During the last decades of the eighteenth century, when newspapers were beginning to play an important part in politics, they were not independent and responsible organs of public opinion. There were Gatton and Old Sarum newspapers as well as Gatton and Old Sarum boroughs. The great majority of the London newspapers accepted subsidies either from the Government or from the Opposition, and were tied in various other ways to the Party organizations. The story of how the Press contrived to emancipate itself from the control of the politicians during the first half of the nineteenth century, is told in this book in detail for the first time. The efforts of the Treasury and of the Opposition party managers to influence the Press of both Great Britain and Ireland were necessarily secret and subterranean, and I should have been in no position to attempt a thorough investigation of this kind but for the generosity of many owners of private collections of manuscripts from which the essential facts have to be laboriously disinterred. The most casual glance at the footnotes will show how heavily in debt I am to His Majesty the King, the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Wellington, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Marquess of Londonderry, the Earl of Bessborough, the Earl of Durham, the Earl of Harewood, the Earl of Ilchester, the Earl of Lonsdale, Viscount Sidmouth, Lord Hatherton, Captain C. K. Adam, R.N., Miss Madeline Arbuthnot, Mr. Robin Bagot, Sir Fergus Graham, Mr. R. S. Herries, Mr. George Howard, Mr. H. C. Le Marchant, Brigadier-General Madocks, Sir John Murray, Mr. C. K. Ogden and the Orthological Institute, and Mr. E. P. Stapleton, for permission to quote from the manuscripts in their possession. In addition, Mr. Stanley Morison very kindly allowed me to make use of his photostats of MSS. at Printing House Square; Mr. H. Montgomery Hyde gave me copies of MSS. preserved at Blickling Hall; Professor Edith Morley placed at my disposal her transcripts of Crabb Robinson's diary and correspondence from the manuscripts in Dr. Williams' Library. I have drawn heavily not only on papers in private hands but also on the official records in the Public Record Office and in the Irish State Paper Office, Dublin Castle. From those in charge of these records I have never experienced anything but kindness, and I am under an added obligation to the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records who arranged for the return to London immediately after the war of a considerable quantity of Home Office papers of which I was urgently in need. I should like to express my thanks, too, to Mr.A. P. Wadsworth, Editor of the Manchester Guardian, Professor J. R. Sutherland and Mr. S. C. Roberts for reading portions of the typescript and giving me the benefit of their advice.
To-day, when in large areas of the world a free Press is non-existent . . .