!"
Mr. P. We shall do better with the ads. than I expected.
Robins has just sent a long list of his auctions, which he says must go in
to-morrow; and Kidd's clerk has left eight or ten good book ads.,
so I shall be able to make out a full page without using the quacks. *
* It is necessary to remark here, by way of explanation,
that there are gradations of rank and respectability in
advertisements; and that a high aristocratical feeling
pervades their location in a well regulated paper. The
quack ads., alluded to by Mr. Pica, are those benevolent
offers of aid to the afflicted, which announce that
"rheumatism and lumbago are effectually relieved by a new
process;" that the most excruciating toothache is allayed in
one minute by an unrivalled anodyne cement; that "gout is
cured without medicine, in a few hours," and "blotched faces
in no time at all;" that red whiskers are changed in a
single night to beautiful shades of brown or black;" that
"the healthy functions of the stomach and intestinal canal,
are restored by an improved domestic instrument," &c. &c.
These are never allowed to show their faces in the genteel
company of the other advertisements, unless there happens to
be a lack of gentility, but herd together in what is
technically called the, "back page" of the paper.
Editor. So much the better: I abominate "Nervous complaints and
debility," or the "Patent bug destroyer by steam only," side by side with,
"Thirty-five thousand pounds wanted"—"The daughter of a clergyman"—"Books
published this day."—(Exit Printer, laughing at the humourous
vein of the Editor.)—Well! one leader only: I must write
something else. No Paris papers—no Dutch mail—no Flander's
mail—no German mail—no mail from Buenos Ayres—no New
York papers! By-the-bye, it will look like a piece of information to
announce that there is nothing. (Writes.')—"We have seldom
known a day so barren of intelligence of every description. There has not
been a single arrival from the Continent, nor any ship, letters, or papers
from the other side of the Atlantic. Whether this profound calm may be
considered as the harbinger of a coming storm we know not; but when we
remember the ominous complexion of the advices last received from the East
of Europe, and the louring aspect of affairs in general in the
transatlantic hemisphere, it is not unreasonable to conclude that our next
accounts from both quarters will be important. Our readers have not
forgotten the opinion we expressed on Tuesday, and the comprehensive view
we took on Wednesday, of the whole of our political relations. We are
standing, as it were, upon the crater of a volcano, which may break forth
every moment. The attitude of Russia is equivocal—the intentions of
France are doubtful—Austria still wears her mask (though we are not
deceived by it)—while the Peninsula becomes more and more
embarrassing to the great powers of Europe. If we turn our eyes towards
the United States of North America, what do we behold? Alas! this question
needs no answer from us. And if we look at the new republics of South
America, does not the same scene present itself? But we will not pursue
this painful theme. A few hours, in all probability, will put us in
possession of facts that will more than justify all our predictions." (A
knock at the door.) Come in. (Dr. Froth enters.) Froth, how are
Dr. F. Quite well, at your service, my friend.
Editor. Thank you—but you may keep your health for yourself,
and your service for your other friends—you shall not physic me.
Dr. F. Ha! ha! ha! very good—you are always brilliant—any
Editor. Not a syllable, that I have heard—have you any?
Dr. F. (Looking grave.) The king is very ill!
Dr. F. He is, by Jove! It wont do to mention it, because of the way
in which it came to my ears; but you may depend upon it he is in a very
ticklish situation just now.
Editor. How do you mean? (Dr. F. points to his head, with a very
significant look.) Pooh! I don't believe a word of it! where did you
hear it? (Dr. F. looks round the room, and then whispers in the
Editor's ear.) That should be good authority, but——
Dr. F. It is a fact, and you'll hear more about it, before long. I
met Mr. Peel on his way to Downing-street as I came here, and he appeared
very agitated. He was walking uncommonly fast, though the day is so hot.
But I'll not interrupt you any longer, for I know your time is precious—so
good bye. Do you happen to have the Haymarket card disengaged this
evening? And if you could spare me your Vauxhall ticket for next
Friday I should be very much obliged to you. And when you have no other
use for it, I wish you would remember me for Mathews and Yates at the
Adelphi. I have promised Mrs. Froth to take her; and she particularly
desired me to ask you whether you have orders for any of the minor
theatres? She does not care which—the Cobourg, or the Surrey, or
Astley's—-but she wants to give our cook a treat before the season
Editor. My Haymarket card is engaged this evening, I know; but the
English Opera House is at liberty, if that will do.
