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404, 405) speaks out in plainer lan- fend or accuse the management of the guage.
existing war; but it does appear to us As very much of the strength of the that this prejudice, which has been so reporters' argument hangs on the pre- greatly strengthened by our calamities sumed acknowledged incompetence of in the Crimea, is being fostered by the Government clerks, it would appear to press, until all government will grabe expedient that this question should dually become impracticable. It has be fully and fairly settled before we pro- long been the birthright of a Britain ceed further. Are the public offices to grumble at every detail of public crowded with the unambitious; the indo- life, though he is ready enough at selflent, the incapable; with sickly youths praise, when he takes a general view who are continually obliged to be absent of the institutions of his country. on the score of ill health ; and men who Our statesmen are never either active are so placed because they are unable or wise ; our generals are usually the elsewhere to earn their bread? Is the most incompetent that can be selected; work of the Government ill done; and our bishops are actuated solely by love if so, is it through the fault of the of money; and our lawyers are so enclerks, or the fault
of the system under veloped in chicanery as to be incapawhich the clerks are trained to work ? ble of viewing any point by the light A third question also presents itself. of common sense. Nevertheless, our Are the clerks paid on a scale suffi- country stands high among the naciently high to insure those valuable tions our soldiers do win their fair services which the Government now share of battles our Church does do requires ?
its duty by religion, at least as well as Those who have watched the civil those of other realms and property service for some years cannot but be and life are comparatively safe. aware that 'at any rate' a strong pre- We believe that it is this national judice has grown up against Govern. propensity to grumbling which has ment clerks. Whether they be idle or traduced the character of the civil sernot, a large portion of the public have vice, and disgraced it with the odious been taught to think that they are so. red-tape brand of infamy. That the That ill-fated necessary of official life civil service does require amendment, -red tape is alluded io whenever the may probably be admitted; but men Treasury, or War Office, or Somerset in the position of the reporters, who House are spoken of; and by many, have been called upon by the Governincluding, we believe, a majority of ment which they serve to propose such those influential gentlemen who write methods of amendment as the service for the public press, the very souls of does require, should have been pecuthe denizens of Downing-street are liarly careful to keep themselves free thought to be entangled in meshes of from prejudice against the service, As this useful article. We never, how. from prejudice in its favour. This we ever, could yet learn what was meant by think they have not done. the charge brought against official Peculiar weight is attached to the characters by these inauspicious words. charge of general sickness brought Red tape, we should say, denotes or- against the different officers. Young der, precision of position among nu- men of feeble health, say the reporters, merous papers, and careful arrange- are continually appointed, and are, of ments. Latterly, also, another equally course, continually absent: so promigrave charge has been brought for. nently has this been put forward, that ward. Papers are too systematically Sir C. Trevelyan, in a kind of suppledocketed! The minds of public ser- mentary report, drawn up in answer vants are given up to indexes and to Mr. Arbuthnot's remarks in defence pigeon - holes ;
and clerks creep of the civil service, has justified, by rethrough their work in routine, instead ference to a particular department, his of dashing out for themselves an ori. accusations on this head. The Public ginal course, in which genius can be Record Establishment is the unfortu. displayed and trammels overcome ! nate oflice so disagreeably signalised;
Just at present it almost exceeds our and as Sir Charles, with all his opporcourage to run counter to so popular a tunities of reference, has pitched upon prejudice as that by which official rou- this, we may fairly look upon it as the tine has been made odious. We do weakest of the weak; as the last renot, in this article, wish either to de- source of the halt, the lame, and the blind; as the very hospital of public ment to their income, will be so absent offices; as one in which a robust con- oftener than men who do not enjoy the stitution would feel itself to be truly same privilege. This is no more, or like a fish out of water. Let us see rather no worse, than must always be what has been the amount of such ab. expected from human nature. If Sir sence, during five years, in this atra- Charles Trevelyan is able to fill his bilious, consumptive, rheumatic, fever- desks with troops of angels, he may stricken departmentin this ghastly avoid this evil : nothing short of such depôt for the preservation of dusty do- a troop, will, we think, satisfy all the cuments. There are in it twenty-one exigencies of the civil service as set junior clerks, who have in five years forth by him. been absent 1,799 days_i.e,, 360 days Having so far gone into the quesin each year. We shall give a near tion of health, let us make some in. approach to the actual state of the quiry as to the want of ambition and matter, if we say that, on an average, want of energy complained of. That each man was absent one day in three there is an absence of, at any rate, weeks. The absence is not quite so gratified ambition, we may assume much; but we will say that it is one from the fact that the civil service has day in three weeks, or seventeen days offered no such gratification to its meni. in the year for each man. Now, it is bers. We may also assume that amto be observed that some one unfortu- bition will not exist as a distinguishing nate had, in 1848, a very bad illness, trait in any profession in which this and was absent 222 days, taking a last infirmity finds nothing that it can lion's share of this indulgence ; also, feed on. We wonder indeed that am. in 1849, one -- we imagine the same bition can be considered desirable in gentleman - got possession of 156 civil servants by a man so exigeant as days, this probably being the period Sir Charles Trevelyan. Ambition is of convalescence after the illness of generally not docile, nor obedient : 222 days in the previous year. Thus vaulting ambition cannot be expected one bout of illness reduces the total for to confine its youthful years to the art the other twenty gentlemen to 1,421 of copying fastly, and its maturer powdays in the five years, or about four- ers to writing letters for other people teen days a-year each. We also find to sign. Ambition, we should say, that in this lazar-house of invalids six had better, under existing circum. clerks had no ill health in 1848, seven stances, keep itself out of Government had none in 1849, eight had none in offices. It might be troublesome, we 1850, and that in 1851 and 1852 seven think, to joint lords and under-secremen were exempt in each.
