Monday, July 12, 2010

Edward Lloyd in Harper's Magazine

Here is an extract from an early article on ‘King of Bloods’ Edward Lloyd from Harper’s Magazine, vol. 64, 1882. The writer observes “Mr. Lloyd's story has never been quite exactly told,” and that still holds true. No mention is made of Lloyd’s early publishing ventures into Penny Bloods - not a respectable past for a successful newspaper tycoon. The approximately 200 Bloods that he published between 1836 and 1856 include such celebrated titles as James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire and The String of Pearls and Thomas Peckett Prest’s Dickens’ imitations.
"After inquiring for Mr. Lloyd at the palatial offices of The Daily Chronicle, I was directed to 12 Salisbury Court, and there in an unpretentious little room I found Mr. Edward Lloyd, a hale, hearty, middle-aged, florid-complexioned, white-haired gentleman. He introduced me to his son, a stalwart young fellow, who was amused at the surprise I expressed at not finding the head of the firm a tottering old gentleman of the aspect usually thought characteristic of Father Time and the venerable Parr. Mr. Lloyd is old enough to have originated the cheap press, and young enough to be vigorously occupied in establishing the newest daily paper. Responding to a remark about the literary interest of the locality in which I found him, he said, "This house use was Richardson's printing-office; in this room he wrote Pamela, and here Oliver Goldsmith acted as his reader.” The old familiar story: you are treading on historic ground every foot you move in London, historic not in a mere antiquarian sense, nor in the narrow meaning of age being historic, but in the breadth of human interest and universal fame. There is not a court hereabouts but it is linked with the history of all that is great and glorious in English letters, from Shakspeare to Hood, from Fielding to Thackeray, from Caxton, the first printer, to his great successors, and from The English Mercurie to The Daily News. ''I can show you Richardson's lease of these very premises," said Mr. Lloyd presently, and turning over the deeds which convey to him a large extent of the local freeholds (now strangely connected by passages and subways from Salisbury Court to Whitefriars), he handed me the parchment. It was a lease dated 30th May, 1770, from Mrs. Jennings to Mr. Richardson, the printer-novelist's signature a bolder one than would seem characteristic of the gentle tediousness of Pamela. Mr. Lloyd's freeholds and leaseholds are a curious mixture of properties, extending into Whitefriars, under streets and over streets, and they are all devoted to the mechanical requirements of Lloyd's Newspaper and The Daily Chronicle. The very latest inventions in the generation and use of steam, the newest ideas of Hoe in the way of printing, are pressed into the service of these two papers. Colonel Hoe is Mr. Lloyd's ideal machinist; Mr. Lloyd is Colonel Hoe's ideal newspaper proprietor.

"Have you ever been to America?” I asked

"No; I had once made up my mind to go, and had fixed upon the ship," Mr. Lloyd answered ‑ "the Arctic, I think she was called. Douglas Jerrold was against my going, and persuaded me all he could not to venture upon it. 'But,' said he, 'if you must go, give this play into Jim Wallack's own hands.' He gave me the manuscript of The Rent Day, which had been produced at Drury Lane. The object of my going was to see Hoe, and arrange for two machines on certain revised terms, so that if one broke clown, I should have another to fall back upon. Just before the time for sailing I received a letter from Hoe telling me that I could have just all I wanted. In consequence of that letter, I did not go. The ship I was booked for went to the bottom."
Mr. Lloyd's story has never been quite exactly told. Briefly it is this. As early as 1829, when he was only fourteen, he was strongly imbued with Liberal opinions, and with the idea of starting a "free and independent newspaper" for their advocacy. There was a fourpenny stamp duty on each paper, and in due time Edward Lloyd labored hard with others in the direction of its reduction. He started a newspaper, and issued it without a government stamp; so likewise did other London printers; but after a short struggle they succumbed to legal proceedings for their suppression. In order to keep the question of unstamped papers before the public, Mr. Lloyd started a monthly unstamped journal, believing he could legally issue such a publication; but the Stamp‑office authorities stifled it with crushing promptitude, though it turned out afterward that he was within the law, Mr. Charles Dickens having, at a later date, issued a monthly paper on similar lines. In September, 1842, Mr. Lloyd published Lloyd's Penny Illustrated Newspaper, consisting chiefly of reviews of books, notices of theatres, and literary selections, thus keeping, as he thought, just outside the pale of what the law designated a newspaper. Within three months the Stamp‑office discovered what they regarded as a few lines of news in the literature of the journal, and they gave the proprietor notice that he must either stamp his paper or stop it. He chose the former course, and continued the paper at twopence until January, 1843, when he enlarged it to eight pages of five columns each (about the size of an eight-page Echo), called it Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, and charged two-pence‑halfpenny for it. During the same year he again increased its size, and sold it at threepence. At this time the general price of newspapers was sixpence, and they carried a penny stamp duty. Mr. Lloyd's innovation met with the determined opposition of the news agents. They one and all refused to sell the paper unless the owner allowed them the same profit per sheet which they obtained on the sixpenny journals. An offer of thirty per cent. was scoffed at, and the trade entered into a conspiracy to put down the three-penny weekly. The sale was considerably retarded by this opposition, but Lloyd pushed it by advertisement and otherwise, and the excellence and cheapness of the newspaper were attractions the trade could not annihilate. One of Lloyd's methods of making it known was ingenious, not to say daring. He had a stamping machine constructed for embossing pennies with the name and price of his journal, and the fact that it could be obtained "post free." The announcement was made in a neat circle round the coin on both sides. The machine turned out two hundred and fifty an hour, and Lloyd used up all the pennies he could lay his hands on. The Times drew attention to the defacement of his Majesty's coinage, and thus gave the paper a cheap and important advertisement. Parliament passed an act against the mutilation of the currency. The affair helped to make the threepenny paper known, and in spite of "the Trade," which continued to oppose it, holding meetings and combining against it in every way, it progressed in circulation and influence. From a sale of 33,000 in 1848, it rose year by year to 90,000 a week in 1853. Two years later than this, Lloyd had lived to see the most ardent desire of his life accomplished the passing of an act abolishing the stamp duty, and the establishment of a really free and unfettered press. From this period dates the enormous success of Lloyd's Newspaper. The question of production was tile next serious question. Mr. Lloyd put himself in communication with Messrs. Hoe and Co., of New York, which led to his introduction of their rotary printing-machine. The success of this new invention, exemplified in Lloyd's offices, elicited a general acknowledgment of its superiority over all others, and "the Hoe" was at once adopted, not only in the chief London offices, but by the leading newspaper proprietors of the country, and in Ireland and Scotland. Wherever there was a journal with a large circulation, there "the Hoe" became a necessity."

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