At this season of the year, we are forcibly struck with the earnest and honest effort that is being made by the publisher of the American newspaper. It is a healthy sign and a hopeful one for the future of our country. It occurs to me that with the great advancement of the newspaper, and the family paper, and the magazine, we do not expect leaders and statesmen to think for us so much as we did fifty years ago. We do not allow the newspaper to mold us so much as we did. We enjoy reading the opinion of a bright, brave, and cogent editor because we know that he sits where he can acquire his facts in a few hours from all quarters of the globe, and speak truly to his great audience in relation to those facts, but we have ceased to allow even that man to think for us.
What then is to be the final outcome of all this? Is it not that the average American is going to use, and is using, his thinker more than he ever did before? Will not that thinker then, like the muscle of the blacksmith’s arm, or the mule’s hind foot, grow to a wondrous size as a result? Most assuredly.
The day certainly is not far distant, when the American can not only out-fight, out-row, out-bat, out-run, out-lie, and out-sail all other nationalities; but he will also be able to out-think them. We already point with pride to some of the wonderful thoughts that our leading thinkists, with their thinkers, have thunk. There are native born Americans now living, who have thought of things that would make the head of the amateur thinker ache for a week.
All this is largely due to the free use of the newspaper as a home educator. The newspaper is growing more and more ubiquitous, if I may be allowed the expression. Many poor people, who, a few years ago, could not afford the newspaper, now have it scolloped and put it on their pantry shelves every year.
But I did not start out to enlarge upon the newspaper. I would like to say a word or two more, however, on that general subject. Very often we hear some wise man with the responsibility of the universe on his shoulders, the man who thinks he is the censor of the human race now, and that he will be foreman of the grand jury on the Judgment Day–we hear this kind of man say every little while:
“We’ve got too many papers. We are loaded down with reading matter. Can’t read all my paper every day. Lots of days I throw my paper aside before I get it all read through, and never have a chance to finish it. All that is dead loss.”
It is, of course, a dead loss to that kind of a man. He is the kind of man that expects his family to begin at one side of the cellar and eat right straight across, it–cabbages, potatoes, turnips, pickles, apples, pumpkins, etc., etc.,–without stopping to discriminate. There are none too many papers, so far as the subscriber is concerned. Looking at it from the publisher’s standpoint sometimes, there are too many.
To the man who has inherited too large, wide, sinewy hands, and a brain that under the microscope looks like a hepatized lung, it seems some days as though the field had been over-crowded when he entered it. To the young man who was designed to maul rails or sock the fence-post into the bosom of the earth, and who has evaded that sphere of action and disregarded the mandate to maul rails, or to take a coal-pick and toy with the bowels of the earth, hoping to win an easier livelihood by feeding sour paste to village cockroaches, and still poorer pabulum to his subscribers, the newspaper field seems to be indeed jam full.