taries, who are desirous of using, with Now, we will appeal with confidence but slender acknowledgment, the tato any medical gentleman who has lents of those below them. Ambition been in charge of large bodies of men, might desire to sign its own name; whether the amount of illness here in- might claim as its own peculiar prodicated is extreme. It must be borne perty some colonial constitution; might in mind that this case is brought for- loudly blazen forth the ignorance of ward as an extreme case; as one posi- some novice of a commissioner, or detively to justify, by a simple reference clare itself superior to some newly-upto it, the opinion expressed by the re- pointed chairman, utterly unconscious porters of the sickly habits of Govern- of the nature of the duties required of ment clerks; as one sufficient of itself him. We think this allusion to ambi. to stop Mr. Arbuthnot's mouth. If tion is unfortunate on the part of Sir the public have nothing more to com- Charles Trevelyan. plain of on the score of ill health than The rational gratification of ambithis, we think they may be well satis- tion in the civil service would be the fied, and we also think that Sir Charles possession of the rewards which it has Trevelyan and Sir Stafford Northcote to give. We will not speak of Cabinet should have paused before they ex- Ministers or their colleagues, who go posed any office to public notice in so in and out with the Government. As unenviable a manner on such trifling our Constitution is at present arranged, grounds.lodiy alone
these situations must be held by men It is a matter of notoriety, that men of wealth, and are not therefore within who can be absent from their work on the grasp of officers who have to deaccount of ill health, without detri- pend on the civil service as a profes
sion. Let us, however, look to the gentleman ; and Sir A. F. Spearman grade of places next in order - that was Assistant-Secretary to the Treawhich consists of under-secretaries, sury before we were out of our cradles. permanent secretaries, chairmen, com- Nevertheless there have been men of missioners, and such like and see ambition in the civil service, and doubt. how many of these are filled by men less are so still; but it is by extrawho bave entered the public service as professional exertions that they have junior clerks. The book before us had to distinguish themselves. Charles offers to us a list of such gentlemen. Lamb, Henry Taylor, and Crofton How many of these named in the table Croker, made names for themselves; of contents, as having been called on but no opportunity was given them of for their opinion, have won their way doing so in the departments to which to their present rank by serving through they were attached. The civil service the different grades of their offices ? is a stepmother, and has no right to We do not know the history of all expect affectionate, heart-given offices these gentlemen; but we believe there from her children. We trust we may is one.
We believe that Mr. Bromley, hear no more of the want of ambition who, as Accountant to the Navy, pro- on the part of the clerks, till we also bably receives £1,000 a-year -- and hear of the rewards for which ambition whose paper in this volume is, per- is to struggle. haps, practically the soundest essay Now as to the want of industry on given to us on the real requirements of the part of Government clerks. This the service-we believe that he alone is a more difficult charge to answer, of all the number entered the service partly because we do not feel satisfied as a junior clerk.
