Arthur H. Beavan continued his survey of journalism in London in Imperial London, published in 1901, with this survey of the various correspondents contributing to the Daily Telegraph:
A somewhat rare visitor to the Daily Telegraph’s offices, but, if I mistake not, the doyen, is the Hon. Francis Lawley, whose unrivalled articles on turf subjects, every lover of a good horse must have read with pleasure for years past.
Tall and slight in build, his kind, thoughtful face proclaims to all, what his bearing and manner also demonstrate, the perfect gentleman, worthy of the noble family to which he belongs.
Born in Yorkshire, from early boyhood he was brought up in an atmosphere of racing and racehorses.
He went to Rugby under Dr. Arnold, and thence to Balliol College, Oxford.
On questions of horse-breeding and pedigrees he is one of the highest authorities, his memory on such matters being marvellous.
Without reference, he can “place” for you the Derby, Oaks, and St. Leger runners for any year, and tell you their sire and dam.
But it is on matters relating to the aristocracy that Mr. Lawley is supreme.
He has the complicated Peerage at his fingers’ ends.
He has their life history, their achievements, good or bad, accurately drawn up for use when required, so that when the Daily Telegraph sends to his private residence a hurried message announcing the death of Mr So-and-so, an exhaustive and up-to-date biography can appear the following morning.
It has happened, but very seldom, that the information obtained by the Daily Telegraph’s representative was incorrect, or premature – the same thing.
Once, a well-known elderly lady of title was reported as defunct, and the Daily Telegraph instructed Mr. Lawley to send up her obituary notice.
This was at once done, and it appeared in the usual manner.
To the horror of the editor, and the entertainment of the biographer’s friends, the high-born dame herself arrived at the Daily Telegraph’s office the same day, proving by the vigour of her language that, despite her infirmities and years, she was very much alive indeed!
Mr. Lawley was shut up, during the siege of Paris, with Mr. Labouchere, the “besieged resident,” and during that period had a strange experience at a dinner, to which he was invited by the genial M. P., the various courses consisting solely of rats disguised in different ways! – a costly banquet, for these interesting rodents sold freely at from 2s. 6d. to 5s. each.
(During Magellan’s voyage to the Philippines, after his discovery of the straits that bear his name, captured rats were readily sold by the crew to the officers, for a golden ducat apiece – equal to 9s. 6d. of English currency.)
But time passes, and we must glance in rapid survey at a few other writers connected directly or indirectly with the Daily Telegraph Place aux dames.
There is a lady, who must be nameless, related or connected with half the titled families of Great Britain, to whose facile pen the world is indebted for those realistic descriptions of Drawing Rooms, grand balls, weddings, etc, to which she has had the entree, and who for a “consideration,” by no means a small one, describes the dresses worn at such splendid functions as the Historic Ball given at Devonshire House in honour of the Diamond jubilee, when the Princess of Wales as Marguerite de Valois, and the Duchess of Devonshire as Zenobia, were the centres of attraction.
This anonymous lady, of course, does not pay visits to Fleet Street in the ordinary way, but her alter ego, a stout, pleasant-looking lady, a professional and acknowledged authority on dress-making and millinery, is frequently seen there.
So also is the “careful cook,” whose well-written lucubrations last year excited the interest and sharp criticisms of her feminine readers, some of whom were heard to question whether the “careful cook” could herself carry out her admirable instructions, etc, into matter-of-fact practice.
But this, I mention, like Zangwill, “without prejudice.”
Amongst the chief contributors to the paper are Edward Dicey, C.B., whose personal recollections of many lands – notably of Egypt – and of great people, would fill a big volume.
His lucid description of the Reservoir Works at Assouan, and the damming-up of the Nile is fresh in everybody’s memory.
He is also a leader-writer, and has been special correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in various parts of the world.
The late Beatty-Kingston must, at one time or another, have hob-a-nobbed, I was going to say, with every one of the crowned heads of Europe.
He had been special correspondent in Turkey, India, and Canada, etc., and spoke many languages, and for several years was the Daily Telegraph’s resident at Berlin, but, unfortunately, he fell out with Bismarck, and had to withdraw.
He was one of the best amateur pianists in Europe.
W. L. Courtney – also editor of the Fortnightly Review, and a director of Chapman and Hall, Limited – gentlest of critics and reviewers, is head of the department entitled “Books of the Day,” a post for which he is, by virtue of large experience, exactly fitted.
H. D. Traill, graceful and picturesque writer of rural subjects, such as “The Roadside Inn,” etc., died like Beatty-Kingston last year.
He had been a constant contributor to the columns of the Daily Telegraph since 1882, and was a distinguished man of letters as well as a most competent and capable journalist, a follower of G. A. Sala, and possessor of any amount of all-round information.
Bennett Burleigh, whose appearance does not belie his surname, is one of Nature’s heavy-weights, and of fine physique.
He used to arrive at the Daily Telegraph office on a tricycle, and is still, on all matters relating to cycles, cycling, and other sports, an authority.
But since the South African war began he has bidden fair as a most successful war correspondent to follow in the footsteps of the veteran campaigner, Sir William H. Russell, whose touching prayer a propos of the Tsar’s peace proposal will be remembered.
To be special war correspondent of an influential newspaper, with unlimited funds at one’s disposal, so that telegraph messages costing anything from £200 to £1000 can be sent off with as little concern as if they were sixpenny ones from the City to the suburbs, seems, at first sight, an enviable position; but there is a per contra, and a very undesirable one.
He carries his life in his hand, may be killed or wounded at any moment; he has to brave all weathers, to confront starvation, disease, and intense discomfort.
His stirring letters from the battlefield are often written in the midst of the most horrible surroundings.
He has no works of reference to consult, his facts and figures have to be evolved from the depths of his own inner consciousness; and when he returns home, he may have to refute all manner of libellous imputations upon the statements he made from the seat of war.
There may be plenty of halfpence in his profession, but kicks are numerous as well.
One of the greatest living authorities on Russia and European and Asiatic Turkey is Dr. E. J. Dillon, whose information to the Daily Telegraph during the late Armenian atrocities was invaluable.
His statements remained uncontroverted, in spite of the efforts of the Turkish authorities to disprove them.
Then we have the ever-green T. P. O’Connor, M.P., with his parliamentary experience, and Mr. Claude Phillips, an authority on Art, each in his own way invaluable to the Daily Telegraph; and, finally, “Hotspur,” from whom we get the latest tip for coming events in the racing world.
As manager and supreme night-editor, the courteous Mr. J. M. Le Sage has been connected with the Daily Telegraph for many years.
Formerly he was special correspondent and news manager, and is, above all things, a practical journalist. There are editors and editors.
If you care to run a paper, you can obtain the services of some kind of editor at £300 a year.
There are, however, perhaps half-a-dozen editors in London who can command from £1500 to £2500 a year – and Mr. Le Sage is one of them.