Penny Magazines

[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 8, August 18, 1832]

Sagacious people say that the present extraordinary demand for penny publications will die away; that it is a fever just approaching its crisis-a mania which will soon reach its grand climacteric. The love of tulips, and the anxiety to possess those that were rare, raged to such an extent in Holland, from the year 1634 to 1637, that the Dutch of all ranks, from the greatest to the meanest, neglected their occupations, and even mechanics sold their tools, to engage in the tulip trade. Now, every body almost is engaging in the penny trade. The tulip madness had to be checked by the Dutch government; but no government could rule Great Britain, that would attempt to check the sale of Penny Magazines for the diffusion of useful or entertaining knowledge, and in the columns of which no attempt is made to infringe upon the existing stamp duty regulations. So far from thinking that the demand for these publications will subside, we think it will increase, and that a change will be produced by them upon the state of public feeling as extraordinary as it will be beneficial. Setting totally aside the great moral influence, and the great mental power which they will exercise, let us just see what good they effect in the way of creating a new trade in the country. Say there are forty thousand penny magazines sold in all Ireland weekly; (perhaps there are more) this brings in upwards of one hundred and sixty pounds per week, and the profits resulting from this sum give employment not merely to paper makers, to printers and to booksellers, but to a great many honest poor people, who not having a trade, or unable to exercise it, through various causes, are finding a means of subsistence by hawking the cheap publications. Now, if every gentlemen in Ireland were to encourage all his friends, servants, and dependants to buy each, say one a week, there would soon be upwards of an hundred and fifty thousand sold of the cheap publications, treble the number of poor people would be employed in selling them, a vast mass of information would be diffused, thought would be awakened, the public mind would receive a prodigious impulse, and the very face of society would be changed.