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Periodical Literature, England

Periodical Literature (England)

Not until the toleration acts of the early nineteenth century and the Catholic revival incident upon the immigration of the French clergy, were English Catholics in any position to conduct a periodical literature of their own, though occasional pamphlets on various questions of Catholic interest had been issued. With the agitation over the Veto and Emancipation, a beginning was made with a monthly review, the pioneer Catholic publication of the kind, "Andrews' Orthodox Journal", first issued in 1812 by Eusebius Andrews, a Catholic printer and bookseller of London. It had but a few years of chequered existence, as there was not a sufficiently large reading public to make it self-supporting. The real beginnings of Catholic periodical literature were made more than twenty years later, by which time the growth of the Catholic body in its newly won freedom, the progress of Catholic education, and the interest excited by the Tractarian movement had all combined to supply a wider circle of readers. A great step was taken by Wiseman and O'Connell in the foundation of a quarterly, the "Dublin Review" (1836). The fame of the "Edinburgh" suggested a territorial title, and Dublin was chosen as a great Catholic centre, though from the first it was edited and published in London. The review was intended to provide a record of current thought for educated Catholics and at the same time to be an exponent of Catholic views to non-Catholic inquirers. Beginning before the first stirrings of the Oxford Movement, it presents a record of the intellectual life of the century and produced articles which had an immense influence upon the religious thought of the times. It was in the August of 1839 that an article by Wiseman on the Anglican Claim caught the attention of Newman. Impressed by the application of the words of St. Augustine, securus judicat orbis terrarum, which interpreted and summed up the course of ecclesiastical history, he saw the theory of the Via media "absolutely pulverized" (Apologia, 116-7). It was a turning point for Newman and for the whole course of the Oxford Movement, and the incident is worth remembering as an example of the power of a good Catholic Press. Gradually the Tractarian converts appeared in the lists of contributors: Ward (q. v.), Oakeley, Marshall, Morris, Christie, Formby, Capes, Allies (q. v.), Anderson (q. v.), Manning, and a glance through the volumes of the "Dublin' will reveal names prominent in the great religious, scientific, and literary movements of the century. During the sixties and the early seventies it was under the vigorous direction of Dr. W. G. Ward. After his retirement it was edited by Dr. Hedley, afterwards Bishop of Newport, and then acquired by Cardinal Manning, who appointed Canon Moyes editor. It is now the property and under the direction of Mr. Wilfrid Ward, son of its famous editor.

The first issue of the annual "Catholic Directory" appeared in 1837. Owing to the Oxford Movement, the forties were a time of marked literary activity. In 1840 two new enterprises were inaugurated. Mr. Dolman, a Catholic publisher in London who had issued a number of really important books including the writings of Lingard and Husenbeth, produced in "Dolman's Magazine" a high class literary monthly, and on 16 May, 1840, Frederick Lucas (q. v.) became the pioneer of the Catholic newspaper Press in England by publishing the first number of "The Tablet", a weekly newspaper and review. Lucas was a strong man, and regarded his work as founder and editor of a Catholic paper as a sacred mission. He threw into it all his zeal and energy, realizing the enormous possibilities for good of the religious Press when many were hopelessly blind to such considerations. His uncompromising views led to difficulties with his financial supporters, but he emerged triumphant. For awhile after the crisis of 1848 Lucas, then active in Irish politics, removed "The Tablet" office to Dublin, but it was brought back to London by the new proprietors, into whose hands it passed when failing health compelled Lucas to give up the editorship. It was not easy to replace such a man. He had not been content to chronicle events; he had influenced them. For many years after his death, in 1855, "The Tablet" was a mere humdrum record of news. Among the distinguished editors was Cardinal Vaughan who conducted the "Tablet" during the stormy discussions on Papal Infallibility and the Vatican Council. When he became Bishop of Salford, he placed the editorship in the hands of Mr. Elliot Ranken, who was succeeded by Mr. Snead-Cox, the present editor. "The Tablet", besides championing the Catholic cause, assists in the propagation of the Faith in far-off lands, as under the terms of the trust created by the late Cardinal Vaughan its profits go to the support of St. Joseph's Missionary College, of which he was the founder.

