War correspondents have never evidenced much interest in their paternity, but at least they have entertained no doubts as to the parent’s identity. Sir William Howard Russell, by universal agreement, is accorded the title “Father of War Correspondents.” Sir William himself seems to have viewed the relationship with some misgivings, though he made no attempt to deny it. “The miserable parent of a luckless tribe,” was his favorite description of the role which fate cast upon him.
In 1854 when the London Times sent Russell to the Crimea to report the war with Russia, it was not acting without precedent. Henry Crabbe Robinson, though he saw no actual fighting, reported Napoleon’s campaigns in Germany in 1807 for an English newspaper, and during the two following years sent back accounts of the Peninsula War from Spain. Two London dailies had correspondents in the Carlist Wars of 1837; and at least a score of men, most notable of whom was George Wilkins Kendall, reported the campaigns in the war between the United States and Mexico in the eighteen forties. These early moves toward direct war coverage, however, seem to have struck neither the public nor the press as being particularly significant. No continental or English newspaper editor, if he so much as heard of the reporting in the Mexican War, took the trouble to raise an editorial eyebrow. It took the special circumstances of the Crimean War and the special qualities of the Times reporter who covered it to revolutionize war publicity. Russell not only fathered the glamorous profession of war reporters: he brought into the open for the first time the whole problem of publicity in war news with its myriad ramifications.
Before Russell had been in the Crimea a full year his name was a commonplace throughout the English-reading world. The bonds of anonymity which ordinarily guarded from the public the identity of the Victorian newspaper man could not keep secret the name of the man who was being discussed almost as much as the war itself. Probably no correspondent has ever moved a nation to such feeling of intense indignation as Russell did in his letters which described the sufferings of the British troops during the winter of 1854-1855. After reading these letters Florence Nightingale decided to go out to the Crimea to organize her famed nursing service. Alfred Tennyson read Russell’s story of the disastrous charge of the Light Brigade and wrote, at one sitting, his memorable verses. Russell’s influence on the attitudes of the British public at large was even more significant though more difficult to evaluate. His contemporaries, untroubled by the modern fear of generalizations, credited Russell with all sorts of far-reaching changes. When the blundering Aberdeen cabinet fell, the Duke of Newcastle— Aberdeen’s Minister of War—declared: “It was you who turned out the Government, Mr. Russell.” Time and again the tributes were paid to the correspondent that he had “saved the remnant of the British Army,” and that he was responsible for the reforms which the blunders of the war made necessary.
The characteristics which most impressed Russell’s contemporaries were his forthright honesty, his Irish humor, and above all his ability to describe graphically and movingly what he saw. Few correspondents ever made friends more easily. His tent in the Crimea eventually became so popular that he was forced to put up a sign: “Mr. Russell requests that he may not be interrupted except upon business.” At times he was dependent upon his newly-formed friendships not only for news but for food, shelter, and other necessities.
Like most men who have made a profession of war reporting, Russell had no military preparation for the work. Prior to his experiences in the Crimea, his only knowledge of war had been acquired in 1850 when he accompanied, as a Times correspondent, the troops of Schleswig-Holstein against Denmark. There he distinguished himself only by receiving a slight flesh wound. Russell did have a solid background of reporting experience, however. In 1842, just a year after his twenty-first birthday, he became an occasional correspondent for the Times in Ireland. The turbulent state of Irish politics in the eighteen forties was probably the next best thing to the battlefield for trying the nimbleness of young Russell’s wits and the sturdiness of his legs. Later he moved to London where he reported sessions of the House of Commons, worked for a short time for the Morning Chronicle, and read for the law. Although he was admitted to the bar in 1850, he retained his connection with the Times.
Judged by more recent standards, the Crimean was not much of a war. There were never more than two hundred thousand men in the Anglo-French-Sardinian expeditionary force. Virtually all of the important fighting centered around the siege and capture of Sebastopol, the great Russian fortress in the Crimea. The campaigns are worthy of being remembered chiefly because they were the most ill-managed in British history. But the English people were more aroused over the Crimean affair than over any foreign question since the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. While national energy had become accustomed to finding outlet in domestic reforms, the widespread popular support given to the belligerent jingoism of Lord Palmerston in the forties was indicative that the British lion was not sleeping too soundly. A growing fear of Russian aggression in the Near East led the British Government to encourage a stiff attitude on the part of the Turks toward Russia, and Russia and Turkey were shortly at war. When Turkish resistance proved completely ineffectual, Great Britain, followed by France and Sardinia, moved to the support of the Ottoman Empire. If the London press is any indication of the state of English opinion, there was wild enthusiasm for the war.
