Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 15.djvu/51

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PUBLIC OPINION 37

public in France was principally confined to Paris. Arthur Young remarked upon the small circulation of the newspapers in the villages. At the end of the Revolution there was a far more definitely crystallized and extensive political public opinion than at the beginning, but even then when newspapers arrived in the south of France eight days after their publication the conscious- ness of actuality was lost. It was too much like reading ancient history to arouse the feeling of interest. The disgust which comes over one when he discovers that the paper which he has been interestedly reading is last week's explains the necessity for the element of actuality in order to develop a political interest. In England public opinion developed earlier because distances were so much less. Not only did printing and rapid communication extend the area over which publics could exist, but they also greatly increased the number of publics. When printing was entirely confined to the production of Bibles and works of theology there was but one large public — a religious public; but as other books began to be printed there developed a literary, a philosophic, a scientific, a legal, and a political public co-extensive with a whole country at the least- For a long time the life of these struggling publics had little intensity and depended upon crowds for assistance; the salon and the coffee- house, in the eighteenth century, owed their position — a position never before attained and never likely to be regained — to this necessity of reinforcing the activity of publics by frequent assemblages.

A complexity of a large number of publics, to several of which every intelligent individual belongs, is one of the most striking characteristics of modern civilization. This complexity is constantly increasing as our knowledge widens and our inter- ests become more numerous. Publics differ again from crowds in this respect, that an individual can belong to a number o f \ publics but to only one crowd. „,.— I

Publics often have vassal organizations dependent upon them, I but are themselves never organized. The public which supports the republican candidates at a national election is by no means synonymous with the Republican party. The latter is merely an