Mr. Ferdinand Alf of the "Evening Pulpit"

Chapter IEdit

"Mr. Alf managed, and, as it was supposed, chiefly owned, the 'Evening Pulpit,' which during the last two years had become 'quite a property,' as men connected with the press were in the habit of saying. The 'Evening Pulpit' was supposed to give daily to its readers all that had been said and done up to two o'clock in the day by all the leading people in the metropolis, and to prophesy with wonderful accuracy what would be the sayisn and doings of the twelve following hours This was effected with an air of wonderful omniscience, and not unfrequently with an ignorance hardly surpassed by its arrogance. But the writing was clever. The facts, if not true, were well invented; the arguments, if not logical, were seductive. The presiding spirit of the paper had the gift, at any rate, of knowing what the people for whome he catered would like to read, and how to get his subjects handled so that the reading should be pleasant" (12-13). #predictions #Dishonesty

"'The 'Evening Pulpit' was much given to politics, but held strictly to the motto which it had assumed; --

'Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri;'

and consequently had at all times the invaluable privilege of abusing what was being done, whether by one side or by the other. A newspaper that wishes to make its fortune should never waste its columns and weary its readers by praising anything. Eulogy is invariably dull, -- a fact that Mr. Alf had discovered and had utilized" (13).

"Mr. Alf never made enemies, for he praised no one, and, as far as the expression of his newspaper went, was satisfied with nothing" (13).

Lady Carbury asks if Mr. Alf is going to give Melmotte ’s ball “the countenance of the ‘Evening Pulpit’” (41). Mr. Alf responds: “Well; it is not in our line exactly to give a catalogue of names and to record ladies’ dresses. Perhaps it may be better for our host himself that he should be kept out of the newspapers” (41). #Press

Chapter XI

“Her [ Lady Carbury ] great work had come out, -- the ‘Criminal Queens’, -- and had been very widely reviewed” (87). Mr. Alf’ s subordinate, Jones, reviewed the book and “had pulled it to pieces with almost rabid malignity,” and pointed out all the historical errors. #Press #Writing as Business

Mr. Alf “had been quite graciously received, as though he had not authorised the crushing. Lady Carbury had given him her hand with that energy of affection with which she was wont to welcome her literary friends, and had simply thrown one glance of appeal into his eyes as she looked into his face, -- as though asking him how he had found it in his heart to be so cruel to one so tender, so unprotected, so innocent as herself. ‘I cannot stand this kind of thing,’ said Mr. Alf , to Mr. Booker . ‘There’s a regular system of touting got abroad, and I mean to trample it down’” (94). #Press #Writing as Business #Sincerity

Mr. Alf : “I’ve the greatest possible regard for our friend here; -- but her book is a bad book, a throughly rotten book, an unblushing compilation from half-a-dozen works of established reputation, in pilfering from which she has almost always managed to misapprehend her facts, and to muddle her dates. Then she writes me and asks me to do the best I can for her. I have done the best I could” (94). #Press #Writing as Business #Sincerity

Mr. Alf claims that he has no control over what his reviewers say about the books, but Lady Carbury “thought rightly, that Mr. Alf ’s Mr. Jones had taken direct orders from his editor, as to his treatment of the ‘Criminal Queens’” (96). #Writing as Business #Press #Dishonesty