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IX.

have even a bias in favour of authority;* and upon CHAP. the anxious, the perilous question whether disclosures sent home might not do good to the enemy, they had to exercise their own unaided judgments. To determine such a question with safety to the interests of their country, they could scarcely be competent; for how was it possible that a writer not admitted into the counsels of General Canrobert and Lord Raglan, and receiving no guidance from the military authorities, could know with what facts, if any, he ought to supply the enemy by the London and St Petersburg route? Of all the thousand causes of wrong and irresolute counsels that hamper the action of a commander, there are hardly any more formidable than the interposed dimness which prevents his knowing with certainty the condition and plans of his adversaries; so that plainly to send him full tidings from the opposite camp, and to send them under a voucher which affords strong presumption of their truth, is to give him an advantage of almost priceless worth.

sell.

In transactions connected with that part of my subject which I have called 'the demeanour' of our people, Mr Russell, the 'Times' correspondent, was Mr Rusdestined to take a great part. He was not at all one of those who, by temper or temperament, are predisposed to be censors; and his subsequent career as a journalist received in the Indian camp of Sir Colin Campbell, in the camp of General Benedek during

* A glance back to what is said of the Commissariat in Chapter III. will show how it was possible that a power to bestow rations upon civilians in Lord Raglan's camp should be vested in the Treasury.

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CHAP. the Sadowa campaign, and finally, in the war of 1870 at the quarters of the German invaders, showed him plainly to be a loyal conformist who, under fitting arrangements, could effectively serve his employers without betraying the interests of belligerents who might make him their guest.

But in the Crimea, as already we have seen, he wrote under no restraint except such as might be imposed upon him in the midst of the most pressing haste by his own sagacity and good feeling. He perhaps thought it likely that the accounts he was sending to England (including those which laid bare the weakened state of our army) would soon be made known to the enemy by spies, deserters, or prisoners, and that information thus passing direct across only a few furlongs of ground would neutralise any advantage which the Russians might otherwise gain from intelligence sent home by himself, and only reaching Sebastopol after a circuit of thousands of miles; whilst, moreover, he may fairly have trusted that any dangerous statements imparted by his hurrying pen to the conductors of the journal at home would be there, after all, in the hands of men not only able, but anxious, to suppress hurtful truths. Be that as it may, he wrote freely; and the conditions surrounding him were such that, even if he had been wanting in that power of acute observation which he amply possessed, he could not have helped perceiving the state of weakness and suffering to which our army had

been reduced.

It was scarce necessary that a narrator engaged

in his task at this time should be of the adventu- CHAP. IX. rous type of the more modern war correspondents,' because the seat of war had become fixed; but Mr Russell had the very assemblage of qualities that was needed by one who would convey an idea of the condition of things on the Chersonese to our listening people at home; for, it being of course his duty to learn and to tell, there was no one who could learn more quickly or tell better what he had learnt. His opportunity of gathering intelligence depended of course in great measure upon communications which might be made to him by officers of their own free will; and it is evident that to draw full advantage from occasions found in that way, the enquirer, instead of 'enquiring,' must be a man so socially gifted that by his own powers of conversation he can evoke the conversation of others. Russell was all that and more; for he was a great humourist, and more, again, he was an Irish humourist, whose very tones fetched a laugh. If only he shouted 'Virgilio !'— Virgilio was one of his servants-the sound when heard through the canvas used often to send divine mirth into more than one neighbouring tent; and whenever in solemn accents he owned the dread uniform he wore to be that of the late 'disembodied ' militia,' one used to think nothing more comic could ever be found in creation than his 'rendering' of a 'live Irish ghost.' In those days when the army was moving after having disembarked at Old Fort, he had not found means to reorganise the needed campaigning arrangements which his voyage from Bulgaria

CHAP. had disturbed, and any small tribulation he suffered

IX.

in consequence used always to form the subject of his humourously plaintive laments. He always found, sooner or later, some blank leaves torn out of a pocket-book, and besides, some stump of a pencil with which to write his letters-letters destined in the sheets of the Times' to move the hearts and souls of our people at home, and make them hang on his words; but, until he could lay his hand on some such writing materials, there was ineffable drollery in his way of asking some sympathy for a 'poor devil of "a"Times" correspondent without any pens, ink, or paper.'

By the natural play of a humour thus genial and taking, he thawed a great deal of reserve, and men talked to him with much more openness than they would have been likely to show if approached by a solemn enquirer in evident search of dry facts. Russell also had abundant sagacity; and besides in his special calling was highly skilled; for what men told him he could seize with rare accuracy, and convert at once into powerful narrative.

Moreover, after a while, though hardly, I think, at the first, men could not well help imagining that Mr Russell's good or ill will to them might express itself perhaps in the 'Times,' and this of course was a prospect which could not but give him power; for-reminding one of the merry species of priest often found in his own native land-he seemed charged-notwithstanding his drollery-with commission to bind and to loose. So long as his tent remained pitched

*

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amongst those of the Headquarters Staff, statements CHAP. useful for his purpose were not, I think, largely offered him; but from the time when he moved to the camp of the 4th Division, he became surrounded by willing informants, whose communications were not unmixed with sharp criticism of the men in authority; so that almost without special effort to learn the state of our army, he not only came to know much of the dismal truth, but also heard what could be said in disparagement of the ruling administrators, and thus had at command the materials which, when used as he knew how to use them, with the skill of a powerful writer, might well move our people at home; for, after having already laid hold of their minds and their hearts with his pictured story of battles, he now had to be appalling them with accounts of the misery endured on the Chersonese Heights, and inflaming them with rage, honest rage, when step by step led to infer that, because of delinquencies traceable to one or more public servants, their troops had been suffering and dying, and still must suffer and die.

Long ago when they showed how our army established itself at Gallipoli, the conductors of the 'Times' had been giving publicity to a good deal of criticism which, however, though keen and vexatious, was not apparently calculated to do any much greater harm than that of weakening authority by weakening the general confidence. But before the

* A Division in camp is apt to take a tone from its chief; and Cathcart we saw (see ante, vol. iv.) was in a highly critical frame of mind. It was natural that after his death, on the 5th of November, the tone should for some time continue.

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