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this way the most honest expression of personal opinion, and the greatest amount of originality are obtained; but it may be doubted whether these advantages make up for the loss which is sustained by not following the practice I have described with respect to the council and its accompaniments.
Where a regular council is held, it will be seen that the leader has to go through almost as many processes as a needle, before it is fit for the eyes of the reader, and that its authorship is divided among many different hands or heads. There are, of course, exceptional cases, in which men who have attained high positions on the press are allowed to write their own thoughts in their own language; and on the provincial press, where, in general, only one leader-writer is employed, and where the audience appealed to is not so critical as that before which a London newspaper must appear, the writer usually has much greater scope and freedom than his brother of the metropolis. But, so far as the London journals are concerned, a leading article may generally be taken as expressing the views of more than one person,
‘OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.'
THE Franco-German war brought the public into closer intimacy with ‘Our Special Correspondent' than had ever been the case before. Everybody, of course, has laughed at the eminent · Jefferson Brick,' the ‘own War Correspondent' of the American editor, with whom Mr. Martin Chuzzlewit was brought in contact; but when we were introduced to that celebrity there were few among us who supposed that he was only the prototype of a very numerous and very important class of newspaper writers. It is true, that during the siege of Rome in 1848, the 'Morning Chronicle' had a correspondent of its own in the capital, and that some very clever letters were written from Spain, during the Carlist struggle ; but, at the time when Mr. Dickens wrote, the regular War Correspondent was still a being to whom the English public had to be introduced.
The Crimean war formed the occasion of the
introduction. England, at that time, had not been engaged in any great European war for forty years, and all of us who are old enough can remember the wonderful thrill of enthusiasm which ran through the country when it was announced that the sword which had so long rested in the scabbard was about to be drawn. Between 1815 and 1854 the English press had made great advances in influence, reputation, wealth, and enterprise ; and as soon as it was decided that our English army should go to the Crimea, more than one newspaper resolved that it would have its own reporter there to chronicle the battles and victories which awaited the Allies.
The ‘Times, of course, took the initiative. It had fixed, I believe, upon a gentleman who was to represent it in the Crimea, when that gentleman fell ill. Now-a-days if, on the eve of a campaign, the representative of the 'Times' or of any great London journal were to be laid aside, there would be at least a hundred applicants for his post. But, in 1854, we had not learned to look upon an expedition with an army exactly in the light of a pleasant holiday tour, nor had newspaper reporters struck out for themselves that new path in which so many of them have since made brilliant reputations. The first who did this was the gentleman to whom the conductors of the 'Times' applied when the correspondent they had intended to send to the Crimea fell ill. He was a 'newspaper man,' pure and simple, employed at the time in the gallery of the House of Commons; he had written one or two articles for different magazines; had described a ship-launch, a review, possibly an execution, or a royal progress for the ‘Times,' and his name was William Howard Russell.
In these pages I have scrupulously endeavoured to keep clear of anything in the shape of offensive or impertinent personalities; but in mentioning the name of Dr. Russell, the writer cannot refrain from paying his own tribute of admiration to one whose whole career is so creditable, not only to himself, but to the newspaper press. Mr. Russell's later life reads like a romance. From being an ordinary 'gallery man,' he has become the companion of emperors and princes, the chosen chronicler of the greatest wars of modern times; and how well he has deserved his honours, how worthily he has borne them, are matters which, although they cannot be set forth in these pages, are known to all who know anything of Mr. Russell. It was with the Crimean war that he began that life of hard work and adventure which, not only made his own name famous, but which opened out this new field of enterprise for newspaper reporters. Of the manner in which the ‘Times' correspondent discharged his duties, one need hardly speak. He was admitted to be the pen of the war;' and we cannot to this day read those graphic passages in his diary in which he described the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Battle of Balaclava, or the Battle of Inkerman without feeling thankful that such deeds have been recorded by such an observer.
Of course, the high and mightinesses, the royal dukes, the field-marshals, and generals who went to the Crimea to fight, were anything but gratified at the appearance of 'newspaper fellows' in the camp. Things had come to a pretty pass, had they not, when a parcel of reporters went out with an army, and presumed to write of military movements, and to describe, and even criticise, the progress of a campaign! The reader may be quite sure that even if the climate of the Crimea during that dreadful winter had been as mild as the climate of Algiers, and if a tent before Sebastopol had been as comfortable an abode as the Schwitzerhof at Lucerne, the ‘special correspondents' would still have had anything but a happy lot whilst the great siege lasted. As it happens, they had to share to the full the sufferings of the army, whose exploits it was their business to record. Even, now-a-days, when the 'Special' is so far a recognised institution