Old News


  • Narrator

    There is a volume of what were once newspapers each on a small half-sheet, yellow and time-stained, of a coarse fabric, and imprinted with a rude old type.

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  • Their aspect conveys a singular impression of antiquity, in a species of literature which we are accustomed to consider as connected only with the present moment.

  • Ephemeral as they were intended and supposed to be, they have long outlived the printer and his whole subscription-list, and have proved more durable, as to their physical existence, than most of the timber, bricks, and stone of the town where they were issued.

  • These are but the least of their triumphs.

  • The government, the interests, the opinions, in short, all the moral circumstances that were contemporary with their publication, have passed away, and left no better record of what they were than may be found in these frail leaves.

  • Happy are the editors of newspapers!

  • Narrator

    Their productions excel all others in immediate popularity, and are certain to acquire another sort of value with the lapse of time.

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  • They scatter their leaves to the wind, as the sibyl did, and posterity collects them, to be treasured up among the best materials of its wisdom.

  • With hasty pens they write for immortality.

  • It is pleasant to take one of these little dingy half-sheets between the thumb and finger, and picture forth the personage who, above ninety years ago, held it, wet from the press, and steaming, before the fire.

  • Many of the numbers bear the name of an old colonial dignitary.

  • There he sits, a major, a member of the council, and a weighty merchant, in his high-backed arm-chair, wearing a solemn wig and grave attire, such as befits his imposing gravity of mien, and displaying but little finery, except a huge pair of silver shoe-buckles, curiously carved.

  • Narrator

    Observe the awful reverence of his visage, as he reads his Majesty's most gracious speech;

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  • and the deliberate wisdom with which he ponders over some paragraph of provincial politics, and the keener intelligence with which he glances at the ship-news and commercial advertisements.

  • Observe, and smile!

  • He may have been a wise man in his day;

  • but, to us, the wisdom of the politician appears like folly, because we can compare its prognostics with actual results;

  • and the old merchant seems to have busied himself about vanities, because we know that the expected ships have been lost at sea, or mouldered at the wharves;

  • Narrator

    that his imported broadcloths were long ago worn to tatters, and his cargoes of wine quaffed to the lees;

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