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eighty-two millions of stamps,—more than
thrice as many as were paid for in 1821.
The cause of this increase was chiefly the
reduction of the duty from an average of
threepence to one penny per stamp.

A curious comparison of the quantity of
news devoured by an Englishman and a
Frenchman, was made in 1819, in the
Edinburgh Review:—'thirty-four thousand papers,'
says the writer, are 'dispatched daily from
Paris to the departments, among a population
of about twenty-six millions, making
one journal among 776 persons. By this,
the number of newspaper readers in England
would be to those in France as twenty to
one. But the number and circulation of
country papers in England are so much
greater than in France, that they raise the
proportion of English readers to about twenty-
five to one, and our papers contain about
three times as much letter-press as a French
paper. The result of all this is that an
Englishman reads about seventy-five times as
much of the newspapers of his country in a
given time, as a Frenchman does of his. But
in the towns of England, most of the papers
are distributed by means of porters, not by
post; on the other hand, on account of the
number of coffee-houses, public gardens, and
other modes of communication, less usual in
England, it is possible that each French paper
may be read, or listened to, by a greater
number of persons, and thus the English
mode of distribution may be compensated.
To be quite within bounds, however, the final
result is, that every Englishman reads daily
fifty-times as much as the Frenchman does,
of the newspapers of his country.'

From this it might be inferred that the
craving for news is peculiarly English. But
the above comparison is chiefly affected by the
restrictions put upon the French press, which,
in 1819, were very great. In this country, the
only restrictions were of a fiscal character;
for opinion and news there was, as now,
perfect liberty. It is proved, at the present
day, that Frenchmen love news as much as
the English; for now that all restriction is
nominally taken off, there are as many
newspapers circulated in France in proportion to
its population, as there are in England.

The appetite for news is, in truth, universal;
but is naturally disappointed, rather than
bounded, by the ability to read. Hence it is that
the circulation of newspapers is proportioned
in various countries to the spread of letters;
and if their sale is proportionately less in this
empire, than it is among better taught
populations, it is because there exist among us
fewer persons who are able to read them;
either at all, or so imperfectly, that attempts
to spell them give the tyro more pain than
pleasure. In America, where a system of
national education has made a nation of
readers, (whose taste is perhaps susceptible
of vast improvement, but who are readers
still) the sale of newspapers greatly exceeds
that of Great Britain. All over the continent
there are also more newspaper readers, in
proportion to the number of people, though,
perhaps, fewer buyers, from the facilities afforded
by coffee-houses and reading-rooms, which all
frequent. In support of this fact, we need go
no farther than the three kingdoms. Scotland
where national education has largely given
the ability to reada population of three
millions demands yearly from the Stamp
Office seven and a half millions of stamps;
while in Ireland, where national education
has had no time for development, eight
millions of people take half a million of
stamps less than Scotland.

Although it cannot be said that the appetite
for mere news is one of an elevated character;
yet as we have before hinted, the dissemination
of news takes place side by side with some of
the most sound, practical, and ennobling
sentiments and precepts that issue from any
other channels of the press. As an engine of
public liberty, the newspaper press is more
effectual than the Magna Charta, because its
powers are wielded with more ease, and
exercised with more promptitude and
adaptiveness to each particular case.

Mr. F. K. Hunt in his ' Fourth Estate '
remarks, ' The moral of the history of the press
seems to be, that when any large proportion
of a people have been taught to read, and
when upon this possession of the tools of
knowledge, there has grown up a habit of
perusing public prints, the state is virtually
powerless if it attempts to check the press.
James the Second in old times, and Charles
the Tenth, and Louis Philippe, more recently,
tried to trample down the Newspapers, and
everybody knows how the attempt resulted.
The prevalence or scarcity of Newspapers
in a country affords a sort of index to its
social state. Where Journals are numerous,
the people have power, intelligence, and
wealth; where Journals are few, the many
are in reality mere slaves. In the United
States every village has its Newspaper, and
every city a dozen of these organs of popular
sentiment. In England we know how
numerous and how influential for good the
Papers are; whilst in France they have
perhaps still greater power. Turn to Russia,
where Newspapers are comparatively
unknown, and we see the people sold with
the earth they are compelled to till. Austria,
Italy, Spain, occupy positions between the
extremesthe rule holding good in all, that
in proportion to the freedom of the press is
the freedom and prosperity of the people.'

Monthly Supplement of 'HOUSEHOLD WORDS,'
Conducted by CHARLES DICKENS.
Price 2d., Stamped
3d.,
THE HOUSEHOLD NARRATIVE
of
CURRENT EVENTS.
The Number, containing a history of the past month, was
issued with the Magazines.

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