Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3
Facts, as developed in The Times Commission, are stranger than any fiction. The « foul and abominable conspiracy » behind Pigott and Houston, alleged by Sir Charles Russell, must be taken as imaginary, for he has adduced no shadow of proof. And the paper which still stands at the head of British journalism is daily justified out of the mouths of its enemies—under cross-examination. We should have been glad to see a little more loyalty on the part of the press to The Times. Its fellow-journals realized well enough that the break-down of Pigott affected but a fraction of the case; but in deference to popular excitement they were either silent or openly scurrilous. For weeks past every little journalistic cur has barked at The Times; but as the case developes their clamor subsides. The « foul and abominable conspiracy » was really against the liberty of the press. It may yet appear who suborned Molloy and Coffey and the rest of the perjured witnesses whose evidence was concocted solely to discredit that which was genuine. Coffey, by the way, is a nationalist reporter, and a liar of the first magnitude. It is on the testimony of such as he that the sensational reports of « coercion » are based. How Mr Parnell will deal with his latest slanderer, it is hard to say. After he has been canonized as the embodiment of truth and patriotism— « the new St. Patrick » —a witness comes forward whose allegations far exceed all that The Times has laid to his charge—who has coolly asserted that the nationalist leader was actuated by revenge instead of patriotism, and that on an occasion of great importance he deliberately lied in his place in the House of Commons. And this new accuser is Mr Parnell himself—on oath! He claims £100,000 of The Times for damaging his character. The Times has paid £2 into court. It has paid too much. And now Mr Labouchere has made an extraordinary statement which, had any one else made it, would certainly have afforded him ground for a criminal action. He says that he tempted (but without success) the wretched Pigott to forge « a few letters » in his presence! Had Pigott yielded, it could not have affected the authenticity of the documents in the case, but would have had the effect—which the subsequent detection of his forgeries had—of discrediting his evidence in regard to genuine letters. Mr Labouchere's statement throws a light on the tactics of the league. Who did successfully tempt Pigott to forgery? Not The Times, certainly. How came the Parnell party to have such exact knowledge of the way in which certain documents were imitated? And what genuine writings of Mr Parnell and Mr Egan were they so anxious to recover as to offer Pigott £1000 for them? It is a remarkable fact that the most important letter, that of 15th May, 1882—upon which Mr Parnell, when challenged, did not venture to take action—is not covered by Pigott's confession, contains none of his characteristic orthographical errors, and is not, like the others, a patchwork composition from other writings. The Times had to withdraw it, as they had no independent testimony in its support; but except on the theory of its genuineness, it has not yet been accounted for.
Whatever opinion may be held about the « balance of trade, » there can be but one view as to the serious significance of the large disproportion of departures from the colony as compared with arrivals. The men who are leaving are those who can afford to close up their affairs and go. Many remain only because they are not in a position to leave. The cause is evident. The high tariff is doing its deadly work, and many of the best members of the community are being steadily taxed out of the country. Business men are, and have for some time past, been paying taxes, both local and general, out of capital. Unless further retrenchment is speedily adopted, and taxation reduced, the worst of the « depression » is still to follow.page break page break page 51
Our readers will welcome (as we do most heartily) our new correspondent from Christchurch. He has sent some very interesting items. We would be glad to have as good a contributor in every big town in Australasia, and will (editorially) take a back seat or enlarge our paper to make room for their communications. It rests with our subscribers to make Typo one of the most interesting and valuable papers in the trade. Will our sub-editorial friends also kindly post us about the middle of the month an unsealed envelope containing such interesting trade and personal items as they meet in their investigations? They will help us materially by so doing. We cannot find time to open half the N.Z. exchanges that reach us, and though for a general newspaper they would all be of service, there is not more than one in twenty that contains an item of use to us.
In connexion with the London issue of the New York Herald seven days in the week, certain newspapers that should know better, have asserted that it is nothing new, and instance the « Sunday » weeklies as proof that the same thing has been tolerated in England without objection. There is absolutely no Sunday work in connexion with these papers. The date is a pure fiction, as the papers are in the hands of the trade early on Saturday, and are distributed and sold on the same afternoon. The only Sunday work in the trade—unavoidable under present arrangements—is on the Monday morning papers, and the workers have Saturday in which to rest. The working men of England view Mr Bennett's innovation with alarm. They rightly hold that nothing will so tend to secularize the Sabbath as the issue and sale of newspapers seven days a week.
The Queensland printers' strike is over, after a four-weeks' battle and with the usual result. After heavy losses on both sides—pressing heaviest upon the unfortunate workmen—the Q.T.A. has succumbed, and has acknowledged « the right of the master-printers to take work from whom they choose. » This was the only point in dispute. But only a portion of the union men find that they can resume work. Their places have in most instances been taken by non-union men engaged for a long term, and two-thirds of the union hands who held « steady billets » six weeks ago are contemplating an exodus to the already overcrowded southern colonies. Many of these are the very pick of the trade, and they have the mortification of seeing their old places filled with far inferior men. The Q.T.A. is said to be admitting « rats » to the privileges of the union, to the great disgust of unions elsewhere, who talk of refusing to recognize their clearance tickets.—One good result has resulted from the strike. It has taught the unions (on both sides) that a peaceful solution is always the best, and a Board of Conciliation is to be formed. If this is wisely appointed the late disastrous strike in Queensland may be the last.
The N. Z. Methodist, in a leading article, regrets its severance from the printing firm whose name has appeared on the imprint for eighteen years—in fact from the time that New Zealand Methodism possessed an organ. The editor bears witness to « the care and promptness with which our printers have discharged their duty…. In all respects we can hardly expect to be better served than we have been by Messrs J. T. Smith & Co.… In many ways we have been glad to make use of their kind and efficient help in relation to matters not included in the terms of their contract, and for which we wish now to express our grateful obligation. » Between man and man, an eighteen years' association of this kind would involve a kind of prescriptive obligation to the continuance of services so well performed. But in this case there is a corporation (without soul or body, as Sydney Smith once explained); and so the explanation is given that « the change of printers is purely a matter of business…. The lowest tender was sent in by a Dunedin firm, and it is this tender which the Directors have accepted. Personal preference does not enter at all into such a matter. » It is not without a feeling of humiliation that we read this explanation. « Personal preference » is scarcely the right way to put the case. Where everything, as in this instance, is made to give way to the one consideration of cheapness—even the convenience of the editorial staff, for Dunedin is a long day's journey from Christchurch—there is small encouragement to the printer to cheerfully undertake the daily little services outside the terms of his bond. The gradual contraction in the price paid prevents any possibility of the standard of work being raised, and ultimately leads to serious deterioration. The greatest obstacle to the progress of the trade—the true cause of the prevalence of bad work and low wages in this country—is the sordid spirit which in the great majority of corporate bodies—private, official, and religious—regards the almighty dollar as the first consideration; and no matter how well or faithfully duty has been fulfilled, or how reasonable the price may have been, takes every opportunity of throwing it once more into the open market, and eagerly accepts « the lowest tender. »