The daily journals of Hamburg, Frankfort, Baden, Munich,
and Augsburg are all constructed on the same general plan.
I speak of these because I am more familiar with them
than with any other German papers.
They contain no
"editorials" whatever; no "personals"--and this is rather
a merit than a demerit, perhaps; no funny-paragraph column;
no police-court reports; no reports of proceedings
of higher courts; no information about prize-fights
or other dog-fights, horse-races, walking-machines,
yachting-contents, rifle-matches, or other sporting
matters of any sort; no reports of banquet speeches;
no department of curious odds and ends of floating fact
and gossip; no "rumors" about anything or anybody;
no prognostications or prophecies about anything or anybody;
no lists of patents granted or sought, or any reference
to such things; no abuse of public officials, big or little,
or complaints against them, or praises of them; no religious
columns Saturdays, no rehash of cold sermons Mondays;
no "weather indications"; no "local item" unveiling of
what is happening in town--nothing of a local nature,
indeed, is mentioned, beyond the movements of some prince,
or the proposed meeting of some deliberative body.
After so formidable a list of what one can't find
in a German daily, the question may well be asked,
What CAN be found in it? It is easily answered: A child's
handful of telegrams, mainly about European national and
international political movements; letter-correspondence about
the same things; market reports. There you have it.
That is what a German daily is made of. A German
daily is the slowest and saddest and dreariest of the
inventions of man. Our own dailies infuriate the reader,
pretty often; the German daily only stupefies him.
Once a week the German daily of the highest class lightens
up its heavy columns--that is, it thinks it lightens
them up--with a profound, an abysmal, book criticism;
a criticism which carries you down, down, down into
the scientific bowels of the subject--for the German
critic is nothing if not scientific--and when you come
up at last and scent the fresh air and see the bonny
daylight once more, you resolve without a dissenting voice
that a book criticism is a mistaken way to lighten up
a German daily. Sometimes, in place of the criticism,
the first-class daily gives you what it thinks is a gay
and chipper essay--about ancient Grecian funeral customs,
or the ancient Egyptian method of tarring a mummy,
or the reasons for believing that some of the peoples
who existed before the flood did not approve of cats.
These are not unpleasant subjects; they are not
uninteresting subjects; they are even exciting subjects--
until one of these massive scientists gets hold of them.
He soon convinces you that even these matters can
be handled in such a way as to make a person low-spirited.
As I have said, the average German daily is made up
solely of correspondences--a trifle of it by telegraph,
the rest of it by mail. Every paragraph has the side-head,
"London," "Vienna," or some other town, and a date.
And always, before the name of the town, is placed a letter
or a sign, to indicate who the correspondent is, so that
the authorities can find him when they want to hang him.
Stars, crosses, triangles, squares, half-moons, suns--
such are some of the signs used by correspondents.
Some of the dailies move too fast, others too slowly.
For instance, my Heidelberg daily was always twenty-four
hours old when it arrived at the hotel; but one of my
Munich evening papers used to come a full twenty-four hours
before it was due.
Some of the less important dailies give one a tablespoonful
of a continued story every day; it is strung across
the bottom of the page, in the French fashion.
By subscribing for the paper for five years I judge that
a man might succeed in getting pretty much all of the story.
If you ask a citizen of Munich which is the best Munich
daily journal, he will always tell you that there is
only one good Munich daily, and that it is published
in Augsburg, forty or fifty miles away. It is like saying
that the best daily paper in New York is published out
in New Jersey somewhere. Yes, the Augsburg ALLGEMEINE
ZEITUNG is "the best Munich paper," and it is the one I
had in my mind when I was describing a "first-class
German daily" above. The entire paper, opened out, is not
quite as large as a single page of the New York HERALD.
It is printed on both sides, of course; but in such large
type that its entire contents could be put, in HERALD type,
upon a single page of the HERALD--and there would still
be room enough on the page for the ZEITUNG's "supplement"
and some portion of the ZEITUNG's next day's contents.
Such is the first-class daily. The dailies actually printed
in Munich are all called second-class by the public.
If you ask which is the best of these second-class
papers they say there is no difference; one is as good
as another. I have preserved a copy of one of them;
it is called the MU"NCHENER TAGES-ANZEIGER, and bears
date January 25, 1879. Comparisons are odious,
but they need not be malicious; and without any malice
I wish to compare this journals of other countries.
I know of no other way to enable the reader to "size"
A column of an average daily paper in America contains
from 1,800 to 2,500 words; the reading-matter in a
single issue consists of from 25,000 to 50,000 words.
The reading-matter in my copy of the Munich journal
consists of a total of 1,654 words --for I counted them.
That would be nearly a column of one of our dailies.
A single issue of the bulkiest daily newspaper in the
world--the London TIMES--often contains 100,000 words
of reading-matter. Considering that the DAILY ANZEIGER
issues the usual twenty-six numbers per month, the reading
matter in a single number of the London TIMES would keep it
in "copy" two months and a half.
The ANZEIGER is an eight-page paper; its page is one
inch wider and one inch longer than a foolscap page;
that is to say, the dimensions of its page are somewhere
between those of a schoolboy's slate and a lady's
pocket handkerchief. One-fourth of the first page is
taken up with the heading of the journal; this gives it
a rather top-heavy appearance; the rest of the first page
is reading-matter; all of the second page is reading-matter;
the other six pages are devoted to advertisements.
