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THE Editor is the autocrat of the press, the ruler of sovereigns. His authority dates back to the reign of William and Mary, at the close of the seventeenth century, and has been steadily increasing ever since, until it has become as boundless as that of Alexander, Cæsar, or Bonaparte. The latter owed his ruin as much to the editorial pen, as to the sword of Wellington. In this country, especially, the editorial rule is supreme. The newspaper makes and unmakes presidents, senators, governors, representatives, mayors, aldermen, and common councilmen. We rely on the editor to inform us how we shall think, how we shall act, and how we shall vote. We seek the daily journal as we do our daily food, and could almost as well lose one as the other. Newspapers have become necessaries of life, and in them we live, move, and have our being.
Few kings, however, are so poorly accommodated, as regards the external trappings of royalty, as the sovereign rulers of the sovereign people. They are attended by no guards of honor, no gentlemen of the bedchamber. They are arrayed in no gorgeous apparel, nor do they, as a general rule, dine sumptuously every day. They seldom appear drawn by six horses, with lacqueys and footmen in attendance. On the contrary, they are often found in garrets, and in apartments not exceeding in size seven feet by nine. The audience chamber, instead of costly mirrors and splendid draperies, contains often hardly more than one or two broken chairs, papers scattered in all directions, old pamphlets, a dictionary, and a few books reposing amidst a long accumulation of cobwebs and dust. Strange quarters, indeed, for those who exercise regal power, who say to us, do this, and we do it, vote for this man or that man, and straightway we do as we are commanded.
The king editorial is satisfied, however, to relinquish the external show of power, that he may enjoy more of the reality. He is willing to give up to presidents and governors the form of which he enjoys the substance. He knows very well that we never like to see them joined in the same persons; that those whom we clothe, with purple and fine linen and set up in the high places of ihe land, are rather servants than rulers, whom it is our privilege to insult and abuse in proportion to the height we have elevated them above ourselves. They, like ourselves, find their masters in the little seven-by-nine sanctum sanctorum, which, until quite recently, could only be
found by climbing innumerable stairs, through dark passages, at the risk of life or limb, but which is now in many cases found nearer the earth, at the expense, it may be, of some of that awe and reverence with which we have always regarded those inaccessible and dangerous heights whence issue an omnipresent but invisible power.
What would have been thought, when the patriarch and prince of editors founded the Galaxy or the Courier, of such trim offices as are occupied by some of the present dynasty ? The times change and we change with them. Revolutions come and establish one government on the ruins of another; kings and emperors of to-day become fugitives and beggars of tomorrow. The favorite of the people loses his popularity, and retires amidst the hooting and execration of those who but yesterday threw up their hats and raised a “universal shout" when he did but appear. The editorial throne, however, is subject to no such revolutions. It stands firm as the everlasting hills. Its power is not to be shaken but increased by political convulsions, and is never so great as when people are running about to hear or to tell some new thing. Against this, however, it is vain for us to talk of rebellion ; submission and obedience is all that is left for us.
The editor is conscious of his position, and hence it is that, like other kings, he always uses the plural