W.T. Stead to Rev. Henry Kendall
(April 11, 1871)
I write you in strict confidence relying upon your absolute secrecy. Mr. [John] Hyslop Bell, proprietor of The Northern Echo called on me on Saturday to say that Mr. Copleston in all probability will be leaving this year and in case he does he will either engage an experienced editor or he will engage an unexperienced writer and an experienced sub.
In case he determines upon the latter, he makes me the offer of the writing and thinks of engaging the present editor of the Express as my sub!! Just think, Your humble servant editor of the Echo with an experienced man of 40 below him as a sub and W.T. Stead being only 22. It is enough to turn a fellow’s head.
I never dreamed of such an elevation so easily. I should have also….. ..control over what I wrote and about what I wrote only providing I am Liberal, non conformist freetrade. All of which I am of course. What a glorious opportunity of attacking the devil isn’t it?
But seriously Mr. Kendall, I want to know if you think it would be right in me to accept the post, involving as it does Sunday work from seven or eight o’clock on Sunday nights. Weigh the matter carefully and let me have your opinion thereupon. Salary £150 first year when I would need an experienced sub. £250 second when I could do without such a high class sub and content myself with a cheaper article.
Query with me is the Sunday work. I don’t mind the salary so much. Indeed my governor here offers to give me the same rather than lose me, rather an advance upon £75 but then if I took it it would lose me my leisures. I don’t think I shall stay here.
I would be particularly obliged if you would inform me before the end of the week as I have to write Mr. Bell upon the subject then, what you think is the probability of the Echo existing and getting on? It would be miserable to be tied up with a bankruptcy affair. Is it well backed and could I be justified in leaving a situation here to join it[?] Again who is Mr. Bell[?] Quaker, Methodist or what[?] Is he a nice man to be under[?] Of course he would not interfere with me any more than he pays. [That] implies a good deal.
Also if you could let me know what decent lodgings can be had with gas in the country a bit. A good landscape or even a blossoming orchard has a most powerful physical effect upon my temperament. I could do nicely with one room if I could have a prospect. Also what rate lodgings run?
I am sorry to give you such trouble, but you are the only friend I have in Darlington and perhaps it would not inconvenience you much.
All this is in the strictest confidence. It may all result in nothing.
Copleston may stop and Bell may determine not to engage an unexperienced writer even if he does go – all this is entirely unknown to Copleston himself whom Mr. Bell does not wish to know anything about it. Consequently I cannot even advise with him.
Your reply will oblige.
When your book comes out Mr. James Aitchison Rock near Alnwick has ordered one.
I am yours truly,