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In the busiest part of Broadway-thronged by a jostling crowd of people, omnibuses, carts and equipages of all kinds, passing up and down the great thoroughfare, and meeting from the numerous crossstreets and bye-ways, which here intersect, that it was found necessary to throw an iron bridge high over the turbulent current, in order to secure a safe transit for the timid and feeble-rises the imposing “Herald ” Building. There is no more noticeable monument of individual enterprise in the city, than this stately structure. Built of white marble, with all the florid adornment of the Italian style, and rising, with its windowed roof high above the adjacent houses, it catches the eye of
every passer, of even that busy, self-absorbed multitude, which from morning until night keeps constantly passing and repassing before its attractive front.
Less than a hundred years ago, on the present site of the “Herald” Building stood Hampden Hall, then on the outskirts of the town-a favourite resort of the political agitators of colonial times. Heated by its conspiring conclaves, they rushed to the “fields” near by, or“ Park,” as it is now called, and by fierce harangue, stirred the people to the rage of revolution. Here resolves provoked to action; here " liberty poles” were raised and cut down; here the men of the people struggled with the soldiers of authority; and here, on a hot evening in July, 1776, the declaration of independence was read to the army of Washington, who then occupied the city.
A less dignified but more notorious successor, followed the revolutionary agitators of Hampden Hall. Here Barnum had his museum, where animal vied with human monsters in grasping the popular shilling; and Feejee mermaids, wallowing Hippopotamuses, fat babies, living skeletons, enormous giants and pigmy Tom Thumbs, turned their deformed proportions to the curiosity of the public eye. The museum
was burned in 1865, and the proprietor of the “New York Herald,” having bought the ground for seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, built upon it the present structure at a cost probably of two hundred and fifty thousand more. The internal arrangement of this palatial building, is in harmony with the beauty of its exterior. Sixty feet deep into the earth, through the dry sandy soil of the island, descends, story after story, so lofty, spacious, and welllighted, that the three great steam presses which are here in operation, impelled by the obedient force of their engines, are doing-with the utmost facility—their mighty work of printing 80,000 or 100,000 “Heralds” every night. On the first floor above ground, there is a spacious suite of counting-rooms, opened freely, by wide doors to the street, and ever emptying and filling, with a passing crowd. The interior is fitted up with all the luxury of expense and convenience of some opulent banking establishment. There are carved wainscotings and cornices, desks of glass and marble, and floors of vari-coloured tiles. It is here only, that the great paper meets the public face to face. Everywhere else it wears the mask of the anonymous. Here are the business superintendent, the treasurer, the advertising and
subscription clerks, and salesmen-a host in themselves. The other compartments, the editorial rooms, the conference parlours and libraries, and even the compositors' quarters under the windowed roof, are all of proportionate spaciousness, comfort, and elegance.
Thirty-two years ago the "Herald,” now so grandly lodged, was born in a cellar. From his seat here, in the only chair, at an extemporised desk of a piece of rough board, supported by two flour barrels, the present proprietor gave to the world No. 1 of the “New York Herald.” He was everything then-proprietor, editor, reporter, and all except printer. His whole capital, a few hundred dollars, was barely enough to sustain the paper a week.
The first number was a small sheet of four pages of four columns each, and contained thirty-two advertisements, probably gratuitous; in three months the size of the pages was enlarged by about two inches in length and breadth, the columns were proportionately enlarged, and nine of its sixteen were filled with advertisements; and in 1840 the "Herald's” pages expanded to their present dimensions, each of the four having six columns. Now the “New York Herald” is a large triple folio sheet of sixty columns, of which, on this day (Oct. 8, 1867), thirty-eight are closely filled with advertisements. The paper has a daily circulation of from 80,000 to 100,000. Its gross revenue is estimated at three thousand dollars a day, and the net annual income of the proprietor has reached, it is said, the large sum of three hundred thousand dollars.