Russell was already on his way to the Near East when the declaration of war was made. The British Government had decided to dispatch an expeditionary force, ostensibly for the purpose of impressing the Czar with British determination, and Editor Delane of the Times, who had had his share in working up enthusiasm for the war, had determined to be represented at the scene of conflict. The troop ship Golden Fleece therefore carried Mr. Russell of the Times along with officers and men who hardly knew what to make of this innovation in warfare. There were other Times representatives in the Near East, but Russell was from the first the man designated to report the activities of the British Army. Although Russell was relieved for short intervals late in the war, the letters which appear in the Times under the signature “Our Special Correspondent,” with the date line of the location of the British troops, are his.
Russell’s early letters from Gallipoli gave little warning of the approaching storm. They described the flora and fauna, they related incidents of the street and soldiers’ conversations, and they enlightened readers on the subject of Gallipolian weather. But even before Russell and the troops sailed for the Crimea in September, the tenor of his letters began to change. Instead of routine reports they gradually became editorials. They were frequently critical of the management of affairs and they gave advice on policy. In making this transition, Russell had to make a vital decision; he had to fight a battle which for him was largely personal but a battle which has been fought in almost every subsequent war, though perhaps never again by the correspondent. Did the position of the newspaper correspondent in the field call for, or even permit, the publication of criticisms, of the unpleasant features of war, of mismanagement, mistakes, and stupidity? Perhaps Russell failed to recognize the full significance of the decision before him, but he acted on the natural impulse of the good reporter and decided to go ahead until someone stopped him. His biographer„ Mr. J, B. Atkins, quotes one of Russell’s letters to Delane in which he asked: “Am I to tell these things or to hold my tongue?” But Russell was telling the whole story long before Delane could have answered; and Delane, for his part„ did not attempt to stop him.
The British expeditionary forces landed on the Crimea in September. In less than two months the battles of Alma,. Balaclava, and Inkermann had been fought, and Russell had acquired the feeling that he had pretty well run the gamut of the trials and tribulations of war reporters, though later correspondents were to turn green with envy in thinking of his opportunities in reporting the Crimean campaigns. His work was untouched by the hand of the censor, competition from other correspondents was negligible, and letters were written for the occasional mails with little thought of the time element. To Russell, however, who knew nothing of the occupational hazards of the profession yet to come, his experiences were severe indeed. Delane had managed to bring sufficient pressure on the War Office to have his correspondent attached to the army with permission to receive a tent and draw rations, but instructions to this effect did not always make an impression upon officers in the field. After he had obtained a tent in Gallipoli, Russell found that it was one thing to possess a tent but quite another to find a place to pitch it. Once a superior officer countermanded a previous permit to pitch the abode in camp; later Russell was forced to move to “keep out of the way”; and still again he was ordered with his tent outside of camp limits where he had no protection. These inconveniences furnished sport merely for the near-great. Lord Raglan and the higher officers would take no personal notice of a “low and grovelling” newspaper man even though they complained bitterly to the home government of his published stories.
The battles proper were the real occasions for testing Russell’s ingenuity. Of the first great battle of the war, the battle of Alma, he wrote: “I was never in a more unpleasant position. Everyone else on the field had some raison d’etre, I had none . . . It could scarcely be recognized as legitimate business for any man to ride in front of the Army in order that he might be able to write an account of a battle for a newspaper.” Even when he could find an acceptable place from which to view the fighting, there were always other difficulties. “No one, however placed,” he wrote of the Battle of Inkermann, “could have witnessed even a small portion of the doings of this eventful day, for the vapours, fog, and drizzling mists obscured the ground where the struggle took place . . . [and] the irregular nature of the ground . . . would have prevented . . . one seeing more than a very insignificant piece of the terrible work below.”
In spite of the difficulties, Russell wrote descriptions of the battles of Inkermann and Balaclava which were masterpieces of their kind. Of Inkermann, “the bloodiest struggle ever witnessed since war cursed the earth,” he wrote:
It was a series of dreadful deeds of daring, of sanguinary hand-to-hand fights, of despairing rallies, of desperate assaults . . . in glens and valleys, in brushwood glades and remote dells, hidden from all human eyes, and from which the conquerors, Russian or British, issued only to engage fresh foes, till our old supremacy, so rudely assailed, was triumphantly asserted, and the battalions of the Czar gave way before our steady courage and the chivalrous fire of France.
