Essays

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78.

Newsmongers

1

There is no humor in my countrymen which I am more inclined to wonder at, than their general thirst after news. There are about half a dozen ingenious men who live very plentifully upon this curiosity of their fellow-subjects. They all of them receive the same advices from abroad, and very often in the same words; but their way of cooking it is so different that there is no citizen, who has an eye to the public good, that can leave the coffeehouse with peace of mind, before he has given every one of them a reading. These several dishes of news are so very agreeable to the palate of my countrymen, that they are not only pleased with them when served up hot, but when they are again set cold before them by those penetrating politicians who oblige the public with their reflections and observations upon every piece of intelligence that is sent us from abroad. The text is given us by one set of writers, and the comment by another.

But notwithstanding we have the same tale told us in so many different papers, and if occasion requires in so many articles of the same paper; notwithstanding in a scarcity of foreign posts we hear the same story repeated by different advices from Paris, Brussels, The Hague, and from every great town in Europe; notwithstanding the multitude of annotations, explanations, reflections, and various readings which it passes through, our time lies heavy on our hands till the arrival of fresh mail: we long to receive further particulars, to hear what will be the next step, or what will be the consequences of that which has been lately taken. A westerly wind keeps the whole town in suspense and puts a stop to conversation.

This general curiosity has been raised and inflamed by our late wars, and, if rightly directed, might be of good use to a person who has such a thirst awakened in him. Why should not a man who takes delight in reading everything that is new, apply himself to history, travels, and other writings of the same kind, where he will find perpetual fuel for his curiosity, and meet with much more pleasure and improvement than in these papers of the week? An honest tradesman, who languishes a whole summer in expectation of battle, and perhaps is balked at last, may here meet with half a dozen in a day. He may read the news of a whole campaign in less time than he now bestows upon the products of any single post. Fights, conquests, and revolutions lie thick together. The reader’s curiosity is raised and satisfied every moment, and his passions disappointed or gratified, without being detained in a state of uncertainty from day to day, or lying at the mercy of sea and wind. In short, the mind is not here kept in a perpetual gape after knowledge, nor punished with that eternal thirst, which is the portion of all our modern newsmongers and coffee-house politicians.

1 Addison, , vol. ii, pp. 213#8211;215.

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Chicago: "Newsmongers," Essays in Readings in Modern European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1926), 168. Original Sources, accessed September 23, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKMBLCIKZPG7Q6D.

MLA: . "Newsmongers." Essays, Vol. ii, in Readings in Modern European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, D.C. Heath, 1926, page 168. Original Sources. 23 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKMBLCIKZPG7Q6D.

Harvard: , 'Newsmongers' in Essays. cited in 1926, Readings in Modern European History, ed. , D.C. Heath, Boston, pp.168. Original Sources, retrieved 23 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKMBLCIKZPG7Q6D.