The reading-matter is compressed into two hundred
and five small-pica lines, and is lighted up with eight
pica headlines. The bill of fare is as follows: First,
under a pica headline, to enforce attention and respect,
is a four-line sermon urging mankind to remember that,
although they are pilgrims here below, they are yet heirs
of heaven; and that "When they depart from earth they soar
to heaven." Perhaps a four-line sermon in a Saturday paper
is the sufficient German equivalent of the eight or ten
columns of sermons which the New-Yorkers get in their
Monday morning papers. The latest news (two days old)
follows the four-line sermon, under the pica headline
"Telegrams"--these are "telegraphed" with a pair of
scissors out of the AUGSBURGER ZEITUNG of the day before.
These telegrams consist of fourteen and two-thirds lines
from Berlin, fifteen lines from Vienna, and two and five-eights
lines from Calcutta. Thirty-three small-pica lines news
in a daily journal in a King's Capital of one hundred and
seventy thousand inhabitants is surely not an overdose.
Next we have the pica heading, "News of the Day,"
under which the following facts are set forth: Prince
Leopold is going on a visit to Vienna, six lines;
Prince Arnulph is coming back from Russia, two lines;
the Landtag will meet at ten o'clock in the morning and
consider an election law, three lines and one word over;
a city government item, five and one-half lines;
prices of tickets to the proposed grand Charity Ball,
twenty-three lines--for this one item occupies almost
one-fourth of the entire first page; there is to be
a wonderful Wagner concert in Frankfurt-on-the-Main,
with an orchestra of one hundred and eight instruments,
seven and one-half lines. That concludes the first page.
Eighty-five lines, altogether, on that page,
including three headlines. About fifty of those lines,
as one perceives, deal with local matters; so the reporters
are not overworked.
Exactly one-half of the second page is occupied with
an opera criticism, fifty-three lines (three of them
being headlines), and "Death Notices," ten lines.
The other half of the second page is made up of two
paragraphs under the head of "Miscellaneous News."
One of these paragraphs tells about a quarrel between the Czar
of Russia and his eldest son, twenty-one and a half lines;
and the other tells about the atrocious destruction of a
peasant child by its parents, forty lines, or one-fifth
of the total of the reading-matter contained in the paper.
Consider what a fifth part of the reading-matter of an American
daily paper issued in a city of one hundred and seventy
thousand inhabitants amounts to! Think what a mass it is.
Would any one suppose I could so snugly tuck away such a
mass in a chapter of this book that it would be difficult
to find it again in the reader lost his place? Surely not.
I will translate that child-murder word for word,
to give the reader a realizing sense of what a fifth
part of the reading-matter of a Munich daily actually
is when it comes under measurement of the eye:
"From Oberkreuzberg, January 21st, the DONAU ZEITUNG
receives a long account of a crime, which we shortened
as follows: In Rametuach, a village near Eppenschlag,
lived a young married couple with two children, one of which,
a boy aged five, was born three years before the marriage.
For this reason, and also because a relative at Iggensbach
had bequeathed M400 ($100) to the boy, the heartless
father considered him in the way; so the unnatural
parents determined to sacrifice him in the cruelest
possible manner. They proceeded to starve him slowly
to death, meantime frightfully maltreating him--as the
village people now make known, when it is too late.
The boy was shut in a hole, and when people passed
by he cried, and implored them to give him bread.
His long-continued tortures and deprivations destroyed
him at last, on the third of January. The sudden (sic)
death of the child created suspicion, the more so as the
body was immediately clothed and laid upon the bier.
Therefore the coroner gave notice, and an inquest was held
on the 6th. What a pitiful spectacle was disclosed then!
The body was a complete skeleton. The stomach and intestines
were utterly empty; they contained nothing whatsoever.
The flesh on the corpse was not as thick as the back of
a knife, and incisions in it brought not one drop of blood.
There was not a piece of sound skin the size of a dollar
on the whole body; wounds, scars, bruises, discolored
extravasated blood, everywhere--even on the soles of
the feet there were wounds. The cruel parents asserted
that the boy had been so bad that they had been obliged
to use severe punishments, and that he finally fell over
a bench and broke his neck. However, they were arrested
two weeks after the inquest and put in the prison at Deggendorf."
Yes, they were arrested "two weeks after the inquest."
What a home sound that has. That kind of police briskness
rather more reminds me of my native land than German
I think a German daily journal doesn't do any good to
speak of, but at the same time it doesn't do any harm.
That is a very large merit, and should not be lightly
weighted nor lightly thought of.
The German humorous papers are beautifully printed upon
fine paper, and the illustrations are finely drawn,
finely engraved, and are not vapidly funny, but deliciously so.
So also, generally speaking, are the two or three terse
sentences which accompany the pictures. I remember one
of these pictures: A most dilapidated tramp is ruefully
contemplating some coins which lie in his open palm.
He says: "Well, begging is getting played out. Only about
five marks ($1.25) for the whole day; many an official
makes more!" And I call to mind a picture of a commercial
traveler who is about to unroll his samples:
MERCHANT (pettishly).--NO, don't. I don't want to buy anything!
DRUMMER.--If you please, I was only going to show you--
MERCHANT.--But I don't wish to see them!
DRUMMER (after a pause, pleadingly).--But do you you mind
letting ME look at them! I haven't seen them for three weeks!