Unquestionably Russell’s most moving battle description was his account of the famed but ill-advised charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. This was, of course, the account which inspired Tennyson’s poem. The prose of the reporter deserves to be ranked with the lines of the poet.
At ten minutes past eleven, our Light Cavalry brigade advanced. The whole brigade scarcely made one effective regiment, according to the numbers of continental armies; and yet it was more than we could spare. As they rushed towards the front, the Russians opened on them from the guns in the redoubt on the right, with volleys of musketry and rifles. They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war. We could scarcely believe the evidence of our senses 1 Surely that handful of men are not going to charge an army in position? Alas I it was but too true—their desperate valour knew no bounds, and far indeed was it removed from its so-called better part—discretion . . . A more fearful spectacle was never witnessed than by those who, without the power to aid, beheld their heroic countrymen rushing to the arms of death. At the distance of 1200 yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame, through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain. The first line is broken, it is joined by the second, they never halt or check their speed an instant; with diminished ranks, thinned by those thirty guns, which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow’s death cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries, but ere they were lost from view the plain was strewed with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses. They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to the direct fire of musketry. . . . It was as much as our Heavy Cavalry brigade could do to cover the retreat of the miserable remnants of that band of heroes as they returned to the place they had so lately quitted in all the pride of life. At thirty-five minutes past eleven not a British soldier, except the dead and dying, was left in front of those bloody Muscovite guns.
In spite of the valor of the Allies, the Russians remained as strongly entrenched in the Crimean Peninsula as ever. Something more than valor was needed. The British Army, unhappily, had gained its training in maneuvers in the barrack square. Leadership came largely from men who had won their spurs with Wellington in the Napoleonic wars forty years before. Worse still, there were numerous costly disagreements over policy between the British and their French Allies. To these difficulties were added fearful winter weather and a home government too indolent or too inefficient to organize supply arrangements. On November 14 a great storm on the Black Sea destroyed numerous supply ships which carried absolutely essential supplies. The Army which had settled down to the long winter siege of Sebastopol had not taken the precaution to build a road to the coast over which supplies could be sent. The horses died and men turned beasts of burden. Lack of proper food, lack of sufficient clothing, and the rigors of winter weather began to take their toll. Before the end of the year there were eight thousand sick soldiers, and one half of the army was unfit for duty. Cholera, fever, dysentery, and even smallpox were at large in the camp. The servants deserted. “The rats think the ship is sinking,” Russell commented.
Had Russell been a man of caution, war correspondence would have had a very dull birth. Had he been born fifty years later and faced with the same situation, he would have tried to balance on the scales of political theory the necessity for freedom of the press as opposed to the advantages of upholding his countrymen’s morale. As it was, Russell was filled with indignation rather than caution. “I really would put on my Claude Lorraine glass, if I could,” he told Times readers in defense of his revelations. “I would, if I could, clothe skeletons with flesh, breathe life into the occupants of the charnelhouse, subvert the succession of the seasons, and restore the legions which have been lost; but I cannot tell lies to make things pleasant. Any statements I have made, I have chapter, and book, and verse, and witness for.” Day after day Russell’s London audience read alternate denunciations of disorganization and delay and descriptions of sickness and suffering. The “disgraceful antithesis” between the neglect of the British wounded and the care given to the French seemed particularly humiliating to the English. “Are there no devoted women among us,” he asked, “able and willing to go forth to minister to the sick and suffering soldiers of the East in the hospitals of Scutari? Are none of the daughters of England, at this extreme hour of need, ready for such a work of mercy? Must we fall so far below the French in self-sacrifice and devotedness?” It was shortly after the publication of this appeal that Florence Nightingale determined to go to the East.
