by the ornate and fluent speech delivered by him on this occasion.
During Mr. Greeley
's stay in London
, the repeal of the “taxes on knowledge” was agitated in and out of parliament.
Those taxes were a duty on advertisements, and a stamp-duty of one penny per copy on every periodical containing news.
A parliamentary committee, consisting of eight members of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. T. Milnor Gibson
, Messrs. Tufnell
, and Sir J. Walmsey
, had the subject under consideration, and Mr. Greeley
, as the representative of the only untrammeled press in the world, was invited to give the committee the benefit of his experience.
's evidence, given in two sessions of the committee, no doubt had influence upon the subsequent action of parliament.
The advertisement duty was entirely removed.
The penny stamp was retained for revenue reasons only, but must finally yield to the demands of the nation.
The chief part of Mr. Greeley
's evidence claims a place in this work, both because of its interesting character, and because it really influenced legislation on a subject of singular importance.
He told England
did not understand before he told her—why the Times
newspaper was devouring its contemporaries; and he assisted in preparing the way for that coming penny-press which is destined to play so great a part in the future of “Great England.”
In reply to a question by the chairman of the committee with regard to the effect of the duty upon the advertising business, Mr. Greeley
replied substantially as follows:
Your duty is the same on the advertisements in a journal with fifty thousand circulation, as in a journal with one thousand, although the value of the article is twenty times as much in the one case as in the other.
The duty operates precisely as though you were to lay a tax of one shilling a day on every day's labor that a man were to do; to a man whose labor is worth two shillings a day, it would be destructive; while by a man who earns twenty shillings a day, it would be very lightly felt.
An advertisement is worth but a certain amount, and the public soon get to know what it is worth; you put a duty on advertisements and you destroy the value of those coming to new establishments.
People who advertise in your well-established journals, could afford to pay a price to include the duty; but in a new paper, the advertisements