Two other notable periodicals were founded in the forties. "The Tablet" was a sixpenny paper, reduced to its present price, five pence, on the abolition of the newspaper stamp duty. Its price put it beyond the reach of tens of thousands of Catholic workers. To supply them with a penny magazine Mr. Bradley in 1846 founded "The Lamp". It gave much of its space to Catholic fiction, descriptive articles, and the like, and ventured on an occasional illustration, a portrait or a picture of a new church; but it also supplied news and reported in full Wiseman's lectures and other notable Catholic utterances. For years it struggled with lack of capital, and for awhile Bradley edited his paper from his room in the debtors' prison at York. His name deserves honourable record as the pioneer of the popular Catholic Press. The other paper, "The Rambler", of which the first issue appeared on 1 January, 1848, was intended to be a high class weekly review of literature, art, and science. In 1859, Lord Acton (q. v.), who had then just returned from the Continent, succeeded Newman in the editorship. The price, sixpence, limited its public and in 1862 it became a quarterly under the title of "The Home and Foreign Review". In its last years this review, which had once done good service, was a source of trouble and disedification, but its sale, which dwindled yearly, was largely among Anglicans and other non-Catholics. In the mid years of the nineteenth century the abolition of the various taxes on newspapers and the cheapening of the processes of production led to the coming of the penny newspapers. The first Catholic penny paper with permanent success was "The London Universe". Its origin was connected with the earlier activity of Lucas, who successfully advocated the introduction of the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul into England. It was a group of members of the London Conferences who produced "The Universe". Speaking to their president, Mr. George Blount, one evening in 1860, Cardinal Wiseman, after alluding to the flood of calumny then poured out in the Press against the Holy See, said: "Cannot the Society of St. Vincent de Paul do something to answer those frightful calumnies, by publishing truths, as M. Louis Veuillot is doing in Paris in 'L'Univers'? We want a penny paper, and now that the tax has been removed it should be possible." It was decided that, though the society, as such, could not found a newspaper, a committee of its members should undertake the task. It included George Blount, Stuart Knill (afterwards the first Catholic Lord Mayor of London), Viscount Fielding (Lord Denbigh), Viscount Campden (Lord Gainsborough), Sidney Lescher, Archibald Dunn, Arthur à Beckett, and George J. Wigley, the London correspondent of the Paris "Univers". Wigley secured a foreign news service for the projected paper from M. Veuillot's Paris office, and at his suggestion the name of "The Universe" was chosen. Mr. Denis Lane undertook the printing, Mr. Dunn the editorship, and on 8 December, 1860, the first Catholic penny paper in England was started. At first it was strictly non-political. The editor and staff gave their services gratuitously, but even with this help expenses were greater than receipts. To attract a larger circulation political articles were inserted, which led to the resignation of the greater part of the staff. Mr. Lane then took over the paper and conducted it for many years as a Catholic paper, giving a general support to the Liberals and the Irish national cause. He had always a priest as "theological editor"; amongst those who thus assisted him were Father W. Eyre, S.J., Father Lockhart, and Cardinal Manning. The movement for the rescue of destitute Catholic children originated in "The Universe" office. It has lately celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and has amalgamated with another paper, "The Catholic Weekly", founded to give a record of Catholic news without any party politics. "The Universe" has thus reverted to its original programme.

"The Lamp" was reorganized about the same time and had for some years a prosperous existence as a popular magazine. Fathers Rawes and Caswall, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, Miss Drane, Cecilia Caddell were among its contributors. In 1864 Miss Taylor founded "The Month", at first an illustrated magazine giving much of its space to fiction and the lighter forms of literature. When she founded her first community of nuns (Poor Servants of the Mother of God), her magazine passed to the Jesuits, and under the able editorship of the late Father Henry J. Coleridge, "The Month" became a high-class review. It had many notable contributors, and in its pages Newman's "Dream of Gerontius" first appeared. Numerically, the main strength of English Catholicism has always been in the North, and after the foundation of "The Universe" several efforts were made to produce a Catholic penny paper in Lancashire. Three successive enterprises had a brief career. A fourth, a paper known as "The Northern Press" was barely existing, when, in 1867, it was taken over by a remarkable man, the late Father James Nugent of Liverpool. He renamed it "The Catholic Times" and gradually made it the most widely circulated Catholic paper in England. Printed for many years by the boys of the refuge he had founded in Liverpool, when it became a profit-earning paper it helped support this work of charity. Offices were opened in Manchester and London. A special London edition was produced, and in 1878 a Christmas supplement issued under the title of "The Catholic Fireside" was so successful that it was continued as a monthly penny magazine; in 1893 it was made a weekly publication. "The Catholic Times" appeals largely to the Catholics of Irish descent in Great Britain, and has always championed the Nationalist cause. It gives considerable space to reviews and literary matter, and has a well organized service of correspondents. Mr. P. L. Beazley, the present editor, has directed it for twenty-seven years and is now the dean of Catholic journalism.