Dr. F. Thank you, I'll take it—and perhaps you'll keep the
Haymarket for me to-morrow evening? Can I have Vauxhall on Friday?
Dr. F. You are a fine fellow—You'll not forget Mathews and
the minors—Good bye.
Editor. No, no. (Exit Dr. Froth.)—D—n these
tickets—it is half my business every day to remember to whom they
are promised. ( Writes. )—
"There is a painful rumour in circulation this morning, in the highest
quarters, upon a subject which is too delicate to mention explicitly. We
hope it may prove altogether unfounded, or at leastmuch exaggerated: but
the peculiar sources, from which we derive our information, justifies us
in attaching more than ordinary weight to the distressing report. Should
any thing further transpire, after our paper is put to press, we shall not
fail to communicate it to our readers in a second edition." (Rings the
Printer's bell. Mr. Pica enters.) Here are two more leaders, Mr. Pica.
How does your matter stand now?*
* (i.e.) How much more do you want to fill the paper?
Mr. P. I measured it just before you rung the bell, and I had about
a column and a quarter open; but these leaders will make a third of a
Editor. Rather more I think.
[Exit Mr. Pica. Editor alters a paragraph, just left for him to insert
by an irritated dramatic manager, and falls into a brown study, which
lasts several minutes. It is interrupted by the entrance of the clerk, who
brings him the card of a gentleman below stairs, who wishes to speak with
him for one minute. The clerk is ordered to show the gentleman up, and the
Rev Judiah Flinn enters.]
Rev. Mr. Flinn. Are you the Editor of the A—?
Editor. I am.
Rev. Mr. F. Then I have called upon you, Sir, to request that you
will contradict a most malicious and unfounded report of the death of my
uncle, which appeared in your paper yesterday.
Editor. With great pleasure, if it be unfounded; but I can assure
you there was nothing malicious in the statement. Who is your uncle?
Rev. Mr. F. The Bishop of ————. This is a
letter I received from him this morning, dated only yesterday; and your
paper says, he died suddenly at his Episcopal palace, last Saturday. These
false reports are not only most distressing to the friends and relations
of an individual, but they are cruel disappointments to a numerous class
of your readers. I have met three deans and one prebendary already, who
have hurried up to town in consequence of the scandalous rumour.
Editor. I am really very sorry; but the fact is the rumour did not
originate with us; it was copied from another paper: however I shall be
most happy to give it a positive contradiction.
Rev. Mr. F. Sir, I am obliged to you. (The Rev. Judiah Flinn
puts his uncle's letter into his pocket and departs.)
Editor. (Writes.) "We cannot sufficiently reprobate the manner in
which some of our contemporaries give circulation to the most unfounded
reports. We, yesterday, incautiously copied from another paper a statement
of the pretended death of the Bishop of ————. We
have the best authority for asserting that this paragraph is wholly
without foundation. We have seen a letter from the Right Reverend prelate,
written four days after the date of his alleged decease, and at which
period he was in the enjoyment of excellent health. We are happy in being
thus enabled to dispel the gloom which the report of his lordship's death
must have occasioned, wherever talents, piety, moral worth, private
virtue, and public integrity are held dear. At any time, the loss of such
a man as the Bishop of ———— would be severely
felt; but at a moment like this, when the best interests of the church are
in danger, it would be a national calamity. In the words of Shakspeare we
are ready to exclaim—
—'He's a learned man. May he continue
Long in his country's favour, and do justice
For truth's sake, and his conscience, that his bones,
When he has run his course, and sleeps in blessings,
May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept on'em.'"
