Trollope hardly depicts the Archdeacon, Harding's son-in-law, as one of the more sympathetic characters in The Warden, but his knowledge of the ways of the world makes him the perfect person to explain the power of the press to the two gentle, somewhat inept old men:
"Write to the Jupiter," suggested the bishop.
"Yes," said the archdeacon, more worldly wise than his father, "yes, and be smothered with ridicule; tossed over and over again with scorn; shaken this way and that, as a rat in the mouth of a practised terrier. You will leave out some word or letter in your answer, and the ignor- ance of the cathedral clergy will be harped upon; you will make some small mistake, which will be a falsehood, or some admission, which will be self-condemnation; you will fmd yourself to have been vulgar, ill- tempered, irreverend, and illiterate, and the chances are ten to one, but that being a clergyman you will have been guilty of blasphemy! A man may have the best of causes, the best of talents, and the best of tem- pers; he may write as well as Addison, or as strongly as Junius; but even with all this he cannot successfully answer, when attacked by the Jupiter. In such matters it is omnipotent. What the Czar is in Russia, or the mob in America, that the Jupiter is in England. Answer such an article! No, warden; whatever you do, don't do that." [Chapter 7, "The Jupiter"]
Like lawyers, both in this novel and in Pickwick Papers, journalists appear more concerned with power, victory, and fame than with justice. Unlike lawyers, however, journalists and the mass-circulation newspapers like The Jupiter that employ them represent modernity, for they arose in a new social and political situation: greatly increased literacy, steam-driven printing presses, cheaper paper. Whereas the legal establishment, like the church, involves ancient law and custom gone wrong, The Jupiter embodies the ills of modernity.
Last modified 2000