It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, ‘Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,’ or ‘Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.’ They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.
— G. K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross, 1909
A Dog Lost in a Coal-Pit For Eight Weeks
Eight weeks ago, a terrier dog, in pursuit, so it is supposed, of a hare, was seen to fall into the shaft of an unwrought coal-pit, in Elswick-fields, near this town. Its howling was frequently heard, and many persons threw stones down, with the view of putting it out of its misery, but without effect. On Wednesday last, a mason of this town, prompted by humanity, sent down his boy, who brought up the poor sufferer, a mere skeleton; but by care it is recovering. When first brought up, it could not eat, but lapped water; which during the whole of the dismal period of its confinement (except the hare which probably fell in with it) must have been its only sustenance.
— Tyne Mercury, July 17, 1806
A curious circumstance occurred at the Bush Tavern, Bristol, on Monday night, May the 4th, about eleven o’clock. A young man, who has since been discovered to be a sailor, belonging to the Union ship of war, lying at Plymouth, went to bed apparently composed; but before the servant had left the room five minutes, the house was alarmed by his cries of ‘Help me out,’ and by the breaking of glass, occasioned by his bursting through the sash. Though asleep, he continued walking from one roof to the other, and along the narrowest ridges, and at length jumped from the surprising height of thirty feet, without receiving any material injury. He was conveyed to bed, and left the inn the following morning on his journey for Plymouth.
— Oxford Herald, May 9, 1812