Come, I shall do pretty well for leaders, after all, though there is
nothing to write about. (Rings Mr. Pica's bell.) Here is more copy
ready;—this is a leader, and this a common par. in l. p. *
* "A common par." is "a common paragraph;" and "l.
p," stands for that description of letter which is called
long primer. Paragraphs, in a paper, have their places of
precedency, and their select company as well as
advertisements. There is as much difference, in point of
dignity and rank, between an l. p. par. (or a paragraph in
large letters), coming immediately after the leaders, and a
scrubby minion par. (or a paragraph in small letter), shoved
any where, as between a minister's private secretary, and
the private secretary's private clerk. Your l. p. par. is a
gentleman, and keeps good society. You will always find him
in the midst of their excellencies the ambassadors, who have
paid visits to the foreign office, or received despatches
from their own governments; side by side with peers and
west-end commoners, who have gone out of town, come into
town or given grand dinners; surrounded with princesses and
other illustrious personages, who have taken an airing or
paid a morning visit. But your minion par. is a sneaking,
shabby, obscure little fellow, poked down in a corner by
himself, or at best, only permitted to associate with
"melancholy accidents"—"daring robberies"—"more fires"—
"extraordinary longevity"—the puff particular of Warren's
Blacking, and the puffs universal of Colburn's authors. It
is only when parliament is sitting, or there is "a press of
matter," that these distinctions are levelled in one common
fate of pars, and even leaders. It is then only, that lords
and ladies, M.P's. and quack doctors, hops, crops, and
concerts, fops, fiddlers, and philosophers, large turnips
and theatrical stars, bishops and burglaries, are all
equally the minions of the daily press, and distinguished
only by their "station in the file."
Mr. P. I have too much already, by at least half a column, and I
don't know what to leave out.
Editor. Half a column too much!—then you do not want any more
Mr. P. No, Sir; I was thinking of keeping the "Awful thunder storm"
till to-morrow, only it is a week old already.
Editor. Never mind. We shall have some more thunder storms by
to-morrow, in all probability, and then you can put them all together.
Mr. P. Do you care about the "Grand Seignior" and the "Flying Fish"
going in to-day? Because, if they are left out, I can make room for the
"White Witch," the "Persian Ambassador," and "Waterloo Bridge."
Editor. Find a place for the "White Witch." She has been standing
for a long time—ever since Monday.
Mr. P. So has "Waterloo Bridge," Sir. Editor, (with an arch
look.) Yes, but that was intended to stand.
Mr. P. (laughing.) I shall want two or three small pars., of about
six lines each, to make out the columns, for none of the long articles
will fit exactly.
Editor. Wait a moment, and I'll give them to you. ( Writes.)—"Mackarel
are just now in season, and remarkably cheap. We are glad of it, for they
furnish an economical and wholesome meal to the poorer classes, with a few
"The metropolis was visited by a violent storm last night. The rain fell
in torrents. We have not heard it extended beyond the immediate vicinity
"If the hot weather continues much longer, there will be too much of it.
The farmers are already crying out sadly for rain."
"As a man was driving a pig yesterday down the Haymarket, the obstinate
animal ran between the legs of an old woman who was carrying a heavy
basket of cabbages on her head, and threw her down. The poor old creature
bruised her elbow shockingly. The pig ran off in the direction of St.
James's-square. The writer of this saw the accident. What are the
street-keepers about, to allow fellows thus to drive their pigs on the
foot-pavement, in one of the most crowded thoroughfares of the
"Anecdote.—An exquisite, that is, a tiptop dandy, was calling
a coach the other day, opposite Southampton-street in the Strand. The
delicate creature could not make his voice heard; when a rough Jack-tar,
who happened to be passing by, hailed coachee, in a voice like a
"'Here,' said Jack, looking unutterable things at the dandy, 'here's something
"A Legal Conundrum.—When a ship of war has but an indifferent
crew, and is ill provided with cannon, she is in want of the assistance of
two learned counsel. Who are they! Man-ning and Gun-ning.—N.B.
This is not one of Lord Norbury's lasts."
There are half-a-dozen pars, for you. If you do not want them all
to-day, use any of them that will fit, and keep the rest for another time.
[Exit Mr. Pica. The Editor puts away his letters and papers—locks
up his writing-desk—washes his hands—adjusts his cravat—buttons
his coat—puts on his hat and gloves—and sallies forth into the
Strand? to enjoy the fresh air, while Mr. Pica is usings all necessary
diligence to get the paper ready for publication.]