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think that the "middle-class” projectors and managers of these schemes are entitled to criticise or judge the “ aristocratic administrators, even of the War-office or the Commissariat. We think we could name some who will vote* for Mr. Layard's resolution who ought to do so in a white sheet. “ Those should not throw stones who live in houses of glass.”
But, secondly, putting aside these instances of incapacity and failure, and looking only to those men of business whose energy and sagacity are alike unquestionable; still we say, that to jump to the conclusion that these men, if transferred to the more weighty and complicated affairs of government, and surrounded by the influences and hampered by the obstacles inseparable from the state machine, would manifest the same freedom of action, the same decision, and the same daring, wh had often commanded brilliant success in private enterprise, is to say the least) a somewhat hasty and gratuitous assumption. The moment they were placed in office they would become conscious of two inherent and most material differences between their new and their former position:—their responsibility being far heavier, their courage would be far less; and their freedom, isolation, and despotic authority being unavoidably reduced or lost, their promptitude and vigour must of necessity be proportionably impaired. Men cannot deal with the affairs of a great empire, wherein fame and honour, life and treasure, to a vast amount may be involved, with the same off-hand rapidity and sagacious rashness which often answers so well in the comparatively trivial concerns of commerce and engineering. And men cannot act with the same unflinching daring, the same happy and unhesitating instinct, which suited cases in which they had only themselves to consult and please, when they have to discuss and deliberate with responsible, scrupulous, or differing colleagues; when they know that every action and decision, every order and letter, every resolve and every change, will be noted and commented upon by watchful rivals and relentless foes; and when they have ever present to their minds the checking and paralysing consciousness that their work has not only to be well done, but well defended.
Thirdly. It must be borne in mind, that administrative functions, especially in the higher departments, require, not only the qualities which go to the composition of an able and successful man of business, but some others in addition. "They are duties the fit discharge of which requires perhaps higher and rarer endowments than are needed for any other post in life. Official fitness-real capacity for the work of government
[This sentence was written before the division upon Mr. Layard’s motion.]
-involves something beyond mere dashing energy, rough sagacity, or toilsome diligence. Tact and judgment are as necessary as talent. Caution is needed as well as vigour. A habit of deliberate scrutiny, in order to avoid acting upon imperfect comprehension or inadequate information; scrupulous accuracy, in order to escape being misled by hasty impressions or propagating unfounded charges; a gentlemanly and conciliating temper, in order to be able to manage men, as well as to deal with things; a complete education, to prepare the mind for taking wide and far-reaching views, for estimating future as well as immediate interests, for comprehending and detecting the hidden complications as well as the first outside of great questions and plausible measures ;-all these are qualifications indispensable to real“ fitness," which we are far from meaning to say that the aristocracy and their nominees generally have, but which it is undeniable that the middle classes and their favourites too frequently have not.* Admirable clerks, agents, and accountants, we doubt not that merchants, manufacturers, and railway grandees, could furnish to the civil service in abunddance from their several establishments-though we question whether they would come for the poor emoluments which government can offer ; but for secretaries or under-secretaries of state, cabinet ministers, or heads of departments, where, among the parliamentary middle-class men who have not devoted their lives to politics, are such to be found ?
In truth, we see no reason whatever to suppose either that the middle classes have, or that the upper classes h.ve not, in any ample and peculiar measure, the qualifications requisite for the public service. We see no grounds for believing that the sons of merchants, placed in the same position, exposed to the same influences, surrounded by the same difficulties, subject only to the same requirements, stimulated only by the same rewards, would not idle just as much, blunder just as strangely,
Mr. Layard himself furnishes an apt illustration of our meaning: He is, we believe, an honest and well-intentioned man. He has great vigour, much special information, and some rare and peculiar gifts. In his "right place” he is fitted to be very useful; and we have no doubt that the precise niche for which nature designed him is somewhere or other to be found. But a more incomplete, unregulated, untrained and inaccurate mind we never watched, nor one which better exemplifies the deficiencies of an imperfect education. He is neither master of his own faculties, nor cognizant of his own needs. He neither knows how to use a good position, nor how to retrieve a false step. He has learned neither how to command respect for himself, nor how to pay the respect which is due to others. All this a thorough regular Oxford or Cambridge education would have taught him. But in the mean time these deficiencies utterly disqualify him for the finer class of employments, and render him both an unsafe and an ineffective politician.
fail just as often, as the sons of peers. We have not the slightest doubt that, if capacity were indiscriminately insisted upon in all employés, and diligence and responsibility effectively enforced, the latter would turn out just as well as the former. We do not believe that natural genius, power of application, or sense of duty, is at all more lavishly bestowed on the lower than on the higher ranks; while education is unquestionably, as a rule, less complete and less extended. The aristocracy—by which we mean the wealthy and leisure classes, those who have not to labour for a maintenance—have great natural advantages in the competition. Cæteris paribus, they ought to be fitter for government employment than those less favoured by circumstances and less endowed with this world's goods. They are placed under abler instructors; their training is prolonged through more years; their culture ranges over a wider field; they enter life later; they mix in more select and eminent society; they come in habitual contact, not perhaps with cleverer, but with completer minds; and if they do not distance their rivals in the race and overcome them in the contest, it will be because circumstances do not call forth their powers or enforce their obligations, not because they cannot do much and do well, but because they are permitted to be indolent, careless, and perfunctory.