One can, however, easily overemphasize the denunciations and the disquieting revelations in Russell’s letters. These were always more than balanced by his pride in British feats of arms, by his acclaim of British honor and prestige. He shared the bias of his countrymen to the extent that the French allies received far less credit than they deserved. Nor can he be depended upon at all in his estimates of the numbers of the enemy; usually he magnified the numbers inordinately. In his praise of individuals, he reflected the broadening base of British democracy. The common soldier was not yet due for individual praise—his must be collective. But as for the lesser officers, Russell proudly boasted that he was their champion. “How many English Captains in times gone by were slain in distant fields whose names were never heard by English ears? When Marlborough or Granby won a battle, who heard of Brown, or Jones, or Robinson—of Lloyd, or Campbell, or O’Hara, who fell dead by the colours of his regiment in some bloody campaign of Flanders? Many a brave fellow is now unnamed . , . because the newspaper correspondent has not heard of him.”
In the spring of 1855, while the siege of Sebastopol continued, Russell moved into a small metal house which he set up toward the rear of the British camp. Nearby stood a stable for two horses. The “hut,” as Russell called his abode, was painted white and in the summer months actually had around it a border of flowers. Appearances suggested that Mr. Russell had become a permanent institution in Crimean warfare. The suggestion was symbolic; the war correspondent in general had become an accepted institution,
In the process of establishing the institution Russell had committed most of the sins for which correspondents were later to be heavily censored or denied access to the battle arena. He had certainly published information of “value to the enemy.” He had freely given names of divisions of the army. He had regularly published the resources of the Allies in guns and in ammunition. On one occasion he described the location of a particular windmill which was being used by the Allies as a powder magazine! As for giving “comfort to the enemy,” it is doubtful whether anything short of an account of mass suicide by allied troops would have been more comforting to the Russians than Russell’s stories of the chaos which reigned in the allied camp.
For a variety of reasons the British of the eighteen fifties were not greatly concerned over these monstrous crimes. The disclosures were, of course, the occasion for controversy, and even other newspapers attacked Russell, but the defenders had the better of the day. The fact that a mere layman, admittedly ignorant of military matters, was presuming to criticize and give advice on military strategy and tactics seemed dangerous until evidence piled up to prove that without such criticism there would be no victory. Throughout his letters Russell kept up a running-fire defense of his disclosures, ridiculing the idea that his information could possibly travel by boat to London, be published, reach the Czar and affect decisions in time to be of any advantage to the Russians. In its first real test, direct war reporting seemed to have a practical value which far outweighed any disadvantages.
There were, to be sure, other correspondents in the field in the Crimea, but their writings attracted hardly one-tenth, possibly not one-hundredth, of the attention given to Russell. Russell’s position as “The Times Correspondent” gave him an advantage which others could hardly hope to approach. Under the editorship of Delane, the “Thunderer” was then at the peak of its amazing career. While its competitors ranged in circulation figures below the 5,000 mark, the Times had a circulation in 1854 of approximately 40,000. The number of people who determined British policy in the eighteen fifties was still small and the “ruling class” read the Times almost to a man, whether they agreed with it or not. Delane is well known to have held a close rein over his correspondents, and it is hardly conceivable that the editor would have permitted a correspondent to depart very far from the policies of the journal. There was nothing, however, to prevent editorial policy from following the lead of the correspondent. The Times, which normally supported the party in power, and had prior to the blunderings of the war supported the Aberdeen cabinet, followed Russell in turning against the government. Once the volte face had been made, the editorials of the paper outdid Russell in condemning the government.
The fall of Sebastopol to the Allies in September, 1855, accomplished the main Allied objective. The War ended a few months later, but the controversy which centered around Russell was by no means over. The lengthy post mortems, however, were concerned for the most part with incidental matters. Had Russell been correct in attributing first honors to this or that brigade? Had his condemnation of certain officials been justified? Were his revelations actually of any advantage to the Russians? The very nature of the arguments indicates that it was taken for granted that war correspondence had rendered a service and, so far as anyone knew, had come to stay. Russell’s letters were collected and published in two volumes. While he was not knighted until 1895, Trinity College, Dublin, conferred upon him the LL.D, degree. Henceforth for forty years he was known as Dr. Russell, a title which pleased him immensely.
Fifteen years after the Crimean War it had become customary to remark that Dr. Russell was as indispensable to a war as the armies themselves. The thought would have appalled Russell in 1855. He then thought of himself as a special correspondent who by chance had been detailed to cover the Crimean War. He was happy ten days after his return from the Crimea to be on his way to St. Petersburg to report the coronation of Alexander II. But he was to find that the mark of successful war correspondent clung like the kiss of death. Almost constant wars marked the decade and a half following the Crimean War, and newspaper readers, once initiated to the emotional stirrings of war news, were insatiable in their demands. The Sepoy Rebellion in India, the wars of Italian unification, the American Civil War, the three continental wars which accompanied the process of German unification found Russell present at all except the wars for Italian unification. Only in between times was he able to accept such assignments as the marriage of the Prince of Wales, royal visits from one country to another, naval maneuvers, and the attempted laying of the first Atlantic cable. Yet it was with seeming reluctance that he accepted each new war assignment.
