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Appendix F

German Journals

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 MUENCHENER 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" the thing.

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 journalism does.

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!


Mark Twain