Fremantle Stuff > newspapers > The Herald 1867-86

The Herald [1]


The Fremantle Herald was established in 1867, and for many years [ - 1886] it was regarded as the leading organ of public opinion in the colony. It was founded by James Pearce and William Beresford, associated with whom were James Roe and A. H. K. Cole. Beresford had at one time been Anglican Dean at Cork and Roe had been an Anglican clergyman. The ripe scholarship of those two men, combined with the journalistic ability of Pearce and Cole, placed the paper in a leading position. Beresford's scholarly articles, together with his clever pungent facetia under the heading of 'Chips by a Sandalwood Cutter' were the literary sensation of the time, making the Herald a power in the land and a paper to be conjured with. The Herald always advocated a progressive policy and persistently stressed the need for harbour works in Fremantle, the construction of railways and the introduction of responsible government.
An incident in the early history of the Herald is worth recalling. In one of its earlier issues some miscreant, actuated no doubt by a desire to bring about the downfall of the paper, secured the insertion of some original poetry. As a metrical composition it was of a high order of merit, but both the editor and the printer failed to notice that it was an acrostic, the first letters of the lines, read downwards, forming a sentence of an obscene nature. That was detected by an early morning reader (D. B. Francisco), who at once apprised the editor, who immediately took prompt measures to collect the paper, and those who did not notice the sinister nature of the poem made all sorts of conjectures as to why the paper was called in. Some ascribed the editor's action to a fear on his part that some criticism of Governor Hampton's methods of dealing with the notorious bushranger, ”Moondyne Joe,” by confining him to an iron cage, might lead to trouble. Eventually the secret leaked out, and when it did there were some who would have given a pretty good price for a copy of that particular issue of the Herald. Many people in high places quailed before the pungent and fearless criticisms of the Herald, and one of those, it was thought, was responsible for ringing in the poetical contribution that might have landed the editor in gaol. The managers were shrewd men and were rarely caught napping. When Edmund Stirling and Arthur Shenton, editors respectively of the Inquirer and the WA Times, were imprisoned for libelling judge Burt, the Herald hit that functionary just as hard but evaded the meshes of the law in a clever manner. After a few words of caustic comment it proceeded somewhat like this:-
"In view of the law of libel we leave to our readers to surmise what further comments we would have made, if we dared, in the blank space below."
The remainder of the column was left blank. Hitchcock: 51-2.

leaderThese are the leading articles from page 2 of the first issue, 2 February 1867.

It is a well established truth that THE PRESS, wielding a powerful sway over the human mind, is one of the certain aids in the cause of civilisation. In the cradle of the English colonies, consecrated by the voice pf the people and side by side with their liberties, it commands a high station from which it views, and often directs, the progress of knowledge, wealth and population, and the social and political energies of a nation. It aims at recording, for the warning or for the encouragement, the errors or the wisdom, the vices or the virtues of the mightiest in the land; while it seeks to repel, or encourage, the movements of the humblest and most powerless among them. In the political atmosphere of the world, it acquits itself well in the great art of harmonizing different Powers, not with the contention which renders strife and disoirder inevitable; but with a spirit which tends to result in the conquest of reason and progress. For without aspiring to penetrate or rule all things, and without any arbitrary authority what ever, the influence and power of the press is acknowledged in every grand movement which openly disposes of fortune or destiny in public affairs. The ardor of party strife is, no doubt, conspicuous in the English press as the shackles on that of surrounding nations; but, like the British Constitution itself in giving fair-play to every party, its very dissension protects the temporal and social interests of the people, while the freedom of opinion diffused over the length and breadth of the land, gives rise to the ascendancy of facts and the progress of Truth. And if it is the honor of England that her press transcends that of every other country in political science, not less so is it potent to stimulate and render active all the employments of civilised life, and to contribute largely to the promotion of the comforts and welfare of mankind. A people who know but little of what is going on around them, can have their desires but feebly stimulated to improve their condition, or develop their own resources. They are not enriched by the results of discovery or invention, or of what they can produce, which other men may want. The knowledge gained by observation and comparison—in the days when science spreads her wings in the impetuous course of her own activity, when telegraphic communication through out the world extends so rapidly, that we might almost believe electricity had something to do with its own propagation—is powerful to assist a country strength within and importance without ; and it constitutes one of the main functions of a newspaper, a medium of introducing and circulating knowledge among the people. Nor can we fail to recognise in its universality, a noble share in the intellectual progress of the time, of inestimable aid to the cause of education, and the stability and duration of a lan guage extending over a population of hundreds of milions, and powerful in every quarter of the habitable globe. Nothing exercises more influence over the prospects of a colony than the local press; and in the rise and progress of the British colonies we [indecipherable] its successful enterprize hand [indecipherable] the worth and industry and greatness of their people. For, if the history of those colonies be only the practical develop ment of the spirit of liberty flourishing under the standard of the laws and tradi tions of the parent country, the press has manifested itself there, and safely con fides in claims neither unknown nor dis allowed in the records of the time. That the colonies have gained in energy as well as in prudence with the growth and character of their press is nowhere seen so well as in the Australian group. Affording scope and occupation to many able writers possessed of the special journalistic talent, and not inferior in education, ability and judgment to their compeers at home, the press of Australia, as a whole, has made wondrous progress since her gold-fields burst upon the world. It may not be remarkable for temperance of tone, or distinguished as that of England for a modern refinement of language which conceals thought, for it addresses a people sharing the proneness to speak out openly; but its aim in the main is the public good. It is not given to colonial society in the commencement to attain to the standard of European civilisation. Where but a few years since the fires of thle aborigines gleamed through the woods, thousands of the busy sons of Britain toil and labour at their various occupations, and time only can soften down their angular points, and restore them to that which their exceptional circumstances has thrown them behind. There is little difference of sentiment between the two grades—the rich and, the poor of Australia—and where the sentiment of every body should be the elevation of all, the journal becomes the very life of the great move ment, and the natural sequence of affairs of common interest between man and man. In older countries, the colonial press has been censured for magnifying everything connected with its own locality; but, few will be found to find fault with the pen which enlarges, or paints in vivid and exaggerated colours, the position and prospects of their adopted land, and if such efforts have at times occasioned disappointment, they are on the whole attended with success. In our effort to-day, to add one more to the number of the colonial press, and introduce The Herald to the notice of the people of this colony, we are not unmindful of the responsibilities we accept, nor unconscious, in a degree, of the diffculties that beset the task of a journalist. However narrow the sphere of his exertions, remote and limited the population amongst whom he labours, there are many duties before him not readily to be determined nor lightly exercised by one anxious to maintain a conscientious and beneficial interference in public affairs. Were it otherwise, the newspaper as a vehicle for discussion on matters affecting our well-being, would become more dangerous than profitable to society, more vexatious than useful. Not actuated in our undertaking by any presumed immunity, but in a rectitude of purpose to adhere carefully to measures which avowedly tend, socially and politically, to advance the interests of this colony, we will pursue our object and recognise our province. In a limited community, the evils of a journal unfriendly in its conduct and offensive in its language are particularly felt, and greatly to be deplored; but the Herald aims to be guided in the consideration of political matters, the discussion of local requirements, or the exposure of public abuses, by forbearance and prudence. No personal interest, jealousies, or party influence shall interfere with the independent course in which it will seek to be recognised by the colonists, and endeavour to aid in developing the resources of the province. The demand for newspapers is a demand for information, and our columns shall contain what seems best fitted, in literature and science, to entertain and instruct our readers; while to observe closely, and record fully and fairly, the material progress of the colony, will constitute the chief objects of The Herald. trove

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