that there may not be some truth in it, Let us look through the names. and partly because it is very difficult Colonel Larcom was an officer in the to arrive at the real truth in such a engineers; Sir James Stephen was a matter. Of this, however, wo may barrister; Mr. Power's first appoint- rest assured, that if Government clerks ment was, we believe, that of assistant- be idle, Government heads of offices are commissioner; Sir Cornewall Lewis be- to blame for it. Young men from segan as a commissioner; Mr. Chadwick ventcen to twenty-tliree will be idle, if has, as he tells us, been all his life em. they be allowed to be idle. The inaployed in high places : if he be em- jority at Oxford and Cambridge are ployed again, we hope it will be in idle; the majority of medical students some situation in which he may not are idle; the majority of legal stu. have to use his talents as an author. dents are idle—that is, they do very Sir Thomas Redington came into office much less than their older friends through parliament; Mr. Griffith was would have them do. These young selected on account of special qualifi. men can be blamed by none but their cations, but never served as a clerk; friends, as they are not paid to work ; Mr. Hill invented penny postage- but the fact of receiving pay will not stamps, and so brought himself into alter the nature of the youth: and unplace; Mr. Cole is a child of the Ex- til a better system of departmental disÎnibition ; nay, we believe we may say cipline be adopted, we are inclined to he was the parent of it. Mr. Romilly, think that junior clerks will be idle, we presume, was a barrister - the Ro.
though they had passed with never so milly's always are. Of Mr. Wood's much credit before Mr. Jowett and his early days we know nothing; but be- tribunal. lieve that he was born a chairman. We believe that tilt of late the sysMr. Merivale certainly was a barris- tem of discipline, if we may call it a ter-he tells us as much; the world system, bas been such as expressly to knew of him, however, as a scholar and foster idleness in our public offices. an author, and it is much to be regret- Make the best you can of bad tools, ted that he should have buricd hiinself has been the motto oftenest in use ; among the colonies. The Right Hon. that is, if a tool should turn out on Sir Thomas Freemantle was a politic hands to be useless, it was to be borne cian; so, we presume, was Mr. Ad. with, and not discarded. Who candington: at any rate he was never a not see that under such & rule tools clerk. Mr. Hawes was a politician ; would turn out to be bad, even the Dr. Playfair a philosopher ; Mr. Wad. very tools that would have been good dington, at any rate, is a very witty enough, if it had been well known in the service that a thoroughly bad tool The reporters and Mr. Jowett clear. would not be endured ? Long-suffer- ly want to have the article, namely, a ing, extreme clemency, a desire to good Government clerk, ready-made avoid the annoyance consequent on to their hand, so that they may have the fracas which a dismissed clerk can no trouble with him after his appointsometimes produce, dread of want of ment. He is to walk up to his desk support, and positive goodnature, have on his first morning, armed at all created that idleness of which the re- points for every description of official porters are so ashamed ; and with all fight, prepared to settle difficult points submission to their more experienced of international law in French or Ger. judgment, we cannot but think that man, or to work out correctly any this idleness may be cured without a abstruse calculation required by the board of examiners - cannot be cured Chancellor of the Exchequer; to draw by a board of examiners.
out a new constitution in elegant EngWe remember a case in which the lish, or if needs be (though what the head of an office, a strict disciplina- need can be we do not know), to rian for an official man, called a quote as much Latin and Greek as junior clerk to him, and exhibiting a Mr. Waddington of the Home Office. page of a letter-book, in which the He is, moreover, to be of excellent youngster had copied, or pretended to moral character, a member of some copy, certain letters on the preceding Christian community, certified as to day, assured him, that bad as the page age, sound of wind and limb, ambi. appeared, he would not dismiss him, tious as regards the civil service, but if he, the clerk himself, could read humble and docile as to his own feelany one line of his own writing. This ings, serious and sedate, though under the lad could not do, and so was dis- twenty, punctual in attendance, and Inissed. In fact, the book had been not too much given to heavy lunches scrawled over with a pen, and no at two o'clock. words had been written, But what Now this is vastly more than the can one think of the previous discip, Government can get for £90 or £100, line of an office in which matters had or for £900 or £1,000 a-year. They come to such a pass ? This clerk did intend to take no trouble in preparing not commence his course of official this wonderfully-complete animal ; he bad conduct by such outrageous ab- is to come to their examinations with surdity as this. Let us consider the all his perfections accumulated on his amount of ill conduct which would head; instructed up to this marvellous have been endured; the very slight pitch at his own cost, and by his own approach to official usefulness which
Mr. Jowett may break his would have passed muster. If he heart over bis 4,800 long papers, and could have read one line of his own his 400 hours of vivâ voce, before he handwriting he might have remained ! will find one such miracle, and if he It is expected that we shall ascend found him, he would not answer the immediately, at one spring, from such required purpose. a state as this to a perfect knowledge The education of a Government of arithmetic and English composition, clerk, as regards that knowledge which an intimate acquaintance with abstract is desirable in his office, must, to a sciences, a few foreign languages, po- great degree, be effected after his aplitical economy, and international law! pointment; but we do not at all mean
In sober earnest, we grieve to see to say that previous education should such Utopian theories broached by not be required. On the contrary, we men, to whom may be conceded the strongly recommend that it should be power of making practical experiments insisted on, and be provided for. It is in them.