The Sepoy Rebellion in India which followed closely on the heels of the Crimean War gave proof that British officialdom had done some heart-searching and stock-taking as a result of reporting in the Crimea. On his arrival in Calcutta, Russell was warmly received by Lord Canning, the Governor General, who took the trouble to give him a careful explanation of the military state of affairs and a letter of recommendation to Sir Colin Campbell, Commander-in-Chief of British forces at Cawnpore. Sir Colin’s greeting, especially since it came from an officer who had been prominent in the Crimea, must have been even more startling to the recent camp follower. “Mr. Russell, you’re welcome,” he declared. “You have seen something of war. I am going to tell you everything. You shall see all of my reports, and get every information that I have myself, on the condition that you do not mention it in camp, or let it be known in any way, except in your letters to England.” Sir Colin, according to rumors which were soon circulating in London, was not oblivious to the advantages of a good press. But all of this does not warrant the conclusion that Russell was a man to be influenced by confidences and favors. The alliance between reporter and military commander in the Sepoy Rebellion chanced to work to the satisfaction of both.
Only once during Russell’s stay in India did the old fire of protest flare up again in his letters. After the mutiny, Russell was led to rebel against the harsh treatment which was being meted out to the mutineers. He protested vehemently in his private letters to Delane and in his published ones. Delane was by now working hand in glove with the existing government, and, as had happened early in the Crimean crisis, Russell’s private letters were used to bring pressure to bear upon the government. “. . . Stanley is a very good Indian Minister,” Delane wrote Russell, “and follows very obediently all the good advice you give him. I send him extracts from your private letters and always see an immediate result. It was your first private letter from Cawnpore which led to the order against indiscriminate executions.”
Virtually all of Russell’s crusades stemmed from his sympathy with human suffering in some form or another. In the United States he was influenced against the South because of his hatred of slavery. He declared in 1870 that if the Prussians bombarded the city of Paris, which would mean the shelling of women and children, he would refuse to continue to report the war. War itself he condemned time and again, though usually he felt constrained to support, with his usual rhetorical flourishes, the necessity for the particular struggle of arms which he happened to be reporting. Nor did Russell exclude his own personal ailments from his general concern for the sufferings of mankind. The dangers, illnesses, and injuries which resulted from his duties he bore with bravery but hardly with silence.
It was not yet the style for the war correspondent to give such trials a prominent place in his published letters, but Russell was human enough to see that his friends and the editors of the Times learned the details. A severe fever, several almost miraculously narrow escapes from death, a sunstroke, and an exceedingly painful leg injury resulted from his Indian experiences alone. The editors of the Times were about as impressed with his complaints as editors are traditionally impressed with the tribulations of reporters.
Russell’s experiences in reporting the American Civil War were not happy ones. It was his first effort, since he had become a famous figure, to report a war in which his own country was not involved. The reputation which he had attained made it inevitable that every word of his letters would be carefully read, especially by the Americans. He undertook to report the war from Federal territory, and the policy of the Times and the sympathies of the audience which it served were distinctly not favorable to the North. Russell was determined to treat the war with fairness, but his strong antipathy to the institution of slavery was strengthened by a trip through the Southern states just prior to the beginning of hostilities. All in all, it was perhaps inevitable that his correspondence should please no one.
The reporter’s early reception in America was all that even the most famous correspondent of the day could ask. Secretary Seward in Washington was particularly solicitous, and Russell’s tour of the South which carried him to Mobile and New Orleans brought forth all that was traditional in Southern hospitality. When Russell was presented to President Lincoln, the President is said to have remarked: “. . . the London Times is one of the greatest powers in the world; in fact, I don’t know anything which has more power, except perhaps the Mississippi. I am glad to know you as its minister.”
