Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 59.djvu/262

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Walter
Walter
256

at Bear Wood which has since been the seat of the family. On 21 Dec. 1832 he was returned to parliament for the county of Berks, and retained his seat until 1837, when he retired owing to a misapprehension of the feeling of his constituents in regard to his attitude towards the poor law (Fraser's Magazine, vol. xxxvii.) On 26 April 1841 he was returned for Nottingham, a constituency which shared his opinions regarding the poor law; but he was unseated in 1842, his election being declared void on grounds unconnected with his personal action (The Times, 5 Nov. 1894).

Walter's life apart from 'The Times' presents few features of general interest. His title to fame rests on his creation of 'the leading journal.' This was achieved early in the century as the result of his victorious resistance to the persecution of the government. The 'Edinburgh Review' (vol. xxxviii.) wrote in 1823: '"The Times" newspaper is, we suppose, entitled to the character it gives itself of "the leading journal of Europe," and is perhaps the greatest engine of temporary opinion in the world.' This points to a supremacy already long established, and its establishment was exclusively Walter's work. But from the time when Walter handed over the editorship to another, the history of 'The Times' became the record of an association whose archives have never been opened. 'This then,' says Kinglake (Invasion of the Crimea, chap, xiv.), 'was the great English journal; and whether men spoke of the mere printed sheet which lay upon their table, or of the mysterious organisation which produced it, they habitually called either one or the other the "Times." . . . The form of speech which thus impersonates a manufactory and its wares has now so obtained in our language that, discarding the forcible epithets one may venture to adopt in writing, and to give the "Times" the same place in grammatical construction as though it were the proper name of an angel or a hero, a devil or a saint, or a sinner already condemned, custom makes it good English to say: "The 'Times' will protect him;" "The 'Times' is savage;" "The 'Times' is crushing him;" "The blessed 'Times' has put the thing right;" "That d—d 'Times' has done all the mischief." 'But the one thing one may not venture to do is to treat the history of this mysterious organisation as identical with the biography of its creator. For this reason no attempt can be made to trace the history of 'The Times' beyond the point at which the paper ceased exclusively to represent Walter's individual personality and initiative. In the tablet placed over the entrance of 'The Times' office to commemorate the gratitude of the subscribers for the exposure by 'The Times,' at great cost to its proprietors, of an extensive series of commercial frauds in 1840, the name of Walter is not even mentioned. No doubt it was his own wish that his personality should be veiled in a general reference to the proprietors of 'The Times.' On the other hand in 1814, a piece of plate, now in the possession of his grandson, was presented to him by the merchants of London with a Latin inscription which records in language characteristic of the time his personal services as a journalist: 'Joanni Walter in testimonium sapientiæ, eloquentiæ, et constantiæ inscriptis suis prolatæse auibus Galliæ tyranno vigente corda Britannorum indies consolabatur eosque ut instarent usque dum Dei O.M. gratiá prseceps iret monstrum illud horrendum sedulo incendebat a mercatoribus Londin. dono datum.'

Towards the close of his life Walter associated his eldest son with himself in the management of the paper, and gradually left in the hands of the latter more and more of the control he had so long exercised. After his retirement from parliament he lived chiefly at Bear Wood, but, being stricken with cancer, he removed to Printing House Square in order to be nearer his physicians. There he died on 28 July 1847, in the old house, still annexed to the modern office of 'The Times,' in which his father was living when he founded the paper. He was twice married. His first wife, who died childless, was a daughter of Dr. George Gregory (1754-1808) [q. v.], vicar of West Ham in Essex. His second wife, whom he married in 1818, was Mary, daughter of Henry Smithe of Eastling, Kent. Several children were the issue of this second marriage, the eldest son being John Walter (1818-1894) [q. v], who succeeded him in the management of 'The Times.'

[Authorities in text. See also the note appended to the article on Walter, John (1739-1812).]

J. R. T.


WALTER, JOHN (1818–1894), chief proprietor of 'The Times,' eldest son of John Walter (1776-1847) [q. v.], was born in Printing House Square in 1818. He was educated at Eton and matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 3 Feb. 1836. He graduated B.A. in 1840, having obtained a second class in classics in the Easter term of that year, and M.A. in 1843. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1847. Soon after taking his degree he was associated with his father in the management of