IN the base of this edifice I came upon a den wherein were some few of the citizens poring over the public prints; I marvelled greatly to see both the stuff which was printed and the manner of men perusing it. For it appeared that among the several sheets there was the utmost confusion regarding what ought to appeal to the lieges as news; some giving all prominence to affairs of state and matters and occurrences which might fairly be deemed to concern all subjects of the king; others seeming to contend that their readers' proper study was the full legs and empty minds of actresses; or the weight at birth of some vulgar horn‐player's baby. On near scrutiny it arose that the major part of the public prints were of the latter sort; and that they were plentifully besmeared with the pictures of courtesans in scant apparel embracing great wet‐eyed dogs; or of beardless and nigh faceless youths, elegant race‐horses and freak potatoes. The matter of the newspapers was throughout unburdened with serious disputation, and was translated into language of the most childish simplicity; that I calculated these were intended for the reading of half‐wits and habitual truants from school. Considering the meagreness of vocabulary and the absence of weighty thought, I argued that there must have been some great earthquake, fire, or other national catastrophe, which had engulfed all dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and tomes of learning; and with them had been hurled into oblivion all persons who might be capable of transmitting knowledge to the benighted millions left behind.
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