[Victorian Fleet Street. ] Manuscript Letter Signed ('C. A<lcock?>') to 'Mr. Clarke', discussing in detail the setting up of a newspaper, with 'promised contributions' by 'Baron Reuter', and funding by 'Capitalists' Duddell and Davies.

[ Paul Julius de Reuter (1816-1899), Baron de Reuter, news agency founder [ George Duddell (1821-1887); Henry Daniel Davies of Spring Grove House, Isleworth; Charles William Alcock; Fleet Street ]
Publication details: 
10 Hohenzollern Strasse W., Berlin [ Prussia ]. 16 July 1874.
SKU: 17107

6pp., 12mo. Bifolium and single leaf. On aged and worn paper, with 4 cm closed tear to all three leaves. A highly interesting letter, illuminating Victorian Fleet Street and City of London practices. The author's signature is frustratingly illegible, but may well be that of sports journalist Charles William Alcock (1842-1907). The recipient is possibly James Clarke (d.1888), editor of The Christian World. The author opens the letter with the 'conclusions' he has arrived at regarding the 'various schemes' which he 'maturely reflected upon' in a discussion with Clarke the previous week. The 'most advisable' option would be to start 'the heavy paper', but this can only be done 'if the whole of the money can be got together in time to enable us to begin October 1st or Novbr. 1st.' On the other hand, if 'capitalists should be less eager to join, than we wish, there will remain the alternative of either establishing a weekly paper on Baron Reuter's plan, or of trying the experiment of a small daily paper, as proposed by myself at the last meeting.' He discusses the merits of the weekly paper, with which, 'as we may expect to fill it with news not previously published, we shall soon command attention and influence'. He prefers the option of 'the small daily paper', which would be 'only as large, or a little larger than The Echo, and, coming out four or five times a day, contain nothing but the most important intelligence in a condensed, yet perfectly complete and appreciable form. In addition to Reuter's telegrams, we should have daily a considerable amount of private & exclusive intelligence on political & commercial topics.' He continues to describe the advantages of the 'small daily paper', which should appeal to 'the merchant, as well as the statesman', and would 'appear all the more attractive for our brevity and telling style. A compact & readable summary of all that is really remarkable in Parliament, and, in fact, anywhere else, shd. of course be included in the programme.' He continues: 'Relying partly on the Baron's [i.e. Reuter's] promised contributions, and partly on what private & exclusive intelligence I have at my disposal, I will engage to start such a paper with a capital of £50,000.' He considers that 'the exclusive nature of a considerable portion of the contents, and the novel style of the whole thing, will justify us in making it a penny paper, even though imitating the style of the halfpenny Echo'. If five 'Capitalists' could be found at £10,000 each, 'active preparations might be set on foot at once'. One has already been found, 'Mr. Duddell (of 7 Poultry, and Queen's Park, Brighton)' (i.e. George Duddell (1821-1887), who had made a fortune as a merchant (and opium monopolist) in Hong Kong). The author's friend 'Mr. Davies [i.e. Henry Daniel Davies] (110, Cannon Street and Spring Grove House, Isleworth, Middlesex)' might 'likewise swell our funds', and the author is 'in hopes of getting something' in Berlin. He concludes in thanking Clarke for his support. 'If the paper is destined to become a reality, it cannot but gain credit by vindicating the objects, in promoting which you have justly acquired so great and universal a reputation.' For background information see Brake and Demoor, eds, 'Dictionary of Nineteenth-century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland' (2009).