Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/189

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Sala
Sala
177

year, a column of varied gossip and anecdote, signed ‘G. A. S.’ and entitled ‘Echoes of the Week,’ to the ‘Illustrated London News.’ His connection with that newspaper continued till 1886, when he transferred his weekly ‘Echoes’ to the ‘Sunday Times’ and a syndicate of provincial newspapers. They ceased in 1894. Some of these paragraphs he collected in the volumes ‘Living London, or Echoes Reechoed’ (1883), and ‘Echoes of the Year 1883’ (1884). A skit by himself, entitled ‘Egos of the Week’ appeared in ‘Punch’ (Spielmann, History of Punch, pp. 387–8). A more ambitious work, ‘William Hogarth, Painter, Engraver, and Philosopher: Essays on the Man, the Work, and the Time,’ ran through nine numbers of the ‘Cornhill Magazine’ in the second year of its existence (March to November 1860). Thackeray, who was editor, showed as much appreciation of Sala's talents as Dickens, and seconded his candidature at the Reform Club, to which he was elected on 13 March 1862. Revised and amplified, Sala's papers on Hogarth reappeared in volume form in 1866. But his most conspicuous achievement in connection with periodical literature was his establishment of ‘Temple Bar.’ Designed to rival the ‘Cornhill,’ it was financed and published by John Maxwell, at the suggestion of Sala, who was appointed editor with Edmund Yates as sub-editor. The first number was issued in December 1860. In the second number Sala began a serial story, ‘The Seven Sons of Mammon’ (3 vols. 1862), and there subsequently appeared in the pages of the magazine another novel by him, the best that he produced, ‘The Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous’ (3 vols. 1863). He resigned the editorship in 1866, when Messrs. Bentley took over the magazine. In 1869 he wrote ‘Wat Tyler, M.P.: an operatic extravaganza,’ which was performed at the Gaiety Theatre and was printed.

But Sala was about to concentrate his energies in fewer channels. In 1857 he was invited by Joseph Moses Levy [q. v.], the proprietor, to contribute to the ‘Daily Telegraph.’ He was soon writing two articles a day, Saturdays excepted; and for nearly a quarter of a century, whenever he was in England, his output suffered no diminution. The facility with which he drew upon his varied stores of half-digested knowledge, the self-confidence with which he approached every manner of topic, the egotism and the bombastic circumlocutions which rapid production encouraged in him, hit the taste of a large section of the public. The proprietor of the paper treated him generously; and for the twenty years between 1863 and 1883 Sala reckoned that his income as a journalist averaged 2,000l. a year. But his prosperity was not unalloyed. Careless of money matters, he gave too liberal a scope to his tastes as a gourmet and as a collector of books and china, and was rarely free from pecuniary embarrassments. At the same time the tawdry style of writing with which he impregnated the ‘Daily Telegraph’ excited ridicule, which tormented him. The ‘Saturday Review’ for many years denounced it as turgid and inflated. In 1867 James Hain Friswell repeated this condemnation, amid some personalities, in a work called ‘Men of Letters honestly criticised.’ Sala brought an action for libel, and recovered 500l. damages. Subsequently Matthew Arnold, with good-humoured satire, exhibited the pretentiousness of Sala's articles in ‘Friendship's Garland’ (1871).

In 1863 Sala undertook his first tour as a ‘special’ foreign correspondent of the ‘Daily Telegraph.’ He was in America from November 1863 to December 1864, reporting the progress of the civil war. His ‘Diary in the Midst of the War,’ which was afterwards issued as a volume, displayed characteristics similar to those of his home-made articles, but his energy in collecting, if not in testing, information invested his work with genuine interest. A long series of like expeditions followed; and his ‘special’ correspondence, which grew more and more egotistic, became a feature of value to the ‘Daily Telegraph.’ ‘A Trip to Barbary by a roundabout Route’ (published as a volume in 1866) recorded a journey to Algiers in the train of the emperor Napoleon III. ‘From Waterloo to the Peninsula: four Months' hard labour in Holland, Belgium, France, and Spain’ (1867), represented his journal of travel between November 1865 and February 1866. During the rest of the latter year and part of the next he was in north Italy, for a time with Garibaldi's army, and afterwards in Venice during its evacuation by the Austrians. His letters from Italy formed the basis of his ‘Rome and Venice, with other Wanderings in Italy in 1866–7’ (a volume published in 1869). In 1867 and 1870 he was in Paris, on the first occasion preparing ‘Notes and Sketches’ of the exhibition, and on the second observing the opening scenes of the Franco-German war. A flying visit to Metz in August 1870 was followed by his arrest in Paris as a spy; but he managed to reach Geneva, and on 20 Sept. was at Rome when the Italian troops ended papal rule there. He was present at the opening of the German parliament at Berlin in the autumn of 1871,