But there is a wider and more forecasting view to be taken of this matter. The aristocracy constitute a class of men, whom, both for their own sake and that of the nation, it is emphatically important to put to use. They are generally by position exempted from the necessity of labour. They have wealth, they have leisure, they have talent, they have ambition. All these qualities are now utilised and turned to account by directing them into the political service of the country. If not thus employed, they would not be employed at all. If you debar them from this arena, or in any way discourage them from entering it, you will risk two of the greatest mischiefs which can befall a nation. In the first place, you will throw the conduct of public affairs into the hands of men who, able as they may be, are not your highest nor your most instructed, and whose undeniable energy would be a very inadequate compensation for their deficiency in some of the other qualities, intellectual and moral, which are as necessary as mere ability to entitle their possessors to the government of others,-a peril against which the example of America is the loudest and most solemn warning ever held forth to the world. You will have the refined, the enlightened, the considerate, and the high-minded retiring from the rough arena, and resigning the administration of the state to the pushing, the impetuous, the unscrupulous, and the half-educated--as is now the case on the other side of the Atlantic. And, secondly, you will run imminent hazard of condemning the excluded upper classes to a life of mere indolence, luxury, and fashion, you will drive them to employ their wealth in corruption or indulgence, their leisure in enervating pleasures or frivolous amusements, and their ambition in fomenting discontent or in striving for the poor honours of mere social eminence; and thus to spend all their high gifts and opportunities in diffusing through all ranks the demoralizing poison of a bad example. You will dwarf statesmanship and degrade nobility. You will have statesmen like those at Washington, and nobles like those of Rome, Milan, and Palermo. No! Appoint none but the competent to any office, and enforce the duties of office sternly upon every holder—so far we go heartily along with the Administrative Reformers. But select those who are competent indiscriminately from every rank; and it will then be the fault and the disgrace of the aristocracy, if, with all their advantages of leisure, of education, and of intercourse with whatever is most eminent and able, they do not still bear away the palm.
A sense of justice has compelled us to defend ministersthat is, the ministerial class as a whole—from charges which appeared to us either unfounded or extravagant. But we are as far from intending to constitute ourselves their eulogists as from stooping to echo the prevalent outcry of the hour. They are, in our opinion, obnoxious to accusations as grave if not as ignominious as any that we have attempted to rebut. We have already intimated that they have usually far scantier knowledge of men, and far less just and penetrating insight into character, than befits their high position and their spreading influence. We fear, too, that with rare exceptions, they are deplorably deficient in clear principles and lofty aims, and most wanting of all in that quality which in statesmen is most needed of all, viz., MORAL COURAGE. The first of these defects, the antecedents and necessities of their professional position explain, though they cannot justify. The generality of ministers work their way up from subordinate offices to the principal posts, and while in the subordinate offices they are necessarily under the influence, and naturally imbibe the notions and modes of viewing and treating subjects which are prevalent among their chiefs; the habits of mind which have become traditional in the department propagate themselves irresistibly among all successive occupants of office; and the science of parliamentary warfare has been insensibly learned before knowledge has become wide, or principles have become fixed. Most official
men, too, enter public life early. They do not embrace statesmanship as a profession and the service of the state as a career, after they have mastered the difficult and noble science in study and retirement, and fitted themselves for the arena by a long course of mental athletic exercises. They do not come forth qualified to govern and to guide by having collected and stored up all that historical research, and profound meditation, and philosophical analysis, and patient and humble intercourse with the great minds of old, could furnish to enlighten ignorance, to correct error, to warn rashness, to elevate and purify ambition. In place of coming out from the schools armed and trained for life, they enter life as a school. They are trained by action, not by education. They enter Parliament and office rather qualified to learn than competent to teach, and in order to acquire wisdom rather than to practise it. So that though, if they are really able and conscientious men, they go on improving, enlarging, and enlightening year by year, yet it is not till towards the close of life that their statesman's education is at all complete ; and from the manner in which it has been acquired, their views are more likely to be shrewd and practical than lofty, consistent, and philosophic.
And when once fairly engaged in the anxious and unremitting toils of high office, they have little time for systematic study or quiet meditation. The peaceful leisure in which wisdom grows is thenceforth unknown to them. When “in," the day scarcely suffices for the imperative routine work that must be done ere night :-when “out,” watching, criticising, and controlling an antagonist is a task nearly as absorbing. The labour of a conscientious public man is really overwhelming. * It tasks all the strength of the strongest. It is true that this very severity of toil gives them a preternatural quickness of perception and execution, but it is unfavourable to deep or sustained thought. They learn to transact and "dispatch” business with a rapidity, a precision and a skill, which philosophers look upon with envy and amazement. But,
“ It is one business to do what must be done, and another to devise what ought to be done. It is in the spirit of the British government, as hitherto existing, to transact only the former business; and the reform which is required, is to enlarge that spirit, so as to include the latter also. Of and from amongst those measures which are forced upon him, to choose that which will bring him the most credit with the least trouble, has hitherto been the sole care of a statesman in office; and as a statesman's official establishment has been heretofore constituted, it is care enough for any man. Every day, every hour, has its exigencies, its immediate demands ; and he who has hardly time to eat his meals, cannot be expected to occupy himself in devising good for mankind.”—— The Statesman, by Henry Taylor, p. 156.