“Headlong and hurried”

It is a great pity that our headlong and hurried Press is always half a century behind the times.  The reason is in no way recondite: it is behind the times because it is hurried and headlong.  That which is forced to be rapid is specially likely to be trite.  If you have five minutes to write a sentence on a slate, doubtless a man of your talents will produce a polished and yet audacious epigram, exquisite in literary form, and startling in its intellectual stimulus.  But if you have five seconds to write it in, you will probably begin to write “Honesty is the best policy.”  If even at the shortest notice (say, after the entremets) you are told that you have to respond to the toast of Decayed Pawnbrokers, you will no doubt begin your speech with some thunderbolt of wit which will call down Homeric laughter and secure historic immortality.  But if you are jerked to your feet quite abruptly over the port, you will be conscious of a wild notion of beginning, “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking.”  Upon this very simple fact of human nature — that bustle always means banality — the whole gigantic modern Press, the palladium of our liberties, is built.

The Illustrated London News, 26 March 1910.

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 5:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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