In 1858, after his father's death, he became clerk in a merchant's office. He began writing in the Aberdeen Free Press; in 1862 he was appointed to the staff of the Daily Review at Edinburgh, and at twenty-two he became editor of the Northern Daily Express. In 1865 he went to London to accept a position on the staff of the Daily Telegraph, which he retained until 1875, being special correspondent in France in 1870 and 1871. In 1873 he became a leader-writer on The Times. He died in London on 2 March 1879. His posthumous France since the First Empire, though incomplete, gave a clever and accurate account of the French politics of his time.