In the sixties other papers were founded, for awhile fairly prosperous, though they never won the established position of "The Catholic Times" and "The Tablet". "The Weekly Register" was a threepenny paper, of much the same character as "The Tablet", but favouring the Liberals and Nationalists. Later, under the editorship of Charles Kent and then of Mr. Wilfrid Meynell, it had a marked literary quality, but in England it is found that no paper is a permanent success at any price between the popular penny and the sixpence that gives a margin of profit on a moderate circulation. "The Weekly Register" has ceased to exist and with it "The Westminster Gazette", whose name is now that of a London evening paper. The "Westminster" was owned and edited by Pursell, afterwards biographer of Manning. During the months of newspaper controversy that preceded the definition of Papal Infallibility the "Westminster" was "non-opportunist", and Cardinal Vaughan, while he avoided all controversy on the subject in "The Tablet", contributed, week after week, letters to the "Westminster", combating its editorial views. It never had much circulation, and Vaughan was able a few years later to end its competition by buying and stopping it. The late Father Lockhart edited for some years "Catholic Opinion" a penny paper giving extracts from the Catholic press at home and abroad. After his death it was amalgamated with "The Catholic Times". A remarkable development in connexion with the popular Press is that directed by Mr. Charles Diamond, for some time a member of the Irish Parliamentary party, who started (1884) "The Irish Tribune" in Newcastle-on-Tyne. Shortly after, he purchased two other Catholic papers, the Glasgow "Observer" and the Preston "Catholic News", which were in difficulties for want of capital. He then formed the idea of working several papers from a common centre, much of the matter being common to all, but each appearing under a local title and having several columns of special matter of local interest. He now issues "The Catholic Herald" from London, as the centre of the organization, and thirty-two other local weekly papers in various towns of England, Wales, and Scotland. He also produces on the same system ten different parish magazines and "The Catholic Home Journal", with which the old "Lamp" has been amalgamated.

There are a considerable number of minor Catholic monthlies, mostly founded in recent years to advocate and promote special objects. The "Annals of the Propagation of the Faith" and "illustrated Catholic Missions" specialize on the news of the mission field. "Catholic Book Notes", a monthly issued by the Catholic Truth Society and edited by Mr. James Britten, is an admirable record of current literature and a model of scholarly and thoroughly honest reviewing. "The Second Spring", edited by Father Philip fletcher, is a record of the work of the Ransom League for the conversion of England. "The Crucible" is a monthly review of social work for Catholic women. There are a number of devotional magazines issued by various religious orders, the most widely circulated of which is the "Messenger of the Sacred Heart", edited by the Jesuits. There are also several college magazines, some of which produce work of a high literary standard. It might be a gain if there were more concentration and fewer publications with larger circulation. Many of these have a comparatively small circle of readers; even the most widely circulated Catholic publication in England has an issue that falls far below that of its more powerful non-Catholic competitors. The result is that the scale of pay in Catholic journalism is below the ordinary press standards, and many Catholic writers in working for the Catholic Press are making a continual sacrifice; but the standard of work produced has steadily risen, and the Catholic Press in England to-day, with all its deficiencies and difficulties, is doing most useful work and exercises an ever growing influence.

The foregoing article is based on personal knowledge and on information kindly supplied by the editors of various publications. The following may be consulted: LUCAS, The Life of Frederick Lucas, M. P. (London, 1886); SNEAD-COX, Life of Cardinal Vaughan (London, 1910); GAQUET, Lord Acton and his Circle (London, 1906); WARD, Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman (London, 1897); IDEM, W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement (London, 1889); IDEM, W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival (London, 1893).


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