chiefly in our anxiety to see this proHaving granted that there are idle vision made that we differ from the young men in the civil service, and reporters. They expect to find the having, as we think, accounted for it, clerks ready prepared with every let us inquire how best such idleness branch of knowledge which may possi. may be prevented, and also let us sce bly turn out to be of use. We would what are practically the necessary at- recommend that they be previously tainments which should be required in taught those special branches of knowa Government office clerk, and how ledge which certainly will be of use. their possession should be ensured. One of the objects constantly in
sisted on by the reporters is, that of themselves with presuming throughout abolishing the present evils of patron- that, as regards the desirableness of age; and were it not that in this, as the civil service, the ambitious, the in all other matters, they are carried educated, and the talented would unaway by a thirst of Utopian purity, doubtedly rush into it, if they were we should agree with them. Patron- only allowed to do so. Downingage, as it exists at present, is a great street is an elysium to the taste of Sir evil. It has often, even in quite recent Charles Trevelyan - his one idea of years, been entrusted to bands terribly Paradise must be a sightly row of pubunclean. We do not accuse either lie offices, and the Treasury his seventh Whig or Tory, nor wish to call par- beaven. “It is natural' to expect," ticular notice to any peculiar case; says he, “ that so important a profesbut it cannot, we believe, be denied by sion should attract the ablest and most any one conversant with such matters, ambitious ; " “ that the greatest emulathat it has been found impossible, un- tion would prevail among those who der the existing system of patronage, entered it :” but he does not say why to prevent abuses of a most iniquitous it should be so. description. It may also be assumed, This silence on the part of Sir that men of high rank and some talents, Charles as to the quid pro quo to be whose claims to office it is difficult to given to the civil service would be reresist, insist on these claims chiefly on medied by the statement made in Sir account of the patronage with which James Stephen's well-argued paper, if office invests them. Of such men it we could take his information as auwill be well to be rid. The spirit of thentic; but we think it would be the age now looks eagerly for states- found, on reference to the absolute men of a different class, whose ap. facts of the office in which he himself proach to power will be more easy when so long ofliciated, that he has under. this temptation is removed.
stated the incomes of the clerks. In But because we would abolish the this we in no way impugn any assertion present system of patronage, we do made by Sir James. He does not say not think that ministers and their sub- what the salaries of clerks have been, ordinates should be entirely relieved but what they probably would be. He from the responsibility of nominating bases his statement on a calculation to the public service. The object ap- and not on facts. Whatever may have parently is, to divest such responsibi. been the error which has crept into bis lity, as far as possible, of any peculiar calculations, we think thattheexperience benefit to the person exercising it; so of past years in the Colonial Office to limit the power of appointing to will not bear him out. He speaks of the public offices as to make it the the offices of the different secretaries duty of the minister to select, but not of state, which are considered to be bis privilege to give away; to render the best of the public offices, and says the system of recruiting the civil ser- that the average income of a clerk vice as unlike as possible to the manner would not exceed £250 per annum, in which church livings are often filled. for the first twenty-seven years of his It will be probably found impossible official life; that he would then rise to hit on any plan which will altoge- only to £550; and that in ten years ther insure this object; but it may, from that he would receive £1000 per we think, be so far done as to destroy annum. the bane of patronage; and so done as It is the first part of this statement entirely to remove the evil which it is which strikes
one as being so very unthe present object to remove_namely, attractive. In the majority of Go. the introduction of bad clerks into the Vernment offices clerks do not rise to public service.
£1000 per annum, after any length of We have now to inquire whether service; and therefore it must be prethe clerks are paid on a scale sufficient sumed that the pay in them during the ly high to insure those valuable ser. early years of a clerk's life will be vices which the Government requires. still less than that stated by Sir James On this subject, as on all others con- Stephen. And yet how can it be less ? nected with the civil service, it appears An average income of £250 per analmost impossible to arrive at correct num for the best twenty-seven years data. The reporters make no allusion of a man's life! Well may Sir James • at all to the scales of pay, but satisfy say, if this be true, "Why expect to