31 MARCH 1855, Page 14


IN the Militia debate of the Peers on Thursday, Lord Panmure said that Government is "endeavouring to accomplish that by voluntary, means which formerly could only be accomplished by compulsory means " ; the Militia being now recruited by volun- teers. "He hoped that the experiment would not fail, and that the people of this country would think better of the course the Government are pursuing "in " this appeal to its patriotism." The expressions employed seem to imply a hint that compulsory means might be used ; and we note the observation in this place, be- cause it appears to us that Lord Panmure has fallen into an im- portant mistake. There has been no appeal made to "the patriotism of the country." The Militia is never recruited from the body of the people, but from that clam which furnishes common soldiers. In the United States of America, where 2,300,000 are enrolled in arms. a comparatively small portion find themselves in the ordinary Militia corps. In our case the appeal is not only made to the particular class which ordinarily furnishes common soldiers, but to a small section of that class, which is of a certain height and within a certain age- and the men enlist for the bounty of a few sovereigns, not from patriotic impulse. It is a misuse of words to call this "an appeal to the country," or to its "patriotism." When an appeal is made to the country to show its patriotism, the entire body of the people is invited and enabled to volunteer ; and there is no reason to apprehend, that if such an appeal were now made to the English people, we should not be able to place upon the ground any number of men that might be required ; leaving the regular army, as Lord Grey recommends, to be re- cruited. by a sufficient bounty. The Times comments on the conduct of the "officials and en- officials-at home' who are always assuming the most perfect ac- quaintance with what has been done, is doing, and is to be done, and on the strength of it contradicting' the papers." The editor contrasts this with the correspondent of the paper writing on the spot. "I can solemnly declare that I have not heard one single offurial statement with respect to any transaction of this expedition which has not contained more or less error and inaccuracy.' Per- haps both statements are true. Did our contemporary ever know the circumstances of any case, and see a statement respecting it, without perceiving "more or less error and inaccuracy" in the statement? We have come to the conclusion that a really accurate statement is the rarest thing in existence. Almost all accounts are given with reference to one point of view. They may be honest; they are sometimes accurate in regard to the aspect on that side, but seldom comprehend the truth with regard to other sides, and are constantly deviating into error. It is a safe rule to set down that no statement, in word of mouth, manuscript, or print, is ac- curate, although it may be honest and true in the main.

Language of various kinds is supposed to attain greater force by redoubling its words. It is a common practice in legal instru- ments to give us such expressions as "transfer, surrender, and yield up." In more sacred productions we find the same form of repetition—for example, we "pray and beseech," as in common parlance we beg and entreat. Mr. Disraeli, true to the high types on which he founds his eloquence, uses the same superabundance of phrasing : on Monday last he ascribed Lord Palmerston's non- - use of the Militia to "neglect and negligence."

Mr. Drummond's " exposure " of Times writers is equivalent to a note proving the futility of preventing "anonymous" journalism. There is an idea in the public, that if the personality of a writer be exposed, the influence of the writer will be neutralized. If the Times gives currency to an opinion, it is a great fact; but if tlit opinion can be identified as the oracle of ,Tohn Smith the in- dividual writer, the influence is gone. The presumption would be true if there were no distinction between the journal and the writer. But there is every distinction. The opinions of the in- dividual go for little simply because they are the opinions of the individual. The journal which has aequired a great repute— which holds that repute as a hostage to fortune—which weighs well the contributions that it publishes, and subjects them to the collective opinion governing the office—imparts to the labour of the individual pen a force and value entirely derived from the office, and not from the individual at all. So much is this the case, that the attempt to enforce the signature of the writer has been evaded in France, as it would be here. The journals keep official signatories, and the individual is still merged in the journal. A parallel to this official individual representative of a journal might be found in a functionary that was used daring the great railway excitement. A "black clerk" was kept in readiness to swear to the service of unserved notices, in order to a formal compliance with the Standing Orders.

A fine argument in favour of anonymous journalism is furnished by a recent pamphlet in favour of signing newspaper articles: the pamphlet itself is anonymous.

Sir Edward Lytton should oblige the public by telling it how to make ghosts appear in the body. Ile evidently believes that it may be done. Ile tells of a witness, who rested his evidence against a prisoner charged with murder on the testimony of a ghost, and of a judge who ordered the ghost to be produced; and Sir Edward thinks the ghost is like an anonymous writer in newspapers, whom he would force into court. He consi- ders the parallel exact : undoubtedly he is right in thinking it possible to bring out a newspaper-writer ; argal he must believe in the real presence of ghosts.