Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


Cockburn Street.] MACLAREN tiny sheet at first. ?To the daily and bi-weekly editions, a weekly publication, composed of selections from the others, was added in 1860, representing also the venerable CaZedoninn Mercury. A few years ago the bi-weekly paper was merged into the daily edition, whicA most of the subscribers had come to prefer. In all its various forms the Scofsman has enjoyed a most gratifying run of prosperity.? By 1820 the paper having become firmly established, Mr. Maclaren resumed the editorship, and very few persons now can have an idea of the magni6de of- the task he had to undertake. ?Corruption and arrogance,? says the memoir already quoted, ? were the characteristics of the party in power-in power in a sense of which in these days we know nothing. The people of Scotland were absolutely without voice either in vote or speech. Parliamentary elections, municipal government, the management of public bodies-everything was in the hands of a few hundred persons. In Edinburgh, for instance, the member of Parliament was elected and the government of the city camed on by thirty - two persons, and almost all these thirty-two took their directions from 4ND RUSSEL 285 of the proudest proofs of his mechanical sagacity is his having clearly foreseen and boldly proclaimed the certain success of locomotion by railways, while as yet the whole subject was in embryo or deemed a wild delusion. A series of his articles on this matter appeared in the Scofsman for December, 1824 and were translated into nearly every European language; and Smiles, in his life of Stephenson, emphatically acknowledges Maclaren?s keen foresight in the subject. His great conversational and social qualities lie apart from the history of his journal, which he continued to edit till compelled by ill-health UEXANDER RUSSEL. (Fmm a Phfograjh by 7. Moffat, Edidurgk.) the Government of the day, or its proconsul. Public meetings were almost unknown, and a free press may be said to have never had an existence. Lord Cockburn, in his ? Life of Jeffrey,? says :-? I doubt if there was a public meeting held in Edinburgh between the year 1795 and the year 1820,? and adds, in 1852, that ? excepting some vulgar, stupid, and rash? newspapers which lasted only a few days, there was ?no respectable opposition paper, till the appearance of the Scofsman, which for thirty-five years has done so much for the popular cause, not merely by talent, spirit, and consistency, but by independent moderation.?? Its tone from the first had been that of a decided Whig, and in church matters that of a ?? voluntary.? Apart from his ceaseless editorial labours, Mr. Maclaren enriched the literature of his country by many literary and scientific works, the enumeration of which is somewhat unnecessary here ; but one td resign in 1847. He died in 1866, sfter having lived in comparative retirement at his suburban villa in the Grange Loan, in his eighty-fourth year, having been born in 1782, at Ormiston, in West Lothian. In the management of the paper he was ably succeeded by Alexander Russel, a native of Edinburgh, who, after editing one or two provincial journals, became connected with the Scotsmen in 1845, as assistant editor. . He was a Whig of the old Fox school, and contributed many brilliant articles to the Edinburgh and Quurferb Reviews, the ?Encyclopzedia Britannica,? and also B/ackwood?s Magazine. As editor of the Scotsman he soon attracted the attention of Mr. Cobden and other leaders of the Anti-corn-law agitation, and his pen was actively employed in furtherance of the objects of the League ; and among the first subjects to which he turned his attention in the S2ofsman was the painful question of Highland destitution in 1847. A notable local conflict in which the paper took a special interest was that of ~ 8 5 6 , on the final retirement of Macaulay from the representation of Edinburgh, and the return of Adam Black, the eminent publisher ; and among many matters to which this great Scottish journal lent all its weight and advocacy in subsequent years, was the great centenary of Robert Bums. To the change in the Stamp Act we have already referred-a change which, by the introduction of daily papers, entailed an enormous increase of work upon the editors ; but we are told that ? Mr.
Volume 2 Page 285
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print   Pictures Pictures