James Gordon Bennett, the proprietor and editor of the “New York Herald,” is a Scotchman by birth. He went to America in 1819. At Halifax, where he first landed, he became an usher in a school, but soon left for Boston, where he worked in a printing office as a proof reader. In 1822 he arrived at New York, where, with the exception of a few years spent in Charleston, South Carolina, he has sinoe passed his life as lecturer, reporter, sub-editor, and proprietor of Sunday and other newspapers, with various alternations of fortune which hardly lifted him above an obscure poverty, until the establishment of the “New York Herald,” whose wide circulation has made the name of James Gordon Bennett universally known, and secured for him great wealth. He is a hale old man of sixty-seven, with much of that sinewy structure which belongs to the race of “raw-boned ” Scotchmen. Availing ourselves of his own freedom of personal revelation, we might trace each feature of his face to the squint of his eye, and describe every detail of his domesticity to a tête-à-tête with his wife. It may suffice
to say that he is a man of indomitable energy, and that he concentrates all his
powers to the one great business of his life-the worldly success of his paper. Though with a grand house in the fashionable Fifth Avenue, a charming country residence, a yacht, splendid equipages, and all the other showy indications of wealth, he himself lives the life of an anchorite. “I eat and drink,” he says, “ to live, not live to eat and drink.”
In enterprise he has shown himself of unconquerable pluck. When his “Herald ” establishment was burned down, a few months after it had been founded, he thus flung defiance in the face of adverse fortune ; “We are again in the field,” he wrote, “larger, livelier, better, prettier, saucier, and more independent than ever."
The influence of the “New York Herald” is so great, that by some it is thought to hold the balance of power between the contending parties of the country. President Lincoln was so impressed with the supposed magnitude of this influence, that he thought it a cheap purchase, at the cost of the embassy to France, which he offered to Mr. Bennett.
The aged but vigorous editor of the “New York Herald” still takes an active part not only in the business management of his paper, but in writing for its columns. Surrounded daily by his numerous body of ready inditers, he is said, while moving restlessly about the room in the heat of his peculiar inspiration, to dictate to them the leaders of the
At any rate, his style of scornful banter in the treatment of every subject, however sacred or dignified, whether directly emanating from him or assumed, in compliance with the master taste, by his obedient subordinates, may be detected in each morning's paper. One of the chief elements of the force of the “ Herald” is in its pertinacity of attack. The editor, when he has once seized a victim, does not drop him until, like a Scotch terrier, he has shaken and worried him to death. He makes use of what may be termed the advertising principle in his leaders, that is, by constant repetition of the same emphatic * sentiment and expression, he rams, day after day, his peculiar views into the public maw.
Expediency may be said to be the ruling principle of the paper in its discussion of political and social questions. It strives to anticipate the drift of public opinion, and blows its powerful blasts in the supposed direction of the popular movement. Whatever may be the difference of opinion in regard to the views, taste, and influence of the “New York Herald," all are agreed that it has accomplished, with
great success, the main object of a newspaper. As a full and complete reflector of the passing events and topics of the day, it is unsurpassed. Its immense receipts are liberally spent in providing the paper with every possible information from all parts of the world. During the American war it had a correspondent in almost every camp, and expended the liberal sum of two thousand dollars each week to defray the cost. Its correspondents, who are everywhere, are allowed the utmost latitude of expenditure for the purpose of obtaining early intelligence. The London correspondent, on his own responsibility, telegraphed across the Atlantic every word of the King of Prussia's speech, at a cost of more than a thousand pounds sterling, the draft for which was ungrudgingly paid at the “ New York Herald” office.
The two chief competitors of the “New York Herald” are the “New York Tribune” and “New York Times."
The “ Daily Tribune” has the comparatively insignificant daily circulation of from 20,000 to 30,000. Its weekly, however, counts over 200,000 subscribers, and the proprietors are said to have divided among them, in the most successful years, nearly one hundred thousand dollars. Horace Greeley, its editor, is another example of an enterprising American working his way, in spite of adverse circumstances, to fame and fortune. He was born in Amherst, New Hampshire, in 1811. Having a turn for reading, he made good use of the rare intervals of leisure left him from the hard work on the rugged acres of his father, who was a poor farmer. He had read, before he was ten years old, every book he could borrow within fifteen miles of his home; and this was done at the “light of pine knots.” From the farm he escaped to the neighbouring town, where he became a printer's devil, and finally found his way to New York, with "a scanty wardrobe and ten dollars in his pocket.” Here he worked in a printing-office, and rose from journeyman to master-workman, newspaper proprietor, and editor. He established the “New York Tribune” in 1841. There is no more earnest and sincere defender of what Mr. Greeley believes to be right than his paper. It is, more than any other, the exponent of the individual opinion of its editor; and thus, while it reflects his personal virtues, it not seldom exhibits his defects and eccentricities. Its broad daily columns have been again and again filled solely by the expansive atterance of Mr. Greeley, who is one of the most fluent as well as industrious of men. He is known to have written up his paper, to have travelled fifty miles and made a long political harangue, and returned to New York and delivered an evening lecture,