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Three sensitive areas—religion, politics and economics, and morals —especially inspired caution in publishers and editors in their role of protecting readers from contributors. The religious controversies of the sixties and seventies were dangerous ground. George Smith's Cornhill is a case in point. Thackeray in his prospectus (1859) set forth the principles which the magazine was to follow:

At our social table we shall suppose the ladies and children always present; we shall not set rival politicians by the ears; we shall listen to every guest who has an apt word to say, and I hope induce clergymen of various denominations to say grace in their turn.[17]
The result, as Leslie Stephen later remarked, was "an unprecedented shillings-worth . . . limited to the inoffensive." In his desire to avoid offense, Thackeray asked Frederick Locker to change the last line in "My Neighbour Rose" from "God go with her" to "Joy go with her": the mention of the Deity in a light love-poem, he felt, might cause objections.[18] When Stephen became editor in 1871, he replied to a friend's congratulations with a complaint about Smith's policies: "What can one make of a magazine which excludes the only subjects in which reasonable men take any interest: politics and religion?"[19] Already known as an agnostic, he had to warn contributors against possible alienation of readers. When James Sully, for example, proposed an article on pessimism, Stephen warned him not to mention Schopenhauer. "The ordinary parson, who is the general object of my dread, has never heard of Schopenhauer; but he may vaguely scent infidelity in a German name."[20] It was apparently George Smith who intervened to suspend Matthew Arnold's Literature and Dogma, breaking off the series rather awkwardly after the second instalment (October, 1871) as "too explosive" for the Cornhill.[21] He had previously rejected George Meredith's "Martin's Puzzle" for its "free-thinking opinions." While


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personally admiring the poem, he wrote to Meredith, "it would offend many of his readers."[22]

One striking phenomenon of Victorian publishing was the magazine for "Sunday Reading," and the most successful of this kind was Good Words, edited by Norman Macleod and published by Alexander Strahan. It was a remarkable monthly, especially distinguished for its wood engravings and for its eclectic range of articles, verse, and fiction; by the mid-sixties it had a circulation of 110,000—larger, according to Strahan, than that of any other magazine in England or America. Macleod, one of Queen Victoria's chaplains and a well known Glasgow clergyman, had Strahan's support in attempting to improve the literary quality of reading matter acceptable to religious families. But he was soon attacked by the Evangelicals for admitting contributions from such liberal clergymen as Charles Kingsley and Dean Stanley. When he advertised a novel by Anthony Trollope, the Evangelical Record (which perhaps remembered Mr. Slope and Mrs. Proudie) threatened that Good Words should be "crushed." Trollope's Rachel Ray, which Macleod had requested and for which he had agreed to pay £1000, could not appear in Good Words. After a considerable portion had been set up in type it was returned, and Strahan paid a £500 forfeit at Trollope's threat of legal action.

Trollope's account of the affair in his Autobiography is perhaps not quite fair to Macleod:

There is some dancing in one of the early chapters, described, no doubt, with that approval of the amusement which I have always entertained; and it was to this that my friend demurred.[23]
And he wrote to John Millais:
Good Words has thrown me over. They write me word that I am too wicked. . . . They have tried to serve God and the devil together, and finding that goodness pays best, have thrown over me and the devil. . . . I am altogether unsuited to the regenerated.[24]
Actually Rachel Ray contains an even more unsympathetic picture of Low-Church activities than Barchester Towers. As Macleod wrote to Trollope, "You cast a gloom over Dorcas societies, and a glory over balls lasting until four in the morning . . . enough to keep Good Words


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and its editor in boiling water until either or both were boiled to death."[25] Granted the legitimacy of Trollope's satire on the Evangelicals, Good Words was obviously not the place to publish it; Macleod, I think, was honest when he denied to Trollope that he "sacrificed you to the vile Record and to the cry it and its followers have raised against you, as well as me."[26] Trollope, at any rate, continued to contribute to Good Words. And yet such concessions to puritanism gave rise to a legend about "Sunday magazines"; here is one form of it:
It was the editor of one of these magazines who is said, though I do not vouch for the truth of the story, to have implored the author, who was running a novel through his columns, to shift the date on which he had made his lovers meet from Saturday afternoon to "Sunday after church time," in deference to the susceptibilities of his subscribers.[27]

It was not only family magazines like the Cornhill and magazines for Sunday reading like Good Words which had to be careful to avoid offense in religious matters. Huxley's chapter on the critical reception of Darwin's Origin of Species, contributed to the authorized biography of Darwin, shows how far scientific thought was modified in the reviews by what Darwin called odium theologicum. Later, when James Knowles was making Strahan's Contemporary Review into a menagerie of lions, he welcomed Huxley's defense of The Descent of Man. But he drew the line at Francis Galton's "Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer," which had also been refused by George Grove for Macmillan's Magazine. Knowles wrote to Galton:

I am afraid that after all my courage is not greater than Grove's. You will think that editors are a "feeble folk," and so perhaps they are, but it is certain that our constituents (who are largely clergymen) must not be tried much further just now by proposals following Tyndall's friend on prayer—and of a similar bold,—or as you yourself say, "audacious character."[28]
The essay was finally accepted by Morley for the Fortnightly. After Knowles had left the Contemporary and started the Nineteenth Century—an open forum for the encouragement of the star system, some critics called it—he still felt the need of caution. The controversy between Gladstone and Huxley on the scientific validity of the book of Genesis, in the mid-eighties, was an editor's dream; for an impresario


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like Knowles nothing could have been better. But he asked Huxley to revise one article as too "pungent," and Huxley replied: "I spent three mortal hours this morning taming my wild cat. He is now castrated; his claws are cut."[29]

Knowles had left the Contemporary when Strahan incorporated his firm with the support of Samuel Morley and other prominent Nonconformists in 1877. Strahan had perhaps been disturbed by the furore resulting from the publication of W. K. Clifford's article on "The Ethics of Belief."[30] His break with Knowles was somewhat acrimonious, but he assumed the editorship himself, kept up the standard of the review, and stated his position fairly enough in an article on "The Higher Controversy and Periodical Literature":

The business of the editor of a periodical in which the higher controversy finds a place is not to dam out arbitrarily, but to see, as far as he can, that the waters are not poisoned by any influx of bad faith, cynical ethics, or mere folly.[31]