There were a number of Russell’s statements at which umbrage was taken before the Battle of Bull Run, but after that his life, at least so he thought, was in danger. His story pictured the battle as the inglorious Federal rout which it was. As was his custom, Russell gave color to his account by adding incidents which he had seen of Federal troops in ignominious flight, and the upshot was that Dr. Russell, now dubbed in derision “Bull Run Russell,” was universally castigated in the North as the defamer of the Federal armies. Denounced in the press, ignored and insulted by former friends, and threatened through the mails, Russell discovered that as a final blow he would not be granted permission to accompany the armies in the field. Others were being permitted to accompany the armies, so Russell determined to go home. Delane would not hear of his return and demanded that he stay in Washington. But for Russell the place of the war correspondent was in the field: it was there or nowhere. Accordingly, he set sail for Europe early in April, 1862.
Russell had been in America only a little more than a year and had witnessed only the beginnings of the American struggle. His pro-Northern sympathies, which were not pronounced enough to give concern to the anti-Northern Times, or to change a similar attitude in the Army and Navy Gazette of which he was editor, would doubtless have made little impression on British opinion, but his decision to retire was a real loss to the reporting of the war. Other correspondents hardly approached his ability to write, and no one of them possessed one-half his experience or his powers to analyze military situations for laymen.
One can easily jump from the American Civil War to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 without omitting anything essential in Russell’s career as a war correspondent. The wars of the eighteen sixties served as a testing ground for practices which were to make the reporting of the Franco-Prussian War very different from earlier wars. By 1870 war reporting had become a large-scale business. The success of an individual newspaper depended to a large extent upon its ability to get the war news. Competition between newspapers, and of course between their correspondents in the field, was the inevitable result; so was the speeding up of the transmission of news. Gone were the days when completeness of detail, soundness of judgment, and style in writing were the first essentials. A more extensive use of the telegraph, more ingenious if not more competent reporters, and all manner of stunts performed for the purpose of securing “beats” formed the new order of the day.
Try as he might, Russell could not keep pace with the new methods. His weapons were as out-of-date as those of the Crimean War. What made it all the more humiliating was the fact that he had never enjoyed greater prestige than at the beginning of the war. His experience, his friendships in high places, the facilities afforded him, his secretaries, and his couriers made him the envy of all correspondents. He might well have expected the greatest success of his life; instead, he took what consolation he could from the fact that his reports were still the most accurate and dependable even if they were often termed “ancient history” in Fleet Street. Representatives of other papers, particularly Archibald Forbes of the London Daily News, scored beat after beat on him. Happily, there were later occasions when he managed to “efface the memory of former defeats.” He scored a clean beat on the beginning of the negotiations which led to the surrender in January, 1871, of the city of Paris. Again in March he was first with the story of the German entry into Paris. Through the influence of the Times he was able to obtain a special train to Calais from whence a special steamer carried the latter story across the channel. Even so, he was able to beat the ubiquitous Forbes by a few hours only. For years Forbes, who had no influence which would have put a special train at his disposal, was suspected of having ridden Russell’s train disguised as a fireman.
The intimacies and favors shown Russell by the Prussian autocrats are evidence both of the esteem in which Russell was held and of the revolution which had taken place in the attitude toward war correspondence. Russell was received by Bismarck and the Prussian King, became an intimate of the Crown Prince, and attended in Berlin the christening of the Prince’s eldest daughter. Even Bismarck is said not to have known what was said in the interview between the King and Napoleon III at Bellevue near Sedan, but the words which passed between the two were sent by Russell to the Times. All of this won no little envy for the Times representative. Matthew Arnold outdid himself in satirizing Russell in his “Friendship’s Garland.” The account pictures Russell as he was preparing to mount his war horse:
You know the sort of thing,—he has described it himself over and over again. Bismarck at his horse’s heap!, the Crown Prince holding his stirrup, and the old King of Prussia hoisting Russell into the saddle. When he was there, the distinguished public servant waved his hand with acknowledgment, and rode slowly down the street, accompanied by the gamins of Versailles, who even in their present
dejection could not forbear a few involuntary cries of ‘quel homme!’
Only once more, and that in a minor incident, was Russell in the thirty-odd years of life which remained to him after 1871 to take up the cause of war reporting. His great service was rendered in the Crimean War. Possibly it was the greatest service ever rendered by a war correspondent. By 1870 war reporting in general had undergone tremendous changes, while Russell’s technique of reporting had hardly changed. Russell was thus cast in a new role by the simple process of standing still: the radical of 1855 had become in 1870 the very symbol of dignity and restraint. The fact should not detract from his reputation.