The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XXI. Newspapers, 1775–1860

§ 15. Literary Weeklies: The Mirror

The literary departments of newspapers were being stimulated by the rise of literary or semi-literary weeklies. Some of these, such as The Notion in Boston, and The New World and Brother Jonathan in New York, were devoted mainly to the reprinting of English novels and other literary successes. Others, like The New York Mirror, contained sketches of life and manners, society verse, stories, and essays, as well as some news. The Mirror and its kind were a source of much material for newspapers. N. P. Willis’s Pencillings by the Way, for instance, were copied by five hundred newspapers. Another class of weeklies of general circulation contained much literary material combined with a larger proportion of politics and affairs. Such a paper was Greeley’s New Yorker, “devoted mainly to current literature, but giving regularly a digest of all important news,” and maintaining a good editorial page. Neither magazine nor newspaper, these weeklies were something of each. From the former they doubtless took away a good many readers; to the latter they were an incentive to the maintaining of literary departments which in a few papers, like the Tribune, became important.

Newspapers in foreign languages, especially the German, multiplied rapidly about the middle of the century. Some of the ablest journalists of the middle of the century, not only of papers in the German language but also of papers in English, were liberal-minded Germans who sought in America the freedom of speech which was denied them in their native country.